Thursday, May 21, 2009

"I was going to ask you what's new, but I think I know"

Anyone watch American Idol? This is extremely disturbing to me on so, so many levels...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Actually, Yes. That WAS Racist...

I was eating lunch last week with some of the counselors at the clinic. The Chinese food arrived and they were passing it around to everyone who had ordered. As they passed it to one woman, she exclaimed, "if I eat any more Chinese food this week my eyes are gonna slant!"

I turned to her, astonished, and said, "wow, I haven't heard a racial slur like that in a long time."

"That wasn't racist!" she demanded.

"Actually, Yes. it was. When you mock an already marginalized group of people based on their appearance, that's racist. You stereotyped a population based on physical attributes..." I retorted. She snarled at me and proceeded to eat her egg roll.

This happened last Friday. I came in to work early this week and found a Chinese food menu strategically placed on my office door. Is it a coincidence that someone wanted to share a Chinese food menu with me this week? Maybe. Am i being harassed? Possibly. Would they do this to me if I was noticeably Asian? Probably not.

I don't really understand why it's still acceptable in American culture to mock Asian Americans? Do people not realize the racism here because Asian Americans are the "model minority?" They supposedly have assimilated into American culture better than any other minority group and thus discrimination does not affect them? Or is it because the American stereotype of Asian Americans as "docile" is so prevalent that people think it is acceptable to discriminate a group of people that are "too well mannered" to speak up?

For reference, some truths about Chinese food, Americans, and discrimination all brought to you through a TED talk...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Horse Herstory

Filly Rachel Alexandra, the first female horse to be entered in the Preakness Stakes, is making history (and a lot of controversy).

Regardless of how you feel about horse races, at least the girls are getting a chance in the sport, and kicking some boy horse butt! ;)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feminist Label

Where is there room for me, a white woman who stands firmly for equality and acknowledges the discrimination within feminism, and is committed to pointing out and relinquishing (white, cis, able, hetero, and class) privilege? I want to identify with a feminism willing to embrace all people and challenge preconceived notions of what and who "is" and "isn't" feminist, one focused on celebrating diversity and learning for everyone's experiences. Where do i fit? Because i'm a bit confused these days.

Please read these two posts by Renee prior to responding...
Womanist Musings: I am not a Feminist
Womanist Musings: Can a White Woman be a Womanist?

I agree with commenter "juju" who said "ultimately, the work that you do is much more important than the label you wear, and you should just call yourself whatever works for you and continue doing the work." I understand and agree with focusing on activism but often identity fuels a social movement and propels it forward with greater force. I would hate our progress and activism to slow because we're too busy focusing on what our identity should be.

I wrote about this a bit in my "I'm not a feminist, but" post: George Washington University’s Dr. Zucker (2004) published a study addressing this. Dr. Zucker’s research explored women disavowing social identities and found that in the 272 women surveyed, self-identifying as feminists was a predictor of feminist activism. Herein lies my concern. On one hand, I don’t care if you identity as a feminist or not, as long as you retain feminist beliefs. On the other hand, if self-identifying as a feminist is going to make you more of an activist, then it matters.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quick Hit: Women Bullying Women at Work

As a possible bit of a follow up to my post on female bullying, my wonderful sister in law sent me this article that i will pass on to all of you. However, i will disclaimer it with the fact that i didn't get a chance to read it carefully yet or do an analysis. Feel free to leave your feedback to the piece in comments.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tyra Takes on Same Sex Marriage

I have a hard time talking with people who believe sexual orientation is a choice. Literally, i shut down and am unable to further "debate" with them about rights because i recognize that they see gays and lesbians as "lesser than," "other," and nothing i say will ever change their mind. I am all for tolerating opinions different from my own but this isn't a topic i can tolerate a range of values on because for me, it's so basic and so essential. Denying someone human rights because you think their sexuality is something they should "control" or something they can "change" is absurd. Did you wake up one morning and "decide" to be straight? Seriously, is this something you thought about and made a conscious decision on? No.

Tyra Banks did an episode yesterday that i want to post here, because i thought a lot of it was really good. But more than that, it presents a very real display of bigotry, intolerance, and people who claim to be "Christians" when in fact they are just using the bible as an excuse to hate, which is very very not Christian of them. They are the same people who think homosexuality is a choice and a sin. For example, in one of the segments the woman says, "I see emotional and mental instability" as one of the audience members emotionally shares the discrimination and violence he has faced in his life for his sexual orientation. She does not show empathy, she does not show love or support. She laughs, on stage, and tells the world he's emotionally and mentally instable. Shame on you, lady.

