Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

26 August 2015

Should Feminist Parents Tell Their Daughters They Are Beautiful?


Or perhaps I should ask HOW should feminist parents tell their daughters they are beautiful?

Last week I attended Tamara Winfrey Harris' book reading at Women and Children First. She read from her book, The Sisters Are Alright, which discusses how Black women are viewed in the USA and their reactions to those views. One area that the discussion centered on was that of beauty.

There are many issues that #365FeministSelfie has dealt with and at its core is the concept of beauty. Who gets to say who is beautiful? Why don't more women believe that they are beautiful? During the life of the project, I have heard from many people, especially woman, who confess to never feeling beautiful or losing that sense of beauty. Recently a mom in the project shared a moment from her mom files.

She shared that her three-year-old daughter had just pronounced herself not-beautiful because of her short hair. I'm paraphrasing here..."Help me, #365FeministSelfie-ists! How can I combat this? I tell her she's strong, smart and brave all the time, but I don't always tell her she is beautiful," she asked. A few of us went on to discuss the often held notion to praise girls for what they do not how they look. This should allow them to escape the clutches of our beauty-centric society, right? Wrong.

Unless we are raising our daughters in a media-free bubble in the middle of Big Sky Country, they still learn the rules of beauty.

So I asked Tamara and her fans how to handle this. I was floored.

One woman, whose story is shared in the book, said that when she was growing up all she wanted was her mom to say she was beautiful. Her mom, like many feminist-minded moms, was trying to raise a strong girl who did not need that type of validation. Now this woman did not fit the beauty standard as a young girl and teen, so her mom was trying to get her to see her own beauty inside and out. "Do you think you are beautiful?" was what her mom would say when asked, "Am I beautiful/pretty?" This woman proclaimed to us, "All I wanted was for my mom to say, 'Yes, you are beautiful!'"

Now I tell my daughter she is beautiful all the time. The fact of the matter is that a lot of people tell her that too. But how I tell her is often in a series of other compliments. "You are so strong, smart, beautiful and brave, mija!"

It's a strange thing this beauty thing. On one hand, we do not want to raise our daughters to think that their beauty or how others see them as beautiful defines them. But at the same time, don't we all want to feel beautiful?

And that is kinda what #365FeministSelfie is about...feeling beautiful in our bodies, feeling as beautiful as those who love us see us. Because yes, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but it should also be in our eyes too.

So does not telling our daughters that they are beautiful secretly tell them that they are not? Despite the fact we are trying to teach them that being beautiful is important?

In the end Tamara made a pronouncement that I think is correct. Everyone should be told they are beautiful. Perhaps we should all compliment our kids and each other with, "You are so beautiful, smart, strong and brave."

18 August 2015

Review: "Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted" on HBO


If you don't know who Tig Notaro is, you may recall hearing about a stand-up comic who opened up a show with, "Good evening. Hello. I have cancer." That was Tig Notaro. I haven't kept up with her career and appearances on "Inside Amy Schumer" or "Transparent," so getting a chance to preview her new HBO special, "Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted," was exciting.

Notaro's style of comedy is slyly smart. Sometimes her jokes take a moment longer to get to the kick than you expect. But for the most part, they stick their landing. She laughs about her inability to hang in Vegas, which all the introverts will LOVE, not to mention how she utterly bombed in Vegas all the while inadvertently wearing a mustache. Notaro also reminds us that sometimes the funniest moments are those that we make as we seek out the perfect man or planning for our burials.

Her comedy is personal and considering that this includes laughing at her history of breast cancer, it is deeply so. In one moving scene the audience eggs her on to take off her shirt. Apparently a woman can go topless when her breasts have been removed. Still, it is a sexy, moving and funny scene...especially considering that some people have tried to reframe her double mastectomy as top surgery. Really? Good gawd, people!

So if boyish ladies are your style along with sly smart humor, check out Tig Notaro on Saturday, August 22nd at 10 pm ET/9 pm CT and be prepared to want some ice cream afterward.

