Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Carnival of Feminists!

Check out Chally at Zero at the Bone and the 5th Carnival of Feminists!

I really liked the post on toddlers as triggers... Certainly raised points to consider in the way I interact with the PreK kids I work with. That's a whole other post to look out for soon.


A story I heard last night from a friend about one of the frats on my undergrad campus:

They had an open house, inviting interested students to come by and find out more about the frat. They all sat around the living room, talking about things and generally getting to know one another. The current members were excited to see how many guys had turned out for just an information session.

One of the current members said something along the lines of "I'm going to rape you so hard in [video game]."

A freshman, his first time meeting these people, said to the current member, "Apologize."

At first, the current member wouldn't. But the freshman wouldn't let it go. And then the entire room of guys wouldn't let it go. They wouldn't let him blow off his comment. The member eventually apologized to the room full of frat members and potential members.

This freshman, one person, held others accountable for their language and atmosphere in a setting that most people wouldn't feel comfortable doing so. My friend was very impressed, since he had prejudged the guy based on his appearance. This one incident probably changed the tone of the house for awhile... I doubt people are going to make rape jokes and comments quite as casually as they did before.

I just wanted to share this story about one person making a small, but maybe one day large, dent in our rape culture.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Return of the Female Impersonators Radio Hour!

Today at 5pm Central Time.
Female Impersonators Radio Hour
Featuring Kate and Amelia.
Call in (309) 341-7441.
We'll discuss news/current events from a feminist perspective
and play female/female-friendly musicians.
Hope you're excited!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Don't confuse the ladies during sex by talking!

A little misogyny-soaked advice from Esquire for you today on the question of penis-vagina insertion during hetero sex:
However, Robert J. Rubel, author of the indispensable Master/Slave Relations: Handbook of Theory and Practice, as well as 2007's Squirms, Screams and Squirts: Going from Great Sex to Extraordinary Sex (because the title A Dance to the Music of Time was already taken), disagrees. He confirms your fear about implied incompetence and calls you a "submissive man," a charge you'll have to just sit there and take, I'm afraid. "I've never had a woman guide me in initially," he scoffs, before defining the core problem. "Here's the core problem: Anything that you do to pull the woman back into her head will destroy the moment. Don't ask her anything, don't do anything that she has to think about, don't confuse her." He's absolutely right. I was about to say something about the futility of rules with regard to the passionate acts of willing adults, but I've already forgotten the question.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Family Planning in Central Wisconsin

I just wanted to pass along this video about a family planning clinic in Wausau, Wisconsin. Wausau is a 20-30 minute drive from both my parent's hometowns and I'm pretty familiar with the town and area. For my parents growing up, Wausau was a big city. It's not totally surprising to see this type of atmosphere around a family planning clinic in this area - a clinic which doesn't provide abortions, by the way.

h/t Miriam at Feministing.

Friday Fun: Andrea Gibson

I'm really into spoken word poetry. I especially admire Alix Olson. She originally inspired me to try my own hand at spoken word poetry, and I was able to meet her last year at my college's Take Back The Night event at which she performed.

Last Thursday I mentioned Alix Olson at a meeting of Students Against Sexism in Society (the feminist organization at Knox College), and after the meeting a new member of the group told me that if I liked Alix Olson, I should check out Andrea Gibson's poetry. I did. And I'm in awe.

Here's a video of her performing "Dive."

What do you think? Know of any other awesome poets you'd like to share?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sweet Valley High movie by Diablo Cody(!)

I loved Sweet Valley High almost as much as The Babysitters Club, so I'm pretty psyched to see that Diablo Cody is going to pen a movie adaptation of the series. Elizabeth was always my favorite... so brainy.

Any thoughts on the series or Cody's new project?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Question of the Day

A friend of mine has a friend from Ireland visiting for a few weeks, and we were out at the bar a few nights ago. The Irish friend starts going in on women's sports, wondering why anyone would want to play or watch it. I defend women athletes and sports, and then my friend leans over and says, "I told him you were a feminist... he's just trying to rile you up." The Irish friend laughs, and we change subject.

But I'm wondering why? Why does my feminist identity cause some people to challenge it? Most of the time it's jokingly, but then sometimes people really do want to argue against feminism. It's not like I bother vegetarians about factory farm conditions or anything.

In the spirit of Shakesville's Question of the Day, here's mine:

Upon finding out a person is a feminist, why do people intentionally (in good humor or not) say non-feminist things?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Carnival of Feminists 4!

