Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

29 June 2010

A fab review of "Pink Brain, Blue Brain"

You would think that I wrote Pink Brain, Blue Brain the way I'm obsessed by it. But I just had to share with you the fact that Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers, authors of Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children and Our Jobs, have an excellent review in Women Review of Books.

AND I got special permission to share it with you!

It's a PDF file, but it's well worth the download and read. Enjoy.

22 June 2010

Join the Summer of Feminista

After I posted about the Census and Dept of Ed boxes that don't properly include Latinos & Latinas, I received some comments & emails about this blog. Comments from Latinas about how they felt like they were raised in a feminist way, but without knowing or learning the word feminist. Comments about struggling with feminism as a Latina. Comments about feeling shunned in women's studies courses (as someone who has two women's studies minors broke my heart). So it's been stewing...What can I do about this?

The Summer of Feminista (or so I'm calling it now, other suggestions much appreciated!) was born.

If you are a Latina and have issues with feminism, things you want to discuss about feminism or merely reflect on how your abuelita raised you in such a radically feminist way despite the fact that she never uttered the word, then I am asking you to submit a guest blog post between the June 29th and Sept 14th, in other words, the rest of the summer. While I appreciate the heavy intellectual stuff (feminism vs womanism), I'm also looking for a straight forward post about your thoughts. No need to footnote your post! Unless you want of course.

You will submit posts to me via email and I will link back to you unless you want to post anonymously. I know some of you have already said that you want to be more open than you think you can be with your name attached. I'm cool with that.

Please use this doodle page to sign up for a week. Please, please leave your email so I can contact you! Thanks!

21 June 2010

EVENT: Fulfill your pledge at a Chicago Red Stars game!

Remember my challenge to you my dear readers? The one where I asked you to pledge to attend ONE professional women's sporting event in 2010?  Well Chicago friends, July 25th is a wonderful chance to fulfill that pledge!

Chicago Red Stars vs Boston Breakers

July 25, 2010

3 PM

Toyota Park


$19 per ticket

For $19 you get discounted Harlem End tickets with a hot dog or pizza, dessert/fruit cup, and drink during a pre-game tailgate lunch at the stadium. You will be placed in seats with the “I Pledge to Attend a Women’s Sports Game 2010” group. If we purchase 50 tickets in this section, 11 lucky kids, age 11 and under, will be selected to be player escorts for the Chicago Red Stars, leading WPS players onto the field during introductions. Use our super special ticket portal to purchase your tickets!

If you haven't been to a Red Stars game, let me tell you that it's awesome. The crowd is super family friendly, parking is right outside the stadium and the game is great.

In case you are wondering, I am not benefiting from this promotion at all. Not one penny goes to me.

Now go get your tickets and I'll see you at the fruit cups.

Book Review: Girl Sleuth by Melanie Rehak

When my daughter was old enough for chapter books, I couldn't wait to get her a Nancy Drew book, specifically a young readers version of Nancy called "Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew." She fell in love!

It's precisely this handing down of Nancy Drew from mother to daughter, aunt to niece and super cool friend of Mom's to a young girl that has allowed Nancy Drew to remain one of the best selling children's book series of all time. In Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, Melanie Rehak does an excellent job at outlining the birth and rise to world domination of our beloved Nancy Drew.

The birth of Nancy Drew came from a combination of "father of only daughters finds feminism" and a new found attention of the massive buying power of teens. In 1922 "the Stratemeyer Syndicate [which birthed Nancy Drew] earned $9.1 million, $1 million of which was from [one of their girls series] (page 98)." Which leads to one of the themes of this double biography - the evolution of girlhood in the USA. How did such a strong girl character catch in the years between the first and second wave of feminism?

Girl Sleuth is the story of the two women who did indeed craft Nancy's character and sustained our appetite for more and more Nancy Drew mysteries. One woman charted her own path in writing and journalism, the other found a career opportunity out of her father's untimely death. Both were partners in crime, yet also were antagonistic to each other over the years.

What made me smile was the way that Rehak weaved in feminist history into Nancy's history. Rehak doesn't say that Nancy is a feminist character, but she does show us how the role of women in the workforce, girlhood and the emergence of the second wave of feminism all impacted Nancy's development.

