Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

29 November 2010

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign: Day Five

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS DAY, NOVEMBER 29TH
Defending Women Defending Rights is an international campaign launched in 2004 for the recognition and protection of women human rights defenders who are activists advocating for the realization of all human rights for all people. The campaign asserts that women fighting for human rights and all activists defending women’s rights face specific violations as a result of their advocacy or their gender. November 29th is a day of recognition for women human rights defenders, and it is a day to commemorate activism, advocacy and courageous acts of resistance. The campaign focuses on defense of rights and the impact of abuses by state and non-state actors (including family and community members), the rise in militarism and fundamentalisms, and the many ways defenders are targeted because of sexuality, including the perception of being lesbian or gay.

For more information, check the women human rights defender campaign website at http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/ for videos, action alerts, reports, and other materials you can use to celebrate International Women Human Rights Defenders Day in your community.




Sadly, due to the political nature of health care in the USA, low-income women have had little access to their right to abortion since Henry Hyde thought he knew better. In order for many women in the USA to access their constitutional right to privacy and obtain a safe abortion, they need money. That's where we come in. 

CAF does not fund the entire amount of the procedure. CAF's average grant is a little over $300. The rest of the amount comes from the woman as well as CAF's negotiation with the provider on lowering the price. CAF does more than simply negotiate, they visit each provider to ensure that they are working with providers who respect the women CAF supports.

It's almost December and almost 2011. It's time for people to do their end of the year giving. 

Please take a moment to click over to my CAF giving page and donate $10 to help a woman in need. All money collected goes directly into CAF's account. I handle NONE of your donations. I am merely here asking you to donate and giving you a venue to donate. 

My goal is $500 within the 16 days of activism against gender violence campaign. 

Thank you for supporting CAF and the women they serve.

25 November 2010

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign: Day One

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates November 25- International Day Against Violence Against Women- and December 10- International Human Rights Day- in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Learn more at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.


For the next 16 days, Viva la Feminista will be joining thousands of voices in marking 16 days of activism against gender violence. In conjunction of this campaign, I am also asking Viva la Feminista readers to join me in an end of the year fund raiser for the Chicago Abortion Fund. You'll notice a ChipIn widget on the side bar. You can also go to my ChipIn page for CAF.

After five years with the Chicago Abortion Fund, I stepped off the board when I started my PhD program. This is solely due to a lack of time. I am still 100% committed to CAF and helping to raise money for the women of Chicago who need our support.

While I did not work hands on with the women and teens who called the CAF hotline, I did hear some of their stories. And yes, we received calls from women who were in violent relationships, survivors of rape and other violent situations. Without our support, some of the women would had found themselves in even worse situations. The women called because they did not want to bear the child of their rapist or bring another child into an abusive home. They did not reach that decision lightly.

This week CAF will get calls from more women than they have funds for.

This is where we come in.

Please give whatever you can. $5, $25, $100. Every dollar helps.

Thank you.

23 November 2010

Movie Review: Tangled (with a note on Megamind)

This review is for parents worried about what messages this movie may send to our daughters and sons. As a feminist parent, I wish I could pre-screen every movie and TV show before my daughter views it, but I just can't. Thus this review is more for that purpose as opposed to whether or not it is a good movie. In otherwords, if you kid is begging you to see this movie, but scream at the thought of another princess movie, this is for you. AKA THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!


Disclaimer: I was given a sneak preview pass through Klout because I'm a Klout influencer. I was under no obligation to receive the sample or talk about this company. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.

Plot: Rapunzel's mom (the Queen) is dying in child birth, saved by magic flower that Mother Gothel was hiding. The flower kept Gothel youngish for centuries. Without it she turned old. Flower was turned into a drink that saved Mom. Rapunzel was born with the power of the flower - in her hair. Gothel tried to clip some hair for the power. Alas the power only works when attached to Rapunzel AND can't be cut. Magic blond hair turns brunette after being cut. Gothel kidnaps Rapunzel. On the eve of Rapunzel's birthday, she wants to travel to see the "magic lights" that go up each year on her birthday. Gothel tells her she's too fragile & weak to be outside the tower. Selfish evil people would want to use her for her magic hair. Thief Flynn Ryder has just stolen something from the King (Rapunzel's dad) decides to hide in the tower. Rapunzel blackmails Flynn into taking her to the kingdom to see the lights. On their journey they have to keep Flynn from being caught, fall in love and all sorts of adventure.