Check out Frau Sally at Jump Off The Bridge and the Carnival of Feminists - Numero Cuatro! Lots of fantastic links, like always.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Inked: Another story, more ink (part 5)

Like Amelia, I have a couple tattoos. Some I would get again, some I wouldn't. Also like Amelia, these pieces have become a part of me both physically and personally.

Hebrew for God/Adonai/YHWH. This stems from my studies of religion and personal beliefs and it was my second tattoo. I've encountered some people who don't like it, in particular, a Jewish man who felt I was appropriating his religious beliefs for my own aesthetic purposes. I understand his viewpoint and I've been careful about the places where this tattoo is visible. However, I still really love it in relation to my next tattoo:

This tattoo mirrors my Adonai tattoo, one on the right wrist and one on the left. It reads "sophia" in Greek, or wisdom. I got this tattoo after completing my honors project in college, which was an 18 month process and resulted in a 70 page paper. The project led me to Divinity School and a really formative period in my life, so this encapsulates all of that. Also, sophia/wisdom represents a feminine aspect of God, based on passages in Proverbs 8. I feel it really balances with the Adonai tattoo, recognizing the destructive, patriarchial aspects of religion. It's probably the most explicitly feminist of my tattoos.

On my foot, this is a simple drawing of a peace dove by Salvador Dali. Right now, it's the only tattoo my mother will admit to liking. For me, this represents a lot of my politics and my worldview. Also, if I wiggle my toes, one of the wings looks like it's flapping.

I'm planning on altering a few of my tattoos, but am waiting and really thinking about my ideas. In the past, I didn't think it through as much as I should have, but I don't regret getting them. I have some script on my leg that says "family" in Latin; this I'm planning on modifying to become a tree with the current tattoo as the root system of the tree (get it, family tree?). My first tattoo is a small, simple Jesus fish on my back. I originally wanted the rebel symbol from Star Wars, but my mom really didn't like that and I felt guilty. So I switched to my other idea, the Jesus fish. Hindsight is 20/20 and I should have done the Star Wars symbol. Oh, well. I'm planning on altering the fish into a Celtic knot, which should be fairly easy to do.

Moral of the story: Really think about your design and love it. Wait 6 months. Rethink it. Wait another 6 months. THEN get your tattoo. Sit on a design for at least 6 months before getting it done.

Inked: one, two, three, four.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Murder is murder, regardless of politics

Authorities have a suspect in custody in the killing of Jim Pouillon, an anti-abortion protester in Michigan. It's been confirmed that Pouillon was definitely targeted because of his protest tactics.

Let me be clear - This man should not have been murdered for his activities related to abortion.

Likewise, Dr. George Tiller should not have been murdered for his activities related to abortion.

Murdering someone is always wrong, regardless of the person and their views. Why is that so hard to understand?

Link Love

Some linkage for you this weekend:

Here's a piece in the Guardian about rampant rape and sexual assault in a Mennonite community.

Deborah Solomon's interview with Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame about the show, which includes this back and forth:

Personally, I find the show’s rape jokes especially unfunny. In one episode, Peter learns that three co-eds were raped and murdered. He says to himself, “Everyone’s getting laid but me.” Why is that funny?
Because he’s so oblivious. You’re not laughing at rape; you’re laughing at him being an idiot.

In another episode, Peter asks, “Would you rather be black or crippled?” Why is that funny?
Once again, it all comes back to Peter’s obliviousness. If Peter meant that maliciously, then it wouldn’t be as funny. We try to keep it so that there’s an innocence to the way that he conducts himself.

Not buying it, MacFarlane. I really enjoy her simple questions of "Why is that funny?" It's a comedy show and she's questioning not the moral standing or public opinion of the show, but at it's heart, why these things are supposed to be funny. In my opinion, MacFarlane fails to answer these with any conviction.

Also, the next Carnival of Feminists is on Wednesday at Jump Off the Bridge. Submit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why TV sucks: Part ten

Direct TV brings us this commercial, featuring a man (people on YouTube say it's Peyton Manning - I honestly couldn't tell you because I don't follow American football) standing in front of a large flat screen television, telling the viewer why they need to watch football games in high definition. His reasons? The "one-handed grabs," the "naked bootlegs," and "all the punishing hits." As he says these things, different shots of cheerleaders on the TV behind him seem to match up with his words, showing scantily clad female cheerleaders making grabbing motions, doing high kicks, and throwing their arms out as he says "punishing hits." Then this guy turns around, sees that the TV isn't showing football games, but cheerleaders, and he says "Real funny, guys. Real funny," as if he isn't totally into using women's bodies to sell a product. Good use of showing how exposed women's bodies are so frequently used to sell all manner of products, including products that have no connection to the female form, or products that are even claiming to be used for something completely different (in this case, for viewing football games, of which only a small aspect involves women).

Parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Inked: My stories, my ink (Part four)

So there's going to be two "Inked" posts in a row. Sorry. I'm finally back at school and am a bit busy, so I'm posting this, which I started writing a few days ago.

A few commenters on my past "Inked" posts asked if I would share pictures of my tattoos, so that's what I'll do here. Much like what Saranga said about her piercings, my tattoos were not about rebellion. The tattoos I have represent things that are very important to me, and I consider them very much a part of myself, for reasons beyond the obvious - that they are permanently marked on my skin.

Below is my first tattoo, which is Chinese for "peace" (I had it verified by several friends who spoke and wrote Chinese). I got this tattoo when I was eighteen years old and it's in the middle of my back, right between my shoulder blades. This tattoo was inspired by the famous picture of the man standing in front of the line of tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests in China in 1989. The idea of peaceful protest and making a statement, even in the face of what may appear to be overwhelming odds, has been important to me as I've grown into my political and feminist consciousness, and this tattoo was my way of summing that up.

I got my second tattoo on my left wrist when I was nineteen years old. It's the word "Tempo" in my own handwriting. The Tempo was the name of a local newspaper I was paid to write for during the summer after my first year at college, and was, in effect, the beginning of my journalism career. This was a very big deal to me, as it got me experience that is very important for any career. And this all happened when I was relatively young. It was an opportunity that meant so much to me that I felt compelled to have it memorialized in my skin.

I got my third tattoo, on my lower back, when I was twenty years old. I wanted a tattoo to represent my feminism, and decided to go with one that tied into the blogging I have done on Female Impersonator. The tattoo features a silhouette of a woman with the word "impersonate!" underneath it. I felt that this particular design (which I came up with on my own) most fit my own personal feminism and how I practice it - largely (but not exclusively) through writing.

So, there is my (current) tattoos and the stories that go along with them. If you would like to share the story of your own ink as a guest blogger, feel free to e-mail me.

Inked: One, two, three.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Guest Post: Inked - On Piercings

Editor's Note: Although this guest post is about piercings, it came about after discussions in comment threads in my "Inked" series (part one, part two). I still consider this to be a part of that series, as it explores the reasons and meanings behind another form of body art and modification.

This guest post was written by Saranga, a 29 yr old bisexual feminist living in a rural county in the UK. She can generally be found behind a comic book. Her writings can be found at Pai and generally cover comics, women in comics, women in general, Buffy, politics, the odd bit about sign language and anything associated with the above list, especially if it's to do with comics.

I think I first fell in love with body piercings as a small child. I have a recollection of seeing a (possibly blue haired) mohawked manpunk with a lip hoop when I was just a young ‘un – as for my specific age I have no idea, but I’m guessing about 5 or 7. It left a major impression on me and at that moment I became determined that one day I would have that very same thing. As far as I was concerned that lip hoop was the height of beauty.

Fast forward until I’m 22 and by this stage I have had several piercings – 12 in my ear lobes and cartilage, both tragus, the top and bottom of my navel pierced, both nipples done, one nostril piercing, a vertical labret, my septum, and lastly my pride and joy – 2 surface piercings on my wrist.

Fast forward to the present and a lot of these have been retired, either due to difficulty healing or because I elected to work in an office. Let me tell you something about my piercings –>

They’re not about rebellion – I hate standing out, I hate having strangers comment on me and I hate my loved ones proclaiming them disgusting.
They’re not about attention seeking – Apart from my ears you’d never know what else I’ve got.
They’re not mutilation – an ugly sensational word. I have self harmed in the past and let me tell you my piercings have NOTHING in common with self harm or mutilation.

So why have I got them done? There’s my personal aesthetic. Quite simply, I think correctly done, well healed and well placed piercings are beautiful. I am very specific about exactly where the jewellery gets placed, and what jewellery I wear. They need to complement the curve of my face, my belly, sometimes be symmetrical, and otherwise fit in with my limbs and my body.

