Tag Archives: change

Life Post-Rapture

21 May

The internets have been all a-twitter with the news of the upcoming rapture, and by golly it is here! Today is the day! Sell your possessions! Quit your job! Donate all of your money to charity (or broke graduate students… hint, hint). Make sure you find your pet a new home, and say a little prayer for all the blasphemers out there who doubted that the day had come.

In all seriousness, this rapture has been everywhere! From New York City subways to Madison Wisconsin, the believers in the rapture have been working really hard to make sure everyone knows it’s coming. I appreciate that, I like to have a little forwarning when the shiznat is about to hit the fan of revelation. I’ve also been enjoying the advice of Best Roof Talk Ever as they count down the days to the rapture and help me understand what it coming.

In these wee small hours of the rapture morning, a friend asked me what I planned to do when I was left behind without my family. I had a few responses that I didn’t even realize existed, and they gave me pause.

1. I wouldn’t actually be alone, because most of my friends and a good chunk of my family would be here, too, so it wouldn’t be so bad. Plus, I’d pretty much know my grandmother was in heaven, instead of trying to sleep on a painful hip. That seems like a pretty big improvement. Although it would be too bad that my great aunt just spent all that money getting lasik, not that it would matter, once she was with Jesus.

2. I would open my bakery. My three co-founders consist of an atheist, a pagan methodist and her husband, so I’m pretty sure we’ll all still be around and maybe we can luck out and inherit the money to start a new business from a distant relative, or something. Plus, with all the people gone, the unemployment rate is bound to drop since there will be so many job openings. Hell, the rapture may just be the answer to the recession. The newly revived job market will be the perfect environment to start Mo’ Butter Less Problems, our bakery where every treat is named after a literary character. Some months will even have themes! July will be Harry Potter, and October reserved for vampires (but not, obviously, those stupid twilight books). If you’re still around after the rapture, you should look us up in about six months. That’s Mo’ Butter, Less Problems. Perhaps our tagline could be “Making Life After Rapture Sweet!” or, “Life after the rapture sure tastes sweet!” I see plenty of possibilities.

3. Revel in the new political, social, and spiritual American landscape. I try to imagine the country without right-wing Christian tea-party-ers, evangelicals, and political conservatives, and a tear of happiness springs to my eye. I would start community organizing to make sure Texas went back to being blue, now that the Bible belt was rid of a majority of its residents. I would encourage multiple parties to bring more diversity into local, state, and national elections, now that the people who kept trampling all OVER my rights were happily situated with Jesus. I would start compiling a list for Barack Obama, who I’m pretty sure would still be hanging out, full of suggestions for nominations to the newly-opened seats on the Supreme Court. All of my suggestions, of course, would be progressive, pro-choice nominees. I would be a part of a wave of taking back our reproductive freedoms, as states like South Dakota and Mississippi increased the number of clinics offering family planning and abortion services to a number able to serve the entire state community without causing undue hardship on any population within their borders. I would encourage young women to take over the property space of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in their neighborhoods and turn them into environments for positive conversations about being a young woman in this new American society, and I would tell them explicitly that the future was, actually, theirs to shape.

I know that this rapture is a really fringe kind of thing, and so most of the things I talk about here are pretty ridiculous to base on this one seriously unfounded marginal idea. But the thing that really struck me was how big my dreams kept getting when I thought about what could be. A professor once told me that there can be no change if we aren’t brave enough to envision the kind of future we want for whatever cause it is we’re currently fighting for. It’s strange, but the rapture has allowed me to start to envision the kind of world I want for myself, my family, and my friends, and I hope I can carry that kind of strength in vision and optimism forward into the far harsher reality of our current situation in the country and around the world.

And I just wonder… what would you do?

-me

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who doesn’t like adele? the point of tumblr, and other thoughts.

18 Apr

So basically, Alyssa is the goddess of all things social and networked, except not that movie because she’s too cool for that, and so now she has me on tumblr. It isn’t her fault, she’s just never set a trend I didn’t want to follow. If you are interested, which you don’t have to be, you can check it out. feminismisprettycool.tumblr.com 

As for the big, “but what IS tumblr” question, I still don’t really have an answer, except its kind of like posting links to things on facebook, maybe? Or like a blog without the necessity of putting words there. I feel like it’s especially useful for those who have many internet interests and like to share them. I tried to give mine  theme, so I’d spend more time focusing my internet browsing on feminist things, and I’d say that has worked about 50% of the time, all the time.

Adele. I feel like there should be some little twittering birds flying out of something vintage an iridescent whenever I say her name or think of her music. She is just so fabulous. Her voice is amazing, her songs cut right to the core of the experience of life and love, and I just want to listen to 21 on loop all day, every day. Yes, she has replaced Ke$ha. (In my earbuds, but not in my heart.) I’ll just throw the one AMAZING, FANTASTIC, MINDBLOWING live performance up here and if that doesn’t convinced you (as if you needed convincing) I am pretty sure we can’t be friends anymore.

