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Review: How to Love the Empty Air

30 August 2011

Summer of Feminista: Crossing to the other side

My name is Kaluz and I am an expert on women’s health and nutrition because I’ve read many books on the topic and I like reading and writing about it.

I decided to write a post about women who suffer vulvodynia, like me. Maybe you haven’t heard about it either, but more women than you imagine suffer it silently, and many of them without even knowing. What has this to do with embracing the role of public intellectuals? As Veronica said in her call for posts, women voices rarely make it to op-ed pages, and not only women voices are neglected but also women’s specific concerns. Intellectuals should talk about women’s health too. I was surprised to find out that few gynecologists know how to treat women suffering vulvodynia. Apparently it’s such a mysterious thing. On the other hand, finding your voice and talking about vulvar pain is not that easy either.

I’ve been actively trying different treatments, reading to learn more about chronic vulvar pain, and I now talk to my mom about it. We both realized that more information earlier on would have been helpful, but also an environment that celebrates women’s body and encourages sexuality, that invites you to explore your body and love it….When I was diagnosed with vulvodynia, started physical therapy, and started looking down there, I couldn’t tell if my vulva was irritated or not, because I had never observed it when I was healthy. I even felt weird calling my thingy ‘vulva.’

It has been a difficult rite of passage for me. I want to embrace the role of Latina public intellectual by letting my voice be heard and talking about an issue that has been neglected and misunderstood. I want that the path I’ve walked empower other women, especially those with few resources and those having troubles finding information. This post is my first step towards connecting with other Latinas and women of color navigating this difficult ailment. I want to be a bridge to help other Latinas cross to the other side, a place free of pain and full of hope.

Kaluz is proudly Mexican and calls the United States home. Besides being a full-time feminist at work and school, she writes a food blog in English and Spanish where she experiments with healthy ingredients to move towards a healthier life.

Summer of Feminista 2011 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts on Latinas as Public Intellectuals. Liberal. Conservative. 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.

Review:: Ms. Magazine's Summer 2011 Issue

Yes, I know summer is almost over. But there is one more big weekend left! And if you are hitting the pool or beach one last time, be sure that you have the summer issue of Ms. Perhaps you were like me this summer...A magazine showed up and it went in that pile. Yup, the "I'll read that later" pile. If so, dig it out! If you don't subscribe, run to your local bookstore for a copy.

The cover story, "Sex, Lies and Hush Money," is a must read. Frankly, if this is all you read of the issue, it would be worth the cover price.

Executive Editor, Katherine Spillar, painstakingly outlines the charges of corruption against Sen. Ensign (R-Nev). You might recall that he abruptly resigned from the U.S. Senate earlier this year. And it was because he was caught. But it wasn't just Ensign who was caught up in trying to cover up his affair with his co-chief of staff's wife. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) appears to have his hands all over the cover up too.

So why is Coburn still in the Senate? Spillar not only outlines the dirty deeds, but also asks why the U.S. Justice Department or the Senate Ethics Committee haven't done anything about the cover up.

If you don't know who these two Senators are let me sum up. Coburn has advocated for the death penalty against abortion providers. Ensign said, "Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded," while advocating for the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004.

For Maddow fans, you might remember that she discussed this web of ick on her show and made the connection to "The Family."

If you can get through the cover story without torching your issue in a fit of fury, flip over to the book reviews! After the letters to the editor, the book reviews are my favorite. There are some great sounding books featured including: 

Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century by the fabulous Dorothy Roberts. "IN Fatal Invention, social critic Dorothy Roberts traces the long history of race from its invention as a tool of power to the emergence of [a] "new" racial science....Roberts shows that the use of race as a research category is, in fact, controversial among scientists." [IB | P]

The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett. "Rivers and Barnett report that in one school run according to Sax-Guron principles, drama is offered only to girls, computer applications, only to boys. In another, girls learn to write by describing their dream wedding dress while boys write about where they would most like to hunt...This fad (single-sex classrooms) endangers both girls and boys when it ignores the real differences between individual youngsters, whatever their sex, and when it fosters self-replicating stereotypes that ultimately discourage children from expanding their own horizons and honing their individual skills." [IB | P]

No Fear: A Whistleblower's Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA by Marsha Coleman-Adebayo. "Coleman-Adebyoa ultimately won a landmark sex- and race-discrimination case against eh EPA and her subsequent testimony before Congress les to the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-discrimination (NO FEAR) Act of 2000, the first civil-rights and whistleblower protection law of the 21st century." [IB | P]

Quotes are from the reviews, no link as they are not posted online.

* Book links are affiliate links. If you buy your book here I could make a very small amount of money that will be used to purchase books for my graduate program. Thank you!

29 August 2011

A Reminder of Two Mothering CFP Deadlines Approaching!

