Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Definition(s) of Feminism

fem·i·nism (noun) \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\
1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2 : organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests
3 : Something that puts a smile on Danielle's face (and, judging by the comments, Talia's as well)!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Hello, Ms. President." (Is that so hard to believe?)

Is she the next "Ms. President"?
I think I've said this before, but the Yahoo! Homepage is literally one of the first things I see when I get up in the morning, and whenever I see a featured article about a woman who's made an impact for reasons other than parading around on some reality show with a puke-orange tan (ooh, am I bitter?), I feel a jolt of excitement and curiosity. Click! 

Today's featured article was about Geraldine Ferraro, "who in 1984 became the first woman vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket [in the United States]." She passed away on Saturday.

I'll be the first to admit that I abhor politics.

I know, I know, as a liberated woman I should want to educate myself about this stuff, but . . . I don't know. Maybe 10+ years of learning about male presidents, male politicians, and a male-dominated political system has left me without many strong women to look up to (It certainly irked me that in my World History class last year, 95% of the women we learned about were concubines or mistresses).

Nevertheless, this article really touched me.

Maybe because Ferraro sounded like an amazing woman: dedicated, inspiring, a pro-choice activist (though controversial), and a "dear human being".

Maybe because she had a dream not unlike my own, to see a woman inaugurated as the President of the United States of America.

Or maybe it was because I was shocked by the user comments at the end of the article! Usually Yahoonians are like venomous moths, making rude and vulgar remarks in the safety of their anonymous cocoons. But nobody told Ferraro to "go make them a sandwich." Nobody told her to "get back in the kitchen." And, astoundingly, there wasn't a single trace of "Wanna hear a joke? Women's rights."

All the comments I saw were ones of admiration. Sure, a few people admitted they hadn't always agreed with Ferraro's viewpoints, but they seemed to have immense respect for her anyway. That really says something about this woman's character.

Women like this inspire me beyond belief.

All of this political talk got me thinking about why the United States has never had a woman president. According to this list of Women Presidents from 1945-2011, places like Argentina, Bolivia, Iceland, Haiti, the Philippines, Ireland, Ecuador, Finland, Indonesia, Chile, Brazil - I'm running out of breath here - have all had women presidents.

Why not us? Why not the oh-so-progressive United States?

Though I don't appreciate some of his more snide remarks ("Every time I think about it - which isn't very often - I think how wrong it is that we have never had a woman president . . ."), the man in this 60 Minutes video makes some interesting points.

For example, there are currently more women in the US than men (151 million vs. 146 million), and more women take advantage of their voting rights. Shouldn't that mean that women exert a prominent, influential amount of political power? Could it really be, as the man in this video suggests, that "even women don't vote for women"?

I don't have an answer for that one. All I can say is:

Can I haz this shirt?
You better watch out the day a woman finally gets elected president, because my heart is going to explode. Not one of those dinky explosions, either - I'm talking nuclear.

But I want to make it clear that I would not vote for a woman simply because she and I share some commonalities (think: ovaries, breasts, that glorious "time of the month"). For someone to win my vote, they'd have to be strong and diligent, decisive yet compassionate.

I think some people think feminists are biased - that we somehow hail all women over all men - but isn't that a load of utter bullcrap? I mean, I would rather be friends with a guy who was kind and honest than a girl who was a dirty rotten liar.

So while I'm saying that I long for the day a woman takes a seat in the Oval Office, I want it to be the right woman, because you can bet she's going to get twice the flack for being "of the female variety" than Bush ever got for talking like a drunken monkey.

Ms. President is going to have to be strong, and brave, and lay down the law. She's going to have to be tough, but fair, and remember where she came from so she can empower a new generation of girls to stand up for themselves. She's going to have to have thick skin and an unwavering sense of justice and and and and . . .

But I have no doubt that she can do it, because there are billions of these types of women in this country. They just need to hurry up and get their names on the ballot!

Mini-Rant: I'm not even going to tell you how difficult it was to find pictures for this post. I typed in "Ms. President" to Google Images and got Paris Hilton; I typed in "girl American flag" and got chicks in bikinis. Ah, society.

