December 14, 2010

When she talks, I hear the revolutions

None of us seem to update this blog anymore and that sucks, I'm sorry. But maybe we'll revive it someday? That would be cool. Though these days I've been working on starting up my own zine, this blog will always have a little place in my heart. So I'm sure I'll return to it from time to time. So keep an eye out!

But anyways, for now I just have to use this as a place to talk about and document the amazingness that was The Kathleen Hanna Tribute show at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, NY this past Saturday night. So if anyone is actually reading you know.

I seriously don't even know where to start, I had such an amazing time! The tribute show was put together and filmed for an upcoming documentary about Kathleen Hanna being made by the wonderful director Sini Anderson. So for the first half hour or so of the show Sini filmed the audience doing various dances to a handful of different Kathleen Hanna songs. Which was actually a lot of fun, I busted out some pretty smooth dance moves if I can say so myself.

Then the show started; a bunch of different bands and artists came up on stage to performed their renditions of Kathleen Hanna songs. Anything from Julie Ruin, to Bikini Kill, to Le Tigre. There was such a wide range of performers that night, which was probably one of my favorite things about the show. Everything from local artists like Hilly Eye (Who I fell in love with that night, might I add. Their sound is awesome!), to big names like Toshi Reagon. Young 16 year old girls on guitars, to older men on keyboards. Dance performances, acapella groups, xylophones; there was seriously a little bit of everything. It was just so fucking interesting to see all the different kinds of people that have been influenced by Kathleen Hanna's work. It really blew my mind.

Care Bears On Fire. These young girls are so fun and talented! I've listened to them piror to this show, so it was great to get the chance to see them perform live.

Electric Child. Another band that I heard for the first time that night and fell in love with.

JD Samson (from Le Tigre) with her new band MEN.

Besides the great music and performances, there was another magical moment of the night. When Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth fame) came out to read Kathleen Hanna's Riot Grrrl Mannifesto. I seriously think I teared up at this point, no joke. It was just really beautiful and aw-inspiring. 

And then SURPRISE! Kathleen Hanna herself came out with her new band The Julie Ruin (which features Kathi Wilox of Bikini Kill and The Frumpies) to perform a few songs!! They played a few of the hits and one of their new songs from an upcoming album (can't wait for that!!). Finally getting to see Kathleen Hanna perform live was like a dream come true for me. I've always wanted to, but was unfortunately wayy too young to during her Bikini Kill days. I feel like I can die happy now, heh. And, of course, they were astounding.

First the Hilarious Murray Hill introduced The Julie Ruin. Trust me, this video is worth watching!

Kathleen Hanna!

All in all it was a really wonderful night, one that I'll never forget. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to go, seeing as how the tickets sold out so damn fast. I've never been to a show with that many talented women on the stage before, it was super inspirational for me. And just to be surrounded by so many like-minded individuals and a real sense of sisterhood was heartwarming. There were great vibes in the venue that night!

Anyways, I'm going to end this dragged out entry with a kick-ass video of Bridget Everett's performance from the night! I wish I got pictures of that one, but I guess I was just too busy dancing hard. 

All photos taken by me- Valerie Amaral

September 16, 2010

On girl-hate and sisterhood.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand hearing, its girls saying how they “hate all other girls”, or “only hang out with guys because they are less drama”. Some of us like to call this the special snowflake syndrome. I have a hard time believing that out of the whole population of females, you are the only one who doesn’t cause drama. Plus, from my experiences, guys cause just as much drama as girls do. I don’t think it’s much of a gender issue, but rather a personality issue.

I think what grinds my gears about all of  this is that girls seem to say this hateful stuff in an attempt to be seen as “one of the guys”, which is really problematic. It’s like when a group of guys say a really sexist joke in front of a few girls. A couple of the girls try to explain why the joke is offensive and sexist and not funny in the least, while the other girl laughs out loud to show that she finds it funny. Then the guys proceed to say something like “she SHE gets it, why don’t you?”. It’s just not cool, it’s seen all too often, and it puts us in the fight against misogyny in an awkward position. I’m tired of being seen as having no sense of humor, or overly sensitive and “politically correct”, because I won’t stand for anybodies sexist jokes or rape jokes or so on. I actually have a great sense of humor, thank you very much, but some stuff just isn’t funny and shouldn’t be joked about- and it makes me sad to see so many girls do so in order to be placed higher up on the male pedestal.

But I’m not here to condemn any girl, so I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s their fault. I mean think about all of the negative attributes associated with women- we are weak, catty, unfunny, emotional and the list goes on. So who would want to be around that, or even act like that for that matter, when you can be one of the strong, tough, fun, hilarious, chill, drama-free guys!? Much like that graphic above says, I think we all need to realize that women are not all alike. We don’t all have the same hobbies, interests, or overall personalities. So saying that you “hate all other girls”, or “only hang out with guys because they are less drama” is an extremely silly thing to do, think before you gender stereotype.

The funny thing about all of this is that I myself mostly only hang out with guys; I have very few female friends. I know, I know, “what, then who are you to talk!?”. But I actually wish I had more female friends, I long for them but am not sure how to go about actually making them. I think there is something really special and beautiful about sisterhood and female relationships, as corny as that may sound, it’s true. I’m not sure why I, and other girls I’ve talked to, have a hard time making female friends, but I’d like to think that it has a lot to do with the sheer amount  of girl-hate going on these days. I know that we've touched on the subject of girl-hate in here before, but I just think it’s really sad and unfortunate that it’s so common, and it doesn’t seem to be talked about as much as it should be in feminist spaces. I like to believe that we as females look up to each other, and too many times that love and admiration is taken and twisted into jealousy and hate. Girl-hate is something that I firmly believe needs to be eliminated as soon as possible. When girls can be more open and kind to each other I feel that it will break down a lot of barriers and make many things easier for us and our friendships.

