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29 July 2010

Summer of Feminista: Feminine or Feminist?

Written by Ana Lilian Flores, co-publisher of SpanglishBaby, a site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children and can always be found @laflowers.

I don’t think I’ve ever considered myself a feminist. I’m not a provoker, an activist, nor a social conscious spear-header at large. Not that I’m much for labels, as it is.

I grew up in the midst of El Salvador’s deadly and grueling Civil War in an era when you did not question the status quo. Much less if you belonged to the close-knit social class I was born into. The words ¿por qué? were hardly ever uttered and much less encouraged. Not that I even minded back then. I didn´t know better.

The seed of political activism or of traditional feminist tendencies of any kind were never planted in me. The woman that shaped my life and formed my first tribe were indeed strong and luchadoras, but always within the safe confines of their vast and plentiful homes. They treasured their luxuries, their leisure, their freedom and their image. Life existed within a thin and, oh-so-very-fragile veil that separated them from the imminent and loud reality that surrounded us. The label we could apply here would be more of “femenina” than “feminista.” (Funny tidbit that the popular Top 40 FM radio station I grew up listening to was called “La Femenina.”) Yes, the women I knew were adored because they knew their place. Even my mother.

Divorced in her mid-twenties with two girls to fend for, she never failed to impress by her strength of character when faced with obstacles. I always attribute my independent, go-getter and strong-willed nature to her. Her years as a single mother of two, she worked hard and cunningly to sustain us by the highest standards--the best schools, the best clothes, the best surroundings, the best memberships. Then, she remarried to a man that would be able to take away all that burden from her and allow her to just be a women again--to run the house and the staff that kept it up; to play tennis and socialize; to travel; to care for her girls; to care for her man; and to run a fashion boutique of her own. Life became easy, manageable, fulfilled--or so it seemed behind that self-imposed veil.

As soon as I turned 18 I left the country that had cradled me in a sweet embrace of naiveness. I left behind my mask and started the true work of uncovering my realness. This is when I began to let out the authentic feminist voice in me. The one I didn’t even know I had. The voice of a woman who wants to have the chance to be unrestricted to express her soul. The diva who wants to shine wherever she chooses to. The Goddess who wants to explore her depths, her yearnings, her missteps and own up to them all. The dreamer who wants an equal share of the materialistic male-dominated world, without letting go of her feminine instincts and ethereal desires.

I still don’t consider myself a full blown-out feminist. It’s just a label, and labels are used to judge.

I am, however, a mother that lives with a constant mirror reflection of who I am and what I give. My daughter will always carry a part of her that reflects how I constantly continue to reconcile the feminine little girl in me with the more feminist and non-conformist luchadora that has claimed its place as well. I see in her the potential of full, unrestricted expression that is softly guided by the whispers of her ancestors to a place where its manifestation will belong only to her. That, I hope, is my gift to my daughter.

Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

27 July 2010

Summer of Feminista: APB: Help! Is this you?

When you sign up for Summer of Feminista, please, please, please include your name AND email in the little Doodle text box.

I have Jacky A. and Marisa A. signed up and I have no idea how to reach you, mujeres!

Please send me an email at veronica-dot-arreola-at-gmail.com so we can connect. Or just send me your Summer of Feminista contribution.

OK, back to our regularly scheduled program...

26 July 2010

Summer of Feminista: FUG (Feminist until graduation)

Written by Dior of The Personal is Bloggable

My mother suspected that all this crazy feminist talk was a result of my attending Smith. She thought this would be a phase like she thought other things. Unfortunately (for her) it wasn’t. It also didn’t help matters that I became a Study of Women and Gender major. My mother didn’t agree with this not only because it was not explicitly connected with a well to do, money making profession but also because of its association with feminism. Why the reluctance to embrace the term? As a single mother she always told my sister and I to be independent and to never depend on a man. Therefore getting an education has always been important to my family. Many of my family members were not given the opportunity to get a higher education so being knowledgeable and self sufficient was critical. I see feminism all over this.

