Saturday, May 30, 2009

Traditional Marriage

Not only is this new gay marriage PSA from Educate Against Prop 8 sorta funny, it also serves as a good reminder how sucktastic the Biblical equivalent of "traditional marriage" was for women. Ugh. Is this what the NOMers want?

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Friday, May 29, 2009


Take a look at this image:

See the blue line? That represents the number of people who visit The red line? It represents the most popular blog (The Huffington Post). The cyan line? Feministing, the most popular (so far as I can tell) feminist website.


Think about this for a minute. An order of magnitude more people visit the boring, business-as-usual site (represented by CNN) than the mainstream liberal (in the most general sense) site (represented by Huffington). And an order of magnitude more visit Huffington than the real social change site (represented by Feministing). And Feministing is constantly under fire from other feminists for being too status quo and privileged!

I'm not complaining. I'm not trying to claim that feminism is somehow irrelevant. I'm not even unhappy about the small numbers - in fact, the deviant part of me would probably want to do something else if everybody was doing it! But I am curious, even frightened: What on earth are all those people, the CNN readers so to speak, even doing?

Lest you think I'm assuming that these (admittedly inaccurate) Internet statistics are representative of the whole world, let me assure you that I did attempt to research other statistics as well. They didn't make much sense - supposedly, some 20% of women consider themselves feminists. It depends on who you ask, too: One study showed that 60% of women and men were favorable to the 'women's movement', whatever that may mean. But I'm not sure I buy it. There are 1.5 BILLION internet users. Somebody is visiting CNN (and Facebook, etc.). Are 20% of those people really working in any way for social change?

Have you ever noticed when an article about feminism (or anti-racism, or gay rights, or any other social movement) gets published in some major news outlet? Most people respond with indifference. A few identify, but more respond with outright hostility. You'd think that would provide the motivation for that 20-60% to act, but it doesn't.

People are simply... apathetic.

I attend a university with some 20,000 other students. There's no feminist organization - it died from lack of interest. There's a GLBT organization - which managed to score a grand total of 10 protesters at a recent marriage equality event. A student wanted to start a women's center recently - got published in the student newspaper and everything. On further investigation though, it turned out she really wanted the university administration to start a women's center - the students were only needed for lobbying, and she didn't have a plan to actually do anything.

Do nothing, and hope someone else does it for you. That's the way of the world, it seems. It seems that every time I turn around, someone's insisting that people are busier than ever. That we rush around, and don't take the time to appreciate life, etc. But for all that supposed rushing, there's very little being done. People, eat, sleep, watch TV (assuming they live in a privileged country), have sex, and die. They're miserable, but they don't care.

Back to the Internet for a second - how is it that millions upon millions can read the news, visit some random entertainment site, and never even consider that they might be able to do something worthwhile, to change the world in some little way? And the Internet users represent the most privileged fifth, the people most responsible for oppression. It's not that they actively mean to oppress, of course - they're merely apathetic in a patriarchal society.

Feminists like to make a lot of noise about some small specific issue. "If only that violence could be stopped, that inequality rectified, we'll have accomplished something", we say. And that is true, without a doubt. We'll have accomplished something, done some good. But is it enough?

Sometimes I wonder: Can we effect real change at all, without somehow convincing the apathetic people? Won't the stories simply repeat themselves? Even if people only noticed that there was something wrong, I believe it could make all the difference.

Just something to think about.

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Feminist by any other name...

This is my first post here on Fourth Wave and I am excited and energized to be a part of such a wonderfully brilliant team of feminists. Feminists...or are they? The term makes me think of an interesting conversation I had about the aversion to that term.

I was recently in a classroom, surrounded on all sides of a conference table with bright Women’s Studies students. We kicked off a conversation about bell hooks' essay “Feminism: A Movement to End Sexist Oppression” by trying to define our feminisms (Check out the article here). hooks’ article speaks about the fraught relationship to the term “feminist” many women, particularly historically-oppressed groups of women, experience. She explains “that many women are reluctant to advocate feminism because they are uncertain about the term. Other women from exploited and oppressed ethnic groups dismiss the term because they do not wish to be perceived as supporting a racist movement; feminism is often equated with a white women’s movement”. Hooks goes on to speak about the many understandings and perceptions of feminist that serve as means to distance women from the term, negating the power of claiming an identity that embraces women’s equality. hooks instead offers the idea of “one who advocates feminism” working to sidestep the problem of naming and defining for a broader need to push forward women’s rights.

When I first read the essay I was sort of shocked by the move to distance one's self from the term feminist. I happen to like the backlash that I get when I casually drop the f-bomb on someone in conversation. But it was sitting with these women from different backgrounds that I realized the trouble—or potential trouble—that the term could present to women who feel that their “feminism” is not presented or accurate in the term’s public image. I think most feminists--or at least little ol’ Midwestern feminists like myself and my peers--have experienced this sort of feminist misunderstanding. It’s what I refer to as the feminist swear, or the act of using “feminist” as a means of dismissing, negating, and undermining someone’s political agenda. It unfortunately has done severe damage to the feminist movement as women gradually step away from other women’s rights advocates for fear of be called man-hating, ball-cutting, lesbians. From this has emerged an awe-inspiring number of feminist qualifiers to better define one's feminist image: eco-feminist, liberal feminist, black feminist, radical feminist. Instead of limiting the definition of feminist, these terms, as hooks suggests, have served as a way of making a clear definition much more complex. I tend to believe that it is the basic misconception of feminism that poses trouble. Feminist is not some unilateral term that can be broadly swept over the population to describe everyone. Feminism is a term of multiplicity! Feminisms! I believe that is the means of using constructionist ideology to try and define something that has an intimate relationship to each person who chooses to employ it in conversation. So the question remains, how do we cope with the multiplicity of feminisms while continuing to push forward social change?

So, dear reader, what do you think? Do you think shifting to “one that advocates feminism" is a friendlier way of incorporating different feminist views? How do you define feminist? Do you use a feminist prefix like liberal or eco? If so, what does it do for you?

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Upholds Prop 8 Gay Marriage Ban

I'm so annoyed right now I don't think I have the wherewithal for an intelligent and thoughtful rant, so I'll just take the time to say this to the world:


Okay, that didn't really make me feel better. But the flurry I've email I've been receiving in the past few hours from various pro-LGBT organizations does make this disheartening moment a little less hard to handle.

In case you're in need of a little community therapy, like I was, go get a free "I Love Love" bumper sticker from CREDO, check out Equality California's campaign to overturn Prop 8, and watch the Courage Campaign's video "Fidelity". And, of course, feel free to donate if you can.


That is all.

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New Supreme Court Nominee

I've just been watching the announcement of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the nominee for the supreme court. She seems like a very exciting nominee and I just wanted to post this great quote, from a 2001 speech, that has already caused a bit of scandal with her nomination, but for me its a good sign:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life”

You can read the full article at the NY Times.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Some feminist lol silliness to brighten up my rainy Memorial Day

My friend Lauren just sent me a link to Bitch Magazine's new I Can Has Feminizm? blog featurette. It's undoubtedly silly, but who doesn't need a little silliness every once in a while.

A couple more over at Bitch.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Feminist Flashback #38

This week, a flashback to my childhood--She-Ra: Princess of Power--the awesome-ist Saturday Morning Cartoon ever!

Also, if you want to check out more She-Ra, the first season is available courtesy of YouTube.

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