Tuesday, December 29, 2009

100,000 hits!

On behalf of all the writers here at Female Impersonator, I want to say thank you to our readers! On Sunday we reached 100,000 unique hits. Amelia founded the blog in February 2008 as the sole author and has built it to what it is today.

I want to thank Amelia for starting the blog and providing a space where we can share our thoughts on everything under the sun. She has been the driving force behind making Female Impersonator into what it is today. Without her, we wouldn't be here.

Here's to another 100,000 hits!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Tale of Two Models: 2 and 12

I think this is really fascinating:

Photo via The Frisky

V Magazine's upcoming Size Issue
has a photo spread of two models, one size 2 and one size 12, wearing the exact same clothes and posing similarly. There are more photos at the V Magazine site. Editor in chief Stephen Gan said, ""Big, little, pint-size, plus-size -- every body is beautiful. And this issue is out to prove it."


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lady Gaga, Racism and Feminism

There's been a fair amount of discussion about the Lady Gaga/Kanye West photo for the special edition of Lady Gaga's new album. You can find the picture through google if you'd like to see it but I don't feel the need to repost it here. I also don't want to restate what a lot of people have been saying already, but I do want to draw your attention to Thea Lim's coverage at Racialicious. The picture is posted at Racialicious also.

Recently I posted a quote from Lady Gaga's interview with the LA Times in which she discusses the difference between men and women in the music business. Thea is right to point out that this article, and notions of Lady Gaga's feminism, got a lot of attention, perhaps unjustly so. She responds saying:

While in my September article I gave a digital eyeroll to Gaga’s assertion that she is “redefining beauty,” I’m willing to reconsider that stance. I can see how Gaga often subverts viewer expectation, enticing us with views of perfect white beauty, but then ensconcing that beauty in the disturbing. She presents her “perfect body,” but covers it in fake blood. She dresses up in sparkly dresses and matching heels, but her shoes are creepily curved into scary bird feet. Juxtaposing images that are comfortable or normative with images that are unsettling or bizarre, Gaga turns the tables on us. Instead of simply refusing to allow voyeurism, she harnesses it, tricking and punishing the heteronormative in us, while rewarding our inner pervert.

And yet, like sooooo many artists who do interesting and progressive work in one area, Gaga totally fails in another. The very visible problems with the King Kong Gaga image suggests that along with some great parts of feminism – being sex-positive, being critical of how the entertainment industry uses women’s bodies – Gaga is also practicising the worst part of feminism: racism.

I think Thea is right on the money and a lot of us have overlooked this aspect of Gaga in exchange for desparately holding onto a subversive female artist. Feminists gets a lot of criticism for our treatment of women of color, where we throw race out the window in exchange for gender unity (or a gender unity that's silently/assumedly centered around white women's experiences).

While I know that we can't get it right all the time, we should at least try to get it right where it counts. The history of women of color being shunted by white feminists is too prominant and too on-going to ignore.

In this case, I held up Lady Gaga as a feminist role model by highlighting her quote. Although I still agree with her statement, I do want to take this opportunity to offer up Thea's sharp critique as a counter point to her image as a feminist. A feminist, yes, but also a feminist who plays into and reinforces racist imagery.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fat acceptance for 4 year olds

Today while reading a story with one of the PreK students I work with, she stopped me in the middle of the book to ask me a question.

"Am I fat?" she asked.

"No." I said.

"Am I skinny?" she asked.

"You know what?" I said, "Everyone looks different. And that's ok. Do you look the same as me?"


"Do I look the same as (another student)?"


"Does (another student) look the same as (another student)?"


"We all look different. And that's not bad. It's good. It's ok that we all look different."

And then we started talking about the different ways we get to school in the morning and how she wanted a bike for Christmas.

Now that I've had the chance to think about our talk, I wonder if I wasn't clear enough. If I didn't state explicitly enough that she is wonderful just the way she is. If I could have made her understand that her body is her own, to be judged by no one. If I should have used words like acceptance and love instead of different and ok. If when the other teacher called her "our big girl" and told her not to eat quite so much, I should have done ... something. Anything.

My student is 4 years old.