21 July 2015

Trailer for Suffragette the Movie


I'm really looking forward to this movie. I'm happy to share the trailer and peek at the movie posters.

Of course, I hope we get a film one day about Ida B. Wells and all the women of color who fought in the US-based suffrage movement.


06 July 2015

Review: Personalized Cookie Cuttters


I love to bake. Cupcakes, cakes, and some breads are my thing. And come Christmas time it is all about the cookies! Especially cut out cookies that I make using a recipe my mom treasure from a cookbook that she got when she was a little girl. The making of the dough, the rolling out, cutting and then decorating is like a meditation on love. Yes this feminist loves to bake!


That is why I jumped at the chance to test out a personalized cookie cutter from Cookie Cutter Kingdom. I scrolled through all their options and decided on the doxie. Now this is where I found a shortcoming...You are limited to one line with 10 characters. I really wanted a #365FeministSelfie cookie cutter, alas. This is when I thought, hmmm...do I go full out egotistic and get a "Veronica" cookie cutter? Nah...Let's go with Feminista!


As you can see from the photos, the cookies turned out great. I will say that after a few cookies, dough did get stuck in the lettering, so I had to grab a toothpick and clean it out. But it wasn't too complicated. It may also be more an issue of me pushing too hard.

Overall, I really liked my cookie cutter. I'm looking forward to finding lots of excuses to whip up a batch. Feminist bake sales, y'all!

AND...I'm happy to say that I can share with my readers a code for 25% off!

Use "VIVA25" when you order and save 25%

The doxie cookie cutter starts at $5.50 and goes up to $7.00 for the larger cutter. Don't wait too long because the code is good until September 30, 2015. If you get a cookie cutter, post a picture! I want to see what everyone picks out.

Disclaimer: The review cookie cutter is the only compensation I will receive for this post. Your purchase does not provide me with any compensation.

22 June 2015

POV returns on June 22nd with "Out in the Night"

In 2006, under the neon lights of a gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a group of African-American lesbians were violently threatened by a man on the street. The women fought back and were later charged with gang assault and attempted murder. The tabloids quickly dubbed them a gang of "Killer Lesbians" and a "Wolf Pack." Three pleaded guilty to avoid a trial, but the remaining four — Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain — maintained their innocence. The award-winning Out in the Night examines the sensational case and the women's uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system. A co-production of ITVS. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). 



I watched "Out in the Night" over a month ago and it still haunts me. This documentary kicks off POV’s 28th Season on PBS.

In our current environment of #BlackLivesMatter, Charleston and countless Black men, women and children being killed by the police, this documentary is poignant and timely. As the summary above states, one night a group of friends, all black lesbians, were out on the town. A dude walks up to them and starts harassing them violently. They fight back. Most of the incident is caught on camera, but it is not enough to save them from prosecution. The majority of the film is about the impact of not just the injustice of the incarceration of four of the women, but the impact of incarceration on their family's lives.

I won't kid you, it is a difficult movie to watch. For those of you who work in the prison abolitionist movement, few things may shock you. But for those who still believe that incarceration is the best way to punish people, your socks will be knocked off.

The strength of the women who were incarcerated is intense. It is not often that I am left speechless to describe a film. All I can say is that you must watch this film. Check your local listings to see when you can catch this moving film.

17 June 2015

Former Child Grooms Say "I Do Not"

The past few years have brought increased attention to child brides and the dangers of young girls marrying so young. And if you are like me, you picture an older man marrying a child. But CARE, a global humanitarian organization that fights poverty by empowering girls and women, is shining a spotlight on the fact that in some parts of the world child brides marry child grooms.

