Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Celebrity Hilarity

I love Kristen Bell and I cannot wait for the rest of this interview to air today at 4. I have class... but you know that as soon as I get out at 4:50 I will be looking for this online.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Feminist Kitchen: Baked Potato Potluck

Feminist Kitchen is a series trying to break down that perception that feminists can't/don't cook. We need to eat to fight the patriarchy, fools.

My friends are mad into lifestyle bloggers, which I don't get, but I'm not usually into reading about stranger's babies and thrifted tables and stuff. ANYWAY, even though I don't understand lifestyle blogs, I do appreciate the recipes they put out. So this weekend my friends did the Baked Potato Bar from Joanna Goddard's blog, which was awesome.

This is literally the easiest potluck ever to do. All you need are potatoes and toppings. REALLY. There is no way to screw this up.
If you are a normal person, much of your life revolves around food. And if you have awesome friends, they probably want to eat all the time and hang out while doing it. So we were all pretty excited about this baked potato idea because baked potatoes are DELICIOUS and the idea of a toppingspalooza delighted us.

Chosen toppings: onions, avocado, beans, havarti cheese, sour cream

This is my friend Julie's potato. She made hers a lot prettier than I made mine.

Then we hung out with meat pillows.

Baked potatoes can be baked in the oven for 40 minutes at 350 degrees OR done in the microwave for 10 minutes.

Toppings can literally be anything. There are suggestions on Joanna's blog, but the ones we had were refried black beans, black beans, onions, cheddar cheese, havarti cheese, carrots, avocado, sour cream, garlic, mac and cheese, and the most exotic of all.... butter.

It was a grand ole time and makes for a super easy and fun potluck, and everyone likes to hang out and eat, so go forth and potato bar!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Behind the Scenes of Girls

Tiny Furniture was possibly one of the scariest movies I have ever seen because I am afraid of the/my future and it just made me very anxious. That being said, I really liked it and it had a lot of truth to it, and it was pretty funny. A lot of my friends have said the same.

SO Lena Dunham has teamed up with Judd Apatow and has made this show called Girls for HBO which is set to premiere in April. I am kind of anticipating some class issues--it's a show about three white girls in their early 20s living in New York City kind of struggling socially/emotionally/economically, so to say that this is a departure from existing television (it kind of is), is pretty sad. We have a ways to go to have some diverse and representative television. However, I have a lot of faith in Lena Dunham, and I know that I'll probably relate to it and like it because I'm white and in my early twenties and educated and kind of self-absorbed.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Check out this album of songs for women's suffrage. If you are like me and sometimes sit alone in your room and listen to "Solidarity Forever" and Ani Difranco's "Which Side Are You On?" on repeat, you will enjoy these.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any of the songs on youtube to embed them, so you have to go to this page or check out Songs of the Suffragettes on iTunes.

First Wave history is literally what I learned to read on and since getting older and learning about the darker side of the suffrage movement have not been so jazzed about reading about it, but I find these songs delightful.

On a related note, the Hairpin recently posted an article about an old book of satirical suffrage poetry, which is well worth a look at. For example, there is this excellent piece on pockets:

Why We Oppose Pockets for Women
1. Because pockets are not a natural right.

2. Because the great majority of women do not want pockets. If they did they would have them.

3. Because whenever women have had pockets they have not used them.

4. Because women are required to carry enough things as it is, without the additional burden of pockets.

5. Because it would make dissension between husband and wife as to whose pockets were to be filled.

6. Because it would destroy man's chivalry toward woman, if he did not have to carry all her things in his pockets.

7. Because men are men, and women are women. We must not fly in the face of nature.

8. Because pockets have been used by men to carry tobacco, pipes, whiskey flasks, chewing gum and compromising letters. We see no reason to suppose that women would use them more wisely.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rebranding Girls

One of the several feminist pages I "like" on facebook posted this great article this morning called The Case for Girls, which is a couple months old now but worth sharing anyway.

Ultimately what article author Anya Kamenetz concludes with is that there are a whole host of reasons why female children continue to be "unwanted" in the world. Dissecting these reasons is not the focus of her article, and there are lots of other places you can go to read up on why, but she proposes kind of focusing on what can be done to change that point of view.

