Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bullying, Lady Gaga, and Celebrity Intervention

One of many Gaga-inspired signs at the 2009 National Equality March

I, like I assume most people are, am a little confused by Lady Gaga. I mean... duh. I tend to ignore her horrible ditties like "Judas" and "Just Dance," but I really honestly enjoy a lot of her music and have actually really enjoyed the fanatical joy that fills gay men when her music comes on. It's like the time I saw Justin Bieber in concert--I was totally amused and enjoyed his set because the rabidly fanatical 12 year old girls reacting to him were just so amusing.

Anyway, my friends and I have talked about Gaga, and we're all sort of at the same place with her. Sometimes listening to her in interviews I feel totally disconnected from her because she can be so, so pretentious (while other times her pretension feels justified), we tend to agree that we love what she has done for the LGBT community. While not perfect, I think she is certainly one of the most vocal and influential celebrities on the issue of LGBT rights and equality and that takes a lot of courage. She turned down a lucrative deal with Target because of their questionable donation history to anti-LGBT causes. She has continually offered her celebrity to LGBT-themed events, and she seems to honestly feel incredibly obligated toward to her gay fans, especially for young fans for whom pop culture can be one of their earliest outlets of inspiration and affirmation when they feel like their identities must remain hidden.

I'm often skeptical of celebrities who use their fame for causes, I know they do a lot of good work but it tends to also benefit their careers (I once wrote an Aristotelian critique of Bono for a Philosophy paper in high school), but despite my confusion with Lady Gaga, I'm really glad that she does what she does. In the wake of another young suicide, that of Jamey Rodemeyer, she recently performed "Hair" as a tribute to him at a concert and was visibly moved by his memory:

Further back, she performed a cover of "Imagine" with lyrics changed to reflect on Matthew Shepherd's death at a HRC dinner in 2009.

Currently, Lady Gaga is advocating for legislation that will make bullying a hate crime. And when you think about the scary, right-wing reactions to anti-gay bullying, saying that it's natural or that teaching children not to bully is pushing some "gay agenda," this kind of legislation is important. It's not just violent hate crimes against other people that are killing gay teens (or perceived gay teens), it's violent, coercive bullying that is destroying young lives by convincing children that their only way out of misery is through suicide. I am glad that so many people are standing up to anti-gay bullying in the wake of all these tragedies, but I am very grateful that Lady Gaga is using her fame for good. This is celebrity intervention at its best.

Sunday Funday Female Comedy

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Joan Jett!

Modern, famous rocker ladies owe you a lot! I care about your reputation, because it is badass.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dawn Porter is Awesome.

No, really, she's awesome. Check out her website, The Dawn Report, and you will wish that you were Dawn Porter.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bye-Bye DADT

Not the Village People... but I couldn't embed that one.

On a more serious note, here is a video of a soldier stationed in Germany coming out to his father over the phone. It's really sweet. This doesn't mean the end of discrimination in the armed forces, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. No one should have to keep such an important part their life a secret.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hooking Up

A couple months ago, my good friend sent me this talk (which was featured on one of our favorite blogs, Sociological Images) on hooking up. It's 37 minutes long (and then longer with questions), so hunker down (or read the transcript). It's really interesting!

Common Hour: The Promise and Perils of Hook-Up Culture from Franklin & Marshall College on Vimeo.

At the beginning of this talk, Lisa Wade references Hooking Up by Kathleen Bogle.

And so, thanks to Border's going out of business sale, I picked up a copy, and it was fascinating. And what I thought was particularly fascinating about it is that it explained so much about the culture I was living in. As a college student, I not only participate in hook up culture by (very occasionally) hooking up, but talking about my hook ups or my friends' hook ups. And one of the things that I thought was really interesting in Bogle's book (and that is reverberated in Wade's talk) is that although hook up culture is the dominant relationship culture on many college campuses, it's not a huge "epidemic." In fact, only about 40% of students will participate in hook up culture. And within that 40% there's a huge variance of practices. Some people are going out and hooking up with someone new every weekend, while others might only hook up once a semester.

