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Showing posts from November, 2009

Fat Bitch

I promise a much better review when I get time to write it up, but for Chicagoans, TONIGHT is the last night to catch Erica Watson and you had better not miss her.  Last night I got to watch an amazing show. Watson is genius at critiquing our weight & beauty-obsessed society (as she says, ugly fat bitches who lose weight just turn into ugly skinny bitches) as well as patriarchy. OK, she doesn't use the word patriarchy and that is where her genius lies.  Watson is able to do what PhD students do in an entire thesis, but she makes you laugh the entire time and without academic speak. For someone who flunked out of UIUC with Ds and Fs, she should type up that routine and get handed the PhD. Dr. Fat Bitch! And her use of the word bitch is partially empowering, partially not so much. But it's used well.  While the audience was overwhelmingly African-American, us lighter skinned peeps were laughing just as loud with the jokes. She critiques race issues without resorting to st

Oh WaPo, you got me good.

Yes, I entered the Washington Post's Next Great Pundit contest. I cobbled together a piece about adoption, abortion, feminism and my undying love for Dawn Friedman . Then Latinos in America was on and I sent in an entry about how much I did not appreciate that series. I knew it was a publicity sontest for WaPo , but the fact that they excluded already published op-ed'ers made me believe I had a decent shot. When I saw that the ten finalists were 5 men and 5 women, I was fairly happy. Four of the dudes appeared to be white. Strike. The women seemed fairly diverse in ethnicity as well as kinda age. Althou someone on one of the many listservs I'm on said they felt the candidates skewed young. Point taken. Then the final two came down to a white dude, Kevin, and a woman of color, Zeba. I guess I thought the feminist media community would throw it's weight behind Zeba - She worked on Obama's campaign and while her pieces weren't screaming feminism, she fit what

Sponsor a Child this Holiday Season!

Mujeres Latinas en Acción provides a variety of structured activities during non-school hours for children and teens and we need your help to make this holiday season special by supporting our Annual Holiday Party for kids. The Annual Holiday Party provides the children in our Youth Programs with holiday gifts of winter clothing and accessories, games, sports equipment and books. Many of the children in our programs only receive gifts from Mujeres during this holiday season. The youth and children served in our programs are 100% low income and live in the Pilsen/Little Village area. The majority attends public schools and qualifies for free or reduced meals. Mujeres' Holiday Party Gifts for the participants of our Youth Programs will provide resources so that families can take part in a cultural tradition with laughter, fun and memories.  Parents will appreciate that they have been able to access resources that provide gifts for their children.  Further, the festive celebr

There will never be closure in the Nicarico case

Originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog There will never be closure in the Nicarico case as long as Jim Ryan continues to run for public office. The Nicarico family never missed a court date. For years they sat in courtroom after courtroom listening to the lies from Attorney Jim Ryan's team as they refused to admit their mistakes and consider Brian Dugan as a suspect. Instead, Ryan kept the case rolling along to wrongfully convict two innocent men and send them to death row. Jim Ryan is now running for Illinois Governor and " spent a decade as DuPage state's attorney, previously had said he based his case against Cruz and Hernandez on the best information available at the time, though Dugan had long been a suspect in the crime. " As I have said before in this space , the Nicarico case made a significant impact on my life. As a child it taught me to make sure the doors are locked. As a teen it taught me the harsh realities of racism in ou

Book Review: Impossible Motherhood by Irene Vilar

The book is traumatic with a capital, bold T . At one part about 1/3 of the way thru, I threw the book down in disgust and decided I was done. You are warned. Impossible Motherhood by Irene Vilar has received a lot of press and been a topic of debate on many a listserv due to the subtitle "Testimony of an Abortion Addict." When I first found out about this book my first thought was "Oh shit." Many people, including Vilar, believe that this book will be used by anti-abortion activists as proof of women using abortion as birth control and thus a reason for the procedure to be banned outright. But if you read Impossible Motherhood , you'll soon discover that abortion is the hook not the heart of the story. Rather you find a sad story of a young woman thrust into an adult world and quickly found herself in a situation most of us would probably fall apart in as well. Depression soon engulfed her life, althou it was most likely merely lurking in Vilar's lif

Aren't Latinas women too?

Originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog The Stupak amendment is the disappointment that just keeps on giving. Monday morning, my inbox was flooded with emails from many organizations appalled by the passage of the House healthcare bill. One email stood out from the rest (including a few celebratory emails) and that was from the National Council of La Raza . It was celebratory and failed to mention the Stupak amendment, which would ban abortion coverage in public and private insurance plans: "The health care reform bill passed by the House is a fundamental step toward making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans, including Latinos," said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. NCLR focused on some admittedly big gains won in terms of immigrant coverage, but oddly the next email was from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health which blasted the bill, and not just for the Stupak amendment: While health care refor

Interview: Lise Eliot, Ph.D. Author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain

