Monday, October 27, 2008

The small victories in a feminist's life

Olives' quote a couple of weeks ago about the perks of feminism got me thinking about the benefits of feminism in my own life. I had a couple this week that made me realize that just living life in a way that is atune to the various injustices placed on women has at least had a small influence on the world. Often Olives and I talk about the frustating tendency of people to reject our criticisms of culture on the basis of our womanhood, or the frenquency with which people think our views are funny and not to be taken seriously. This week, though, I realized that beyond people's initial reactions to my comments and their propensity to laugh at yet another piece of feminism, I might actually be getting my point across.

First there was the friend who I was hanging out with when I got Olives' email about Hustler's latest porn movie "Nailin Palin." I was horrified and told my friend all about it. He listened and tried to mask the humor he found in "Nailin Palin" while I showed him the promotional materials for it and tried to get over my shock. Of course I was frustrated that he just thought the issue was funny and didn't seem upset at all that it was happening, the most he agreed to at the time was that it was kind of messed up. But then, magically, a few days later he brought it up again and told me he had discussed it with his roommate and that she had also been upset by it. Then we talked about it more and it seemed he saw how messed up it was. Or at least, me expressing my views had planted something in his brain which then caused him to spread the message further and engage in dialogue about it.

A similar thing happened with my roommate the next day. She's not really "into" feminism and seems to harbor a benevolent tolerance for my usual commentary about news media, advertising, etc. But while we were doing our homework on Sunday she turned her head up to look at me and said, "This picture in my textbook is perfect material for one of your feminist criticism things." I laughed because, although she was not saying "This picture is cleary sexist, offensive, and damaging to the perception of women in our society," she also kind of was. She was acknowledging the fact that I would have a problem with it, which is in a way acknowledging that there is a problem with it--a problem which she recognized and paid attention to because she has a feminist in her face all the time.

I'm not trying to blow myself up into some kind of feminist hero opening people's minds. I'm just saying that maybe the things that we often find discouraging might actually mask a bit of the positive influence we have. Here's hoping!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Latte Liberal Seattle

I don't think I really understand the culture of Seattle. The gentrified city of rich "intellectual" liberals that kicked out those living in supposedly old run down apartment complexes to build "cool," "hip" and urban condo's. Local coffee shops and boutiques exist alongside these condo's making what we call "urban villages." No one likes suburbia anymore. I get a lot of dirty looks when I say I'm from Bellevue, the subrban neighborhood that Bill Gates lives in. Bellevue actually has it's own problems of racial tensions, but what city doesn't? anyway...

So we have a local newspaper called "The Stranger." I personally don't know too much about this newspaper (in terms of its popularity and if anyone really reads it. I guess as a nation we don't really read mainstream newspapers anyway.) however it's free in practically every coffee shop in Seattle AND it's free at our school, alongside the Seattle Times, the New York Times, and the Seattle Post Intelliger. So my guess is that this newspaper has some sort of importance in terms of it's role in the Seattle Culture...

So as I was strolling out of the library the other day, a pretty strong image caught my attention, and it was the so called "cover art" of last week's edition of the Stranger... which is linked below from ...

Then of course right below the "cover art," in bold it says:. THE OLD SOUTH'S NEW RACISM. So my first reaction, (not knowing that The Stranger has a habit of displaying "cover art" that has no relevance to what might be the "cover story.. ) is wow, perhaps they are addressing the ways in which this country uses native culture to sexualize native women (i.e. pochahontas). Even though that would have nothing to to do with the old south... but anyway.. so this women on the cover is a "i'm not sure what race" but she's wearing an igloo type eskimo hat thing so maybe some Alaskan indigenous tribe? (yeah i know that language in itself is coming from my own ignorance, but I guess it makes my interpretation of this photo a better depiction of how the common American would interpret it..) Then of course there is her "club" which I think just looks like a baseball bat that's supposed to be covered in blood? So she's a warrior? and historically as a nation we have associated warriors and "Savageness" with native Americans.. BUT of course she's a sexy warrior cause she's topless and you can see her breast, you just can't see her nipple.. and you can just about look up her skirt as well. AND she has dark hair and heavy make up.

So anyway, I open The Stranger to see what the cover art is all about and instead I find pages of escort ads.. personal ads.. etc. some writing in there.. but nothing of relevance to the cover. I look back at the cover and read the title "THE OLD SOUTH'S NEW RACISM" and realize that right underneath it is written "what I learned when I called my relatives to talk about Obama. p. 22" Ironic isn't it? Finally it has come to my senses that the cover art has abosolutely no relevance to any of the newspaper's content!

