merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
SCENE: Playing Panic! at the Disco's "Nine in the Afternoon" in Rock Band in our family room

The Fella: "What the hell is this song about, anyway?"
Me: "I don't know. It's Panic! at the Disco. Maybe it's about drugs. Or love. Or chickens. Or druggy love chickens."
The Fella: "I think Druggy Love Chickens should be our Panic! at the Disco cover band."

<3 <3 <3
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
BFF's youngest daughter: "I want to know how to whistle."
BFF: [explains to make a circle with your mouth and blow, have to experiment to find the right shape]
Daughter: "NO! I mean whistle with your fingers and your mouth."
BFF: "I don't know how to whistle with my fingers."
Daughter: "NO! Not just with your fingers. With your fingers and your mouth!"
BFF: "I know what you mean. I just don't know how to do that."
[This part gets repeated a couple of times]
Daughter, exasperated: "But you're a GROWNUP. And GROWNUPS know EVERYTHING about whistling!"

Ooookay.

BFF goes on to explain that, like kiddos, grownups know many things and can do some things well but not others. Daughter is unimpressed.
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
Me, regarding a character on a show behaving oddly: "What's wrong with him?!"
Partner: "I have to assume he has some sort of plot point attacking him."

<3 <3 <3
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
These are nothing resembling complete; they're just things that struck me, so I wrote them down.

From the Feminist Intersectionality panel:
- Ian Hagemann: "Ally" is not an identity you get to keep all the time. You not even have a say in whether you get it.
- Ian on how to be an ally but not speak for others: You can start with an I statement - "I have a different opinion" or "Please don't use that language around me." Or step up and make space - "I'd like to hear what (x) has to say about that" - and then step back.
- Isabel - No outgroup is a monolith. [My reaction to this: one of the concepts I recall most vividly from my social psych courses is outgroup homogeneity bias. So probably this is something we all have to work very, very hard to remember. :( ]
- Betsy - Disability accommodation != accommodation for wheelchairs. If you ask Jesse the K, who's in a chair, and Betsy, who has arthritis, about what they need, you'll get really different answers.

From the Feminist Coalition-building panel:
- Culturally relevant approaches matter. Seriously. All the time. If you ask an Inuit child, "If I have 3 apples and you have 4, how many apples are there," that child will probably not answer, "7." Community values about sharing mean that zie is probably going to say something like, "We can all have some apples." Interesting!
- How to have productive disagreement - Acknowledge that disagreement/discord is inevitable; re-acknowledge basic commonalities; start with agreement/set boundaries on what we won't argue about; commit to having a moderator
- Debbie Notkin - Often what makes us angry is feeling like the other side has all the power and we have no power to speak.
- Argue in the present, not the past.

From the Self-Reflective Revolutionary Panel:
- "Buddha, you are acting out your shit right now." Heh! Read: no one is exempt from the possibility that zie's being an asshole.
- If you get calm, the level of calmness in the universe has gone up.
- Ian - Revolution is a state change which could not have been predicted beforehand - not a logical extension, but a new thing.

From the Slacktivism panel
- Online activism != slacktivism. Online stuff can be impactful and real, and for some folks, it's all they can do. So be wary of judging.
- Offline activism can be sucky and unhelpful, too!

I wrote down many, many things that Ian Hagemann and Debbie Notkin said. Wow, they are smart and I am so grateful to be able to learn from them. I'm SUPER excited that Ms. Notkin is one of the guests of honor for next year, and I'm eagerly anticipating her GoH speech.
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
I am LOVING Eureka. A police procedural set in a town full of supernerds! Plenty of women and people of color who are portrayed as smart, capable, and complicated! It's smart and well-plotted, the time travel plot lines did not piss me off, and it has banter! Win.

Environmental racism: a long, shameful 'Merkin tradition!