And just to define "hooking up," since it is a purposefully ambiguous term, in my use of the term, it refers to "making out +..." So hooking up could be making out with a dude at a party for 20 minutes or bringing someone back to your apartment/dorm and having sexual intercourse and anything in between. Bogle goes into the ambiguity of "hooking up" and college students actually do have different definitions of it, but the fact that it lacks a truly concrete definition is in part utilitarian. If I say to my friends that I hooked up with someone, I don't necessarily have to go into details. They will assume on their own, so I can present myself as more or less promiscuous according to how I want my image to go.

Among the other fascinating things about Bogle's and Wade's studies is how hooking up has different gendered implications and outcomes. And sort of overwhelmingly, women get the short end of the stick. In Wade's talk, she relates the story of a female student who had sex with two guys when her friend passed out drunk. She had rationalized this because one of the guys had started touching her friend when she was passed out, and so she took it upon herself to "satisfy" the desires of both guys to protect her friend, even though she was only interested in one of the guys. It did not occur to her that she could say no to the whole enchilada.

This is an extreme example, and I would say that most hook up situations are not so insidious. Most of the time they occur between two drunk people, and are consensual (although not always pleasurable). Hookup culture is so culturally dominant that at times it seems compulsory. My freshman year of college, I wrote out my first experience making out with a guy (who I called "No Name" since neither of us inquired about the other's name) at a frat party for my friends, and here's a sentence that I think says a lot about hookup culture (this was like, my second month of college, I still did not drink alcohol, and I had a much more basic understanding of hookup culture and gender relations):
I didn’t particularly want to stop dancing with him because I knew that if I did I would be back to being awkward by myself, so as songs ended and the frat boy DJ put another song on, I kept dancing with No Name.
I had no emotional connection to this dude, but I knew that dancing with him (and this was before we started making out) was preferable to not dancing with him, since all of my friends at that point were off with their own random dance partners. I also knew hooking up with someone was perceived as ideal, though prior to this I had only only ever been sexual in the context of a relationship, I was aware of hookup culture as something that was very exciting and very "college" and that the random, casualness was just very cool. And it was OK. We made out in this frat, it was very college, I was very excited about it, and then I went back to my dorm (alone). And what I've found since my freshman year through my own experience and my friends' experiences, is that hooking up is sometimes quite exciting and satisfying, but other times it's mediocre and just functions as "something to do." So hooking up shakes out as something that is just sort of average. But my friends and I, and this is also what Bogle and Wade found, even though we have these average experiences, continue to hold "hooking up" as something like a fun release to hope for some weekend because it will be fun and satisfying. (Even though it might not be that way, and also is never guaranteed. So you can hope for it, but it might not even happen.)

Which brings me to a point that Wade makes about pluralistic ignorance. Hooking up is the dominant culture although it is not always sexually pleasurable (and according to Wade and Bogle, especially for women), not always equal, and not always emotionally enjoyable because students (myself included) do not challenge it. We look at bad hook ups and say to ourselves and our friends that it was just the situation, and hope for a better hookup/hotter guy/more satisfying experience in the future. And I think Wade makes a really good point in her presentation about the need to challenge hook up culture. We don't have to pretend that hooking up is the best thing ever, because it's not, everyone knows that, and since we know this, we don't have to continue to do it.

Anyway, I really recommend watching Lisa Wade's talk and reading Kathleen Bogle's book! Wade has some really interesting social observations and is a little more recent, and Bogle has a really interesting historical take as well as observations about hook up culture and post-college life (hint: it dies).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feminist Rapper Friday/Happy Birthday Double Post

Happy 40th birthday Amy Poehler!

