Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Feminist Bloggers Needed for Research Project

Written By Jessalynn Keller

Attention all teenage feminist bloggers! My name is Jessalynn Keller and I'm a PhD student in feminist media studies at the University of Texas. I'm currently working on a project tentatively titled Dropping the F-Bomb: Girls Blogging Feminism about teens who consider themselves to be "feminist bloggers," and I'm looking for girls to interview for the project. I am looking to hear about your experience being a young feminist, using online media to develop your feminist identity, and the practice of blogging as feminist activism. 

If you are a girl between the ages of 12 and 20 (I'm looking for people from all over the world!) and are interested in finding out more about the project, please email me at: jessalynn.keller@gmail.com! I will happily provide you with further details and answer any questions. 

The time commitment for this project will be minimal: about 15 minutes to answer questions sent to you via email. Your participation will allow me to successfully document the exciting feminist work that is happening online and will show that girls are powerful and political!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What advice would you give a budding feminist (who just happens to have an anti-feminist stepmom)?

It can be extremely frustrating when
people just don't *get* what
we're about.
There's no escaping it: at some point or another every feminist is going to have to deal with people who aren't exactly supportive of our cause. 

But what happens when these people are our best friends, our neighbors, or our very own parents?

The question below was submitted to me by Serena, a relatively new feminist who's experiencing some friction with her stepmom. Serena gave me permission to post this question on Experimentations in hopes of hearing different perspectives.

What would YOU do in Serena's situation?
Hello! My name is Serena. I have been reading your blog off and on for a while now and well, I finally feel comfortable asking you something. 
Here goes: I am really new to feminism and . . . enjoy learning everything I can. My problem is my parents, my stepmother in particular. Feminists are the enemy and there is no changing her mind, which is fine, but I don't like being backed into a corner. 
Recently, I was [arguing] that pregnancy was unfair and that men got the lucky end of the reproductive stick. Well anyway, she starts talking about men's rights and it's all the feminists fault for taking away men's parental rights. Her comments really took me by surprise and I had nothing to [say back] . . . so I was wondering if you had any material that I should read so I can have an intelligible debate with her. Now that I think about it, every time I say something good about feminism, she comes back with "they took men's rights away from them." 
I hope I made sense. Thank you for any help that you give me, I really do appreciate it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pug Shot #1: Lover Boy

This is my pug, Po. We also call him Pobert, Poseph, Poey, Po-Baby, Hi Po (Allergenic), Barbecue Face,  and a thousand other ridiculous names. Go ahead, World, bask in his cuteness.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Feminist Blog in Town: "Blossoming Badass"

Get it? Blossoming Badass? Yeah, it's clever.
If you'd like me to advertise your feminist blog in an upcoming post, shoot me an email!

I'm always excited when somebody emails me saying they're the proud owner of a new feminist blog. Blogging is such an amazing way to meet new people and "expand your horizons" (whatever the heck that means), and I would highly encourage all of my feminist friends and readers to start one!

Today we're hearing from Alexa, author of a new blog called Blossoming Badass:

Danielle: What inspired you to start a feminist blog?

Alexa: I've enjoyed frequenting feminist blogs since I started high school, my favorite being The F-Bomb. I frequently rant to friends and family about feminism, try to incorporate it into my school writing, and even write pieces on it for myself. I submitted a few of those to The F-Bomb and was pleased with the work I'd done and response I'd received, so I decided to start my own blog!

D: Why did you decide to call it "Blossoming Badass"?

A: I wanted a blog with a catchy, intriguing title that I thought described me. I wanted to encompass a feminist-type attitude too; although I know there isn't one type of feminist, badassness seems to be a trend. (I also have a thing for alliterations.)

D: What topics do you plan to cover?

A: I plan to cover topics mostly pertaining to feminism, particularly body image, self esteem, and the media. I'll also cover reproductive rights, how people (especially girls) interact, and high school in general.

D: Have you always been a feminist, or is it a relatively new thing for you? What about feminism appeals to you so much?

A: When I was younger, I didn't have any feminist influences, nor the confidence to be a fervid feminist. I've been a devout feminist, though, since a school project on suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton in fourth grade and having a teacher who was a very confident, outspoken feminist (although I didn't understand this at the time.) The next year, beginning to read New Moon Girls magazine was a major catalyst. I didn't meet any adult feminists until four years later. Feminism appeals to me because it's for equality, and it has so many subsets that can appeal to slightly differing audiences. Something about it just gives me a thrill, and it makes me feel that I can, as cliche as it sounds, change the world.

D: Who do you hope to target with your blog?

A: I hope to target young women, particularly high school students who may not have previously associated with feminism . . . Feminist, body-positive blogs were what really pulled me out of constant negative self-image, [so] I want to help others like their bodies as well.