Steven Tyler was an impressively arrogant, self-centered, exploitative asswipe in the '70s and he should have gone to jail at some point. Ye holy stars, that poor girl. Part of my reaction is feminist outrage, part of it is pure Southern affrontedness - she could have ruined his life by speaking up and she didn't, and then he digs up all this garbage when she's married and many times a mother and dumps it into a memoir which hits the NYT bestseller list. Yeesh. I had hoped getting sober made him less of an asswipe, but this was a continuation of his previous exploitation of her, and he still votes Republican and plays at their fundraisers, so that hope is gone.

I have serious issues with Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, but sometimes she does awesome stuff, like have her picture taken hugging a young Muslim girl and give great queer-inclusive relationship advice. Well played, madame!

This piece on white privilege in feminist organizations made me feel ill in that way that true and painful things make my stomach clench up. Ouch. Y'all, if I'm an asshole in this particular way, will you please call me out on it? Thanks.

So this story about a couple who choose not to disclose their child's sex/gender has made several appearances in my Facebook feed. I really like this story and am pleasantly surprised by how sympathetically it was written.I have things to say about this, and it gets long )
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
Man, fuck this thing where I turn up with some sort of deeply unpleasant infection right as I'm getting ready for Wiscon.

I've had a pretty bad allergy-cold-sinus-something for more than a week, and now I have a pretty gnarly sinus infection. Every time I cough or sneeze, which is distressingly often, I feel like someone's driving barbecue forks into my skull. OW. Thankfully, we have good health insurance and a nice local clinic that's always good about squeezing us in, so I have drugs and will have time for two doses of antibiotics before I get on the plane. :( I think I may have to resort to the use of some of the badass painkillers I still have after the epic kidney stone fuckery of 2009 to survive the flight. I hope not. But I think it's going to be wise to travel with ibuprofen for regular pain and some darvocet in case of emergency.

Every GP I've ever seen in central TX has strong opinions about how to deal with sinus infections. They all seem to have a sekrit 5-step recipe for OMG perfect recovery! So far, none of them has worked for me. This guy actually has his own handout! It says Sudafed, cough syrup with guafenisen, and Afrin nose spray, along with the usual ibuprofen or acetominaphin for pain, salt water gargles, and nasal saline. Really specific! I don't know if he's right, but in the immortal words of Barry Corbin in WarGames, "Hell, I'd piss on a spark plug if I thought it'd do any good." So I'll try his regimen.

I am officially sick and tired of one-to-three-times-a-year sinus infections. I mentioned to this doc that every time I get any sort of sniffly anything, no matter what I do, I seem to get an sinus infection, and that a couple of my friends have had super successful sinus surgeries to fix little anatomical quirks that prevent good drainage. He gave me a referral to a local otolaryngology practice he recommends. (I know, it's slightly pretentious to say, "otolaryngology" instead of "ENT" - and I just did it twice. But I *like* the Greek-rooted specialty name! It's such a cool, chewy word!) (At least I didn't say, "otorhinolaryngology.") I'm going to do some research on the docs he likes to check out if patients actually like them, and then I'm going to see if someone can rearrange the inside of my face to make my life suck less.
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
I don't know what the fuck that mess was on Sunday night, but it damn sure wasn't anything like the Song of Ice and Fire I know.

grump and spoilers behind the cut )
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
Awesome things about my last day and a half:

- I am in New Orleans with my honeybunch to continue celebrating our anniversary and because holy crap we needed a break

- We got a nice deal at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, a super-schmancy and very conveniently located hotel which, it turns out, offers outstandingly warm, friendly, and competent service. They are taking excellent care of us.

- I surprised him with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries on arrival :)

- One thing for which I am deeply grateful after two straight years of WTF stratospheric stress level is our financial well-being. Money does not buy happiness, but it damn sure greases wheels. We're taking this really decadent trip without worrying about what anything costs, and that is a tremendous privilege.

- OMFG New Orleans French bread is fucking amazing

- Said bread is excellent with tasty shrimp and okra gumbo

- Said bread makes the best goddamn bread pudding I have ever eaten

- We listened to jazz and drank expensive but perfect drinks at our hotel lounge. The boy had a hurricane, I had a Pimm's cup. Ahhh, fruity booze and boozy fruit.

