Friday, May 25, 2007


Sorry, but that's all I can manage to say after reading this. Seriously, what else can you say?

But, a hearty thanks to Twisty for compiling all of this horrifying news and for the brilliant analysis.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I know what post I'm nominating for best post in the next Koufax Awards

And that would be Mandolin's brilliant post at Alas, where she is guest blogging this month. Expanding on Hugo's post from last year, Words are not fists: some thoughts on how men work to defuse feminist anger, Mandolin examines how this observation becomes even more true the less privilege the "attacker" is perceived to have.
But I want to take it farther than Hugo does. People don’t just say “don’t attack me” as a way of getting feminists to back down. They also say it because they have a sense of being attacked. Criticism is not fists, but people really seem to perceive it that way.

And the less privilege the person who’s making the criticism has, the more it feels like an attack. In this post, Ginmar quotes Amanda Marcotte: “The less right you have to talk in the eyes of the hierarchy, the louder you seem. Which is probably why black women are seen as the loudest people ever.”*

We see this in a lot of places, right? The common sense conviction that women talk more than men cannot be supported, and in fact, people find data that suggests that — in ordinary conversation — men talk more than women. If researchers externally impose a requirement that both men and women speak the same amount, then they both report that it feels like the men hardly got a chance to talk at all.

Women aren’t supposed to talk, so when they talk, they’re seen as talking A LOT. Black women really aren’t supposed to talk, so when they talk, they’re seen as talking REALLY LOUDLY.

Women aren’t supposed to criticize, so when they criticize, it’s not just words — the surprise of their criticism feels like fists. And when women of color criticize? Well, then it’s World War III.

No, really. World War III.

...I’m particularly disturbed by the escalation in the violent imagery that one sees when comparing the examples that Hugo brings up (men talking to women in a gendered environment) to the examples that I’m bringing up (white people talking about people of color in a racialized environment). Men are worried about being beaten up; white people are worried about crucifixion, World War III, having their feet blown off by landmines.

I'm trying hard to not just quote the whole damn thing. So, just go read it yourself.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Not For Ourselves Alone

Maia has a beautiful (albeit recycled) post at Alas in which she uses Jessica Valenti's new book as a jumping off point to discuss what it is that brought her to feminism.
I was once a middle-class girl who was too scared to call herself feminist, the audience of the book. But I didn’t change my mind because feminism seemed easy, but because I realised what how hard the women who had been before me had fought, and I wanted to honour that struggle.


My response to the stories of women’s lives, both fictional and real was: “I have to call myself a feminist, I owe it to all these women who went before me, who fought so hard and gained so much to become part of that struggle.”

And that was the beginning.

Maia contrasts her feminist click moment* with what Jessica is hoping will serve as young women's click moments. (Full disclosure, Maia admits that she has only read the excerpts from Amazon. In addition, I have not read Jessica's book -- so I am not trying to write any sort of review -- condemning or approving -- of the book, only what some of the discussions of the book have brought up in my mind.)

I think that for most women, especially young women, there has to be some balance between what Maia is talking about and what [people say] Jessica is talking about. For most people, there does have to be a personal investment in the issue for them to have any interest in joining up with a social justice movement. They have to see that it relates to them, that the injustices are harming them, that the movement will help them in some way.

However, I think this line of thinking can be taken too far. One commenter in Maia's thread wrote this:
Well, Jessica (and I, for that matter) choose to be feminist because it’s a good and needful choice for us. Oh, it’s nice to honor the feminists that have busted butt before. But that’s not the big reason for me, nor, I suspect, for a lot of people. Because we’re in this for ourselves, as opposed to being selfless and all that. That’s reality.

This kind of thinking is dangerous. Yes, people need to recognize how feminism (or any other social justice movement) relates to them. But I would hope that that recognition would lead to recognizing how we are inter-connected, and how what harms others directly can harm you indirectly. If your "big" reason is what you, personally, will gain from it, you are either not seeing or can't see that inter-connectedness. And it is precisely this sort of thinking that leads to the racism, classism, ableism , etc. that is so often lodged against feminism. If you're "in it for [y]ourselves," you are playing the exact same power-over games that patriarchy beneficiaries are playing.

