Saturday, August 30, 2008

RNC Protest Info

Here's the info from my sister:

Here is what I've found thus far. These are not all feminist organizations, but they seem interesting possibilities.

The Liberty Parade. Not a protest but apparently a "big rolling art explosion" on Nicollet mall in downtown Mlps.
Sunday, August 31st. 1:00-3:00 pm

March on the RNC. Anti-war protest.
Assembly at 11:00 am at the capital. March to Xcel
Monday, September 1st.

14 Women. Move screening. Explores advantages and disadvantages of being a female politician in today's political climate.
Tuesday, September 2nd. 12:30-3:30pm.

My favorite, although not during the RNC.
Planned Parenthood fundraiser with Garrison Keillor, Mayor R.T. Rybak, and Mayor Chris Coleman.
$75 donation gets you a ticket.
September 12th. 5:30-7:00 pm.

A ton of things going on for Code Pink. Here is their calendar.
Wish I could be there... with you in spirit, friends.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Strong bodies, strong sexualization

Other people have already said a lot about the sexualization of women's bodies during the Olympics - in magazines, in uniforms, in commentating and by the absence of discussion of men's attractiveness, and in expectations of what a female body should look like. They're all great discussions and raise questions about the public display of women's bodies, both in athletic settings and just in general.

I don't want to repeat too much of what has already been said, but I began thinking about the display of strong female bodies while watching American Gladiators a few weeks ago. Much like the Olympics, the women's uniforms were a lot "sexier" than the men's; for example, women are often in bikinis (or things similiar). One women's outfit consists of a black leather corset while another wears a skirt. Not only do their outfits reflect this, the pictures and poses often try to make the women look as sexy as possible while the men's photos mostly work to show their physical strength (or potential for physical strength).

Is it possible to show a women's body in public that displays strength but without sexualizing it?

In an athletic setting, I think soccer does a pretty good job on the uniform end. I'm just not sure if we can escape the curse of the bikini, especially in cases like the Olympics where it's required for beach volleyball. Superhero movies don't help either, when Catwoman and Wonder Woman even have to deal with it.

When thinking about it, I was reminded of this picture that does a pretty good job, in my opinion.

I am a little bias, though. That's my great grandma Fern, one of the coolest ladies I know. Not an athletic uniform, but still, the photo displays a sense of strength.

Monday, August 25, 2008

RNC Protesting

Minneapolis/St. Paul has been preparing to welcome the RNC to town next week, however, not surprisingly some people are a little unhappy about it. There's going to be massive demonstrations and protests from all different organizations, some peaceful, some aimed at civil disobedience.

My sister sent me this email today (I just flew back from Mpls yesterday so I'm unpacking at school now):
Since I'm sure you're not doing much today (moving all your belongings is a cinch), can
you make me a list of groups I should march with during the RNC?

I've thought of Code Pink, but I'm kinda stuck otherwise. Everyone else seems to be an
anarchist. I want some feminist action.
What do you think of Code Pink?

Anybody have any suggestions? Has anyone demonstrated with Code Pink before and can offer some advice?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Design my next tattoo! Seriously!

I haven't been posting much here this summer, but that doesn't mean I've forgotten about feminism, this blog, our readers, or my amazing co-bloggers. Actually, I think about feminism, and analyze things from a feminist perspective almost daily.

But lately my mind has been on permanent body art. I already have two tattoos (one representing me as a pacifist, the other representing me as a journalist), and I want one more to represent me as a feminist.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about possible designs for this tattoo, but I can't seem to come up with anything I'm in love with. I considered a feminist fist like the one featured to the right,
but I am looking for something a little more unique. That's where you guys might be able to help me.

If you are interested in art and feminism, maybe you could come up with a design for my feminist tattoo that will be permanently
inked on my body. Yes, the power is in your hands, artistic readers!

I don't know if this idea will take off, but I thought it would be worth a try! So here are the guidelines:

1) I'm looking for an image (color or black/gray) that positively portrays feminism in a symbolic manner.

2) Aspects of feminism that are of interest to me that you may want to consider: the fluidity of gender/sexuality, activism in the face of patriarchy, weight preoccupation and its harmful effects, fear of the label "feminist"

3) I would prefer the image to be no larger than 4x5 inches (but can be vertical or horizontal, and does not have to conform to any shape) because I don't think I want a tattoo larger than that

4) Submissions (.jpg) can be sent to me along with your name.