Feminist parent analysis:
  • Earlier this year word got out that Disney changed the title of the movie to "Tangled" to attract boys. I don't think that the movie was overly boy'd out. The adventure (boy parts) were similar to the chase scenes in "Aladdin." There was a lot of discussion about what this meant...I think those criticisms are fair and totally valid.
  • I don't think Rapunzel is saved. She wanted to get out of that tower despite her love for Gothel. Flynn was merely her guide to freedom. Rapunzel knew nothing of the outside world. Had no idea where to go. Plus she swings a mean cast iron skillet.
  • Yes, they fall in love, get married & live happily ever after. Can't get away from this ending. Although Flynn, who narrates the movie, does make it clear that they don't get married right away. 
  • Flynn narrates the movie. Her story is told through his voice. 
  • The mother-daughter conflict is crystal clear. Her "mom" kidnaps her and keeps her 'safe' in a tower. *gag*
  • Flynn is transformed by Rapunzel's love. *gag*
  • There's a throw-a-way line about Rapunzel being physically strong since she pulls up Gothel. This is proven over and over by the way Rapunzel slings her hair around like a whip, saving Flynn and herself. Not to mention her mean swinging of the cast iron skillet.     
  • Can't believe I forgot this one!  Flynn dies for Rapunzel! But since I told you that they live happily ever after, Rapunzel does save him. Flynn goes to save Rapunzel from Gothel, but Gothel stabs him in the gut. As he lays dying Rapunzel goes to save him with her hair. Instead he cuts it all off, thus cutting off Gothel from her reason to want to take Rapunzel away. Rapunzel heals him with her tears. Gothel dies in a great scene.
I didn't like the songs. My favorite Disney movie is "The Little Mermaid." I felt a few of the songs were trying to be too much like TLM.

Overall is was a good movie. I cringed move over the bad songs than any gender issues. Maybe someone without love of a good Disney song can help point out issues I missed. I liked Rapunzel's Revenge better.

Apparently this is going to be Disney's last princess movie for some time. They are going to go hard after the boy market. Hopefully this means our girls can be girls again and not perpetual princesses. But parents with boys...be warned! When Disney sets its aim at a population it doesn't let go until it's been bleed dry. And while it might look cute, there's a dark underbelly.

Edited to add: We also saw "Megamind" last weekend. If I had to choose between "Tangled" and "Megamind" I would have to say "Tangled" hands down. Megamind is a total "boy" movie with super hero, villains and a damsel in distress. But the take home message in this movie is directed towards boys. On one hand, Megamind learns that he can change his evil ways and be good (good message)...in order to get the girl, Roxanne (bad message!). This is of course after Megamind's creation Titan turns bad due to greed AND being dissed by a girl. Of course it's the same woman since these types of movies only have one woman. After getting dissed, Titan kidnaps Roxanne and tries to kill her. SUPER BAD MESSAGE! While we laughed a lot at this movie, but the violence against Roxanne based on her not reciprocating Hal/Titan's love puts this movie in the "HELL NO" pile.

By the way, when showing 3D movies, the theater should make sure the glasses are clean. The kid spent almost half the movie with smudged glasses. We never go to 3D movies cause I think it's unnecessary. 2D is just fine.

Questions?

19 November 2010

Star Wars can help Katie & other girls by doing more than just blogging

As a blogger, I am still constantly amazed at how fast some of our stories spread around our world. The story of first-grader Katie being bullied for liking "Star Wars," hit a chord with many SW fans. It went viral with such fury that Star Wars blogger Bonnie Burton responded:
As any Star Wars fan worth his or her weight in midichlorians can tell you, there is no one single “type” of Star Wars fan. Star Wars fans are both genders, all ages, all races and all nationalities. [...]

My point is, ladies love Star Wars too, and we should all support their right to geek out just like the guys. Little girls need to know they have every right to pick up a lightsaber as the rest of us.

Star Wars itself is full of strong, independent female characters who wouldn’t have taken any guff from 1st grade boys who clearly don’t know their Star Wars characters. 
To that I say "Hell yeah!"

But I also want to say to Star Wars & George Lucas...You can do more. You can show the world, boys and girls, that you really do mean the words that Burton writes. If Lucas & Co. are strong enough to get paid each time someone uses the term "droid," then they can insist that companies who use Luke, Leia, Darth & Yoda to sell us things from bedding to clothing, do it in a gender neutral manner. You gonna slap Yoda on a t-shirt? Sell it in both departments or a special Star Wars section. If you are going to hurray the return of Classic Star Wars on bedding, you need to control how it impacts kids. How can a little girl know that she can pick up a lightsaber if Star Wars bedding is located in the boys section of the Pottery Barn Kids catalog and not the girls?

