Monthly Archives: July 2011

Is vegetarianism gendered? Part 1

What I’d like to ask about today, briefly, is if vegetarianism is gendered. It just seems like I meet more female vegetarians than male vegetarians, and that when girls brag about eating a nice juicy steak there is always this shadow of masculinity lingering around, either in the way their voice changes when they say “juicy steak”, or in the decor of the places where such juicy steaks are consumed, etc.

Full disclosure: I have been a vegetarian for a year now, for a litany of reasons: the main two being ethical reasons (thank you Jacques Derrida, Rav Kook, Michael Pollan, Jonathan Safran Foer, PETA, etc.) and for practical reasons related to my religious dietary restrictions. In previous years, I have been a raw food vegan (2-3 months, I don’t remember), vegan (1 month), but this recent vegetarianism has been the longest to last. As for my role as a gendered consumer of vegetarian products and vegetarian culture, I am not sure where I fall. I mean, I wear polos and bro shorts on the weekdays, flannel and long skirts on the weekend. I was raised in female spaces and culture, and for feminist reasons identify with women as my “class,” but I am ambivalent about it at the same time.

So, basically, all I have at the start of this post is a question based on cultural cues that I’ve picked up for the years. What I’d like to do now is, through Googling, find a few clues to whether there is actually a cultural gender barrier in the vegetarian-omnivore divide, or whether I am just hallucinating.

OM NOM NOM NOM, SEITAN 4 BREAKFAST (click here to go the rest of the post).

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Feminist Humor

A contradiction in terms, I know. One of those most common side-effects of the phenomenon I spoke about last Monday is the stereotype of feminists as being humorless, joyless and not being able to laugh at a joke. Usually, this refers not to the whole of comedy, but jokes that make fun of women, feminism, violence against women and rape that are just so funny, why can’t you see it? Oh, because you’re a feminist and therefore can’t take a joke. Comedy and laughter are some of those things that people always point to when thinking about those wonderful, ineffable things that make us human, and it would be a shame if feminists were somehow missing out on all that great humanness, so I’m going to try to deconstruct the debate by looking at different types of jokes, the effects they have and where the role of appropriate discretion comes in. If we can all just get over the irony of a humorless feminist dissecting humor into an oblivion, then we can move on. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to all of these ideas, and there is caveat at the end.
On to the jokes!

Tagged , ,

Pop Quiz! Teacher Needs A Smoke Break*

*disclaimer: i never have and never will smoke cigarettes, bli neder

As my FB friends already know, my apartment was burglarized last Thursday night while I was downtown.   All of my electronic valuables are gone, which includes some 25 links I had saved to blog about.  As I need to spend this week dealing with the aftermath of the Apartment Incident, I will not be able to blog at my usual standards this Wednesday.    I sincerely hope to have my electronic life functional by next Wednesday, but I make no promises.   Please enjoy this amuse-bouche while I sort Things out.

 

  • INTERVIEWER: When a comedy is this raunchy, is there such a thing as going too far?
  • JESSE EISENBERG: There is stuff in this movie that I’m uncomfortable with. I don’t like to use the “R” word, for example. Rape, for example. I’m very uncomfortable with that word, personally because I do work with domestic violence organisations and I’m very aware of the alarming statistics of women who are abused. So I’m very uncomfortable with that. I’m not uncomfortable with the sexual jokes. Sometimes I think they’re less funny than others, I don’t care about that, cos it doesn’t harm anybody. I’m uncomfortable with saying “rape,” I don’t like saying that, I never say it in my life. If somebody says it, I cringe. I don’t like it when people make jokes about that word. I’m a little bit uncomfortable with it, but I was hired to do a job. I thought most of the movie was good and kind of respectful to people in general. The movies that really bother me are rich white people lamenting their lives when they have, like, a million dollars. That to me is more offensive than sexual humour. A rich, white person lamenting their million-dollar kitchen and the audience is supposed to sympathise with that character, to me, that’s pathetic. Whereas, in this movie I thought the characters were real and my job was to take my character seriously.
(Citation sticklers will notice that the “interview” link will take you to a feminist fan tumblr that I approve of, not the actual interview.   If you want to track the original down, i’d appreciate it.)
I have italicized the parts that I think are most interesting.   I haven’t seen enough of JEisenberg’s work to make a comment about his talent, skills, or public persona.
What do you think of his statement?  What about the choice of the word “uncomfortable”? What sort of responsibilities do young actors have regarding their characters?   Does that change when you are as prominent as JEisenberg?  Does the fact that he is less offensive on Womyn’s Issues than Charlie Sheen or Donald Glover (I’ll blog about him later) absolve him from moral or logical lapses in judgment?   Do you even think there’s a lapse in judgment here?
Discuss!  (I will probably not comment on this discussion, but after I’ve seen Zombieland when Alice comes to visit, maybe I will.)
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Herstory #2/Work in Progress: Conversa Women and the Politics of Personal Practice

So, as it turns out, this internship has me busy, and I am rushing to finish a paper that I’ll be presenting on Thursday, but I think I’ve got the introduction down. This paper has been something I’ve been thinking about for several months, and I hope to turn it into a full-blown research project that will hopefully take me to the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City sometime after graduation, where I will hopefully explore specific cases more in depth through this sort of lens.

As the deadline approaches (I have to do a trial presentation on Tuesday), I’d appreciate your feedback, comments, questions, etc. I’ve provided the intro, and to anyone who is interested I will email the pdf of the full paper once I finish (just email us at arewefeminists@gmail.com).

Click here to go to the introduction (not feeling witty today).

