Monthly Archives: December 2012

Advance Wishes for 2013

2012 is the year I started Feminist Sonar.

Today I have a small writing career beginning, a .com version of this site coming soon, and have been interviewed on Huffpost Live.

Next year I hope for even better and more interesting things.

So Wednesday we come back with a long piece about mental illness and media representations. We’ll talk about some new things I’ve been thinking regarding burlesque, and maybe even a few interviews with people. I hope they agree to talk to me!

Happy 2013, readers, and thanks for reading!


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Filed under Uncategorized

Having Fun Isn’t Always Fun and Games

I’m always up for sharing the work of those I know on the internet watercooler, and today I’m talking about the piece Lillian Cohen Moore wrote about Cards Against Humanity – a game which I love dearly, but always struggle with in some instances.

Cards Against Humanity is billed as Apples to Apples for Horrible People.

Sure, we’re all pretty terrible in my group of friends, but as Lillian explains – that can be a really big problem. Please read the article here: Save Vs. Sexism: Cards Against Humanity

So, I left a comment, but I’ll expand on it here:

Humor to cope with sadness is a major coping mechanism for me. In fact, I’m the person who makes her therapist laugh pretty frequently. But I think a lot of that. much like what’s hurtful, is in the eye of the beholder. The reason I find people being “PC” problematic sometimes is that we’re all going to have different issues, and we’re all going to get hurt in different ways. it can be hard to avoid every single hurtful thing ever – so we have to try. We have to strive to be better to one another – which is why the house rule I mentioned in my comment was instituted. I didn’t see the  South Park movie because I chose not to see a movie in which HIV/AIDS was a punchline. I sometimes struggle with listening to the ‘Book of Mormon” soundtrack because there are AIDS jokes that hit me where it hurts more often than not.

Giving me the AIDS cards is giving me the ability to choose whether or not to laugh at my pain. It would be significantly more difficult to change the deck to get rid of all the rape cards and give them to one person, or all the DV cards to one individual. And perhaps there’s a certain sense to avoiding this game if you really can’t handle certain jokes – I don’t suggest it to anyone who would be offended by violent imagery of Glenn Beck, for example. But I think this game can be a useful tool for those of us who do find hurt in some of the cards, and in this I think it’s useful. We can laugh at our pain, we can take the power away from our pain – and we can mock it into the ground.

So, play Cards Against Humanity thoughtfully – and don’t eat all the cookies at the AIDS bake sale.

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Filed under Feminism, Language, Sound Reflections

My heart is breaking today. I have no way to stop the pain happening in Connecticut right now. No way to give comfort to those who will need it most.

I remember when it was Columbine I was in school; everyone terrified it might happen to us too.
I remember when it was Virginia Tech. I was in college; the same age as many involved.
Today, all I can say is murdering, no, executing, children seems so far past the pale, that finally perhaps something will be done.  Perhaps people will listen.

Gun control needs to be taken seriously. Children were killed today. Children were murdered in their school. A place they should be safe.

Watching the journalists praise children for having survived, for being tough – this doesn’t happen in America. 8 year olds shouldn’t be praised for their bravery in the face of gunfire. They shouldn’t have to experience that in the first place. This cannot be allowed to stand.

We can no longer give in to sacrificing lives for some kind of liberty. There is no kind of liberty that allows someone to shoot children. We have put off this conversation time and again. After Columbine. After Virginia Tech. After Aurora. The question is not “If not now, when?” No. Now is the time. Now is the time to give future generations a safe country.

I will no longer stand by. Please join me in standing up and saying no.

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December 14, 2012 · 3:25 pm

Sound Reflections: Questionable Quotes

I read a lot online. I read a lot of news, a lot of information, mostly so when I write on here I don’t come off as an under-informed dilettante. In the last 48 hours I’ve read a number of things which have made me frustrated. So we’ll talk about a couple of them.

This is a new segment on Feminist Sonar, named after the way in which sonar gets targets. The targets give off sound reflections. This is what I found.

Let’s start with an interview with Deborah Feldman over on XOJane, about her book “Unorthodox” which is a book about growing up in the Satmar Hasidic community in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve read the book and I have a number of opinions on it, but her book isn’t actually what concerned me. It was her use of the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which had me questioning her opinions:

“So many of the strict Hasidic laws seem to have been created in response to the horrors that Jewish people suffered during the Holocaust. Is all of this just the sort of thing that happens when an entire community suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

That’s exactly how I see it. In fact I’ve used those exact words. I’ve come to the conclusion that when a community is founded on PTSD, you can pass that PTSD on to the next generation, and maybe even on to another — but with every generation it’s going to be diluted, and the motivation for keeping your community and traditions alive is going to fade. My view is that if this community does not adapt and reform, it will eventually collapse and lose its youngest generation. And the new generation now has smartphones and the Internet; when I was growing up we were really isolated, but there’s no way to keep tabs on people right now, there’s no way to keep them from accessing information like they used to. People are wising up.” – Interview with Deborah Feldman

I would really like it if people would stop using Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as short hand for “bad things happen and now everyone is fucked up.”