At Smith, I was involved in the feminist organization, Feminists of Smith Unite! (FSU!). I was among young Caucasian women who were passionate about their cause and wanted to organize to make sure their interests were being acknowledged. I was one of the few Latinas involved in the organization and after awhile, their investment in the organization lessened dramatically and eventually, they were no longer involved. I became co-chair and there were members who suspected that I was the first Latina co-chair of FSU!. This was never confirmed but it shows that feminism was and probably is still not something that is prevalent in the lives of women of color at Smith. Even in my participation in Nosotras, the Latina organization, I felt that I needed to bring in my feminist beliefs because the subject of feminism was not discussed. As the social chair, I organized the panel, “Race and Feminism: Latina Perspectives.” I wanted to create a venue where there would be discussions about Latinas and feminism. I wanted Latinas who consider themselves feminists in one room discussing the implications of this and how they came to this conclusion about their identities. My mother may have never used the word but she indeed raised me to be a feminist. I know this sentiment is shared with other Latinas because a panelist on the “Race and Feminism” panel mentioned how her mother brought her up as a feminist yet her mother said: “pero no lo sabia.” Feminism has always been viewed as a "white woman's issue" - something that only privileged women would involve themselves with. Feminism is much more than that. Feminism encompasses people (yes, women and men) of all races, genders, sexualities, classes and more. I wish my mother and other Latinas would understand this of feminism.

My growing up in a female headed household has heavily affected my identity as a woman and as a feminist. All my role models were women – my great grandmother who was outspoken and always said what she thought, and my grandmother who insisted that I get an education – something that no one could take away from me. Feminism wasn’t and will never be a phase for me. I graduated in 2009 and I am still proud to say that I am a feminist. Even though my entire experience as a feminist has consisted of defending myself against my mother, it has strengthened my resolve to embrace this part of me.

Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

25 July 2010

Summer of Feminista: This Is What A Feminista Looks Like

Written by Natalia Knowlton of British Cherry. Reposted with permission.
It is a universal fact that feminism is the belief of equality between genders. Although women can relate to each other about the injustices they face in their daily lives, there are some injustices that not all women share. That has also become a universal fact; middle-class white feminists are not fighting for the same rights as Middle-Eastern feminists or African American Feminists. As I began studying feminism, I looked at it from very broad lens; how it affects women from all over the world. Sure I noticed that women had it quite differently depending on where they live, but I suppose I just saw how it affected women in "general" in North America. Whatever that meant. Then I started thinking about Hispanic Feminists. Being half Chilean and having lived there for half of my life, of course I had thought of the state of feminism in Chile, but I had missed out a big part. Hispanic women in general are very strong and independent women. They are feminists in so many levels, however, they do not use the F word to describe themselves, they probably don't even know what it actually means. You ask them what feminism is and they'll most likely say "Hairy women who hate men?” I'm not kidding, they will most likely say that. I started looking at my mother's family, all Chilean, and how feminism has occurred (without the F-word being spoken of course).

My maternal grandmother in Chile dropped out of school in grade five, never got an education, got married, and had five children. Obviously, her only "job" was to raise the children and clean the house while my grandfather brought home the bacon. My grandfather took advantage of his power and cheated on my grandmother multiple times, abused her physically and mentally, and never gave her the love and respect she deserved. She never left him because she had no education to get a decent job where she could feed five children. She was forced to stay with him until all of her children got married. Even when that happened, she still stayed with him. They finally got a divorce because my grandfather left her for another woman. My mother grew up watching this horrible domestic abuse and the horrible life my grandmother had because of her lack of power. My mother tells me that she became determined at a young age to get an education and be independent so she would never have to depend on a man the way her mother did. My mother was the only one, out of five children, to obtain a post-secondary education, travel outside of Chile, and work her ass off without the help of a man. She got married at age 21, to the love of her life who was Canadian (my dad), and moved to Canada with him. Then they had me (yay!). As soon as things weren't working in my parents' marriage, my mother filed for divorce. She moved back to Chile with me, as a single mother, and fought her way up to give me the best. She never had a boyfriend for ten years after that. She never saw men as a necessity, so to speak. She always said that if the right one came along, great, but she was not looking. She was always focused on her career and me. My mother taught me that it was crucial for me to be ambitious and to get a valuable education that could help me get ahead in life independently. There's no doubt that my mother has always been one of the greatest feminist role models for me.