I was pretty scatter-brained in this entry and touched on some vulnerable topics, so I apologize. But as my hunt for some female friends continues (oh shit, I feel like a female version of the main character from the movie ‘I love you, Man’) stop the hate and spread the girl virus! 

September 2, 2010

riding the red river

I know a lot of men. Tons of them. Football players, military snipers, captains, sergeants, basketball players, pierced ones, black ones, white ones, old ones, young ones (not too young, i'm not trying to go to jail), professionals, medical doctors, heck I even birthed a boy. I know men. If you know me, you know that about me. And I've been officially "boy crazy" since I was about 16 or 17.
Isma Pictures, Images and Photos

boy crazy Pictures, Images and Photos

But I am troubled. And Confused.

leinde Pictures, Images and Photos

Most of these men, with varying degrees of frequency, brag about their brawn, strength, mental abilities, how much better they are at everything than a girl is (usually me), how much more "productive" they would be if they were the stay at home parent (good luck breastfeeding, my friend), how many guys they tackled in football, how many people they have shot, how many bullet wounds they have, how much bigger, stronger, taller they are, how their upper body strength is nearly three times that of mine, how hard they can fuck me, how they can open stuff I can't open (pickle jars, etc). If you are reading this blog, you're probably a woman and hear the same shit day after day after day. We are supposedly the "weaker" sex.

Here's the kicker though: Tell any of these guys you're on your period and they run screaming in the opposite direction. Like what? Not like a girl, because we can handle it, they scream like the little boys that they are. It's blood. It's not war or American football or another guy pointing a gun at your head, it's a bloody vagina. It's not even bleeding all that much, and it's doing what it's supposed to do. Duh. Wouldn't it be more scary if we were telling you we were pregnant?

Rag Pictures, Images and Photos

Trying to convince most men that you're still the same woman and therefore still have a libido while you are on your period is probably the hardest thing on Earth. It's dirty, it smells funny, they can see it, it's gross, etc etc etc. But here's how dumb guys are:

1. Chlamydia is on the rise. It has no symptoms. Any other week, they'd probably be more than willing to stick their face down there with their mouth open. I'm not asking for all that. I'm being honest with you. I TOLD YOU I was bleeding. Unprotected oral sex is ok but safe vaginal sex with a little blood is bad? One is way dirtier than the other.

2. How does it feel different? It should probably feel better because this way we're lubed up. Guys are impatient and not the best at foreplay. The blood will make us wetter and more relaxed.

3. Orgasms help relieve cramps. Why wouldn't you want to help your sexual partner relieve some of her pain if you could?

Superman Pictures, Images and Photos

4. Cumming on our faces is "beautiful" but you wearing a condom and "riding the red river" is disgusting? Total double standard.

5. Guys have no room to complain about anything stinking.

But it's not a lost cause. Once I was dating this guy who was extra cool because he had a Prince Albert piercing. He came over and I was just laying around being whiny about my cramps and he says "we should probably have sex then to ease your pain a little bit right? That'll help you out a lot". And seriously my face just fell on the floor. It was one of the sweetest things anyone's ever offered to do for me; help take the pain away, and accept all of me. But that was an isolated incident. Who knows where that guy is now, but he was an angel.

Angel boy Pictures, Images and Photos

I'm trying to convince my current boyfriend that we cannot plan our visits (we're in a long distance relationship) around my bleeding because it's stupid and my life continues to happen whether I'm bleeding or not. He argues that he can help me by bringing me pills and giving me alone time. No one has won yet, and he's still a bloody virgin. ha ha.

If you are having sex with a boy, ask him about period sex, let me know what he says. Maybe that'll help me out.

also this video made me very happy.

August 22, 2010

do 8 year olds really need bikini waxes?


According to current research, girls are going through puberty earlier and earlier, with many getting their periods, developing breasts, and growing body hair as young as 7 or 8 years old. Because this is a fairly new phenomenon, scientists are still trying to understand why this is happening, but many suspect hormones in food, diet, and obesity to be key factors. Also the risks these girls may face in later life is still not understood either.

Here is one, of many articles, on this growing public health concern.

Currently, to help "deal" with the body hair "issue" that these young girls are facing, salons have started offering waxing services for the tweens set and girls as young as 8 years old are getting their pubes waxed. There are even discounts for "virgin hair". I just threw up a little in my mouth after I typed this.

Let's back up for a minute: When I was in middle school, I thought my underarm hair was out of control. I used a depilatory similar to Nair and broke out in this itchy painful blistering rash. It was so bad I had to go to my pediatrician and get it looked at. It hurt so fucking bad. My doctor, who's known me since I was 2, wanted to know why I wanted my hair to be gone. I told him that I didn't like it and that I needed it gone and that my friends had theirs gone too. And what if I wanted to wear a bikini one day, I'd need to have no body hair. He just stared at me, puzzled. He told me if I wanted to wear a bikini, which he thought I was way too young for anyway, that I should wear boy shorts, and that hair under my arms was just fine and that my body was doing what it was SUPPOSED TO DO by growing hair. Then he told me to put baking soda under my arms.

Now imagine being 8 years old. Imagine not knowing anything about puberty or growing up and then you look down one day and see hair on your vagina. It's interesting. Slightly scary. But also fascinating. And then imagine someone telling you this is gross, and taking you somewhere and letting some stranger put hot wax on your little 8 year old vagina and ripping the hair off. Have you ever had your pubes waxed? Me either, but that shit hurts. Or imagine growing up thinking that body hair is disgusting, and seeing the other women in your family without any, and feeling ashamed because you have some growing on your vagina, upper lip, arms, or on your legs. It's confusing to me and I am 28. I have no idea what to "do with my pubes" but I am adult. I am not 8 years old.