- The boy had never had eggs Benedict until he had them for breakfast from room service this morning (!!!), after which he said, "So basically, an egg McMuffin is a hideous desecration of this dish." I couldn't really argue.

- The aforementioned bread makes fucking amazing French toast

- The aforementioned hotel is six pleasant blocks of walking from Jackson Square

- There was - I'm completely fucking serious - a guy in Jackson Square dressed up like Prowl, the Transformer police car. And he could actually transform and roll around on four wheels. That guy fucking rocks.

- There were many mediocre and some amazing artists displaying their wares in the square. We bought a painting of a silhouette of a jazz combo, done on recycled slate, from the artist himself. I love handing the money to the person who made the object.

- There is a charming toy store nearby. I bought some NOLA-themed children's books for the kiddos in my life.

- We took a half-hour mule cart tour of the French Quarter with Charlie, the tour guide, and Sugar Daddy, the mule. We saw a bunch of stuff and heard some fun stories about pirates and movies and voodoo queens and other NOLA-y things.

more decadence behind the cut )
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
So my Facebook feed is full of appalling jubilation right now. So many people I know are expressing joy that Osama bin Laden is dead. CNN is showing crowds of people gathering in front of the White House and at the site of the Two Towers, cheering, waving the US flag, chanting, "USA, USA." I was particularly nauseated to read that some of those crowds were singing, "na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye," like the death of another human being is like a goddamn hockey game. The president I voted for made a rather stiff speech in which he said some good stuff (reiterating that we are not at war with Islam, acknowledging the losses suffered by the families of those who died on 9/11) and some distressing stuff (the laughable assertion that 'we know the costs of war' when it's been more than 60 years since any war has touched US soil, talking the same bullshit about national unity that totally glosses over the post-9/11 rash of racist vandalism and violence against brown-skinned people in the US, reiteration of US exceptionalism, etc).

The thing that turns my stomach the most is the assertion that this was justice. This was not justice. bin Laden was not arrested and taken into custody. He will never be tried. He was shot and killed. A team of Navy Seals and special ops personnel stormed his home and shot him. According to ABC's reporting of US officials' statements, here's what happened:

According to U.S. officials, two U.S. helicopters swept into the compound at 1:30 and 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Twenty to 25 U.S. Navy Seals under the command of the Joint Special Operations Command in cooperation with the CIA stormed the compound and engaged Bin Laden and his men in a firefight, killed Bin Laden and all those with him.

Two Bin Laden couriers were killed, as was one of Osama Bin Laden's son, as was a woman reportedly used as a shield by one of the men. Other women and children were present in the compound, according to Pakistani officials, but were not harmed. U.S. officials said that Bin Laden himself did fire his weapon during the fight.


That's not justice. It's vengeance.

I spent most of 9/11 at work at a state agency, with a colleague whose brother was working at the Pentagon that day. I sat with her while we watched the towers burning and collapsing, the smoke rising from the plane crash in Pennsylvania, and the wreckage at the Pentagon. I held her hand while she waited to find out if her brother was alive. She was lucky; he was fine. I felt sick and scared just like everyone else in the US. It was a horrifying, heartbreaking day.

So I'm not sorry to hear that the man responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people is dead. But I will not call it just. And I'm not celebrating. I'm not singing.

I keep thinking about the footage that several networks ran, just after 9/11, of a crowd of jubilant brown-skinned men, women, and children in a dusty street in Palestine, supposedly celebrating the attacks. I remember feeling so horrified by those images - and then infuriated by them. Of course I found out later that there were also candlelight vigils all over the world and that everyone from Hezbollah to the Taliban condemned the attacks. And then I was ashamed of falling for the blatantly jingoistic and racist visual rhetoric being deployed there.