I didn't plan today's post, but HERE is a clip from SNL in which Amy rapped about Sarah Palin's life when Palin refused to. Frankly, I'm glad Amy did it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Liberal T-Shirts and stenciling DIY

This week my university's chapter of FMLA stenciled t-shirts! I went simple and just did our name, but other people used stencils that said stuff like, "Riot Don't Diet" and feminist phrases in latin. Thus I have added another liberal t-shirt to my collection (gay marriage, Obama, immigration reform, FMF, USAS, democratic socialism... etc.).

Stenciling is pretty easy and for whatever kind of group you have is a great/cheap way to make t-shirts! Here's a DIY:

1. Create a stencil. This can be fairly simple or a complicated and frustrating process, depending on how involved you want to get. Letters are annoying but fairly easy, and you can google how to make standard-sized letters and figure out the little crevices in letters like, "e" or "o." For stencil material, you can use cardstock, or if you want something more long-term, go to a craft store and ask for some heavier-duty transparent paper. Mark your design in pencil, then cut it out with an exacto-knife. What you cut out will be what you are painting.
This is a stencil I made and used recently. Note how I did the "e," "d," "o," and "a" letters. This is important.

2. Obtain paint and a t-shirt. I usually use spray paint, but regular paint works fine too, and is easier to control/can be done inside. Decide what works best for your situation. FMLA used paint and we made t-shirts inside during our meeting, my Democratic Socialists club used spray paint and we just went out onto the sidewalk outside my building. You decide.

3. Put a piece of cardboard inside your t-shirt. This is so that the paint doesn't bleed through to the opposite side. It also helps keep your shirt smooth. Important! You don't want it all wrinkly when you're painting.

4. Place the stencil in the desired position on your t-shirt. Depending on your stencil, you might want to put tape in little teeny crevices so that nothing flies up while you are painting and you can keep your design crisp. Begin painting!

5. For spray paint: there is a happy medium about spraying. If you go too close to the shirt, the paint will get behind the stencil and make it look sloppy. (Or cool, depending on the look you're going for.) If you go too far away, it won't be crisp enough and the paint will disperse in the air and just be really light and you know... go everywhere. I usually have some scrap cardboard on hand to block off the rest of the t-shirt in case the spray goes outside of the stencil (it will, especially if it's windy). In the below picture... we blocked off the bottom "TDS" and replaced that with my stencil for "temple democratic socialists" because we were making t-shirts for the e-board and wanted to make sure when people saw us, they didn't just see an acronym. When we make t-shirts with the rest of our organization, they will have the option to use the original stencil as is.
6. Carefully peel off the stencil and set aside with the paint side up so it doesn't stick to anything. That would be a pain in the butt.

7. Now you have your very own t-shirt for your organization!! Woo-hoo! This is quick and cheap, and works pretty well if you're making t-shirts for a specific event in a jiffy. We've made them for certain protests in the past and I still wear them... the spray paint works fine in a washing machine too. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

(Just as a note, the light residue all around the edges of the shirt is because we didn't block off the t-shirt when using the spray paint and it was windy. I don't mind but that's just a note. Usually I'm more careful, and those t-shirts always look more "professional," but also radical and badass.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Idiot Quote of the Week

President Obama in a stunning, shocking level of power now just recently told all private insurance companies you must offer the morning after abortion pill because I said so and it must be free of charge. That same level coming through executive orders and through government dictates is wrong. And that's why again we have to have someone who's absolutely committed to the repeal of Obamacare and I am. I won't rest until it's repealed.
-Michele Bachmann.

... None of that is true. Or exists. Someone needs to fire her fact-checker. Or, perhaps, hire one.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Weekly Plug for Unite For Sight

In December I am will be flying to Tegucigalpa, Honduras to volunteer as a Global Impact Fellow for Unite For Sight. Becoming a Global Impact Fellow was (and is) a big ole process. There was a rigorous application, I had to prove my ability to effectively communicate in Spanish (UFS's programs in India and Ghana do not require a language ability other than English), and I'm currently working on getting a company to donate 500 pairs of reading glasses to the clinic, completing online training so that I am prepared when I arrive in Tegucigalpa, and learning about the ethics of international aid. I'm also raising money for Unite For Sight, at least $1,700.