Now on to a topic de rigueur. Microaggressions. Everyone is talking about them. The folks at the Rutgers Vagina Monologues were talking about them, bitch is blogging about them, so is feministing, and there’s even a (you guessed it!) tumblr devoted to them. Really, the tumblr started it all (as you’ll see if you check on the blogs on bitch and feministing). What is a microaggression, you might ask?

“Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” (From “Microaggressions in Everyday Life” by Derald Wing Sue, Ph.D., and David Rivera, M.S.)

I also think the microaggressions tumblr puts it pretty succinctly:

“Power, privilege, and everyday life.”

Originally, microaggressions were used to describe a specifically racialized experience. Through the tumblr, the creators seek to expand this understanding to include all experiences of microaggressions, whether they deal with race, gender, class, ability, or any other identity or status. Our everyday lived experiences are rife with examples, and when we bring them up, we are all too often met with admonishments about taking things “too seriously.” What is great about the work of all of these people are doing to bring microaggressions to the forefront is that it frees us from our self-doubt: we are not taking something “too seriously,” it is serious. We get so entangled in the requisite laughter that is supposed to meet these incidents, it becomes impossible to call anyone out, much less to address the real feelings we may have in response to them and the serious societal consequences of letting them slide.

I am going to give an example of an interaction from my life. It happened before I learned about the term, and my indignance took a few days of simmering in the back of my brain to find a voice, but after hearing about microaggressions I realize this is tied up in all of it. The example may at first seem kind of roundabout, but bear with me. Okie doke?

A friend of mine was commenting on my inability to take racist and sexist jokes, which was keeping me from socializing with a specific group of people who, I am sure, are completely fine in general, but I am no longer at the point in my life where I can laugh racism and sexism off and continue to have a good time. I’m sure some of you understand where I’m coming from. Our conversation continued, and eventually came to this point:

“You just have to laugh it off. Like, when I am walking down the street at night and a white lady clutches her purse and looks all scared, it just makes me laugh. You know?”

For purely contextual purposes, I think its important to mention that my friend is a young black man. Other than the fact that my feminism makes it difficult for me to not take any prejudice seriously, I couldn’t find the words to explain to my friend in that moment why his words were so unsettling. The next day, the thoughts popped into my head, like some little hidden social justice debater part of my brain had been mulling it over without my knowledge all night: It frustrated me, because it just wasn’t funny. Young black men have statistically higher chances of going to prison, and when trying to find employment, young black men with no criminal record are less likely to get a job than their white counterparts who do have criminal records. An expectation of violence breeds higher rates of conviction and incarceration, and lower levels of employment, and higher levels of poverty. That woman who walked by him at night and clutched her purse is endemic of a larger societal prejudice that has real impacts on the lived experiences of people. This  is why microaggressions matter.

I’m really happy they’re getting some attention, and I hope this becomes a word as well-worn as “intersectionality” in our feminist and general circles in life.

I really need to get off this damn computer and sleep, I have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea to start blogging at one in the morning and I completely and totally blame my friend Kendra, but I have one more little teeny tiny thing to add. Remember when I wrote that really, really angry (and rightfully so) post about cat calling and street harassment? You might recall it from last semester. Anywho, I almost jumped for joy when I found out that Mandy Van Deven, one of the authors of Hey Shorty! A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets (on sale from the awesome feminist press) and all around badass, is doing a short blog series on street harassment for bitch! I am so. freaking. excited.

Until next time…

-G

 

 

 

 

 

Thought of the Day

24 Jan

This post should be short, as I’m using it to actively procrastinate (or, maybe not: is it still procrastination if you are working through information you are in the middle of reading?). Nevertheless, here is the framing of this thought: I am currently wading through a few hundred pages of reading for the week. I’ve gotten through my readings on gender and human rights and inequality, poverty and gender, but now I have come to my readings for feminist knowledge production. I could probably go on for endless paragraphs even about what that name means, but the point is, I’m reading the first chapter of Feminist Research in Theory and Practice and am in the middle of the section about language. Many theorists argue that, while talking about knowledge and knowledge production, especially from a feminist perspective, you must consider language as the creator of reality. Language is determined by those with access to power and authoritative knowledge, these barriers are designated by those with the most cultural control, and historicall in a Western sense, those people have been men. Specifically, white, upper class men. There are arguments about whether language is or should be presented as the sole motivator in the constitution of reality, I don’t want to get into that.