D: What advice do you have for other teens who're just discovering feminism? What do you wish more teens would know about feminism?

A: I advise other teens to look at all of the awesome blogs and books for young feminists! With the Internet, feminism is more prominent than ever. I wish more teens knew how applicable feminism is to our daily lives. All of the things that plague us each day - the pressure for girls to be perfect, struggling with the virgin/whore dichotomy, hesitancy to express oneself - these are all issues addressed by feminism!

D: Would you encourage other teen feminists to start blogs of their own? And if so, why?

A: I think that blogs are an awesome outlet for teen feminists who may not have another forum for their opinions. If someone didn't want to start his/her own blog, commenting on others (there are super ones in my blogroll!) and submitting posts can be a great way to get involved.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Most Ridiculous Site I've Ever Seen (Rant)

'Cuz I'm considerate like that.
This post is in no way meant to be disrespectful to my Christian friends. If you hear me out, I'm sure you'll see that the website I'm about to froth over is incredibly skewed and hateful . . . Okay, we good? Let's get to ranting.

To my lovely feminist friends:

Don't - and I mean don't - get caught up reading this ridiculous "Christian" website, because afterwards you'll feel like smacking somebody in the face. (Ten bucks says you're going to check it out anyway.)

Against my better judgment, I spent - more like wasted - the past half-hour of my life reading about why feminism and homosexuality (among other things) are "evil." Here's a little taste:
  • America's churches, marriages and homes are being destroyed by the vile feminist agenda . . . A godly man is a threat to the feminist's agenda, because he believes that a woman's place is still in the home - baking cookies, knitting, and caring for the children (1st Timothy 5:14). Of course, hen pecked husbands and sissies are exempt.  
  • Feminism is synonymous with lesbianism and abortion. Civil rights are one thing, sinful rights are another. Feminism is of the Devil.
  • Many wives today are “rottenness” to their husbands health, because of the grief and undue stress they cause for their husbands. They contaminate and rot their marriages until there's nothing left. Some even kill their babies. 
  • I don't mean to be unkind [*Me: Oh really?], but America is filled with foolish women . . . who have destroyed their marriage and home. A wife is commanded by God to submit to her husband. Many marriages today are two-headed monstrosities, because of a rebellious wife who refuses to submit to her husband's instruction. The end result is often the wife filing for divorce, which is a sin. Jesus said Matthew 5:32 that it is adultery for her to remarry. 
  • There's nothing any more wrong with America today than the sinful way women dress. We've become a nation of whorishly dressed women . . . America is going to hell morally because of immodestly dressed women. There will come a day when God will wipe that imprudent smirk off every feminists face, when they will give account to God for the sinful manner in which they dressed throughout their life. 
  • Being a U.S. citizen gives you the “right” to vote; but, it does not give you the right to be homosexual. 
  • No one is born “gay,” because God doesn't make mistakes. God created male and female, which is normal. For anyone to claim that God made them a homosexual is to say that God made a mistake, because they cannot bear children nor have normal sexual relations. God didn't make a mistake, you did. 
Sexism, racism, and homophobia? I'm gonna need
a Hefty bag for all this crap!
I could go on (and on and on and on . . . ), but I think that's enough bullcrap for one day. I know it's pointless to get so riled up about this stuff because it's all over the Web, but I can't help it - it makes me angry. Very angry.

What really gets me (besides the fact that the site has links to about 50,000 things that are "sending America to hell") is the author's feigned kindness. In his feminist section, for example, he says "I'm not trying to be unkind" about four or five times. Each time he says that I want to yank my hair out in fistfuls and say: "Well you know what, buddy? You are being unkind. You're being downright hateful." I just don't understand how somebody could bash other human beings so ferociously and then turn around and say "But remember, Jesus loves you!"

I want to believe there's a higher power out there, but I refuse to believe that that higher power would, as the author of this site claims, hate anyone. How could somebody who is supposed to be so loving and forgiving hate anyone?

Before I get so riled up that I wake the entire house (it is 2:24am, after all), let me take this opportunity to get a few things off my chest.

I believe: 
  1. No person in this world should be considered more important than another; we should all be treated equally.
  2. Men should respect women, just as women should respect men.
  3. Women should not "submit" to their husbands; rather, marriage should be an equal partnership of reciprocated love and respect.
  4. Feminism is awesome. (Sorry, I had to sneak that in . . . )
  5. Women should have complete control over their reproductive health.
  6. People's sex lives should be a private matter and not define them.
  7. People are born gay (as in, it's not something that can be flippantly changed).
  8. People should be able to love whoever they want to love.
I know simply saying that stuff doesn't do anything, but it feels good getting it out there. And if that makes me a "sinner," fine.

P.S. I think the author of this site deserves what my dad used to call his D.A. Award. I'll let you figure out  for yourself what "D.A." stands for (hint: it does not stand for Dumbledore's Army).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Protecting the Women Who Protect Us (By Emily M.)

