The Silence in Here is Deafening!

I am so sorry it has been so long, dear readers! I’ve been over here soaking in the summer sun, whittling away my gobs of free time (I wish, haha! Picture a wry, slightly sarcastic face saying that)  wee bits of free time working with my hands rather than my head. It has been a big shift, even from past summers, when I was apt to consume countless books. I have been stretching in new directions: learning bike mechanics, biking long distances, grilling, baking, crocheting, drawing. I hardly recognize myself! It feels good, and even mildly subversive, to be almost completely devoted to physical and creative endeavors. The general modus operandi of my life has been more strictly academics, intellect and book learning for a number of years. What a change this summer has turned out to be!

I am back here now, though, for the duration I believe. We have been collecting some content to publish in the near future that I will begin posting tomorrow morning. The next week and a half or so we will be running a series on feminist firsts. We have some wonderful writers who have written about their own feminist firsts and I trust you will find the pieces inspiring and insightful.

In the mean time, I’m going to sit down and begin actually writing through some of my own feminist observations from this past quiet month of my new ways of being, to share with you.

Thanks for sticking with us in these lazy summer days.

Linkety Links: Rape in Prisons, White Privilege and Feminists, Hotels, Pervs, and More!!

Its been awhile, friends and readers!! I’ve been bouncing around, adjusting to a summer job and detoxing my brain from school. But I haven’t stopped reading!! Here are some of the pieces that have caught my eye as of late. Happy perusing! <3

Why that Harvard/Tufts Study Isn’t Breaking News
Racialicious: “Another week, another head-scratching study result. Or so you’d think, right? The study, conducted by researchers at Tufts and Harvard Universities, concluded that white people think the prejudices blacks faced during the Civil Rights era are literally in the past. But it’s not all rosy, apparently, for the majority of the 209 white people (alongside 208 blacks) surveyed….But, setting aside questions regarding the size of the survey group and the focus on white/black relations in an increasingly diverse country, one has to wonder: is this really a surprise?”

Hotel’s and Their Pervs Revisited
Mother Jones: “Let’s revisit the issue of pervs in hotel rooms. Why not, after all? It started with New York Times op-ed by Jacob Tomsky, in which he told us that housekeepers are flashed or otherwise sexually accosted by male guests ‘more often than you’d think.’ My off-the-cuff reaction was to suggest azero-tolerance policy for this kind of thing: ‘Do it once and you’re thrown out and blacklisted forever. What’s the justification for extending even the slightest forbearance toward this kind of behavior?’…So why don’t the big hotel chains have policies like this?”

White Privilege Diary Series #1: White Feminist Privilege in Organizations
Daily Kos: “Anyone who has done anti-racist work for more than a few years has run up against this problem:  most racists are happy being racists, and simply don’t want to change.  But at the same time they want to be protected from accusations of racism, and resent anyone who makes them “feel bad” about it.  White feminists are no different from other white people in that regard, as feminists of color well know.  A few are truly committed to diversity and anti-racist action, but the majority of us are not, and get angry and nasty when we’re driven out of our comfort zone. In my estimation, however, a racist feminist is no feminist at all.”

Exposing the Prevalence of Rape in the U.S. Prison System
Bilerico Project: “So, the fact is, our country is globally recognized as having some of the nastiest prisons and jails in the world – owing in part to the rampant sexual violence that prevails, even in juvenile detention. Steve Mason comments on this. This sexual violence is often directed against inmates who are known to be, or simply suspected of being, LGBT. But it can also be turned, like a flamethrower, against any individual or group, for any reason whatever. Violence – not law – is what runs our prisons and jails, and often the penal authorities themselves participate in it.”

Coming Out: Audio, Photos, Stories of Gay Teens – Interactive Feature
New York Times: “Bullying and suicides of gay and lesbian teenagers are in the headlines, the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has been repealed, and the debate over same-sex marriage continues to divide the country. Against this backdrop, many L.G.B.T. youth wonder how accepting society will be.”

