12 12 / 2013
It’s not that far-fetched of a proposal. After all, 200 years ago, what we call reading aloud was just reading. It was an activity you shared with others. This was partly out of necessity– literacy wasn’t as widespread, and books and newspapers were more expensive and less common– but in great part for the enjoyment of all. Newspapers were brought to the taverns, and read aloud by an individual and listened to by the patrons multiple times a day. Initially, the novel was a communal experience as well– it wasn’t until it began to take off in the later half of the 19th century that reading became a more solitary. Reading a novel aloud isn’t that far removed from simply telling stories.
Communal reading is rare these days. We aren’t used to doing it. Many people are not used to reading with a vivid and expressive voice that really brings out the words from the page. We’re equally unused to actively listening– our attention wanders, demanding things to keep busy with.
10 12 / 2013
Graslie’s video expresses her frustration at the sexist comments she receives on her STEM channel. The comments mainly focus on her physical appearance, both to criticize her and to sexualize her. While comments like “[Her nose] kinda makes her look like a nerdy pig” are obviously meant to offend her, comments like “How can a woman be sexier than Emily?” are equally problematic. Just like catcalls are never a compliment, deviating the conversation from the knowledge a woman is sharing to her appearance is never a compliment, either. It is just another form of objectification.
While some of the comments Graslie receives may seem harmless, we cannot ignore the context in which she receives these comments. First, we still live in a world that places an overwhelming importance on women’s appearance. Commenters who feel compelled to give Graslie advice on how to appear more attractive to her audience – “She just needs some sexier glasses” – are reinforcing the idea that appearance should be at the foremost of a woman’s concerns. They perceive her functional wardrobe as an act of defiance, and they need Graslie to conform to their notions of how women should present themselves to return to their comfort zone. Whatever Graslie says in her videos becomes secondary.
09 12 / 2013
Because publications like Bust, Bitch, and Ms. (among many other wonderful feminist periodicals) are not considered mainstream in regard to content and audience, they can easily be overlooked and slip through the cracks of a chain bookstore’s shelf. Many feminist publications do not put out an issue every month, giving them irregular due dates and random stocking protocols once having arrived in-store. Having worked in a chain bookstore for three years during undergrad, I had many experiences of a customer asking for an irregular item that was listed received in our store database, but nowhere to be found on the premises. In all the mainstream mayhem, smaller, infrequent orders quickly fall to the wayside.
06 12 / 2013
Trigger warning for the discussion of rape and sexual violence
Violence is intricately woven into our histories and our cultures. Violence against women has been used as an excuse during times of war, as justification for their supposed infractions, as a tool to keep them “in check,” and as justification for the male vs female dichotomy, where invariably men are right and their wants come first.
For as long as can be remembered, women have always been treated like second-class citizens, they have been objectified; valued only for their looks and little else, they have been placed in tiny boxes under the umbrella of the domestics. And so they fought against that; they fought to be seen as equals, to be educated and to enter the work force. Over the years, whether or not the change was due to acceptance or not, there has been a metamorphosis of the roles women play. But even with that, the constant assassination of their bodies and spirits has continued. Women are part of a world that not only accepts this behavior, but a world that constantly practices rape justification.
05 12 / 2013
On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela passed away, leaving the entire world in mourning. One of the most revered human rights activists of the 20th century, Mandela, most famous for his battle against racial apartheid in South Africa, will continue to be a symbol of hope and courage for anyone within the confines of oppression.
Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment for his efforts to create racial equality, but instead spent 27 years in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow the oppressive South African government. However, his imprisonment only caused his reputation to blossom. During his trial in what is now regarded as one of the greatest speeches of our time, the “Speech from the Dock,” Mandela is quoted saying what is possibly regarded as his most revolutionary words:
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
05 12 / 2013
What if I told you that Disney Animation just released a movie with not one, but two lead female characters who star in that movie as sisters who love and care about each other and are not “saved” by any men? And that it was a Disney Princess movie? Well, hold onto those Mickey ears, because Frozen is that movie. Despite Disney’s awful advertising that leads you to believe that Olaf, the lovable but pretty sidelined snowman, is the center of this movie, the focus is unfailingly on the relationship between Anna and Elsa throughout the actual movie.
