Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Highlights of the year at Female Impersonator

2008 is drawing to a close, and with it, my first year as a feminist blogger. It's been a great experience, and I've gotten to know some very interesting people through blogging, and I hope 2009 is just as rewarding.

So as a parting gift to the year 2008, I have composed a list of links to the top blog posts on the Female Impersonator Blog, according to the number of comments. Since I could never pick my favorite posts on this blog, I left it up to the readers who decided to leave their thoughts.

30) "Pregnant man used to be a woman"
Written by: Amelia
Comments: 23

29) "On Being a Bookworm, Part Two - why do men look at porn?"
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 25

28) "Makeup: A Rad Fem's Dilemma"
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 26

27) "Not For Sale"
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 27

26) "It's Michelle Obama's fault"
Written by: lindsay
Comments: 27

25) "Male + clothes = female?"
Written by: lindsay
Comments: 27

24) "Seduce your way to a free boob job!"
Written by: Amelia
Comments: 28

23) "Women in Sports and the Lack of Media Attention"
Written by: Kate
Comments: 29

22) "Let's Talk About Sex"
Written by: Kate
Comments: 30

21) "On Being a Bookworm: Part Four - what do women think of porn?"
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 31

20) "To Clarify"
Written by: Kate
Comments: 31

19) "Eww: A Rad Feminist Reads About Johns and Their "Pain", Provides Witty Commentary"
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 33

18) "Jessica Rabbit 2.0"
Written by: lindsay
Comments: 35

17) "Write to Congress about BC prices"
Written by: lindsay
Comments: 40

16) "Menstrual blood is the new black"
Written by: lindsay
Comments: 40

15) "Birth Control Costs from a Birth Control User"
Written by: lindsay
Comments: 42

14) "Animal cruelty is not sexy"
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 48

13) "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"
Written by: lindsay
Comments: 48

12) "Grand Theft Auto 4 wants you to kill hookers to get your money back"
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 50

11) "If every kiss begins with Kay, what's the point in having a relationship?"
Written by: Ryan Capuano
Comments: 54

10) "All the naked ladies"
Written by: Amelia
Comments: 55

9) "On Being a Bookworm: Part Three - what are the effects of porn on men?"
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 59

8) "Hollywood Remains the Most Sexist Industry"
Written by: Ryan Capuano
Comments: 67

7) "Letterman 'Top 10' calls pregnant man 'freak show'"
Written by: Amelia
Comments: 68

6) "Sexual Assault and Humiliation Is Not Erotic"
Written by: Ryan Capuano
Comments: 77

5) "A feminist in exile! Kind of."
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 80

4) "The Mundane Rape"
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 91

3) "When You're Fat, You're Not Just Fat"
Written by: Kate
Comments: 104

2) "First 'plus-size' Top Model wears a size 8, cannot shop in plus-size stores"
Written by: Jenn
Comments: 107

1) "Oklahoma (Hearts) Unnecessary Medical Procedures"
Written by: Kate
Comments: 130

Runners Up: 1 & 2

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fashion is not political news part 3 - Catty Bitch Edition

Susannah Breslin at Slate ironically asks why more people are not commenting on Caroline Kennedy's looks/wardrobe/bone structure/makeup/any other aspect of her fashion, pointing to a few articles tracing her wardrobe throughout her life, tattoos and dealing with Jackie's obsession with weight. Breslin's sarcasm in her intro is lost, however, though the article. She asks why people aren't writing about Kennedy's fashion style, then unironically, writes about Kennedy's fashion style. Nice work on bucking the system, Breslin.

However, the headline only reinforces the underlying principle that Breslin attempts to sarcastically comment on in her piece. The link on Slate's main page is really my favorite:

Yeah! Why aren't those women journalists just jumping all over a new potential female politician and her clothes? Come on, lady writers! Everyone knows women, although somewhat dazzled by the big world of politics, only want to read and write about "women's issues" like clothes.

While the ridiculousness of the headline is obvious, it subtly suggests something more about the way women interact and comment on one another.

