Saturday, June 6, 2009

Feminist Anthems: "Something Inside Of Me" (Wicked Wisdom)

Anger is a fascinating emotion. On one hand, it's a natural, normal reaction to a negative situation, just another piece in the range of human expression. On the other hand, though, anger is seen as overly violent, as a nonconstructive way of dealing.

Especially for women.

We're taught that women aren't supposed to get angry. Sugar and spice and all that. We're supposed to collapse and cry in negative situations. Anger is a sort of 'tough job' that is reserved for the men. If we do express anger? We're bitches and shrews.

As feminists/womanists, we're opposed to that concept, of course. We're allowed to be angry. And we certainly spend our fair share of time being angry - enough that the 'angry feminist' is one of the more common stereotypes. There's honestly little wrong with that. Anger gets stuff done.

But there's a further layer to the emotion:

Feminists tend to be angry about something. We're angry about a problem, and want it fixed: a organization created, a law enacted, media representation of x, acceptance of y, society changed. And this song is seemingly the same. It's about sexual abuse of children - a important issue if there ever was one. The singer is rightfully angry about it. "VIOLATED LITTLE GIRLS AND / LITTLE BOYS I HATE THIS WORLD" But notice her 'solution'. It is to change anything? Is it a 'fuck you' sort of reaction?

No, she instead wants to "...break / that muthafucka’s neck"!

This isn't constructive anger. It's simple, unmitigated rage. And yet - at some level it seems completely appropriate. 2,400 children will be sexually abused today, in the US alone. How can you honestly respond any other way?

Now, I'm fairly certain Jada Pinkett Smith isn't actually advocating vigilante violence against child molesters. The song is, after all, entitled 'Something Inside of Me'. Still, this sort of anger is helpful, even needed - as a motivator, as a clarifier, as a release.

There's a place for calm. There's a place for righteous anger, and there's a place for the violent outburst.

Embrace the rage! (But only musically, please...)

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Feminist Television Characters (with clips!)

Jezebel just published a list of 20 feminist television characters and, although their list is great, they also lament that 1) most of the characters aren't that recent and 2) they're almost all white. While the latter is pretty much true of television in general--with a few exceptions--I thought I could still find a few more women from the 1990s and the 2000s to add to the list...especially a few more women of color.

Here are five more feminist television characters--three of whom are of color--just off the top of my head (and in order of appearance). Tell me more in the comments (Buffy and Xena are already givens)!

1. Clair Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad), The Cosby Show (1984-1992)

2. Winifred 'Freddie' Brooks (Cree Summer), A Different World (1987-1993)

(Freddie comes in around 3:30 or so, but the whole clip's interesting -- this episode dealt with domestic violence. A Different World might be one of my favorite sitcoms of all time.)

3. B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson), Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)

I couldn't find a good, representative clip of her awesomeness (although, admittedly, they tamed her down a good bit over Voyager's seven seasons), but you should watch this fun little tribute video for the women of Voyager (Torres, Captain Janeway, and Seven) set to Salt-N-Pepa's "Ain't Nuthin' But A She Thing." It's priceless!

4. C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney), The West Wing (1999-2006)

Probably not the most representative clip, but I sadly, don't have all day to troll around Youtube! ;-) However, speaking of Janney, Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood just posted a great interview with her the other day.

5. Sarah Connor (Lena Headey), Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009)

Again, a compilation (made by folks who want to save the recently-canceled show). Still, so true...

That's all for now, folks! Seriously, though, add to Jezebel's list...and to mine.

Update: Check out the excellent additions (also with clips) by Melissa over at Women and Hollywood.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dear New Hampshire, Coming in 6th Place is Still Pretty Great...

...especially considering there are forty-four other states that are slow as freakin' molasses. Hop to it, Other States!

New Hampshire Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

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Feminist Flashback #39

So Monday I flew to Germany, with a trip to Paris to come in a week, to visit friends and family, which is my excuse for my lag in posting this week's feminist flashback. That said, since I'm currently in Berlin--my favorite city in the world--I thought I'd post an appropriately germane (no pun intended) flashback this week.

AVIVA Berlin, an online magazine for women, turns 9 years old this month. If you can read German, you should check it out. I don't know much about the magazine, but they've got sections on Culture, Jewish Life, Women and Work, Book Reviews, Interviews, etc.--all woman-centered, of course. Plus, and most importantly, they share my name and should, I think, hire me. Who wants to help me start a campaign to get myself hired as their spokesperson? ;-)

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Aging with Grace and Beauty

I just read this column by Lesley M. M. Blume on The Huffington Post and thought I would share it with Fourth Wave readers. It presents six short profiles of celebreties who Blume describes as "natural-looking, beautiful women of a certain age." Though these women should obviously be admired for a great deal more than their physical appearance, I have to agree with Blume; such women provide a refreshing and much-needed departure from the photoshoped, plastic-surgeried images of women that dominate the press. Perhaps our readers have their own role models who redefine beauty-after-50 that could be added to Blume's list. My personal favorite out of this lot: Carmen Dell'Orifice. You can also turn to this NPR report to hear Dell'Orifice's comments on the impact of the recession on the fashion industry.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Doctor Killed

I am outraged by the current news that a Kansas doctor who preformed abortions has been shot and killed.

Reproductive rights have been one of the key issues at play on my Midwestern campus. Countless protests and counter protests, picketing for access to safe and affordable birth control. A good friend of mine works at the only clinic in our area to offer all kinds of abortions and they have a steady stream of anti-choice protesters issuing them bomb threats and tracking down their staff and doctors. These sort of incidents serve as reminders of how much work needs to be done to undo the christian influenced sex "education" of many places in the US that serve up bullshit information as fact. Women need truth, not lies. Women need choices not oppression.

More details on Kansas abortion laws can be found here.

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