1] Mother of Invention: How Our Mothers Influenced us as Feminist Academics and Activists [Full CFP]

Co-editors: Vanessa Reimer and Sarah Sahagian

Publication Date: 2014

This anthology will bring together essays from feminist activists and academics alike. The goal of this anthology is to act as an antidote to matrophobia and mother-blaming by bringing together a variety of feminist narratives about how our mothers, intentionally or not, have influenced and inspired our feminist work and identities. The purpose of this book is to show mothers as a productive force in their children’s development. While not exclusively a celebration, this anthology will affirm mother work's importance.

Submission Guidelines:
Abstracts: 250 Words. Please include a brief biography (50 words) (and include citizenship information)

Please send submissions to both Sarah.Sahagian@gmail.com and vreim018@yorku.ca
Subject Line: Mother of Invention Abstract

Deadline for Abstracts is September 15, 2011

2] Other Mothers/Other Mothering [Full CFP]

Editor: Angelita Reyes Publication Date: 2013

Other mothers and other mothering roles may be found throughout history and across diverse cultures. Other mothers may be the paradigmatic first responders, the first-teachers of informal and formal learnings, or first care-givers for the formative triage years of children and youth. Other mothering denotes the continuity and contemporary practices of shared, communal, or assumed mothering responsibilities that are empowering and inclusive of social transformation. Despite the prevalence of this practice and increasing scholarship about other mothering, an edited collection on this important and central cultural paradigm does not yet exist. The aim of the present collection is to investigate the history, possibilities, differences, continuities, transformations, or advancements of other mothering, paying particular attention to liberating potentials of destabilizing patriarchal representations of motherhood and family structures. As interconnected and transnational cultures are in full swing into the 21st century, both men and women can perform and enable diverse and holistic roles of other mothering. How does other mothering transform the language implications of gender? How do we interrogate the roles of mothering for both women and men? This collection will explore the fluid, empowering and diversified roles of other mothering across cultures. Thus, of particular interest are submissions that interrogate other mothering from global perspectives, comparative ethnicities and historical contexts. The editor of this collection seeks article-length contributions in the humanities, cultural studies and social sciences that may include, but are not limited to the following topics:

Submission guidelines:
Abstracts should be 250 words. Please also include a CV.
Deadline for abstracts: October 12, 2011

28 August 2011



Demeter Press is seeking submissions for an edited collection on


Co-editors: Gloria Filax and Dena Taylor

                           Publication Date: 2014

                      DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS: DECEMBER 31, 2011!

While there are several books on raising children with disabilities, the literature is scant on experiences of disabled women who are raising children OR the experiences of those parented by a woman with disabilities. Bringing together disability with mothering has the potential to challenge dominant narratives of both mothering AND disability. Noticing dominant ideas, meanings, and/or stories/narratives (normative discourses) regarding both 'mothering' and 'disability' expose the limits beyond which disabled mothers live their daily lives.

The goal of this edited collection is to add to literatures on mothering and disability through providing stories by disabled mothers or their children as well as chapters of scholarly research and theorizing. We intend that both stories and research in this collection will raise critical questions about the social and cultural meanings of disability and mothering. Whether a birth mother, an adoptive mother,a foster mother, a co-mother, someone mothered by a disabled woman, or someone whose research explores disabled mothering, we invite you to submit to this collection.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

How are disabled women discouraged from having children? How does the medical model of disability shape the meanings assigned to disabled mothers? How do chronic illnesses affect mothering? Are disabled mothers healthy mothers? How do the social and cultural models of disability shape how we understand disabled mothers and mothering? Are disabled mothers oppressed? How doissues of race,class, and sexuality affect disabled mothers and their families? Should disabled mothers 'pass' as normal? How are pregnancy and birth experiences shaped by disability? How do children experience and understand a disabled mother? What support is needed and received by disabled mothers? How does the built environment, both public and private, shape the experiences of disabled mothers? What kinds of issues are there with children's schools, health professionals and/or children's attitudes? What form, if any, does social and political activism take? Do legal remedies work to assist disabled mothers (for example, disability as a protected category in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Americans with Disabilities Act)? How does a mother's disability expose the expectations of mothering? How does a mother's disability expose the assumptions about disability? How is society disabling of mothering? How can we 'do' disabled mothering differently?

Submission Guidelines

Abstracts should be 250 words. Please also include a brief biography (50 words) with citizenship.

Please send to gfilax@shaw.ca and detaylor@cabrillo.edu

Deadline for Abstracts is December 31, 2011

Accepted papers of 4000-5000 words (15-20 pages) will be due October 15, 2012 and should conform to MLA citation format.

*Tanya Titchkosky argues that referring to "disabled people" is preferable because it emphasizes disablement as a social process that prevents certain people from access to resources and goods available to others. "People with disabilities" implies that disability is not part of what it is to be a person and leaves disability as a problem. We agree with Titchkosky and therefore our choice of the title for this collection is "Disabled Mothers". (See Tanya Titchkosky (2003) Disability, Self, and Society. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, chapter 2).