2,500 Years After Buddha, Tibetan Buddhists Acknowledge Women
The Huffington Post: “Buddhist women are celebrating a landmark victory: In April, the renowned Institute for Buddhist Dialectical Studies (IBD) in Dharamsala, India, conferred the degree of “Geshe” — the Tibetan equivalent of Ph.D. — to Venerable Kelsang Wangmo, a German nun…[I]t may come as a surprise to many that despite its peaceful and somewhat progressive image in the West, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition does not know full ordination for women. For complex historical and patriarchal reasons, the lineage did not migrate when Buddhism spread from India to Tibet, thus outclassing the Tibetan Buddhist nuns as inferior.”

When Anger Erupts: The Conundrum of Feminist Infighting

This post is cross-posted from The Canonball Blog as part of a series they have been running on Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. Enjoy! – Katrina

“The personal is political”: we feminists love this statement, don’t we? Belief that one’s personal circumstances are what they are because of politics was the basis for a lot of consciousness raising and activism during the Second Wave, when this statement became popularized. I’ve been thinking about it the other way around though, recently. I think it is important to consider the implications here: the political is personal, too. And sometimes the people closest to the scene where the anger Audrey wrote about earlier this week gets ignited are people who, in most other situations, we would consider an ally. I’m thinking girl-on-girl and feminist-on-feminist political anger.

Of course, there is a lot of girl on girl anger out there in the world at large. There is a reason so many people have all seen the movie Mean Girls: it talks about something that is true to life and many of our school experiences. One of my best friends is writing a paper on female beefs in hip-hop culture (Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj, anyone?). Taylor Swift writes slut shaming lyrics. These kinds of conflicts aren’t unusual to us as female identified people, or to popular culture. So what happens when it touches down in our feminist back yard?

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Some links!!: Mother’s Day stories, a sweet zine, and how to deal with anger

The U.S. Maternal Healthcare Crisis: 14 Numbers You Need to Know
Science & Sensibility: “Mother’s Day is May 8. At Amnesty International USA, we’re honoring mothers by fighting for maternal health — sending Mother’s Day action cards to U.S. and international decision-makers, hosting events and more (sign up at amnestyusa.org/mothersday).  Amnesty is also launching a One-Year Update to our groundbreaking report, Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA. From that update, here are 14 numbers you need to know.”

When We Hated Mom
The New York Times: “Contrary to myth, “The Feminine Mystique” and feminism did not represent the beginning of the decline of the stay-at-home mother, but a turning point that led to much stronger legal rights and “working conditions” for her.”

The Greatest Hits in Contraceptive History
Mother Jones: “Pretty much since the beginning of time, people have looked for ways to control their own fertility—from jumping backward seven times after sex, to using elephant or crocodile dung as suppositories, to drinking mercury and donning reusable condoms. And for just as long, there’s been a veritable crusade against (mostly) women’s efforts to control reproduction. From the book of Genesis to the 21st Olympiad, here are some noteable moments in the war on contraception.”

“The PIC (Prison Industrial Complex) Is…” Zine
Chicago PIC Teaching Collective: “This publication is offered as a gift. The topic is tragic and deadly serious. However those of us who worked collaboratively to create this zine envisioned it as a crie de coeur and as something to be shared. We expect that those who care about issues of justice, equality, and humanity will use it as a teaching tool and as an organizing tool. “

Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression, and Being Productive
The Canonball Blog: “What is the correct way to express anger? How can you express your anger and still have productive conversations? How can we support each other in expressing anger? Lorde’s answer: people of privilege need to learn how to listen. “If we listen to the content of what is said with at least as much intensity as we defend ourselves against the manner of saying.”

Happy Mother’s Day: On Choice and Childbirth in the U.S.