Even though I first learned the true essence of feminism from my mother, she does not consider herself a feminist. Sure she'll say "I'm a feminist about some things, but not all. Men and women are different! I don't agree with feminists when it comes to that". That is her typical answer. And she only considers herself a feminist "about some things" thanks to my influence. Before that, she never even mentioned the word. So why is this? Why do we, especially Latinas, fear this word?

I think it's because of the strong sexism (el machismo) that still exists in Latin America, which is quite more substantial than in North America. Hispanic women have come a long way, but they only cared about legal equality between genders, not so much social equality. Most Hispanic mothers still raise their daughters thinking that they have to learn to clean and cook for their children and husband while being independent and having their job all at the same time. We're still taught to do things to be "desirable" to a man who might want to marry us. My mother taught me to get an education and be independent, but she also nags me about not knowing how to cook, since it is such a problem because apparently, I won't be able to feed my children (she expects four from me, yeah not happening). I even told her today "If I had been a boy, you wouldn't care if I didn't cook". She got mad at me for saying that but I made my point. And why is it that we have to learn to do things so we can "feed our children someday". Our society makes us think that the worst thing a man could do is kill someone, and the worst thing for a woman to do is to be a bad mother. As I was saying, my mother is still stuck on gender roles. She lives with her boyfriend now, and although he helps more than most Hispanic men around the house, I still think he doesn't do enough. It's always me or my mom. My mom never nags him about not cooking.

So...where do Latinas stand in feminism? I believe we are feminists at heart and we need to know the real meaning of that word. We need to know that we're more than we think we are. We're more valuable. We need to show men that we're equal and we're not their sexual objects (even though a lot of Hispanic women love to be whistled at on the streets). We need to know that it won't kill a man if he starts cooking or doing dishes. We need to stand up for who we are. We need to start embracing the label. We are feminists and we care about each other. We care about the advancement of women and society as a whole.

Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

24 July 2010

Viva la Feminista on Democracy Now!

This is a lesson in being fearless.

After my panel on Thursday I went wandering around Netroots Nation and spotted Amy Goodman in line to get Ed Schultz to sign his book. I thought, "OMG, it's Amy Goodman!" so I went up to her to say hi and be all silly fangirl. Well Amy and one of her friends/coworkers/partner in arms started asking me where I was from, what I did, etc. Amy got her book signed and I chatted with Dennis some more. Then Amy asked which way I was walking and I said, "I walk, where you walk." She chuckled. After a few minutes of chatting, she whips out for mini-digital camera and starts interviewing me. At first I just babbled like an idiot, but recovered well despite thinking the whole time, "OMFG, Amy Goodman is interviewing me!"

So for your youngsters out there, don't be afraid to walk up to people you admire, be ready with your 30-second "This is who I am" talk and be prepared for anything. Cause some days anything does happens.

22 July 2010

Summer of Feminista: I know "OF" feminism

Written by Noemi Martinez of hermanaresist.com

Heaven forbid we ever called ourselves feminist, Chicana or acted “smart” growing up. My dad who came to the US during the latter part of the bracero movement said in his rancho, children didn't go past the education their parents received. This meant he only went up until the third grade. Then he tells me, his hermanos would find him reading books under a tree with the goats long gone. That little gem of desire to learn and read was passed along to me. The difference was I was a girl, of course.

My mom was 36 when she had my younger brother. She was a sociology student at a community college in Chicago, with five children and one of the way. Throw them in as a Pentecostal way of thinking couple and a father insisting his wife bear him a male, you get a 36 year old six month pregnant woman having a heart attack. She didn't' go back to school.