This isn't a new book. In fact the series my daughter likes to read isn't referenced as it started in 2006 and this book was published in 2005. But it's a book that I've been meaning to read for years. Fellow book worm, Rachel read it years ago and said I had to read it and that I would love it. She was right. I received this book through PaperbackSwap.com.

I would add this to any summer reading list. It's an easy read, enjoyable and if you loved Nancy as a girl, you'll love this book. Purchase a copy from an indie bookstore or Powells.com and toss it in your bag.

* 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.

16 June 2010

Why don't Chicago museums love Chicago kids?

I'm pretty sure I've noticed this before, but it wasn't until a co-worker sent me a list of free days of Chicago museums that it dawned on me again. There are not many free days for Chicago Public School kids. The last day for CPS is not until this Friday, June 18th.
  • The Adler Planetarium doesn't have one free day between June 21st and September 6th. In fact they have a free day on the FIRST DAY for CPS. There is a free week two weeks before CPS lets out for the summer.
  • The Field Museum has three free days during the CPS summer break. It also has three free days in June before CPS kids are off for the summer.
  • The Museum of Science and Industry has one free day during CPS summer break. There is a free week two weeks before CPS lets out for the summer.
  • The Shedd Aquarium has ZERO free days during CPS summer break. There is a free week the last week CPS is in session (this week!).
I think that most of us would consider these four museums the four of the big five or major museums in Chicago. The fifth is the Art Institute which has free evenings every Thursday from 5 pm - 8 pm.

So why? Why would four of our biggest museums shut their doors to Chicago Public School kids? Their parents (myself included) pay taxes to support these institutions. Considering the budget cuts in CPS and the lack of field trips to these institutions, I would like to think that these museums would all be accessible to CPS kids during the summer time. In fact, I believe there should be CPS free days. Bring in your report card to prove you go to a CPS school and get in free.

That seems fair, right? 

Until that time, take a look at the list of museums for the smaller ones who remember that they belong to a community.

09 June 2010

Book Review: A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie Littlefield

Stella looks like and usually acts like your run of the mill grandma. But she has a secret that is protected not by her, but also by the women she helps. Stella spent years in an abusive marriage and busted out of it in the most literal sense. Now she dedicates her life to busting other women out of abusive relationships.

A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie Littlefield held my attention like no other mystery novel. Not only did I want to learn the conclusion of the murder mystery, but I also wanted to know more about Stella. I wish we all had a Stella in our lives and not just because she kicks ass. I want to share a beer with her.

This book was pitched to me as a feminist mystery novel and there are certainly a lot of feminist messages. What I loved even more was a debate between Stella and her partner-in-crime in training, Chrissy about which women deserve to be saved. There's even an awesome scene where Stella goes off on Working Mother magazine. But in the end, I'd say it is a sisterhood book. Tales of sisterhood. Sprinkled with murder, lust, love, broken hearts and fresh bread.


I give this book a big thumbs up! It was fun, smart and a quick read. Purchase a copy from an indie bookstore or Powells.com and toss it in your beach bag.

Disclaimer: The only payment I received was the copy of the book.

* 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.

08 June 2010

Another shooting that targets women & the media just yawns

Jennifer Pozner at WIMNs Voices:
It happened again. Another violent guy shot and killed his wife — and went on to gun down six other women unfortunate enough to be in his path before committing suicide. Four women are now dead; three others are in critical condition. And some media outlets (such as the AP story on Yahoo! News, “5 dead after shooting in Miami-area restaurant,”) are still failing to report this as a gender-based hate crime… echoing previous journalistic failures. 

Me two years ago: 
Friend of Viva la Feminista, Jennifer Pozner has been writing about the gender imbalance in school, now mass, shootings since Jonesboro in 1996. Heck, one of my first pseudo-blogs back then was the keep a running photo memorial to the women killed in the shootings from Jonesboro to Columbine. Yet time again, shooting after shooting, the media scoffs aside the fact that MEN do most of the killing.  
Is there anything new to add to this conversation?

Now go read the rest of Jenn's post. 