Here is something to consider: Who is looking at an 8 year olds pubes anyway? Who is concerned with this? And why? Parents why are you forcing your daughters to endure this humiliation and pain at such an early age? Girls, who told you this was ok? Waxers, what the fuck are you doing making money off of girls like this and making them think that they are not ok as they are?


mother issues


My mom is on facebook and we are friends. I know that's weird for some people and some of my friends aren't "facebook friends" with their mothers, but a whole lot of them are. And you know what? It is weird. Suddenly, a whole lot of the secrets I have worked so hard to keep from my mama are right there in her face and accessible to her and the rest of my entire family, who is also on facebook. I feel like I am an embarrassment to her, to them, to everyone.

I am not one of those people who logs on and writes about what they ate for dinner and what they think of the too hot or too cold weather. I write how I feel, what I did last night, how much I drank, screaming matches I got in, and my boyfriend whom I adore. There are pictures, there are my friends comments, and there are my own responses. I often wonder what my mom thinks of this. I ask her, she says, "I am way too busy doing my own stuff, I don't follow you that carefully".

And then I think about all the stuff she has no idea about. I want her to be like other people's mother's. I want her to "get me," to be proud of the things I have done, to talk about me, to visit me when I am far away, to know my writing, to know what I do everyday, to follow me more closely. I feel like a stranger to my whole family. I moved to a whole other state, many of them don't know. They never knew I was pregnant, married, divorced, a grad student. Most of them think my name is "Nana" and most of them have no idea how to say my son's middle name (is it really that hard?).

I want to discuss books with my mother, to take her to the spa, to paint with her, to dance with her, to show her where I stayed in Kenya, to show her where my son's family comes from. She is always too busy for me. Always. Not just sometimes, all the time. It hurts me.

When you are 28, people automatically assume you don't need your mother as much as you did when you were 8, but you do. Maybe more. Life never stops being difficult and mothers are so incredibly good at figuring things out. I miss her. I need her. I hope these little peeks into my life via facebook make her realize how much she is indeed missing, how much she doesn't know, how much I screw things up because I don't have her to help me.

July 20, 2010

girl fight

Before I show you this video I want to tell you how graphic and violent it is. These women are pregnant, they are fighting each other, other people are watching, cheering them on even, and it's very disturbing. This video is going to make you angry, but it happened last week. It's a little long, so if you want, you can just skip to the fighting scenes. After watching it, we'll talk.

Ok, I know that was tragic. I've been pregnant before. I know how vulnerable and alone and big and sad being pregnant is. I know how angry people can make you get, and I will admit to having screamed at a girl at a party when I was 2 months pregnant with my son. I seriously could have went there with her, but my son's dad, picked me up and got me out of there. Not my finest hour.

We are women. We are not supposed to fight each other. Period. There are no exceptions to this rule. Nothing is worth fighting another girl over. At my internship, four girls "jumped" a fifth girl, at least 10 people watched, not doing anything, not calling anyone, not helping. The four girls were STAFF. Other people watching the fight were JUNIOR STAFF. Someone taped it. Our cameras caught it. They saw the knife, they saw who was fighting, and people were fired. This is a COMMUNITY CENTER. These staff work with children. It's sad. Maybe I have said too much already. I'll be quiet about my work now.

Things to Consider
1. A lot of men think girl-fighting is sexy. They get off on watching you fight other women. They want you to fight in jello, in pudding, in a kiddie pool full of noodles, on the street, in a bikini covered in oil. Don't do it.

2. A whole lot of girl fights are over words, or men. Men are not worth fighting over. They're just not. The thing about men is they LIE. There will be times when you didn't realize someone was married or had a girlfriend because he didn't tell you and his female partner, instead of getting mad at him, will come at you. This is stupid. Don't do it.

3. It's selfish to fight when you're pregnant. Your baby gets stressed out. It's still growing. It could get hurt, it could die. Don't do it.

4. If you do get in a fight or someone "jumps" you, most people won't help you. They will stand there and watch, they will go get some popcorn, they will pull out their camera phone, even if you are on the floor dying, nope, not gonna help you. Sometimes even the police.

5. And finally, it's a crime. You will just go to jail, where you will get in more fights. It's an ugly cycle.

We are women. Of course we make each other mad sometimes, we will disagree, we will have misunderstandings about men, we will not like the tone we take with each other sometimes, but we must never get violent with each other. We have the gift of communication. We should use it to our advantage. We don't have to love each other, but we must not kill each other either. I can't stress that enough. Please don't fight your sisters. And we are all sisters.

Women sometimes want to beat my ass, for a lot of different reasons and they make it extremely clear to me. It's scary. I walk around scared quite a bit actually. It's no way to live. Luckily I haven't been beat up yet, hopefully I never will. I hope you never get beat up either, and if you have, I'm sorry. I know it wasn't your fault. I hope someone helped you. I hope security guards didn't stand there and watch you get your ass beat doing nothing. I hope that feeling of total helplessness fades with time. I hope you don't live in fear of other women, like I do sometimes.


July 13, 2010

What I'm listening to- The Noisettes

It's been some time since my last entry (I started a new job plus summer classes, and both are kicking my ass), but I forgot to mention in it that we have a new writer here at Grrrl Perspective. Her name is LaMesha, and she is responsible for the last few fun and insightful posts we've had. I'm really excited to have her on board with us, and feel that she is going to (and already has) bring something new and fresh to the table with her witty and down-to-earth entries. You can find out more about LaMesha in our 'About Us' section here.

Anyways, I have this secret love for British garage-rock that my boyfriend always makes fun of me for. Therefor, I wish I started listening to the band The Noisettes sooner. I just recently found out about them and fell in love with their unique sound. They are an indie/garage-rock band from London comprised of singer and bassist Shingai Shoniwa, guitarist Dan Smith, and drummer Jamie Morrison. They have been around since 1996 and are pretty popular in the UK. 