5) Approximate deadline: September 30, 2008 (if you want to submit something and this deadline doesn't work for you, let me know)

Anyone who responds to this will have their artwork featured on our blog, and whosever image I choose for my tattoo will have that image featured in the header of the Female Impersonator Blog, and will be given credit for their work. Plus, they will have the satisfaction of knowing that a piece of their artwork will be with me forever and ever. :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quick Read: Rachel Maddow is awesome

Rachel Maddow to Replace Dan Abram on MSNBC:

Just in time for the closing rush of the presidential election, MSNBC is shaking up its prime-time programming lineup, removing the long-time host –- and one-time general manager of the network — Dan Abrams from his 9 p.m. program and replacing him with Rachel Maddow, who has emerged as a favored political commentator for the all-news cable channel.

The moves, which were confirmed by MSNBC executives Tuesday, are expected to be finalized by Wednesday, with Mr. Abrams’s last program on Thursday. After MSNBC’s extensive coverage of the two political conventions during the next two weeks, Ms. Maddow will begin her program on Sept. 8.

MSNBC is highlighting the date, 9/8/08, connecting it to the start of the Olympics on 8/8/08, as a way to signal what the network’s president, Phil Griffin, said “will be the final leg of the political race this year.” He added, “We making that Rachel’s debut.”

Just so you know I haven't dropped off the face of the planet, I've been busy this week visiting my family. I've got some posts planned about family relationships in The Dark Knight and questioning how we display strong female bodies.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Quick read at The Root

Check out this piece at The Root today: Double Take. It's about a mother's perspective on having fraternal twins with different skin tones. It's really interesting. She writes,

When the Western World starts ignoring our skin colors and starts getting real, maybe we'll see these "miracle twin" stories for exactly what they are: living proof that it's time we rethink the concept of "race."

Ethnicity and culture will always be real, but the concept of race is not that straightforward. In America, there are some truths to face. We can start by facing a history many people are still too ashamed to talk about directly: slavery, miscegenation, class, caste and rape. Any American that looks at two siblings of different colors and is confused doesn't just reveal their ignorance of race, they show their lack of understanding of the history of this country, and where their own story fits into it.

Good stuff.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Julia Child: WW2 spy

Just heard about this today during happy hour, and it made me a whole lot happier: Julia Child was a spy during World War II. AWESOME.

Badass Julia Child

Take that bitches -you can totally bake a cake and protect your country from the Nazis at the same time.

I'm sure we'll hear more about her service as the report becomes widely disseminated, but for now, let's celebrate the awesomeness that is Julia Child.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Not "Cute" Enough

I've been watching the Olympics as often as possible the past few days. There have been so many things to be excited about, both as an American, and as a feminist. But last night when I heard that the little girl who "sang" at the opening ceremonies last Friday was not the same girl whose voice was heard over the speakers, I was confused.

Turns out that Lin Miaoke, aged 9, actually stood in front of the massive audience and sang while the voice of Yang Peiyi, aged 7, "who had won a gruelling competition to perform the anthem, a patriotic song called 'Hymn to the Motherland'" was being broadcast.

The reason behind this? Yang Peiyi was found unsuitable for the role because of her teeth, although her voice was deemed perfect.

Worse than that:
Mr Chen said the initial hopefuls to sing the anthem had been reduced to ten,
and one, a ten-year-old, had originally been chosen for the quality of her
voice. But she, too, had fallen by the wayside because she was not "cute"

So Yang Peiyi got her chance to sing, although she was not allowed to appear in the opening ceremonies.
"The main consideration was the national interest," [the ceremony's musical
designer, Chen Qigang] said. "The child on the screen should be flawless in
image, in her internal feelings, and in her expression. In the matter of her
voice, Yang Peiyi was flawless, in the unanimous opinion of all the members of
the team."

Yeah, Yang Peiyi. You sang with a flawless voice. But even that kind of perfection isn't enough to represent China. I think it's awful that girls as young as 7 are being taught that they just aren't good enough because of a physical imperfection. Nevermind your talents! You don't have the looks to match. And looks, really, are all that matter.

Personal Finance Blogs by Women

Although I've had problems with some of Wise Bread's articles before, this is one I can fully endorse. They've complied a list of women-authored personal finance/frugal living blogs, a pretty long list that covers all sorts of special interests from young women to women with families, women living in big cities and women in the 'burbs.

