Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Take that, Mother Nature!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about menstruation and its bad reputation. Personally it has taken me many years to be at peace with this biological phenomenon that so many people regard as a nuisance and a hindrance to enjoying life fully. It bothers me that women are expected to, “suck it up” and continue with their busy routines even if they experience extreme physical discomfort and emotional stress during any time of their cycle. Essentially, we are expected to function like gender-identified men who do not experience (to the same extremes) the monthly hormonal ebbs and flows of this cycle.
Language and attitudes surrounding menstruation act to perpetuate the current male dominated gender hierarchy because it labels parts of our cycle as gross, unspeakable or just down-right wrong. For example: the fact that PMS stands for Pre-menstrual Syndrome is disturbing.  I looked up some definitions for syndrome and here is what I found: A group of symptoms or signs that are characteristic of a disease or a group of symptoms and signs of disordered function related to one another by means of some anatomical, physiological or biochemical peculiarity.
I’ve been scratching around in my head trying to find a word to replace “syndrome” that doesn’t make it seem so abnormal. Any suggestions? 

And then there’s the media acting to strongly re-enforce negative attitudes towards menstruation. 
Here is one example:

From Tampax:
Take that, Mother Nature!

Serena Williams vs. Mother Nature 

P.S. Don't forget to look at the comments under the video...they're golden...

Becky Rae

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Feminist Activist Team Go!

How sweet is this street art!?!?!?

If you can't read the text, it says...
Emma Goldman. Her Weapon: Pen of Poison.
Rosa Parks. Her Weapon: Full Fare Bus Ticket.
Everywoman. Her Weapon: Rising Up.
Phoolan Devi. Her Weapon: Code Breaking.
Mother Theresa. Her Weapon: Relentless Compassion.

This mural was created by a group of young women from the incredibly inspiring and badass Oasis For Girls project... check it out here:

Excerpted from their title page:

The long-term social change that we would like to see for girls and women in our community:
  • A future in which all girls and women are educated and empowered to make healthy choices in their lives; therefore significantly lowering the rates of teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and incarceration.
  • A future in which all women have the opportunity and ability to be employed in careers that are meaningful to themselves and their communities, feed their mind, bodies and spirits, and fully provide for the lives that they envision.
  • A future in which all girls and women are educated and empowered to identify abusive situations and take active steps to seek help and remove themselves from these environments.
  • A future in which all girls and women receive the best health care possible, regardless of their economic status.
  • A future in which all girls and women have complete choice and control of their bodies.
  • A future in which all girls and women have a strong voice and impact in our communities and the future of those communities.
  • A future in which all girls and women are educated and empowered to fully realize happy, healthy, and productive lives.


-kelsey aka bell left-hooks

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rape Culture pt. 1

Okay, here's a little run down on the term "rape culture" that came up last class. Essentially this term defines a culture in which sexual harassment and assault are encouraged/condoned/perpetuated by cultural attitudes about men, women, & sexuality. 
Rape culture is complex -- this is a very brief, general overview of a few aspects of our society which contribute to the encouragement/condoning/perpetuation of sexual violence. (I'm addressing two aspects right now, then going to bed and writing up more after tomorrow's class.... yeah an excellent topic to dwell on pre-bedtime).

Models of Men's and Women's Sexuality
... are ridiculously problematic. The ideas we have for how men and women approach and 'get' sex reflect our deep-seated association of certain qualities with masculinity and femininity (assertive/passive, productive/receptive, etc.).
Male sexuality is often framed as conquest, (hence some of the terminology of domination and violence we use for sex... "scoring" "nailing" "banging" "fucking" "screwing" etc.). Indeed, masculinity is often dependent on whether or not you can prove your virility by 'getting some.' Men are supposed to be always on the prowl, unrelentingly aggressive, seducing their prey until they give in (or skipping seduction altogether and asserting their power without bothering for consent).
Women, on the other hand, are supposed to be temptresses, but not sexual aggressors. Women's sexual power lies in their ability to attract, flaunt, entice. The role is one of passive seduction.
Women are also seen as gatekeepers of sexual experience -- they have the power to either 'put out' or withhold their bodies when a man makes advances. Combined with the expectation that a woman be simultaneously nice and naughty, virginal and sexually available, this allows for the male narrative of "she says no but means yes": women are thought to secretly desire sex but want to uphold their reputation and respectability, and so need a man to push them where they won't allow themselves to go.