Just as we know that child brides end their education far too young, child grooms lose education as well:
Pannilal Yadev can’t remember much about his wedding other than the carriage he was carried in to meet his bride, 7-year-old Rajkumari. At the time he was a year older than she, and the two barely interacted for the next six years. By the time they moved in together he was 14, she was 13. She had already halted her education after their marriage, and when she became pregnant with the couple’s first child, Yadev dropped out of 10th grade.
https://ooh.li/d846c82
Photos: © 2015 Carey Wagner/CARE | Illustrations: Stephen Purnell/CARE
Child grooms are often fated to live in poverty due to lack of education. Often they find themselves as child grooms due to their families already living in poverty. Sadly, families decide that one way for boys to take care of themselves is to have them marry young and go from boy to husband. Nepalese law prohibits marriage before age 18...but the practice remains common in the poor, predominantly Hindu communities along the border with northern India. This cycle often repeats with the fathers placing their sons in the same position.

We can't stop girls becoming child brides as long as we have child grooms. The good news is that former child grooms are working with CARE to disrupt the tradition in their home villages. Forced into marriage at shockingly young ages, child grooms of Nepal are working to save the next generation from the plight they have suffered.

CARE sees child marriage, both child brides and child grooms, as a human rights violation. And we need your help with this issue. Please visit CARE to learn view their report on child grooms and to sign a send a letter to your Representative and Senators to support the allocation of at least $150 million in the next State Department budget to address gender-based violence, including child marriage. Please help CARE raise awareness of this issue by sharing this post with friends.

CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty with a commitment to empowering women and girls. CARE is committed to its mission to serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world. CARE seeks a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and people live in dignity and security.

11 June 2015

GIVEAWAY & Review: Coloring Flower Mandalas by Wendy Piersall


I've been coloring various pages from Coloring Flower Mandalas: 30 Hand-drawn Designs for Mindful Relaxation by Wendy Piersall for a solid month now. And I gotta say, I don't think I've ever been so popular! Everyone wants to chime in on the grown-up coloring book trend. "Oh, I read about that!" "WOW! That's a great pattern." "What do you use?"

To answer that last question, I've bought myself a fresh pack of color pencils. And I carry them practically everywhere I go. And here's what I've discovered...

Instead of peeking at my phone while my mind thinks it needs something to do, I pull out my coloring. I have no idea how to explain the difference in my mind, but it is ore relaxing to kick back with a coloring pencil and a mandala.

I have a few Xena coloring books (I horded in the 90s) and a Wonder Woman one. Because these are rare beings, I only color in them when necessary. I love the feeling of coloring. I always have. Now with the rise of grown up coloring books, the possibilities are endless!

The best part of Coloring Flower Mandalas is that I'm discovering what colors I like to put together. When I bought my color pencils, I got a 24 pack. Now I wish I had a ton more to do more gradients. I guess I could learn to do that with pressure, eh? Anywho, this non-artsy gal is loving feeling like she knows what she's doing with color on these pages. And yes, the images you see above are all from me. Yeah, this is like my fridge display.

Coloring Flower Mandalas comes out in August, but you can pre-order it or buy on eReader. My copy is electronic and I love being able to print out a page or two, stash it in my padfolio and have it handy when I need it throughout my work day. It's a great brain refresher. That's my tip for you!

You can purchase your copy through Powells or IndieBound to support VLF.
==============
GIVEAWAY:

I have three copes of Coloring Flower Mandalas to give away! Here is how you can enter:

1. Leave a comment with your favorite coloring tool (crayon, chalk, marker, etc) and your email. Without your email I can't tell you if you won!
2. Tag me on Instagram or Twitter with a pic of something you drew, colored, or doodled.
3. Post a pic a pic of something you drew, colored, or doodled on VLF's facebook page.
4. Additional entries if you are following me on Instagram, Twitter or like VLF's facebook page.

Sadly, this giveaway is limited to those with US or Canadian mailing addresses.

All entries need to be in by June 18th.