They're starting discussions in their forum specifically addressing issues facing women PF bloggers. It sounds pretty interesting and is a great resource for someone wanting to start reading more about personal finance or start their own site. Trust me, if you read personal finance blogs on a regular basis, it'll help you be more aware of where your income goes and ways to improve your financial situation.

Here are some of my own favorite women-authored personal finance/frugal living blogs:

The Economical Academic - I'm not sure if it's all women contributors, but it's personal finance from people in grad school or academia.
Girls Just Wanna Have Funds - Sometimes she gets a bit caught up in established gender dichotomys, but her finance advice is always useful.
Feminist Finance - Pretty self-explanatory.
wpersonalfinance - Another network for women's personal finances
Give Me Back My Five Bucks - A young woman living in Canada who is currently searching for a new job, so that's interesting to follow.
Stacking Pennies - I've linked to her before about birth control costs and I still like her posts.

A little Tyra love

I'm not going to lie, there's something I really like about Tyra Banks. Sure, America's Next Top Model probably isn't the best vehicle for promoting body acceptance, but it seems like the show is attempting to alter industry standards, from having the latest winner by a size 8 "plus size" model (problematic but better than another size 0 winner) to having a trans contestant this season.

Plus, you gotta love someone who does this:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Talk about whitewashing

At my work today, I'm going through stock photography for a personal trainer's website. Her main client base is older people, so I've been keeping an eye out for pictures of older people working out. There's a fair amount of pictures of older people, mostly riding bikes and things like that, however, the lack of people of color is astonishing. The utter whiteness of the whole site is a bit overwhelming.

I've seen two or three pictures of Asian people, but then it's children in karate outfits. I suppose to get stock photography of people of color, you have to go to a special website for that because, you know, POC need their own special interest site where you can get specific pictures of POC. You don't want them on the normal site with pictures of happy athletic white people. It's just not realistic, you know.

The first 8 pictures in search for "black people" were of white women in black dresses. That just pisses me off BEYOND words. And almost all pictures of POC have a prefix of "black" or "Asian." They're not just people... they're Black people and Asian people in ways that the others aren't White people.

No wonder the media has problems depicting POC without ridiculous stereotypes... the stock photography isn't helping.

NWLC: Women worried about the future... well, yeah, everyone should be

From the National Women's Law Center:

According to a newly released poll conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the National Women’s Law Center, women are significantly more pessimistic than men in their attitudes about the status quo in America, both on a societal level and in terms of their own lives. Women are more likely than men to feel that they are falling behind economically, and are more likely than men to be worried and concerned about their economic prospects.

“Women today face enormous challenges,” states Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center. “They often struggle to achieve economic security and health care that meets their needs, and face difficulties securing access to equal education and employment opportunities.”

The statistics are alarming: One in four girls drops out of high school. More than 14 million women live in poverty, and more than 17 million women have no health insurance. Women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. When women volunteer the most important issues facing American women today, they are most likely to cite: health care issues (including women’s health issues); pay for women and the issue of equal pay; opportunities for women in the work place; education; child care issues; and women’s rights in general.

This is no surprise - other data shows that women are disproportionately affected by the economic depression, slowndown, mush, or whatever you'd like to call it. I'd like to note that the linked article states women earn 80 cents to every white man's dollar - wrong (white women - 77 cents, black women - 63 cents, Latinas - 52 cents to every white man's $1.o0).

If 59% of women are worried about the future compared to 46% of men, I've got the feeling some men (and women) aren't pay enough attention. If women are disproportionately affected by the economy, well then damn right they're going to be more worried about the future.

I find this one pretty interesting: 77% of women said it was very or extremely important that the new president and Congress take on the issue of pay equity after they are sworn into office in January.

What's that? Women support the (idea of) the Paycheck Fairness Act? Who knew?! Certainly not Bush, who has threatened to veto the bill, saying it will cause a surge in litigation.

When President "W stands for Women" Bush threatens vetoing a bill that will work towards paying women equally, of course women are going to be worried about the future. It's just one of the signs indicating that this administration doesn't give a damn about the systematic oppression of women and, in fact, works to aid that oppression.

So yeah, I'd say there's a lot to be worried about.

Thanks to the heads-up from our friends at the National Women's Law Center, their Womenstake blog about their survey, their Platform for Progress, and a piece from Politico.

Adios Amigas (until September)!