140 Holland St. West, PO Box 13022
Bradford, ON, L3Z 2Y5 (tel) 905-775-5215
http://www.demeterpress.org info@demeterpress.org

25 August 2011

Summer of Feminista: Latina Public Intellectual-In-Training

My name is Amanda Reyes and I am an expert scholar because the pursuit of knowledge is my passion. In my ever evolving vision of the future, I am one of many Latina public intellectuals, a philosopher, activist, teacher, artist. I want to connect the academy, the arts, and the people, enriching each by bringing them together.

Philosophy is the search for and development of truths. I want my scholarship to combine Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa’s “theory in the flesh,” theories built on the lived experiences of Latinas and women of color, and academic philosophical thought. I want my writings to contribute to the progression of philosophical and feminist scholarship, influence public policy and social justice, and empower people, especially Latinas and women of color, through their pursuit of knowledge and truths. I want to share the works of other intellectuals and artists of color and help to reify our contributions to the United States intellectual and artistic canons. As an artist, I want to manipulate the conventions of filmmaking to tell the stories of our lives as U.S. women of color in all their complexity. I want my films to be personal, experimental, and liberating.

My activism, as a Latina public intellectual, will be to devote myself to intellectual and artistic accomplishment, yet it is also to share what I’ve learned so that it may benefit my students and our communities. Though I want them to be intellectually challenged, I hope to make feminism, philosophy, and art accessible to my students. I want them to know how to read scholarship and art and understand them in the context of their lives and the lives of others. I want them to read, see, and hear the lived experiences of others. I want them to know that non-white artists exist. I want them to know that theory is vital to their lives.

Amanda Reyes is a first-year Master’s student in Women’s Studies at the University of Alabama. She recently began The Feminist Type, a blog where she publishes book reviews in her research areas, Wikipedia contributions, and editorials on Alabama politics.

Summer of Feminista 2011 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts on Latinas as Public Intellectuals. Liberal. Conservative. 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 August 2011

EVENT: Mother Outlaws' Speakers Series (Toronto, Canada)


The Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI)
announces our continuing 2011 events for the

Mother Outlaws' Speakers Series

The Mother Outlaws Speakers Series is a free monthly event open to the public presenting
topical issues on motherhood and feminism.

Tuesday September 20th, 2011
6:30pm- 9:00pm
Women's College Hospital , Boardroom E252
76 Grenville Street (Bay and College), Toronto
(scent-free environment please)

The 21st Century Motherhood Movement

This panel will address several motherhood organizations featured in the ground breaking 2011 anthology by Demeter Press that highlight maternal advocacy, activism, and social change

The keynote address will discuss the challenges and possibilities of maternalism, detail the strategies of 21st century maternal activism, and affirm a much-needed mother-centered theory and politics of feminism.

Maternal Activism as Matrocentric Feminism
Andrea O'Reilly
Associate Professor in the School of Women's Studies, York University and
Founder/Director of MIRCI

Mother Outlaws: Building Communities of Empowered Feminist Mothers in the Mother'hood
Linn Baran

Empowering Women to Become Mothers: Midwifery in Ontario, 1900-2010
Judith Mintz

Toronto Feminist Mothers
Tania Jivraj and Rebecca Lee

Single Mothers by Choice: No Time to Wait for a Perfect Partner
Veronika Novoselova

Changing the World One Mother at a Time: The International Mothers and Mothering Network
Melinda Vandenbeld Giles

For further information, please visit our website

The kid will be a media critic before we're all done with her

The kid is not just a smarty pants kid, but she is also pretty observant about the world. I would like to think it is due to me being honest with her about media issues and not denying her voice when she speaks up. She also has a super cool aunt who wrote a book about Reality TV and does media criticism for a living. It is quite a proud moment for me when I get to point out Photoshopping on magazine covers to her to show her that no one is that perfect. But I know I can't do it alone.

That is why I was excited to learn that the Girl Scouts has new "journeys" (what they call curriculum units) on media and story telling. I was lucky to get a chance to ask Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Developmental Psychologist at Girl Scouts of USA, about the new media units.

I asked her how we can raise girl leaders without feeding into the "good girl" stereotype. I know I catch myself talking to the kid about being a good role model or a leader, I find that what I'm really saying is "Don't act up in front of the other kids, cause they might think it's ok to act up too." This is one of the messages that was engrained in me as the oldest of three girls, not to mention from teachers who saw me as a class leader. Instead of hearing that I need to lead by positive example, I heard, don't get caught making fun of someone. Dr. Bastiani Archibald said that Girl Scouts does not want to see girls who are only smiles and polite, in fact she believes that girl-on-girl crime could be from girls feeling pressure to "be good" all the time. We need to realize that being a good role model comes from knowing one's self.