In the academic disciplines I study we talk a lot about inequality and the reasons/roots behind it. Changing the stuff that sucks not only requires a cultural shift to something else, but also understanding why we have this crap in the first place. So I thought Kamenetz's article was really interesting because I've read a lot about the phenomena of "missing" women and unwanted baby girls and the devalorization of female children, but other than hard facts like development dollars invested in women tending to have a higher return rate, there's not a lot of talk about how to get there. So at the end of the article there is a link to a slideshow of images created by ad agencies "rebranding" girls, attempting to make the idea of having a girl child more attractive. The results are bittersweetly awesome, since these we honestly need people to be more interested in female children.

(by the Cramer-Krasselt agency. Check out their website for this campaign at Hope It's a Girl)

The ads themselves are fantastic, but some have websites where you can go for more. CHECK IT OUT!

Feminist Rapper Friday: Ana Tijoux

I took a break from doing FRFs but I just found Ana Tijoux and am so excited about her that I have to share!

Ana Tijoux is a Chilean rapper (sorry, English speakers) who I just discovered via iTune's free canción de la semana. Shock is great, it's ... so relevant, in the US too, and the rest of her stuff that I've looked up is great as well. Click here for a rough translation of the lyrics of Shock.

Thursday, January 26, 2012



Okay, now that my love-rave is out of the way, I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in my 3-days of winter break and it was pretty good. I read the book while I was in Honduras and really liked it, and in my opinion the movie was a little too fast, but the movie opens with this crazy CGI stuff and also this song and it is awesome. I love the original by Led Zeppelin, but I love a good cover, especially when a badass lady does it. Yeah, women rock!

Queer Theory, Drag on Film, and Macho Queens

[These are excerpts from a paper I wrote last semester... Yes, I do frequently write about movies and drag queens, my undergrad experience is awesome.]

Casting a movie involves incredibly conscious decisions about actors, decisions that can be heavily influenced by politics and economics. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995) are two films that since their release have attained a cultural “classic” status as movies about friendship and drag queens. At a very basic level of analysis, both films are important for featuring elements of queer theory in the plot, and refigure how audiences think and talk about gender, sexuality, and expression. Both of these films are also significant because the lead actors, who play drag queens, are all well-established actors who are known for more traditionally macho roles, mostly in action movies.

(Begin at 1:12)
“I did it not so much because I have a thriving, burning passion to be in a dress, but because nobody would expect me to do it. Frankly, I’m a little concerned about me being perceived as just an action guy."
-Wesley Snipes

“The process of trying to turn macho Patrick into a woman was a little scary. It was interesting to go from a narrow minded, limited heterosexual point of view into a much more open-minded point of view”
-Patrick Swayze
At this level, both Priscilla and To Wong Foo are important films for those interested in queer theory for two reasons. The first is because the movies’ use of macho actors to play drag queens both challenges hegemonic masculinity and gender roles by showing that ideas of traditional gender performance and subversive gender performance are linked through performance. Additionally, at a meta-level, the use of traditionally masculine actors in roles playing drag queens is a conservative choice because audiences are expected to be aware of the actors’ filmographies and that their roles as drag queens are a cinematic departure with grand comedic value. How these films relate beyond the text of the film to queer theory is significant in the development of queer narratives in mainstream film.

Writer and director of Priscilla, Stephen Elliott, called the casting choices in the movie a “surprise element” and told Terrance Stamp, who played the transsexual character Bernadette that he was perfect for the part “Because nobody would ever think of you doing this."
Drag performance is about bending expectations regarding gender, and relies heavily on the camp of exaggeration. Additionally, drag confronts certain cultural norms and stereotypes, and plays with them in spite of the fact that much of the stereotypes about gay men come from society's devalorization of femininity. Regarding Judith Butler’s scholarship on gender performance, drag is a subversive text that challenges the way we perceive gender and who can embody or “perform” it. Priscilla is much more focused on the actual performance of drag, while To Wong Foo looks at drag queens magically passing as women in small-town America. Breaking conventions by using macho actors made the films more accessible to a wider audience, and at a deeper level, critiqued the idea that gender and gender performance is fixed.