10 June 2015

Support Women's Sports....Join TakePart.com


As you all know, I'm a big sports fan. I started a Facebook community for people who pledge to attend just one women's sporting event a year during the 2008 Winter Olympics. Since then the issue of supporting women's sports continues to grow, but still a conundrum. I noticed last year Chicago's local ABC outlet began to regularly give our Chicago Sky's (WNBA) score in the highlights. And while other stations do as well, ABC is more likely to show a game clip too. So they are getting the props here today. Occassionaly, our NPR station will mention women's college hoops scores or the Chicago Sky's, but I feel like it is just when there were a lack of men's games the night before.

Currently my family has full World Cup fever. Which is why I am excited to share TakePart.com’s newly launched “Equal Playing Field” campaign. It features an original documentary with US National Women’s Soccer team star and Chicago Red Star Christen Press and interviews with Julie Foudy, member of the 1999 US Women’s World Cup championship team, and produced by Frank Marshall, this mini documentary exposes the challenges that professional female soccer teams endure due to the inability to receive the same funding as professional mens soccer teams.

I truly appreciated this mini-doc not just because I am a fan, but I'm raising a soccer player. When you ask Ella what she wants to be when she grows up, she says, "Professional soccer player." And she means it. While we aren't going all Béla Károlyi on her, we do offer her a lot of opportunities to become a better player. Since I am her mom, she also gets a healthy dose of sports politics. I showed her the mini-doc as soon as I was done watching it. Which was also just hours after Press scored the winning goal during the first World Cup match. TIMING IS EVERYTHING!! Since we do go to a lot of women's sporting events, she sees the crowds. She knows the Bandits don't play in front of tens of thousands of people like the Cubs. Same with the Sky and Bulls. But she also sees how engaged the fans are at these games. Having Christine Press make the economic case for supporting women's sports is exactly what this feminist mama needed.

When I have talked with women sports journalists, they cite the lack of attendance for the lack of media attention. But as Julie Foudy says in the mini-doc, without media attention people don't know there's a team to cheer on. My Chicago Red Stars use to play at the same field as our men's pro team, but after the second league busted, they moved to college stadium. This allows them to have a small crowd, but look huge.

I try to get to at least one Red Stars, Sky, Force and Bandits game every summer, but it's hard with our busy lives. Especially with the short schedule the Force plays. And one year I swear I'll get season tickets to at least one of them!

But first up is a cross-town bout in Chicago roller derby and then we're off to the World Cup. OH YEAH!!!!!!!





07 June 2015

#365FeministSelife Update: Logo & Fundraiser

I did not feel the need to create a logo for #365FeministSelfie until we hit year two. And that was mostly because we were planning two retreats for participants to get together. And now, as we plan for our November retreat in Columbus, Ohio (tentatively scheduled for November 7th ant 8th), it was time for a logo. And here it is.

Since I am not a handy person with a pencil and paper, I needed a lot of help. Emily F. from the #365FeministSelfie community helped take my ideas and sketched them out. I took those sketches to Victoria & Alma at Spark the Creative Agency. It was so easy to work with Victoria and Alma. And back to Emily having the ability to take my "what if it looked like this?" words and draw a road map for Victoria and Alma to follow.


In order to pull off a successful and low-cost retreat in November, we need to fundraise. Cara, one of the leaders of our community, has created a t-shirt fundraiser. We need to sell 100 shirts over the next 10 days in order to have a successful fundraiser. Each shirt is $20 and all profits will go towards covering the cost of the retreat. We successfully held the Portland retreat at no cost to participants, I think we can do the same for Columbus. BUT...they only go to print if we reach the 100 shirt mark.

And no restrictions on who can purchase. Whether you have taken hundreds of selfies with us or just a few, no worries! Heck, even if you are like my daughter and have been in a lot of my selfies, but never taken your own but support the project, grab a shirt.

Thanks to Cara for putting this together!



19 May 2015

Join me for #STEMchat with SciGirls on May 21!