I have also found lately that the kid is taking some of the messages about being a strong girl and seeing a dichotomy: girly girl versus sporty girl. Which is hard to figure out because she is quite a girly girl not to mention awesome on the soccer field. Dr. Bastiani Archibald responded that it is quite natural for girls her age to still be thinking in absolutes. Whew! But I know I need to watch myself when I critique girly girl culture too. I am trying. Dr. Bastiani Archibald said that one way to support our girls is to support their choice of clothing. And whoooweee, is the kid's choice of clothing full of sparkles.

Dr. Bastiani Archibald told me about activities for the youngest Girl Scouts where Daisies are asked to taste-test different yogurts, some with cartoon characters on them, some without. Then the girls are asked which one they like the best. "The one with the bear on it!" is a typical response. Then it is up to the leaders to lead the girls through acknowledging that cartoons do not make yogurt take better, they just make kids want that type of yogurt more.

The kid's school doesn't start for another few weeks and I don't know when Girl Scouts start back up, but I am eager to get my hands on the Brownie journey and help our girls tell their own story.

You can watch my interview of Dr. Bastiani Archibald below. It was a phone interview and Dr. Bastiani Archibald was the only one video recorded.

23 August 2011

Summer of Feminista: A Latina Hybrid

My name is Dulce and I am an expert guide in helping others chart their own course because I am a psychologist.

My journey started in a working-class suburb of Chicago, a middle child of Mexican immigrant parents. My parents left the beet and lettuce fields of California and Texas to work in the factories of Chicago. A choice made, they later told me, to give their children a better life; a life not filled with calluses and back-breaking work, but a life filled with more opportunities than they could never dream of for themselves.

My mother loves to use dichos; sayings that are common in my family as in many Mexican families; they are manifestations of a family's values, a reflection of familial cultural mores. One of my mother's favorite dichos is: "Cada cabeza es un mundo". This simple idiom literally means that each mind is a world in itself. As a psychologist I am compelled to look closer at this expression. It asks fundamental questions: Who am I? Is a person a product of the environment he/she inhabits? How is a person defined? I looked for answers from a variety of places; books, music, art, social activism, relationships. As an undergraduate, my interest in how social, cultural, biological variables intersected was sparked by Gloria Anzaldúa's book “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza”. In this seminal work on culture and identity, she articulated my experience living in a world of ambiguity. Being a child of immigrants, I occupy a world that is tinted by shades of belonging. I am an American who is not quite an American, a Mexican who is not quite a Mexican—a hybrid.

Being a Chicana lesbian, I occupy a world that is molded by rigid gender and racial identities. I am woman who doesn’t conform to traditional gender or cultural roles. So I created my own world. Mi mundo is filled with people who can quote Derrida while eating tacos de carne quisada , who dance between worlds, cultures, genders; who deny the existence of God but pray to la Virgen . I am a lesbian who was raised by a wild pack of jotos, who enjoys the politics of drag and gender illusion. My world is a place where my compañera and I live sin vergüenza of living a life of multiple identities. I am also a feminist who understands the impact of the dominant culture's influence on personal identity. In order for feminism to survive, it must be a hybrid, a place where we move away from the binary and into a place in which we build bridges between communities/ identities/spiritualties. Feminism must be a place where we live “sin fronteras/be a crossroads”.

Dulce Benavides is Chicago born and bred; Tejana Chicana Washingtonian who will receive her doctorate in Psychology this fall and you can find her at http://flavors.me/dcdulce

Summer of Feminista 2011 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts on Latinas as Public Intellectuals. Liberal. Conservative. 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 August 2011

Book Review: Cambodian Grrrl by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Disclaimer: I consider Anne Elizabeth Moore a friend and partner in crime. So my gloating about how awesome this book is should be taken with an industrial sized grain of salt. Or maybe not, because it is true.

The full title of the book is Cambodian Grrrl: Self Publishing in Phnom Penh. But this book is neither about Cambodia nor self-publishing. Rather it is about love.

Sure, Anne heads out to Cambodia and meets up with a gaggle of giggly Cambodian grrrls who live in the only dormitory for females in the country. Sure she teaches them how to make zines and express their thoughts and feelings. But the main theme is love. And me telling you that does not ruin the book. In fact it may make it even more awesome for you.

The most poignant part of the book is how powerful it is to teach young women to value their voice. Anne does it over and over, sometimes not even aware of the women she is teaching until a zine finds itself onto her bunk, as if some underground rebel newspaper. And in many ways, it is.

