merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
- Finally getting the Austin chapter of NOW re-started. As of this weekend, with the help of my sweet fella, Austin NOW has a website, an account with Constant Contact so we can do professional looking emails, and a Facebook page. This morning I sent out an email asking people to let us know what meeting times work for them (Doodle is so useful for this), what they'd like the chapter to do, and what feedback they have on the new website. I've already gotten four responses! \o/

- There is an organic pizza joint, Promise Pizza, in Austin! We got dinner from there a few nights ago, and it was really good! It kind of sucks that we're juuuuust outside the delivery area of both locations, but hey, if we support them enough, maybe they'll expand. :)

- I'm slooooowly getting through my laundry backlog. It feels really good.

- We finally got the replacement part we needed to assemble our home exercise thingy, which is a combo recumbent bike and rowing machine, and today we put it together. So now we can exercise while also goofing off and watching movies - without having to go outside in the ridiculous heat! WIN.

- Yesterday I went to volunteer orientation for English at Work. It's such a smart model - they get businesses (usually hospitals, hotels, retail, and food service) to pay a relative pittance for the course, and employees get to come to the class at their workplace, with content customized for that workplace. This means the employees don't have to worry about transportation or childcare any more than usual, they lose less time to transportation because the class is someplace they already know how to find, and they learn how to say what they need to say to their co-workers, which has immediate positive impact on their careers and earning power. Employers benefit because increased English comprehension has been shown to decrease turnover, workplace accidents, and workplace tension. Smart!

Sneakily, it also engages businesses with their employees and makes them more attuned to their needs, which, E@W is finding, changes business culture so that immigrants are treated better. RAD. I'm going to train to be a classroom student support assistant, helping out with one-on-one conversation and small group work. I'm super excited about helping these folks make better lives for themselves!

- Today, as is my custom, I read Langston Hughes' "Let America Be America Again" to remind me how much I love the dream, the idea of my country, and how far we have to go to make it real.

Because of the drought here, the worst in over 100 years, there are no fireworks in Austin. So we're at home, watching the Boston Pops. I think it's kind of amazing that several hundred thousand people just saw Martina McBride sing "Independence Day", which is a pretty hardcore domestic violence story. It's an amazing song, but I dunno, to me, it's like those people who have the DJ play, "I Will Always Love You," at their wedding. THAT SONG IS NOT TALKING ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK IT'S TALKING ABOUT.

My life is really good today. I hope y'all's are, too.
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)
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)
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)
- 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.


merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)

February 2016

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