I’ll let you in on something that isn’t a secret at all: I have PTSD.

I do not think that I will pass my disorder on to any children I may have in the future. I do not believe that we can GIVE PTSD to a future generation. By saying this about the community she comes from, Feldman doesn’t just dismiss the fears of her community (many of which are valid – though perhaps they could lay off on a number of measures which cause outsiders to label them as insular and cruel) but she dismisses the trauma her elders may have faced, and the trauma others have faced in order to gain the diagnosis.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very difficult thing to live with, we have to fight to regain control of our memories, we have struggles to control our sleep patterns, and to learn to live with deep seated fear. I have no doubt that many Hassidic people have made choices about their lives based upon the events of the Holocaust, but this isn’t PTSD. PTSD has symptoms, it has specific experiences. It’s a diagnosis, not shorthand for reactions to horrific experiences. Please don’t use it as such.

Our second quote comes from an entirely different source, and for those of you who read Feminist Sonar frequently, you probably know what it is.

“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?” – Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Scalia really stepped into it this time. He has a habit of saying things like this about any number of topics which can cause most liberals to froth at the mouth and cry for justice – but in this instance what really bothers me is that he jumped directly from homosexuality to murder. No pause, no consideration. Murder. Look, I know that much of the conservative portion of the United States believes that having sex with a homosexual is the worst thing you can do, but the fact of the matter is – it’s sex. It’s just sex. You can have good, bad, or somewhat OK sex.  But unless it’s unwanted sex, you can’t really have evil sex.

The point is, comparing sexuality to murder is ridiculous. It’s overblown – and it tells us that Scalia has no intention of even considering the question of same sex marriage. I shudder to think of what he considers to be the rights of transpeople.
Scalia isn’t going to grant same sex couples marriage rights in this country – other justices are ( we hope), but these kinds of statements do not lend any confidence to me in terms of believing that Justice Scalia can be objective on any matter. His comparisons reek of privilege and of self assurances. I would hope for more decency from a Supreme Court Justice but apparently that isn’t how this works.

The sad fact is that this kind of a comment would be called trolling if someone were a nobody saying this out loud – but because he’s a Supreme Court Justice we actually have to take him seriously. This should be a line from a farce by Moliere, not something we have to take seriously. C’mon, people. You can do better.

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Filed under LGBT, Politics, Sexuality, Sound Reflections

Going Other Places & Talking To People

Tonight at 8:15pm at HuffPost Live I’ll be talking about my article for XOJane “I’m Disabled But People Still Don’t Think I’m Blind Enough”.

Please join me tonight for a frank discussion about disability and living in a world where it’s okay to ask “Are you really blind?”

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Filed under Disability Issues

Owning My Body

Yesterday I was waiting to cross the street and a woman grabbed my arm. “Are you trying to cross the street?” she says to me. It is the physical touch of a stranger to which I respond. ‘Please don’t touch me” I say in a polite voice.  It was also a weird kind of grab, she didn’t go for my elbow, but for my left hand, trying to lace her fingers between mine to guide me across the street like a child. And instead of reacting politely and apologizing for the invasion of my space…

She yelled at me for not letting her touch my arm saying I was “ungrateful”. As though my polite rejection of her invasion was rude.  It was rude to grab me without asking.

I want to remind people that they own themselves because so often we forget.

Socially we need to accept that we do not own one another. We own ourselves.

Women’s bodies especially are consistently given up to society without a thought. Young girls are taught to give hugs when asked – because feelings will get hurt if they don’t offer up their bodies to appease people they do not know. Women are encouraged to be pure, yet we’re also told simultaneously that we have to put out in order to keep our partners happy. Physicality becomes a currency by which we can trade for emotional happiness.

It isn’t rude to own your body. It isn’t rude to say you don’t wish to be touched. It IS rude to force people to interact with you physically.

Social situations often demand physical affection – but we shouldn’t be forced into it because of social obligation – we should be able to give physical affection because we want to.

Physical touch should not be currency. End of story.


Filed under Disability Issues, Feminism

Happy Wedding Day

Yesterday was the first day that same sex couples could get married in Washington State.

And my home state did me very very proud.

It also has reduced me to a puddle of tears at least 3 times in the last 48 hours. I have been raised by a community – and much of that community was queer, or trans, or gay or lesbian or simply nonconforming.

When I got married this last April, I made a promise to myself that I would not sit in complacency just because I’m married to a man. In November, I voted for gay marriage in Washington.

And today, I can share with you these photos from buzzfeed: Photos 41 & 42 are of people who helped raise me. And I’m proud to be able to share these photos with people.

Raise champagne glasses to toast the world, and listen to a little Etta James in honor of all the couples who got married yesterday, and all those that will get married in the future months.

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Filed under LGBT, Politics