Anne writes in the same manner as she speaks. Direct and simple yet complex. She doesn't waste time with a lot of big academic speak, instead she paints complex thought exercises with every day words. I think this is why I love her so. There's no way you can miss when she throws down the gauntlet like when asks you to consider why those of us in the USA would be up in arms over Cambodians never being educated about the Khmer Rouge, but we barely bat an eye on the invisibleness of the plight of American Indians.

Somehow Anne is able to discuss issues of democracy, freedom of speech, the global garment market, slave labor, rape, mass murder and a litany of other tough subjects and leave me smiling. That left me with hope that all we really do need is love. And a sharpie.

Seriously, go now to Powells or the publisher itself and buy yourself a copy of this book. You will thank me. Promise.

* The Powells book links is an affiliate link. If you buy your book there I could make a very small amount of money that goes towards this blog. The publisher link makes me nada. I can't find this book available on IndieBound as of today.

19 August 2011

REMINDER! CFP: Barbados conference "Mothers and Mothering in a Global Context" February 2012


Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement
(MIRCI) and the Institute for Gender and Development Studies:The Nita Barrow Unit,
University of the West Indies are hosting an international conference on:


February 24-25th, 2012, Christ Church, Barbados


This conference explores motherhood and mothering in a global context by highlighting the commonality and also the diversity in how mothers care for children and others across, and beyond, borders and cultures. We welcome submissions from researchers, students, activists, community workers, artists and writers and papers that explore the meaning and experience of motherhood in a global context from a all academic disciplines including but not limited to motherhood studies, anthropology, history, literature, popular culture, women's studies, sociology, and that consider the theme across a wide range of maternal identities including racial, ethnic, regional, religious, national, social, cultural, political, and sexual. Cross-cultural perspectives on the subject matter are particularly welcome.

Keynote Speaker TBA

If you are interested in being considered as a presenter, please send a 250 word abstract and a 50-word bio by September 15th, 2011 to info@motherhoodinitiative.org



Full conference information including hotel location, conference registration fee will be available Oct 1, 2011.

Save $5 on Pinocchio

Save $5 by using promo code "BLOG" when ordering tickets for "The Adventures of Pinocchio" online at www.chicagoshakes.com or by phone at 312.595.5600.

Tickets are only $13–$20 with this special offer. And remember, CST patrons save 40% on guaranteed parking in Navy Pier garages!

16 August 2011

Book Review:: Rebirth by Sophie Littlefield

Just a mere month after I reviewed Aftertime, I bring you a review of its sequel, Rebirth. I should note that there is a novella, Survivors, that happens between the two books that is available for free download. I haven't read it yet but hope to in the near future.

Warning, this contains spoilers for the first book!

So the publicist for Littlefield saw that I was eager to get my hands on this book and sent it right to me. And obviously, I ate it up. It wasn't as easy going as it sounds. The first part of a bit slow in terms of plot and reacquainting myself to Cass Dollar.

This is a different Cass Dollar than the first. She's recovered, as much as one could, from her time as a zombie. She has her daughter back and settled into what one might call a normal existence in the survivor's camp, "The Box." Then a group of survivors called the Rebuilders, who are bent on ruling Aftertime, attack those who helped Cass at the beginning of her post-zombie journey. Cass' partner, Smoke, heads out to seek vengeance.

This is where we lose the Cass we thought we knew and see a whole new Cass. One who is still wrestling with her demons from her life as an addict and someone who inflicted self harm via sex. The one still wrestling with the guilt of losing her daughter, not due to zombies, but her inability to quell her addictions.

Cass is far from an ideal hero, yet she is one. She's not a character most people will fall in love with, but you will admire her for her tenacity and her devotion to her daughter. You will either empathize or be repulsed by Cass' choices all through the book. I swung back and forth depending on the decision! Post-apocalyptic life is far from black and white. Especially when you venture outside the relative safety of "The Box" to go up against the biggest threat - other human beings determined to fill the power vacuum and you have to bring your three-year-old daughter with you.

I can't wait for the third book!

Get caught up with Cass with your own copy from IndieBound or Powells. 

Disclaimer: As stated earlier, a publicist sent me this book after my last review.

* 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.

14 August 2011


is seeking submissions for an edited collection on

Counting on Marilyn Waring:

Co -Editors: Margunn Bjørnholt and Ailsa McKay Publication Date: 2013/2014

Deadline for abstracts: August 30, 2011!