100% of the (tax-deductable!) donations to Unite For Sight go toward directly funding surgeries to restore the sight of extremely poor people. There are millions of people who are needlessly blind because they lack the access to or money for (another type of access) adequate eye care services. A cataracts surgery to restore someone's sight costs on average $50. $250 restores the sight of 5 people. When I reach my goal of $1,700, that means 34 people will get the surgeries that will restore their abilities to see. If I can raise more than that, then even more needy people can have surgeries. Any amount of donation is appreciated because it all goes toward breaking down patient barriers to health care.

As I am approaching the end of my undergraduate career at Temple, I have come to realize that my most meaningful work experiences have involved directly impacting the lives of others.

As an anthropology major, I have realized that my interests in global development and post-colonial studies are not just things that I want to be involved in academically. The existing inequality gap experienced by millions of people worldwide has persisted since past, unenlightened decades in which power was distributed in fundamentally unequal and unjust ways. Rampant institutionalized racism and unchecked capitalist greed have not only brought these social issues into existence, but continued them into the year 2011. This is why I became an anthropology major and why I have become involved in radical politics and activism in Philadelphia. Making a difference can happen on a person-to-person level.

Guaranteeing a better future starts by making sure all people have access to the services necessary for living healthy and productive lives. I am beyond excited to be working with Unite For Sight and would be grateful for your support of this organization's efforts to provide eye care to more patients living in extreme poverty. Over 1,200,000 people have already benefited from Unite For Sight, and over 46,000 people have been able to get sight-restoring surgeries. Any amount makes a difference in a person's life!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Funday Female Comedy

Recently someone I know went on the defensive after I asked for an apology for what I deemed inappropriate use of language about my body in a facebook comment about a cheesy picture I posted of myself in front of a tourist attraction in Europe. Among other things that were not apologies, he told me, "In any case, you used to have a sense of humor, I guess that's over now."

Sorry, dude. I still have a sense of humor. I just don't laugh at jokes that aren't funny.

But do you want to know who is funny? Nellie McKay. This is one of my favorite songs.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What's With Women and the Fall TV Line Up?

So... what is it? NBC's Playboy Club and ABC's Pan Am look eerily similar in aesthetic and content, minus one murder-coverup plot device. I don't have high expectations for these shows, but I'm interested in watching them to see how they both deal with the historical elements of the beginning of the feminist movement. I had a professor who worked as a flight attendant when she was younger and had written about the experiences of female flight attendants. Though not in the sixties, they were still subjected to being called "stewardesses" and having weight requirements.

Do TV-execs find it easier to cast a TV show with majority female characters when they can do so in the safe setting of the 1960s: an era of fraught racial and gender issues, but also a fashionable time that existed before our current state of political correctness and heightened sensitivity to diversity and social issues? People look at reality shows about the current Playboy Bunnies with pity because these women are depicted as dumb (and gross for hanging out with Hef so much), but putting bunny-costumed women in the 60s makes it glamorous again because straight up sexism is... glamorous.

A post on The Good Men Project (which was reposed on Jezebel) sums up some of my feelings:

But for all the feminism on TV, high quality dramas about women haven’t taken off. Women get plenty of meaty, complex roles in these top tier shows, but only as supporting characters in shows centered around men’s gender drama...

Other upcoming female-centered dramas that aim to get a chunk of the audience for quality dramas don’t look any more interesting. Pan Am, a drama about stewardesses in the ’60s, seems like it’s trying to be Mad Men without any of the smarts. The Playboy Club looks like it was created by people who are sick of the actresses on Mad Men getting away with wearing ordinary clothes that have zero animal tails stuck on their asses...