Much of the comedy in To Wong Foo and to a lesser degree in Priscilla relies on the audience’s knowledge of the drag queens’ actual identities as men, both in the film and as actors. In To Wong Foo, Vida, Noxeema, and Chi Chi arrive at a small-town motel during their cross-country adventure and are immediately ushered into a women’s basketball convention, where biological women who match their height and stature surround them. Following this, Noxeema joins the women in a pick-up basketball game, where she aggressively scores a point. The comedy of this scene is reliant on the audience being “in” on the joke that Vida, Noxeema, and Chi Chi are certainly not women’s basketball players, but also that Wesley Snipes is more often seen in more athletic roles. CHECK THE CLIP.
(Start at 9:55)

Priscilla ultimately has the more progressive view on sexuality and expression. While the drag queen characters in To Wong Foo remain mostly chaste, in Priscilla, not only does Tick (Hugo Weaving) have a son and ex-wife but Bernadette (Terrance Stamp) also begins a romantic relationship with a man. Swayze addressed this difference frankly by saying, “Look, you [put] sex… in a drag queen movie and you’re gonna alienate 98 percent of your audience”. And even though Priscilla is more open about the character’s sex lives, Bernadette’s relationship with Bob is more referenced to than shown outright, and Tick’s developing relationship with his son is something that ultimately appeals to conventional family values.

To Wong Foo and Priscilla represent two very important texts about drag. First, their popularity has secured them canonical status in LGBT film. What’s more, the drag queen characters are actually gay characters, and not straight men wearing drag to escape from the law—a popular trope in film about cross-dressing. But most importantly, they are interesting films for thinking about the boundaries of gendered performance and how politics and economics influence art. Had actual drag queens been cast in the roles of Felicia, Mitzi, Bernadette, Vida, Chi Chi and Noxeema, the two movies would have been undoubtedly very different. The use of well-known macho actors and comedians adds to the films’ marketability, however it also functions to critique how fixed gender and gender performance is thought to be in greater society. Although both films make use of stereotypes that detract from the messages of the films, ultimately the two movies succeed in being very mainstream introductory texts on gender and queer theory.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


So this is a video by a group called Bad Lip Reading, which takes political figures and music videos and figures out what they could be saying. This one is called "Black Umbrella" and it's to Miley Cyrus' video for "Party in the USA." It is a hilarious song for many reasons, the first being that much of the bad lip reading turns into strings of awesome nonsense ("I've got a plasma sword and I'm ready to crank it"). Also... not paying attention to the lyrics, it just sounds like a skanky club hit, which I love. Am I listening to the song right now? Yes. Have I been listening to it on repeat for the past week and been dancing badly to it in my room? Yep.

This one is also pretty great, it's to Taylor Swift's video for "Our Song," and the contrast between the lyrics for the bad lip reading version and what "Our Song" is about is beautiful. "Get the Red Bull flowin' through my veins" is not a real Tay-Swift lyric. Hilarious.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Get On Your Feet

I listen to this song almost every day so that I feel jazzed for the day like I imagine Leslie Knope would.

Blah blah, I've been absent from blogging. Sorry. Since getting back from Honduras, nothing major has happened other than I don't see machine guns every two minutes. And um... I bought a pair of Toms, which you would think considering my political views and age I'd be swimming in pairs of those androgynous nun charity shoes by now, but they were actually my first pair. Other than that... not much. My classes have started (which is exciting because I'm a second semester senior) and I am almost finished unpacking from winter break. Not that I had a lot of stuff to unpack... I just didn't/don't want to do it.

Shoes for celibate liberal people

So while I (finally) figure out upcoming material, here is a long belated review of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.
Okay... so I freaking loved this book. I read it back in November, even though I bought it and then decided that I would leave it until I had finished exams or papers or something, but I lied to myself and read it almost right away and within a 24 hour period. It is hilarious and has a really conversational feel, so I felt like I was actually sitting with Mindy Kaling having her tell me funny stories about imitating Monty Python sketches and giving me karaoke tips. I love it when I feel like celebrities could be my friends if circumstances were different, because even though this is a weird symptom of American celebrity culture, I like that closeness I feel with famous people I've never met. It's easy to read, is really funny, and is really a great, positive book. I love how much she talked about how her female friendships were important to her because my female friendships have been really important to me too, and I feel like that is something that people don't talk about enough, and ultimately I just want everything to relate to me all the time.