Hello Lovely Readers,

I've been pretty much totally absent from the blog the last few weeks because of work and general summer busy-ness. And tomorrow I'm leaving for a three week trip to Mexico, so I won't be writing again until September. I'm going with my friend Melissa to visit her extended family in a small town in the Guerrero province, Coacoyula, and Mexico City. I speak practically no Spanish, and her family speaks no English, so it will definately be an adventure. Hopefully, I will pick up a little Spanish and have some things to write about when I return.

Also, I was in Chicago last week for Lollapalooza (which was amazing; how I love you Amy Millan of Broken Social Scene), and I stopped to get some coffee. While I was waiting, I started talking to the woman in line behind me who had complimented my hair color (I just dyed it from blonde to brown). She explained that she was a male to female transgender woman going through transition, and she was trying to decide what color to do her hair. We chatted for a bit about our favorite make-up brands, hair colors, and the quest for a perfect little black dress. After getting our coffee we parted ways, but it just reminded me about the truth behind the name of our blog. We all have to work to be "women" whether we were born that way or not.

Have a good rest of August! I will talk to you all in September.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Advice for the question "Have you lost weight?"

It's my grandparent's 50th anniversary this weekend, so they're having a party and I'll see them this weekend. Usually when I see my grandma, she says something along the lines of "Have you lost weight? You look thinner."

I never know what to say to this because 1-I don't have a scale or keep track of my weight so I literally have no idea, 2-My weight as a number doesn't matter to me, 3-My weight seems pretty stagnant for the past few years, so it's not like there would be vast physical differences. She says it practically every time I see her and I'm guessing it's one of those things she thinks would be a compliment (because all women worry about weight, right?). However, it just makes me uncomfortable because I never know what to say. I usually sputter something like "Um, I really don't know," and then change the subject.

For me, health is more important than weight. I try to eat well, although that's not always successful (I'm looking at you, cookies) and this summer I've started biking to class in the mornings and then taking my bike with me to work for the rest of the day. It usually ends up to about 5 miles each day, plus the longer weekend trips I take. Because of that added exercise, I think I have lost some weight this summer, mostly measured in belt loops and baggier clothes.

So what do I say now? And why do people feel the need to randomly say, "Have you lost weight" as a compliment regardless of whether someone has or not? I need your help here, friends.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

62nd Carnival of Feminists - me included!

My post on "'Cause I'm such a feminist, right? Haha!" is in the latest Carnival of Feminists at Rage Against the Manchine. Go check it out, they're always full of good links.

Not to mention the picture in the header at Rage is exactly where I want to be right now.... oooh, to be on a beach drinking a giant fruity drink in a pineapple.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

CNN: Still a crappy news source

On CNN this morning: Johansson embarassed by Obama e-mail drama

Scarlett Johansson can laugh about it now, but the actress says she was embarrassed by the media coverage of her so-called "e-mail relationship" with Barack Obama.

"It seemed to me to be like a product of extreme sexism, and I kept thinking to myself, 'God, if this was just, like, Kal Penn or George Clooney or any of the other (Obama) surrogates or supporters ... there wouldn't be (any) question about it. Nobody would even talk about it," she said.

Johansson, a vocal supporter of Obama, told the Web site in June that she and the Democratic presidential hopeful had been trading e-mails. Obama later told reporters that Johansson doesn't have his personal e-mail address, and that his assistant forwarded one message from Johansson to which he replied.

"I was merely trying to express my delight at Obama's commitment to his campaign in every aspect and his interest and his support (in) his surrogates and his staff and his fellows, and how wonderful and refreshing that is. And it was manipulated into such an unfortunate media frenzy of kind of a nonstory," the 23-year-old actress said Tuesday in an interview from Los Angeles, where she was promoting her new Woody Allen film "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

What? The media treats young women differently than young men? No way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Radio DJs suck part 2 (except for the feminist ones)

On Kool 108 in the Twin Cities today:

Radio DJ: "It was Barack Obama's birthday yesterday! He had a party and it was BYOB - Bring Your Own Burka! Did you know people still think he's a Muslim? Ha ha!"

Hmmm, maybe people think he's a Muslim because of assholes like you? Just maybe.

Quick Links

Some quick hits for you:

Are Blue Jeans a Feminist and Lesbian Uniform?
hilarious h/t to Pandagon.

Women for John McCain (unofficial)

What Would Unicorn Do?