If you head over to Target's online store, do a search for Star Wars. 116 items are under "Boys Toys" and 15 under "Girls Toys." Oddly, a girl can find MLB & NBA bedding at Target, but not Star Wars. Hint, it's located in the boys section.

Kids are kids. They are constantly learning and as anyone who has spent time with a kid for 10 minutes knows, they pick up everything you say and do. They might not show it right away, but a few days later when your precious 7-year-old throws an F-bomb, you flash back to your own f-bomb from Monday in traffic. How else does my daughter know to yell at cars to "move it!"

I can already hear people mumble or yell, "This doesn't matter!"

Tell that to the boys in Katie's class who think that Star Wars is a boy thing. Where do you think they learned it? From other boys, parents who say "Don't play with that, it's a girl thing!" and from stores that so cleanly label girl things with pink & glitter and boy things with black & red flames. Hey! That's kinda how the Leapster Star Wars handheld looks!

Yes, girls can shop in the boys section and I can buy things online from boys categories. That's not the point. The point is that each time we separate out toys, clothing, any item between girls & boys we send a message to kids. And they are freaking listening. Then we get stories where first graders are bullying and harassing a classmate over a freaking Star Wars water bottle because she is not confirming to what they believe girls should do and act. And when that happens, you break Master Yoda's heart.

PS: Dear Katie: You are an amazing young person. My daughter is 7 and has been Princess Leia for Halloween 3 times. Don't stop being you for anyone. Ever. Not when you're in first grade or when you are in college. I'm 35, almost 36, and I still try to do my hair like Leia. Much love and strength my fellow Jedi!

17 November 2010

CFP: Precarious Spaces: (Dis-) Locating Gender

Precarious Spaces: (Dis-) Locating Gender


Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference at the University of Rochester

March 24th & 25th, 2011

Keynote Speaker:

Professor of Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University


The Susan B. Anthony Institute at the University of Rochester is pleased to announce the 18th Annual Gender and Women's Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference, which will take place March 24th and 25th, 2011. The Conference Committee is currently seeking paper proposals. Each year the SBAI conference features considerations of gender, sexuality, and women's studies from varied disciplinary fields. These include (but are not limited to) art, art history, cultural studies, education, film, history, geography, law, literary studies, linguistics, media studies, medicine, music, philosophy, and political science. The conference aims to foster an environment of interdisciplinary communication, knowledge exchange, and collaboration.


The nucleus of this year’s conference is to query the ways in which gender/sexuality and space operate as intersecting domains of intelligibility and mutual projects of precariousness. By "precarious spaces" one might think of risky positions, contested territories, unstable conditions, or unsafe environments. Ideally encompassing a wide-swath of terrain—that would include theory and praxis—we would like to invite graduate students to present research that addresses questions such as: How might the sexualized body become a locus of mapping and/or zoning? What function might borderlands or simulated spaces have in the re-articulation of gendered/sexualized identities? Why do certain localities—from the exigencies of the immediate, to the "global"—get rendered in a singularly gendered rhetoric? Are notions of the private versus public divide still immersed in a negotiation of gender norms? Can heteronormative space be effectively "queered"? How do spatial-gendered determinations and liminalities manifest themselves in language, representation, law, and social policy? Please view these questions as mere loci of entry, and not determinative of successful submissions.


Research topics relevant to this year’s theme might include the following keywords, though this list is far from exhaustive:

· Architecture
· Affect (the emotional resonances of space)
· The body
· Décor/interiorities
· Literature
· Performance/exhibition
· Histories of space making
· Medicine
· Pedagogy
· Notions of the "urban" versus the "rural"
· Constructions of private vs. public spheres
· "Safe" spaces versus spaces of conflict
· Counter-publics (“transgendered”/“queered" spaces)
· Discourses of "nation" and "empire"
· Borders
· Diaspora
· Geography
· Mapping/cartography
· The "interstitial"/"borderlands"
· Extra-territoriality
· Imagined/represented/simulated space
· Zoning

Submission Details:

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Matthew Bayne, at bayne.matthew@gmail.com. Presentations will be limited to 20 minutes, including audio-visual demonstrations. In your email, please provide contact information, a brief biographical statement, and any audio-visual or technological equipment needed for your presentation. Submissions are due no later than January 21, 2011. You will receive the committee’s decision by February 4, 2011.

16 November 2010

Have you "liked" Viva la Feminista?