It implies that women care about other women's fashions because we're catty and constantly judging one another. If another women enters the public eye, regardless of if she's a politician or a movie star, we care about what she looks like so we can either begrudgingly like her style or (most likely) bitch about how ugly it is. Women journalists write about fashion because we want to show other women how fugly or cute another woman is.

It's ridiculous. It's gender stereotyping and puts all women together on the lowest common denominator. Implications like these only perpetuate the idea that women are cutthroat towards each other; we're more likely to get in catfights than work together.

However, before we get too deep in this, can we step back and remind ourselves that FASHION IS NOT POLITICAL NEWS. Parts one and two.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Freedom to marry and freedom of religion have a lot in common

On some earlier posts regarding gay marriage, discussion has often come to an impasse because I think homosexuality isn't a choice and some people think it is. People are entitled to their opinions just as much as I am.

Basically, because some people think that homosexuality is a choice and race isn't, marriage equality doesn't fall under the same guidelines as the previous ruling of Loving v. Virginia that said banning interracial marriage is unconstitutional. For the sake of argument, let's say that homosexuality is a choice and gay people everywhere are simply choosing to be queer.

The United States Constitution protects certain inalienable rights, many of those which we are unable to determine (race, age, disability). However, the Constitution also protects rights which we do choose. According to the First Amendment, I can choose to worship anything I want and the government protects my right to do so. The Framers included rights for things unable to change and those that could.

To those who say that sexual orientation is a choice, I want to know this:

In light of fact that some inalienable rights we're able to choose, how can you still deny marriage equality on a Constitutional level? Take into account the changing/unchanging nature of the protected rights of race and religion and the decisions of the Supreme Court to grant marriage as an inalienable right when answering.

I'm interested to see what people have to say. I have some thoughts on the issue, but I want to start some dialogue first.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

When videos say it best

I had been seeing these videos online and felt compelled to post them here because there are several people in my life who don't believe that there is such a thing as a wage gap in America, and I wouldn't be surprised if they denied it existed anywhere in the world.

What do you think? The second one is my favorite.

h/t Feministe.

h/t Feministing.

Gendered language and Early Christian thinkers - pt 2.

Last week I wrote about gender-inclusive language in early Christian literature - specifically the period between the apostles and Augustine (roughly 100-451 CE). I noted that because of the inherently male dominated world of theology and thought at that point in time, much of the language used to describe the Godhead had masculine pronouns (God as he) and all relationships were describe in male terms (Father, Son).

However, much of the theology they describe cannot be extracted from underneath the baggage of masculine language simply because it is so essential to what they're trying to describe. For many of these early thinkers, God is the Father precisely because Jesus is the Son; God is Almighty because of the existence of creation - I'm looking at you, Gregory of Nazianzus. The description of the relationship between God and Jesus is inexplicably mixed with the Father/Son language; it is an essential point of their argument that we consider God and Jesus within the structure of a parent-child relationship.

Consider the example of the king in Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince. As the little prince travels from his little planet, he comes across several people, one who is a king. However, he's the only person on the planet, begging the question of what he really is king over. Although the king would argue he's king of his planet and the stars and universe, there is nothing there that makes him a king. Having a kingdom is an essential part of being a king. This example applies to some of the arguments made by early Christian thinkers; God is God because of the relationships God has with creation and Jesus. God is God the Father because Jesus is a son.

Much of their writings were the foundation for theology from then on; their writings were referenced and built upon for centuries by theologians who created systematized theological doctrines. Both the original writings and the later writings based on church fathers are still influential today. These texts are not just a part of the distant past; they continue to impact and shape current theology. The inherent gendered relationship became institutionalized; while some people throughout the ages have found ways to incorporate alternative metaphors (the medieval mystics are particularly good at this), it's largely been dominated by the father-son relationship.