Reusable Produce Bags

Barnabas Group
about eating healthy and staying motivated, written by the loveliest lady who has ever given birth to me and who happens to have her 29th birthday today - Happy 29th Birthday, Mom!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Well, you ARE such a feminist. Get over it.

I heard this in my French class yesterday:

Girl: (mumble mumble mumble) 'Cause I'm such a feminist, right? Haha!

To be fair, I didn't hear the context in which the comment was said, or know much about the girl's personal history. However, as a lover of sarcasm and verbal ironies, I can tell when someone says something they don't mean. Tone of voice is everything here, and the word "feminist" was just dripping with disdain.

We had just finished small group discussions about the movie Apres-Vous about a man who saves the life of someone trying to commit suicide and while trying to set him back up with his girlfriend (who dumped the suicidal man), falls for her himself. It's not a particularly remarkable film in itself - the women are simplistically one-dimensional and the film doesn't even pass the "two women talking" aspect of the Bechdel Test. The main female character complains that she doesn't like being alone aka not dating anyone.

There is a scene where the two men each climb up to the woman's balcony and look in, wanting to go in and woo her, hands poised on the door handle. It's set up humorously, but I'm not sure what's so damn funny about stalking someone. Not to mention the multiple references to the woman's ex-boyfriend (after the suicidal man) encouraging the woman to drink so she'll be easier to get into bed, after she dumps him for cheating on her. The whole plot revolves around the main character trying to get the suicidal man and the woman back together, even though the woman calls the man overly-emotional and someone she doesn't want to date. The woman's desires and thoughts have no bearing in the plot of the film; she has no agency - it just matters to get her hooked up with one of the men.

All in all, a run-of-the-mill bad comedy with misogynist overtones; at least I know now the French can make just as shitty movies as we can here in America.

So when the girl said, "'Cause I'm such a feminist, right? Haha!" I'm guessing it wasn't because she was pissed about the balcony stalking or drugged rape or all-around negative female portrayal, but that someone said the word "feminism" and she jumped to the bra-burning angry dyke stereotype.

Here's what I have to say to that: Do you like being able to go to school? Are you for equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender? How about your best friend from Mexico (someone she mentions in class), do you want her to make 53 cents to every dollar a white man makes? Are you comfortable with handing your bodily sovereignty over to a politician who cares more about making sure you have no say over the activities of your uterus than about you? Do you like being able to afford birth control of any kind? How about having access to birth control in general? Will you concede all decisions about sexual activity to a future spouse? Do you like having the choice to get married at all?

Well then, let me break the bad news: YOU'RE A FEMINIST.

I know, it's kinda shocking, but it's true. Don't worry, your leg hair and armpit hair aren't going to grow out instantly and you'll still be attracted to whoever you want to be. But it's ok. You can call yourself a feminist and we won't think any less of you. Seriously. It's ok to be a feminist. Some might even say it's good to be one. You'll have better sex and relationships.

So... yeah. You ARE such a feminist. Congratulations!

Sexual Assault in the Military Only Happens To White Women?

There's an article on CNN's front page today about sexual assault in the military - 41% of all women in the military report sexual assault. If you've been keeping up with some of the larger feminist/progressive blogs, you're probably familiar with the statistics and information already.

Sadly, it's not surprising the picture they have representing the victims is a white woman. I don't mean to trivialize or marginalize the brutality of her rape and subsequent murder, just that often times when something happens to women of color, it goes unnoticed. When the same thing happens to a white woman, law enforcement takes it seriously and kicks into high gear. See: Lacee Peterson, Natalee Hollaway, etc. What about Camille Johnson or Jasmine Kasner? Those are just the first two names I grabbed off of Black and Missing.

If you haven't heard about Pfc. LaVena Johnson, you should have. From their site:

An Army representative initially told LaVena's father, Dr. John Johnson, that his daughter died of "died of self-inflicted, noncombat injuries," but initially added that it was not a suicide. The subsequent Army investigation reversed this finding and declared LaVena's death a suicide, a finding refuted by the soldier's family. In an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dr. Johnson pointed to indications that his daughter had endured a physical struggle before she died - two loose front teeth, a "busted lip" that had to be reconstructed by the funeral home - suggesting that "someone might have punched her in the mouth."

Her family is trying to get some answers to her death, but they've been virtually ignored. Where's the CNN page for that? When the statistic says that 41% of women in the military report sexual assault (29% report rape), that means ALL women, not just white ones.