I blame the nation’s inability to deal directly with women engaged in complex, dramatic struggles that call gender roles into question. We are, after all, a country where people can go on TV and call Sarah Palin a feminist without choking on their own tongue. Perhaps the absurdities of being female in this modern era don’t lend themselves well to drama, but have to be approached sideways, through comedy. Women do very well heading up some of the best comedy on TV: 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, The Sarah Silverman Show.

In any case, I do want to watch Pan Am and The Playboy Club because even if the show's content is fluff (which it very well might be), I think it will be interesting to see how feminism is dealt with on the show. If it is done well and overtly, I think that would be great. If it's below-par, I think it will be just as indicative of the culture of the 1960s as it is to our current attitudes toward women.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gender, Socialization and Violence

Last week I started my classes, including "Personal Defense for Women." (By the way, I have been excited about this class for months and have mentioned it a lot, and nearly every time I mention it to a guy he says, "A whole semester of learning to kick guys in the balls?" and one of my friends told me, "Doesn't matter, I always wear a cup around you anyway.")

This class is being taught by two male police officers, one Captain and one Officer. In our first class we just talked. Well, mostly Captain Chapman talked. He's pretty funny. I'm looking forward to his insights over the semester. ("I don't ever want to hear 'I'm sorry' in this class! If you accidentally miss the dummy and punch me in the face, break my classes and cut my eye, good for you! If I hear, 'I'm sorry,' you're doing pushups!")

Aside from swearing a lot and doing a lot of hilarious imitations of girls talking on their cell phones at night, Captain Chapman read us 3 police reports from the last week. I had been aware of 2 of them, although only known details about one. (My university has a spotty record with giving out safety information.) In the past week in the surrounding area of my university (an urban campus), one young woman was raped at 4:30 in the morning, one student was treated for a rape kit after going to a club and waking up in her dorm with evidence that she had been date-raped, and one student was taken to SVU after sex with an acquaintance she was too drunk to consent to.

As the Captain explained, all three of these incidents had elements in them that could have been preventable. In the first, the woman left her boyfriend's apartment in a particularly bad part of the surrounding campus area at 4 in the morning because they had had a fight. Not walking alone at night is an important feature of safety not only for women but people in general. Her boyfriend, even though they did have a fight, could have told her to wait until morning or walked her home himself. The student who believed she had been date raped had left someone take her drink from her in the club and add ice to it. She didn't watch him, and after she got it back she started to feel fuzzy and had difficulty remembering her night. And the last example demonstrates a failure of "the buddy system." When you drink with your friends, you should be looking out for them, and if you sense your friend is too drunk, you should help them when it seems like they're making a choice they wouldn't make sober.

All of these are "common sense" tips I heard as a college freshman and probably throughout my entire life. Actually I remember my mom telling me to mind the buddy system at middle school dances, which probably sadly for some people, is an important safety tip. Captain Chapman explained that this class will be about giving us the skills to not only live and get away from a potentially unsafe situation, but have the mental tools to be able to recognize unsafe situations of all types and ergo, prevent a bad thing from happening.

What I found striking, as someone who is a feminist and has read a moderate amount about women's safety, rape culture, sexual assault and violence, is that male violence was accepted as a fact. And yes, to some degree it is a fact. Those three examples are three of many women who have been victims of male violence. But in the acceptance of some guys being "creepy motherfuckers" (love this class already), the brunt of violence prevention falls on individual women.

In June I posted a poster called, "Sexual Assault Prevention Tips," which unlike the majority of similarly titled things, was aimed at men. Preventative tips that women get ("don't drink from a beverage you left unattended") were flipped and written to be geared toward men ("don't put drugs in people's drinks in order to control their behavior.") This semester I'm also taking a class called "Violence: an Anthropological Approach" taught by Dr. Mindie Lazarus-Black, who is an expert in the field of domestic violence (as well as several other academic pursuits). On our first day of class we watched a film called Violence: An American Tradition (I believe this is available on youtube) which chronicled the very beginnings of American violence through history, and how media portrayals have affected American opinions on violence and violent criminal behavior.