She is facing a lifetime of societal messages telling her to be thin, white, blonde, tall, physically able and more from every angle, explicitly and subconsciously. Already my students dress up as Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and other princesses that don't look like them.

Since the outside forces of society are so strong, should I have been explicitly clear that her body shape does not define her? That there are more people who don't look like Cinderella than do? That the standard of beauty is constructed to be impossible? How can I use my limited role in her life to help her accept herself?

My student is 4 years old and asking me if she's fat. How can I ever do enough to help her?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Woman up, Anon.

To the anonymous commenter who left this comment:

"I like that you moderated my comment that disproved your theory by not posting it. That's really open minded of you. I appreciate your ability to listen to other views. You are such a self centered person, Lindsay."

I just want to give the same speech I have for my voice mail - leave your name and I'll get back to you shortly. Hell, even a psuedonym.

How do I know which anonymous commenter I've offended when there are so many of them? Since it was on the Baby, It's Cold Outside post, I'm guessing you have a problem with identifying the aspects of rape culture present in a holiday song. Do you count this in the War on Christmas?

Also, anonymous comments don't change my mind. Serious rebuttals from actual people do have the potential to change my mind, but as long as it exists in a sphere where you realize that I have the potential to change your mind as well. I listen to and consider thought-out and well-argued points of view. I'm not so stubborn that I refuse to be open to new ideas on a topic. It just takes a little debate.

However, I'm woman enough to write and leave my name. I don't engage in debates with people who can't handle the same standards.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Labels: Which to wear to Christmas?

I came out as queer in 2009. The reason this subject has been on my mind lately has everything to do with the use of labels, my family, and the holidays.

For several years I’ve applied several labels to myself without problem. In 2005 I took on the label of liberal. In 2007 I took on the label of feminist. These labels I wore with pride, and they seemed to fit me comfortably. When I came out as queer, however, the taking of that label felt different to me. It was an appropriate label, but it just didn’t feel the same.

It was when I started coming out to people that I decided against the term bisexual and went with queer instead. However, when getting to know new people, I didn’t always use the term queer. It wasn’t that I felt ashamed of my sexuality, but openly applying the label with new people was a challenge for me, one that I didn’t seem to face when discussing the topic with people I had known before and had then come out to. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that it has something to do with the fact that the nature of the labels is different.

When I say that I’m a feminist, people may make assumptions about my attitude and my sexuality, but they also make assumptions about my ideas and my politics. When I say that I’m queer, people only have my sexuality to make assumptions about, and that hits a lot closer to home and is a lot more personal than when people have other things to assume. I’ve made a lot of progress in being comfortable with the label queer, and I’m wearing it a lot more freely than I did at first. But being at home with my family for winter break makes me feel like hiding again.

My sister is the only person in my family that I’ve deliberately come out to. I never did come out to my parents directly. They know because they found out who I’m dating. Since my sister and I have been home from college, I’ve talked to her about a plan I had come up with, one that I wouldn’t actually undertake. I wanted to come out to the rest of my mother’s family on Christmas Eve, before dinner, after the prayer, and after someone, as always, asks, “Any announcements?” I would tell my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins something catchy like, “I’m here, and I’m queer!”

When I mentioned that idea, my sister cautioned me. She said that maybe queer wasn’t the best word choice. She said that some of my relatives may not understand what queer meant and that they might think that I only liked women. Although I disagreed with the tone of the statement which suggested that having people assume I was strictly attracted to women was somehow worse than liking men, women, and everyone in between, my sister did have a valid point.

There was an incident a few years ago in which some family members started talking about one of my second cousins. He is the only of three brothers who hasn’t gotten married and had children. He still doesn’t even have a girlfriend. My family discussed how, perhaps, he was gay. Several family members seemed unwilling to even consider the idea, appearing rather put off by the thought. At the time, the incident made me uncomfortable. Remembering it now makes me hesitant, especially considering that my mother’s family is rather religious, although not overbearing about their beliefs.