Fast forward to me being a teenager and dropping out of high school-because books turned us women evil (indirect quote-it was something like, te vas a volver loca como tu mama).

I know "OF" feminism.

I came to know of feminism through the back door, via the self-education route of zines and soaking up book reviews and top ten books from my favorite grrrl zinesters. I get a kick out of comments on blogs where folks complain that either there's too many women of color in their women studies classes or the same quotes of Audre and Gloria and hooks are rehashed over and over. Because that IS ALL I know. And I do not have a problem with that.

I had enough indoctrination of dead while males in the required literature courses at the local UT campus I went to eons ago. No one mentioned Gloria Anzaldua even though she walked the same campus and probably felt the same stifling oppressive valley heat that I did. The Lorde wasn't even on my radar, sacrilegious indeed.

And it's been good like this, a self-proclaimed mujerista, distinct and aparte from feminism like Chicana is to Latina. In some circles, a feminist sure, in other's don't even.

Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

20 July 2010

Summer of Feminista: Is it really good to be that strong?

Written by Dariela of Mami Talks

Since I can remember my parents have been divorced, they divorced when I was 4 y/o so I really have little memory of them together. And I’m really OK with this. I think they made a great decision cause I love my dad but I know that the harmony in our house was created with us 3 girls only, my mom, my sister and me.

I think that because of this, my mom started to tell us to always go for what we really want in life. “Hijas”, she said, you should be independent, go explore the world, be strong and fight for what you want. My mom herself is an Architect with a master’s degree in Library Studies, as a result she is the only expert in her field in her country, Venezuela, and almost in all Latin America, she is a designer and a consultant for Library Buildings. She definitely set the example for us. I admired how strong and independent she was.

Also, the opposite side of the example was set by the neighbor who if her husband leaves –my mom said- How will she survive? She doesn’t work, she’s a home maker and she doesn’t have anything for herself. Us as women need to have many passions that drive us, that are there only for us. And I agree, during my childhood I went to music school and learned how to play the piano, I also went to dance classes, I was always busy and then I went to Design school while still going to the Music Conservatory and participating in a famous Choral, all those things I really loved doing, I picked them and they were mine, only mine.

I still have so many things I am passionate about and I have traveled and left my home country per my mom’s advice: Anda hija, tu puedes, go meet the World! (Go girl, you can do it!). But wait, is it good to be this strong? Are we going to be so strong that nobody can touch us? Are we going to be these women that end up alone? Is it good to have that many activities and passions? I say it’s good to be strong as long as you know how to balance that together with the rest of the world, if you can also have a happy life with your partner, with your friends and family, have fun and take life not so serious too, if you can share all this with everybody and if you’re able to feel strong too, it’s worth it! We are not isolated, we can be strong, smart, independent and have our very feminine side too, is just a matter of balance!

Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

19 July 2010

I'm a 2010 Blogher Voices of the Year Finalist!

Back when I thought that I would be going to Blogher 2010, I submitted a bunch of posts for the Blogher Voice of the Year contest. Yes, it's a contest. People read the entries, people vote and only a few get to read their post to the conference. Anywho, I didn't win, but I am a finalist. And as such will be celebrated at the Blogher 2010 Gala and Art Auction. So yeah for not winning!

My not-quite-winning post was one that I wrote for Girl w/Pen on the balance between human life and scientific discoveries/guidelines in light of the new mammogram guidelines.

I'm happy that my writing was honored, giddy that it was something on Girl w/Pen and fucking off the wall that it was in the Geeky/Nerdy category. I'm disappointed that I won't be there for the Gala, but I couldn't do both Bloger and Netroots. A grrl on a budget has to make choices.

11 July 2010

Happy Anniversary to Viva la Feminista!

It's been a quick three years since I set up shop here. Blogger tells me I have 848 posts in three years. WOW.

It is quite fitting that the post on my anniversary was the first installment of Summer of Feminista.

To make this occasion, I headed over to Wordle to make a new word cloud:

I like it!