As long-time readers know, my paying job is to support women who are studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). I often get asked what the magic key or silver bullet is for getting more girls into STEM. While the actual answer is complex and nuanced, when I am talking with parents it usually ends up being, "Let them break things & get dirty." This is why I am excited to invite you to join me for #STEMchat with SciGirls on May 21st about citizen science. I love the tagline, "Do Try This at Home," because that is such a key to the puzzle! Do science at home. Demystify it. You don't have to be a genius to do science. And I'm super excited to be chatting with SciGirls.

Now in its third season, SciGirls features real-life girls and mentors engaging in science, citizen science. As the SciGirls track toads and count clouds, they also hope to inspire SciGirls (and SciBoys) to join the citizen science movement. Citizen science invites children and their families to make key observations as well as record and share data on large-scale research projects run by real scientists. It’s a fun way for the entire family to participate in the scientific process. Some citizen science projects run for so many years, that participation in them can easily become a family tradition.

Speaking of families, PBS Parents has a bunch of STEM-sational resources, including an overview of SciGirl episodes and extension activities you can do at home.

#STEMchat will take place on 5/21 from 9 – 10 PM Eastern.

I'm on an awesome panel of grown-up SciGirls to help lead the #STEMchat on Citizen Science:

@SciGirls, SciGirls is an Emmy Award-winning PBS KIDS TV show, website and outreach program that seeks to change how girls think about STEM.

@CoopSciScoop, Caren Cooper, a bird-loving biologist and blogger who is literally writing the book on citizen science.

@ScienceGoddess, Joanne Manaster, Read Science host, STEM advocate, biology lecturer, and former international model.

@TheSpaceGal, Emily Calandrelli, promoter of science literacy, space exploration and equality. She’s also the host and producer of the Show Xploration Outer Space. Read her STEM Girl Friday Feature.

And @KimMoldofsky, also known as The Maker Mom and founder of #STEMchat. You might also follow her at @STEMchat, which is her default account if she lands in Twitter “jail.”

Spread the news to your STEM-loving friends and colleagues. Share the #STEMchat joy with these sample tweets!

*Join me for #STEMchat on Twitter 5/21 at 9 PM Eastern to talk #CitizenScience with @SciGirls

*Join me for #STEMchat with @Veronicaeye and @SciGirls on Twitter 5/21 at 9 PM!

=====================
Kim put together a recap of the twitter chat! 

11 May 2015

Forecasting women’s leadership with Ford’s Chief Futurist

One of the best outcomes from Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” is that the issue of women in leadership has taken center stage in the public conversation. Concepts such as the glass ceiling, the wage gap and gender bias in the workplace have a renewed sense of purpose. What also has renewed activity is the debate over having it all and work/life balance. I got the opportunity to speak to Sheryl Connelly, Futurist for Ford Motor Company. Yes, I got to speak to a woman who is high up on the leadership ladder whose job it is to spirit the future.

First thing's first, what is a futurist? Connelly says, "Well, I am not a fortune teller and I do not try to predict the future. What I try to do is pick up on trends that will be important to Ford’s long term plans." According to Connelly, any organization that does long term planning and strategy is futuring.

Considering that the conversation about women's equality, especially in the workplace and elected positions is always "in the future," why not ask someone who is an expert on trends? Don't we all want to know when we will see enough women in leadership roles to see meaningful chances to the USA towards paid leave, paid sick days and affordable child care? Connelly admits that the USA is behind the curve globally, but sees parallels to marriage equality. Change sometimes looks like it happens overnight, but it never is. "I have two daughters, 11 & 13. I took the 13-year-old to see Arianna Grande. Many people see Grande as an overnight sensation, she is not. We saw her 18 months ago for $25 and this year she sells out a Detroit stadium. Grande worked hard to get to this level. Things do not just happen." Connelly returns to talk about watershed moments and the decades of building blocks in order for marriage equality to be where it is now.

