Every year I attempt the Fifty Book Challenge–which you complete by reading fifty books in a year, cleverly named it is not–and in past years I tried to read all or mostly books by women. Then I went on a classics kick and kind of forgot how much I care about reading and promoting female authors. But I came to my senses again, don’t worry, and I’m happy to present, in honor of my renewed commitment, a few of my favorite books by female authors that I’ve read in the past few years:
I’ve been seeing this article floating around Facebook lately. It’s entitled “7 Steps to a Happy and Successful Marriage.” In it, the author discloses her wealth of secrets and wisdom to maintain your partner’s interest, improve your sex life, and make a better banana bread ALL AT THE SAME TIME (maybe not the banana bread part, but you get the idea). She is a veritable treasure chest of wifely do’s and do not’s, outlining the various steps you should be taking in order to save the love you once cherished in your youth. “When speaking to others about your wife or husband, only speak highly of the person you chose to spend your life with,” she advocates. “Speaking negatively of your significant other makes you look bad and sets a poor foundation for any relationship.” Not only will you convince yourself that your partner is perfect, you’ll have everyone else fooled, too. This strategy is both self-fulfilling and prophetic: a natural cure-all for relationship problems.
I think it goes without saying that long-term monogamy is the current romantic norm in western culture. Many men and women I’ve spoken to aspire to attain longevity in their relationships. I was commonly asked the question, “How did you do it?” as I explained the five years of long distance I endured with my first love. “How did you make it work?” Now, after we’ve separated, after nine years of exclusivity, happiness, trial and tribulation, I am asked a new question:
“What the fuck happened???”
A friend of mine – I’ll call her Kathy – recently attended a conference for women researchers in our field. She enjoyed speaking with the older researchers at the conference, who she felt were incredible role models and had important stories to share about being a woman in this field. She enjoyed presenting her research and learning about the research of others. However, there was a strong component of the conference that made her feel unwelcome and out of place: the way that feminists at the conference, who seemed to be a majority of the participants, expressed their views toward non-feminist lifestyles.
So, I wrote a little song! And it’s not too bad as my songs go – a little cheesy as always, but it developed into a bit of a feminist ballad so I decided to share with everyone here. But first, a bit of background: my partner and I have this thing about oysters – mainly that we love to eat them, and do so at pretty much every conceivable opportunity, so we’ve dubbed ourselves “Team Oyster.” Once after a trip to the east coast with his mother, he brought me home a print from an art museum he went to – it was a seventeenth century Dutch painting called “Girl Eating Oysters,” which is self-explanatory. He told me he liked the playful and mischievous look on her face, which reminded him of me, and I had to agree and loved the gift. It is especially fun because oysters are kind of symbolic of rebellion and nonconformity – first, they look like vaginas, it has to be said; and second, they’ve long been rumored to be aphrodisiacs. I like the idea of women claiming those symbols in a sort of act of defiance.
Now the other day, I was playing around with the guitar and could not really settle on a theme to cook some song up about. I asked my partner if he had any ideas and he said, “write a song about the oyster girl.” And so I did. And much to my pleasant surprise, it turned into a contemplation of my feminist consciousness, not just now but even more so when I was a child, before I had a name for it. And it made me think of all those women who lived in a time before they had a name for it, either, but felt it and pushed for it nonetheless; and so I recorded the song and placed it over images of awesome women, some who knew the name for what they felt and some who did not, but all up against it all the same. So, despite the fact that disclaimer, I am a horrible guitar player, I hope you enjoy a bit.
Names of women in video as they appear: Unknown girl eating oysters, Frances Wright, Mary Shelley, Sojourner Truth, Mary Wollstonecraft, Olympe de Gouges, Elizabeth Barry, Jane Addams, Mary Shelley, Marie de Gournay, Mary Shelley (apparently I’m really into pictures of Mary Shelley), Alice Paul, Virginia Woolf, Olympe de Gouges.
They say feminists don’t have a sense of humor. “They” are known to be a very vocal group that says a lot of things like “curiosity killed a cat,” “time heals all wounds,” or “don’t count all your eggs in one basket before they hatch.” Well, I for one aim to reclaim the title of feminist buzzkill. I embrace it with all my unfynny being. I delight in giving dudebros the deadpan, concerned furrowed eyebrow, or the death glare.