A large project for future study would be a re-thinking of these early Christian theologians, an attempt to try and describe the relationship between Jesus and God without automatically falling back on father-son language; to extract their meaning and place it in an inclusive setting. Some of the terms used for Jesus in the Bible include (in addition to Father/Son language) logos (Word) and Sophia (wisdom). It's possible to be more inclusive and it's biblically based as well.

Bringing in these inclusive terms doesn't invalidate the father-son relationship as described by the early thinkers; it adds to it. The problem occurs when we rely exclusively on one metaphor without fail. If God is incomprehensible, then we should be using as many ways as possible to describe what we experience. For every God the Father, we should use a God the Mother. For every God as Lord, we should incorporate God the servant.

While this focused mainly on the role of gendered language in early Christian theology and literature, another topic worthy of discussion is gendered language today. A comment on the earlier post actually inspired this post, but looking back, I realize that I only further clarified the points already made without addressing the Jesus as Son language used in today's theology and liturgy. I will address that in a future post, however, if someone is interested in this topic, I suggest Elizabeth Johnson's She Who Is and Rosemary Radford Ruether's Sexism and God-Talk. I really enjoy Johnson's book and will be reading it in the scant free time I have before my next semester starts.

To get you started thinking about this language, I leave you with the concepts of imago Dei and imago Christi - the image of God and the image of Christ. What does it mean for one to be imago Dei? What does it mean for a white, hetero man to be imago Dei compared to a queer woman of color? Or anyone, for that matter? What does imago Dei and imago Christi look like?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lindsay Appreciation Day!

As frequent readers of this blog probably know, when the rest of us get tied up in other obligations, Lindsay is the one who is constantly updating.

So, I proclaim December 18 to be Lindsay Appreciation Day at the Female Impersonator blog.

Thanks, Lindsay, for all the work you've done for this blog.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weight-preoccupation and the holidays

I have been super busy with the end of term in late November, finishing my novel that I wrote in 26 days for National Novel Writing Month, and the holidays, so I apologize for my lack of posting lately.

But while I was on my blog break I was dealing with a problem that I have been thinking about recently from a feminist perspective. It's a problem that many women face in this society that (no matter how many exceptions anyone tries to name) pushes women to extremes when it comes to their physical appearance. The issue I have been facing has been weight-preoccupation.

It isn't an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, but it is a real problem. Personally, my weight-preoccupation means that I get so concerned about what I eat and how it effects my outward appearance that I end up feeling bad about myself to the point of my bad feelings consuming my thoughts. When I was in high school these feelings often meant that I would eat a meal, feel bad about it, and exercise until I worked off all the calories I had just consumed (and then some). I used to spend hours riding a bike every day in order to justify eating a full meal. Now it just means feeling guilty and unattractive, which isn't any better.

The holidays are awful for me when it comes to my relationship with food and my feelings of self-worth. I'm home from college which means more food is available to me, and it also means that my family is baking a lot more than usual. Cookies, breads, and lots of other sweets are in abundance around here and every time I put something in my mouth, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of shame. Luckily I have not reverted to my old habit of exessive exercise, but that means I am left feeling unattractive. All because I indulged in a little holiday cheer.

It makes me so mad when I feel like this, but that doesn't help make it go away. I know that I am a beautiful person because of my accomplisments and what I have to offer as a person. But it seems that during the holidays none of that matters because all I can focus on is how unattractive I must be for eating some cookies...because the women on TV and in the magazines scattered around my house, none of them look like they have eaten any cookies.

Church Fathers and inclusive language - a possibility?

It's finals time for me, so I'm a little preoccupied with all things early christian. However, some of the stuff I'm reading has distinct connections to my feminist leanings.

As I read more and more of the church fathers, I find myself at odds with their use of male-gendered language for the relationship between the different manifestations of the Godhead. Most specifically, the Father-Son language that's used almost exclusively and widespread throughout patristic literature. I avoid using it in my notes, but as I'm studying for exams I'm beginning to realize that I may have lost some of the intrinsic relationship implications by avoiding those terms.

