Disrupting Dinner Parties Sabbatical

Hello dear Disruptors!

After much deliberation, DDP has decided to take a temporary sabbatical.  As a blog based entirely upon volunteer writers and editors, and the administrative work that goes on behind the scenes, we decided that we could use some R&R to rest, take care of some blog restructuring, and ultimately get back to providing you all with awesome content.  We’ll still be posting from time to time, and we will check in to let you know once we are getting back to our regular schedule.  In the meantime, please hang on to any guest submissions that you may have for us – we look forward to reading them once DDP is back in full swing!

All the best,

The DDP Editors’ Circle

The loneliness of being a feminist

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This guest post was written by Suzannah Weiss and originally published at her blog, DWF (Dating While Feminist). It is republished with permission here because we think it’s awesome.  For more cool posts, check out more of Suzannah’s work here!

After Scott Aaronson’s confession of the isolation and shame he felt as a male nerd and Laurie Penny’s response about the social isolation of female nerds, I thought I’d add something to the discussion about the isolation of being a feminist.

As I’ve gotten surer of my feminist beliefs and feminism has become a greater part of my life, I’ve felt a progressively stronger need to censor myself. When coworkers ask what I’ve been doing outside of work, I leave out anything about my feminist book club or other feminist organizations I’ve been involved with. If my writing comes up in conversation with someone I don’t know too well, I say something very vague about what topics it addresses. I am always on guard, fretting over how much information to give out and how to spin it to avoid being coined the Feminazi.

Let me tell you how I developed this fear of the Feminazi label.

I developed this fear over the course of many scarring interactions that made it clear I could not expect my relationships to be the same after I expressed my feminist sympathies.

It comes from the college friend who told me “You’re not going to become an angry feminist now, are you?”

It comes from the boyfriend who told me feminists have an anger complex that usually comes from being abused.

It comes from an extremely liberal friend I assumed was a feminist until she said “No, I’m a people person, so I don’t want to associate myself with a group that antagonizes anyone.”

It comes from the boyfriend who told me I was “aggressively wary” for pointing out a double standard in a movie.

It comes from the Tinder user who responded to my unsuspecting “hello” with “Are you feminist? That’s mean. Do you not like boys?”

It comes from the OKCupid user who said, “You don’t want a man with balls, do you?”

It comes from the commenters who left threats when I published an article about sexists on online dating sites.

It comes from the coworker who turned to me and said “Come on” when I called out another coworker for advocating pickup artist tactics.

It comes from the coworker who said “I’m not having this conversation” and left the room when I tried to point out that something he said objectified women.

It comes from the crush who laughed when I told him about my feminist book club.

Cumulatively, these experiences have taught me I am not safe expressing my views. They have taught me to bite my tongue. And they have taught me to be careful about the people I trust and the people I choose as friends and romantic partners. When I was younger and less developed as a feminist, I could befriend or date anyone reasonably progressive. Now, I need people I can be myself around – and that’s not everyone.

It has been comforting to hear from others whose feminism has distanced them from people they once depended on.

As feminism gets more important to me, I’m learning how to craft a community intentionally rather than following whoever recruits me to their friend group. I’ve sought out meetups, clubs and organizations where people share my values. It’s less convenient but ultimately more rewarding.

If you’re experiencing the loneliness of being a feminist, know that others are feeling the same way, and maybe reach out to them. So many of us are feeling this loneliness, you wouldn’t think we’d be lonely. But the people who have cut off the reach of our feminism have also made it harder for us to reach one another. It’s difficult for feminists to meet when we don’t identify ourselves.

The best solutions I’ve found are to be deliberate about who I spend my time with, to treat this collection of people as my support system, and to listen carefully for others who might want to be a part of this community. It may take a while for the topic to be broached, but if I slowly ease into the conversation, listen for signs of feminist sympathies, and get increasingly specific as these signs accrue, a huge wave lifts when I finally feel safe to use the word “feminist” and the word is met with welcoming and acceptance rather than shaming and rejection.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

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NMWA pic

Nothing is as invigorating, inspiring and delightful as an art exhibit. For me growing up, each museum trip was a chance to explore the world, across time and cultures. One of my favorite museums in DC – 1250 New York Ave, NW to be exact – is the National Museum for Women in the Arts. Founded in 1987, the museum has committed itself to representing and displaying solely the art of women. The collection includes over 4,500 pieces. From classic – Mary Cassatt – to contemporary – Chakaia Booker – there is an artistic appeal for everyone.

 And the best part…every FIRST Sunday from 12pm-5pm, the museum is FREE!!

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Lessons Learned from a Diabetes Prevention Class

I teach a class (part of a year-long program) that’s a combination info-session and support group for people trying to reduce their risk of developing diabetes. It’s been an interesting experience trying to inject feminism into this class without straying from the curriculum or alienating my participants, but I try!

via http://www.mymichaelsplace.net/userfiles/image258_lg.jpg

This is exactly what we look like every class.

Interestingly enough, I’m learning some things from my participants that I don’t encounter often, if at all, in the online feminist communities I’m a part of. My participants are generally local, generally Vermont-born, and mostly women between 40 and 80.

Here are a few of my favorite new pieces of wisdom:

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Appreciate a Female Comic Friday: Cameron Esposito

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I don’t even know where to start with how much I love Cameron Esposito.  She is hilarious.  She is out.  She has a fabulous sense of humor and applies it to the serious challenges that queer folks deal with in a way that makes it feel funny and more bearable.