I couldn't help but be reminded of the film Tough Guise, which I highlighted last semester. In Tough Guise, expert Jackson Katz talks about violence as being a problem closely linked with masculinity--as the majority of violent offenders are male, why aren't we looking at violence more often as a male problem? Only two of the violent criminals mentioned in Violence: An American Tradition were female. If statistically men are much more likely to be violent, we should be looking at how the way masculinity is influencing violence. This absolutely does not mean that all men are violent and all women are not. But if masculinity is constructed to favor violence and violent means, then we have a problem with masculinity. And while many (weirdos) are bemoaning the epidemic of sissy dudes and whatever, the fact remains that male violence, and male violence against women is still an incredible problem. I'm looking forward to both Personal Defense for Women and Violence: An Anthropological Approach this semester and hopefully will be able to draw some connections between the two as the semester goes on.

Advertising Fail: Maine Office of Substance Abuse

In case you can't see, this hungover stick figure is saying "Don't think we did anything."

The website it is linked to is the Maine Office of Substance Abuse page called "Party Smarter," which has non-gendered tips about safety.

Why the gendered advertising? Why only call out women? Men can do things they regret and feel shame about as well when they have been drinking. This advertisement is going to reinforce the idea that when women drink, their behavior (when sexual) is shameful. If there is no advertisement to men with a similar message, then they will continue to assume that male sexual behavior is always permissible, while women's sexual behavior (especially when under the influence) is open to scrutiny.

This of course brings up the idea of consent, and there are states where if either party is intoxicated during a hookup, either party (male or female... or male/male, female/female etc) can charge the person with sexual misconduct if they feel violated. However, as a legal drinker, I know that if I have like two beers over the course of the night, I'm completely lucid and can make decisions for myself. However, culture keeps telling me that my behavior while drunk, if it gets sexual, is a mistake.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Awkward. Episode 7 and 8

Episode 7: Over My Dead Body

Guidance counselor extraordinaire, Val, is the director of the school's anti-drunk driving play. And since Val is off her rocker, she casts Jenna in the role of "dead Stacey." (Tamara is super upset about this, she insists that the drama department has a conspiracy against her and won't cast her in anything.) Jenna is of course not jazzed about her stage debut, especially one that associates her with a dead girl. And to boot, her on-stage love interest is JAKE, who keeps trying to bring up their kiss and Jenna does not want to go there.

However, when Jenna tells Val that her parents don't want her to do Dead Stacey, Val goes straight to Jenna's parents and discovers that Jenna's mom played Dead Stacey in high school and "brought the house down." Darn it. Now Jenna's mom is excited for it. No way out!

Val grim-reapers half the school to symbolize dead teenagers (who wear face paint and can't talk). While Lissa silently watches Jake and Jenna practice being high school sweethearts, Jenna is trying desperately to change the script so that people start talking about her in a good way.
Meanwhile, now that Mattie knows Jake has kissed Jenna and is into her, all of a sudden he wants to talk to her. However, FINALLY, Jenna tells him he has to get his act together. No secret-Jenna relations.

Jenna's additions to the play include her BFF Tamara and her crush, Ricky, as hard-boozin' teens who cause the accident that creates Dead Stacey. And just as Jenna lays down to play dead, Jake confesses that the reason why he keeps bringing up their kiss is that he likes her. Bad timing, dude. As Val narrates the story, Tamara comes back on stage and, just like Jenna rewrote it, gives Jenna CPR (girl-on-girl YEAH) and all of a sudden the student body pays attention. And Dead Stacey/Jenna lives! Happy ending. And Jenna has changed the way people talk about her. (Although Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs comes to mind...)

