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Why Joss Matters

16 October 2017

Book Review: Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch: 30 Daring Designs to Celebrate Strong Women

www.runningpress.com/book/feminist-icon-cross-stitch/anna-fleiss/

As the days get shorter and the air gets crisper a lot of us start to move into homebody mode. Part of this for me usually means getting crafty. And that is why I was excited to get a copy of Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch: 30 Daring Designs to Celebrate Strong Women by Anna Fleiss & Lauren Mancuso.

The patterns are pretty easy, so if you have never done cross-stitch before, most of these are totally doable. And you can choose from bad ass ladies such as Frida, as seen on the cover, and Sojourner Truth, Billie Jean King, and Simone de Beauvoir. Each pattern comes with a quick bio of each icon too! So you're learning something while taking some self-care time to craft.

If you are new to cross stitch you might wonder, what do I do with them when I'm done? OMG! You can keep it simple and put them in a frame. Or you can get frames that are ornaments to hang on your Christmas or Yule tree. You can get hand towels with cross stitch fabric included so you can hang Cleopatra from your oven. The possibilities are endless. There are even patterns of some of our current feminist sayings like "Nevertheless She Persisted" and "The Future is Feminist".

Photo of inside cover & good sample of patterns
This is definitely a great gift idea too, because as the days get colder, the closer we get to gift giving season. And if you do office gift bags you must get this. Now to hit my fave craft store and get some new DMC floss.

Please purchase your own copy of Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch from Powells or Indiebound and support Viva la Feminista.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy as well as a swag tote bag from a publicist.

14 October 2017

I'm still here...

So hey...As anyone looking at this blog can tell I haven't made time for this space lately. The honest truth is that life is fairly good. But that good is exhausting. At this time last year a grant I helped write was funded and I've spent most of my energy working on getting that project off the ground. It is going so well, but I come home pretty well spent. And when I do have energy to do stuff I am organizing with Reclaim Chicago trying to make Chicago the best it can be. Then there's the not so little data point that my daughter is now in high school. She's the best teen you could ask for, but it's still an adjustment.

I am also going to start experimenting with Medium. I wrote a post a few weeks ago, so please go check it out! I'm working on another post for Monday.

https://medium.com/@vivalafeminista/the-fragile-masculinity-of-tech-bros-the-failure-of-liberal-feminism-f56d00e8cff0

But I do want to write more here because I'm behind on my book reviews again. My TBR&R pile is out of control. So watch this space for more! Don't forget to like my Facebook page because I share stories that interest me there. Maybe this site will be more of a launching site for all the other stuff I do. WHO KNOWS!?! All I know is that I let this blog's 10th anniversary pass without any fanfare due to a lack of time and energy. SMH.

Lastly I'm heading out for some travels this week. All work related, but all high fun potential. Keep an eye on my Instagram to see what I'm up to in the next few weeks.

15 September 2017

I'm deliriously excited about the Ferdinand movie


I was a bookworm as a kid and had many favorite books, but Ferdinand has always held a special place in my heart. The tale of a big mean looking bull who was really a huge softie? I cried at the pages where people tried to get him to fight. And then there was that Disney short. I remember reading the book to my daughter.

Now there is a full-length animated movie coming out.



I am sure this is where my opposition to bull fighting comes from too. And yes, the new movie looks cheesy as a super nacho plate, but this character means so much to me that I don't care. I can't wait to see this movie. I might have to see it on my own as I'll prolly cry.

I hope the movie holds up to the book and the memories. In a moment where a bully reigns from the people's house, this movie should be a great opportunity to remind children that kindness is the path to follow. 

23 August 2017

Why Joss Matters


He left evidence along the way like pieces of bread crumbs. Angel's curse, that Wonder Woman script, and Black Widow as a Hulk pacifier. I saw it. I acknowledged it, but I still saw Joss Whedon as a feminist. "My feminism is not perfect. No one's is!" I would cry. But over the weekend I cried for yet another loss in the battle for men to be included in feminism.

Buffy arrived in my life at the tail end of my college years. She took the baton from Xena to fulfill my need for feminist television. As a pop culture junkie I was desperate to watch something that not just validated my world view but also most importantly did not make me feel bad for being overweight, for liking to hang out in a library, and yes even just wanting to have fun despite the weight of the world on my shoulders. The series finale will always be the best finale ever. It depicted what I feel is the true spirit of feminism - that we are in this together. That together we kick the patriarchy's ass and ride off into the sunset. There is no hero to wait for, we are that hero.


When word came on Monday that Whedonesque closed down my heart shattered and yet it is fitting. If Joss built a universe that collected feminist pop culture junkies like Giles rounded up Slayers, then it is perfect that we read Kai Cole's statement and realized we had to break up with Joss. We looked into his eyes and knew we had to stab him with the weapon he forged.


Buffy will always stand as the most important show in my life. I will continue to egg my 14-year-old daughter to watch it. At 25 I thought Xander was adorable, even if a jerk. At 42 I see more jerk than adorable, but I also see how fragile men can be in our world of toxic masculinity. I see his sarcasm as his mask, his superpower. I see how the weight of Buffy's burden was too much, even for a superhuman, and how she had to delegate. She had to learn to lean on her friends. How long did it take each of us to learn those lessons ourselves?

Joss being a terrible husband is not what broke my heart. We never spent this much time on Brad Pitt or any other horrible husband. Instead we wore Team Angie and Team Jen tees. It is what Joss has done to the feminist community itself that broke me. 

I am a feminist who eagerly wants men to identify in the struggle. When a friend found out she was having a boy she turned to me and said, "How did this feminist body do that?" I told her that means she was charged with raising a feminist boy who would be a feminist man. I know many feminists doing exactly that. They do this in simple ways such as validating their sons when they are hurt, physically or emotionally. Feminist moms make their sons do women's work around the house. Feminist moms do work that is normally men's work.They live feminist lives so their sons know the new rules and hopefully reject society's norms.

