Tag Archives: opinion

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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ADA Accessibility And Burlesque

I write about burlesque and disability again for Pincurl Magazine!

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February 5, 2013 · 6:02 pm

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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Thoughts on Physician Assisted Suicide


They were twins. Both deaf, both cobblers. They never married, were very close to their families, and they spent their days together. They suffered from other medical conditions such as spinal issues, but the full roster of their illnesses is unknown to me. On December 14th 2012 they chose to use the right of Belgian citizens to voluntarily euthanize themselves. They did this because they were going blind as a result of glaucoma, and they could not bear the idea of being unable to see one another, or the idea of being institutionalized.

I am a supporter of right to dignity in death measures in the law; I believe that when people are suffering, when they are in pain, that they should be able to die rather than to suffer if they will not get better. To spare their families the pain of having to witness their death.

But I can’t get past the uncomfortable feeling that these men were choosing death over life. A life that might not be entirely unlike mine. Certainly the idea of being blind and deaf terrifies most people – but I am both. Neither are complete conditions for me, but I can’t shake the the fact that I am reading about someone deciding to kill themselves because they are like me. The story challenges my ability to be fully on the side of allowing people to use the medical establishment to help people die.

In Belgium the law reads as follows:

To make a legitimate euthanasia request, the patient must be an adult, must be conscious and legally competent at the moment of making the request, and must be in a condition of constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering resulting from a serious and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident, for which medical treatment is futile and there is no possibility of improvement.

The physician decides whether the disorder is incurable based on the actual state of medicine, and the patient alone determines whether suffering is constant and unbearable. The physician must have several conversations with the patient in which he ascertains whether the patient experiences his/her suffering as constant and unbearable.

The physician must inform the patient about their medical condition, prospects, and possible alternative treatments, including palliative care. He must consult another independent physician about the serious and incurable character of the condition. This physician does not need to be a palliative care specialist.

Taking voluntary euthanasia seems to me a little premature in this situation. Certainly it is tragic to not be able to see ones brother – the twins had lived together their whole lives, never having married. Not knowing the twins personally, I cannot speak to their quality of life, but for some reason I can’t help but feel that their life experiences may have contributed to their inability to conceive of a world where they could not see, and where they could not live without some help.  I feel like the more people with disabilities are encouraged to experience the world,  the world seems less bleak. I know that traveling has made me more confident about my ability to engage with the world, not less.

The first doctor who was approached to euthanize the twins refused them, stating: “There is a law but that is clearly open to various interpretations. If any blind or deaf {people} are allowed to euthanize, we are far from home. I do not think this was what the legislation meant by ‘unbearable suffering’.

It seems that the twins had more medical issues than simply the glaucoma, but I can’t deny that the idea of helping people commit suicide just because they are going blind or deaf is discouraging. There are so many people who tell me that they would just die if they couldn’t see – like I can’t. So many people who have said that they would rather kill themselves than not be able to hear.

We live in a world of possibilities, one where adaptive devices, medical changes, and opportunities to live normal lives are cropping up every day. The surgery I had at 6 months old  to give me the sight in one eye has improved vastly. I’ve met people who have had cataract surgery in the last year who see better than they did before the surgery. We can’t simply give up because we’re scared.

Since I was not in the situation myself, I can’t say if this was right or wrong, but I can say that it shook me very deeply, and made me question a lot of things about the way I live. 
I can’t help but be uncomfortable with this choice, but I can educate myself about the choice they made. There’s no changing their decision, but hopefully we all can strive toward making the options for people facing deafness and blindness less bleak, and more hopeful. I hope that if I do go completely blind, or completely deaf, or both that there will be options which do not include suicide. Because I don’t want to give up.

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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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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.

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