The way she reads the tea leaves, women are on a precipice of change. "Women are outnumbering men in education. In the cycle of a generation or two, women could be the majority of the workplace. As we move from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy, what is prized are things that women are really good at." The change is part of a public dialog. Advertising and marketing messages like "Run Like a Girl" are important for girls at a very young age. But Connelly says we need to realize that women's issues are systematic. "Women communicate differently. When you ask men for something they say, 'Consider it done.' Women will say to me, 'I'll do my best.' I see women only apply for jobs if they fit 100% of the criteria. Men do not hold themselves to the same standard." She advocates that we need to be teaching girls and young women to think the same way.

As I consider my own future path, I wanted to know how a futurist plans for her personal path. Turns out she's not very good at it."I'm a busy mom. I'm like the cobbler whose kids have no shoes. I do think about the future of my kids. I do want my children to be generalists and not specialize at five." 

How does a futurist relax and unwind? Like the rest of us by binge watching Netflix. "Also, I am big into family. I have a twin sister and a lot of siblings. My sister lives very close. I also like to escape to quiet places in the world and unplug. You have to take time to enjoy the moment."

And since Connelly is a futurist and seems to be tapped into trends, I had to ask her the big question...Are we ready for a woman president?

"Yes. I also hope by the time my kids are older, that gender, race and other descriptions are a non-issue. We need to focus on who is the best candidate for everything, not just President."

With that I let her get back to figuring out which car we might be buying in 10 years, while I still ponder if we are ready for the world she says is just around the corner.

10 May 2015

Some Mother's Day Writing For You


I made it into the NYTimes, folks! I wrote an op-ed about how the perfect gift for Mother's Day is a selfie. It stems from the fact that I do not have a lot of photos with my mom. Please check it out and share widely.



I also wrote a Mother's Day piece for LatinaMom.me about learning to love Mother's Day again:
It has been 12 years since I've had a mom. It has also been 12 years since I became a mom. The cognitive dissonance can be overwhelming and becomes unbearable as we build up to Mother's Day. My mom died at the start of my third trimester, as I was pregnant with her much-requested first grandchild. And it sucks more and more every Mother's Day. But every year, I also grow to love Mother's Day in a new way.

Soon after my mom's death, I let my subscription to Mother Jones lapse because their renewal notices had marketing copy on the envelopes that read: "Your Mother Wants to Hear from You!" In my head was a litany of curse words about my mother not being able to want much of anything anymore, $%#@#$'ers! This should have been an early warning for the eventual turn of the calendar, which would bring me to not only my first Mother's Day as a mom, but also my first Mother's Day without one.

My husband did his best. He bought a gift and signed the card from our 9-month-old daughter. But inside, I was emotionally unavailable to truly celebrate that moment. When writing this piece, I went back through my blog archives to see what I have written in the past about this awkward relationship I have with Mother's Day and I found a short piece I wrote when my daughter was able to reframe the day about me:
Read the rest at Latinamom.me. 

It is funny that I went years without really talking about losing my mom and then in the last six months I have written about her three times. For some people talking about things is healing. Apparently I need to write about things a lot. Especially since losing my mom impacted so many different parts of my life.

And let's end this by acknowledging the radical origin of Mother's Day!
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe
Boston
1870

06 May 2015

Last Minute Gifts for Mother's Day

Are you looking for last minute gifts for Mother's Day? Well I'm last minute blogging about it!

CARDS: Don't send the mother figure in your life a cheesy card from the drug store. No way! Send the radical woman in your life a radical Mamas Day card. I particularly love this one because my university's graduation falls often falls on Mother's Day as it does this year. These cards are awesome because you can send it to her via email, but the images are beautiful enough to print out and hand make a card.

GIFTS: You can refer to previous gift guides to get some ideas, but since this is last minute we need to think strategically.