Major Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell is the first
female African-American fighter pilot in
the U.S. Air Force. How cool is that?
This year, the U.S. Air Force saluted Women’s History Month by making history of its own. On March 30th, the first all-female Air Force unit completed a combat mission in Afghanistan.

Although the mission has symbolic importance, its purpose was anything but – the women soared in to give much-needed aid to the ground troops who were engaged in heavy fighting in the Kunar Valley (for more on the mission, check out this link).

Women pilots have been flying combat missions for the Air Force for 18 years; however, it is gravely concerning to find out that they might not be as well protected as their male counterparts.

The Air Force is preparing to buy a new fleet aircraft to conduct light attack and armed reconnaissance (LAAR) and light air support (LAS) missions, and competition is fierce between the American company Hawker Beechcraft and the Brazilian company Embraer. Although people are talking about issues that surround outsourcing our defense contracts and the free market implications of foreign and domestic companies competing, what people are not talking about is the safety threat that will be posed to female pilots if Embraer is awarded the contract.

The planes that Hawker Beechcraft and Embraer have proposed for the contract are very similar, and cost roughly the same. However, the ejection seat in the Embraer aircraft yields an extremely high impact, whereas the Hawker Beechcraft model does not. This high-impact seat poses significant safety concerns for pilots of lower height and weight. This disproportionately threatens the safety of female pilots, as they are typically of smaller stature than male pilots.

The idea that the USAF would even consider an aircraft that posed such a safety threat should outrage Americans. And that outrage needs to be heard – we must not stand idly by while crucial safety concerns are passed over by the Pentagon. We need women (and men!) to speak up on this issue and make it clear that they will not tolerate the women who serve to be any less protected than the men.

Please consider writing to your representatives, or expanding the online conversation by taking this issue to new forums. The brave women in our Air Force take to the skies to protect us; don’t we owe it to them to make sure they are protected?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spotlight: Alicia Jo Rabins & "Girls In Trouble"

(Above) Alicia Jo Rabins alongside her
husband-slash-bandmate, Aaron Hartman.
If you don’t think "indie fiddle-folk melodies” (HEEB Magazine) are your thing, that’s only because you haven’t heard Half You Half Me, the newest album from Girls in Trouble.

Headed by the multi-talented Alicia Jo Rabins (we’re talking about a woman who’s been a classically trained violinist since the age of three), Girls in Trouble is a unique band that utilizes multiple instruments - from the accordion, to the upright bass, to Jo Rabins' luscious "Regina Spektor-ish" voice - to delve into the often dark and twisted world of the Hebrew Bible.

As Jo Rabins pointed out in a recent interview, the material she draws from is "totally bloody and R-rated, not at all like children's Bible stories," so you can imagine what fun is to be had in her latest album (storm demons, jealous sisters, and knife accidents, oh my!).

As a feminist, my favorite aspect of Half You Half Me is the way it pays homage to the unsung women of the Bible: those whose stories have been tossed aside, forgotten, or otherwise dilapidated by the sands of time. Through lyrics that might as well be printed in poetry books, Girls in Trouble gives these women a powerful, thought-provoking voice.

Now, let's pretend you're like me and don't really "mesh" with religion. You might be worried that Half You Half Me is just another musical ploy to get you into church on Sunday (or should I say, into a synagogue), but believe me when I say that you don’t have to be Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, or any other religion to find something special hidden amongst the ethereal violin solos and poignant lyrics of these songs.

Jo Rabins and friends have created multiple musical worlds - some of which are light and sweet-sounding as in the album’s first track “We Are Androgynous” (listen to it here!), and some of which are more sinister - but each world is strangely dreamy, progressive, and unlike anything you've ever heard.

Alicia Jo Rabins was nice enough to answer a few of my burning questions, so check out what she had to say about her band's unique name, musical style, and whether or not she was a feminist!

Me: How did you come up with the band name "Girls in Trouble"? What does it mean?
Jo Rabins: Girls in Trouble is a concept project: both a song cycle, and the band who plays the songs live. All the songs are about obscure stories of women from the Torah/Hebrew Bible . . . it's amazing material to draw from because these stories are totally bloody and R-rated, not at all like children's Bible stories! Hence the name. I wanted the drama of the stories to come through a little in the name of the project.

Me: Can you explain a bit about your music style and the themes/messages that permeate your songs?

JR: I'm pretty eclectic in my musical tastes and I've been influenced by so many kinds of music - classical chamber music, which I grew up playing; old-time fiddle music and folk ballads; klezmer (Eastern European Jewish music); indie rock; and punk. So you can hear those influences throughout the album, I think. As for themes or messages, I'm interested in emotional truths, which are complicated.
Me: When you're writing lyrics for a new song, what's running through your head? What inspires you?