Episode 8: The Adventures of Aunt Ally and the Lil' Bitch

So in this episode, Jenna's mom's nutso-BFF "Aunt" Ally comes to visit. As Jenna relates to Tamara, whenever Aunt Ally visits, Jenna ends up in child services. Since Ally and Jenna's mom (Lacey) are so concerned with Jenna's popularity (or as Ally calls Jenna, "Lil' Bitch"'s popularity), they offer to throw a party at the house. Jenna is vehemently against this although Tamara is practically peeing herself in the anticipation of "red cup pictures." But when Mattie finds out about the party (since Lacey and Ally hack Jenna's facebook) and calls to say he's coming, Jenna changes her tune. Maybe he'll finally realize that she's cool and like her?? !

This of course, is a disaster. The next day Jenna wakes up with no memory of the night before, and as she helps her mom and Ally clean the house, she pieces together what happened. Ally tells her she made out with someone... but who!?

Jake stops by to return the shirt Jenna lent him after she puked on him (she didn't remember), and tells her that they did not kiss, and Jenna gave him a lecture instead. Ouch. Although he confesses that it's unfair he's going after her and hasn't broken up with Lissa yet. Point! He also tells her to look for Mattie's hat. And then Jenna remembers... being all over Mattie and meanly (truthfully) asking him if he was keeping her on the DL because he thought he was better than her and if he was at her house just because he liked to party. Damn. Mattie, however, was not as wasted as Jenna (thanks Aunt Ally--she drugged Jenna. BTW this causes some tension between Ally and Lacey... as it should), and just leaves.

Voiceover Jenna opines, "My head was throbbing. And it wasn't just from excessive dehydration, it was from excessive humiliation."

All day long Jenna continued to leave Tamara freaking-out messages as she realizes more and more about what happened the night before, asking her to call back, but Tamara has ignored her. BUT THEN Ming (who was on "house arrest"--I'm still annoyed that the one Asian character on the show is being relegated to a stereotypical sideline role where she can't do anything but call Tamara and Jenna and wish her parents would let her take a study break) calls Jenna to ask about the crazy night and the pictures posted on her profile. And when Jenna checks... OH CRAP. She drunkenly/druggedly made out with RICKY! Her BFF's crush since forever!

So Jenna goes to Tamara's house with doughnuts to apologize, and Tamara takes the doughnuts and slams the door in Jenna's face a few times, and then tells her, "Jenna, wake up! [Mattie is] just using you for sex! And you know what else, I'm so glad I wrote you that letter. You're dead to me, Jenna."

WHAT!? Tamara wrote the cruel letter to Jenna begging her to be less of a loser??! Jenna flashes back to the typed signature: "A Friend."

Oh, my god!! Okay, so we have several lessons in this episode:

1.) Omg, teenagers don't know how to drink, but also don't mix alcohol and pills! Bad blackout things happen. If you blackout once, by the way, you're much more likely to do it again. If you have ever had the experience of waking up and realizing that you blacked out the night before, it is not a pleasant one, even if nothing bad (other than the loss of brain cells) happened. If you have not had this experience, AVOID! Save your brain! Also, know your limits. And drink legally.

2.) Don't make out with your friends' crushes and stuff. Jenna's drugged out state absolves her of some of her guilt, but really, "sisters before misters," girls. It is much more likely that your female friends will last longer than some dude you made out with at a party. FO REAL. Not worth it!

3.) Don't write your friends mean letters! What!? Just don't do it... even if it inspires them to have these soul-searching TV-episode worthy story arcs about the quest to become cool... don't do it. That's not good friend behavior! That's Mean Girls stuff, and that belongs in that movie and that movie alone.

Activism Abroad

Hello, bloggy-world!