And now tonight's accurate footage of crowds singing and waving the flag will run all over the world. I don't think it's any more okay to cheer violent death now than I did then. Who was that woman who died, used as a human shield? Who mourns her? Who will see those images of (mostly white) USians and feel hatred because of them? How does any of this make anything better?

I feel sick. I'm saddened and disgusted. I don't really know what else to say or what to do. So I'll just pray. Tonight I pray for peace and justice for all people of goodwill everywhere on this planet. And I hope and pray that we as a species are, however slowly, getting smarter and kinder.
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
I had a very feminist day.

My morning was tiring but fun. I'm on the organizing committee for this year's Feminist Action Project at UT, and this morning we did a demo near the cluster of statues just south of the main tower, where there are a bunch of dead white dudes, mostly Confederate leaders, memorialized in bronze. This is a longstanding controversy on campus. There is only one status of a women on campus - the Barbara Jordan statue, which was erected just two years ago.

We think this sucks. So we printed out poster-size pictures of Gloria Anzaldua and Dolores Huerta and stood by the statues of dead racist assholes from about 11:00AM to 1:00PM with those pictures, flyers about their lives, and signs asking, "Where's HER statue?" The response was very positive! We got some coverage from campus media and talked to a bunch of people about these amazing women of color. And interestingly, at least half of the people who actually came over and asked us about the pictures were white men. And all of them responded with some variation on, huh, good point, yeah, they're really cool. RAD. And I'm only a tiny bit sunburned!

After I grabbed some lunch (yay for the International Relations student org that was having a benefit sale of Brazilian food! So much better than the crap in the student union!), I found a nice spot under a tree near the duck pond and finished the readings for my favorite class, a geography seminar on gender and migration. That class is fucking awesome. The prof is a delight and has done a great job of establishing a welcoming and respectful space for dialogue. Everyone in there is smart and engaged, and there is such a wide range of experiences and backgrounds! I'm the only person in it who identifies as white (there's another person who reads visually as white, but he spent half his growing up years in Peru until his family migrated here, so he identifies as Latino), and I feel really lucky that all these folks who have personal life experience of migration are willing to share their history and thoughts. It's challenging, energizing, and so different from anything I've studied before, I can feel it making me smarter. WOOT.

Today we talked about gendered geographies of labor and migration, which basically means the way labor practices and polices, migration, space/place, and gender shape each other. Today's readings covered women's labor organizing in Indonesia, Mexican migrant jardineros in LA, Chinese women who do domestic work in Singapore, men who do domestic work in a bunch of different places, and some interesting theory stuff about intersectionality. Really interesting stuff!

I'm tired as hell, but in that good way that happens after a long, productive day. Yay!
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
SCENE - early morning, the day after a cold front has come through. I've gotten up to go to the bathroom and am returning to bed.

The boy, still in bed: "Can you please stop and check the thermostat? It's freezing in here!"
Me: "Yeah, it is. *fiddles with thermostat* Well, that's because we had it set to cool, not heat."
Him: *pause* "Are you sure we didn't have it set to 'comical Batman villain?'"

<3 <3 <3
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
So I'm sitting on my couch, working on my final paper for my feminist theory class. My partner is out of town on business and the house is super quiet, so I had Young Frankenstein on in the background.

Our papers for this class are supposed to advance our master's thesis work. In my thesis, I plan to think through the limited sex education offered now, why and how it fails young people, where they look for information instead, how the current approach reinforces patriarchal gender roles and the ideology of rape, and how we can do better at helping young people have healthy sexual lives. What I'm doing for this paper is reading the few publicly available sex ed materials used in Texas schools through the anti-racist, anti-homophobic, feminist critical lens we've been developing all semester.

As I was writing about the disconnect between what the public wants (more than 2/3 of Texans want comprehensive sex education in schools) and what actually happens here (92% of schools teach abstinence-only), and how fucked up that is given how sexualized popular culture is, Young Frankenstein ended and some piece of crappy softcore Skinemax porn came on. Thanks for underscoring my point, universe!

