Some days feminist bloggers have exams! Today is one of those days. In lieu of a post, here is a picture of a hornless unicorn farting a rainbow! You’re welcome.
Recently I’ve noticed a lot of people unfriending people on Facebook who don’t agree with them about Ferguson, Eric Garner, and the #blacklivesmatter movement in general. And of course, the counter cry of: please DON’T unfriend these people spewing nonsense. Engage with them. Try to change their minds! Especially if you’re white! Do you expect people of color to have to do ALL the work dismantling the system?
But what about people who are liberal and relatively unprejudiced, who really just don’t know what is going on? Who think that all this outrage over a few police-encounters-gone-bad are reactions to isolated incidents? Often these people are older white folks who are isolated from the black community, or do not have a facebook account where their friends post tons of articles about race and police brutality.
So I’ve put together a brief reading list as resource for you who have family members who need educating about what is going on. Most of the links I’ve posted are from relatively mainstream sources that should be easier for older, non-millennial folks to digest. The less mainstream articles at least cite their sources well. Obviously these don’t cover everything, but it’s a start. If you find yourself struggling to explain things, hopefully these links will help answer some of the questions your family might have. Continue reading
TW for rape culture and graphic depiction of rape threat
If you listen to pop radio, odds are you’ve heard Turn Down for What (TDFW) by Lil Jon and DJ Snake. I’ve heard it before, but only recently had the misfortune of watching the music video. It was an innocent click—I was browsing YouTube and there it was. I guess most people simply see it as a somewhat bizarre electronic dance music video, aimed to shock the viewer. What I saw was an appalling and offensive embodiment of rape culture. Continue reading
I was gulping down some breakfast at my boyfriend’s house, staring the dazed-looking seagulls on the back of the cereal box. “You ever wonder why there are no female cereal box mascots?” I mused to the room.
My boyfriend and his roommate looked confused, or perhaps just sleep dazed because it was 6:30 am. But I continued. “I mean, think about it—Count Chocula, Tony the Tiger, Snap Crackle and Pop, the Trix rabbit, Cap’n Crunch… They’re all dudes! I can’t think of a single woman mascot!”
I was surprised and a little miffed by this revelation, but all I got in turn was a one-word response.
I didn’t have a pithy answer, so I just swallowed more of my Trader Joes Rice Crisps and brewed about it. Why did cereal characters suddenly matter to me?
Humans are story-telling creatures. We weave fables and characters and heroes into our daily lives. I’ll admit that cereal box mascots are a tiny part of the stories we create as a society, and maybe no one really cares about cereal in particular, unless you’re a screaming, sugar addicted toddler. But they are a symptom of a larger issue, the fact that our society operates through a male lens.
According to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films, a ratio that has remained the same since 1946. Research from the University of Florida shows that each year, 57% of children’s books published have male protagonists, while only 31% have a female protagonist.
It seems kind of a sad reality for a kid when all their storybook characters and their heroes are always of a different identity group, always look different. It can change the way they see themselves, the way they relate to others. It can make kids feel like their a supporting character rather than the star of their own film.
A 2012 study by the University of Indiana showed that television exposure predicts a drop in self esteem for girls and black boys, and an increase in self esteem among white boys. This mostly comes from how each identity group is portrayed in mainstream media. Research from the University of Texas at Austin also indicates that kids notice when people who look like them are not as represented.
It also means that from a young age, girls have to learn to empathize with boy characters, but boys are not equally taught to identify with girls. This feeds back into the cycle when boys grow into men who do not value media featuring women, and publish things accordingly.
Gender representation in media is an infinite rabbit hole, and I could go on all day talking about its harmful effects and linking you to research. But for now, consider this. We live in a world that constantly shutters aside identity groups in our collective stories. Advertisements, books, movies, news, they’re all a part of it. Cereal box mascots might not ever cross your mind as important, but in reality, they fit into our stories, what we tell ourselves about how the world works. And that matters just a little bit to us all.