By far my favorite aspect of Frozen was the complete reversal and subversion of the Disney Princess conventions. The two sisters are close as can be as children (I need to say before I go on that whenever Disney shows kid-versions of their characters I kind of can’t handle the cute), until Elsa, with her powers to create and control snow and ice and wintery things, accidentally harms Anna. To cure her, Anna’s memories of her sister’s powers are taken away and Elsa and her parents decide that a solitary life is what Elsa needs to lead in order to keep her powers a secret.
04 12 / 2013
So that is why I choose polyamory. Because now I have a partner I call my owlfriend (she identifies as agender, so she isn’t a girl) and we can be partners who love each other without the rest. And I can have sex and friendship and affection from another partner.
If I only dated owlfriend, I’d be starving for romance and sex and more physical affection. But without her, I’d be in a ton of pain because I love her so much. If I only saw my other partner, I’d be starving for romance and partnership. Together they fulfill most of my needs.
I consider being “in love” with someone something that can be romantic or platonic. You have the same fluffy sort of needy feelings when a relationship is platonic, but they aren’t as fluffy or needy. Definitely less needy. You accept that you are one of many close friends, and love passionately without the sex or romantic passion.
04 12 / 2013
Meanwhile, while I’m navigating all of this in my own world, there’s a case out of Britain that speaks to so many of my thoughts about mental illness, motherhood, and a host of other issues. The case involves a pregnant woman from Italy who reportedly has Bipolar disorder. While visiting Britain for work, doctors forcibly removed her child through C-section when police took her to a psychiatric hospital during a panic attack. The child was removed from her care, and the mother is now fighting to return to Italy with her child in the wake of a ruling that has allowed for the child to be placed up for adoption.
There’s a lot at play in this case, First, foremost, and most disturbingly, the fact that the child was removed from the woman without her consent. But also the fact that the woman was reportedly not taking medication at the time of the panic attack, and how officials got away with claiming that the child should not be in her care in case of future relapse.
02 12 / 2013
For her to think that she’s become an inspiration “by default” because spraying cream/fireworks out of cans strapped to her chest while wearing a latex bikini is somehow less damaging to her audience than Miley perched naked on a wrecking ball is irrelevant. How many times she indulges her sexuality for herself or her audience is irrelevant. The amount of non-sexual images she produces as a result is—you guessed it—irrelevant. Obliging a culture that begs its popular women to portray themselves in a sexual light and occasionally getting nude is one (not necessarily bad) thing. Being one of pop’s leading sexy ladies who simultaneously acknowledges and downplays their contributions based on perceived moral superiority is another.
27 11 / 2013
Calling women crazy to dismiss their interests and opinions has a long history, stemming back long before fans of One Direction (and even The Beatles, as they are so often compared to). The band and the fans are often ignored or talked down to since they have a primary audience of young women. Just like these fans should not be taken for granted (and if you’ve seen interviews of the One Direction boys being asked about their “crazy fans,” they are the first ones to defend them in a respectful and appreciative manner), neither should the music they are listening to. One Direction has their new album, Midnight Memories, out this week! We thought we’d take a listen to the album track-by-track, and really look at how the band is doing.
25 11 / 2013
Selfies can be self care and self love without “male gaze” approval. Selfies can be visibility for underrepresented minorities. Selfies can bepersonal affirmations that you are here and you’re not going anywhere. And in my opinion, an equally valid #feministselife can be unashamed, pure, beautiful and unadulterated vanity because you look amazing today and you love what your hair is doing right now and everyone needs to know it. The need for validation and support doesn’t stem from a selfie culture, it is an integral part of our relationships with each other. It’s not wrong to want to be validated, it’s human.
