Tag Archives: writing

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

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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The Power of Hate

There’s a word I’ve been hearing a lot lately: Hate.

I hate white people.

I hate straight people.

I hate republicans.

I hate men.

Hate is a really powerful word.  I feel pretty strongly that blanket statements of hate don’t get us anywhere – but I especially feel that way when it comes to those of us who fall under the blanket of “liberalism”. I’ve always found myself believing that being liberal is a part of being accepting.

Where has the ability to agree to disagree gone? Furthermore, where has the ability to get along with those who aren’t like us gone? We live in a difficult political era. There are people who want women to have no rights to their bodies, there are those who say that gay marriage is a sin. There are those who don’t believe that being trans is real.

But those people have always been a reality. Since forever,  there have always been conservatives, there have always been people more interested in removing rights rather than giving them to people. There have always been those who do not believe they have equals. There are always those who put down others.

We don’t need to speak in this way.

We don’t have to shriek that we hate a blanket group, just because portions of that group are difficult to live with.

I do it too. I’m trying to learn how not to hate people I’ve never met. It’s difficult to not hate the Wesboro Baptist Church, for example. Because they do things I find unspeakable. I find it difficult to not hate Mitt Romney, because to me he presents a threat to my way of life. It is difficult to not hate those who ascribe gender normativity to those who will not conform. It is difficult to not hate those who want to keep gay men and women from marriage.

But I need to learn not to. I need to learn that there are better ways to make my point known than to hate. I can disagree vehemently with another person and not hate them.  Hate is such a deep-seated emotion – but the word almost loses meaning with how much I see it used today. If we all hated as much as we say we do, then I fear for the very fabric of society. I fear for feminism, because if we hate men, then we’re just falling straight into the trap of being precisely what the anti-feminists fear. Strength is not hate. We can have strength and conviction without the means of rage.

Not only that, but it hurts. It hurts when you area straight ally and don’t participate in gay bashing, but you hear that your friends hate straight people. It hurts to think that just because of orientation, you end up being lumped in with the very people you disagree with.

Hatred creates so many things. It is responsible for lynchings, for murders, for rapes, for many things which I would never do, and you probably wouldn’t either.

Stop hating. Start disagreeing. Start having convictions. Start talking rationally.

I’m not saying to stop being angry, but I want us to voice our anger differently than through hate.

Just stop hating your fellow human beings, and start talking in productive ways that change things.

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Why Teens Shouldn’t Read Twilight

Why Young Women Shouldn’t Read Twilight.

In order to verify this I went to the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website and took a look at these fifteen criteria. Now you go read them.

In order to go further, I have to admit that I have read the Twilight series. I did it for my 7th graders. In undergrad I was an education major, and since all of my 7th graders were buzzing about Twilight, I wanted to understand what on earth they were going on about. I finished the series, because my friend’s daughter was super excited about the books. I felt I could give her better books to read if I understood the appeal.

Here’s the thing – the books aren’t just terrible, but they’re the kind of easy read that sticks in your brain. They’re candy. But from this piece of information I have to conclude that they aren’t just candy – but incredibly dangerous candy. Because the checklist checks out. It’s true. On all sides. 

The books young women read have to stop setting the example that being abused by men is OK. Authors need to set out to not treat their characters this way, with particular regard to YA fiction. We are already raised in a society where it is hard to learn how to have a backbone. We already live in a society where saying “no” is not okay. We live in a society where the scene in which Jacob kisses Bella against her will gets her father to give him a high five. (and is meant to be funny).

Consent, care, and personal autonomy are all missing for women in this series. Yet it is always the woman’s fault. Every time I hear a young woman say that she wants to be like Bella Swann, or that she wants to have an Edward, I cringe. Because I would hope that they want a relationship free of harm.

It should not be considered “romantic that a man you barely know watches you sleep. It should not be considered “heartwarming” that in order to get her man back, Bella has to risk her life.

These are not the role models we need. We need women who stick up for themselves, women who find good partners, whether they be men or women. We certainly don’t need all fifteen criteria popping up in young adult fiction. Not in a world where domestic violence survivors are asked why they didn’t just run, or how they could “let” it happen to them.

Abuse is never romantic. Don’t let it seem that way. Give the young women in your lives books they can look up to, and books they can live by. Books that will teach them how to love, not how to submit.

Do you have a favorite positive role model for young women? Please share in the comments!

 

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The Truth Will Set You Free

Neil Gaiman shared a letter by a young, frightened actress today. I wanted to link to it, and also to talk a little about the nature of truth.
Anna wrote to Neil asking for his advice and he wrote back to Ms. Anna Gurji, and told her to send him her story. He said “The best weapon against lies is the truth, after all.” And he’s right.

Ms. Gurji was lied to, by the makers of a film. They intended to spread hate, and in doing so, they implicated artists in their argument. Telling the truth about this film is important, not only because there are people in other countries who are violently angry about the film she was in – and for this reason she has a right to be afraid. Telling the truth about this film means that she doesn’t have to stand for being a mouthpiece for anti-Islamic rhetoric.

As actors, when we do a play, we inherently lend our bodies and our images to the words and stories we are telling. Without the integrity of knowing what the stories are we don’t have the integrity of our work. I write today because I want to give Anna Gurji credit where it’s due, that she is willing to stand up, to ask for help, and to tell the truth. I applaud her willingness to stand up, be counted, and to speak against the hurt she feels.
I appreciate that Neil Gaiman wants to tell the truth about these sorts of things, because as a well known storyteller, his ability to be a trustworthy source only lends more credit to his name.
I thank them both for their integrity as artists, and their dedication to telling the story which is true, even if it is frightening.

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Why the new name?

Well, this blog has been in a work of progress mode since May – and now that I’m settled, I know what it is.

Feminist Sonar indicates what I do – I seek out things that need discussing, and I do the work that I feel needs doing. That’s what this space is for. So far, it seems like whoever’s reading this appreciates it, and I’m not stopping.
So, I’ll be here. Same snarkbat time, same snarkbat channel! Just a new name, and a new face to bring more people in 🙂

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Parody News – What it Shouldn’t Be

These days, many of us wake up to the fresh sensation of new horror.

We hear of republican candidates threatening our rights to our bodies, making assumptions about the very nature of how a woman’s body can “stop” pregnancy for a legitimate rape.

We live in a frightening climate.
Freedom of speech is something I hold very dear,  but I think sometimes we use the right to freedom of speech without thinking about it. I’m not saying places like The Onion shouldn’t exist. But I am saying that in a climate where frequently I want to cry over my morning tea while reading the news, perhaps making up new “hilarious” horrors isn’t the best plan.

When people assume a post is real – they spread the information – they then cause others to either 1) feel the same amount of rage or horror at the statements presented to them or 2) are shamed by their peers when they didn’t get the joke.  The spread of the information is what is particularly problematic, because the truth is already scary enough and we hardly need more incentive to fear those in power.
I’m not advocating for shutdowns, or for less humor in the world – I’m just thinking that in a climate where the unbelievable is real, the humorists need to recognize the fragility of the morning coffee break, and give everyone a chance to breathe. Label things as parody, or write about things that won’t raise the blood pressure of every person sitting down to find out what ridiculous notion is being shared with the world this time.

 

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