A few weeks ago, a Huff Post article To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store was circulating on my facebook news feed (spoiler: someone really needed to feed their kids but couldn’t, so a stranger bought them groceries. It was great). As I am among the .00001% of people under 75 years old who live without internet and like it that way, I didn’t get around to reading it until just now.
It made me think about the strangers I’ve met through out my life who have been kind to me without any benefit to themselves. Like the time I was living out of my car (voluntarily), when an aging hippie on a bike befriended me in the Walmart parking lot. He offered to let me use his house to shower and cook my meals if I wanted. I politely declined, but he bought me dinner anyway.
Or the time I was lost in DC at 4 in the morning in a bad neighborhood and unable to find my way back to my car. I was coming from a party and wearing a mini dress, feeling vulnerable and wishing I had brought my pepper spray. Out of the blue a taxi cab pulled over, even though it already had a fare in the back seat. “You look lost,” the driver told me, “and I wouldn’t want to be walking around at this time of night, if I were you. Want a ride?” I clambered in. The cabbie dropped off his other fare, then drove me to the right street and helped me find my car. For the life of him, he would not accept payment for the ride.
Or the time I was 19 years old and working at Coldstone Creamery. I was clad in a dorky black visor, my hair was a mess, and I smelled of burnt waffle cones. A girl my age walked straight up to me and told me I had a beautiful smile. I grinned the rest of the night.
An important thing to think about is how different types of privilege play into the kindness I receive from others. Did the cabbie find me more approachable because I am white? Did the man at Walmart offer to let me use his house because I am small and sound educated? How would my experience be affected if I was a person of color? If I was a heavier person? If I was trans*? Continue reading
In the last few days, an article on Policy Mic has been making the rounds on my facebook newsfeed called What if People Reacted to These 10 Roles Like They Have to Michael B. Jordan? In it, Gina Luttrell responds to the fan outcry against Michael B. Jordan playing Johnny Storm in the new Fantastic Four movie because the character was white in the original Marvel comic.
My mom told me not to get an IUD. Like many Americans, she had a lingering mistrust of the idea that traces back to the Dalkon Shield scare in the ‘70s and ‘80s. According to Mother Jones, the Dalkon Shield IUD was badly designed and drew bacteria up its strings, occasionally causing infections and even death.
Today, there are safe designs available (there are a few risks, but they all have a very tiny chance of happening), but still, only 6% of women who use contraceptives in the US choose an IUD 
When you look at the statistics, you’d think IUD use would be much higher. According to the Center for Disease Control, IUDs are the number one most effective form of non-sterilization contraception, with a typical-use failure rate ranging between 0.2% and 0.8% (for reference, typical use failure rate for birth control is 9% and condoms is 18% ). Because lets face it, who actually remembers to take their birth control pill at the same time every day?
Maybe a barrier to IUD use is its reputation. The first thing anyone told me about an IUD is how much it would hurt. I Googled IUDs and what to expect, and immediately got blog results with titles like “No Pain, No Gain.” Several of my girlfriends advised me to expect “the worst period cramps of your life” for 24 to 48 hours. Yikes!
So when I walked into my GYN’s office to get an IUD yesterday, my palms were sweating and my heart was beating in my ears. Admittedly, the procedure itself didn’t feel great, but nowhere near as horrible as I was expecting. Once, I got a hairline fracture on my index finger from playing basketball, and it wasn’t even painful as that. I was sure to take ibuprofen an hour before the procedure, and used Cytotec the night before to soften my cervix to make the insertion easier. If your GYN doesn’t prescribe you anything like that before the procedure, don’t be afraid to ask!
When the procedure was over, after about 5 minutes of cramping and dizziness of medium severity, things started to feel more normal. The rest of the day I only experienced mild to medium cramping, no worse than an unpleasant period day. Phew! I had been gearing up to be incapacitated for two days straight.
The point is, I’m here to tell you that getting an IUD is not necessarily going to be terrible, and fear of the procedure shouldn’t be a barrier to getting one. Admittedly, everyone’s body is different, and everyone is going to have a different experience with the insertion and following few days. Some women really do experience the worst cramps of their lives. But not having to take birth control pills for the next five years? Worth it.
