Also, congratulations to everyone who is about to graduate!
In love and solidarity (and finals week stress),
Also, congratulations to everyone who is about to graduate!
In love and solidarity (and finals week stress),
Over at Jezebel, one of my favorite pop culture feministy blogs, the headline story right now is called “Under Pressure: The Terrible Curse of ‘Most Likely to Succeed.'”
It’s taken a lot to work up the nerve to say this, but here goes. I, too, was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in high school. Whew, I feel better now that I got that off my chest. It’s hard, ok? Knowing that all of those people in high school who were friends with you in order to get your answers to the homework really were looking up to you and respecting you the whole time.
My whole life was defined by this one moment in high school. I will forever be under pressure to be successful, because otherwise my classmates who I practically will never see again for the rest of my life except for our ten year reunion where I will hopefully get spectacularly drunk in order to deal with the whole thing will be disappointed. We don’t want to disappoint the classmates!
I’ve already got a lot of work to do in the not disappointing the classmates department, due to the whole being queer thing that no one knew about. So they’re probably already disappointed by me for not already being married and spawning like some of them. I must make up ground! I must become whatever it is they deem to be “successful,” forsaking my own definition of success and forgoing my own dreams. Because my high school class voted me MLS (that’s what those of us in the Likely Successes club call it. Didn’t know about the club? Probably because you’re not likely enough to be successful. It’s a cool club though – we have a secret handshake and discount rates on stress therapy sessions).
But other than the club, which is super fictitiously awesome, the MLS title hangs over me. I can’t judge myself based on my own definitions of success and happiness because I am continually trying to meet the expectations of a group of people who really don’t know me anymore. Because that’s totally possible.
I bet the people who were voted Class Clown and Best Hair have this problem too.
In love, solidarity, and sarcasm,
I’m sure you’ve all heard the news by now. There is, in this country, at least one woman who paints her son’s toenails pink (and happens to be the creative director for J Crew and therefore has access to national marketing campaigns). Shocking, right? I know I was completely shocked.
While I tend to belong to the camp that believes that if something is seriously no big deal and doesn’t deserve national media freak out, then giving it even more attention to point out how stupid it is will only make it worse (in other news, why are we still talking about Sarah Palin?), I think this whole situation is hilarious so I’m going to offer some of my own thoughts. Also, some of Jon Stewart’s thoughts.
The “debate” on this has been ridiculous. Many national media figures that have jumped on it have asked, in their “I’m-a-very-serious-and-concerned-reporter” voices, what kind of harm this might be doing to the woman’s son. Because as we are all aware, toenail polish is very dangerous and has been known to infect small children with gender identity crises.
Somehow they make the vast rhetorical leap from talking about a picture in an ad campaign to claiming that J Crew celebrates transgender children, or (gasp) gender bending.
As if transgender children and gender bending shouldn’t be celebrated. The implicit argument here is that parents should enforce rigid gender roles on their children no matter what the child wants, and that if they have gender non-conforming children they shouldn’t love them for who they are.
“It’s an attack on masculinity,” says some guy with “Dr.” in front of his name who gets paid to commentate on Fox News.
Not the masculinity! Anything but the masculinity! If these sorts of challenges to our rightful system of gender hierarchy continue undisputed, soon all boys will have to wear dresses, women will be able to own property, go to college, have careers, and vote, and gender non-conforming folks will actually be considered to be real people and not less than human! This must end!
In all seriousness, though, the thing that bothers me about this is doesn’t have anything to do with gender. It’s that the mother and son in the ad are “bondvertising,” as Jon Stewart put it. The photo isn’t just an adorable picture of a mother and a son, it’s a clothing ad designed to sell a product, which to me feels super creepy.
In honor of spring break, and because I’m too lazy to write a real post with, like, words and stuff, here are some cool things!
white privilege lolcats (found them here, and there are lots more)
Joan Jett throwing it down on gender expression
Seattle classic, TEAM GINA
Role models are something I think about a lot, especially when I’m thinking or talking about leadership. I’ve been in various positions of leadership throughout my life (including on various sports teams, within student governments, as a mentor, etc.), and as I’ve grown older and more reflexive I’ve started to feel more responsible as a leader to the people that I am supposed to be leading. This is why I have always striven (strove? this word is so awkward in past tense) to be a good role model to those people I am fortunate enough to be leading, especially if they are younger than me.
I have seen too many people who are looked up to betray the trust that has been given to them, either by simply being lazy/apathetic, or by behaving irresponsibly. These attitudes show both a lack of understanding about the trust and responsibility they have been given and a lack of compassion about caring for that trust and influencing others in a positive manner.
