Category Archives: Feminism

Sound Reflection: Tell a Feminist Thank You

Cheers and thanks to you all!

Cheers and thanks to you all!

Today there’s a hashtag on twitter #tellafeministthankyou – so I’m going to say a few thank you’s to people who’ve taught me, or who keep me writing.

Thanks to my mom, Paula, for raising me as a feminist.

Thanks to MTR, because talking about feminism in his office made me better at what I do.

Thanks to Kenna and Lillian, for editing me, for talking theory and genuinely helping me learn more about what I think.

Thanks to my husband for being more of a feminist than he thinks he is.

Thanks to Jo Jo, Sailor, Jenn, Amelia, and all the other feminist burlesque ladies in my life.

Thanks to Orli, Kate, and Mary for discussions of feminist theology on a range of religious backgrounds.

Of course, thanks to my readers – because without you I’d just be writing into the void.

Being a feminist is more than just holding beliefs on your own, but about constantly interrogating your own thought processes and challenging the things you think in order to further your understanding of gender dynamics in society. I think all feminists are served best by the communities they involve themselves in, and the conversations they start within their communities.

Who are you thankful for? Who has helped you become a feminist?

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Filed under Feminism, Personal, Sound Reflections, Uncategorized

My childhood landscape involved shooting at dragons

Nerf is coming out with a line for girls. The Rebelle – and the first item in their line? The Heartbreaker Bow. It’s… well… Pink.

And it’s for girls.

And for those reasons, I want to hate it.

But the converse of that is this: The function of the bow is absolutely not any weaker than the other products made for Nerf, in fact it’ll pack the same strength behind it as the Nerf Elite darts. The company is making a bow and arrow set targeted at the female child market, and  I never thought I’d see that happen in my lifetime.

But I also think children are smarter than that. And in an age where we have children who are recognizing that there is more than just gender binary – where we do have children who realize their gender may be in flux, we need to stop marketing to children with “Boy” this and “girl” that. We need to just start making toys for children. 

So that the 6 year old girl who wants to hunt dragons (or rescue them, as the case was with me) can shoot a bow and arrow and wield a sword.

So that her brother can play with dolls or a tea set if he wants to.

So that the trans child who doesn’t have an easily identified gender market can play without fearing gender identification by picking up a doll or a Tonka Truck.

Children are smarter than we give them credit for, and really – what’s the difference between the Heartbreaker Bow and the Z Curve Bow except color?

I know that Nerf did market research, that they didn’t just slap pink packaging on one of their other models and call it For Girls, and for that I do commend them to an extent. But why do we need to slap pink on it at all? Why can’t girls play with bows and arrows? Why weren’t girls already part of that market?

In a world where a young woman can choose to enter the military, serve her country – and now go to the front line – we should be changing our perceptions, and maybe it’s a small thing, but the changes start with the toys we play with as children.

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In Defense of the Work From Home Feminist

I’m so tired of feminists judging each other.

I know I shouldn’t read the comments I know this, but when Jezebel posted their “Most Women Would Rather Kick Their Husbands to the Curb than Be a Housewife” post we all knew I wouldn’t be able to resist reading the comments.  After all, the comments are like watching an ambulance filled with hypocritical feminists crashing into Betty Friedan’s house.

Here’s the deal – I work from home. I write every day, the days I’m not writing are days that I’m stepping away from my computer so that my brain doesn’t fall out of my skull. But for the most part, I write. The last month or so I’ve been quieter on Feminist Sonar because I’ve been working on other writing projects which I’ll eventually get to write about here – but the point is, I’m working.

I’m also the only one at home between the hours of 8am and 7pm on weekdays.

My copy of the Feminist Mystique has not gathered quite as much dust as one might think when I say this – Being a feminist is not antithetical to the practice of being a housewife. Especially in a modern age where women have the right to choose what the best plan for their life is with regard to their distribution of work, sometimes it just works out better for women to stay at home.

Putting me out in the workforce is somewhat impractical – I’ve been trying to get a job over the last two years with absolutely no luck. Part of it is the economy in the NYC area, part of it is the fact that regardless of anti-discrimination law, most companies would prefer to hire a fully able-bodied worker than hire someone with hearing and visual impairments. So instead of continuing the futile fight to find a job, I’m choosing to work for myself.