Dehumanization of Women another aspect of rape culture. As we all know, women in the U.S. are extremely sexualized. In entertainment and advertising media, women are made into objects... reduced to their bodies (or specific body parts) and treated as accessories to powerful men or as objects of desire to consume. So not only are women's bodies made into non-feeling, non-thinking objects, but they are also made into commodities. I would venture to say this is why some men speak of going out and "just taking it" in reference to rape.
Women are also dehumanized & made inferior in the language we use. Not only do we constantly use femaleness as an insult... "stop being such a little bitch" "pussy!" "grow a pair" etc., but titles for women themselves are also derogatory and dehumanizing... "bitches," "hos," "chicks," "tricks," etc.  Psychologically, it's a lot easier to assault a "bitch" or a "piece of ass" than a woman.

(to be continued in comments section)


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Business of Being Born

Here is part one of ten of the documentary.  The links for the rest of the movie should show up.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Media's Expectations...

Hey ya'll

I was watching this comedy show of Margaret Cho's the other day, and if you can get past the first couple of minutes of this video, you'll find that she begins to make some funny, but very profound commentary on her experience as a celebrity that has been considered inferior to the "standard" -particularly in terms of weight. This reminds me of all of the discussions we have had lately about our "messaging" from mainstream culture. So this is just one example of how it affects the individual...

Hope you enjoy :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Woman's Success

“A woman like that should have a sign tattooed to her forehead warning men to back off if they don’t want to loose all their money.” Says my well-educated uncle, who lives on a tightly calculated budget, but holds undeniable wealth and privilege in this society. Over coffee on a lovely Saturday morning, talk about economics lead to talk of law suites and the “sue-happy” nature our society has adopted. When I chimed in with a story about my good friend who has been exposed to lawsuits from a very young age, and is very aware of the possibility of extracting money through the court. The comment above was my uncle’s reaction.
            I had to remind myself: 
Stop. Don’t react. 
            There were many levels on which this comment felt inappropriate, but what triggered the biggest level of frustration, was the perception that women are gold-diggers. Nothing was said about the father of my friend who in fact conditioned his daughter to understand the advantages one can have in the courtroom (if one has the money to hire a strong enough lawyer… but that is another discussion), or the society that encourages such a crude form of money exchange. So I prompted my uncle:
            “So do men like that need a tattoo as well?”
            Chuckling my uncle responds, “No. They just need to be executed.”
            Laughter spread across the table, and I said nothing. Caving in to the silence that perpetuates this system of inequality and misread assumptions. However, I do realize I have to pick my battles, and challenging my uncle in this moment would not have been wise.
            However, this comment truly ignited a curiosity within me. The comments made by individuals who consider themselves informed and progressive can be astounding. This idea that women are manipulative and gold diggers, is quite offensive, but unfortuantly is widely accepted. “Those women” – the branding of them – it is almost as if they could be excused for their actions, if they are labeled and put in a box. But the men –  just get rid of them, so they don’t continue to contaminate this idealist image of what a man should be.
            This also prompted me think about this idea of exploitation – is it the man, woman, or both who get exploited when it comes to money. Lets take the example of the bars that employee exotic dancers: are the women exploited because of the way they behave, or the men because of the money they loose. Depends on who you talk to. In court, a divorce case perhaps. Is it the woman, who may (or may not) have entered a relationship with money as a motive, or the man who may not have met the expectations one would hope for in a relationship. Recently, British comedian, Stephan Fry commented, "sex is the price [women] are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want." ( This idea spurred backlash from men and women alike. One has to acknowledge that these comments continue to come up in discussion today, and distorted perceptions of women are still very much part of our reality.
            Be it in the context of a friendly chat or on TV, this idea that women are in relationships for money can be true, but it does not have to be the norm. However, it is more than apparent that a woman’s body can be seen as an object in this society, and therefore can be used as a tool in this societal structure. This image of the powerful, sexy woman has become interlaced with an image successful women (in many cases – media especially), creating a distorted image in ones head, that leads to a whole slew of issues on what it means to be a woman… But the problems that form from that widely accepted image of "woman" could lead to another blogpost and a half.
            It is interesting to think about. I am going to encourage myself and those around me to observe and question their perceptions of women, and how they “get ahead” in this society, what it means to be a successful woman… and question what values or resources I may be giving up in order to meet societies expectations, and in order to gain the resources I need for survival. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Queen of the Scottish Fairies

The wonderful pumpkin fairy costume made me think of this story.

Hope you all enjoy,


woms & consumerism

Here's an interesting article I found while checking out the feministing blog we brought up in class (the actual post that led me to big think's website can be accessed here: in the third paragraph):

It really corresponds to Shula's comment about intentional purchases, and voting with your dollar since "women have become the major drivers of the consumption economy in the United States". I would also like to leave room to problematize the article's heavy promotion of consumerism...
Thought you might find it interesting, looking forward to a wonderful potluck soon :)