Feminism is not about making things better for ourselves alone,** it's about making things better for all women. Yes, recognizing that we are a part of that group "women" and we will benefit as well is a great starting point. But it can never be the end all and be all of feminism. If it is, feminism will fail.

*that moment when you realize, "I am a feminist."
**Yeah, I guess that's why the title of the PBS Special on Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony is so apt.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What I'm Reading

Heart at Women's Space/The Margins: The 1st Carnival of Radical Feminists.

Ms. Jared at Sinister Sister: Mothers File International Human Rights Complaint Against United States. I got this in my inbox last week, too, and kept meaning to blog about it. But Ms. Jared actually did it. That's why she's a better blogger than me*.

Lost Clown at Angry for a Reason: Besides Bad Coffee. Here's another example of me being a bad blogger*. I've been meaning to write something about this post for almost a month now. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I like my drive-through coffee stands; not only does it provide me a local alternative to overabundance of Starbucks, Peets, and Tullys, but I can do so without leaving my car (when you have my kind of schedule, you need things to be as quick as possible). But "sexpresso?" No, thanks. But pimping out the baristas wasn't enough for one of these "sexpresso" joints -- they use high school girls as their prop (and I do mean that in the most literal sense of the word).

At Best Friend Espresso in Kenmore, baristas go thigh-high. An elevated service window offers customers a nearly full-length view of pretty, young baristas — some of them high-school students — in short skirts, tank tops and high heels.


Occasionally, Best Friend does theme days, such as "schoolgirl" or adding glasses for a sexy "secretary" look, manager Heather Bacon said.


When Ryan Reed pulled up to Best Friend Espresso for his usual, a 24-ounce iced vanilla latte, on a recent weekday afternoon, he knew what to expect.

"The owner [Wayne Hembree] always hires super-hot girls," Reed said. "That's basically his philosophy." [emphasis added]

Rachel at Alas a Blog has a link to an interesting article about Leonard Nimoy's new fat nudes exhibit. In her post, Rachel also asks

While I remember my grandparents making comments about how fat people were, I don’t remember the ire associated with it that you see for so many younger people. It also seemed to me that their definition of fatness was different. . . Do you think there are generational differences around attitudes toward fatness? If so, what do you think they are?

Since I am no longer welcome to respond there, I'll go ahead and post here. My answer...depends on who you're talking about and what their background is, I suppose. As for my experience, well, I had a grandmother who constantly belittled my mother as she was growing up for being "too fat" (she was about a size 16, if that). I can also remember vividly a time when I was 12 -- at which point I was approx. 5'6" 120 lbs. with a 24 inch waist (yes, I did know that, and I do remember, because I was obsessed with weight at that age -- I think you'll be able to understand part of it after this post). My grandmother told me, "If you ever want to fit into my wedding gown, you'd better start losing weight now." I was 12! I was already thin, I didn't need to diet, and certainly not for some unforeseeable wedding that may never happen, and even if it did, would be years in the future!!! I still think that it was this very statement that had a huge impact on me not only becoming fat but never getting married.

Marc at Punkass Blog claims that it's the "patriarchs" who were offended by this billboard. Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm sure he's right. I'm sure there are men out there (including some of the more vocal ones that got the billboard pulled). Certainly there are patriarchal men out there who would feel the need to decry the "sanctity of marriage" upon seeing this billboard, not to mention reject it out of the pure need to express their heterosexual masculinity (read: fear of seeing a man's body). But are those the only reasons that someone could or would be offended by such a billboard. Fuck no. Look, "equal objectification" of both men and women doesn't make objectification any better. Never has. And I've always thought that was a bullshit argument for the over objectification of women (No, Peta's ads wouldn't more acceptable if they simply used more naked men alongside the women). And, hell, I'm right there with you when you want to argue that marriage is a heteronormative function of a heterosexist society. But, that doesn't change the fact that a number of people still form loving commitments to people and encouraging people to leave their partners for "better, sexier versions" is just wrong, to me, and is simply based on the same old misogynist notion that women are objects that can be exchanged and upgraded (and again, adding a man doesn't change that!!). Nod: Hoyden About Town.