Now I have Ronin on instead. Because I think my head would explode if there was stupid heteronormative mainstream porn on in the background while I'm ripping apart the racist, sexist, heteronormative, fear-mongering, factually inaccurate horseshit these people call a sex education curriculum.
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
So on the way home from seeing the new Harry Potter, which we liked, we stopped to get our mail.

In our mail was an invitation to donate to George W. Bush's presidential library.

...wow. Somebody did not do their database vetting very well.
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
This comic is so well done and so depressing. I highly recommend you skip the comments unless you really enjoy trolling - although I'll admit that the exchange where a dude posted, "Feminism is a hate movement," and someone responded, "this is the most half-assed trolling i’ve seen so far. have a red bull, champ," totally cracked me up.
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
So about an hour ago, we were hanging out playing video games when we heard a loud banging on our front door. Normally we don't answer our door unless we're expecting someone because we get a lot of solicitors in our neighborhood, so at first we ignored it. The banging got louder and I went downstairs, feeling grumpy.

It was a guy who lives down the street, who was knocking to tell us that someone had crashed a car into our fence. Yikes! He also said, "Look, she's afraid," which confused me, but I got my phone and went outside.

When I saw her, I got it. Saira, the woman in the accident, is visibly Other - she is dark-skinned and she wears hijab. It turns out that she lives down the street from us. She was very shaken up - she's been driving 20 years and this is the first accident she's ever had. She was heading out to do some errands before a big trip - she and her husband are leaving tomorrow to make their pilgrimage to Mecca and then visit family in India. What happened was, she was stressed and distracted, her bag fell off the front seat, she reached to right it, she accidentally jerked the wheel, and bam, she jumped the curb and crashed into our fence.

I don't give a crap about our fence. It'll cost a pittance to repair, and it's old and should be replaced soon, anyway. Whatever. This is why we have insurance, right? Accidents happen. No big deal. We took pictures, exchanged information, all the standard stuff.

What upsets me is this: She was scared and shaken up by the car accident, but she was almost as frightened of me. Me. To a white person, I'm practically a fluffy bunny - blonde, blue-eyed, sweet-faced, smiling, open. Seriously, I get asked for directions in cities I'm just visiting. But to Saira, I was a potential abuser whose property she had damaged. Her hands were shaking and her voice unsteady when she told me that she wanted to be clear that she and her husband were leaving tomorrow and asked uncertainly, "Do you know what a pilgrimage is?"

I was calm, smiling, kept my voice low. I said one of my dearest friends from high school is Muslim, that I understood what a big deal it was to be making this journey, that I was glad for her that she was doing so. I joked with her about being the white girl at my friend's house, how her mom would give me the least spicy portion of unfamiliar foods and carefully explain what they were, amused at my game enthusiasm and happy to be sharing something important with her daughter's friend. I said that one of my sorority sisters from college is Muslim; we worked closely together on several big projects, and I'm happy that we remain friends. And while I related all this, I swear Saira's shoulders went down an inch and a half. Finally, she relaxed enough to smile.

That's what's making me want to weep. Because it's understandable that she was afraid. She had never met me, we live in a neighborhood where many people are kind and accepting but some are terrifying when angered (most notably this guy), and I had reason to be angry. She was right to fear for her safety until given reason to do otherwise. I've been in a few wrecks, and in car accidents involving white folks on both sides, there was rarely anger, yelling, and bad behavior; mostly there was contrition, businesslike conduct, annoyance at all the red tape, and maybe some joking about how much we all hate insurance companies. This is the first time I can recall in my entire life that someone has been afraid of me in such a situation. Right now, it's the only time I can recall someone being afraid of me, period. What if I hadn't had a story to tell about my Muslim friends? Would Saira's hands have stopped shaking?

Imagine that you've just crashed your car, you're standing in someone's front yard embarrassed and shaken, you have a to-do list a mile long before a five-week international trip and it just got longer because of this mess, you're worried about the money, and even though you're lucky and grateful to have escaped physical harm in the accident, on top of all that, you are also standing there afraid that what would be a civil interaction with someone who looks like you could escalate into violence because you look different from the so-called norm.