**

In light of my 10th year of blogging, I swear, I'm going to find my ancient geocities pages just for kicks. But mostly because I want my Jonesboro webpage. I may need to dig out my Mac Performa and hope it turns on.

06 June 2010

I'm still not White, but am I American Indian?

A few months ago when a bunch of us Latinas and Latinos were discussing which box to check on the Census we came up with a good way to express our desire to be seen as Latino to the government. Not white. Latino. We would check yes for Hispanic/Latino and then write in Latino for other.

The Department of Education ain't gonna play that game.

Last month my daughter came home with a note asking us to re-identify her (our) ethnicity for school records [Link is not to her school, just an example]. There was no "other" option (see below). OK, I"ll just leave the second question blank and check the yes for Hispanic/Latino. Then I read further on that if I did that, someone at her school would check a box for us. WTF? The U.S. Department of Education is requiring this of all students, staff, faculty/teachers across the country. As someone who works in education, I had to do this for myself.

Part One: Is this person Hispanic or Latino? (Must choose one)
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Not Hispanic or Latino
Part Two: Select one or more of the following categories that apply to this person.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Asian
  • Black or African American
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • White
See how in part two, one can be any or all of these, but none of them reflect my heritage as a Mexican-American. The lack of Hispanic/Latino in part two is moving researchers to look into how we see ourselves. Yet, I fear that the researchers aren't quite getting it either. In a recent article about Latinos seeing themselves as White they said:

However, in the New Immigrant Survey used in this study, participants were not given the option of choosing “some other race.” 
As a result, in the New Immigrant Survey, more than three-quarters of respondents (79 percent) identified themselves as white, regardless of their skin color.

“This shows that Latino immigrants do recognize the advantages of a white racial identity. Most are attempting to push the boundaries of whiteness to include them, even if their skin color is darker,” Frank said.

About 14 percent of the sample refused to identify with any of the listed races, even though this was not an official option in the survey. (emphasis mine)

Excuse me? Really? As someone who had to fill out a survey just like the one studied, lemme tell ya how I thought my way thru it. Definitions come from the sidebar on this page. My judgment is in bold & italics.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native:: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment. Close...
  • Asian:: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. No.
  • Black or African American:: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Um, technically we all do, right? But no.
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander:: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. No.
  • White:: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. No.
I'm left with reaching waaaay back into Conquistador history to check off white. I've also been told that somewhere on my maternal side, a stubborn and in love Spanish girl ran off to Mexico (now Texas) to marry her beloved and start a ranch. Still have to verify this logical* part of my family history. But I kept going back to the American Indian definition. Yes, I have origins in the original peoples of North America, specifically the mountains of Durango and Baja. Many of my family elders look a lot more like Navajo than Spanish or European.

My decision? I marked American Indian. And I feel terrible.

I feel terrible because I believe that American Indian should be reserved for American Indians...Navajo, Cherokee and Alaskan Natives. I was not going to let someone chose my heritage for me. I don't think that White reflects my history either. But there isn't a straight up Latino box!

So going back to the study that said Latinos chose White for the advantages. No. I'd gather to say that Latinos chose White (when other isn't available) because we are practically forced to choose it. For those of us who don't have Hawaiian, Black or Asian ancestors, what else are we supposed to do? Either option I was left with wasn't authentic. I also know that these counts feed into policy. Do I up the Native numbers or the White numbers? What's the implications for that?

I'd love to hear from other Latinos who have had to make this DOEd decision. I'd also welcome comments from the Native community, even if you want to tell me I screwed up.

*This would cement my line about raising the latest in a long line of stubborn women.

03 June 2010

Someone send City Hall a dictionary

Apparently "could" and "should" are being mixed up.

The EPA has told Chicago that the Chicago River should be cleaned up to a level where people could swim in it.  The EPA didn't say we should all jump into the Chicago River, but Da Mayor told the Feds to go swim in the Potomac.

Of course the EPA just wants the Chicago River, which is increasingly becoming a place for Chicagoans to canoe and kayak, to be clean enough for people to enjoy. I ran into a friend a few weeks ago and she looked amazing. Her secret? She's rowing. On the Chicago River. She said it stinks like hell, but her guns are loaded! Why is it such a terrible thing for the EPA, hell our own mayor to think that the river should be clean enough that we wouldn't need a series of tetanus shots if we fell in?
For instance, Chicago is the only major U.S. city that doesn't disinfect wastewater before pumping it into waterways. As a result, wastewater pouring out of the district's North Side Treatment Plant contains bacteria levels that are more than 400 times higher than those in disinfected wastewater that Philadelphia pumps into the Delaware River.