I know some of you who read this, but the majority of you are strangers and don't know me outside of what I write on this blog. This year I'm completing my undergraduate education and am majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Women's Studies and Spanish. While I love the theory-end of things and really enjoy academic reading a writing (honestly, I am a huge nerd), I'm also very interested in global development and grassroots activism. I don't know where that will take me post-graduation, but right now I'm preparing to go to Tegucigalpa, Honduras as a Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow over my winter break in 2011-2012.

As a Global Impact Fellow, I'm going to be working in Clínica ZOE, which is partnered with Unite For Sight. For the last 11 years, Unite For Sight has provided the manpower (volunteers like me) and funding (donators like you) to existing eye clinics in Honduras, India, and Ghana. I will be working with local doctors and volunteers to help provide free eye care to some of the poorest people in the world. Since 2000, Unite For Sight has sponsored 44,466 sight-restoring surgeries (for things like cataracts) and provided 1,200,000 patients with high-quality, free eye care for everything from eye exams to glasses. And since 2000, 7,900 Global Impact Fellows have been trained and volunteered abroad to help provide these services.

In my preparations to go to Honduras, I am also raising money for Unite For Sight.
100% of your donations go toward providing impoverished patients with eye care! None of it goes to administrative fees. All of it is toward making a difference in people's lives.

There are 36 million people in the world who are needlessly blind--a surgery for cataracts costs on average $50. Five surgeries is $250. For people living in extreme poverty, the difference a surgery can make is instrumental to their ability to survive and provide for their families. So please, consider donating to Unite For Sight. Giving the gift of sight? You're like a modern-day Jesus! Kidding, but it is really great how relatively easy it is to improve someone's sight!

All the donations on my fundraising page go directly to Unite For Sight-- I don't handle them. Any donation you make will help narrow the inequality gap that prevents millions of people from being able to afford quality health care. Thank you for your consideration, and the fundraising page as well as Unite For Sight website has more information about what your donation goes toward: restoring sight and hope to people worldwide.

Thank you,


Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: Live Nude Girls Unite!

In honor of Labor Day, and this badass movie, I'm going review Live Nude Girls Unite!

In the 1990s, San Francisco's Lusty Lady Lounge was widely regarded as a feminist strip club. Compared to other clubs where dancers had to pay stage fees and had unsafe working conditions, the dancers at the Lusty Lady were in much better shape. However, the working conditions were not perfect, and a racial privileging system initiated a petition to create equal opportunities for the club's dancers of color. When the dancers realize that some men are bringing covert video cameras into the club to secretly tape them, they take up their complaints to the management and then to the Service Employees International Union. Then the dancers decide to unionize, and the film is about their struggles against the "feminist" management of the Lusty Lady to create a contract that worked for everyone and provided better working conditions.

The film focuses on dancer and comedian Julia Query, who is the daughter of a prominent feminist activist. While Julia is working to unionize the strippers, her mother, Dr. Joyce Wallace is working across the country in New York to bring awareness to prostitutes with AIDS. She feels that women in the sex industry enter it out of desperation, while her daughter has drastically different opinions. Eventually Julia has to tell her mother about her job and her unionization efforts when they are both invited to speak at the same conference.

What I really like about this documentary is the normalizing factor. Sex work is and should be included in the "service industry" heading, and I think for a lot of people, watching a movie about educated, normal, hard-working women who are unionizing their workplace... which happens to be a strip club will help show that sex work is not something that has to be inherently exploitative or anti-woman. The Lusty Lady was the first unionized strip club, and their story has inspired other sex workers across the country to unionize as well. And this is what Labor Day is about!

Labor Day Links

5 Things to Do on Labor Day (That Actually have to do with Labor)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday Beyoncé!

30 and fabulous! And going to be a mom!! My friends and I will definitely be planning our own Beyoncé baby shower soon. Her performance at the VMAs this year was fantastic (Beyoncé - Love On Top (Live): Beyoncé performs "Love On Top" live at the 2011 VMAs.) but I'm old school so I'm plugging Destiny's Child because those are still my favorite Beyoncé days.

Sunday Funday Female Comedy