That's why the shit people talk about Muslims and immigrants matters. That's why I wasn't going to go to Wiscon unless MoonFail was resolved and Elizabeth Moon's GoH status was rescinded. It matters in the everyday lives of real human beings. Civil society depends on the general presumption of goodwill, which means first we have to see each other as human. And when people talk about Muslims and immigrants as though they're all the same and all suspect, when they stick their noses in the air and talk about how grateful Muslims should be for the forbearance offered them by Real Americans (tm), what they're saying is that when they encounter a Muslim person, an immigrant, they don't see a complicated individual with many important characteristics; they just see a Muslim, an immigrant, an Other, one of Those People, someone Not Like Us. I will say it flat-out: that attitude is un-American. And what I mean by that is, it is contrary to the country I was raised to believe in, that I went into public policy and politics to serve, the one where everyone's freedom, equality, and humanity are genuine, protected, and precious.

I'm aware of this today because this happened, literally, in my front yard. What's happening in your front yard, in your neighborhood, in your city, in your country, today that your privilege lets you ignore?
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
tyler clementi, an 18-year-old gay college kid, committed suicide after his roommate streamed video of him making out with a guy. basically, this kid was bullied to death. and he was the fourth this month.

RAGE sorrow sorrow rage rage RAGE. what the everloving fuck is wrong with people? why is it fun or cool or anywhere near okay to torment people like this? and where are the grown-ups in these scenarios? why didn't they see? why didn't they do anything? how do you miss kids acting out blow jobs and anal sex, which in any sane world would count as sexual assault, IN CLASS?

i already cried. now i'm infuriated. so here's what we can do.

- check to see if your city has a queer youth organization. austin has outyouth. see if they have a program going on this. volunteer, join a speaker's bureau if you're able, donate if you can.

- do your local high schools or colleges have gay-straight alliances? if so, see if they need anything: speakers, mentors, supplies, money...

- belong to an organization that is pro-queer? get them involved. have an announcement at your meeting to raise awareness. have a moment of silence at your religious service. make some flyers and pass them out. organize a group to go volunteer at your local LGBT group. pass the hat and raise some money.

- remember that donating doesn't just mean money! donations of stuff (known in the biz as "in-kind donations") are great, too. look at organizations' wish lists - they might need office supplies, web design skills, cookies for their volunteer night... there is almost certainly something within your budget of time and resources that can make a difference.

- US peeps, help GLSEN out with advocacy for the safe schools improvement act.

- US peeps, see if your state LGBT organization has something like equality texas' safe schools initiative. if they do, sign on, go to a lobby day, donate if you can. if they don't, ask why and let them know you want them to work on this issue. help them get going.

- talk to any teachers in your life. ask them if they have ally training or anti-bullying training. if yes, tell them they fucking rock. if no, help them find some. your local GLBT organizations can help. GLSEN also has a great page of resources.

- talk to the young people in your life. offer support to the queer/questioning. ask the straight kids what it's like for queer kids at their school. if it seems like they can handle it/is appropriate, ask them if they know about these suicides and what they think and feel about them. help them think through things. hell, remind them that gandalf/magneto is gay, and he's a damn superhero/wizard/omg ANGEL.
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
- i'm totally brain-crushing on liss at shakesville today. this piece on the myths about female friendship gets a big amen from me. she breaks it down beautifully and eloquently, as always.

- tim wise at alternet offers a stunning thought experiment showing how white privilege functions in the cultural conversation about the tea party protests. highly recommended.

- chloe at feministing talks here about michael kimmel, a great male ally. for those of us who struggle to understand and talk to some of the dudes in our lives, this has some useful bits. and i'm really curious to read his book now. (as an aside, i want to find and deprogram the asshole mentioned briefly here who wouldn't let shelby knox into a UT frat party because she was "too fat." fucking seriously?)