Their frontwoman, Shingai, is amazing. Her voice is beyond captivating, and she brings some serious power and energy to the music that I can't even explain in words, you just have to listen to it/see it for yourself. Not to mention her stage presence is out of this world; basically, the chick fucking rocks! Even though The Noisettes are primarily an indie/garage-rock band, they experiment with a ton of different sounds in their albums; everything from punk, to swing, to soul, and much more. They are great musicians and definitely worth a listen.

"We've come to clean up the landscape and get rid of the male-dominated indie landfill" 

Their official website
Their myspace

July 6, 2010

5 feminist conversations i'm over

Feminist Pictures, Images and Photos

I have issues with "feminism" and somedays I am definitely 100% radical feminist and other days, I'm definitely over it. I did the women's studies degree, wrote the papers, marched at "take back the night," had the midwife when I was pregnant, etc etc etc. But now here I am writing for a feminist blog about feminist issues. I know right? What the hell am I doing? The few blogs that I've done so far have been "lamesha light," my attempt at making a good impression and not pissing off a whole bunch of people I don't even know. I don't want to insult you by writing about shit you already do and know about (washable pads, consent, etc) which I think is a little overdone. So today, for the first time, I'm going to attempt to go hardcore and write about the stupid shit I see and hear in my "feminist life" that piss me the fuck off. Hopefully you won't be offended, but if you are, I don't care. LOL

1. Chris Brown hating. We know he beat Rihanna's ass. How many years ago was that? He's done everything he has to do legal wise, and is trying to go back to work. Are we just supposed to hate him the rest of his life for something he did as a teenager? How long are we supposed to watch him squirm? He's 21, so what 60 more years? Have you ever got in a fight with someone? I know assault isn't right and hitting women is a sin but let's not forget Snoop's murder trial, R Kelly peeing on some little girl and videotaping it, Michael Jackson and those little boys, Woody Allen marrying his own daughter, John Mayer's racist dick in Playboy and overtime, those men have still prospered and everyone loves them. We don't even talk about this anymore, but Chris Brown you think should rot in hell? Let that shit go. That nigga is sorry. It's not good to spend so much time worrying about celebrities anyway.

2. "How can we get more women of color to come to our white girl feminist functions? They must not care about these issues..." and "Why aren't more women of color breastfeeding or marching or making zines?" I could go at the this one several different ways. First I am not a woman of color. I'm black. African American. Voodoo priestess. Shawty. But I refuse to be lumped in a non-white category with every other non-white woman on Earth. We aren't the minority and we are all very different; making us one category robs us of our culture. And then asking us why we don't come to your white girl feminist parties and speakers? Are you serious? Maybe we need a break from you. There's a million reasons why black and brown people don't embrace "feminism" the way white girls want us to, and I'm not going to list them all here. Just stop asking me about it. I'm not your gateway into black womanhood.
feminist Pictures, Images and Photos

3. "porn oppresses women. prostitution is a crime. both are violence against women". ummm no.

4. We're not "women," we're "womyn/wimmin" (or some other spelling that drives my spellcheck crazy). This is stupid. We all know what you are. You aren't really causing a paradigm shift by spelling your gender differently. You're mostly just being annoying.
Annoying Pictures, Images and Photos

5. "Courtney Love. Assuming black and brown women don't like to rock out". Last week Courtney Love made an ass of herself (not the first time) in DC by pulling a black girl on stage and asking, "Do you really like rock music? Because you're African American. That would be like me being into Lil Wayne". Look that shit up. It seriously happened. Then I started thinking about all the girl bands I listen to and yeah most of them are white. I don't hate them, I actually think they're quite good, but yeah they are all white, which doesn't really mean anything, it's just interesting to think about, for a lot of reasons. Black girls rock out hardcore. Can you name 5 black rocker girls? I can't, but there are hundreds of them. I think. When you see us, don't point and stare and pull us on stage. That's seriously fucked up.

6. "Fuck these patriarchal beauty standards". I hear you loud and clear, but women wearing pink and glitter and heels are not the enemy. And believe it or not, a whole bunch of women LIKE wearing that shit. We are not dumb, less feminist or watered down because of it. A long time ago when I was in undergrad I walked up to my feminist friends sitting in the grass and they started talking about my pink backless shirt and how their own clothes weren't so "cutesy," then it got awkward so I left and one of them said "see you later Blossom". Do you remember that show? I loved it. But that's not the point. The point is that my "friend" snuck a little snide comment in front of our all of our other friends simply because I like dressing up. And that was at least 8 years ago and I still remember everything about that day. Feminism is not about laughing at other girls and making them feel insecure. Especially over something as trivial as clothes. Remember you are pro-choice. Respect my choice to wear booty shorts.
feminist Pictures, Images and Photos

And that's it. For now...

July 3, 2010

go shawty, it's your birthday...

My birthday's on Tuesday. I'll be 28. I don't really feel old and have had a lot of fucked up birthdays so I plan to lay low and just go to work and chill. While I don't really NEED anything it's fun to think about what I would want if given the choice and the opportunity. The thing about getting older and accomplishing shit and making my own money is that damn near everything I'm about to list I am capable of getting myself. That's probably the best gift of all, the gift of self-empowerment.

1. Vegan Vulva Lip Balm, (getting it)

2. Lady Gaga tickets (too expensive, but not really)

3. Stripper Pole (just ordered from my pole dancing teacher),

4. Kid Cudi (unattainable, but he hasn't met me yet...)
Kid Cudi Pictures, Images and Photos
fine. as. hell.

5. pierced nipples, (got them on june 11th). pierced anything else? we'll see
Right Nipple Both are pierced Pictures, Images and Photos
for the record, this is not my nipple.