The other aspect about it is, I get to model and change my body. These little holes I plant, along key lines of my body make my body *mine*. I can sculpt and build my body into the shape that I want. I can position jewellery and holes to emphasise what I see as important. The two in my navel – it means my belly is no longer a big wobbly thing that I have no control over. I have made it mine. I have no interest in controlling my body through food – ignoring the fact that I like eating, it’s not precise enough and it’s not healthy. The piercings are (so long as you keep them clean). My lobes are each stretched to approx 5 mm. I love the fact that if I take the jewellery out I can see them through my ear lobes. I know that *I’ve* done this, *I* can effect change on myself.

This may come across as rather control freakish, but there’s also another aspect to it. When I have those little pieces of jewellery in, those holes in me, I feel complete. I feel like I have finally moved into myself. I removed my vertical labret about 6 years ago, after having had it for about 2 years, and I still catch myself feeling like I’m missing a vital part of myself, like I’m naked. My surface piercings on my wrist may have only lasted 3 to 6 months, but they brought me a great feeling of peace.

Have I experienced sexism in the industry? One time when I went into my piercers with a bag slung over my shoulder and the strap between my boobs the chief piercer/tattooist commented on the size of my boobs in a gruff and rather unfriendly way. That is the only instant of sexism I can recall, and funnily enough it didn’t stop me going back. Now it would. Now I would say something back. But my underconfident self thought nothing of it, the shame. This is a guy who pierces nipples, labia and clitoris’ (clitori?). Comments like that are just not on.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced negative comments from strangers about my jewellery – not like when I’ve gone out without shaving my armpits, or had my belly hanging over my jeans, or dared to wear big pants under tight trousers, or tried to cover my chest with a coat because of lewd comments regarding the size of my chest. I have had a lot of negative comments from people who have got to know me, who then pronounce them disgusting and look sickened when I answer a question they themselves have asked me. Don’t think you’ll like the answer? Don’t ask the question. I have been wondering if this is somehow related to the phenomenon of women’s bodies generally being up for public ownership and discussion – I’ve come to the conclusion not, because the feelings I get from piercing related comments and generic abusive comments is very different. Maybe other readers can give their experiences on this?

Are my piercings feminist? Well, they make me happy. They were always done for me, not for anyone else. I worked hard to be able to afford and pay for each and every one, all by myself. If I didn’t have to work in an office I’d be getting my earl done and my labret replaced. So, while they don’t have an explicit feminist meaning, I think it’s enough that these little holes with their seemingly insignificant pieces of jewellery have had such an effect on me and my perception of and relationship with my body. If I had to remove the remaining jewellery I think I’d feel like a shadow of myself. And if you don’t think feminism has anything to do with women and their relationship with their bodies I reckon you’ve got a whole lot more learning to do.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Carnival of Feminist #3!

Welcome to the third Carnival of Feminists! If you're a student, a teacher, a parent of school-age children, an education buff in America and perhaps elsewhere in the world, then you know that this is back-to-school time (EDIT: thank you to commenter Deborah for reminding us that "not all the world is America")! For all those heading back to classrooms or sending ones off to classrooms, we dedicate this edition to you.

Martha Jackson brings us the 25 Most Infamous Crimes In Modern History from the Best forensic science schools.

Anji discusses her observations on Fat Phobia and Thin Privilege thanks to ♀ Shut Up, Sit Down ♀.

In the same vein, Laura talks about her own thin privilege in Owning My Thin Privilege from Adventures of a Young Feminist.

From Alas, a blog, Maia covers how Dollhouse's November disrupts a standard of beauty, tying together advertising, Sarah Haskins and Joss Whedon at November and Sarah Haskins.

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Ode To The White House Fashion Police posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness.

Stef describes What to expect.... when you weren't expecting as "A brief walk down the highs and lows of an unplanned pregnancy," from The Hand Mirror.

Harpymarx brings us an Interview with Sarah Learmouth - CRASAC (Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre).

Public Address has an interesting post titled Public Address Up Front, which says, "There is no amount of flesh I can expose on a night out which makes me fair game – sorry, the author of my own difficulties. It is, by definition, impossible to deliberately attract unwanted attention: it's unwanted."

Amelia at Female Impersonator shares her thoughts on tattoos, what it means to be a woman with tattoos, and shares about her own feminist tattoo.

Holly tells us about Mormonism that's not Mormonism in How to Be Seriously Frivolous (or, Feminism is For Grownups) posted at Self-Portrait as.

Faith Dow discusses the lack of balance in journalism regarding Black women, telling us that The White Media Sure Loves To Promote Black Woman Angst Don't They? from Acts of Faith In Love and Life.

Frau Sally Benz started an online feminist book club titled Radical Readers & Feminism for Dummies. Check it out and share your thoughts on Persepolis, the first book.