Here some examples for those who want some help becoming a feminist buzzkill:
1. Playing Spikeball at a party.
Dudebro: I smacked that ball like Chris Brown did Rihanna.
Me: That’s not funny. [Pause]. Violence against women is never funny.
Guest post by Nadia Morris
*This post is specific to hetero dating
Every now and then, I dip outside my cozy feminist bubble and date someone who leans a little more mainstream. Who agrees that women should have equality and autonomy, but who hasn’t really tried to deconstruct their culturally inherited expectations of gender. Who maybe hasn’t thought a lot about the subtleties in our language that are disempowering towards different groups of people. Who isn’t a misogynist by any means, but also might not know how to pronounce the word “misogynist.”
I made a little list of mainstream dating practices that are always meant in good faith but are pet peeves of mine. This isn’t meant as a rant, but as suggestions to people who want to show affection to their special lady friends without being condescending. This is a personal list, so I’m sure not everyone will agree with me. The important thing is to know your audience and ask your partner with your words!
1. Don’t call me baby
One guy I dated used to use “little” as a descriptive term a lot. When I had something on my face, he’d tell me I had a smudge of dirt on my “little chin.” When I hit my forehead on something, he would tell me he was sorry I bumped my “little head.”
Why it bothers me: I know he was just trying to be affectionate, but I found the language he used trivializing towards me. Yes, I’m on the short side, but I pride myself on my strength and athleticism. I make a living by working outside doing demanding physical labor. “Little” might be a term of endearment to some people, but I always feel like I’m being equated to a child.
What you could do instead: Cut down on words that one commonly hears as describing babies. The world “little” is the primary one, but for me I prefer it when people keep words like “adorable, “cute,” and “sweet” down to the occasional rather than the regular. If you’re trying to compliment me, I prefer language like “beautiful, delightful, awesome.” Be creative, and remember that I’m an adult.
2. Don’t get territorial about paying for everything
One time I was on my way to a hiking trail with someone I’d just started dating and we stopped to grab lunch. I was searching in the car for the wallet I had dropped. My date wanted to go inside, so he asked me “why are you bothering? You know I’m going to pay for you any way.”
Why it bothers me: No, I don’t actually know that you’re going to pay for me. I will never assume that someone is going to treat me out unless they specifically say “I’d really like to take you out to ________ tonight.” Independence works both ways—if feminism means I can have a job, be treated as an equal, make my own decisions, then I damn well am not going to assume someone is going to pay my way.
What you could do instead: I like it when people offer to pay instead of making it a mandate! Saying something like “you don’t need to find your wallet right now, I’d love to get this one,” is a great alternative. And if sometimes a woman wants to take YOU out, accept it graciously. I offer because I like you, not because I want to emasculate you.
3. Don’t make blanket assertions about gender.
“You’re not like other girls”
“You’re the first girl I’ve met who doesn’t [insert annoying habit]. ”
“You’re a girl, you should know about [insert annoying stereotype]”
Why it bothers me: I appreciate it when you’re trying to compliment me. But don’t do it by dumping on other women. If I’m awesome, it’s because I’m awesome, not because all your other options are grizzled nagging harpies. Maybe your life experience truly has included a lot of women who happen to be really difficult to get along with, but when you start talking about how “women are crazy,” that’s a huuge red flag for me.
What you could do instead: Remember that there is not some secret girl club where we get together and teach each other about hair and shoes. Tell me about your experiences with people in your past, but don’t ascribe everything to a person’s gender. Appreciate or dislike people as humans, not as spokespeople for all of man or womankind.
What about you, dear readers? Any dating pet peeves to add to the list? Why do they bother you, what do you wish people would do instead? How do you go about initiating a conversation about it with your partner? Share in the comments below!!
Related articles: Chivalry is dead, lets just be humans
“They disappear like magic and become a fluid extension of her legs, as in a sketch, elongating the silhouette.”