6. healthy kidneys. i have focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. i'm in remission. that's all i'm gonna say.
kidney Pictures, Images and Photos

7. ntozake shange books (read them, but don't own any).
ntozake shange Pictures, Images and Photos

8. beef ribs. pork ribs. any kind of ribs. there's nothing sexier than a chick knawing on a bone, plus they are fucking delicious. dry rub, saucy, barbecued, smoked, baked in the oven, simmered in the crock pot. i could eat ribs every day.
bbg ribs Pictures, Images and Photos

9. subscription to $pread magazine, (
Spread Magazine Pictures, Images and Photos

10. kanye west's self esteem. "In America, they want you to accomplish these great feats, to pull off these David Copperfield-type stunts. You want me to be great, but you don't ever want me to say I'm great?"-Kanye

and that's it. i'm chillin. happy birthday to me.
Happy Birthday Bitch Pictures, Images and Photos

June 24, 2010

on being a natural

I had a little garden plot. I bought organic seeds and little tools and set out to teach my son, who would rather be watching tv and eating noodles, about nature. Deep down I probably thought this would be a good opportunity to prove my worth as a mother. I do not knit, I do not sew, I don’t cook dinner every night, I don’t do any of those things that my other mama friends do. I feel like I don’t measure up, and we all know motherhood can be quite the competition. I just wanted to be good at growing something, because I don’t think I am. I didn’t even grow my own child properly, he was early, a tiny little undercooked baby boy, literally cut out of me, because my body couldn’t handle being pregnant anymore. Surely, I could handle a garden.
Gardening (for Wordpress) Pictures, Images and Photos
The thing about having your own child is that they are often very similar to you, whether you like it or not. My son liked going to the store to buy the seeds because like me, he loves shopping. But the dirt digging, the bugs, the worms, the hot sun beating down on his little body? Not so much. I too must admit that I hated it. Not fun, my friends, not fun at all. I told myself that all over the world women work the land, growing crops for their families, tending the Earth, with their kids in tow. I could do this. My son would love it. I would finally have something to talk about in mommy group (I usually just sit around reading Cosmo), while the women knit, nurse babies and talking about their peaceful home births.
I am not one of those mothers. But I want to be. Sometimes. But I want to have better clothes. And shoes.
kimora lee and djimon hounsou Pictures, Images and Photos
This morning, I went to my garden. It’s been raining, a tornado or two has passed through my state, my son is on vacation, I have two jobs and two summer school classes and an active social life; all reasons I use for not going to my garden regularly, and it shows. My little seeds have grown, but so has the grass and it’s hard to tell which parts are weeds and which is the plants. So I just left it, all of it, and went back home. All the other gardens are beautiful, the corn stalks are growing, little flowers are blooming, white picket fences are up, and there are no weeds. Someone threw a plastic soda bottle in my garden and I didn’t even pick it up. I just don’t see the point anymore.
And then I realized this: I am not a gardener. I am not like the other mothers. And I have a debit card. I can buy whatever the fuck I want, when I want, and I can keep my toes clean and my kid entertained in the grocery store. I do not knit, I take my buttons to the cleaners to get mended, and I hate digging in the dirt. I’d rather take my kid to shows, the mall, and on airplanes. He prefers to sit around reading magazines and eating cookies and noodles for dinner too. We can play video games for hours, in the house, where there’s a fan, and cold soda to drink. We are city people. Our carrots come in a bag with a twisty tie on them.
Baby carrots Pictures, Images and Photos
I’m a quitter. If things are not going the way I want them to, I am not going to use up all my energy and time trying to make it fit with my life when it simply won’t. That’s not the way my brain operates. Life is too short to be unhappy in situations that you can change. And so as soon as I am done with this blog, I am turning in my tools and letting my apartment managers know that I am done gardening and am going to pay the fine for not weeding my garden at the end of the season. I have two jobs; I can afford the fine. I refuse to be miserable doing something that I hate just to prove a point, to myself, and to my son, who is four states away. He just got a Nintendo DS and honestly doesn’t give a shit about vegetables; he doesn’t even eat them anyway. And I am going to be happy all day, working, climbing the corporate ladder in baby blue high heels and a city-girl skirt, eating perfectly cut baby carrots out of a Ziploc bag in my cubicle, with the AC on. Point proven. Nails clean. Guilt gone. And while I am not going to win any awards for being Minnesota's most natural mother, I am doing what feels natural to me--not gardening.
working mother Pictures, Images and Photos

June 18, 2010

What is going on at Cornell University?

I apologize in advance if my writing and language in this post is all over the place, you'll have to excuse me because I don't think I've ever found out about something that has disgusted and pissed me off as much as this story has. I'm so mad, I sort of feel like I need to vomit. (*Trigger warning for child sexual abuse survivors*) 

"A pediatric urologist at Cornell University-Dix Poppas-has been operating on little girls with what he judges to be oversized clitorises, cutting away important clitoral tissues, and then stitching the glans to what remains of the shaft. 

There's lots to be outraged about here: there's nothing wrong with these girls and their healthy, functional-if-larger-than-average clitorises; there's no need to operate on these girls; and surgically altering a girl's clitoris because it's "too big" has been found to do lasting physical and psychological harm. But what's most outrageous is how Poppas performs his follow-up examinations, which involve Poppas stimulating the girls’ clitorises with vibrators while the girls, aged six and older, are conscious.