Thanks to everyone who comes here to read my thoughts and much love to everyone who takes the time to comment and pass along my blog to friends. Here's to Year Four!

Summer of Feminista: Third grade feminista

Written by Elizabeth of International Dreams

A grammar school friend that I had not seen in decades tells me that I taught her about feminism in third grade. This made me think back to the eight year old me. Was I a feminist that young? How did I know what that even meant? I remember being very self-aware, especially about being Latina, because I always seemed to stand out among my schoolmates. How did I teach anyone about feminism back then when now in my mid-thirties and a parent, I struggle daily at defining my beliefs?

I believe it comes down to my mami and mija. Mija is my grandmother who emigrated to New Jersey from Colombia to help my mami raise me. She is a head strong, willful, temperamental woman. My mother’s expectations were high but not impossible. She expected me to be educated, and was not satisfied with a college degree. I have an advanced degree, she is waiting for me to get a doctoral degree. She taught me to be my own person, and to do everything that I feared. Feminism meant that “girls could do anything”. Feminism meant that “I did not need a man”. Feminism meant that “women are not insecure”. Feminism meant that “I was everyone’s equal”.

I disappoint now. My mother scoffs when I say I am the person I am, a feminist, because of how she raised me. I married a man. I consult with him before I make important decisions. He and I are co-parents. He spends more time with our children than I can. I do not fix things like my mother. I am insecure sometimes. I worry.

This is not my mother’s feminism. This is my version of feminism, one that embraces all women - trans women, cis women – all women; and believes that each of us has the right to live and make choices that suits our personal needs and desires. It was much easier though, to define myself at 8 years old, than now.

Summer of Feminista is a project where Latinas are sharing what feminism means to them. Positive. Negative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.

07 July 2010

Guest Post:: Gail Dines, PhD discusses the pornification of youth

Dr. Gail Dines is a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston, an internationally acclaimed speaker and author, and a feminist activist. I invited her to guest blog here as I await the arrival of her new book, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality. Her work fits right into many of the concerns I have about how women and girls are portrayed in the media. That said, these are her words and I welcome all constructive critiques as well as high praise. ~veronica

Watch MTV, flip through the pages of popular women’s magazines, or just glance at billboards, and you’ll see slight variations on a theme: a heavily made-up, young, attractive, technologically perfected woman devoid of body hair, cellulite, age lines, or physical disabilities. She’s minimally clothed, with a seductive look plastered on her face. Whether it be an almost- naked Britney Spears writhing around on stage or a Victoria’s Secret model clad in a plunging bra and thong, women and girls today are bombarded with images of  themselves as sex objects whose worth is measured only by their “hotness.”

This image didn’t appear from nowhere—it’s a logical outcome of living in a society that has become increasingly swamped by pornography. The prototype of the objectified, dehumanized, hypersexed female that is central to porn has now seeped into pop culture to such a degree that media representations today look like soft-core porn from ten years ago. It has so crowded out competing images that girls and young women see few alternative ways of being female. A quick look at pop culture will show you that I’m not exaggerating.

These images have a profound impact on how girls and women view themselves as sexual beings. As cultural beings, moreover, we are affected by the messages that the culture sends us, and there is no escaping the power of these relentless images.

In this hypersexualized culture, we are sexualizing our girls at an earlier age than ever. The person who best explained this to me was not an expert in women’s studies, but an incarcerated child rapist whom I shall call “John.” During an interview in a Connecticut prison, John told me how he had methodically and strategically groomed his ten-year-old stepdaughter into “consenting” to have sex with him, and then casually mentioned that his job was made easy because the “the culture did a lot of the grooming for me.”

As John has been through many years of therapy in prison, he had the lingo down pat, and in his eagerness to show off his knowledge to me, he used the word “groom” many times. This is a term psychologists use to describe the way predators socialize, seduce, and manipulate their victims into accepting—and often “agreeing”—to sexual abuse. John explained how, in his “conscious desire to desensitize her,” he used the questions she would ask (What is a blow job? What does a penis taste like?) as an entrée to introducing her first to adult porn and then child porn. John was very clear that the sexualized pop culture images his stepdaughter had been exposed to from an early age, as well as the sexualized conversations that such images generated in her peer group, developed a precocious sexual curiosity that “made grooming her easy.”