This is why I try to do a lot of self-inquiry about how I am caring for the space that I inhabit (most frequently this space being the Q Center or someplace that I would like to have the Q Center’s values) and about how I am caring for the people around me. I think of this less as self-policing, although there is some internal censorship involved when something that is definitely not ok tries to escape out my mouth anyway, and more as caring for others, and through that caring for myself. Because, for me at least, there is a lot of self-care involved in how I think about/try to change how I affect others. How can I love myself if I am unconsciously or through ignorance (or, with the same effect but worse to my thinking, consciously) contributing to someone else’s oppression and marginalization? Too few people, in my opinion, have this internal responsibility.
Which brings me back to role models. I had a lack of role models growing up who were like me (read: queer). Even before I was consciously queer I sort of had the feeling that no one who I knew who was grown up was very much like me. This isn’t to say that I had no role models (shout out to my very awesome mom!), but that I didn’t see myself in many of my relationships with adults. I think this is why I latched onto one of the first adults that I found who I related to and saw a little bit of myself in, as a role model. She started teaching at my high school during my junior year, and I got to know her a bit although she was never one of my teachers. Looking back, she is not someone who I want to model myself after partly due to the fact that I know something she did that very few other people know, and which I consider to be a very serious breach of professional ethics (though she’s a great teacher and very nice, just to be clear, but that doesn’t excuse her behavior). But I latched onto the idea of her as a role model for a long time because she was pretty much all I had.
Not so anymore! I’ve been fortunate enough to meet/learn of lots and lots of amazing peeps who not only are “like” me (a category that I have now extended beyond the basic qualification of being queer to include people who are strong allies to me) but who also do some awesome work! The idea for this post, by the way, was inspired by this article from Colorlines called People I Love: South Asian Women Who Make Change, which features Pramila Jayapal, local Seattle activist and founder/director of OneAmerica, where I currently am an intern.
So in the spirit of celebrating rad role models, here are some of mine! Some of them I’ve met, some I haven’t, but they’re all real people* and they’re all super awesome.
Jen Self. Because she’s the raddest of them all.
Rebecca Aanerud. Because she’s my favorite professor, and she does really awesome and thoughtful work and she is just as awesome and thoughtful in her personal interactions with her students.
Rachel Maddow. Because I not-so-secretly want to be her. Also, to be her friend.
Estefanía Yanci, Julie Severson, Gloria Anzaldúa, bell hooks, Haunani-Kay Trask, Leslie Feinberg, Ellis, Audre Lorde, Hannah Volkman, Hala Dillsi, Tyson Johnson, Sabrina Fields, Archita Taylor, Teo Popescu, Cassie Hoeprich, Barbie-Danielle DeCarlo.
Of course there are many more, but seeing as it’s nearly finals week they’re going to have to go unnamed (but not unloved) for now.
In love and solidarity,
*although I realize having an asterisk next to ‘they’re all real people’ seems kind of silly, what I mean to say here by ‘real people’ is that they’re not superstar athletes or famous rock stars or huge celebrities of some kind (I exempt Rachel Maddow from this statement, since I wouldn’t call her a huge celebrity) who are famous for being famous. They’re real people who do real things and who you can (or could, if they’ve died) really talk to or see evidence of their work. Thinking back, I’d modify my original statement about lacking role models when I was younger to say that I was lacking role models who were ‘real people’ – everyday people with real, tangible relationships.
This video of well-known activist Loretta Ross talking about the origin and the political nature of the phrase ‘women of color’ made the rounds through our staff emails lately and I thought it would be particularly relevant in light of the fact that the UW Women of Color Reception just happened last week. Also, because March is “Women’s History Month” (how about Women’s FUTURE Month? because for some of us Women’s History/Future Month is every month).
“… and it was in those negotiations in Houston the term ‘women of color’ was created, ok? And they didn’t see it as a biological designation – you’re born Asian, you’re born Black, you’re born African-American, whatever – it is a solidarity definition, a commitment to work in collaboration with other oppressed women of color who have been minoritized… We self-named ourselves. This is a term that has a lot of power for us.” –Loretta Ross
In love, solidarity and respect,
Queer 101 is awesome! If you’re looking for a class full of cool people and interesting discussion that doesn’t come with a whole lot of work you should definitely consider taking it. The official description reads: “Queer 101 is a 2 credit discussion style class focusing on the analysis of Queer/ LGBTQ histories, contemporary issues and experiences. The class will be taught from a liberatory perspective and will encourage critical analysis and understanding of the intersections of queerness, race, class, gender, ability, age, and other social identities.”
The class is peer facilitated, and topics that are focused vary from quarter to quarter, depending on the facilitators. Past themes have included Decolonizing Queer Narratives, the “Gay Agenda” in America, the Social Construction of Gender, and more.