At annual visits after the surgery, while a parent watches, Poppas touches the daughter’s surgically shortened clitoris with a cotton-tip applicator and/or with a “vibratory device,” and the girl is asked to report to Poppas how strongly she feels him touching her clitoris. Using the vibrator, he also touches her on her inner thigh, her labia minora, and the introitus of her vagina, asking her to report, on a scale of 0 (no sensation) to 5 (maximum), how strongly she feels the touch. Poppas has indicated that ideally he seeks to conduct annual exams with these girls. "

What the actual fuck!? I just can not fathom how this is even going on. How was this passed by Cornell's medical board? I don't even know where to start. First off, who the hell are Poppas and his team of (all male, might I add) surgeons to decide what a "normal" looking clitoris is? News flash: there is no such thing as a "normal" looking clitoris. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Women are already insanely critical of their bodies and are always struggling to meet society's made-up female beauty standards (as LaMesha touched on in her post below), and by stating that there is one certain way that a clitoris should look they are just perpetuating this obsession with perfection, making women believe that everything about them needs to be perfect- even their vagina's. But these are just children we are talking about here, infants even. If when they are older and can make their own decisions they decide that they want to go through with a procedure like this to shorten their clitorises then fine. But nobody should be making that decision for them when they are too young to understand or consent to it themselves. The fact that these girls are being seen as sex objects from the moment they get out of the womb is disgusting. Nobody should be looking at and judging their genitals in this way. 

And then there are his "follow-up examinations", are you kidding me!? A grown man routinely touching a girl as young as six's (or in some cases even younger) clitoris with a vibrator and asking her when she feels something...hello Cornell University, that is child sexual abuse and molestation. Poppas (I refuse to put a Dr. before his name) is a pedophile and a monster, who was somehow allowed permission to live this fucked up dream of his. I can't understand how the parents are just agreeing to this and even sitting back and watching as this sick man performs these disturbing "examinations" on their daughters. If I ever had a daughter and some doctor even proposed the idea of doing this to her, I think I would soon be in jail for assault. But the sad thing is that most parents don't act that way, when it comes to their children, it seems like parents are so afraid of something going wrong with them that they will just automatically believe and go along with whatever the doctor says to do...because, well, he's the doctor. Which I guess is a sad thing, but I still don't get how a parent could watch as those "follow-up examinations" occurred, I think anybody with a brain and a moral conscious would know that those procedures are beyond wrong. But I guess not...?

There's another disturbing reason this surgery is being performed: people seem to believe that girls with large clitorises are more likely to identify as lesbians when they grow up. Which is quite obviously a completely ridiculous statement. Carving up a girls clitoris does nothing to change her sexual orientation, and besides, what is so damn wrong with being a lesbian anyway? Why are parents and doctors and so on so afraid of giving birth to a gay child that they would instead put them through all of this physical and psychological harm?

Last thing, why has this not been in the news? Why does nobody even know that this grotesque act is being performed right here in New York? The news channels haven't even covered this story once yet, even with numerous people sending it in to them. I wouldn't be surprised if that was because Cornell University payed news channels a big chunk of money to keep this swept under the carpets so that their school doesn't get a bad reputation. But fuck that, it's bullshit that everybody knew when Michael Jackson died, and news channels talked about it for days on end, but nobody knows about Cornell University legally performing female genital mutilation and child molestation. America, your standards are all fucked up. And I am just so extremely sad for the innocent young girls who had to go through these traumatic events, and I just hope that they can still live normal lives even after remembering the cruel things that happened to them as infants and young children.

Do something, Call Dr. Poppas at (212) 746-5337
Tell him EXACTLY what you think of his "research". 

Email or call Cornell University's research provost and tell him to end the practicing of female genital mutilation and child molestation at his school.
Kent Fuchs
(607) 255-2364 

June 17, 2010


body image Pictures, Images and Photos
I want to be the perfect woman. I majored in woman’s studies in undergrad so I know that all the silly mainstream magazines I read are full of airbrushed models and that if I lost the 35 pounds I want to lose I’d probably stop having periods and that every person on Earth has pores and that I will never have naturally flippy hair and long curly eyelashes. But every day I kill myself a little bit striving for a perfection that doesn’t exist. Every calorie is guilt, I have a $200 face scrubber, about 10 exercises videos I don’t watch, an appointment next week to get a head full of weave, a bathroom full of make up, a closet full of clothes, shoes, accessories. I consider myself “low maintenance,” and I really feel like I am. It’s sick, but I feel normal. In the grand scheme of perfection questing, I am small scale. I know it’s not real. I can leave the house without being “done up” but only sometimes.
Tyra Banks Pictures, Images and Photos
At any one point in time I am doing at least three full time jobs. I have a kid. I am a full time grad student. I work. I get perfect grades. I have a successful zine. I refuse to be half assed. My son wore cloth diapers and then organic recyclable diapers. I cried when I couldn’t afford them anymore and had to buy generics. He was breastfed for over 3 years, I made his baby food, I stayed home with him for 6 months, carrying him in the baby sling, totally losing myself in this unrealistic idea of perfect motherhood. Grad school requires a “B” or better in everything or you essentially fail. A “B” is still good, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just not a perfect “A” and when I got one I bawled to my therapist, “that stupid bitch gave me a B”. I was devastated. Once I finish writing my zine I sit with it, afraid to put it out, for at least a month. I have to make it perfect. I disappoint myself all the time. It’s not perfect. I want to quit making it.
SUPER MOM Pictures, Images and Photos
A lot of women have this crazy fucked up idea in their head that life is a competition and whoever is the prettiest, skinniest, best cook, best dressed, best writer, best mother, best dick sucker, whatever, wins. And winning is so much better than losing, right? And we are smart, we know all of this is fucked up and a total waste of time, but we will sit there getting our pubes waxed into the shape of a heart or only eat carrots for a week or spend five hours in a beauty salon getting someone else’s hair braided into our own anyway. I have a good body, nice boobs, cute butt, pretty round face, happy eyes, and this guy called me “thick” and I wanted to kill him. I went hysterical. Try giving a girl a compliment, she’ll think you’re a spy or totally downplay herself. I hardly ever hear “thanks”. I am learning how to say it, realizing that yes, what this person is saying is in fact true. I am good at my job. Thank you.
thinspiration Pictures, Images and Photos
The thing about perfection is that it still matters to women. Men can be fat and balding and old and they are still rewarded with money, raises, younger women, respect. If a woman has one wrinkle, gets pregnant, gains 10lbs, has a flat chest, nappy hair, people notice. Everything is at stake; her career, her sanity, her marriage, her finances, her opportunity for advancement, etc. They circle actresses fat legs in magazines, it's on the news; I am not even kidding. So yeah, striving for perfection is not all that unreasonable. Our livelihoods depend on it sometimes. We need the money, we still don't make as much as men.
botox Pictures, Images and Photos
People have made billions of dollars convincing women that they are not enough. If we knew the truth, that we are beautiful, that our bodies and our faces and our bellies are enough, that we are smart, that we are good drivers, that we are good mothers, that our nappy hair is lovely, that our pubes can grow out, that we are good at math, that we can direct movies, that we can lead companies, that our too big or too small or too saggy tits were actually “just right”, what would happen? How much money would we save? How many more friends would we have? How much happier would we be? I can’t even imagine such perfection…
liiiittle girl. Pictures, Images and Photos