I decided it was time to start a fan page for Viva la Feminista. Not because I think this is the biggest and most awesome of blogs, but I know there are far more of you out there then I care to admit. That's my modesty peeking through. As I consider my 10th blogging anniversary, VLF is just over three years old and with this PhD thing, I'm not posting as much as I use to, I'm trying to do a few things to help keep us all in touch.

I also know that there are some of my Facebook friends who do like to read my stuff, but not everyone. So instead of feeding VLF RSS to my personal Facebook profile, I'm going to feed it to the VLF fan page.

I know it may seem strange, but I don't think I've ever promoted VLF over at Facebook. I guess it's because my whole point of joining Facebook was to connect with students in my program. Then after Zuck left everyone and their dog join Facebook, I walked a fine line between being me and being the director of a my office. Last year I started to move students over to my office profile. I'm still trying to make sure all that need to be moved are moved. I also am friends with people who just want to be connected to me, but I'm pretty sure, based on things I've posted at Facebook, would rather not be inundated with my blog posts. Thus the weird divide.

Anywho, head on over to Facebook and like this blog. I'm going to try to post a featured blog post when I can. I did today, so head on over and see what I loved reading today. Thanks!

10 November 2010

Review: Ms. Magazine Fall 2010

The Fall 2010 issue of Ms. Magazine is a great read and contains one controversial article. First the good stuff:
Overall I think this is an issue to pick up.

BUT...One piece made me sit up straight and let out a WTF!? There is a two page piece about women's studies programs online.

Disclaimer: Hopefully you have seen the link on the sidebar that says I write for the Ms. magazine blog and perhaps even found this blog after it being featured in Ms. magazine last year. I also received this copy of Ms. from Ms. for review. Back to controversy...

Online colleges and universities are for profit entities, even those attached to traditional colleges and universities. There's a lot of controversy around their tuition and other issues. Online women's studies programs buy advertising in Ms. magazine. As a young young feminist one of my favorite essays was Gloria Steinem's "Sex, Lies & Advertising." So it bothers me that Ms. ran this piece. Yes, it was informative, but that's not the point. One reason I turned to Ms. magazine as a young young feminist (I'm 35 and still young) was the idea of escaping pieces about advertisers.

I don't think this is as bad as say a piece about how my career will take off if I just lose 10 pounds next to a diet ad. But I have expectations for Ms. and this one article made me wince.

Should this keep you from heading out and grabbing a copy? No. In fact if you do or have, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the online college piece. Am I reacting because I have issues with online education? Perhaps. Would it be different if it was about the Leaping Bunny or Green Festival? I dunno. Seriously, what do you think?

    07 November 2010

    Guest Post:: Share this Video of John Boehner

    This post is cross-posted with permission from Blog for Choice.

    Rep. John Boehner of Ohio is set to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives in January. What do we know about him?

    Well, for one, that he wants to take away your right to choose. Boehner thinks politicians, not you, should make the personal, private medical decisions that affect your life.

    Exactly how extreme are John Boehner's views?
    • He voted twice against the Family and Medical Leave Act. 
    • He voted eight times against clinic protection for women and doctors. 
    • He voted for the dangerous Stupak abortion-coverage ban in health reform. 
    • He voted twice to deny federal funding of abortion care to survivors of rape and incest.
    Boehner's plan to attack choice is no secret--it's his top priority. He just released a new working document called "Pillars of a New Majority." Pillar number one: a speech he gave last summer to the National Right to Life Committee in which he expresses his intention to repeal the health-care reform law and pass the "Stupak on Steroids" bill.

    He even said that when women have the right to choose, "freedom is diminished":



    Make no mistake: John Boehner's House will be relentless in its attacks on a woman's right to choose. By our counts, there will be 248 anti-choice members of the House, compared to only 154 pro-choice members. Many of these anti-choice extremists oppose legal abortion, even for women who are raped or are survivors of incest.

    We must be strong starting now. Send a message to John Boehner that you are not going to sit around while he and his extreme cohorts attack our right to choose!