Tyra had Sandy Rios on (who IS this woman?!) who had lots of quotable gems, such as:

"You can stop being gay, you cannot stop being black"

"As a fully heterosexual female i can tell you how difficult it is not to have sex, too. So i can understand that dilemma" She was asked, "is celebacy the answer?" Her reply: "yes, as apposed to acting out homosexuality or adultry or pedophelia, yes.

"When you talk about discrimination and the misery of being a lesbian, gay upfront is the wrong name for that. It's broken hearts, it's disease, it's unnatural." (just for the record, the woman she was talking to never said being a lesbian made her miserable...)

If you have time, and can tolerate Tyra, watch the show, "Gay is the New Black." If nothing else I want you to see the "arguments" that same sex marriage opponents make. I want you to hear the intolerance, bigotry, and hatred that they spew and I want you to see exactly why i have such an unbelievable difficult time "debating" with people like this in my own life. Primarily because there is nothing i can say that will ever make them hate less, love more, and celebrate diversity.

I posted it here from youtube which had it split up into four video. I only included the last part of the show because that's the one that had a lot of what i discussed above:

Just don't read the comments on youtube, or else you're get lots like this one:

Ginne86 (12 minutes ago)
"Being gay IS a choice, just like fat people can choose to eat fast food or you can choose to eat healthy. even though healthy food dont tastes as good as fast foods."

Friday Feel Good: Obama's New Budget ELIMINATES Abstinence-Only Funding!

Quick hit via Amplify Your Voice:

Barack Obama just released the numbers for his new 2010 budget, and while everything in it isn’t peachy, I have some great news for you:

Abstinence-only funding has been ELIMINATED.

Community Based Abstinence Education funding is GONE.

Title V abstinence-only funding is GONE.

Not only are all of the abstinence-only funds eliminated, but $173 million dollars will now be going to teen pregnancy prevention programs around the country that don’t have to adhere to the ridiculous standards that were there before.

More info on the good and the bad at Amplify Your Voice, Female Impersonator, and Feministe

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wesleyan Feminist Shot & Killed Yesterday

I received an email yesterday at work entitled, "Shooting on Broad Street- Read this message NOW." I didn't think much of it, because i work off-site in New Haven and not in Middletown where my company's building is located. The email read:

Important Notice

There was a shooting at the Red and Black Café today, located at the corner of Broad & Williams Streets. Midfield received incorrect information from the authorities. The shooter WAS NOT apprehended. The Corporate Center is now in "lock down". No one may enter the building but employees may leave the building.

A Wesleyan student was fatally shot at Red and Black Café this afternoon. . A gun was recovered at the scene of the shooting, however the suspect is still at large.

Today I learned that the victim was Johanna Justin-Jinich, a Wesleyan student who volunteered for Planned Parenthood and was an activist for women's issues and public health. "She was supposed to work in DC this summer for a women’s rights organization." The police are unsure whether the suspect, Stephen Morgan, targeted Johanna because she was Jewish or if it was personal. They had attended a program together at NYU and towards the end of it Johanna filed a harassment complaint with the Public Safety Department, saying she had been receiving harassing e-mails and phone calls from Stephen. She later decided not to pursue the case. Yesterday morning Stephen walked into the cafe where Johanna worked and shot her. She will be greatly missed. This is really a devastating loss. My heart goes out to her friends and family.

EDIT: Dave tells me they haven't yet caught the suspect :/ Anyone else know more about this??

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Women's Martial Arts, an Interview

Below is an interview with a female martial artist, Marianna, who has been studying martial arts for almost 15 years. She is now getting into MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), where there are not currently a lot of women. You will see in the interview below that Marianna was supported to persue her interests in martial arts early on with the support of her dad who enrolled her in classes when she was nine years old. In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that Marianna is my cousin and i am incredibly proud of her for all her accomplishments and goals. She does not only demonstrate physical strength but also strength of character, as martial arts have taught her to over the last 15 years.