This book will explore the impact, range and influence of Marilyn Waring's work since the publication of her book If Women Counted. We encourage submissions that explore how Waring's critical perspective on the system of national accounts has drawn attention to the nature and value of women's work, and especially how that perspective has inspired activist groups in both community and global settings. Contributions from both a theoretical and practical, policy oriented, focus that highlight the impact on teaching, research and social/public policy interventions will be welcomed. The book will also include an interview with Waring.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

- accounting for the value of women's work, including time-use studies; unpaid care work and human rights, in particular the link between unpaid care and HIV/AIDS policy; defining and accounting for the value of nature, including concepts of eco-feminism; theorising gender justice within a context of feminist philosophy, feminist economics and/or feminist political economy; the impact of the broad range of Waring's published works - in particular her book, If Women Counted - and the documentary on her work, Who's Counting, on both course development and pedagogical approaches, particularly with reference to a multi-disciplinary framework; the influence Waring's work has on national and international policy processes with specific reference to an overall gender equality and/or sustainability agenda; case studies highlighting the role of Waring's writings and teachings in informing/inspiring local activism with a focus on gender politics, for instance evidence of capacity building, greater empowerment, building new social movements etc as a direct result of engaging with Waring's work; linking Waring's work with concepts of gender budgeting and how such has influenced resource allocation processes/practices at a national and /or local level; Warings' influence globally, within and outside of the UN.

Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts should be 250 words. Please also include a brief biography (50 words).

Please send to margunn.bjornholt@gmail.com and a.mckay@gcu.ac.uk

Deadline for Abstracts is August 30th, 2011

Accepted Papers of 4000-5000 words (15-20 pages) will be due March 31th, 2012 and should conform to MLA citation format.

13 August 2011

Book Review: The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, MD

I stopped reading this book on page 68.

It's amazing I made it that far. Part of me thinks I should finish the book because I should know what is inside. People not only like to come to me for gender advice, but also test my boundaries on "gender roles." A friend loaned me this book, I believe as a way to see what my expert opinion of it would be. I have no idea how she feels about it.

It frightens me to think this was a NY Times Best Seller. Oh, the masses who read this and loved it!

You know what made me finally put this book down?

  • It wasn't her pointing out that female and male brains work in different ways. 
  • It wasn't her stating on page 8 that a female engineer quit her work to be in a more people-oriented career, thus giving more credibility to the idea that engineers don't work with people or for people.
  • It wasn't even when she dug up the old "I gave my daughter a truck and she treated it like a baby" cliché.
  • It was almost when she says men look for visual clues (plump lips, smooth skin) to ensure fertility when looking for women to date.
It was her slut shaming. 
In the chapter about how the female brain works in the areas of love and trust, she states: (Warning, put that cup down and swallow that bite)
Social reputation is often a factor in male assessment, since the most reproductively successful males also need to pick women who will mate only with them. Men want to ensure their paternity but also to be able to count on a woman's mothers skills to make sure that their offspring thrive. If Melissa had immediately gone to bed with Rob or showed off to him about all the guys she has had, his Stone Age brain might have judged that she would be unfaithful or had a bad reputation. 
Go ahead, read that passage again. Yes, you read it correctly. Cave men don't want slutty women to hook up with.

There's a lot of research in here and a lot of medical terms that aren't clearly explained. But from all the things on gender that I have learned from reading outside and inside the classroom and the science background I have, I have to say that this person takes facts and uses a huge rubber band to tie it to normative behavior. 

Instead of this book, pick up Pink Brain, Blue Brain. Sure it's 2-3 times longer, but it doesn't traffic in stereotypes and certainly believes that we have evolved from the Stone Age.

11 August 2011

Summer of Feminista: Finding Ella

My name is Suzanna not Suzy and I am an expert in bright colors because of my grandmother.

I can’t remember when I learned what a “feminist” was; it’s like asking me when I learned how to walk. I do however remember learning Spanish. It really wasn’t until I was eight when I figured out that “ella” meant “she.”

I am the only daughter of a Mexican immigrant and his American wife. For the past 20 years, I’m proud to say that three of us have held down La Raza within our suburban Maryland development. We’ve educated our neighbors that a double l makes a “ya” not “lll” sound and that no, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican independence day.

To be sure, for the majority of those 20 years, most of my friends were white, not Hispanic, not Latino. When I thought about it too hard, it made me uncomfortable, although I could never really say why. Similarly, most of my friends were girls, although only two of us identified as feminists. Feminism always came easily to me; of course, as a girl, I could speak out in class! Duh, I can carry that just as well as you. Sure my classmates would tease me about being a hairy feminist (although to be honest, I think my Frida unibrow was more thanks to my chilango side, but whatever), but I would get mad and then let it go. I was thirteen, had braces, had a weird name that no one could pronounce; I had enough on my plate.

Cue high school. Great friends, classes, and teachers. Still the only Latina in classes/friend groups/standing in this room, still one of the few vocal feminists. But something weird started happening. When I would get angry and rant quickly, people would interrupt and mimic me in an “Angry Latina” accent. But they were just kidding. Right? One time, a kid in my history class said that he was getting his house painted by Mexicans and wanted to know if he should give my dad a special tip. But that was an over-reaction. Right? One fall, I was cast in a Spanish speaking, low-cut wearing, big hair blowing role in our school’s play. My character was the cheating girlfriend of the play’s janitor. The janitor was played by self-tanner saturated English boy with an abusive Mexican accent. But my dad wasn’t angry. Right? But the audience was laughing with us. Right? This progressive, liberal school couldn’t be racist, right? We reached post-racial, no?

