go back to part two
The rest of the entries are kind of a grab-bag; I've divided them into more or less short categories, in no particular order:
Geeky Mom explains Why I Work
Before I was married, I never questioned whether I would work or not. I knew a couple of women from both high school and college whose goal was to marry, have kids and stay at home, but for most of the women I knew, the question of whether to stay home or work didn't arise until after kids came along. For me, the question didn't arise until pretty recently. When our first kid came along, I was our only income, so there was no question about whether I would work or not. I had to. I had a pretty heated argument with someone who suggested I was shortchanging our son by returning to work. I remember nearly shouting, "Well, who's going to pay for our food and shelter if I don't work!" I was pretty steamed. In hindsight, it wasn't that I felt my adversary was right, but that I resented the dilemma in the first place...
ericacbarnett, who is Sick of Your Insane Demands, takes a critical look at a recent WaPo editorial by Carrie Lukas, noting that 77 Cents Is No Bargain:
...If US employers had to provide flexible working arrangements, pay for maternity leave, and keep women's jobs open while they're out taking care of their babies, women like Lukas wouldn't have to "opt" to make less money....These are structural flaws in our economic system, not choices--women "choose" "fulfillment" because the alternative--putting the kid in day care and going back to work immediately after childbirth or risk losing your job--is so unappealing.
...And personally, I would consider plenty of the jobs women disproportionately take pretty dirty, dangerous, and depressing: Jobs like day care worker, nurse, cafeteria cook, maid, home health care worker...
On a related note, Girl With Pen, aka Deborah Siegel, implores, Please, Leslie Bennetts, Tell Me I'm Wrong:
...I excitedly started reading [Bennetts'] book, The Feminine Mistake -- how can anyone who has written about Betty Friedan pass up a book with such a title? But the prologue itself gives me pause. Not for the reasons expressed by the "stay at home brigade," as Bennetts calls them in her retort on HuffPost to the barrage of opening critiques she's received from SAHMs, but on behalf of my generation.
Well-intentioned and heartfelt, Bennett's writing nevertheless positions younger women as in need of cautionary tales. Some of us, no doubt, do, and Feminine Mistake is full of important information about what happens when opt-out wives get left. But many others of us clamor instead for tales of workplaces that have realized women (AND men) have families. Where are the cautionary tales aimed at corporations about how bottom lines suffer when they fail to retain their women? Or the cautionary tales aimed at young husbands about how miserable they'll be if they opt out of time at home with the kids?
Octagalore of Astarte's Circus looks back from her current vantage point of "white collar worker" to her interlude as a stripper in "Tits, Torts, and Narcissism:"
What was my demographic? Typically, guys in their 40s-50s. They couldn’t be younger because I needed CEOs, VPs or partners in profitable firms. 2 years and out, was the goal. Also, I wanted them to feel lucky. Typically, they were somewhat out of shape. They’d usually be in fields in which they were working 50-70 hour weeks. Not much time to work out...
So, NOT the kind of “menz” who I’d want to gimme some sugar IRL. Nor feeding my narcissism – they didn’t want ME. They wanted a character. It was flattering to be able to come up with the character, to some degree. But more from the standpoint of artifice – solving a problem. The kind of kicks and giggles that come from any job well done – stripping, computer programming, teaching a class, making a placement. I didn’t respect anyone who could be fooled, even by me. The resulting attention wasn’t anything to take to the ego bank, but the cash fit nicely at B of A...
Renegade Evolution levels with us even further about "the biz:" "Okay, so, you want some truth, do you?"
Being involved in sex work, any variety really, most certainly affects you socially. Personally, this is where I’ve noticed the negative most often, most severely, and yeah, most painfully.
...People who hardly know you will ask flat out if you have been raped or molested, as well as asking how old you were when you lost your virginity, what your sexual orientation is, if you’re a drop out, on drugs, or if you have a significant other and how they “let” you do that…
You will also note that once in this business, people you assumed to be friends and such are suddenly embarrassed by your very presence and you become something else they gossip about and speculate on when you are not around.
And guess what? These are all things I tell women who are pondering getting into this business.