I also listened to the audiobook with my mom and sister on a long car ride and that is great as well. I highly recommend it, it's a grand ole time of a book, you will enjoy yourself.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Dolly Parton!

Dolly Parton is the BEST.

On a related note, I want to see Joyful Noise so badly.

On another note, someday I will get to posting things other than youtube videos and celebrity birthday wishes... someday...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Attention Portland (Maine) Feminists!

Longfellow Books (in Monument Square) may as well be a feminist bookstore. I went there today to leave some used books and then was perusing their used section... it's like all feminist books! It's awesome! And there are just a ton of lady-centric and LGBT-related books all over the store, it's so cool! Barnes and Noble stores usually have some measly shelf and a half for women's studies and LGBT books, so feminists of Portland (Maine), go forth and buy local!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Closing Thoughts about Honduras

Tomorrow is my last full day in Honduras! I am flying home on Tuesday, and even though I want to peel back my fingernails as punishment for typing the following cliché phrase, I can't believe the past 3 weeks have gone by so fast!

Other than studying abroad in Ecuador, this is the longest period of time I've been outside of the US. I feel like my experiences in other countries are not incredibly typical, as my much more touristic and shorter travels have been to European countries, while the more substantial foreign travelling I've done is to Latin America. Coincidentally, I think I feel a lot more comfortable traveling in Latin America (speaking Spanish helps), but I really do think I prefer spending time abroad in Latin America than in Europe.

Speaking of my love of Latin America... I am applying to work here in Honduras. While in la Unión, we met some Americans, one of whom who is a teacher for Vida Abundante and recruits Americans to teach in Vida Abundante bilingual schools. I really do like Honduras, and I think that working in one of Vida Abundante's schools (which serve mostly kids on scholarship) would be really cool. Living here is certainly not easy, but these are the things I enjoy. So... maybe?

Anyway, here are a few observations I've made in the past 3 weeks:

-Taxi drivers seldom know where you are going. I don't think this is a problem of language barrier, because I am fairly confident in my Spanish abilities and I acknowledge the times when I am flailing. But you always have to check with the driver that he knows where you are talking about before you get in, but even sometimes you'll get in and he'll immediately call someone and start asking questions. Other times, I have given very clear directions to drivers. I know that driving is not easy in Tegus, but isn't it embarrassing to get directions from a gringa?

-On the other hand, I kind of love haggling with taxi drivers because I think it really is a matter of pretending that you know what you're talking about. All taxi drivers quote prices that are too high, so haggling gets you to a "fair" price. Here I feel like a really good Spanish speaker because half of sounding fluent is getting the inflection. When the driver quotes one price, you immediately must quote something significantly lower, but in a whiny voice and say "Por faVOR." or make a comment about the shortness of the ride or the lack of traffic, also in a whiny voice. I am really good at haggling with taxi drivers because I'm good at convincing them that I know what I am doing, so I often get prices that are a lot lower than what I was expecting.

-Tegus... not a tourist destination. I know I said this before, but it's really not. Other than Unite For Sight Volunteers, I think my American count over the past 3 weeks is up to 16. Seriously, I have seen 16 other Americans since being here. Additionally, the "sights" in Tegus are scant, and museums are often closed. How do they make enough money to stay open?? After going to el Museo de la Identidad Nacional THREE TIMES and finding it closed due to one reason or another, I finally went back with Jessalyn today and apparently the fourth time is the charm. It was open. There were 5 other people in the museum, but it was fully staffed. We were only there for the last hour and a half, and the museum people told us 20 minutes before closing that it was shutting down. Okay... whatever.
por fin!

-Honduran food is freaking delicious. The staples are meat, beans, eggs, and tortillas. Avocado, plantains, cheese, and rice also feature prominently in the Honduran diet. These things (minus the meat part... and real eggs... ) are all basically what I eat all the time in the US. Basically I am destined to live in Latin America, right? Honduras also has some of my favorite things like horchata, baleadas, and pupusas. It's simple stuff, but the combinations are always really good, and seasoning is really good too. Yum yum yum, I'm so glad Portland has Tu Casa but I need to work on finding some good Central American restaurants in Philadelphia. Or learning to cook it myself.