While this is one extreme example of the effects of a hypersexualized culture, an American Psychological Association study on the sexualization of girls found that our culture is affecting girls’ development. According to the researchers, there was ample evidence to conclude that sexualizing girls “has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality, and attitudes and beliefs.” Some of these effects include risky sexual behavior; higher rates of eating disorders, depression, and low self- esteem; and reduced academic performance.

As feminists we need to be critical of the increasing pornification of the culture and not confuse it with sexual empowerment. The pornographers are not out to sexually liberate us but rather to make money, and their plasticized, generic, formulaic images of women are stultifying and repressive. Feminism fought for women to be liberated from these images, not to capitulate to them, so for the sexual and psychological health of our girls we need to build a movement that resists them.

Gail Dines is a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College. Her new book is Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality.

06 July 2010

Book Review: Share This! by Deanna Zandt

Disclosure: I count Deanna as a friend and colleague. While she interviewed me for this book, it wasn't included. She also asked me if I would review this book and obviously I said yes. Now on to my review...

Share This! How You Will Change the World with Social Networking by Deanna Zandt is a must read for everyone who hates on social networking, who isn't sure why the hell anyone would engage in social networking and for those of us looking to use social networking for good. That's a lot of people, I know. But it's a quick read! Barely 100 pages, if you don't count the significant extras she puts in the resource section. But still a quick read.

As someone who uses social networking/media for fun and good, it was a breezy read. It was far too social networking for me, but I know far more people who need this book than who could have been quoted in this book. There is a need for this book. I understand that statement each day someone asks me if foundations should be online. Yes! Can they fundraise there? Yes! Will they fulfill their capital campaign by Tweeting? Probably not.

That naunce of using social networking is what Deanna gets spot on and explains well.

For most of my blogging career, I did it under a tiny veil of anonymity. The last few years of doing just that made me uncomfortable for many reasons including the fact that I wasn't getting the props I deserved and that those around  me didn't know the resource that had in me. OMG how many times I've been in the "We should start a blog!" or "Why should we buy the dot com if we just use the dot org domain?" conversations. I wasn't just holding myself back, but others by proxy. Deanna digs into this as well and dares us all to use our own names and pictures of us.

What I appreciated the most from this book was the death of clicks = popularity. There is no way to measure your influence online due to social networking. Yes, sometimes you can see when someone clicks over from Facebook or via Twitter, but sometimes your links and story get disconnected from your bit.ly account. Viral is not easily measurable. Everyone needs to realize that. Marketers, swag pushers and politicos. It's like porn, you know a great connector when you see it.

There is also a good segment that deals a death blow to personal branding and a section on why parents shouldn't be scared of what is online. Hooray!

Bottomline is that this is a great book for the newbies. Don't fall for people telling you that they are a social media guru and can help you raise a shit load of money online. Don't warp your message to fit what someone told you is your brand. Just be you and have fun.

Please purchase a copy from an indie bookstore or Powells.com and hand it to your favorite troublemaker.

* Book links are affiliate links. If you buy your book here I could make a very small amount of money that goes towards this blog.

05 July 2010

Why Jessica Valenti needs to be the next big mommy blogger

With one retweet and a slightly snarky comment, I started a public conversation with Jessica Valenti about the politics of motherhood and how I think she needs to embrace her public power in that realm.

I've been reading Feministing since it started and honestly a lot of times I don't quite agree with them. But I do admire Jessica's power of the media. Then again, like any celeb, I also pity that power since it seems that everything that they do is put under a microscope. On the other hand, being a blogger means putting out some personal things and having to deal with personal questions. If you don't want to answer questions, then don't put it out there. Jessica wrote about (and I assume got paid to write about) her dog and how it was a starter baby. WHOA BOY did she get ripped for that and then got ripped for buying her dog through a breeder rather than do the "feminist" thing and adopt a rescue. She then got ripped for getting married, having her wedding featured in the NYTimes and now she's pregnant.