The terms "father" and "son" are fundamentally part of what these authors are describing - the relationship between begotten and the person who begot is at the heart of the debates taking place. The church fathers then verbalized this in whatever manner they knew best, which not surprisingly, was that of a parent-child relationship, and specifically the father-son relationship (fueled by a multitude of references to God the Father in the Bible).

I'm still very much a proponent of using gender-inclusive/gender-free terms for describing the Trinity in our daily use now (also empire/dominion-free terms), which means "father," "lord," "son," and other familiar terms are out in favor of "creator," "redeemer," and "sustainer." The bigger question now, however, is how to rethink the church fathers and put their male-dominated ideas into gender-free language while still maintaining the important relational aspects they were trying to convey in the first place.

Something I don't have the time (or background knowledge) for currently, but a book I'd be interested in reading some day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

al-Zaidi is my new hero

My new hero is Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi man who threw his shoes at President Bush this past weekend. In Arab cultures, throwing shoes or pointing the bottom of your shoe soles towards someone is an ultimate sign of contempt.

According to CNN:

Muntadhar al-Zaidi's feelings were influenced by watching the agony suffered by everyday Iraqis. Most of the reporter's stories focused on Iraqi widows, orphans, and children, said the brother.

Sometimes the 29-year-old journalist would cry. Moved by the tales he reported of poor families, he sometimes asked his colleagues to give money to them. On most nights, he returned to his home in central Baghdad -- one of the country's most violent slums and the epicenter of several of the war's pitched battles.

He's now been arrested and is still being held. How's that for a free society? As much as I could possibly try, I have no idea how al-Zaidi feels. I'll never be able to understand what it's like to be an Iraqi in occupied Iraq, so as much as I want to be able to understand, I can't. However, I fully support his demonstration of dissent and want to show my support somehow.

After hearing of the event, my roommate said to me, "Poor guy. Poor, poor, poor guy. We should buy him another pair of shoes."

Sometimes, at the end of the day, throwing shoes is all you can do.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dance Dance Party Party Awesome Awesome

Want to dance but hate clubs that are filled with smoke and men just looking to get laid? Check out Dance Dance Party Party, which is a 80 minute, judgment free, woman-only, alcohol-free dance zone.

In an article in the Twin Cities Daily Planet, Den mother of the Minneapolis chapter (there are groups in cities all across the country) Megan Krejny explains it like this:

“Most importantly, there is no judgment. You are not allowed to judge the fellow dancers and most of all, you aren’t allowed to judge yourself. Also—there is no talking. I know, you want to dance and talk to your friends, but believe me, it’s for the best.”
How awesome is that? I really wish there was a chapter where I live... if anything I'll have to wait until I move back to the M-SP.

Personally, I'll take Dance Dance Party Party as a woman-friendly dance workout over those pole dancing classes some places offer.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Adoption as a feminist issue - the right to mother?

There's a great article on adoption in the Twin Cities Daily Planet today written by Korean adoptee Katie Leo:

I am part of a growing number of adult adoptees who view adoption as a feminist issue, part of a continuum of reproductive rights. This perspective extends to the right to raise one’s child the same importance as the right to choose whether or not to bear one.


As a woman dealing with the pain of my own infertility, I did not want to think through all these questions when I first considered adopting a child. Frankly, I just wanted to be a mother. My decision not to adopt after realizing that adoption was in conflict with my political beliefs is my personal choice. I do not condemn all adoptive parents, my own included, whom I love profoundly. Nor do I condemn adoption across the board. I do think, however, that we need to reframe our discussion of adoption. And though this story is about international adoption, I believe this discussion should include domestic adoption and foster care.

I believe that if the spirit of feminism creates solidarity between women across social, economic and racial barriers, feminists should work to remove the obstacles that render women around the globe so powerless, rather than using their situations as a reason to take their children from them. We should also question adoption language that carries implicit judgments of who makes a legitimate mother. Other issues to address are using children as a commodity, and racial coding of mothers and children. And we should work toward the extension of reproductive rights to include the rights of women to raise their children.