Did I mention that I’m obsessed?  Here is some of her awesome standup work (content note for street harassment):

And here is one of my favorite videos of hers, part of what we can only hope will become an infinite buzzfeed series. Now go watch everything she’s ever made. You’re welcome.

DDhalP! A new column for disruptive, feminist advice

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Hello all disruptors!  Are you navigating issues of personal identity, racism, mental or sexual health, kink/poly relationships, and/or societal power dynamics, and feel like you have no one to talk to?  Could you use some advice on these or another challenge informed by intersectional feminism, but don’t know where to turn?

Fear not!

Disrupting Dinner Parties is starting an advice column: DDHalP!  Coming soon to a blog near you, a.k.a. starting now, you can email your questions or dilemmas to DDHALP@gmail.com and receive a compassionate, Super Feminist Reply.  There will soon also be a form on our site through which you can submit letters anonymously.

All questions or struggles related to intersectional feminism are welcome.  All submissions will be responded to by the DDP editor(s) with experiences most relevant to your concern.  Please note that we cannot offer any professional advice: just the kind you would get from an opinionated feminist friend.

Please note that advice submissions will be published along with their replies, in order to give context for our responses.  However, the identity of all submissions will remain ANONYMOUS.  If you provide any identifying information in your letter, such as your name or a friend’s name, contact info, or physical location, we will remove it.  We reserve the right to replace the names of all physical locations with Lord of the Rings landmarks as we see fit.

Promote a petition: Protect survivors of relationship violence

Content note for discussion of intimate partner violence, and for a semi-detailed account in the linked petition.

Greetings disruptors!

Today’s Promote a Petition is on a subject that is close to my heart: intimate partner violence.  There are a set of laws in place that have at least the potential to protect children from environments of abuse, though sadly these are often terribly or not at all enforced.  Yet for adult survivors of relationship violence, especially in South Carolina apparently, there is little if any legal protection even in principle.  As Melissa Walker, the petition’s author, painfully notes (please recall the content note for this article before clicking “Continue reading” — we are about to jump right to the heavy stuff): Continue reading

Book Review – Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English

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As a student, I read a lot. Out of all the books assigned for this week, one book especially stood out. It is not only a great read, but a crucial voice in the conversation about race in America. The book is Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English, written by John Russell Rickford and Russell John Rickford. Rickford and Rickford are father and son and together they present a text that draws forth facets of the black experience, the black identity and the black legacy through language. The authors, in their linguistic break down of Black English, which they also call African American Vernacular English (note the book was published in 2000), bring to life the language through narration of speech in every day contexts and through the testimony of black musicians, comedians, poets, writers, preachers and families. In this way, the text is more than just a linguistic guide, but also a guide to the lived and experienced history, struggle and resistance of being black in America.

Two themes the authors touched upon that I found particularly interesting was the use of quotations from various black people about Spoken Soul and its use, as well as the stout resistance the text itself has on the importance of Black English and its separation from “Standard English”.

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Teens Need Families Too: A Chance to Advocate for Teens in Foster Care

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As someone who cares deeply about the plight of teens in the foster care system, the news that funding is being cut for recruitment for quality foster (and foster-to-adopt) homes for teenagers in foster care shocked and horrified me. One of the organizations that’s going to feel the biggest impact is called “You Gotta Believe,” and they do incredible work. Check them out here.

Rebecca of Fosterhood has compiled a good list of people to contact to advocate against funding cuts, and to support “You Gotta Believe” in particular, but I thought I’d clarify the contact list and add my personal comments.

via http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/05/08/1979891/congress-reintroduces-bill-to-end-lgbt-discrimination-in-adoption-and-foster-care/

It is essential to address all officials by their titles or “Honorable [Name].” Here’s the letter I’m sending:

To the Honorable [insert official here],

I am deeply concerned that it appears as though the Administration for Childrens Services (ACS) plans to discontinue all funding for specialized recruitment services for teens, which means that You Gotta Believe will not be funded by the city to do their critical work after 3/31.

This ends a contract for over 13 years, during which time they have licensed hundreds of homes and placed hundreds of our older youth in permanent loving families so they can grow into appreciated, loved and successful adults.  They are the only agency solely focused on working with older youth and providing them with lifetime families, not temporary foster homes that last only until the youth “age out.”

Teens desperately need these services and it is in the best interest of the city to continue to support its youth, no matter their origin or family status.

On a personal note, I, if I had been in the system (and almost was, though kin stepped in before that became necessary), would have been very hard to place. I was angry, gay,and learning disabled, and because I had a variety of people in my life who gave me tough love and supported me, I’m a healthy, loving adult who now works to make things better for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. You Gotta Believe helps kids like me, and they need the support of their city and elected officials.

Thank you for your attention to this extremely important matter.

Best,

[name]

And here are the people to contact–phone calls are even more effective than emails, so if you can, please call. You do not have to be a resident of NYC to contact any of these officials but it helps if you are.

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Language Use in Healthcare

I’m a community health worker for a living, and one of my duties is to help host a quarterly meeting to get all the regional coordinators in my state together to talk about how to get our programs to more people, keep people engaged, and achieve the best outcomes for the people we serve. Sometimes these meetings are boring info sessions about marketing strategies and panel management* but sometimes, like this time, we get into the nitty-gritty of what we can do as health care educators to keep people in our programs and help them get the most out of them.

To my delight, at this meeting we had a conversation about how language affects access to programs, and managed to inject some feminism into a field that largely doesn’t engage with social justice practices.

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