Monday, March 22, 2010

Not Alone in Anger

While engaged in my regular perusing of my favorite blog site at Feministing, I found a post that is dealing with the issue of anger which I touched on in my post this afternoon. I share this to prove I am not the only one trying to figure out how to express my feminist ideas in a world where "feminist" is is associated with "feminazi," but also because if anyone else is dealing with the same problem - self censorship - some of the comments are helpful. Our society has an obsession with finding what "normal" is, and I am happy to report my reaction is normal!

Thinking Radically, Judging Critically

My college experience has forced me to think critically about numerous aspects of life; I won't go so far as to suggest I have thought about everything because I find myself thinking about new things every week during my Gender, Labor, Politics class (this week for example is food and the political economy). As an extension of this process, I have looked at myself critically as well. I grew up as a perfectionist, and I'd like to think I grew out of that to a point, where I can appreciate perfection, but do not require it and as such am much more satisfied with my accomplishments and results. As a perfectionist however, I find myself extremely critical and judgmental (which I am sure comes across in my writing). I make snap judgments about ideas, people, places, actions etc, but I am not unwilling to change those judgments, so I do not find this practice entirely harmful. However, I tend to speak my mind more quickly than not and almost always fail to censor myself for my audience. By this I mean I snap at people easily who oppose my opinion if it lies within my passions, and I tend to speak/write passionately which also often means I do so offensively. While I realize this, I always realize it too late after I have riled up whomever I am speaking to. What a dilemma. My blog is only feeding this problem because everything I write here is very raw, and virtually just a train of thought that I can only attempt to keep on topic. Improving this flammable aspect of my personality will probably be a lifelong quest

On top of being critical, I am finding myself to be more and more radical in my opinions. This is a problem because much of my family is conservative (whether self-declared or not) as well as many of my long-term friends. In college I tend to drift towards similar thinkers like myself, but inevitably I maintain contact with people with opposing viewpoints (and thank God for diversity!). I have discovered that some of my opinions are very upsetting for some of these people. For example, I think government health care is long overdue (huzzah for the vote passed yesterday!!!), I think our capitalist system is corrupt and exploitative, I think abortion is a woman's undeniable right, I think marriage is an antiquated institution which privileges heterosexual couples and maintains patriarchy, and I think the church deserves absolutely no place in our legal system. Apparently some of these thoughts are radical.

I say apparently because in my classes, these viewpoints are the status quo. My classes are full of young men and women viewing the world through a feminist lens. By this I refer to modern feminism which is no longer merely the search for gender equality, but has expanded to have political meaning as well, which is a large part of the reason it is so hard to define feminism - it is not just about women! It is for this reason I am surprised to find opposing thoughts because I am constantly surrounded by liberal thinkers. While I appreciate the existence of opposing thoughts (however much they may upset me), I love my liberal companions.

I love that there is a niche where like-minded people like myself come together and have open dialogues about issues too many people find controversial and unsettling. We are not afraid to critique society, and we are not afraid to speak out against the majority opinion. I treasure this sacred space I have found and only wish I could remain in college forever because once I leave I will be bombarded by the opposition and by those who are not ready for change. It will not be long before I am yearning for a group who longs to revolutionize nearly every aspect of society in order to end exploitation and inequality.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mommy and Me

So I wrote this on Monday and didn't post it because I wanted to wait to get home where I had a picture of my mom to add. Unfortunately I only have older pictures and neither of us resemble this anymore.

Today is International Women’s Day; what a wonderful month filled with recognizing the achievements of women everywhere! I’d like to recognize the greatest role model in my life: my mother. While I date my feminist wake-up call to my freshman year of college, my mom instilled gender equality in my values since I was young. She has always been a model of a strong woman, helped my find my values and morals, and encouraged my success in all aspects of my life.

My favorite example of this is my old book of nursery rhymes. I did not grow up reading Mother Goose, but read instead the rhymes of Father Gander. These rhymes eliminated the gender and racial inequalities inherent in Mother Goose, and also rid them of violence. Humpty Dumpty was put back together by all the king’s horses, women, and men and Jack and Jill learned how to get up the hill safely. And my personal favorite rhyme: Jack be nimble Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candle stick. Jill be nimble jump it too, it Jack can do it, so can you! Then I got to preschool and kindergarten and everything and was told I knew the wrong rhymes: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put back together, Jack and Jill fall , get hurt, and fail their task, and Jill cannot do anything. What a sad state of affairs.