Some of the gender questions that came to mind as i watched Marianna's fight included: What kind of messages do the women holding up signs in the middle of the fight (and the photo op with the same women at the end) send? They are almost naked and we as feminists quickly notice this sort of blatant objectification. Shouldn't a female fight, with an empowerment and strength focus, send a different message and leave out this sexist tradition from the ring? Another question that arose for me was whether there are certain double standards for women in the sport.
Do they expect the women to be feminine and conventionally attractive while maintaining a "tough guy" attitude? Which female fighters get more attention (in terms of fans and sponsorship) the conventionally pretty women or the women who look tough, ready to kick ass, and are unmotivated by maintaining a conventionally feminine appearance?

If you have questions for Marianna about martial arts and MMA, feel free to leave them in the comment section, maybe i can get her to swing by and answer some :)

1. What made you want to learn and start practicing martial arts?
I've been doing martial arts since i was 9 years old. My brother was taking Tae Kwon Do and I was always intrigued by it so my dad let me start taking classes. Then after i got my black belt my dad encouraged me to look around at other schools and that's when i started taking kung fu with Vincent Lyn. I trained with him for 6 years before moving to Miami for college. I took some time off from the martial arts at that point. A year ago I decided I wanted to get back into it. I looked for serious schools before finding out that one of the best MMA camps in the world was just around the corner from my house. I joined American Top Team and couldn't be happier with the training. I am pushed every day and find the sport to be so challenging. (MMA is the combination of wrestling, jiu jitsu, boxing and kickboxing).

2. Did knowing how to fight throughout your life make you feel more safe in situations where women are "supposed to" be afraid, like walking alone at night or meeting men for the first time?
Actually, I've never been in a real fight. I do feel safe knowing that i have experience in combat but now-a -days people don't really fight with just i think i've just been fortunate not having to prove myself on the street.

3. What types of double standards have you experienced or seen in the world of MMA in terms of gender?
I've always been more of a tom boy than a girly girl growing up. Sports were always part of my life and I've had to deal with criticism from family and a few friends about how girls shouldn't be playing sports and instead being girly. But thankfully i've never been the type of person to take things personally. I enjoy being challenged physically and this is what this sport does. Fighting is just as mental as it is physical so i feel that it sort of mirrors life. You have to be strong physically, mentally and spiritually to make it through daily struggles and the same goes for MMA.

I like to prove people wrong. I think girl fighters can definitely be sexy. Why not be the total package? Yea i'm a girl, yes i can fight and yes i'm sexy. I don't think those aspects have to contradict themselves. Actually a lot of guys think that girl fighters are hot. After my fight I got a lot of feedback from some spectators. They all showed me a lot of love and respect and these were people who didn't even know me. They just came up to me and told me what they thought.

As far as body image... the sport is very demanding (that's why you see so many hot guys with amazing bodies fighting). I'm noticing my body change and a lot of people don't realize the sacrifice on your body. Fighters are constantly loosing and gaining depending on timing of fights. So it definitely keeps you in shape and I love that about it!

4. Do you think it's harder for women fighters to get noticed than male fighters? Is it more difficult for female fighters to get sponsorship?
I think it's easier. People always talk about the girl fights! I think being an attractive girl opens doors because sex sells. Just look at Gina Carano. She's an awesome fighter and shes hot. she's the most popular female fighter in the world (but not because she's hands down the best in the world). What sets her apart is her looks. I am a huge fan of hers...she's got a lot of sponsors, she keeps it real and she's not afraid to be sexy.

5. What is some advice you'd give to girls and women starting out in martial arts?
Martial arts are great because it's a great workout, you get to meet a lot of nice people, you will challenge yourself mentally and physically and it's fun to learn. I am totally for strong women and I think women that do martial arts gain confidence in more than just protecting themselves. But as far as women's MMA, it's gaining popularity by the minute. like I said...people love to watch women fight. So i doubt the sport is going anywhere.

6. Why does the ref keep fixing your bra during the fight? I thought that was a bit strange...
Ok so i was planning on wearing my t-shirt the whole fight. When i got into the ring they told me it wasn't tight enough and my opponent's feet could get caught in it so they made me take it off. The problem with that was that I had plastic boob protectors in my sports bra (which is required to well as its required to take a pregnancy test before fights). So during the fight the boob protectors kept shifting and at some points sticking out of the sports bra. So the ref kept fixing and adjusting it for me. LOL. quite embarrassing but at least they didn't fall out!!