La Guerrillere broadcasts Dispatches from Planet Femina: Take This Job and Shove It:
You know that part of the fairy tale, where the heroine is tempted by the lure of fairy gold or great magical powers, not realizing the price that such riches exact? Like in "Goblin Market," when Laura eats the goblin fruit despite Lizzie's warnings. I think that sums up my time spent in the bizzaro-world of high class spas.
Parenting (i.e. Work, continued)
Rootietoot and Northern Girl have a new blog and manifesto, Omega Women Untie! From the opening call to arms:
Alpha Moms and Other Overachievers, you can have your SUV’s and androgenously named children and Blackberries. You can blow your Talbot’s wardrobe out your tight little Pilates ass. Take your charts and schedules and personal chefs and Go….A….Way.
We, the Omega Women, will rejoice in our crock pot meals, our stained and wrinkled clothing, and our joyful and spontaneous approach to life. We reject that Alpha philosophy of Junior High that says you have to be perfect to be worthy, and will debrief our husbands whenever we want.
At Bastante Already!, Kim raises and streams her consciousness about work, and parenting, and growing up, and by the way, Please Put Your Pants On:
I've earned a few stripes by now; I'm wisening into a crusty old sage.
I've tripped around edges, got wrapped in electric fence.
I'd like to say it made me stronger, but I'm not yet convinced it won't kill me.
It has made me stronger, hasn't it?
But it's compromised my tolerance.
Makes me want to yell at the world to grow the fuck up already.
Get of your ass already and I don't give a RAT'S ASS about your fucking "Me Time!"
You know what I got though?
As cliched as it sounds?
I finally have a love for my child that is so strong I miss her when I'm away from her for mere hours.
I have, for real and for true, a deepening relationship with an almost eight-year old girl who I think will trust me when she needs someone to trust.
I got this crazy, happy little funny little sometimes FUSSY little thing at home with me every Could Be Much LonliER Night....
kactus, aka Super Babymama asks, rhetorically, What's in a Name?
Lemme ask my brother, who for some reasons, almost 11 years after she was born, still cannot/will not pronounce my baby's name right.
...Of course, he doesn't mispronounce his other nieces' and nephews' names. Not Luke, not Dan, not Elizabeth, not Katherine. Just the little non-white one's name.
But you know, it's such bad manners to point out somebody's unconscious or passive aggressive racism. I'm supposed to shut my mouth every time he mangles my girl's name, cuz if I call him a racist fuck I'm just being a bitch, which is the worst thing a woman can be...
Mandy at How About Now? isn't sure this whole parenting deal is for her at all:
I strongly suspect I’m not really fit to be a parent – I’d rather make great art than a great person (I think). I also don’t believe in an ideal childhood, and I actually hope I can settle for average in that field instead of frustrating myself by reaching for the unattainable. Everyone I know is, to some extent, fucked up by their parents. Not that they were beaten with coat hangers or burned with curling irons or molested in the kitchen while the rest of the family sat down to Sunday dinner, but that no matter how much love we receive, it’s never the amount we desire...
Thelma T of Saying Yes has some wise words on The Gift of Frustration:
One thing I am trying to teach my children, instill in my children, is that it is okay to be frustrated. It is okay to not know what you want to do, to not like how what you are doing is going, to not be entertained 100% of the time. My imagination is one of my best friends and I am not sure it would be what it is if I hadn’t had time to fill, myself to entertain, things to figure out.
...I have seen over and over again, parents who are cruise directors with activities lined up one after the other for the moment the child shows the least bit of boredom. I’m not talking about just having ideas at hand, but rather having the whole kit ready only to be followed by another and another. I have had children over at my house who wait for the next activity, who sit there with blank faces wondering what it is they are to do now. I want to yell, “GO PLAY! GO INVENT SOMETHING!!!” but apparently they don’t know how! They’ve never had the time to realize they can save themselves from their own boredom, their own frustration...
Body Image and Appearance
Scorpiogrrl rants about leg shaving:
...If I am to shave again, it will bloody well be on MY terms, and FUCK whatever anyone else thinks about the hairy state of my legs.
He went on: "But don't you prefer the feel of freshly shaved legs".
I replied: "Actually I like the feel when they're hairy."
(It's true, I do. I like stroking them. I was, in fact, admiring the hair for quite a while yesterday.)