– Christian Louboutin, shoe god
The nude shoe. It’s a shoe in a color that comes as close as possible to blending in with your skin tone, and it’s been a hot trend for so many years that the fashion world is saying it’s a classic here to stay. From the castles of Great Britain to the streets of America , you can walk or click into virtually any shoe store and find a pair that works for you- unless you are a darker person of color.
For at least four seasons now, lighter skinned people have had easy access to an overwhelming selection of shoes in colors specifically designed to neutrally complement their skin, and they can often find such shoes in the section named “nude.” The same can’t be said for people who look like me, which has consistently frustrated my shoe shopping endeavors. The trend of labeling one color group “nude”, as if nude is not a relative color, also frustrates my brain- “nude” literally means “naked” or “skin colored” so applying it only to light beige-ish colors implies that the color of my skin isn’t actually a normal skin color. This just one of example the normalization of white skin across the fashion and personal care industries (and even the coloring crayon industry- the Crayola color we now know as “peach” used to be named “flesh.”) It also exemplifies the erasure of people of color (and black women in particular) even though we make up over one third of America’s consumer base. And the normalization of whiteness in fashion seems to be a particularly easy form of white supremacy to internalize and excuse- below you can see a black woman in the comment section of an article about nude shoes trying to use the dictionary to prove that “nude” really does just mean beige because that is the color family of white people’s skin:
Now, can darker folks still flawlessly rock tan or beige foot gear? Absolutely. But it’s just that- wearing a tan or beige shoe as a color because it looks good with your outfit, not wearing it as a nude. And there are brown shoes out there, obviously, but very few that are designed to blend in with the shades of brown than humans actually come in.
So what can we darker folks do when we want a barely-there look on our feet that makes a colorful ensemble pop? When black, navy, or white just look too harsh? When we want to invest in a pair of shoes that literally goes with everything? When we want to “elongate our silhouettes?”
We can hope that shoe designers follow the lead of Louboutin and start designing nude collections with us in mind. But in the meantime, I have scoured the web for you, my friends, and I’ve got some suggestions!
It isn’t breaking news that college tuition for both public and private 4-year universities in America has skyrocketed in recent years. Although the 2.9% average tuition increase seen in 2013 marks the smallest annual increase in college tuition for over 30 years, the fact is tuition that is still on the rise. “Financial assistance” is available, yet the average American undergraduate student still graduates with approximately $26,000- $29,000 in debt. The job market for recent grads remains grim, literally compounding the situation.
Luckily, there is an excellent high-quality AND affordable option available at least for the first two years. I’m talking, of course, about community college.
If you raised an eyebrow at the notion that community colleges provide high-quality education, read on: this post is for you. Continue reading
We’ve demonstrated quite a few times here at DDP that we’re particularly adamant in the belief that words matter. Language can shape how we feel about ourselves, how others perceive us, and even the tone and course of societal ideas. Language can be used to uplift individuals and communities, organize and inspire entire social movements, devastate our emotions, and yes, even as a tool for dehumanization.
Language is particularly important to social justice movements because it’s often used as one of the most insidious forms of oppression. Hurtful and oppressive language has been and is used by explicit racists, misogynists, and LGBTQIA-antagonists to assert superiority and to actively erode the will, mental health, and perceived humanity of the groups they antagonize. Thankfully the number of those people is shrinking (though can still absolutely be found, and are still a danger in our society), as is our general tolerance of the hate that they profess.
But oppressive and offensive language is commonly used by implicit oppressors as well, meaning people that say “lighten up” or “that’s just the way it is”. People who cling to biological determinism or who “don’t see race”. Everyday sexism, benevolent sexism, and microaggressions of all kinds can fall under this category. Implicit oppressors usually “don’t mean to offend or oppress” but that plausible deniability is what makes it so insidious. By not challenging the norms of an unequal society AND using language that apes or reinforces explicit oppressors we are only allowing that oppressive society to persist.
I’d like to talk now about one particular linguistic tweak that we can all make that will help us on the path to not being implicit oppressors, and that’s “people-first language”. Now, if you’re already familiar with this concept and are about to close this browser tab please stick around because I hope to also provide some nuance and complexity to the subject that you’ll appreciate! Continue reading