I could speak out when I saw that our history book only seemed to mention old dead white guys, why if other governments had a much higher percentage of women representation why couldn’t we, and that yes, we should also have screaming fans for our girls’ basketball team.

But when my guidance counselor told me that I didn’t have to worry as much about my applications because I was Mexican and that would definitely be an enormous help to get into colleges, I was silent. It was the same sensation as when someone who finally matched my hair, eyes, and skin would speak me in Spanish and I had to sputter my way back into English.

I sought advice on the trickiest answer within my college preparation (“mark all races/ethnicities that apply”), but I couldn’t find another Latina.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love my mom. That woman with the Spanish name who really isn’t Spanish has enriched my existence to no end. But while I can always approach her with questions on how to blast through that glass ceiling; my skin is simply too dark to share her foundation. And my dad? He’s the smartest man I know (even if our printer doesn’t always work). Yet, I think he remains mystified that a man could be born Mexican, naturalize American, and produce a Latina. In my only child way, I figured out my own answer, grateful that I didn’t have to explain it to a younger hermana.

I found my Latina a few months later, only she was a tad too busy to charlar. You see, Tia Sonia was confirmed only a month after my high school graduation. Ella. I heard the same affirmative action whispers attempting to bring discount her admittance, but I saw her present the rebuttal I could never producir. Ella.

Six months from 21, I realize that being a mestiza/mixed doesn’t mean either or. It means adopting, transforming, re-fitting to a new purpose, synthesizing. It means enhancing, challenging. To me, being a Latina feminist means you are speaking, gritando, apoyando, añadiendo. I still might stumble, pero gracias a mis mujeres, tengo confianzo en todas.

Yo sé que significa feminista, ahora escucha. Estamos hablando. ¿Lista?

Summer of Feminista 2011 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts on Latinas as Public Intellectuals. Liberal. Conservative. 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.

05 August 2011

What's the REAL problem?

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health asked its supporters to tackle that question this week in honor of it's second annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice. What is the REAL problem with the scapegoating of immigrant women in the USA?

It is particularly apt that a reproductive health organization is asking this question. I truly believe that at the heart of anti-immigration sentiment is the multiplication and reproduction issue. Put plainly, us Latinas know how to have babies. And it scares some people to bits. From "anchor babies" to teen pregnancies, Latinas are having babies at a higher rate than any other population. "In 2006 Latina adolescents gave birth at a rate more than twice that of white teens."

Drug dealers and terrorists don't seem as scary as immigrant women, bent on destroying the good U.S. of A. with their powerfully and fast reproducing wombs. Skipping over the border merely to get that baby a birth certificate, never mind the vastly improved medical services. Forget that conservatives seem to care about "the children." Oh wait, they only care about fetuses.

It is far easier to point a finger at "those people" for the troubles of this country than to look deep at our institutional flaws. Flaws that allow young people to be completely ignorant of what their bodies are capable of:

According to recent statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, 41 percent of teenagers (regardless of the type of sexuality education they received) know little or nothing about condoms and 75 percent know little or nothing about oral contraception.
But more than all of that, I truly believe that at the end of the day, Latinas just don't matter to this country. We are seen as hyper-fertile. That is only a problem because our lives are not valued. If we, as women, are not valued, our children are not valued. Our babies are seen as adding to the woes of this country instead of being seen as future leaders who should be worthy of investment.

I know that immigrant woman does not equal Latina or even Mexican, but it sure does feel like it a lot.

So what's the real problem? We are not valued. We are not seen as human beings. Our children are either not valued at all or stolen from us. And until we are, immigrant women of all nationalities will be seen as scapegoats for the downfall that this country is experiencing.

You can join the blog carnival to show your support.

02 August 2011

Summer of Feminista: Latinas in Publishing

My name is Dior Vargas and I am an expert in publishing because I have been interning, volunteering, and freelancing in the industry for the past 4 years. I also have a master’s degree in publishing. I have noticed that there aren’t many minorities in publishing as employees in a publishing house nor as writers in the industry.

I am aware that there are some standout writers such as Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sapphire, Ntozake Shange, Esmeralda Santiago, Sandra Cisneros, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Junot Diaz, and others. In the past other authors included Audre Lorde, Cherrie Moraga, and Gloria Anzaldua. However, there aren’t enough writers currently working in the industry considering the amount of books being published every year.

Why are there not enough people of color in publishing? According to Michael Garry’s article written in 1988, there are few if any large publishing companies that are actively recruiting minorities. These conditions haven’t changed very much despite the number of years that have gone by since that article was written.