Friday, March 25, 2011

50 Best Movies for Women's History Month

For this month's poll (there's a monthly poll in the right-hand sidebar, don'tcha know?), I asked everybody what they've done to celebrate Women's History Month so far. Even though I only got a measly 14 responses, I think they're extremely telling: Half of those who responded said they haven't done anything to celebrate this month's cause, and an astounding 35% didn't even know it was Women's History Month!

Well, if you're looking for a last-minute way to let your feminist freak flag fly (try saying that ten times fast), why not cozy up with a blanket, a cup of hot coco, and 50 of the Best Movies for Women's History Month according to

I can't honestly say that I've seen too many blatantly feminist films in my lifetime (besides, perhaps, Mona Lisa Smile and one of my all-time favorites, Whip It!), but I am on a serious mission to change that.

So if you've seen any of the movies on the aforementioned list, leave a comment and let people know how it was! Or if you know another movie that'll satiate our thirst for strong, kick-butt female leads, let us know about that, too!

As for tonight, I'm going to rifle through our movie cabinet to see if I can find anything juicy (read: empowering).

I suggest you do the same.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Men of Quality Respect Women's Equality

Where have you been
all my life, Beardy?
This is an excerpt from "Feminism: The F-bomb that Horrifies Men" by Catherine Ford of Troy Media. It was published on March 13th, 2011.

Want to see apoplexy? Drop an F-bomb into a conversation.

As soon as a woman says she’s a feminist, watch the boy-men and mamma’s boys, the braggarts and blackguards, the weak and the puffed up turn red in the face.

Try it. It’s one of life’s little pleasures if you’re a woman.

It’s also an excellent way to sift the wheat from the chaff in the male gender. Men who are secure in their own selves, men who are grown-ups, men who make the best husbands, boyfriends and just-plain-friends embrace feminism. It frees them to be real people, not the cardboard cutouts of masculinity promoted in action movies and cartoons. "

Read the rest of Ford's article here!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

An Epic Post Where Feminism and Chinese Collide

I don't know why I'm so in love with Chinese.

But I guess it all started a couple of summers back when I got those silly language-learning CDs at the library (you know, where the people talk like robots and you're expected to follow along). Being the tech-savvy kid I was (lie), I burned the CDs to my MP3 player and started learning simple phrases on my daily bike rides. The neighbors must've thought I was crazy - zooming around and talking to myself in a weird language - but those are some of the happiest times I can remember.

After that particular summer, my love for Chinese exploded. I started watching Chinese and Taiwanese dramas online, listening to Mandopop (popular Mandarin music), and even using the language in conversations with my mom (she didn't have a clue what I was saying).

At school, not only did I jump at the chance to take Chinese as my foreign language option, by some miracle I also summed up the courage to perform a Chinese song at my school's Culture Night, despite the fact that I had never - I repeat, never - sung in front of people before:

Best. Decision. Ever.

Considering I started out as one of those I-love-anime-and-everything-from-Japan teeny-boppers, it's weird that my tastes changed so suddenly and unexpectedly. I've learned not to dig too deep into it, though, because learning Mandarin has definitely become one of my Top 5 Passions in Life, right up there with feminism (can I get a "woot-woot"!), doodling, and preparing perfectly-proportioned cups of coffee with plenty of chocolate-raspberry creamer.

I've been waiting so, so long to confess my love of Chinese to the world (i.e. the people who read this blog), but I could never find a way to make it relevant to the stuff I usually talk about.

Can anybody say "loophole"?

Let's learn feminism-related Chinese words!

Alright class (can you tell that I'm loving this?), please call me 老师 (lǎoshī, pronounced "loud" without the d, and "sure"), which means teacher.

There are many aspects of Chinese that will be too hard to teach in a single blog post (I suggest checking out this site if you want to learn more), but I'll try my best to explain the following words and phrases:

Women's Rights: 妇女的权利 fùnǚ de quánlì
The word 妇女(fùnǚ) means woman and is pronounced "foo-new." This is usually tricky for English-speakers to pronounce because the "ǚ" sound is pronounced like in the German word "über."
的 (de) is a possessive participle and is pronounced "duh".
权利 (quánlì) means power, right, or privilege, and is also harder for some people because the "q" makes a "ch" sound, contradictory to how "q" is pronounced in English. Finally, the "uán" in "quánlì" sounds like "oo" and "en" (as in "end") blended together, and "" sounds like "lee."
Put the sounds together: foo-new duh chooen-lee
Click here to hear how the word is pronounced!
Women's History Month: 妇女历史月 fùnǚ lìshǐ yuè
We already learned 妇女(fùnǚ), which means woman, in the first phrase. It's pronounced "foo-new."
历史(lìshǐ) means history, and is pronounced "lee-sure." Try not to pronounce "sure" too intensely, though. It's a very soft sound, almost like you're saying "shhrrr."
Finally, 月(yuè) means month, and is pronounced "y-oo-eh" (again, with the "eh" sounding like the "e" in "end"). Make sure you're not pronouncing the sounds in a choppy manner, but make them flow.
Put the sounds together: foo-new lee-sure yooeh
Click here to hear how the word is pronounced!
Feminism: 女权主义 nǚquánzhǔyì
女() is pronounced "new," just remember that the "ǚ" sounds like the German "über."
权(quán) is pronounced fluently as "ch" + "oo" + "en" = "chooen"
主(zhǔ) is pronounced "joo." Most people see a "zh" and assume the English pronunciation "zzz," but in Chinese "z + h" make a "j" sound!
义() is pronounced "ee." Do not pronounce the "y."
Put the sounds together: new-chooen-joo-ee
Feminist (Person): 女权主义者 nǚquánzhǔyì zhě

This is the same as the word above, just add 者(zhě) at the end to change the meaning from feminism to feminist. 者(zhě) is pronounced "juh."

Put the sounds together: new-chooen-joo-ee juh
I am a feminist!: 我是一个女权主义者! Wǒ shì yī ge nǚquánzhǔyì zhě!

Characters:                   是      一     个      女       权        主      义      者

Pīnyīn:                     wǒ       shì       yī       ge        nǚ      quán        zhǔ        yì       zhě

Pronunciation:       wah     sure    ee     guh     new   chooen     joo        ee       juh 

English:                     I           am             a                                feminist

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lil' Wayne Got BURNED By Three Little girls

Don't hate me for stealing this story straight off the Yahoo! homepage, but it's impossible to hear about it and not have a "heck yeah" moment! You see, in response to deplorably sexist and vulgar language in virtually all of Lil' Wayne's songs, Watoto From the Nile (a group of three girls almost half my age!) released Letter to Lil Wayne:

This message is to Mr. Wayne
I'm sorry plus I must complain
'bout what you do, and what you say
I'm sorry that I feel this way
And I'm a girl that's only 10,
but for my sisters I must represent . . .

I have major beef with "artists" who think it's hip to call women b-words, h-words, s-words, etc., but at the same time I've always felt like resistance is futile. I mean can I, a single person, really do anything to change the music industry? Well, after hearing Letter to Lil Wayne, a song that's already gotten over 200,000 hits on Youtube, I know I can.

If these girls had the courage to make a difference, what's stopping you or I? 

Friday, March 4, 2011

50 Fascinating Facts for Women's History Month

I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't know March was Women's History Month until somebody emailed me an article called - you guessed it - 50 Fascinating Facts for Women's History Month. Chronicling amazing women suffragists, athletes, politicians, inventors and more from the past few centuries, this article is a good reminder that contrary to popular belief, the woman's role in history has not been a passive one!

Some of the facts in the article surprised me, but almost all of them made me inexorably proud. As dumb as it sounds, I caught myself thinking "We womenfolk are pretty dang amazing!" several times while reading. 

Here are some random facts from the article (though I hope you'll go back and read it for yourself!):
Queen Victoria ruled one of the largest empires in the history of the world, at one point controlling land on nearly every continent.
Jane Addams was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Upon her husband's death, Cherokee leader Nancy Ward took his place in a 1775 battle against the Creeks, and led the Cherokee to victory.
The first woman to run for U.S. president was Victoria Woodhull, who campaigned for the office in 1872 under the National Woman's Suffrage Association.
The first country to grant women the right to vote in the modern era was New Zealand in 1893.
On Nov. 26, 1916 birth control activist Margaret Sanger was arrested for distributing birth control information.
In 1903, Mary Anderson was granted a patent for the windshield wiper.
The first person to make the daring attempt to go over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel was a woman.
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