Does this mean that I spend more time at home cooking and cleaning? Yes. Does it mean that in the first year of my marriage I have had to learn how to cook so that my husband and I can eat dinner together? Sure does.

Do I feel like less of a feminist because of the choices I’ve made?

At first I felt like I was “letting down the sisterhood.” I thought I was being a bad feminist for working from home. With time, I’ve come to see that this is actually not the case. I’m not being a bad feminist because I’m making choices with my partner. Now, if my husband had told me “YOU ARE GOING TO STAY HOME AND COOK AND CLEAN AND DO MY LAUNDRY.” I probably wouldn’t have married him, and I probably would have given him a very stern talking to.

The fact of the matter is, I’m not the only one getting crap for making solid choices about MY family. A woman I know who made the choice to stay home with her infant daughter rather than return to work as an attorney continues to be told that she made the ‘wrong” choice as a feminist. My understanding of feminism is that we are supposed to be able to make our own choices, and make them without being given ultimatums by the patriarchal system. Sometimes giving into the system is part of giving in to the patriarchy. By choosing to raise our children with feminist morals, by choosing to make my own way as a feminist scholar rather than giving in to the corporate machine – my housewifery is also fueling my feminism. It is giving me a chance to be productive in my chosen field without having to sacrifice my time to being a secretary. Isn’t that a more feminist action?

Perhaps, rather than chastising our fellow feminists for making choices they’re happy with, we should focus on the upcoming vote on the Violence Against Women Act  (Call your senators!) Perhaps we should all buy some Girl Scout Cookies to support an organization which helps young women grow into adults who can think for themselves. There are so many ways to be a feminist and not judge the choices of other feminists. I think that’s the next step.

We can learn a lot from the feminists of the past, but one of the things we can learn from them is where we’ve gone wrong, and where we can fix our theories and make them less judgmental for the future.

Borrowed from the Seattle Times – Why VAWA Matters

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Has Everyone Lost Their Goddamn Minds?

The Anniversary of Roe v. Wade was this week, and with it my attention turns to the legal issues surrounding the fetus. Except that I’m not doing that in the traditional sense this week, I’m doing it in extra special roundabout ways where I feel that my head is turning like the little kid in the Exorcist.

In New Mexico, a bill is pending which would prevent rape victims from getting abortions, otherwise they’ll face jail time for tampering with evidence.

A rape victim should not be forced to carry a pregnancy to term because the law thinks it will break the chain of custody in evidence. Rules of Evidence should not apply to the womb.

Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime. (Thinkprogress.)

Oh, and did I mention this would carry a 3 year sentence in prison? This would be a felony? Why can’t they simply compel that DNA evidence be taken from every abortion procedure when related to a rape? Isn’t that a better solution – a more humane solution than to compel a woman to remain pregnant after a sexual assault. And how exactly is the pregnancy evidence? Are they going to demand paternity tests on the rapist suspects? Are women going to be forced to have procedures done to prove who the father is? And once it’s done, why would they want to know? I would hope that the state would assist women in adoption procedures if they so wished, but I do not hold high hopes.

It would seem that the conservative end of these debates feels that a fetus is alive only when politically convenient, it would seem that when a woman should carry a pregnancy to term it is only when it is the least reasonable for the woman, and the most “useful” to the state. Does this mean that because she’s pregnant, you’ll believe she was raped? Are we really going back to the “well, women’s bodies know how to shut that sort of thing down” argument, from Fall of 2012? Are we really this incomprehensibly unkind to women in this country? And if we are, how do we stop it?

There is an implicit expectation of privacy built into the Constitution in many places. This right to privacy can be found through the 4th Amendment in our protections against an unreasonable search and seizure. How is this bill in New Mexico NOT a violation of those expectations? This law places pregnancy into the public sphere in a way that no other law would, especially given right to privacy afforded within Roe. We cannot allow women to be placed so publicly into the sphere of debate when they are experiencing what many consider the worst possible act of violence which can happen to a woman. We simply cannot remove these rights of privacy under the guise of “saving evidence”. It is a direct violation of the 4th amendment because this fetus is being unreasonably seized by law enforcement, the government.