Blackamazon has a scathing, but must-read review of Jessica Valenti's book, Full Frontal Feminism. I should say right now, I haven't read the book, so I can't testify to this review's accuracy, but I will say that none of it surprised me. While I do understand BA's reasons for turning away from feminism, it makes me sad that she has done so. I'm sorry that she has been confronted with a particular form of feminism, that while currently the most revered in the mainstream media, does not represent all of feminism or all feminists. I'm not going to pretend that us "other" white feminists aren't racist at times, but I'd like to think that many of us are willing to acknowledge that and to listen and learn from feminists of color so we can change, rather than just deny our racism. And that's why we need women like BA in the feminist movement. But then, that sounds like I want to use and exploit BA for my own purposes, and I don't mean that at all. Just...well...keep speaking, some of us are actually listening.

*In my defense, I am currently working 3 jobs (70 hours a week, not including travel time -- mostly graveyard) as well as volunteering 12 hours a month as a sexual assault advocate.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'll be on the Today Show Tomorrow

The agency I work for is being featured, and the founder interviewed. The Today Show sent out a camera crew last week and got about 16 hours worth of film...which they will cut down to about 4 minutes. With any luck, I won't end up on the editing room floor.

If you can, please tune in and watch -- or set your tivo, dvr, or vcr. Even if I do end up on the editing room floor, it should still be a good segment (there will be a 3 minute interview with the founder and her sons after the 4 minute film segment, which includes an interview with one of our clients). This agency is the only one of it's kind, and it provides a much needed service for women (and men) who would otherwise have no one. And the founder, Paula, is amazing woman who, instead of getting mad at the injustice of not having anyone to help her, turned around and started providing that much needed service for other women. And she did so while still living in a domestic violence shelter. Not every woman has the vision, the courage, the strength, or the resources to do that. And that's ok. It's just all the more reason to celebrate the ones who do.

So, tune in tomorrow, Friday, May 11th between 8 and 8:30 am (Eastern and Pacific time) to check me and my workplace out.

Update: Yay! I thought they did a really great job. I am in there for a couple of seconds, but I don't say anything -- the focus was on my boss and the agency, which is fine by me. If you missed it, you can catch it here.

Why I don't care what men think of me

In the week and a half since I wrote the last post, I've received several emails from various bloggers (primarily, but not exclusively, men) telling me that they thought the post was interesting, infuriating, and, in general, good. Then they told me that they'd like to link to it, but only if I changed the title. Apparently, it's "too offensive." Whatever. I'd say it just goes to show that men just don't get it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Why Men Just Shouldn't Post About the Rape of Women

Simon P. Green, a paramedic with American Medical Response in Portland, responded to a call from a rape survivor. He treated her and took her to the hospital, talking to her about the assault on the way. He then decided to post about it on his MySpace page, providing details just vague enough to not break any laws, but still detailed enough to allow reporters to find the woman and to potentially impede the police investigation.

The survivor, "Jane Doe," has filed a law suit against Simon Green and American Medical Response for violating her privacy. According to the lawsuit, Green posted details about the attack, including the approximate location of the attack (which took place in the survivor's apartment), what Jane Doe said about the knife-wielding attacker, and a description of the attacker. The post, written 2 weeks after the incident, "led TV reporters to her door, prompted neighborhood reconnaissance and may have impeded the police investigation."

As someone who works daily with survivors of domestic and sexual violence, I've debated the merits of posting anything about the stories I've come across. I've debated this with myself and with colleagues. I would never post details (even vague details) about a survivor, or even an abuser. But I've thought about writing about some of the situations I've run across, by changing some of the details and/or writing vaguely enough that even the survivor herself probably wouldn't know for sure if I was talking about her. I haven't done it yet, because I haven't really come to a clear conclusion about the ethics of it in my own head. But I've known colleagues who have written about their experiences with clients, residents, and survivors on their blogs. And I do think it can be both cathartic for the writer and enlightening/educational for the reader. So, yes, I do understand why someone would want to post about this sort of thing. But, IMO, there are limits.

