Tag Archives: internet

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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“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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Dolls for Disabled Children

I grew up with American Girl dolls. I had a Kirsten (because my heritage is Swedish American) and a Molly – because she had glasses! I loved that I had a doll who had to wear glasses like I did.  It definitely helped me to understand that glasses were a normal part of my image and nothing to be embarrassed by.

I only wish they’d had the hearing aids for their dolls when I was a child. When I was 10 or 11 I got my first hearing aid. It was a behind the ear, purple, and you could see through it to see all the gears and pieces that made it work. When I first got it, I thought it was really cool. But then my classmates figured something out – they could tease me using the hearing aid. Whistling into it, yelling into it. One kid chewed gum right next to me as loudly as possible.

So I stopped wearing my hearing aid.

Like the glasses, I feel like having a doll who can wear a hearing aid, or who uses a wheelchair, or crutches – it normalizes the disability for children. American Girl is doing something which could theoretically help make growing up disabled a lot easier. Being able to show your friends or classmates “My doll has a hearing aid like I do” might help. Or maybe it won’t. But at least on the inside, you can play with a doll that has your disability, and you can take out your dolls hearing aid just like you do yours, and it would help YOU the child normalize being a person who needs adaptive devices.  It isn’t just adaptive devices which the company is offering, however. They are also now offering dolls without hair – so that sick children can have dolls that look like them too. Again, acceptance is power.

To me, this isn’t just dolls having accessories – it’s a company choosing to help children understand themselves better, and to bring acceptance of themselves into their lives. There’s not a lot of movement when it comes to helping children with disabilities be accepted as “normal” in mainstream society. The wheelchair using Barbie named Becky was still used to reinforce the inspirational rhetoric surrounding people with disabilities, whereas the American Girl doll isn’t trying to say how amazing people with disabilities are, it’s trying to say that they just ARE.

The intention behind these dolls is almost as important as the dolls themselves, because their packaging, advertising, and description does impact children and how their families interact with the toys themselves. The presentation of a wheelchair Barbie may be significantly different from that of an American Girl.

I for one am pleased to see a mainstream dollmaker beginning to accept difference in ability, as they have always accepted difference in skin color, and in eyesight. I look forward to their continued push forward for diversity and acceptance.

 

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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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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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As Featured On:

Well, this dovetails awfully nicely! My piece “It Happened to Me: I’m Disabled But People Don’t Think I’m Blind Enough” is over at xojane.com!

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Bullying – It’s not just for kids anymore.

I was bullied in middle school. I was the kid you made fun of.

Well, as an adult I’m tired of watching the scenes of bullying play out again and again and again. Over the internet, in workplaces, during lectures. And it’s not just about the middle schoolers anymore. It’s about adults.

And the bullying isn’t targeted at straight, white men. It’s targeted at women. Smart, vivacious, intelligent women. Women whose bodies are used to attack them. The bullying is anti-feminist rhetoric. It is anti-woman rhetoric. It  has in one instance been anti gay rhetoric. And it has to stop.

The one year anniversary of the Tyler Clementi suicide was last month. He committed suicide because his roommate secretly streamed a “romantic interlude” on the internet. Tyler Clementi was gay. His roommate outed him to the entire world, and as a result he jumped off the George Washington Bridge.  The individual who outed him was sentenced to jail for a mere 30 days. 30 days for outing someone, and causing them to jump to their death. 30 days for bullying someone into such a state of depression.

Amanda Todd was a fifteen year old Canadian girl. She is the youngest person I write about today. She posted a YouTube video about her experience of being cyber bullied as a cry for help. A year ago she started befriending people on the internet and was convinced to flash a topless photo.

One year later, a man contacted her on Facebook, threatening to send around the picture of her topless “if [she] don’t put on a show.” Terrifyingly, the stranger knew everything about her: her address, school, friends, relatives, and the names of her family members. Soon, her naked photo had been forwarded “to everyone.” – Huffington Post

She was found dead, bullied with the image of her own body, and the shame that she felt knowing that everyone had seen her topless. It is possible to bully someone to death, and both Tyler and Amanda are examples of how it is done.

But bullying isn’t just for teenagers and college students. Adult women are receiving the same kind of treatment.

” Anita Sarkeesian runs Feminist Frequency, and writes similar things to what I do, except that she critiques video games. After her kickstarter in order to fund a project called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.  She seeks to interrogate the kinds of stereotypes which permeate gender dialogue in video games. And because of that, she has been attacked by the internet. The kind of bullying she has been the target of has made video games about punching her in the face, photoshopping pictures of her being raped by Mario, She’s not relenting because of the attacks, she’s standing up and telling everyone what is happening to her. But this doesn’t change the fact that this is what’s happening to her, and it’s scary. (Please follow the link. Anita has documented her harassment thoroughly, and as upsetting as the information is, I think it’s important for everyone to see it.)

This morning, I found out about yet another woman being attacked for speaking out against sexism – Rebecca Watson, a member of the skeptic community has been attacked for speaking out against feminism. In her own community. “It wasn’t until I started talking about feminism to skeptics that I realized I didn’t have a safe space.” she said to slate.com.

She had very good reason to say this, the paragon of atheist thought Richard Dawkins even spoke against her “whining” about female genital mutilation and sexism. But it was because of this that people said they’d like her to be raped and killed. And they laughed about it. But it’s when the tweets start getting personally threatening that I really begin to fear for her:

Wow. Okay. So now we’ve stepped away from creepy photos, and from obnoxious comments on blog posts and YouTube posts to actually threatening to grope a woman in an elevator. Ha. ha. That’s so funny.

Oh, wait. No it isn’t. And the conference mentioned in the tweet (which both Rebecca and Bill attended) took no mind of this threat and allowed Bill to attend, despite the sexual threat towards a woman in their community. Shouldn’t this be taken more seriously? Why is it that when women speak up against bad treatment, they are given no reason to think they’ll be protected by their communities?

Here’s the thing: I was afraid to write this article. I was afraid because I knew that I might be opening myself up to the kind of attacks that these women are receiving from the internet. That I might get dead body photos in my comments, that people may try to find me where I live. But here’s the thing – I believe down to the very fibres of my being that this behavior is wrong. I was bullied as a child and I refuse to be bullied now. If I see that something is wrong, if someone is being abused by society, or if they are being attacked because they speak truth about sexism, or feminism – I’m going to stick my neck out and stand with them. Because that’s the only way to beat the hordes of anti-feminists out there on the internet. The only way is to speak louder, rather than bury our heads in the sand.

So – what happened to Amanda Todd was cruel. What happened to Tyler Clementi was cruel. What is now happening to Anita Sarkeesian is unspeakable, and the fact that Rebecca Watson cannot feel protected by her own community is sickening. We have to stop allowing those who fear us to push us down, even if it means stepping a little closer to the flames of hatred.

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