Yet here we go again. Another high profile man who claimed to be a feminist turned out to be a fraud. Maybe Joss was a feminist once upon a time, but quickly realized that his feminist card opened bedroom doors too and he was hooked. I do not know and honestly I do not care how he lost his way. See, there I go again, holding on to the fact that he truly is his mother's son and did believe in feminism.

Joss embodied what feminists had been and continues to demand from Hollywood - that men start carrying the weight of feminist work. And he fucked that up. When the next screenwriter pens the brilliant film what will we do for him? Will we ignore it thinking he's just another Joss? Will we watch the film, but keep a safe distance from its creator?

For many, Joss was never a feminist. His flaws were too great to look past and I respect that. But I feel terrible for everyone who has built a very feminist career upon Joss' pile of lies. Whedonesque, where I posted a bit in the early days. The Whedon Studies Association, which I had one my bucket list to write for and present at a conference. And my current fave Joss-related item, Buffering the Vampire Slayer, where they do a fair amount of Joss critiquing already.

I've written about Buffy over the years. Being a Buffy fan is part of who I am and how people view me. Within hours of the Kai statement a dear friend text me as he was beside himself. I ordered cocktail after cocktail as he caught me at a bar on eclipse eve. We were debating Joss, feminism, and if men should ever call themselves feminists. My friend is fantastic. He's married to a kick ass feminist and they are raising a girl who will surely grow up to be a kick ass feminist. I dislike the term feminist ally. For me, you're either with us or not. Maybe as my friend suggests men get to do feminist things, but should stay away from the label. I dunno. This is why I'm writing this. I'm trying to figure it all out with you.

I'm concerned because this relates to the growing issue of men using feminism as currency.



Not only in how men identify, but the growing movement to include men in all conversations about feminism. On one hand, I totally get it. We need men to push the agenda forward. On the other hand, we have Joss & scores of other dudes who pay the dues, but don't read the back of their membership cards.

I know that there are people waiting to see if I renounce my Buffy fandom and stop quoting the show now that Joss is fully revealed. You too might have that person in your life salivating at watching you squirm and ready to remind you of your Cosby, Woody Allen, and Casey Affleck boycotts. They are probably the same people who ask you to outline in detail why you go to Target, but won't set foot in a Wal-Mart. Well ignore them. If you are like me, Joss and the universe he created means so much to you that you need time to mourn the myth.

If you cry at the end of "Chosen" and "The Body" is the only piece of pop culture that brings you solace after your mom's death, I get ya. He made that for us. His art is still beautiful, even with the gigantic hole he blasted through it. But I am filling for custody.

But the hole he shot through the idea of feminist men is the hole I'm most worried about. Where is the line between men who support feminism, do the work, but stay back versus men who support the work but don't show up? Is it as simple as asking them to step back and girls to the front?

I don't have the answers. If I did, I might have a book deal. Well I'd also need time to write too. But I'm just saying that this is why this is a post on my blog. No need conclusion. No list of recommendations. Other than, men...dudes! Do better. 

30 June 2017

Review: Despicable Me 3


Thanks to an invite from the publicity team, I took my 13-year-old daughter and her friend to a special screening of Despicable Me 3. We really loved the first movie. My daughter was Agnes for Halloween that year. The second movie fell flat for the overly racist stereotype of El Macho. I STILL SEE YOU, BENJAMIN BRATT!

The theater was packed with families, many in Minion t-shirts, and kids who did not any of the sugar they were about to ingest from the concession stand. Since it was a special screening the organizers kept trying to get our attention for giveaways and rule announcements. Nope. The kids were too excited to shush for a free t-shirt.

So the movie... This movie was better than DM2, but still far from the magic that made Despicable Me the franchise we keep going back to. As I said, I took my teenage daughter and while she liked it, it was clear it wasn't a home run. It was a hit with the younger kids we were surrounded by. They laughed, giggled, and danced in their seats.

THINGS I LIKED
  • Agnes steals the movie again. She was used perfectly to remind us of why we fell in love with this family. From her yard sale scene to the unicorn hunt, Agnes is the epitome of adorable. 
  • It was odd that it seemed like Margo had matured while the character clearly did not age. But her maturity with stepmom Lucy was sweet. 
  • The ending with Gru & his long-lost brother was nice and parents with more than one will use it in vain attempts to stop arguments. 
  • Lucy saves the day.
THINGS THAT BUGGED ME
  • Lucy spends most of the movie stumbling over her role as a mom. She is the experienced super spy, but gets pigeonholed into the mom role. 
  • The Minions get sent to prison. While there were some cute scenes, given this moment in US history, prison comedy is hard to laugh at, especially when I'm still not sure why they got locked up in the first place. 
  • Balthazar Bratt is the big villain, but was only there to give us Gen Xers a fun soundtrack. Ya know who they should have gotten to play the evil child star? Jason Bateman. Remember how much of a brat he was on Silver Spoons? Now that would had been awesome casting. 
  • Lucy making Margo do something to relieve a boy of public shaming. Yes, it seemed like a nice gesture, but I felt it sent too much of a message that girls should do whatever it takes to make a boy feel better. And then it back fired with an engagement, thus allowing Lucy to display her mama bear skills and win Margo's love.  
So go see the movie. It's not terrible, but it's a good decision on a hot steamy summer day. And it's a great decision for smaller kids who giggle at fart jokes.

Three Stars for everyone over 10
Four 1/2 Stars for those under 10

Disclaimer: We bought our own snacks from the concession stand!

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


Veronica's favorite books »
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