Tomorrow in WTF Roe v. Wade Is On The Books Week: Catholic Health Services in Colorado denies that a fetus is a person.

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PTSD in the Age of Social Media

I opened my regular news reading to find photos of yet another rape victim. Yet another violation of a woman’s rights. In full color. The imagery stark against my retina.

I wonder sometimes if the reason why I cannot get the images of my own trauma out of my head is because every day I have to relive something of someone else’s sorrows. Media is spectacularly exploitative. Of course media is. Journalism is about telling other people’s stories, and because of it there is a trend towards exposing the most painful parts of a story without protecting the reader from their own pain.

This is part of why I strongly believe in trigger warnings. Do they seem stupid sometimes? Do we need to make sure we don’t overuse them? Oh, absolutely. If I didn’t read the articles labeled trigger warning half the time I’d miss out on valuable dialogue. But we need to be cautious with our readers. We need to be kind and thoughtful.

The images of gang rape coming out of India will not leave my head easily. The images of the girl in Steubenville, or the eleven-year old in Texas will not escape my dreams.

I wonder if the reason why so many survivors of assault, of rape, of abuse have not been able to heal properly because they are consistently given images to resurrect their own personal nightmares.

I cannot offer any solutions, because I cannot tell the editors of the world that showing us these photos makes our personal experiences sing louder than the present. I cannot deny that some days, all I want to do is throw in the towel and discontinue my fight, knowing that there will be days where the hurt is louder than the sound of my own voice stemming the tide against violence.

Can we heal when we know that the violence continues outside our own safety nets?

I know I can. But sometimes I cannot know it loudly enough.

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“They’re Trying to Help a Dead Girl”

The hacking collectivist group Anonymous released a video of the Steubenville football players who took a 16-year-old girl from house to house and sexually assaulted her. They simultaneously posted evidence on twitter, pushing the gang rape into the territory of pure unadulterated public torture.

Anonymous released this video on the same day the House of Representatives refused to vote to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Since when is it not in the best interest of the United States to protect women from violence? I have hope that when the next Congress comes into session we’ll have a different result, but I can’t get the feeling of fear out of my bones over this one.

The young men who are featured in the video of Steubenville are the kind of predators whom the Violence Against Women Act is supposed to protect us from. Sen. Patty Murray (from my state of Washington) put it best:

“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right-wing of their party always comes first.”

There’s absolutely no reason for House Republicans to have done this. Absolutely none. This is an action which is shameful in the eyes of the state.

The actions of the boys in Steubenville may not seem related, but if we don’t expose this kind of behavior as violence, we’re not doing our jobs as a society to protect one another. This young football player is giggling about raping a 16 year old young woman. (Allegedly. Except for the part where there are photos.) This isn’t the only reason the two are linked. Even with VAWA we’re not doing enough.  Like the football team, people who are well-regarded in their communities tend to be above reproach when it comes to the issue of sexual violence. A woman whose husband beats her every night is less likely to be believed, if she reports it, when that husband is a well-respected man. It was the Violence Against Women Act which helped to institute marital rape as a crime in all the states of the Union, as prior to 1994, there were still some states which allowed it.

This kind of violence is unconscionable, and the fact that the GOP will turn its back to violence against women makes me question their privilege. I hope none of them have known women who have suffered at the hands of abusers,  that none of them have had to listen when they heard the story of a friend or family member who was raped or beaten. Because, if they had, surely they would have voted with their conscience rather than with their party.

Yes, the supporters of VAWA  are trying to help a dead girl. They are trying to help a lot of dead girls, all of them who needed help and didn’t receive it. I am sickened today by the notion that there are people in this country who are likely laughing along with the boys from Steubenville – and I hope you’ll reconsider if you cackled at his jokes about Marcellus Wallace and Obi Wan Kenobi, because at the root of those “jokes” is the willingness to condone violence against a person and to use her for her body alone.

We should all be helping to end violence. We should be doing better.

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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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