Levels of microscopic organisms in the Chicago River also are significantly higher than what Illinois allows in other waterways. Until now, though, pollution standards have been less strict for the Chicago River because it was assumed that people wouldn't come near it.

After five years of study and two years of debate, the federal EPA concluded the river can be restored and made more pleasant for people. "All of us want to see this environmental turnaround continue," the agency said in a statement. [link]
 While Chicago officials are looking up "should" and "could" they should also look up SHAMEFUL because I think their pictures are being installed there. One reason why the river shouldn't cleaned up, according to Chicago officials, is that people will drown!
Richard Lanyon, the district's general superintendent, also cited the death last month of Cashmere Castillo, an 8-year-old boy who tumbled into the river while playing a game of tag. Cashmere could not swim.

"The EPA's misguided advocacy would place additional lives at risk because the waterways are not safe for swimming," Lanyon said.
Shameful to use the name of a boy just lost to the river to prop up a dumb idea that if we cleaned the river it would lead to more deaths. The murkiness of the river led to rescuers at the momenet Cashmere fell in from finding him once he slipped into the water. The murkiness of the river lead to the lengthy recovery of his body. Yet, a clean river would be dangerous.

There's something to be said about such arrogance of public officials. But underneath it all, just under the tiny surface is that clear message from public officials that the Chicago River is a sewer and we need to just suck it up. Hopefully your canoe doesn't tip over while you're sucking.

01 June 2010

Review: Bitch Magazine the Action Issue


Action Issue Cover
Originally uploaded by bitch_magazine
It never fails. When I see Bitch magazine on the floor in the pile of mail, I squeal. And rarely does the issue fail me.

I'm still getting use to the color thing and the yellow isn't helping, but hey, if that's the worst I can say about this issue...

First, Andi Zeisler in her letter to the editor addresses the "we don't need feminism" bullshit from Venus. Gotta say that I never got into Venus. I have friends who lived by it, but I'm a music dork. And not even Venus could make me cool.

There's an excellent interview with Heidi Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky on page 10. I read the few chapters in a book store and fell in love. I really need to get that book. There are awesome pieces on Italian TV and hip hop that acknowledges that us chicks have orgasms too.

But the all out best piece in this issue is a kick ass essay about the hot mom phenomena and how it needs to die.

My mom blogging/tweeting friends know that I say 'Hell Yes!' to this. I feel that women have enough pressure to look hot all the time, to be sexually available all the time and that for moms to also be that way? Fuck that. Correction, fuck the prescriptions that come from blogs, books and magazines about how I should behave, dress and look in order to be a MILF. I'm so tired of being made feel like I'm not sexy just because I don't do this or wear that. I feel that in order to feel sexy, you do what makes you feel sexy. Of course, I won't get a book deal from that line.

But there's more! There is also a great interview with Jen Sorensen about her comics. A look at priv-lit - literature/media that tells women that all they need is to spend a lot of money for their lives to be better. I don't usually read best sellers, so I totally missed the whole "Eat, Pray, Love" mania and after reading this article, I'm kinda happy! But also very curious about how one book could cause such a stir.  For the vocab focused of us is a mind scratching piece about the use or lack of use of the word lesbian.

And of course there are always some wonderful book, DVD & music reviews!

Bitch magazine is independent media. It is feminist media. And we need to support it. So please, if you aren't a subscriber, do it today!

Latino Book Giveaway - RESULTS

For the month of May, I had a total of 26 comments and 8 were from me. So that's 18 entries for the Latino Book Giveaway!

I'm going to number all the comments 1 - 18 in the order received...
And now to go and count up to 10....

And that means that Shannon aka the Radical Housewife has won three books of her choosing:



If Shannon declines or fails to respond to my email within a reasonable amount of time, I'll go back to Random.org and pick another winner.

Thanks for commenting everyone!