June 12, 2010

Here's to summer


A Toast (quick go grab a beer):
“Here’s to summer. To barbecues and all that sauce underneath my fingernails. To booty shorts and bikinis and the traffic mishaps I cause when I go out for a stroll in my neighborhood. To the garden I never weed because it is too hot or too rainy or because I am too hungover. Here’s to boys that are 5 years younger, or 10 years older, and to girls who are always “just right”...
"To all the zine festivals happening around the world and to all the friends I now have because I make zines too. To my new nipple piercings and my sudden surge of popularity because of them. To graduations and new beginnings and closure and the end of the “era” and the start of summer school and biostats, internships and work work work. Here’s to birth control pills and free condoms and festivals everywhere and the people who sit at those tables all day telling you about their free clinics because they care about your reproductive health just as much as you do...
Princess Peach Birth Control Pills Pictures, Images and Photos
"Here’s to drag queens and kings, strippers, my pole dancing teacher, and PRIDE. To new music by all my favorite people, summer tours, the afropunk festival, free shows, and all that damn mud, and oh yeah the pit, especially the women who get right in the middle and are not afraid. To Sasha and Malia Obama, and all the other little black girl princesses. To summer reading clubs at the library and to books, so many beautiful books, and the opportunity to read them all for free. To riot grrrl, womanism, feminists, voodoo priestesses, witches, bitches, and snitches...
"To watermelon and the people who eat it and love it, and don't make racist jokes about my love for it...
heart watermelon Pictures, Images and Photos
"To the nurses who went on strike in Minnesota, to the activists, to the freedom fighters, to the organizers, all of whom are not on vacation, and are still out there putting their life and livelihood on the line, for me, my kid, our future, and the EARTH. To besties and sleepovers and camping and swimming in the lake. To all the black grrrls who don’t know how to swim because cute hair and maintenance is still an issue for us at school, at work, and everywhere we are and that trumps leisure, recreation, and everything else...
"To dancehall music and my attempts to be the queen. To Marcus coming home from Afghanistan in less than 40 days and finally being allowed to leave the Army for good and all the tacos we’re gonna eat on base. To little kids running through sprinklers in the grass, the discovery of caterpillars, baby ducks, and the yumminess of dirt. To pregnant women in bikini tops, to henna tattoos on their bellies, and good safe empowering births...
Orange Bikini with Sunflower Painted on Pregnant Belly Pictures, Images and Photos
"To all of summer, to everyone, and to me, who will be a year older and ten times smarter and a million times sexier (hell yeah). CHEERS!!”
Hold up your foamy glass of beer or your margarita class or your bottle of wine (do you drink it straight outta the bottle too?) and toast with me. If you don’t drink alcohol, hold up something equally delicious, like water with cucumber and ginger in it. That is so fuckin delicious by the way, you should seriously try that shit. Feel free to post comments about all the things you love about summer. I can't possibly name them all.

June 4, 2010

Book Review- Commencement

"Take Mary McCarthy's The Group, add a new feminist generation striving to understand everything from themselves and their mothers to the notion of masculinity that fuels sex trafficking, and you get this generous-hearted, brave first novel. Commencement makes clear that the feminist revolution is just beginning."
-Gloria Steinem 
What's a blog without a good ol' book review every now and then? Now that the semester is over, it's summer, and I've had a little bit more free-time on my hands, I've finally gotten around to finishing J. Courtney Sullivan's debut novel, Commencement. I really enjoyed this book, it's a great and easy summer read that also manages to have a moving storyline and important message. It has a very different feel to it from the typical "chick lit" (a term that I despise, might I add) that most of us are used to. This is not another romance novel focused solely on attractive men and the women who are desperate to find them and get married, not at all, this novel thankfully goes a lot deeper then that. This is a novel about young feminists, everlasting sisterhood, and the choices and challenges that face women today; from the small stuff like whether or not to change your last name when getting married, to the much bigger problems like rape and sex trafficking, this novel seems to cover it all.

The novel follows Celia, Bree, Sally, and April, classmates their first year at Smith College who couldn't be more different. Alone and together, they soon learn that Smith is a hothouse: of sexual discovery, political activism, female bonding, and carbohydrates eaten with abandon. And although several years after graduation they live far apart, their Smith years have left them fiercely devoted to one another. Schooled in the ideals of feminism, they must decide how it all applies to their real lives in matters of love, work, family, and sex.

The deep sense of sisterhood in this book had to be my favorite part about it. Reading this novel makes you truly appreciate your female best friends, or if you don't have any, long for girls you can care for that much and be that close to. J. Courtney Sullivan does such a great job of describing the girls, that throughout reading the novel you really feel as if you are friends with them! I found myself worrying about them when things went wrong, and then happy for them when it all went right again. Finishing the novel is somewhat bittersweet, because the ending leaves you hanging a bit, and you miss hearing about what's going on in each of the girls lives. 