If those 20 likes on your selfie makes you feel good about yourself, then you know what? Enjoy that feeling, and while you’re at it, pat yourself on the back for getting through another day as a woman constantly reminded by surrounding media and culture that you just aren’t good enough.
22 11 / 2013
For women in particular, cannabis has beneficial use, including the alleviation of menstrual and pre-menstrual symptoms such as mood swings and menstrual cramps. In fact, Queen Victoria regularly consumed cannabis to alleviate her menstrual symptoms. And, unlike, common pain-relievers such asacetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Midol), and acetyl-salicylic acid (e.g., Aspirin), cannabis has no long-lasting negative effects upon the liver or gastrointestinal system.
This lack of toxicity to the liver and gastrointestinal system is especially important for those who suffer from medical conditions that necessitate dietary restrictions and considerations (e.g., Celiacs, Chron’s, ABS). For example, persons with Celiacs have reduced liver function that can adversely affect nail growth, alcohol tolerance, and the ability to expel toxins from the body – meaning that the liver is not able to expel acetaminophen before it turns into a deadly toxin that a healthy liver would normally expel before that toxin could do lasting damage to the body. And yet, the majority of North American women are being denied access to cannabis for alleviation of menstrual symptoms.
21 11 / 2013
Travel should be about adventure, business, pleasure, or anything other than feeling compelled to constantly glance behind one’s shoulder. It’s tiring and stressful and causes me to think twice when I feel inclined to venture out into public spaces, and that can’t be healthy.
The predicament is that it is much easier to talk about how to stay safe and avoid attack, but our culture should be on the actual problem: how to put an end to sexual assault and rape. The former tends to favor victim blaming, while the latter addresses the root of the issue. But until the men of the world learn to keep their bits to themselves, the world can be a scary place.
Such is the ideal world, where I could dream of travelling — backpacking, even — overseas, alone without someone chastising my naive carelessness. A woman’s sanity is called into question if she wanders recklessly and without abandon, choosing not to heed what society cautions by travelling escorted in well-lit familiar areas. I know so many men for whom the world is a playground; they travel as they please, never worrying that they are in harm’s way simply by being away from home and taking for granted the pleasure of walking by their lonesome. Is a woman wandering alone an invitation for trouble?
20 11 / 2013
"Make two lists, one of queers you know who have died, and a second of queer funerals you’ve attended. How do your lists compare? My first list is a whole lot longer than the second. What I’ve learned about queer funerals is - they don’t exist. In the worst-case scenario, we are forced back into the closet at our funerals. At best, our deaths become political platforms for public education and human rights lobbying. They become measures of the work that still needs to be done in this world. I am proud to be a part of a community that, in the face of death, rolls up its sleeves and says ‘We’ve got a job to do’. At the same time, at risk of sounding enfeebled, it’s just not fair."
20 11 / 2013
This week, the media in the UK was inflamed by a proposal by a leading health professional that the age of consent should be reduced from 16 to 15. Professor John Ashton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, suggested that since around a third of 14 and 15 year olds have sex, we should open up the debate to gauge public opinion on whether the age of consent needs adjusting to fit teens’ actual behaviour.
According to Professor Ashton, reducing the age of consent would allow 15 year olds to have better accessto sexual health services and advice. Statistics from other European countries, including France, Germany, Greece and Denmark, would seem to support this idea – they all have lower ages of consent, yet rates of teenage pregnancy are much lower than that of the UK. Professor Ashton called for “open discussions in a sensible environment” to “get a sense of public opinion about this.”
However all three major political parties immediately rejected the suggestion … no discussion to be had here, then. A statement from Number 10 was issued saying “We reject the call to lower the age of consent. The current age is in place to protect children and there are no plans to change it.”
So why the knee-jerk reaction? Within a few days of Professor Ashton’s suggestions, numerous publicationscondemned the idea, without engaging in the debate. Comment pages spawned thousands of criticisms, the vast majority of them based on the over-sexualisation of young people and the possibility that pedophiles could legally target 15 year olds.