According to Green, he didn't post this to share a vicarious trauma he experienced. He didn't post this because he learned something valuable from the experience. No, he posted this to "'get the word out' so other women would have an opportunity to protect themselves." How paternalistic of him. But his ignorance and appalling lack of understanding doesn't end there.
On his MySpace site he suggested victims should fight off attackers if confronted by a knife or carry a gun.

"My advice: fight. It's only a knife, and any rapist is a coward who will probably turn tail at any resistance," his posting read.
It's only a knife. Seriously? And what exactly, Mr. Green, is your experience with rapists that you can be so "knowledgeable" as to know what the best response for a rape victim should be? And where do you get off, Mr. Green, espousing what a rape victim should do?

Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz summed it up best:

There's no crime in what this guy did, it's just morally reprehensible.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fat Rant

Don't have time to blog much right now, but I needed to post about this video. You must watch this video -- it's brilliant. Joy Nash, I love you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Freedom of long as you're Christian

I've never laughed so hard at a letter to the editor before in my life. I mean, you have to laugh right? Otherwise you start to remember that there really are people out there who believe this crap.

I'm not sure which is funnier -- that this person actually uses the fact that our money mentions god as proof that we should all believe in this concept, or the fact that this person seems to think "baptist, catholic, methodist" constitutes a range of religions contained within the concept of "freedom of religion."

via ms. jared
Original photo from styro on flickr

Monday, March 12, 2007

And yet another way to help out via the web

At, they are collecting votes for "A Better World" Awards. You can vote once a day (every day) until March 31, 2007. More than 20 charities will win $5,000, with the grand prize winner winning $100,000. You can check to see if your favorite charity is already nominated and vote for them. If it's not, you can nominate them by filling out the on-line submission form and writing an essay that states why that charity is making the world "A Better World."

At this point, I will take the time to try and persuade you to vote for the charity of my choice. Why should you vote for this one over all of the other deserving charities? Well, besides the fact that it could actually help me out, personally (ahem), The American Domestic Violence Crisis Line is the only crisis line of its type in the world. It is the only service available to US women, men, and children, living in foreign countries who are trying to escape domestic violence and child abuse. US crisis lines, including the National Domestic Violence Crisis Line, can only help those currently living in the US. And DV agencies in other countries (if they exist at all) can only help in very limited ways (if at all), and probably have no way of helping these women (and men) relocate back to the US (and the financial assistance is only one aspect -- the legal issues are even more complex). The US Embassies may be of some help, but that will partially depend on the particular workers that are currently working in that location and how much they know or care about domestic violence.

From the essay posted on ReZoom:
The American Domestic Violence Crisis Line, (ADVCL), 866-USWOMEN, operates the only international toll free domestic violence hotline serving abused American women and children living in foreign countries. The line is currently toll free from 175 countries. Our target population is the estimated 6 - 7 million American civilians and military living in foreign countries. Officially 4.2 million civilians are registered with American Embassies along with ½ million military personnel and their families. To give a perspective of the size of the civilian population we serve, if the number of Americans registered with embassies were placed in one state, it would be the 25th most populous state in the nation. Although no statistics exist for abuse in this population, applying abuse statistics in the USA to our target population, an estimated 57,000 women and 45,000 children are abused annually.

ADVCL began crisis line operations in April 2001 just two years after Paula Lucas, Founder and Executive Director, finally escaped a foreign country with her three children to flee 12 years of domestic violence and child abuse. Frustrated at the absence of services for her and her children while overseas, and shocked at the legal obstacles she encountered upon her return home to be able to keep her American children in their own country, Paula was determined that other American women & children would not need to suffer the same fate. Paula first founded the non-profit organization as an online resource for abused Americans living in foreign countries in September 1999. At that time, she and her children were still homeless themselves, living in a domestic violence shelter.

Since 2001, the organization’s crisis line advocates have served an estimated 1,000 families on the crisis line providing crisis intervention, domestic violence advocacy, case management, safety planning, information & referral. Also since 2001 the organization has provided danger to safety trans-national relocation to 26 families back to the USA, paid 13 legal retainers to enable battered mothers to file for custody of their children in the USA, provided professional counseling to 19 abuse survivors and placed 3 families into a one-year transitional housing program.