Looking back at my adolescent years I laugh at how much I resented the boundaries and rules she set for me. I’d whine and complain about how my other friends could watch R-rated movies and stay out later or have boys over and end up so mad. Now I can appreciate what her rules did for me. People crave boundaries, and if we do not get them we act out and rebel until we find the breaking point—find the action that pushes our parents over the edge. Children need rules and thrive on them. The kids whose parents let them stay out late and do whatever they wanted do not end up as strong, stable, independent adults. I won’t make generalizations about what does result, but it’s a fair assessment that across the board, the results are not ideal. I applaud my mother for having the strength to assert her parental guidance.

My mom and I agree on many subjects, but even when we disagree we can still have an intelligent conversation about whichever topic is at hand, and we can talk for hours. We have a similar sense of humor, and as anyone who has ever been in the same room with us knows, we have the same distinct laugh. It is so refreshing to have this close relationship with my mom and to know I can go to her with my problems once I decide to deal with them myself. She sometimes tells me things I don’t want to hear, but I respect her all the more for it.

There is no way for me to truly do this marvelous woman justice because I could never enumerate all the ways she has affected my life. I attribute the person I have become (whom I am largely satisfied with!) to not only the values she gave me, but the space she gave me to grow. She encouraged my independence yet never left me feeling alone. She always sets up the ideal for me, but lets me go about it my own way and make my own choices and mistakes.

My mother is beautiful, intelligent, strong, opinionated, and wise. She loves chocolate, babies, cats, and crossword puzzles. She has a wonderful laugh and smile. She knows so many things about so many subjects; she is the definition of well-rounded! She uses hand-sanitizer and makes sure there is some available at group gatherings. What can I even say except she is my mom, she’s fabulous, and I love her.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Don't be an iDiOtTtT

Today I was browsing through blogs in hopes of stumbling upon something of interest. I found some random humorous posts, but nothing worth following regularly. I do not care about random people's weddings and their attempts at pregnancy, or meals they are trying to cook. Reading about the lives of people I know is one thing, but not all random people have interesting things to say.

That being said, what really made me click to the next blog was poor grammar, spelling, and writing in general. The most annoying blog being this one. I understand random spelling mistakes will make their way into writing, especially in blogs where little to no editing takes place. So fine, I cut you some slack. Neither do I care deeply about ending a sentence with a preposition or the misplacement of a comma. However, do not fail to capitalize "I," do not write LiKe ThIs, do not add extra lettersss, or leave out vwls. These make no sense! Saying "heyy" does not make me feel like you are more excited to say hello to me; it looks like a typo and you look like an idiot.

I have a problem with idiots. Some idiots cannot spell, some idiots are chauvinistic, some idiots fall over drunk, some idiots pick fights, some idiots use 50 coupons for items they did not purchase. Some people just don't know anything. Idiots are found everywhere; this is very disheartening. After working in retail, I realized how stupid people really can be; customers really represent the epitome of stupidity, and my Target friends and I could (and do) rant for hours about our "guests" and their issues. Come to think of it that really should have been its own entry, but oh well. During my blog browsing, I came across this blog where the author comments on latin tattoos, and also makes a critique on the people who seek them.

I was also struck by the stupidity of some people after reading the "anti-feminist mailbag" on Feministing. This section is basically the hate-mail these women receive, and based upon my brief foray, is made up of ignorant comments. Luckily the Feministing women have a sense of humor and add fabulous commentary; they really are wonderful people.

Everyone needs to rant once in a while, this was my outlet.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Writing Women Back into History

Say hello to the beginning of Women’s History month! The theme for this month is “Writing Women Back into History;” if you want information visit the National Women’s History Project. I find this topic especially interesting because women’s history has often been ignored – both contemporarily and historically. During my studies of Ancient Egypt, I was intrigued by the roles of power women made for themselves (e.g. Nefertiti and Hatshepsut – both of whom [most likely] dressed as men and took on a male persona in order to assert their rule), yet research is difficult because the actions of women were not significant enough to record alongside those of the pharaohs and pyramids. This is a common theme wherein minority history simply isn’t recorded because it is “not important.” Remember that snide comment that history is written by the winners? This is especially visible when trying to find information about minor players who find themselves a minority for whatever reason – class, race, sex, war.

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s-70s, there has been greater emphasis on the role of women throughout history as their experiences were invariably different from those of men. Scholars are searching for that invisible tale woven between the published wars and politics of men, for the obscured achievements of women as they try to exist in a male-dominated world. Women are not silent participants in history and they are finally getting back their voice as this month brings to mind the contributions women have made to all fields such as politics, sports, science, literature, and art.

Part of Women's History month is Talk Like a Feminist Today which I already mentioned is tomorrow!! Grrrl power!