...So, Paul - and other males who may think to ask women who don't shave if they prefer the feeling of shaved legs and whatnot - Don't YOU prefer to feel your legs after they've just shaved?
No - you don't shave your legs?
But, it feels so nice to have shaved legs!
Why don't you shave YOUR legs?
mammamayhem of girl-mom threw out her "skinny pants"
I can love myself and I can love my body and being a curvy beautiful woman says “fuck you!” to the society telling me I have to be different than I am. I feel like I let go of so much when I bagged up those jeans, and took them straight out to the dumpster. I’m going to buy myself some new pants, and new swimwear. Summer is coming if this snow ever stops, and for the first time in my life I feel ready for the beach.
Nikki P. of Expressions of Herstory is also feeling good about letting go: Nappy Tale
So I'm loving my natural hair more and more everyday. Yeah, I said it I'm loving my hair. Did I love it when I first cut it? In honesty, NO! I didn't know how to manage my natural hair because I had been managing straight and relaxed hair most of my life. I was frustrated and thinking maybe I had lost my mind. I was even a bit self-conscious about my new look. Do they think I look like a boy? Why are people asking about my sexual orientation? They didn't ask me questions when I had straight long hair. Do the brothas think I'm too much too handle?...
Ms. Heathen at Behold, I Ensmarten You! has hair on her mind, too:
I hate explaining to the stylist exactly what I want done and then hearing one of three things:
"What does your boyfriend think of cutting it this short?"
"If we leave it long here it will look much more feminine."
or "I'm not sure that will compliment the shape of your face."
Sigh. It's not my boyfriend's hair, why do they ask that? Nobody has ever asked him if he has my permission to get a buzz cut, but somehow everyone thinks he owns my hair. Whiskey tango foxtrot?
...If I were concerned about how feminine I looked, I would have spent hours trying to rescue the hair instead of minutes with a pair of scissors. Femininity warred with comfort and comfort won.
Meanwhile, over at Screw Bronze!, Elizabeth has a different perspective on femininity and comfort: "I seek kink fashion skirts, someone to tongue so I feel "normal" plus a bottle of Valium"
...I have been pushed out of normal, passed some sort of veil of “fitting in” and it is more than just the wheelchair. More than so much pain every day I take different pills because the ones that work give toxic tremors after 4 days. Then there is passing out in the chair and hitting my head, bleeding or trying to walk two nights ago three feet unassisted and falling and screwing up my leg and foot. Or yesterday, getting my hair dyed, having five people to shampoo my hair, two for rinsing the color, two to hold up my head and shoulder weight, one to keep the oxygen mask pressed to my face. That, for me, that’s normal...
So maybe I am wondering if I haven’t been wasting my years if I could have been transforming lives by showing a bit more cleavage or whether these days making out and sticking my tongue in someone’s mouth because they make me feel “normal” for 10 or 15 minutes is such a bad thing after all? Or maybe if I buy a pleated skirt and some high heel kink mary janes, I can at least pretend that I am taking people’s minds off of what I don’t want to think about, and yet can’t stop thinking about. Because a lot of time, it hurts when I breathe.
As I explained in one alternative store the sexy look I was going for with a tinge of fetish and tights and bows, “I want it to say ‘I’m crippled but perverted.”
Aman A. at Improvisations: Arab Women Progressive Voice wonders When the Veil is Not a Veil
Of course, I'm dying to know how "Arab and Muslim culture" is now reduced to women covering their hair. I have a nagging fear that in these terrible times the veil has become our fig leaf! I find it a bit ironic that while a Kuwaiti minister is under attack for refusing to cover her hair--a stance that was praised by some readers on this blog-- Pelosi was quickly praised for supposedly showing respect to Arab and Muslim culture by donning what looked like a veil...
Untied Omega Woman rootietoot observes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, with an eye toward some Old Master beholders:
With the commonly accepted fine art paintings, from notable artists like Matisse, Picasso, those guys who are accepted as masters, the women are lush, large, sometimes outright fat (there, no pussyfooting today), and yet the paintings are considered beautiful. Of the photographs I’ve seen, there’s all sorts. The lean model types are more photos to sell a product (clothing, makeup), and the ones that, to me, seem like real *art*, with an eye for the total imagery and not just the product being marketed, have women in them who are imperfect. I like that. It makes me believe that I can be attractive and interesting, too.