Lise Eliot, Ph.D., has been getting a lot of media attention about her latest book, Pink Brain, Blue Brain , and it was a pleasure to chat with her over the phone and an honor that she did it despite one of her sons being sick that day.This is far from a transcript of our conversation, but a summary of what we discussed. VLF: Why did you write this book?  LE: The size is reflective of my compulsive nature. My first book was on brain development and it was inspired by my pregnancies and children. I kept running into brain development stories and began to wonder what do we really know about boy/girl differences? What are the causes? There wasn't a book out there that could answer that question, so I decided to write it. I gathered all the studies and decided to write the book myself. I wanted to take a chronological approach from prenatal to puberty. I was seeing a trend in parenting literature that seemed to be exaggerating sex differences between girls and boys. Compared to

Living in a culture of rape - From AWEARNESS

Originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog : Our culture is still in a state of shock over the gang rape of a 15-year old girl outside her homecoming dance last week. But what is even more upsetting to me than the news of this crime is the type of responses I have seen regarding her attackers and the victim-blaming . Fellow students (and administrators, and people who don't know the victim or have any real information on the subject) are saying the rape is the victim's fault because she was drinking, and that the rapists themselves are not to blame for their actions. What should shock us is not only the victim-blaming taking place here, but also that this is not an isolated incident. It is not just an American tragedy. Rape is used a tool of fear around the world, and not just as a weapon in a declared war either. In the UK two 10-year old boys are accused of raping an 8-year old girl. In India, a tourist guide attempted to rape a 14-year old . Rape is a not rare occurrenc

Will the recession change our view of homelessness? - From AWEARNESS

Originally posted at the AWEARNESS blog Fellow AWEARNESS writer David Alm shed a light recently on the plight of teenage runaways . Having to cope with economic uncertainty ripping their families apart, and even sex slavery (that's what I call underage prostitution, especially when it involves 10-year-olds), many of our nation's youth are facing tough times that can result in homelessness. Even my favorite "Golden Girl," Bea Arthur, chimed in on the topic from the heavens when her estate revealed last week that she left $300,000 to a gay youth shelter . Now that's being a friend to the end. . . and then some! But if there is any silver lining whatsoever to the cloud of homelessness, it's that the media are beginning to show homelessness in a new, human, light. The Chicago Tribune just profiled a family who goes between living in a storage unit and various motels. Why is this news? Because it is straining our education systems: Ron O'Connor, Will Cou

Book Review: Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot

Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps - and What We Can Do About It by Lise Eliot, Ph.D. is a must read for all parents. Eliot takes a much debated issue - are girls and boys fundamentally different? - and sets out with a well restrained heart. And that frustrated me the most. Yes, I was hoping that this book would lay down that law that there are no real differences between the genders. That the differences we see are all our fault. Yes, even this science grrl sometimes wishes against reality. Eliot painstakingly goes thru all available scientific research and popular culture books to sort out the truth. Are men from Mars and women from Venus? In a nutshell, no. What Eliot does is walk us thru the research, data and the facts about the differences. I say painstakingly because this 315 page tome has almost 40 pages of endnotes and 45 pages of bibliography and zero fluff. Some might find this book too much - to that I say, read the sections you

Gender Trouble Week - Update

Sorry that I wasn't able to finish my Gender Trouble reviews when I said I would. I got a last minute opportunity to interview Lise Eliot. On top of that, my last two weeks have been pretty busy & I needed some down time. But the review will be up soon as well as my interview. Thanks for reading!

Book Review: Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim

The first real job I had out of college was working for one of the founders for the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research . Which is ironic since I was not the "Woo, I'm woman, let me menstruate!" gal back then. And honestly I'm still not. That said... Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim is a riot. My period was a mystery to me until about college when I found women who pointed me in the direction of books and resources. No, I wasn't a lucky gal who grew up coveting her mom's worn copy of Our Bodies Ourselves , oh how I wish! Instead I was like Nancy Drew putting pieces of the puzzle together. Flow is not a replacement for OBOS, rather I would say it is a companion piece. It goes thru the history of menstruation and how our society has dealt with it or ignored it. Flow reminds/tells you of our awful past of douching with Lysol and hysteria diagnoses. But it also walks you thru the history of how we got to have disp

Want diversity? Start with diversity.

Don't ask me to bring diversity to your organization, ask me to join your organization for my skills, my knowledge or because you just love me. Don't think that I'm the pepper to your bland mashed potatoes. I am the garlic to those potatoes - the first thing you put on the skillet after you start to boil the water. Where you dash on pepper, throw in some onion and make me a vital part of the dish....Not the afterthought.  *** Media itself is changing rapidly and in Chicago we have a new player in the game, the Chicago News Cooperative. Laura Washington gave them a tongue lashing for the total lack of diversity they are starting out with: Nearly every staff member they have named so far is white -- and male. The co-op's board is white, all but one male. I would venture there are vast swaths of the city they don't know and rarely traverse.... If these reporters and editors check with the U.S. Census, they will discover that Chicago's racial and ethnic bas