Right now, the author is discussing political correctness and its effects on language and on the work of feminists to subvert masculinist language and discourse. If “politially correct” is the concept that enourages gender-neutral terms for occupations and pronouns as well as the political catechrises and reappropriation of words previously connotated derogatory, then a culture that rebels against politcal correctness is likely to reject and ridicule these attempts. Further, through manipulation of language over time, words like spinster (originally referring to a woman who worked with a spindle. These women just happened to enjoy a higher than normal standard of living for women, by the by) and gossip (originally meaning a friend who was there for the birth of a child and would take on the role of godparent) have turned into deragatory terms that are mainly targeted at women. And, when used in reference to men, have a doubly damning impact of also feminizing the one in question. Like these words, “feminism” is now out of vogue. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked me why, if it has such a negative connotation, don’t I just pick another word? When I mention that some people have negative reactions to the word, the most common response is almost accusatory, like I am asking for this response because I already know that feminism is the other “f-word” and that people don’t like feminists, in general. I don’t like anyone accusing anybody of “asking for it,” in general, but in this particular instance it is so difficult to explain that even claiming the word “feminist” is, in itself a feminist act. In the article I’m reading, a UK women’s magazine printed this sentiment: “feminism: we still need it but we want a new name for it.” This, reflecting on all of the reading about language preceding it, led me to this question: Why are only the subversive uses of language asked to change? Why would anyone feel it is alright to ask an entire movement to change it’s name because of an unfounded, sexist, and misogynist backlash against its very foundation? I will not accede to the demands of masculinist culture and change my stance, and I will not choose a different word based on the manipulation of a patriarchal society. Feminism is about calling out inequality and demanding that the patriarchy end, so why on earth would you ask me to appease this demand of The Man, which attempts to discolor “feminism” and mold it into a dirty, shameful word?

I will not be your bubblegum feminist to make you feel more at ease with me, and I will not pick from your “more acceptable” terms to desribe what I am. I am a feminist. This means, inherently, that I’m dedicated to the reorganization of society and a rejection of current hierarchies and patterns of oppression.

Deal with it.

In Sisterhood and Solidarity,

Me

Back to school. Mixed emotions on that count.

19 Jan

You’ll be able to tell that I’m back at school because of this post. It’s a continuation of something I was marinating on over the break after a conversation with someone who will remain nameless to protect his honor. We were talking about what we were going to do after school, and I asked him if he still wanted to pursue the field he’d mentioned previously. This field had to do with illegal immigration. I’ve been hoping he’d come around, stop listening to Rush Limbaugh, and join the sane, but no. He came back with “that’s where I’m still conservative!” and proceeded to talk about how illegal immigrants “take advantage” of this country because they don’t pay taxes blah, blah, blah.

And, you see, when people start talking like this I lapse back into this problem. Mainly, I become so confused by their thought process that I cannot form sentences that make any sense further than, “I can’t believe you!” My thought process about this issue goes something like this: How can you possibly accuse a community of taking advantage of the system when they are the most vulnerable and precarious population in the nation? They are the most exploited, and you are accusing them of exploiting you? Are you kidding me right now? Of all the people you could be pissed at, all of the groups you could blame, you pick them. The ones without rights. Seriously? And what completely baffles me is that these same people who say that illegal immigrants are taking advantage of the United States by not paying taxes or whatever are the exact people who don’t want to tax the most wealthy Americans. Really? Are you kidding me? You want to take out all of your anger and fear on this population, you want to build a wall?

As you can see, I lose all capacity to have a conversation and devolve into accusing them of being stupid/ignorant/unfeeling/soulless. This doesn’t accomplish anything, because I know this dude personally and I know he isn’t stupid/ignorant/unfeeling/soulless. We’re actually pretty good friends. So here’s where I realize that I can’t even understand their thought processes, because where I operate from a sense of social justice and human rights and almost always come down on the side of those who have the least and are the most exploited, other people think about things like taxes. Granted, their thoughts on taxes are (most likely) baseless, I mean look at their source, but still, their arguments are based on things like economics instead of basic human dignity. So I’m starting to realize that, if I ever want to change any minds, I have to change my own. If I can’t communicate in a language they understand, we’ll just sit and yell at each other forever while real, valid, living people are being overlooked in a political battle that directly effects them.

This brings me to class today. We’re talking about poverty and inequality, and I’m really excited because my teacher is an economist. She’s basically a badass. Yes, she actually is. She connects economics and human rights/social justice/grassroots activism all the time. It’s her job! I am pretty positive that if anyone can help me understand how to have the economics conversation, it’s her. Then we watch this documentary that everyone should see called Life and Debt. It’s about Jamaica, the IMF, the World Bank, and the living conditions of the people on the island. It also implicates tourists who come to the island and ignore the devastation, just like I’ve done on cruises to Mexico. Then, I had one of those moments.