There are a lot of industries where the only way you get into it is through who you know. More so for publishing. A lot of the people who work in publishing have gone to prestigious schools and have made many connections through networking. This is usually not the case for minorities because most aren’t given the necessary and adequate preparation to gain admission to these programs.

In my experience, I’ve realized that unless you work in a publishing press that is focused on the writings of people of color, you will not find many books that are written by minorities. The only times when there were more women of color was when I interned for Meridians, an interdisciplinary journal about feminism, race and transnationalism, and for The Feminist Press. Even then, there weren’t that many. This is because these presses don’t have the resources that other larger publishing presses have. Publishing high profile people like George W. Bush, Ann Coulter, and others brings money but these are the last people that liberal independent presses would publish.

Publishing is an industry where choosing which book to publish can be very risky. There is a lot of money that a publishing house can lose if the book doesn’t sell. Therefore, the publisher will only look for books that will sell. There are a plethora of books about Latinos and African Americans but most that are about subjects that further the stereotype of these cultures. Most writers are pigeon holed into writing books that stay within that subject and therefore will sell.

Based on the direction that publishing is going - digital, this excludes and narrows the opportunities that minorities have to find a place in publishing - even as consumers. Many don’t have the education or the skills to work in this new section of publishing. In addition, many minority consumers don’t have the resources to buy eBooks or eReaders.

Thankfully with the start of self-publishing, many individuals have the opportunity to publish works that otherwise never would have been read by others. Blogging is another venue where people can discuss topics and create a discussion about any topic. Yet, self publishing deviates from the norm and many people don’t view self publishing as legitimate as they would if the book was published by a well known publisher. In addition, unless it’s a blog that is well known, blog posts aren’t as respected either.

There have been instances where the media has noticed this disparity. One example is an article by GalleyCat where they noticed that in Publisher’s Weekly’s Notables of 2010 in book publishing, there were no women and very few people of color.

Recently an article was published by the Associated Press about how students are preparing to get a job in publishing. I found it very interesting that they said the students are overwhelmingly female. Yet the students they featured were all Caucasian.

This is ironic but I believe that in the past, there were more opportunities for people of color in certain parts of publishing. During the second wave of feminism, women of color were a lot more present in publishing and they started collectives and publishing presses that were rooted in consciousness raising and were extremely grassroots.

The Feminist Press was established in 1970 by Florence Howe because she believed there was a need for feminist books in high school and college classrooms. When Howe started the press, she thought it was going to be a temporary project because she assumed that other publishers would realize the importance of their work. It is evident that publishers still have not caught on to the notion that there are works that are still not being given the credence they deserve. It is therefore the responsibility of the press to continue their work of making sure all voices are heard. A similar organization, Kitchen Table Press, was established ten years later by Barbara Smith among Audre Lorde, Cherrie Moraga, and others. They shared the same sentiment that there was a great need for the voices of women of color to be heard and respected. Even though the Kitchen Table Press is no longer in existence there are other similar presses such as The Feminist Press, Seal Press, Red Bone Press, and others.

I don’t believe there are enough people of color concerned with publishing and the lack of people of color being represented in comparison to those in the past. I think there needs to be a return to the grassroots movements of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Perhaps there are not a lot of people of color interested in the industry. Yet their circumstances don’t make the process any easier.

As far as publishing goes, I don’t think there is a single stand out Latina public intellectual. I think there should be a group of Latina public intellectuals in publishing. More so for book publishing since there are more opportunities for them in interdisciplinary journals like WSQ and Meridians, and magazines like Latina Magazine, Urban Latino, Essence, VIBE, and Ebony. If there could be a Latina public professional in publishing, I think that this Latina should use her influence for social justice rather than just educating people about our culture. Using that power to influence change in the lives of Latinas is of the utmost importance. There are some Latinas that are making strides such as Galina Espinoza, the co-president and editorial director at Latina Media Ventures. Last year she teamed up with Planned Parenthood Federation of America to discuss Latinas and their sexual health. Sandra Guzman is another Latina who is raising awareness with her book, The New Latina’s Bible [P | I]. The book inspires Latinas and gives them greater self esteem. This is extremely important since statistically, Latinas attempt suicide at a higher rate than other races.

In the future, I could embrace the role of a public intellectual. It would be my goal to start a press that is dedicated to publishing works about women of color, feminism, GLBTQ issues, and social justice. I had the privilege of getting a master’s degree in the industry which many told me was not necessary. However, I felt that it would give me an edge and as a woman of color I believe it is necessary in order to get into the industry.

Publishing is important to our society because it is the means to give visibility to those who have something important to say. Who better than Latinas?

For further articles pertaining to this topic:



Summer of Feminista 2011 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts on Latinas as Public Intellectuals. Liberal. Conservative. 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.


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

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