-One of the more striking things about Honduras is how much need for development there is. Ecuador is, I think, classified as a "developing economy." It is not the worst off, although a high percentage of the country (especially the indigenous population) lives in poverty. However, Honduras is the poorest country in Central America. About 53% of the population in Honduras is rural, and 75% of the rural population lives below the poverty line. Although I saw some poverty in Ecuador, it is almost immediately clear that Honduras has a lot more to deal with. Honduras is #121 out of 187 in the UN's 2011 Human Development Index. That doesn't mean that there aren't rich people in Honduras--there are. I've seen some pretty radical extremes here, but fortunately it seems as though there are a lot of Hondurans really invested in service and charity and making sure that development continues.

-A lot of people assume that Americans don't speak Spanish or don't speak it very well. I cannot imagine coming to Latin America and not knowing Spanish. It just would not be easy. (Unless you were doing some sort of package tourism thing...) But it baffles me because that must of course mean that there are Americans who come here and can't speak Spanish and just flounder. It's hard enough to communicate and I can speak Spanish!

-If I am not assumed to be American, I am assumed to be German. I have cracked up a few Hondurans when they ask if I am German and then respond by saying that I am not tall enough to be German. They think that is hilarious. It is also true.

-Hondurans don't really joke. If they say something kind of mean but are laughing about it... They mean it. Sarcasm does not exist here.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Brigada to la Unión

On Tuesday we made the 6 hour drive from Tegus to La Unión, which is west and north of Tegus. The last hour and a half is all dirt road, and in the back of the land rover... I might have lost some brain cells. It was pretty bouncy.

There is a lot of need in La Unión, which is pretty far away from any major city like Comayagua, San Pedro Sula or Tegus. The principal export in the west in general is coffee, and la Unión is a big coffee town. I have never had coffee better than in la Unión, and I recommend you try some. (Buy online!) We worked out of one of Vida Abundante's satellite churches, which had a clinic in the town where we set up the optometry brigada. The first day we processed around 70 and people and the second day about 90. There probably would have been more people, but this is both coffee harvesting season and it happened to be really rainy and that made it difficult for people to walk to the clinic (some people walked a long way to get there).

We actually saw a few cases of congenital cataracts in kids who were about 10 years old, which was really sad because I did their VA tests and they really cannot see, but also great because they're prepping to get surgery in Tegus. And then they will see! It was a great brigada, and we drove back on Friday.

Pictures from the week:

Monday, January 2, 2012

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Saturday afternoon I went with Celeste and her family to her dad's house in Tegus for lunch. New Year's is kind of a big deal in Honduras, and tends to be a family centered thing. The only American New Year's traditions I can think of are the Times Square broadcast and alcohol, so it's pretty different here.

As I said earlier, Celeste has three young children, Samuel (10), Sara (7), and Josué (4). They are quite the balls of energy. I am much more used to kids above the age of ten and usually teenagers, so this was quite different. After a game of Uno got someone a little pouty (I know, Uno.), so I brought out my 4 years of camp counselor experience and taught "Wa!", "Honey, if you love me..." (which in Spanish is, "Querid@, si me ames, por favor sonrie."/"Querid@, yo te amo, pero no puedo sonreir."), and "Shh, Dung, Bdjt." Explaining rules for games I'm translating in my head is kind of a stretch of my Spanish abilities.

After lunch, I went to Celeste's house, which is about 30 minutes outside Tegus. I watched High School Musical 3 dubbed in Spanish with Samuel, Sara and Josué, and in the evening we went to her sister-in-law's house, which is behind their house. Actually, all houses around Celeste's house are family, which is kind of cool because there are so many kids and they all appear to be really close. I hung out with her very large extended family and played games and had 10 different women encouraging me to eat more (okay). At midnight we set off firecrackers and put on carnival masks and beads. In the morning we went over again for leftovers, and I got back to Tegus around 7PM. Fun weekend!

The new volunteers have arrived, which is really exciting! Actually, I spent relatively little time alone, so it was not a big deal. Today was a holiday so we got to know each other by going to Parque Picacho (which is really nice and famous for the giant Christ statue that looks over the city) and walking around the city center.

Tegus from Picacho

Christo de Picacho

It's big, yo.

Tomorrow we are going on a brigada to the west until Friday! Exciting! Victor said it's very different from Choluteca. We're going to a small town and will be staying at a church, and also there's a different accent, so that may or may not be difficult...