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Surviving High School Sexual Politics: Slut-Shaming and Reputation Management in Easy A (2/2)

This post uses Easy A as a jumping off point. The movie is relevant to frame the discussion, but if you haven’t seen the movie, I still encourage you to participate. In addition, I am going to spoil the plot of Juno for you right now: a teenage girl gets pregnant by accident and has the baby. Also, Snape killed Dumbledore.

I am hereby restricting this discussion to American public high schools. If you can make a case that private/charter schools* are different/the same, please do so! But also leave all religious/parochial schools off the table: unless you were raised Catholic, I probably have more friends who went to Catholic school than you do. And Jewish day schools are an entirely separate can of taboo worms.

*If you’re interested in prep school as reflected in pop culture, check out the new music video for T-Swizzle’s single “Story of Us.” It might as well be subtitled “Taylor Swift Goes To Hogwarts”. The production value is amazing and everyone is beautiful, no matter what you think of the song.

If you are interested in adult sexual politics and etiquette, Marie Claire has an interesting article this month asking six five women, “what’s your number?” Because it is actually well edited, thoughtful, and diverse, I am including the link here. Ask me later what I think about their responses, especially the Asian chick’s.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The World, the Internet, and the Scourge of the Scary Scary Feminists

Sorry this is up so late. This is a big topic and I’m still not sure I dealt with it adequately, but I needed all this time.

Feminism as a Bad Thing

It’s an oft-repeated trope that feminism has become a dirty word, that there is an aversion to the term that is new in this young generation. The claim that the youth don’t care about political feminism is questionable at best, but the un-mainstream nature of feminism has much more compelling evidence on it side.

We see this everywhere. We see it in this video, where despite some excellent, totally rockin’ responses, we also have a socialist who refuses to call herself a feminist as well as someone who sees it as a thing of the past.

We see it in Lady Gaga’s response to the question. Lady Gaga, who sees herself as transgressive and boundary-breaking and who questions her interviewer’s sexist bias, demurs from calling herself a feminist, not because she doesn’t believe in the tenets or agree with the direction of the movement, but because she doesn’t want to be associated with man-haters, with those who hate the “male culture” of beer and fast cars and don’t ‘love’ and ‘hail’ men. What has gone so deeply wrong that this powerful, adventurous woman cannot bring herself to say loudly and proudly, “I have a deep appreciation for certain aspects of what it means to be a man in this culture, but there is no earthly reason why those should be restricted to men and damn it, someone whose gentialia have been as questioned as mine have should understand that at our core we must respect the flourishing and empowerment of everyone, and we are not there yet, especially not for women.”

More examples and an impassioned explanation

Herstory Lesson #1: Summary of Jewish Women’s Movements from 1967-1973

Another part of my internship involves doing research for a professor who is working on a book on Jewish women’s involvement in the feminist movement of the later 20th Century, and my job has been to look at documents from women’s ogranizations and events that were specifically Jewish in focus. Even though Jewish women have always had a role in the development of feminism, including Shulamith Firestone of New York Radical Women and Redstockings, and several women in the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, their Jewishness and their relationship to Jewish society did not really get much airplay in their day-to-day activism. There are many, many reasons for this and I’ll leave that to my professor to explain in her book, but I’ll briefly summarize the trends in Jewish-focused feminism from 1967-1973, which are basically the years the whole thing got started.

Let’s do the time warp again!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Troubling Feminism of Teen Fantasy Films: Exploring the Erotic Empowerment of Easy A (1/2)

Due to (positive) personal life circumstances, I am very behind on my blogging for the week – I still owe Laz and CD comments on both of their eloquent posts, not to mention responding to the Beyoncé comments. I have a lot to say about the feminist issues this movie raises, so I will definitely be returning to this topic at a later date. Please consider this part 1 of at least 2 posts on Easy A.

I was excited about this movie from the minute I first heard about it last year. As a female, heteronormative pop-culture-consumer only three years out of adolescence, how could I not be? Plus, quite separately from the feminist glee, I appreciate a good literary joke, especially about something as boring as The Scarlet Letter. (Note: I do not consider all high school assigned novels boring.)

I am glad to report that Easy A lived up to my moderately high expectations. This movie could not have succeeded without Emma Stone’s charisma and endearingly clumsy grace, and they were very, very lucky to cast her. I hope she has a long, successfully feminist career in movies. Lord knows the industry needs more like her.

I would also like to compare Easy A to Juno, another well-made feminist teenage fantasy. Many reviewers before me have no doubt connected the two, but probably not in the way that I do. The movies are alike in tone – the irreverent, self-aware attitude of the 21st-century teenager – and in female empowerment – exploring and encouraging the sexuality of young women. The moral and social conclusions the feminist viewer can draw from them, however, are very different. More on this will have to go in the next post. Extra credit if you can figure out what conclusions I draw from Juno before I write them.

LINK TO SOURCE: YOUTUBE TRAILER


 

-HERE BE RELATIVE SPOILERS, FOLKS

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sexism and Sexists: What did you call me?

One of the problems facing feminist discourse in the United States (it probably exists in other places, but I’m speaking from my own experience) is a conflation of action, intention and identity. Which is to say, when an action is deemed sexist or in some way problematic, it is almost automatically assumed by the public at large that this is an ascription of malicious intent, along with a deeming of the person at fault to be in some way a fundamentally bad person. It probably began with Locke, when in a single sentence of the Second Treatise on Government, he discusses a murder, and then calls the perpetrator a murderer. It’s also probably a cognitive bias of some kind. Whatever the source, this phenomenon undermines the ability of feminists to engage in criticism of actions or messages found in the broader culture, since these frequently stem from the choices of a single individual or organized group, and such entities tend not to take kindly to being called sexist, misogynistic, privileged, or something similar.

Even if they are! Read on for how this applies to the DSK and BHL cases

Tagged , , , , , , , ,