Check it out.

Ed Rendell knows what's sexist and what's not, apparently

Hey, Governor Ed Rendell, just because you don't think something is sexist doesn't mean it's not sexist.

Remember how earlier in the week he called the appointment of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as head of the Homeland Security Department perfect because she has no family and thus no life?

Although he sent her a note apologizing for any personal discomfort, he still stands by his statement, saying it's "100% true."

Rendell added, "I think she's the gold standard for governors. She works hard, she's dedicated, she's focused."

Well then, he should have said that as opposed to: "Janet's perfect for that job. Because for that job [head of Homeland Security], you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it."

Big difference, especially considering the way that single women are perceived in our society... Old Cat Lady stereotype, anyone?

It's not Rendell's position to determine if his statement was sexist or not - he needs to step back from his privileged status and let other people have their own opinions on what he said, just like Campbell Brown did.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Get it outta me!: my feminist dreams

Last night I had a dream that my brother was trying to get me to stop doing something... I don't remember it completely, but we physically fought and I was mad that he was trying to tell me what to do. I was so angry in my dream and I even woke up angry. I had to tell myself that it wasn't something that he actually did, just a byproduct of my subconscious and that I had no reason to be so mad at him.

I think some part of me is afraid that at some point, someone (some man), a person I trust and whose opinion matters to me, will try to tell me that I can't do something or that I shouldn't try for my goals. I don't think my brother is the type of person to tell me what to do with my life, but he just happened to stand in for that role in my dream.

I've had other feminist-related dreams before... most specifically last year I was reading Cunt and fell asleep for a nap. I dreamed that the patriarchy was inside me, as in physically inside my body cavity, so I started tearing at my body trying to get it out while yelling, "GET IT OUTTA ME!"

My dreams are always a little weird... but I'm always glad to see when they have a feminist twist.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

No family doesn't equal no life

CNN's Campbell Brown is right on the money again. After a comment from Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell saying Janet Napolitano (Obama's pick for head of Homeland Security Department) would be a good choice because she has no family and thus, no life.

Brown says this:

Wow. Now, I'm sure Gov. Napolitano has many qualifications for the job beyond having no family, and therefore the ability to devote 20 hours a day to the job.

But it is fascinating to me that that is the quality being highlighted here as so perfect. C'mon. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is married with two grown children. His predecessor, Tom Ridge, had a family. Anybody remember a debate about whether they would have trouble balancing the demands of work and family?

Now, I am a fan of Gov. Rendell. He has been on this show many times. I like him for his candor. In our attempts to cut through the bull, he delivers far less bull than most politicians. But it is his frankness here that raises so many questions.

1. If a man had been Obama's choice for the job, would having a family or not having a family ever even have been an issue? Would it have ever prompted a comment? Probably not. We all know the assumption tends to be that with a man, there is almost always a wife in the wings managing those family concerns.

2. As a woman, hearing this, it is hard not to wonder if we are counted out for certain jobs, certain opportunities, because we do have a family or because we are in our child-bearing years. Are we? It is a fair question.

3. If you are a childless, single woman with suspicions that you get stuck working holidays, weekends and the more burdensome shifts more often than your colleagues with families, are those suspicions well-founded? Probably so. Is there an assumption that if you're family-free then you have no life? By some, yes.

Again Gov. Rendell, I don't mean to rake you over the coals. I know what you meant to say. But your comments do perpetuate stereotypes that put us in boxes, both mothers and single women.

In government and beyond, men have been given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to striking the right work-life balance. Women are owed the same consideration.

Right on the money. I've really appreciated Brown's commentary over the past few months... it's been a long time since I've enjoyed someone in the mainstream media, and Brown offers us a supportive voice.

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day - get tested for free!

In honor of World AIDS day, get tested! You can find a location through the National HIV and STD Testing Resources or if you're in the Twin Cities you can go to the Family Tree Clinic for a free test, located on Marshall and Fry in St. Paul.