In 2006 alone, crisis advocates received 1158 crisis calls and emails, providing services to 248 families in 47 countries. Collectively volunteer advocates volunteered 3,849 hours on the crisis line in 2006. The crisis line currently operates continuously from 9am Monday PST through Friday 11pm PST.
And here's something else to consider, something that separates the needs of this charity from just about every other charity on this list. This valuable and much needed service takes significant amounts of funding (the phone bills alone can cost thousands of dollars every month). At this point in time, due to the inability to provide a concrete "population" (many of the numbers are estimates -- and the exact percentages of DV may vary from county to country), we are unable to gain access to government grants and funds. All of our funding comes from private grants and donations.

If you already have a local charity that you believe is truly deserving of this award, by all means, vote for them. But, please consider voting instead for the ADVCL. Or, perhaps you could switch back and forth each day (again, you can vote once a day, everyday, until March 31).

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Generational Divide?

There's been a lot of good responses to Jessica's feminist sorority post. Upon reading it, my first impulse, frankly, was to laugh my ass off. Not because Jessica's post was funny, but because it reminded me so much of my own feminist writings and arguments from just 5-10 years ago (well, except for the "sex-positive" angle, that is). In fact, I was so committed to this fight at the time that I even started to do write my Master's thesis on this very topic.

I don't know if it was the research I did on the topic, or if it was just getting older, or just realizing that there were so many more important things to worry about, but I lost interest in the argument. But that doesn't mean I don't still have opinions on the topic (even if they are a bit different than they were 10 years ago).

One of the more interesting aspects of this on-going argument is the constantly changing aspect of it. In 2002, about the time I lost interest in the whole topic (as something to fight for or about), I was 31. Younger than Rebecca Walker (arguably one of the leading founders of the Third Wave Feminist movement, and, at the very least, the founder of the Third Wave Foundation). During the peak of this time for me, I was clearly in the "young feminist" category. And yet, now, Ariel Levy, who is 3 1/2 years younger than me, is called out as one of the "older generation." (No, Jessica doesn't specifically refer to Levy as "old," but the inference is clear, after all, she is using Levy as an example of those opposed to the "young feminists" like herself.)

In that since-abandoned thesis, I wrote:

Much of what has led to this hostility seems to be a mixture of truth and fallacy on both sides, the fallacies often generated by a lack of knowledge about the Wave the feminist is not a part of. Second Wave feminists often see Third Wave feminists ignoring their feminist history, eschewing theory and even going against that which many Second Wave feminists had fought for. Third Wave feminists often see Second Wave feminists as being too enmeshed in academic feminism, steeped in identity politics and unaccepting of a broader focus of feminist politics. While all of these assertions hold a certain level of truth, they are too broad to generalize to all feminists within their respective Waves.
While many of my opinions on this subject have changed over the years, the above has not. I know younger feminists haven't completely ignored their own feminist history. Whether through Women's Studies courses, discussions with their mothers and grandmothers (both literal and metaphorical), and their own readings, young feminists have, by and large, made a point to know their history. On the other hand, it has to be more than a little aggravating for older feminists to read younger feminists opining on the "new" internecine feminist battles as though they aren't the same damn battles that have been going on for the last 30 years. The current battles between the "sex positive" feminists and the "anti-porn" feminists have got nothing on the Sex Wars of the 70s and 80s. And sure, there was a lot of exclusion of women of color in the early days of the Second Wave -- but to ignore the incredibly important contributions of women of color in those early days is to also engage in the same exclusion (not to mention the many critiques of racist exclusion that takes place today, even among young feminists).

What it comes down to, in my opinion, has far less to do with a generational divide than with simple ideology. Fact is, when it comes to the never ending Sex Wars, Jessica will have far more in common with Patrick Califia than with Samantha Berg, and that clearly has nothing to do with age.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Speaking of charity...donate while sitting on your ass

Want to donate to charity (and actually know which one), but don't want to take the time away from surfing the net? Everyday there are more and more ways to help with this dilemma. I think by now most people are already aware of The Breast Cancer Site, The Hunger Site, and the other similar sites where you can donate by simply clicking on the designated spot.