I’m writing this Mother’s Day post through a fog of a nasty sickness, so I can’t guarantee it will be as polished as I intend. My hope is that it will make a modicum of sense! I am here on this day to write about the issue of childbirth, choice, maternal healthcare and the violations that are rampant in the U.S. regarding all of these things. I want to open the conversation up about an aspect of women’s choice that I have not heard discussed even once in mainstream feminist circles: The choices that women should have to decide how and where they want to have their babies.

Yesterday, with my throat too sore and my brain to busy to sleep, but my body too sick and tired to do much of anything I came across the documentary “Pregnant in America: A Nation’s Miscarriage” on netflix, available for instant view. Despite the fact that the average childbearing age in the U.S. is 29.4 years old, and I am a mere 25 years old, I can think of a dozen women around my age who are my good friends who have kids (many of them have more than 1 by now) or are pregnant. And that is just off the top of my head! “Why the heck not, I thought. This will be illuminating if nothing else,” so I watched it. And mind = blown, a little bit.

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So Far This Week: Osama’s death, the GOP and rape/abortion, the history of rainbow pride, and more!

Hey hey hello there! I was trying to wait until the end of the week to post links, but all of a sudden this morning I already had so many. Here are some the news bits that have caught my eye so far this week. Enjoy! – Katrina

In Search Of Meaning: Osama Bin Laden and the Dancing Americans
Mondoweiss: “Those of us that know history did not begin on September 11th have been resisting the abrasive, suffocating encroachment of imperialist and reactionary elements on our lives and identities, building up to the present moment of revolution: between Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and the rest of the region, Arabs, Muslim or otherwise, are fighting to end the age of US puppet regimes on their own terms. One cannot help but wonder what “victory” the United States can claim in the murder of Osama Bin Laden on Pakistani soil.”

The GOP’s Stealth Plan to Redefine Rape
Mother Jones: “While they’ve amended their legislation, which faces a floor vote in the House on Wednesday, Republicans haven’t stopped trying to narrow the already small exception under which federal funding for abortions is permissible. They’ve used a sly legislative maneuver to make sure that even though the language of the bill is different, the effect remains the same.”

White House to Host First Ever Trans Meeting
Note: This meeting happened days ago, but I wasn’t able to find any analysis/commentary/news on the meeting itself. But it happened!! 
The Washington Blade: “‘This is the first president who has allowed trans people — really allowed LGBT people — to bring forward problems and then advocate for them,’ Keisling said. ‘In the Bush administration, we couldn’t even do that. They wouldn’t even listen to us. They didn’t care what our problems were. In fact, they were making most of our problems.'”

Detroit’s Financial Martial Law Hits Home for Teen Moms
Colorlines: “Now, with all 5,466 of Detroit’s public school teachers getting laid off, Catherine Ferguson is on a list of schools to be either turned into charter schools, i.e. sold to and remade by a company with its own agenda, or closed. When students got wind of the impending closure plans, they made the decision to protest; community organization BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) lent support, police were called in, and the day went downhill from there.”

Claiming Rainbow Pride
Bilerico: “In this paper, I will provide a historical context for the [rainbow] flag’s creation, as well as critique the rhetoric used when telling this history, searching for what or who it might leave out. Taking South Africa as a case study, I will present some discourses around how certain people are erased from gay and lesbian visibility, space, and politics in Cape Town as a result of intersectional identities and oppressions. My aim is to open a door for discourse that more deeply questions whose history we take up as queer people when accepting the symbols (and politics) handed to us at first ‘outing.'”

Norway is Best Place to Be Mom; U.S. lags
Jezebel: ” A worldwide study shows that the best place to give birth is Norway. … The US ranks 31st out of 164 countries on Save the Children’s Mothers’ Index. Its maternal mortality rate is 1 in 2,100, the highest of any industrialized country (that’s 15 times higher, for instance, than the mortality rate in Greece). Child mortality is also relatively high, with 8 out of 1,000 children dying before the age of five.”