As the holidays approach, all I can think about is how my mother’s family is aware of some of the labels I wear, but not all of them. It doesn’t seem fair. The only reason I choose to wear labels is so that people who know me can have a better understanding of who I am. Labels are identifiers and are not static. Labels should evolve. New ones should pop up and old, inaccurate ones should fade out when a person changes. Can my family truly know who I am if they aren’t aware of a label that is important to me? Is it fair of me to not tell them something that might make them uncomfortable, even if I want to be open? Thinking about this, I need to decide which ones I’ll be wearing to celebrate the holidays this year with my family.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quick Read: Military Abortion Ban at Religious Dispatches

A couple standout quotes from Military Abortion Ban: Female Soldiers Not Protected By The Constitution They Defend at Religious Dispatches, a post about the ban on military doctors performing abortions for soldiers:

“They convinced themselves that anyone who would do a self-abortion is crazy,” Amy says. “It’s not a crazy thing. It’s something that rational, thinking women do when they have no options.”


Vicki Saporta, President of the National Abortion Federation, says that military women seeking abortions face a no-win situation. “If you’re a woman in the military, you’re going to have to obtain a leave to get the care you need. If you’re honest about why you need that care, you put your military career in jeopardy. If you’re not honest, then you put your military career in jeopardy.”

A really fascinating must-read and draws very strong connections to Stupak.

I'm increasingly impressed by the level and quality of articles at Religious Dispatches. I think it's quite often a reliable, progressive website that discusses religious topics with a very strong pro-woman, pro-choice tilt. Keep up the good work, Religious Dispatches.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rape Culture and Christmas Songs

Note: This post was originally posted in November 2008.

If you participate in Christmas, you should be glad to know that our rape culture even extends to Christmas songs:

I really can't stay - Baby it's cold outside
I've got to go away - Baby it's cold outside
This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice
My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry
My father will be pacing the floor - Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry - Beautiful, please don't hurry
well Maybe just a half a drink more - Put some music on while I pour

The neighbors might think - Baby, it's bad out there
Say, what's in this drink - No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no, sir - Mind if I move a little closer
At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride
I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out
Ahh, but it's cold outside

C'mon baby

I simply must go - Baby, it's cold outside
The answer is no - Ooh baby, it's cold outside
This welcome has been - I'm lucky that you dropped in
So nice and warm -- Look out the window at that storm
My sister will be suspicious - Man, your lips look so delicious
My brother will be there at the door - Waves upon a tropical shore
My maiden aunt's mind is vicious - Gosh your lips look delicious
Well maybe just a half a drink more - Never such a blizzard before

I've got to go home - Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there
Say, lend me your comb - It's up to your knees out there
You've really been grand - Your eyes are like starlight now
But don't you see - How can you do this thing to me
There's bound to be talk tomorrow - Making my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied - If you caught pneumonia and died
I really can't stay - Get over that old out
Ahh, but it's cold outside

Baby it's cold outside

Brr its cold….
It's cold out there
Cant you stay awhile longer baby
Well…..I really shouldn't...alright

Make it worth your while baby
Ahh, do that again….
Ah, nothing gets me in the Christmas mood like coercion, intentionally getting someone drunk for the purpose of sex, the idea that not wanting to have sex hurts a man's pride, female purity that needs to be protect by family members, slut-shaming by the community and date rape all immortalized in holiday song and cheer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quote of the Day: Lady Gaga

"I find that men get away with saying a lot in this business, and that women get away with saying very little . . . In my opinion, women need and want someone to look up to that they feel have the full sense of who they are, and says, 'I'm great.' "

-Lady Gaga in the LA Times

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A little something on basketball and goddesses for you

Just wanted to pass along a few things...

First, this article on women in the NBA from Sports Illustrated. Interesting article (with, not suprisingly, all male voices) even though they've decided that any woman who plays pro basketball with men will be "freakish." Avoid cringing when they use the phrase "man-sized ball." Although I do like this answer to the question of different sized basketballs in play:

If this ever does happen, it will happen via one amazing woman
player who has spent her young life aiming for this far-fetched dream. She'll
have played thousands of hours of pickup games against men. The ball will be
irrelevant to her.
Thank you.

Also, The Undomestic Goddess has the 9th Carnival of Feminists up today! We've got a post in there so check it out along with many other fabulous links.