Editor's Pick: Hilary Lister's kicking ass and sailing solo around Britain.

Editor's Pick: Some tips, tricks and resources for people cooking for themselves or one other person. No 3 pound meatloaf here, thank you very much. (Full disclosure: I - Lindsay - wrote this piece for Gal's Guide and I think it's pretty awesome.)

Editor's Pick: If you're not a fan of Speaking of Faith, then you missed out on an awesome podcast titled Revealing Ramadan. SoF also has the space for listeners to write in with their own stories and photos of Ramadan, essentially opening up the program to anyone.

Editor's Pick: Lisa at Sociological Images on the problem of metaphors and penis fencing flatworms. (The video in this post may possibly be NSFW.)


Thanks to all participants for another great Carnival of Feminists! The next carnival is September 16 hosted at Jump Off the Bridge, so be sure to submit your posts!

If you'd like to host, contact Lindsay or Amelia at (firstname).impersonator [at]

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Burned Out

School hasn’t started for me yet. I’m at home until Sunday, then classes start on September 10. Even though all of my friends from my hometown are back at school already, in a way, starting school so late is good for me. To be honest, I just need a break.

This summer I had a research fellowship that allowed me to conduct research of my choosing for ten weeks. I was studying the impact that images in advertisements aimed at women had on their purchasing behavior, and it was a lot of work, and at times it was incredibly stressful. Because of this, I decided to cut out reading blogs and news websites to limit the amount of stress that necessarily comes from being aware of world events. I also took a break from blogging. Despite these precautions, several difficult situations arose in my personal life that pushed me over an edge. I struggled to finish my research – it often felt like I was clawing my way to the finish line, but I made it there.

I was physically and emotionally exhausted by the time I finished my research. I was somewhat alarmed by how much of a toll the events of this summer had taken on me, and I decided to go home for a few weeks before school started up to try to recover. Since I’ve been at home, I have continued to avoid news media, but I did start blogging again about some personal topics.

Last week I found out about Senator Ted Kennedy’s passing, and apparently I was one of the last people to know. I updated my Twitter saying, “Wow, I really have done a good job keeping myself outta the loop while I take some personal time.”

My mom got my update on her phone and called me a few minutes later, asking how I didn’t know. It was rather late at night, and I tried briefly to explain to her how I had been avoiding news media, and she in turn tried to convince me that it couldn’t be possible because the news was everywhere. I didn’t feel like arguing, so I ended the conversation.

I know that my mom meant no harm. I hadn’t told her about my break from “the real world,” and if it had been at any other time, I would have known right away. But this reminded me of a rather upsetting reality of my life: People expect me to constantly be tuned in to current events and taking a break from such things is no longer comprehendible to certain people.*

This trend started in high school and continues to this day. The majority of the students at my high school were either apathetic when it came to politics or held conservative views. When I “came out” as a liberal during my sophomore year, I was constantly being prodded by the more politically-inclined conservative students at my school to do ideological battle with them on any number of hot button issues, whether we were in the lunch room or the classroom. That’s when my news habit began to form. I would watch the news on TV every night, and I started to read some news online so that I was informed about all manner of current events.

By the time I reached college, I had switched to getting my news almost exclusively online, and once I began identifying as a feminist, I added blogs to my daily routine of news and commentary. Identifying as a feminist only seemed to add fuel to the fire for those high school friends that I still kept in touch with. My feminism quickly became the lens through which to criticize my liberal political views, often through the deployment of tired stereotypes and misconceptions. At first I tried to talk to these people about how it was absurd how they were using a misunderstanding of feminism to discredit liberalism, but those discussions rarely got anywhere and after a while I gave up on them.

Still, even today, there are people (mostly my peers) who seem to think that politics and feminism are the only things that occupy my brain and that if I do not want to take part in an argument they try to provoke, or (especially) if I am not aware of the latest breaking news, that I must not be able to defend my position (as a liberal feminist) or that I’m just not dedicated to my cause.

I find it incredibly interesting that when these people found out I was a feminist and that I knew about politics, that I was, at the same time, elevated to the position of a knowledgeable ideological adversary and demoted to the position of some sort of lesser human whose only function is to serve as fodder for the flapping lips of people who disagree with me and know that I will never convince them that I am right. And these same people get frustrated and just don’t get it when I need a break from world events and need to recover for a few weeks. Well, I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m a human, and sometimes, a break is just plain necessary.

* This is not true of my mom. The exchange with her merely reminded me of this.