I definitely recommend this novel to all who enjoy books about feminism and sisterhood, but also just to anyone looking for a good, moving, summer read. The novel starts out a little slow, but then there is a big twist halfway through that will keep you interested and have you staying up late just to get to the next page. I plan on reading more books by J. Courtney Sullivan in the near future, I really enjoy her writing now. 

You can find out where to buy the book, as well as more on J. Courtney Sullivan and Commencement here.

May 19, 2010

What I'm listening to- Deathrats

Yaay, this semester is finally over! Only one more class later this summer left, then I graduate from this boring community college with my associates degree. Boo, I'm currently sick with an ear and sinus infection :-(. Not cool. I always seem to get sick as soon as the seasons change. 

Annnyways, today I want to feature an awesome band called Deathrats. Deathrats is a female-fronted feminist hardcore/punk band from Washington, DC. The lead singer, Christine's, voice is captivating, and the band as a whole just overall rules. They currently only have a self-titled 7" out, but trust me, it's good stuff. Plus, they have lyrics like this...

Sense of Entitlement
I’ve been socialized to critique every part of my own body
I can’t accept compliments or appreciate my own form
But I can’t leave my house without someone calling at me
Everyday I’m confronted with what other people think
What makes them feel so entitled to my body,
Why am I subject to their desires and what they think?
If I’m denied joy and authority over my own body
What makes them think that they deserve any?
I’m expected to look in the mirror discontented with what I see
And if I feel confidence in my body or my sexuality
Then it exists for you, it’s certainly not for me
It’s unacceptable for me to feel these things, but you can tell me if you like what you see?
Hands off, hands off of me, keep your fucking hands off of me
"I wrote this song with street harassment in mind. Its about dealing with the frustration of feeling that I have such limited agency over my own body on both legislative and day-to-day bases, but knowing that any dude walking down the street may feel as though they have the right to tell me their opinion of my body, comment on the way that I present myself, or even straight-up grab me as I’m walking to work or school. I feel like it applies to a lot more than just this, but its what I was thinking about."

Girl Style
We’ve been taught to hate one another and we replicate their standards
We cut each other down to size, each of us starved and socialized
I’m sick of the punk boy revolution, its ordinary
When women can support women, that’s something revolutionary
Why lament the loss of our girl style then, when we’re just as angry now
Why do they look backward to Kathleen Hannah, when there are so many of us now
You’re not satisfied, well neither am I
If we’re hating each other, we’re hating ourselves
If we can’t trust each other we can’t trust ourselves
"I wanna give a shoutout to Huggybear.  I’m tired of hearing straight, white, middle-class boys talking about revolution, because frankly, they don’t know shit. There is so much more that could be said about that. Regardless, this is really about how my relationships with my female friends mean more to me than pretty much anything in the world. It’s about bonding over the bullshit we all go through and making fairly unbreakable ties. Its also kind of calling out people who conflate the involvement of women in punk with riot girl, because it dates and simultaneously limits the reality of women and feminism in punk. It ain’t over."

Very moving and well-said. I find it really awesome and empowering that a hardcore band will unapologetically sing about such subjects as sisterhood and female harassment in a music genre whose shows are (unfortunately) still mainly attended by males. And "When women can support women, that’s something revolutionary" are words to live by, in my opinion. All the lyrics are written by the lead singer, Christine, and you can read them all, as well as download their full 7" here.

May 10, 2010

American Able.

There are so many things that come to mind when the company American Apparel is mentioned. Butt contests, expensive clothes, and not to mention the company's infamous CEO, Dov Charney, who has been the subject of multiple sexual harassment charges. Another staple that usually comes to mind is American Apparel's advertisements. They usually feature scantily clad women in provocative poses advertising.. well, actually, I usually don't know what product they're advertising. Am I supposed to be checking out this girl's booty or the tiny thong that's tucked away in there?

Although the website claims that models are "employees and friends from around the world - not models", this is a statement that blatantly isn't true. Many of American Apparel's "real people" are both porn stars and real models that are represented by agencies. Porn stars such as Lauren Phoenix, Sasha Grey, and Faye Reagan have all appeared in multiple American Apparel advertisements. With most models being over 5'10", thin, and seemingly flawless, many people would agree that, like most advertising today, their models don't exactly represent "real people".

As Julia Caron, blogger from Worn Fashion Journal writes, "In my reality, all kinds of people are sexy and sexual: People who identify as queer, as disabled, as trans, as fat, and generally, as awesome. But in this world of American Apparel and various other "real beauty" ad campaigns making claims of representing the "average woman", I never see myself or the kinds of people I know."

In a spoof series called “American Able”, photographer Holly Norris has challenged American Apparel’s young, slim, and overtly sexual “real people” advertisements. “American Able” features Jes Sachse, a disabled woman, in advertisements almost identical to those of American Apparel’s. On her website Norris writes she has chosen American Apparel because, “Their campaigns are highly sexualized and feature women who are generally thin, and who appear to be able-bodied. Women with disabilities go unrepresented, not only in American Apparel advertising, but also in most of popular culture.”

Her choice of model has a great significance as well. Norris goes on to say, “Rarely, if ever, are women with disabilities portrayed in anything other than an asexual manner, for ‘disabled’ bodies are largely perceived as ‘undesirable.’ In a society where sexuality is created and performed over and over within popular culture, the invisibility of women with disabilities in many ways denies them the right to sexuality, particularly within a public context.”

I really love what Norris has done through this spoof. Not only are the photos beautiful but the message Norris and Jes send is a great one. This spoof of American Apparel’s advertisements allows us to look at the ways the advertising industry both objectively and selectively portrays women. It is not only a critique on the industry but also provides an alternative for advertising as well.

The complete series is available at Holly Norris’ website. The actual exhibit is also available for viewing in Toronto, Canada. It will also be shown on over 270 digital screens in 50 Toronto Transit Commission stations on May 6, 11, 22 and 31.