- i have mixed feelings about stephanie herold's piece about how young feminists are awesome and mostly online. many of the young feminists she interviewed are doing some badass stuff, and that's awesome. but i kind of feel like she's saying that online feminism is What We Do nowadays, that this is the official third/fourth/wtf-ever wave way to do feminism, and i think that's reductive and short-sighted. you know i loves me some interwebs. email is great. blogging is great. twitter... is okay. online tools that allow you to email your representatives in one click are fine. but these days, it's necessary but not sufficient. for example, unless you have a compelling personal story to go with it, sending a boilerplate email to your state rep or member of congress is not very effective anymore precisely because it's trivially easy; they know that, and they value it accordingly. they've got to get an avalanche of such emails for it to make a difference, and for that to happen, you've got to be hooked in with an interest group, at least to the extent that you're on their mailing list.

saying brilliant things online is wonderful, but it's just one part of a larger struggle. it's not a substitute for voting, running for office, donating to or volunteering for pro-woman candidates, donating to or volunteering with pro-woman organizations, writing op-eds or letters to the editor, offering workshops, calling people out at your workplace or holiday dinner table, or any of the other million ways to do feminism. i don't think it is true that we're "mostly" online, but if that were the case, then frankly, i don't think we would be doing our share.

i'm sympathetic to her irritation at older feminists for clinging to their power and excluding younger women from leadership positions talking smack about how younger feminists are lazy or nonexistent or don't get it. it's really damn annoying. i have been tempted many times to write to certain big national feminist groups (hell, most of them) something like:

"hi there! i worked for your organization for free! a lot! i do a whole helluva lot of feminist work! i weave it into my everyday life, and i also do a nontrivial amount of all that formal stuff you talk about. now that i have money, i give it - to women candidates and feminist nonprofits. i go to lobby days, i track bills, i harass my friends and family to call/write/vote... i play the game exactly how you say it should be played, and you know what you haven't done? you're so busy thinking about *your movement*, you can't see that it's *ours* now, and you haven't asked me what i think or care about. if you have asked, you haven't listened or incorporated what i say, because i'm just a kid and what do i know? you haven't offered me a spot on a committee where i can make a difference, because, hey, we've already got one feminist under 40, do we need more? and while you're happy for the organization to take credit for what i accomplish, you don't listen when i say here's how we can do more and better. and on and on and on.

so hey, feminist leader who's all 'i'm kind of a big deal,' get the fuck over yourself. have you ever thought that maybe there are things YOU don't get? work on your intersectionality. listen to your younger colleagues. i have about a million more suggestions, and am available to discuss them. <3 me."

whew, check the pent-up anger there. see? i really do get why she's frustrated. but it's not okay to just be like, "i took my toys and went to the internet, so EFF YOU, ellie smeal/kim gandy/gloria feldt/dolores huerta/whomever! we younger babes will just do feminism in our little online sandbox!" that's no way to effect change. it's hard, and it sucks to feel like you're fighting your own organization/movement at the same time you're fighting everyone else. heaven knows i'm aware of this. but if we want big, structural things to change, like health care infrastructure, pay inequity, laws about violence against women, etc, we've got to use every tool at our disposal.

note that i'm not saying every feminist must take part in every kind of activism. i'm addressing this article in this way specifically because it explicitly purports to be a state-of-the-movement update. the internet is one tool in the box. but it isn't the whole box, and it can't and shouldn't be. i grant you it's kind of a swiss army knife - it works for conversations, fundraising, keeping people informed, linking up members of small groups spread over large areas (trans* folk in particular have used it to great effect), all kinds of things. but have you ever tried to use your swiss army knife screwdriver to put in or take out more than one screw? it kind of sucks, doesn't it? i bet you went and got your regular screwdriver or even a fancy battery-powered one, because you know what? there are other tools made specifically for that purpose that work better for that job. and if you're trying to dismantle the master's house, there's a big damn lot of things that need doing, and they cannot all be done with a single tool.

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merielle

February 2016

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