One of my biggest pet peeves is when there is art that objectifies women for no reason! and we call it is the freedom of artistic expression. So they decided to put this "photograph" of a sexy naked women, purposely making her race a mystery, exotifying her with stereotypical native accessories (that doesn't sound like the right word but I don't know what else to put..) for absolutely no reason but it's artistic contribution!!!! bul shit.

SO I took a picture of the cover on my phone and showed it to Etheline, and she had quite the same reaction telling me "i'm going to go kill myself now."

So after knowing that I'm not being oversensitive and overly critical, as many like to say I am, I look for The Stranger's website online, thinking that maybe I could find more information about this newspaper. Maybe I was taking this newspaper too seriously?? but instead, what I found, was a gallery of the cover art of every single issue since 2004. and look what I found!

(note: of course I picked and choosed which ones I wanted to put on here..)

and this is, by far, my favorite:

are you fucking serious? While it's not explicit, it's pretty obvious that this women is giving a man a blow job AND he's using her body has a leg rest at the same time. WTF. do I really need to go into detail about why this piece of "cover art" is fucked up? I think not, Jean Kilbourne does it better.

Not to go election crazy but...

This article is beyond messed up:

Some key quotes from this amazing piece of news media:

"Predujice lingers, but there’s evidence it’s becoming a thing of the past."

"For at least four decades now, it’s been socially unacceptable to be overtly racist."

"People may be more willing to vote for a minority now because the country is doing so badly."

Really? Overt racism has been socially unacceptable since 1968? And more importantly, what about the underlying implications of that statement in realtion to the title of the article? That overt racism is the only legitimate problem. That because people may be more inclined now to hide their racism than they were before the civil rights movement, that racism is less of a problem. That the prejudice millions of people hold on the inside that influences their every day actions doesn't matter if they don't say it out loud. That private and public racism aren't the same thing and don't share similar importance. What the heck?

And the "thing of the past comment," I mean... what is there to say? It's funny, right? Well, kind of.

The last quote. I mean, shit, the last quote. That one is actually a quote by someone they interviewed for the article which the journalist uses to back up their own claims, not to discuss or question. Even the choice to include it in this article is messed up. I know it's the christian science monitor, but people read this shit.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

Best moment of Colin Powell's life. I'm so happy! His statements about the criticisms of Obama as a Muslim echo everything I've been thinking about that issue. That was so awesome of him. You have to watch it for yourself:

Who else has stopped to say "wait a minute, it is wrong that people think it would be so bad if Obama was muslim" instead of "it's so terrible people keep saying that about him"

In the words of a friend "This kind of makes up for him lying about all of that Iraq war WMD stuff"

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Honestly, the world would be a better place if every individual held the value of "acccountability" close to their heart. I truly believe that being human means you will have flaws. I have yet to meet an individual that has a perfect morality, they've never cheated, made a hypocritical statement, or attempted to put down another individual. That is why accountability would improve the quality of our society, if we, as human beings, knew how to hold other human beings accountable for their flaws, because having flaws is just a part of human life.

How is this relevant to the content of our blog? Well I've been reading some work by Bell Hooks. Prior to reading her work, as some of my previous blog may have illustrated, I had an aggressive attitude towards the ignorance that men are constructed to live by. It was very hurtful for me to see men put down women in such a comfortable manner. I reacted to this sort of behavior in a very divisive way. and after reading some of the work of Bell Hooks I realized the importance of relationships among men and women. Healthy friendships among men and women are a way to heal from our sexist society. Healthy relationships does not mean you're cool with that one dude even though he tries to sleep with you every other week. Healthy relationships as in a man and woman are able to respect one another as equals, as in he doesn't perceive you as a sexual conquest and pressure you to have phone sex or reveal some intimate details about your sexual life...

Accountability is incredibly important. Men who grow up in a society like the one that exists in the United States are being conditioned to desire the idea of sexually objectifying a woman. Looking at Jean Kilbourne's work it's easy to see that wherever you look in the media, the objectification of woman exists. This gives the general public the acceptance of putting woman on this level of objectification. It affects woman and men in a different way. It affects woman in that it confuses their role about their own interactions with men. Often times you see women dehumanizing themselves because they believe it's their role to interact with men in that manner. You see men bringing out the worst of woman by placing sexual expectation on them, whether jokingly or not, it's still an expectation that has the potentional to feed into a women's confusion.

Why is it so difficult to live our lives freely as we please?

Friday, October 10, 2008

full frontal feminism

"When you're a feminist, day-to-day life is better. You make better decisions. You have better sex."
-Jessica Valenti, founder of