We’re* Not An Afterthought

May 1, 2009

I’m not impressed with some of the big feminist blogs’ handling of Wednesday’s events in the New Hampshire Senate.

In summary, both Feministe and Feministing threw up “Yay NH!” posts after marriage equality passed in the Senate. After commenters quickly called them out on not mentioning that the senate also rejected trans* rights protections, both Jill and Vanessa updated their posts to include that information–although in both posts the update was more along the lines of “Whoops! And also this happened” with little discussion or information. (Jill gets more credit for linking this article and quoting three paragraphs; Vanessa’s update consisted of two lines and two links, one of which was actually another Feministing post.)

So why wasn’t the anti-discrimination law on the radar, and why does it matter that it only got tacked on to these two posts?

Read the rest of this entry »

Why blog?

February 7, 2008

Over the past few days I’ve been watching a comments thread blow up into this massive derail where eventually people just starting really freaking out and saying really awful things to each other. I’ve refrained from commenting myself, despite the strong urge to pipe in (for no good reason, I might add), but I’ve been watching it all unfold like a really slow trainwreck. And even though I didn’t end up personally hurt or offended by jumping into the fray, nonetheless it’s gotten me thinking again about whether this whole blogging thing is really worthwhile.

I mean, at its worst, blogging can be really alienating. Internet anonymity can truly bring out the worst in people, from vicious slurs to crazy site attacks to threats that spill over into real life. And I sometimes wonder if all this venom going back and forth can do anything but get in the way of productive discourse. Are we really all just sitting around at our keyboards, wasting life away while we pwn each other from afar?

But then I think about how I started reading blogs. If it weren’t for Feministe and Feministing I might not identify as a feminist. Because I’m not a big news consumer, I never would’ve found out about a lot of things going on in the world. If I hadn’t started reading Dooce I might not have wanted to blog myself, and I never would’ve been linked by one of the bloggers I admire and respect the most.

There isn’t really a Grand Point to this post. I wish there were a little more kindess in the world, and a little more civility online. I hope we’re actually engaging in coalition-building. I know that every time someone comments here, I get a little thrill. I love knowing that someone somewhere far away is thinking about the same things that I am, even for just a moment.

(Yes, this is the “I love you guys” part of the post, and I haven’t even been drinking. This entry has officially jumped the shark.)

I’m sorry, come again?

May 15, 2007

I’ve been thinking lately about how I came to feminism. I wouldn’t really have called myself a feminist until about a year ago, despite clearly holding feminist ideals dear. In fact, I was pretty turned off by what I saw as feminism when a woman told me that the movement could use “women who look like [me].” I didn’t feel like being anybody’s token dyke, and I was more than a little offended.

Are we really some kind of endangered species? I’m sure she meant well, but the whole thing was really off-putting. But lately it’s gotten me thinking about where feminism and sexuality and gender identity collide, because that’s where most of my writing and my thoughts these days fit in.

I’d like to think that the days of “We’ll get to you when the bigger issues are hammered out, ladies” are gone (If These Walls Could Talk 2, anyone?), but unfortunately I think there’s still some friction between “mainstream” feminists and so-called “lesbian feminists.” In my mind, there shouldn’t be a distinction. But I don’t want to bash anyone’s chosen identity, and it would be equally wrong to ignore the ways that feminism and lesbian feminism fail to overlap.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is a problem of representation. When we talk about sexual harassment, we often don’t talk about how frequently lesbians are harassed. When we talk about wage and job equality, we often fail to mention that lesbians in many states aren’t protected from being fired in the private sector due to their sexual orientation. When we talk about balancing career and family, we often ignore the fact that many women who would love to be starting a family face serious obstacles because they can’t legally marry.

As for gender identity, unfortunately it seems there’s still considerable backlash against lesbians and trans folk. A lot of women still seem to see us as the patriarchy. If we’re dressing in men’s clothing, adopting male pronouns, or taking on “masculine” behaviors and identities, we can’t possibly have a stake in women’s equality, right?


Let me put it bluntly: The fact that I wear boxer briefs and neckties is never going to magically bestow male privilege upon me. I’m still at risk for rape and sexual assault. I still may face significant barriers accessing birth control. I can still recognize that women all over the world are being oppressed, abused, and killed because of their gender. And because I’m a lesbian, and a gender deviant at that, I face the additional risk of being fired for my sexuality, having my access to health care blocked, not being able to have children (either naturally or through adoption), not having my (future) marriage recognized throughout the country, and getting security called on my ass in the bathroom.

I should say that a lot of the feminist blogosphere gets this. Feministe, Pandagon and Feministing are all very inclusive. But even on those sites (and elsewhere), every once in a while the tiny cry of “What about the homos?” gets shot down immediately.

Queer issues are feminist issues. Gender issues are feminist issues. We should be forging alliances, not splintering. Why can’t we get more straight women to fight for same-sex marriage? Why don’t more lesbians speak out about the wage gap? Until we find some kind of solidarity, divide and conquer is working against us.

Jessica Valenti rocks.

May 15, 2007

For those of you who couldn’t make it to Simmons last night, Jessica was awesome. (Best line of the evening: “Well, I don’t have a penis, and I don’t rape women. So…”)

If you haven’t already read Full Frontal Feminism, you really should. (Support those local independent bookstores!) Even if you consider yourself an expert on feminist issues you’ll probably still find something new (like the anti-rape device the line above refers to) and it’s a quick read with great resources throughout. I’d also totally recommend sending a copy to a young woman in your life, particularly a high schooler or college student who might not have access to feminism in a way that’s straightforward and fun to read. And, my personal favorite–the book is totally homo-inclusive. Woo!

[Edit: Rereading this more than a year later, I now know that Valenti has taken a lot of flak for not writing a book that is more inclusive of the work of women of color. There’s been a lot of bad behavior on both sides, from critics and supporters, but I still think FFF is a valuable primer. Not the end-all-be-all by any means, but a good step in the right direction. I really hope more women of color can get their foot in the door in the publishing world, because we need more feminist books, and those of us who aspire to be anti-racist allies need to listen more and presume less.]

A brief (re)introduction

November 4, 2006

Welcome to my new and improved blog. If you’re here from one of my Blogger pages, you’ll notice those old posts (from both Isn’t This the Ladies Room? and News Musings) conveniently located below. I’ve decide to streamline things with this new WordPress format. My hope is to continue posting on all the issues of gender and sexuality from Isn’t This the Ladies Room? and random things from the news (okay, mostly NPR) that used to be found on News Musings. But, yknow, post more often, and hopefully in an engaging way.

I think part of the problem in my lack of consistent blogging is how involved I’ve become lately in reading feminist blogs and getting engaged in the comments threads. Now I’ve decided that my blog-worship of Feministe (and, to a lesser degree, Feministing; I sometimes like Pandagon, but I’ve let the small detail of having comments linked at the beginning of the post annoy me into occasional dislike) should translate into increased blogging on my own site. I should really take the lead of various other Feministe commenters, who often say “I’ve blogged about this topic here,” link to their own site, and proceed with a small comment hinting at their larger post.

Anyway. I expect that while I’m putting off homework and not co-habitating with my sig fig this weekend I’ll do quite a bit of blogging, so I look forward to getting to know anyone who deigns to comment here (thanks to little light and other recent commenters on Isn’t This the Ladies Room–I would’ve acknowledged you sooner, but that blog was still linked to my college email, I believe, and since that was deactivated I haven’t received any notifications).