When she announced her pregnancy I knew that we would all be in for quite a feminist dissection of pregnancy and motherhood. Today she blogged about people touching her belly. But she again refuses to allow her personal life to be a topic for public discourse. I get that. But I think it's too late for that request.

While Jessica doesn't think she has to answer questions about pregnancy and motherhood, I told her that I think she has the responsibility to answer these questions. Now Jessica & I aren't friends, but we have enough common friends that I know some background info. I know that Jessica and the rest of the Feministing crew have struggled for years to get the media to pay attention to someone other than Jessica (the pretty white feminist). I get that. So when Jessica says that other feminist mom bloggers have been discussing the very issues I say she needs to address, she responded that she shouldn't be the person talking about them, us feminist mom bloggers should.

Yes. But is CNN really going to come talk to me about feminist pregnancy issues? Nope. Are they going to seek out the hundreds of other feminist mom bloggers out there? Not really. Yes, some of us get out spot in the limelight when a smart journalist digs deeper than the uber-feminist blogger (not a slam on Jessica!). But in all honesty, Jessica being pregnant and entering the motherhood is the moment us feminist moms have been waiting for.

Oh yes, there are those of us who have been talking about these issues before we were moms, for decades and will continue to champion, but how many of us can command the media like Jessica?

Should we really care that Jessica can take our issues, now hers too, and ratchet them up in attention like she discovered them? Yes and no. Yes, because it says a lot about celebrity, but no in terms of Jessica.

How many of us, especially GenXers knew it was ok to touch a person with AIDS before Princess Diana did? How many of us knew about the dangers of landmines before Princess Diana shone her sparkly light on the issue? How many people knew polar bears were in danger before Al Gore's movie?

Women In Media & News was helping connect journalists to kick ass feminists before SheSource was conceived. ParentsWork has been working on paid family leave before Momsrising painted their first onsie. There are tons of us who have been working hard on issues but someone shinier, with more connections and more celebrity swoops in and gets the attention and funding.

Does this piss me off? Yes. Does this mean I can't work with said celeb? No. I am in the SheSource database. I support Momsrising. I'm happy at the thought that Jessica Valenti can take years of feminist mom writings and help us actually get somewhere. Will she do as good of a job as a certain Latina zinester in Texas? Hell no. Should that someone else be getting the media attention? Yes, but I've come to the conclusion that sometimes we need to hitch a ride on that celeb to the finish line.

Why else would we get excited when we hear a Hollywood star mention feminism in an interview? Or rally around a feminist cause? Why else are we heartbroken when they laugh off feminism? Because they are celebs and like it or not people listen to them. They have a power we could only imagine having.

Does this mean that those of us who haven't been able to catch that media zip in a bottle should stop working? Hell no. But I have gotten to a point where instead of being upset that someone conforms to what the media whats to see and use as an expert, I see it as an opportunity. An opportunity for those who do garner the media attention to shine a light on the work we have done in the shadows. And for us to use that person in power as a point to rally around, whether to cheer with them or critique them.

When I responded to the journalist about the breastfeeding is creepy article, I quoted Annie from PhD in Parenting. I figured that either the journalist would talk with Annie herself, which she did, or hopefully Annie will be quoted via me. That was me taking part of my 15 minutes of fame and giving a minute to someone else who I think is also doing a kick ass job. I don't get a lot of 15 minutes either! It might not always work, but perhaps with some great collaboration, partnering, etc., we can also benefit from a few celeb moments.

But that's only if that celeb is ready to carry us with her.

Thus, if feminism is truly about the personal is the political and I contend that there is nothing more political than becoming a mother, then I hope that Jessica will find a way to use her celeb status to push a feminist mothering agenda and still maintain the privacy she seems to want. 


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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