A number of images of "Women the Media Would Ignore" follows.
And Triumphant Mulatta has a brief review of an exhibition by photographer Zanele Muholi, Positive images of black female sexualities (obligatory NSFW warning: nudity)
I am so moved by Zanele Muholi’s photographs. They are candid and tender and don’t feel exploitative like photography sometimes does to me. She has a beautiful eye for same-sex loving relationships among black women...
Religion and Spirituality
Passover pass'd over. The Purloined Letter considers the symbolism of Tapuz-The Orange:
A traditional seder plate holds bitter herbs (usually horseradish), charoset (a paste of sweet fruit and nuts), a roasted egg, a shankbone (or roasted beet for vegetarians), etc. In a traditional haggadah, we point to the foods and say things like, "Why do we eat matzah tonight?" or "Why is there charoset on the seder plate?"--then have a discussion of many different understandings, many different possibilities and ideas. The horseradish reminds us of the bitterness of slavery. The charoset is a way of expressing the sweetness of liberation.
Our seder plate, and the plates of many other progressive Jews, also holds an orange.
Why is there an orange on the seder plate?...
KG and JN of Jewish Women's Archive Blog answer as well: What's in an Orange?:
...The crucial phrase in the story was put into the mouth of a man saying, “there’s as much place for a woman on the bimah (synagogue pulpit) as there is for a orange on the seder plate.” As the 1996 Ma’yan haggadah concludes “Ever since that day, some Jews have placed an orange on their seder plates to assert symbolically that women and women's wisdom belong at the center of Jewish life and practice.” And this is the version that first began to appear in mainstream haggadahs....
Medusa Coils reviews a "Did God Have a Wife?" from a Goddess/spiritual feminist perspective:
This book establishes with strong archeological evidence that the Goddess Asherah was among the deities worshiped by Israelites, Judeans, and other peoples of the Ancient Near East (ANE). It’s a shame that William G. Dever couldn’t accomplish this without being unfriendly to today’s Goddess folk, a good number of whom came to this conclusion a while back...
Property of a Lady's Deborah Lipp takes a personal look at the darker side of Feminism and Goddess Worship
There are two things you hear about feminism and goddess worship.
...The second thing is that goddess worship is inherently feminist, or at least inherently good for women. I thought Marina Walker demolished that theory pretty effectively by looking at Mary worship, and demonstrating that Mary is worshiped most fervently in the most patriarchal enclaves of Catholic culture. But you can also look at India, home of Shakti worship and Kali worship and Lakshmi worship; it is also a hotbed of sexism and misogyny. How anyone can look at goddess worship as it exists in the world today and assume that worshiping goddesses makes you all warm and cuddly towards real-world women is beyond me.
So that leaves me and my relationship with goddess worship. And feminism. Definitely I came into Wicca through feminism, and in my mind, they were connected. But the relationship I have with various goddesses, and my experience in Wicca as a feminist, is more complex...
Junia's Daughter had offered this entry for Blog Against Sexual Violence Day: Think Before You Preach:
Sexual violence is utterly evil. God hates it and we should too.
...It is vastly fostered by sexism, racism, and homophobia...It happens frequently in church, one of the prime places sexism, racism, and homophobia are found. This is one of the most damaging places because it fuses sexual and spiritual abuse and because the normal response is to excuse, minimize, deny, and/or blame the victim.
...Urging victims to forgive without seeking justice or helping them achieve it, or insisting that they find spiritual meaning or value in their experience--as happens constantly in pulpits, religious books, and pastoral counseling--is a further rape which grieves the Spirit of God.
...Please, before you preach on Jesus' words in the Garden of Gethsemane, or tell people to pick up their cross and follow him: think long and hard, and then think again, about how your interpretation will be received by the many silent survivors of rape, molestation, and sexual exploitation in your pews...
Seraph of Six-Winged Reflections posted a paper on the history of Courtly Love, and how its influence is still very much with us, albeit having gone through many sea changes in the process.
In Medieval times, women were given two role models, Mary and Eve. In the tradition of courtly love, women played both parts; beautiful, saintly Mary, passionately loved but inviolately chaste; and seductive Eve, giving in to temptation and desire.