Give the gift of Bitch Magazine! If your mama is a feminist and loves pop culture, she'll love Bitch magazine. Or if she can wait a bit, get her a print of the "Home & Away" issue. Maybe she needs some new coasters to rest her Manhattans?

Oh yeah, I am now on the board of Bitch Media, so I'll be asking you to donate, subscribe & buy their wares a lot more! WOO!

Another great idea is to gift mama with some gift cards to buy books from either IndieBound or Powells.

One last idea...donate. I'm sure your mama has an issue she is passionate about, a nonprofit that she educates others on or a school she volunteers for. So why not just donate to that organization in her name?

But don't underestimate the gifts like a day off, doing the laundry, gift certificate to her salon, manicure day or as a recent survey found - a meal out. Because in the end, all moms want is to hear "I love you" and feel like you notice all the work they do.



16 April 2015

Review: Hillary Clinton Coloring Book

In what will be just the start of Hillary products I get pitched comes a fun peek at the girl who would be President. Hillary: The Coloring Book gives you over 60 pages of coloring including a page dedicated to when she was dancing up a storm in South Africa.

Since coloring books for adults are all the rage, why not grab one where you get to color in a zillion pant suits? My favorite pages are of hippie Hillary. And thanks to the publisher, I can offer you a head start on creating your own Hillary campaign poster. Just download the PDF file and grab your crayons.

Support Viva la Feminista by purchasing your book through Indiebound.

15 April 2015

Review: Bitch Planet #1, #2 & #3

If you were to judge "Bitch Planet" by its back cover, you would expect a barrel of feminist camp awaiting you. The back cover of the first two issues are a play off 1950s comic book ads for x-ray glasses and hypnotizing tools, this time the glasses see through men's intentions and you hypnotize women away from being perfect...to allow you to take the top slot! I do want to conceal $3.00 in an envelope for a new signature.

But once inside, the world of "Bitch Planet" will take your breath away. The premise is that in the near future humans have found a planet to exile problematic women at an auxiliary compliance outpost, aka Bitch Planet. It is clearly run by a cadre of men who take joy in seeing non-compliant women punished into submission. But with a tip of the hat to Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale," the women are greeted and interrogated by virtual women who look like Faye Dunaway in a Xena costume and even some women in riot gear.

The first issue showcases how easy it can be for men to call the compliance police on bitchy wives and how easily mistakes can be made. Without spoiling this issue, we do see the classic middle-aged, middle-class white woman in peril. We also encounter the Foxy Brown Black woman who is not going gentle into that good night. By the second issue we also are knee-deep in the well-worn framing of a penal colony that is so remote that human rights no longer exist and riots are such a common occurrence that they happen at the peripheral of the comic's frames. Every third issue of the series will be a special guest artist issue and will dive into one character. We find out what led to Penny Rolle being sent to Bitch Planet. Her whole mystery is not revealed, but enough that it is another punch in the gut. Her name makes me wonder and hope that it is a tip of the hat to Penny and Ester Rolle from "Good Times." Because I LOVED THAT SHOW as a kid.


Here is where I admit that I completely missed the chatter that built up this comic series. And if you did too, you might get to the end of the first issue thinking, "Why the hell did I buy the second issue? What kind of blaxpotation is this? Is this good? Um, what happens next?" After that dizzying moment you look at the next page and realize that Danielle Henderson, the genius behind "Feminist Ryan Gosling," was instrumental in the development of "Bitch Planet." WHEW!

OK, so yes, there is a chance that an amazing Black feminist theorist can have a hand in a problematic project. BUT...Danielle's past work gave me the faith to keep reading to the second issue. But that's not all. The first issue includes a call to arms from Danielle in which she asks us if we are compliant. It addresses many of the challenges feminist movements are facing at a time when we have women leaders and role models, but patriarchy is just under the surface of our lives. Or so disguised that it seems under the surface. Danielle asks if we are scratching that surface and challenges us to keep it up. So I'm gonna keep reading. And you should start.

Like now. Really.