Affordability is another barrier, if you don’t have health insurance. New federal rules mandate that FDA-approved contraception, including IUDs, must be covered under health plans with no co-pays or additional fees. Thanks Obama! But if you don’t have health insurance, costs can be between $500 to $1000. That can be a lot of money for some one to front, even if it does last up to 10 years. Thanks again to federal changes, more people are covered by Medicaid in 2014, which does cover the procedure. Some Planned Parenthood clinics are also willing to charge you according to income.
I chose Mirena, a hormonal IUD that lasts 5 years. It’s supposed to lighten your period, or even stop it all together in some cases. You can also opt for ParaGaurd, which is a non-hormonal copper IUD that lasts for 10 years. ParaGuard generally increases cramping and bleeding during your period, and the few days following insertion can be slightly more painful than Mirena.
Access to effective and affordable contraceptives is basically the number one form of female empowerment. Delaying childbirth and smart family planning means that women can have the ability to finish their educations and establish a career. It fosters economic prosperity, more equitable romantic relationships (where women are less dependent on men for financial support), and gives rise to healthier communities.
So go forth and review your birth control options! Be safe and use effective methods. Educate yourself and help others do the same. Knowledge is power.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about Ani DiFranco’s scandal on race and privilege. She issued a non-apology, and the internet continued to call her out, as it seems to do so well. A few days later, she issued an update on her facebook account:
it has taken me a few days but i have been thinking and feeling very intensely and i would like to say i am sincerely sorry. it is obvious to me now that you were right; all those who said we can’t in good conscience go to that place and support it or look past for one moment what it deeply represents. i needed a wake up call and you gave it to me.
it was a great oversight on my part to not request a change of venue immediately from the promoter. you tried to tell me about that oversight and i wasn’t available to you. i’m sorry for that too.
know that i am digging deeper.
Okay– Seems legit to me. Sometime when you have your head up your ass, it can take a few days and some deep thinking to remove it. Later, she even posted that she had read Sarah Milstein’s 5 Ways White Feminists Can Address Our Own Racism, which has been mentioned a few times on DDP.
Having her fan base forgive her depends on further action, and further apology. Hopefully she can “dig deeper” like she said she would, and let us know how it all goes. Maybe she can find a program or nonprofit to donate to as a way of making reparations to the black community. Maybe she can write a sweet new song about getting called out, and remind other white feminists of their own internalized racisms. This is not a conversation that will end any time soon. It is not a conversation that should.
For the last ten years, Ani DiFranco has been my own personal Goddess. She was my favorite artist since the day I became a teenager, giving me music about Life, the Universe, and Everything. Most importantly, she had a myriad of songs about feminism, workers rights, politics, white privilege, being queer, and environmentalism, all topics that have been of great interest to me over the years.
In the last few days, there has been an internet explosion over a songwriting workshop she had planned called Righteous Retreat in the Big Easy. The problem? The retreat is to take place at the Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana.
According to the Nottoway website, it was one of the largest plantations in the South, with 155 enslaved people to its name. The history section of the website whitewashes the issue to the point of offensiveness and waxes poetic about how “various records indicate that [the slaves] were probably well treated for the time.”
Needless to say, holding a self touted feminist/progressive event at an old plantation is a move that ranges from racially insensitive to incredibly offensive.
Good morning Disruptors! Today I want to share with you my favorite feminist song and ask you what yours is!!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, mine is by Ani DiFranco (what? No, I don’t have 10 of her albums, I don’t know what you’re talking about). It’s called Face Up and Sing and challenges women to join her in calling out harassment, patriarchy and life’s general ennui.
Here are a few lines from my favorite song. Respond in the comments– what’s yours??
some guy tried to rub up against me
in a crowded subway car
some guy tried to feed me some stupid line
in some stupid bar
I see the same shit everyday
the landscape looks so bleak
I think I’ll take the first one of you’s home
that does something unique
some chick says
thank you for saying all the things I never do
the thanks I get is to take all the shit for you
it’s nice that you listen
it’d be nicer if you joined in
as long as you play their game girl
you’re never going to win