And in that same vein comes a new and much needed clicking for charity opportunity: Tamponification!
Women’s shelters in the U.S. go through thousands of tampons and pads monthly, and, while agencies generally assist with everyday necessities such as toilet paper, diapers, and clothing, this most basic need is often overlooked. You and I may take our monthly trips down the feminine care aisle for granted, but, for women in shelters, a box of tampons is five dollars they can’t spare. Here’s some good news: you can help us contribute to rectifying this situation by making a virtual donation below! For each virtual donation, Seventh Generation will send a pack of organic cotton tampons or chlorine-free pads to a shelter in your state.
If actually going to a site and clicking on a link is too much work, how about donating while doing what you would be doing anyway? The next time you need to do a websearch, instead of using Google, use GoodSearch instead.
How does it work?
  • On the GoodSearch homepage, choose from thousands of organizations or add your favorite cause to our list.
  • Search the Internet just like you normally would — the site is powered by Yahoo!, so you'll get the same high-quality search results you're accustomed to.
  • Fifty percent of the revenue generated from advertisers is shared with the charity, school or nonprofit organization of your choosing.
Are the search results going to be as good as the search engine I am using now?

Absolutely. is powered by Yahoo! so you'll get the same high-quality search results that you're currently used to — or better!

How much money could this generate for my charity or school?
We estimate that each Web search will generate approximately $0.01 for the designated charity or school (image, video and news searches are not included). If you think about how many times you search the Internet each year, and then add in all the searches from the supporters of your organization, it quickly adds up!
You can designate a local, national, or international organization to be the recipient of the donation.

Now I can feel good about wasting my time looking up ex-boyfriends and finding out what they are doing now, or, even better, finding out that losing that demo tape from that other ex-boyfriend's band no longer has to stop you from getting all nostalgic.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Charity for Charity's Sake

The other day I got an email from my bank (a large national chain) asking me to take an on-line survey about their on-line banking services. The subject line of the email said: Share your opinions with **** Bank and help donate $12,000 to charity! I thought, well, hey, this could be an easy way to donate money. Intrigued, I opened the email and read:
If you qualify and complete the survey, we will make a $2 donation to charity up to a total of $12,000.
I wasn't sure what it meant to "qualify" and if I would do so, but again, how hard it is it to take a survey. And I'll be able to give free money to charity. But what charity? I read further. Nothing. Nowhere in the email did it indicate what charity, or even what kind of charity this money would be donated to. I clicked on the link to the survey thinking there might be more information there. Nope.

There was a phone number given for those who wanted to verify the validity of the survey. I doubled checked with the bank's webpage, and sure enough, it was their customer service number. So I called. I gave them the reference terms I was told to give in the email. The service rep pulled up the appropriate page on their computer. I asked them, "What charity would I essentially be donated to?" The guy had no idea. But he tried (I have to give him credit, he did seem to be as interested in the question as I was and seemed to really work at finding out the answer). Alas, he could not find anyone or anything that would give him the answer, other than "Charity."

I chose not to do the survey. I won't go so far as to suggest that this bank's charity of choice was "Help the Poor Millionaire Bankers Union." And I'd guess that they probably wouldn't go with something controversial (like Planned Parenthood or Operation Rescue). But do they really think that "charity" is all that matters? That the actual recipients of the charity make no difference?

It's possible that I would have found out at the end of the survey what the charity was. Or, maybe I would have even been given a choice. But, seeing as how no one in their customer service department (who was specifically listed as being a place to call to ask about the survey) could even tell me if I'd be given a choice or an answer at any point, I saw no reason to waste 10 minutes of my time on them.

It should also be noted that the bank in question is not the only (or possibly even primary) party responsible for this fiasco. The survey was administered by Rockbridge Associates, an "independent market research firm." They are the ones responsible for the wording of the email, the wording of the survey, and the implementation of the survey. I spent 10 years (off and on) working for my uncle's market research firm, and I know how much time is spent on every single word of these surveys, esp. the parts that are trying to solicit the responses. I don't believe for a second that leaving out exactly which (or what kind of) charity was just missed in editing. Which just makes me all that much more curious about the whole issue.