    VKS5PWDQ8AAV

    05 November 2010

    Searching for a new Mayor: Part 1 - Schools

    While not as shocking as Daley's retirement, the timing of Ron Huberman's decision to quit on the Chicago Public Schools was a bit shocking. But it's one that many of us looking forward to a new Mayor and new head of CPS are moving past quickly. There are a lot of issues in CPS, some obvious and urgent, some not-so-obvious, but still in need of attention. I hope to write a little bit about those issues here and encourage Chicagoans to make it a priority to ask all Mayoral hopefuls not just about their dedication to public schools, but what plans they have to address certain needs such as:

    • The scattering of CPS students: The recent decision to allow any and all siblings to go to the same magnet school is AWESOME. There are far too many parents who are shuttling all over this city to take 1 kid here and another one there. That said, why don't we go back to the idea that a school is a community center, that kids in the neighborhood go to a school down the street and then families know each other in the neighborhood? I know one family who live in Hyde Park and one kid goes to school on the near West Side and the other on the far South side. Thankfully there are two parents to shuttle these kids. Why shuttling? Because CPS doesn't bus kids who live farther than 4 miles away from the school. Um, aren't these the students who SHOULD be bused in? Instead they are shuttled by parents or take the CTA at a younger age than most parents plan. This issue is always raised when talking about gang fights but the current mayor says he won't let gangs draw school maps. Nice dodge. 
    • The drop out rate: Why do we need hip hop stars to come in and tell kids they need to stay in school? I love the idea, don't get me wrong, but I think it signals that we aren't providing certain students with a good view of what their future holds....Or others in power are painting them a picture that they are rejecting and thus see no use in education. 
    • RECESS: My daughter's school does not have recess as a regular part of their day. Sometimes they go out before school, but if it's before school, is it recess? There are far too many studies that say recess is key to academic success. Not to mention Michelle Obama wants out kids to be moving.
    • Libraries for all: The Whittier Moms should not be forgotten. Not when we have 164 schools without libraries and some schools have sorry excuses for a library. I talked to one mom whose child goes to a school with a literature focus that does NOT have a library. 
    I'll cover more in future posts. Cause I didn't even mention capital issues.

    But as we move towards these changes, I would like to see one thing changed. The way we view schools on the CPS website. Take the Jane Addams Elementary School. We can click around and see when they were inspected for asbestos, how well they recycle and demographics. But you have no idea if you are applying to school without a library, that keeps their students inside for 6 hours without fresh air and how long they give kids to eat their lunch. But you know there is a dress code. Jane Addams was a bookworm. If there isn't a library at her namesake school, she's rolling in her grave. But you don't know these things unless you think to ask (why would anyone think otherwise until the Whittier moms brought the issue to light?) or you find out when your child comes home to report there is no library.

    This is a critical time for public education, especially in Chicago. We have a new mayor coming in soon and eventually new leadership for CPS. In DC "No Child Left Untested, er, Behind" needs to be revamped so that the top schools can go back to being totally awesome. Honestly, is it a surprise that NCLB reform is now all the rage once the top schools start failing?

    But I'm rested from Tuesday...Gotta be. Mayoral hopefuls are having fund raisers and signatures are being collected. We need to get a hopping!

    04 November 2010

    Book Review: Do Something! A Handbook for Young Activists by Nancy Lublin

    Don't be fooled by the subtitle, Do Something! A Handbook for Young Activists should be sitting on your shelf too. It's a straight forward tool for the novice activist that helps them identify "their thing," aka their issue to work on. The issues range from education to hunger & homelessness.

    I let my daughter flip through it as she's quite concerned with the state of the world, especially all the homeless she sees on a daily basis. At seven, I think she's note quite ready for this book. At the same time she took quite an interest in it too. But when she's ready to take on an issue whether it's petitioning her school for something or rallying our neighbors to clean up the park, Do Something will be what I point to as a first step.

    Do Something guides young activists through the imagining process to the planning process to the doing and of course the evaluation of actions/campaigns.

    I say that this should be sitting on your shelf because the book is written for kids and thus cuts to the chase of what you should be doing when planning any action. There's even sections on project and meeting management.

    The downside is that to entice kids to think that doing good is cool, the book and companion website rely on celebs who do good. I like to see my fave movie star out doing good too, but I also want kids to know that doing good is good into itself, not just cause it's cool. Then again, if having a picture of a Jonas brother in the book will give a kid that needed boost to start educating her friends about cruelty-free make-up, so be it. Save the bunnies, Nick!

    Get the kid in your life a copy from an indie bookstore or Powells.com. Cause really, are you going to buy an activist book from a big giant company?

    Disclaimer: The only payment I received was the copy of the book which will sit on my daughter's book shelf waiting for her to save the world.

    * 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. 

    03 November 2010

    When Reality Bites Back, it's pretty damn funny

    The election got you down?

    Turn that frown upside down with Reality Bites Back book trailers!



    Check out the full series at YouTube all week!

    02 November 2010

    Join the PBS NewsHour for Election Coverage