Queer 101 is more formally known as CHID 496 K. Find us when you register! For Spring Quarter 2011, Queer 101 will meet on Tuesdays at 3:30PM in Savery Hall 157. For an add code please contact Cynthia Anderson at email@example.com, the Academic Counselor at Comparative History of Ideas Department (Padelford Hall B102).
I just read this Feministe post about Georgian state Representative Bobby Franklin’s new bill that would require Georgian women to report instances of miscarriage (since, in the words of Jill from Feministe “fetuses are Georgian citizens and their deaths are potential crimes”).
Jill issues this challenge:
“I think we should help Georgia out. Since life begins at conception, and a fertilized egg is a human being with all of the rights of any other citizen of the great state of Georgia, we need to make sure that all egg-deaths are properly accounted for, and that all zygote-Americans receive a proper burial and an investigation into whether their deaths were caused by foul play.
“Devery Doleman, an Actual Woman, writes a letter to Rep. Franklin requesting that he investigate the potential murders going on in her pants. I think she’s on to something. I suggest, based on Devery’s idea, that we send Rep. Franklin the evidence of the potential murders committed in our uteri. Now, we can’t actually send used tampons through the mail — sending bio-hazardous material to an elected official can get you in BAD TROUBLE, so don’t do it — but we can certainly send photos. So! Next time you’re on the rag, photo-document the results. Why? Because somewhere around 50% of fertilized eggs naturally don’t implant, and are flushed out of the body. It’s an act of God, sure, but still — that’s a 50% prenatal death rate for Georgia’s smallest citizens. Your womb, basically, is a serial killer. And Rep. Franklin is very, very interested in using the Georgia state police to investigate any possible death of a Georgia citizen.
“So! I recommend you photograph your period paraphernalia, and attach it to a letter thanking Rep. Franklin for his good work in standing up for human life. Here’s a form letter you are welcome to use.”
While this is a great idea, it leaves me with unanswered questions. How do I, as a “Gay” “Lady” fit in to this picture? I wrote my own letter to Rep. Franklin urging him to also take on the Georgian Gay Lady population, because they are potential zygote-American killers too! Here’s what I wrote:
In love, solidarity, and snarkiness,
I don’t mean to come off super pessimistic about this, so first of all I want to unequivocally state that I think Obama’s reversing the administration’s position on defending DOMA is awesome, and a great step in the right direction for gay rights.* Among other things, it states their legal opinion that “‘classifications based on sexual orientation’ should be subjected to a strict legal test intended to block unfair discrimination.” (NYT article, quoting Attorney General Eric Holder)
This is a big step because it expresses the idea that people of non-hetero sexual orientations should be considered a marginalized group that needs extra special legal protections against discrimination (such as hate crimes, getting arbitrarily fired, getting arbitrarily evicted, etc). The reason why this argument is being made now is because of two recent lawsuits against DOMA that were brought in districts with different rules than districts where previous lawsuits had been filed. If it sticks, this precedent could potentially lead to lots of changes in laws and policies that benefit queer people.
However, I don’t really share in all the excitement and hype that this move has gotten in the past day or so, for the following reasons -
1. The president doesn’t have the authority to repeal DOMA because it’s an act of congress, so the administration saying that it doesn’t support DOMA won’t have any immediate practical outcome.
2. Any repeal of DOMA that tries to go through congress right now would likely fail to get through the republican-controlled House.
3. Even if the federal government were to completely repeal DOMA and begin recognizing same-sex marriages, that still wouldn’t mean that the country has same-sex marriage all over. It would still be up to the individual states to decide what rights to marriage, if any, queer couples receive.
4. If this goes to the Supreme Court in its current iteration (5 conservatives, 4 liberals) they will probably uphold DOMA. The Supreme Court is the ultimate authority on legal issues in this country with little oversight of any kind, and if they don’t want to take the Administration’s opinion on this then they don’t have to.
5. A pessimist could see this as Obama throwing a bone to the mainstream liberal gay organizations, since it doesn’t change anything and might make them back down from criticizing him as much as they have been.
6. The president’s views on same-sex marriage are “still evolving” – meaning that he either doesn’t believe that same-sex marriage should be allowed or that he can’t say that for political reasons (cough, 2012, cough). Also, even though this change in position won’t lead to any immediate change it could be a rallying point for conservatives in the next election, putting his chances at reelection in more jeopardy than they already are.
7. I’m tired of seeing the gay/queer movement as singularly defined by the issue of marriage. There are so many more issues, so many more important issues, that are desperately in need of attention and advocacy that this tunnel-vision focus on marriage seems sadly inefficient. I could go on and on about this, but I’ve done that in other forums before so I won’t get into it here.
What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to hear others’ opinions.
In love and solidarity,
*I’m consciously using the word ‘gay’ here instead of queer.