...Whether or not romantic love was invented per se by Medieval poets, the work of such poets profoundly affected the meanings of the word “love.” While originally, the two types of love were sharply delineated—caritas, or charity, being Godly love, and amor, a term mainly designating carnal desire—the “religion of love” inspired by the practice of courtly love blurred the distinction...Redemption and sublimation were formerly sought through the church; now, the acts and feelings of being in love were expected to raise men to a higher plane of being.
...These ideas about the nature and function of love have had very interesting affects on life in the modern West. Christian preachers across America decry the state of the modern family, in particular the high rate of failed marriages. Such preachers often attribute the weakening of the traditional marriage structure to the immorality of our society (notable, homosexuality and pornography), but it can also be explained by a belief in a modified form of courtly love...
Thinking Girl also shares one of her papers with us, on Nationalism and Gender.
Mother country, homeland, motherland, mother tongue, land of our forefathers, brotherhood of men. These symbolisms are commonly spoken in moments of nation-building, painting a picture of “nation” as inextricably tied to personal connections of home and family. These symbolisms also inform identities in particular ways through intricately woven overlapping relational discourses of gender, race, sexuality, and nation. They are presented in the usual way of ideology – as divorced from any notion of embodiment.
However, these symbolisms are not just rhetorical devices, devoid of meaning and impact on those whose bodies match the symbols. They are part of nationalist discourses that have negative ramifications on bodies – specifically, the bodies of women...
Aulelia of Charcoal Ink tells harassers, don't touch what isn't "yours"
I tried to ignore him.
I tried again to ignore him, hoping that I wouldn’t react. After all, many girls get pushed on by men and get on with it. Why couldn’t I just leave it?
...Are we supposed to be calm and quiet and ignore them? I tried that in the first half yet again my anger was just too much. Should I have acknowledged the fact that they were men and shut my mouth? Either way, they would have found out that I wasn’t a Parisienne. This incident has opened many questions for me concerning men and women.Did he think I was arrogant for rebuffing him? I hate the fact that some men think they can prey on you and you are supposed to take it, regardless...
R tells us What An African Woman Thinks, in this case, that It's About Time:
Call me weird, but I do not mind travelling on my own...
The problem is, when you do, everyone and his family and their pet want to poke their nose into your business, at the very least to give you advice about how to improve your life—because it can’t amount to much. That so brings out the GRrr in me.
So the hotel industry in Kenya is finally getting a clue, taking the single woman traveller seriously. Well I suppose incredibly late is still better than never, right? But, of course I'm the perennial cynic. It's not the single women travellers that are drawing the attention, it's their money. Oh well. At least its something, and something is better than nothing.
The Swearing Lady hasn't weighed in on whether That Word is always terrible in the U.S. or okay in the U.K., but by her lights, at least, in the Arse End of Ireland:
You might think I'm being a bit hand-wringingly feminist about all this, that I'm taking on the moany mantle of shadenfreude so beloved by bra-burners; maybe I am. I'm not much of a feminist, though. I have no academic arguments to make to back up my sex, and most of the time I'm a terrible misogynist (and misanthropist). I'll just kick yer arse if you have a go at me.
...But the bad language! you cry. It's all very well to have the bad language coming from the blogging, manly fingers of Twenty Major, but girls should have more sense! Sense and sensibility!
But see, that's the thing. Cunt is such a very useful word.
Feminism on Feminism
Varieties of Feminist Theory is "A blog composed by the undergraduate students of Varieties of Feminist Theory (WSTU 125) at the George Washington University to expand conversations about feminist theory beyond the classroom." Topics include The Third Wave and a number of pieces on Gloria Anzaldua (There is no such thing as too much Anzaldua!)
cheshire bitten is a radical feminist, no matter what they say.
salty femme has a primer on surfing the third wave:
Here’s my secret: feminism is where it’s at for me. I really believe that. I also believe that feminism exists at the intersection of about 8 million other “isms” that we also need to pay attention to, without which a discussion of feminism would make absolutely no sense at all. I cannot discuss men, high heels, patriarchy (i.e. the BOOGIEMAN), footbinding, or lesbian identity without a) specificity and b) context...