By “those moments” I mean that second where… well, you know that saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees”? Well, its like you’ve been looking, staring, really concentrating on this one tree, or this one patch of trees, or whatever, and then suddenly you zoom back. Not just to the forest, but to the whole region. The entire living planet ecosystem. Just zoom straight out. And from far away, you can see all of the different forests. You know, the Forest of Poverty, the Forest of Climate Change, all of those forests. And suddenly from your zoomed out position, you channel The Doctor. Well, on a small scale. One of The Doctor’s things is that he’s aware of all of time happening at once. So here you are, staring at all of the forests, but you can also see forward and backward in history. So, now, you have the Forest of Climate Change, the Forest of Poverty, etc, and all around them, acting on them, you see things like Colonlialism and Racism and Capitalism and Greed. And suddenly you’re like, whoa, I thought all of these were separate forests and forces, but really they’re all here. I’m just saying, I had a moment in class where my brain zoomed back. The farmers in Jamaica can’t sell their produce in local grocery stores, because they can’t compete with the prices of the imported goods from all of the countries they previously had trade barriers against until the IMF told them to take down the barriers and integrate. Of course, the taking down of trade barriers only applied to this poor country, and not the other countries with so much money they can subsidize their goods down to such a low price even with the cost of exporting it to Jamaica. And then you think about how much fuel and pollution comes from taking food from one place, processing it, packaging it, and shipping it from one country to another all around the world. And now you think, today, when we’re all so concerned about climate change and pollution and global warming and green industry, firms from rich countries are competing to export goods across the world?

Do you see what I mean? And then I feel like I’m just this little leaf, or something, floating on a current in the middle of all of this shit. It existed before I was a leaf, and all of the forces acting on me are so, so huge. I’m just being pulled along by this epically intricate and massive system of currents. And it’s just a little overwhelming.

But at least I’ve got The Doctor to keep me warm! He’s the best humanist ever. And sometimes you just need someone, even a fictional character, to tell you humans are good.

SOTP: “Chances Are” by Garrett Hedlund

In sisterhood and solidarity,

me

What does it mean to be a gender scholar?

5 Oct

So, today we’re having this conversation in class. If you aren’t living under a rock somewhere, you’ve heard about the young man who killed himself who was a student at Rutgers. And we are all gender scholars and feminists, and so we decide to have this conversation because it’s what we do. I understand the need for catharsis, and I understand the desire to make a difference. That’s why we’re gender scholars and not something else, because we really, really give a shit. But sometimes I can’t help but feel like the conversations are fruitless, because change happens slowly, and we’re already doing everything we can and should be doing in our daily lives to advance that change. But you know what? I figured it couldn’t hurt to send this out into the internet space: my thoughts on the student’s passing, and how you can change your life to make a bigger change in society.

I don’t understand when people say they are totally shocked by what happened. That they don’t understand how an 18 year old kid could do something like that. I do. We live in a society that gay bashes all the time. Homophobia is not only condoned, it is embraced through language, laws, media, and all aspects of culture. People are so quick to point the finger at technology, at bad parenting, when this is a result of our discriminatory and bigoted society. I absolutely think that the roomate, his friend, and everyone who followed him on facebook or twitter is responsible for the suicide of the student in some part, because they made a choice to act in a hateful way that was purposeful and malevolent. I think they should be punished, and that state, federal, and university laws should be changed to incorporate all hate crimes as criminal offenses. I hope that this encourages universities to create more supportive environments for all students, and reinforces our understanding of the classroom as not only an academic tool but also a social one, that can be used to expand the narrow and ignorant mindsets of so many of our students and citizens. I also hope that this creates an even more visible international community of LGBTQI people and their allies, so that no one ever feels so alone that they would kill themselves. I see movements, like it gets better, and I am reminded that all people have the capacity to be community organizers if they find an issue important enough to them. I also think that we have a responsibility to address this in our everyday lives. If we consider ourselves allies to this movement, or members of it (and are comfortably and safely ‘out’), we should take at least a moment in the coming weeks to publicly denounce homophobia everywhere, and to use our influence, whatever that influence is, to push for change. Every person has the capacity to organize and to create the kind of society they want to live in. First, we have to make ourselves into the conscious embodiment of what we seek, in this case, a society without bigotry and homophobia. Then we should live that out in a public way, so that the people we interact with will also hear the message. That’s how change happens, and that is necessary.

I like to think about all of the things I can do today that women couldn’t do ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred years ago. It helps to solidify my belief in the possibility of positive social change. I think that if we can see ourselves as part of a global movement to create similar change along LGBTQI issues, it can get easier to believe that our actions today will make the world better tomorrow. Until then, if you feel so inclined, make a video and send it in to the it gets better project on youtube, put a GLSEN, GLAAD, or Human Rights Campaign sticker or logo on your locker, car, or office door so people know that you are an ally and an open ear. Or do something else that feels genuine to you as a part of the struggle. If we all start working in these seemingly small ways, change is inevitable.

-me