If second-wavers are all “Damn the Man!” why and how do they express this by pitting women against one another and simultaneously assuming that somewhere deep down, all women just get each other? I don’t mind women talking about their own horrible and painful experiences with femininity – I think they should, in fact. I’ve had some of those myself. It’s the nonspecific ones that get me.
diaries of an eccentric nerd athaba hijibiji's zooeylive also considers intersections, rather deeply, in Women of Color Feminisms, Chela Sandoval, etc.
“Woman of Color” is not a term I grew up with. I mean, the term has a different connotation when you are living in a non-white nation/state/society. You just don' think about “race” in the same way when you are growing up in a country like India—I mean, what does it mean when you have a black/brown bourgeois in power? But in retrospect, I think I did grew up with a consciousness of race , especially since there was no way we could bypass the colonial history in Kolkata or in India. But the point is, I never thought of myself as a WOC until I came to this country. Similarly “Women of Color feminism” was not a term that existed in my political lingo until I was 22 or so...
...In general, I do agree with Sandoval. The WOC feminists did provide us with very different ways of thinking about race, class, and gender, very different ways of thinking about ourselves and our social locations. And at this point, we have to admit that neither the racial-identity based nationalist radical movements nor the white liberal feminist groups ever tried to analyze the social complexities in the ways US Third World feminisms or WOC feminisms did. But what is making me uncomfortable here, is Sandoval's use of the term “US-Third World feminism.” I mean, if we, the women of color living in US, begin to call ourselves “Third World women” or “Third World feminists,” then, where will the women from the material Third World go?..
Feminist Ally jeff posts the third installment of his story, Mama's Boy: Accidentally Raised as a Feminist Man:
A big part of feminism in my life also centers around issues that are deeply entrenched in gender, but aren't only applicable to gender. My mother taught me to have little tolerance toward bullies, and she often did this by standing up to sexist men, who are at least one type of bully, in my mind...
...which inspires sassywho (I never leave without incident) to start her own series, first part here: "You can call me a feminist:"
My mother is a strong, successful, and ambitious woman who not only encouraged but nurtured my independence. She came of age a little late for the 60's feminist movement, and climbed the corporate ladder as a single mother in the 80's pseudo-equality environment no doubt struggling with the harsh realities that things weren't quite so. She used birth control, she votes, she divorced her husband, she's owned several of her own homes, and she has feminism to thank for that. She certainly lives her life with (mostly)feminist principles, and her accomplishments definitely contribute to feminism, but she is not a feminist. Why? Because she says so, in fact she almost cringes when I use the language.
My father isn't a feminist either, but even with all of his flaws I was incredibly lucky with how open minded he is...
...So why am I a feminist and my parents are not, even if we share some of the same values and principles? It's rather uncomplicated actually, it's because I say so. Now, what kind of feminist I am is much more convoluted. Feminism is a social, political and personal movement not limited to women. Change does not occur without conversations and organized actions. I hear people say that they agree with the values but don't want to consider themselves one, like it's a dirty word. Feminism is not a label, or a title, it's an identity much like a political or religious affiliation. A woman does not have to be involved with NOW, with Planned Parenthood, or march on the steps of the Washington to make an impact from a feminist platform. Just starting a conversation by stating that you are a feminist contributes to the movement by opening dialogues in your own community....
Team Rainbow has a guide for the perplexed, in How to Talk to a Feminist:
As a mighty and brilliant patriarch, comfortable in the knowledge that you have earned every bit of your life's privilege within a just and equal global meritocracy, you may occasionally come across individuals that cause you great discomfort and inconvenience. Sometimes these individuals self-identify as feminist. Other times it's up to you to label them. In any case, it's on everyone's mind: what do I say to these hysterical shrews? How can I calm them down and assist them in seeing reason? The following is a step-by-step guide that will help you help them...
And finally, if you're feeling overwhelmed at this point, once again, you can always take a refresher course at Finally, a Feminism 101 blog.
Thank you all who sent contributions, so much; thank you, everyone for bearing with me with the lateness and the...lengthiness. The next Carnival will be on May 2nd and is being hosted at Kitkat's Critique. Also be sure to check out some of the other fine carnivals whose links i will probably post sometime...tomorrow. today. Thank you and have a wonderful evening. *pitches over and passes out*
go back to part one
go back to part two