JR: I think about emotional resonance, about beauty, about layers of reality, about dreams, about the way the words feel in my mouth. I'm inspired by the things that are hard to look at, by the parts of our lives we would rather ignore, and the power contained in those moments.

Me: Would you consider yourself a feminist or an advocate for women's rights? If so, what shaped those beliefs?
JR: Yes, I would. I am the oldest of three sisters and my parents always raised us to believe girls could do anything boys could do. So I was fortunate to take that for granted at an early age, and I've never doubted it for a minute.
Me: What's the single greatest piece of advice you've ever heard? In other words, if you could go back in time and talk to your 16-year-old self, what would you tell her?

JR: I would say, find the things that make you happy, and do them. And be quick to laugh at yourself. And drink more water. And you will find someone who loves you just the way you are, not the perfect version of yourself, so don't worry about perfection.

Me: Finally, do you have tour dates or anything else you'd like to promote?

JR: Yes! Girls in Trouble is just back from two weeks in California, and we're heading out all month on a release tour for our new album, Half You Half Me (Jdub Records). We're going down south and then up north, so come see us play, and bring your friends! Most of the shows we're playing are all-ages.
Tour Dates:
  • 5/4 Columbia, MD @ Oakland Mills Interfaith Center
  • 5/5 Raleigh, NC @ The Pinkhook
  • 5/7 Atlanta, GA @ Highland Ballroom
  • 5/8 Carrboro, NC @ Leo Gaev Metalworks
  • 5/11 Baltimore, MD @ The Windup Space
  • 5/15 Philadelphia, PA @ National Museum of American Jewish History
  • 5/19 New York, NY @ Joe's Pub (Release Show)
  • 5/20 Hudson, NY @ Spotty Dog
  • 5/25 Northampton, MA @ Thorne's Market
  • 5/29 Becket, MA: Girls in Trouble @ Dream Away Lodge

You can also check out Girls in Trouble on Myspace, Facebook, or Twitter!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I've gone to the "Dark Side"

Wow, it feels like it's been forever since my last post! If anybody's been wondering where I've been (anybody?), I can sum it up in one word: school.

I've been extremely - no, that's not dramatic enough - death-defyingly busy for the past few weeks. I've been putting in between 8 and 11 hours at school everyday to accommodate clubs and study sessions, I've got AP exams coming up in less time than my brain wants to admit, and I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to pull things together for a charity event my school is hosting on May 27th. Can't you just hear the sad violins in the background? I don't want to be a downer, but . . .


We're constantly moving in a million directions, we never get any sleep, we're exhausted and stressed out all the time, and on top of all that we have to deal with stupid acne and urges to beat the crap out of anybody who looks at us funny (you know, because we're so tired). Is it just me, or should kids get some type of compensation for having it so rough? A paid-by-the-hour type of thing would be nice, but heck, I'd settle for a simple bowling trophy. (If any congressmen or women happen to be reading this, take that into consideration.)

Anyway, you're probably wondering what this "Dark Side" business is all about - and if you weren't, you are now!

Well, friends, I have indeed gone to the Dark Side . . . of the hair dye aisle!

That's right, I'm no longer a blonde, but a brunette. After a tragic accident last Thursday, I had no choice but to go darker for the first time in my entire life. Long story short? I tried dyeing my bleached-blonde hair another light color, but it turned gray with red roots! And if that wasn't bad enough, I had to speak at an assembly the next day; I would've had to get up in front of almost a thousand kids looking as if I'd aged forty years overnight (a tad over-dramatic, but you get my point)! 

Luckily my mom has dyed her hair too many times to count, so she knew exactly what she was doing when she made a late-night trip to Walgreens and picked up a darker dye. Thus disaster (in a petty scope) was averted.

Now if I've any ability to read minds whatsoever, you're probably thinking "Why is she talking about this? Dyeing hair ain't no biggie." But in my monotonous, homework-filled life, you better believe this is big news (sad, ain't it?). The fact is, I've had blonde hair ever since I made my grand entrance into this world over seventeen years ago. I've always been The Blonde Girl in class, and I've always had a hidden sense of satisfaction over busting negative "dumb blonde" stereotypes. In a way, I feel like blonde hair was, and maybe still is, a part of who I am.
See? I've been a cool blonde chick since Day 1 *laughs*
But even though this transformation is strange, I think it'll be good for me. I'll take it as a new adventure, a new beginning . . . And that is the last time you'll hear about my hair until I dye it some other color and go on another nostalgic rampage!

I guess I just wanted to check in, prove that I haven't completely fallen off the face of the earth, and let everybody know that even though I've been really busy, I've still got some good posts planned for the future! Check 'em out!

What to Look Forward To (Upcoming Posts):
  1. A spotlight on a unique band called Girls in Trouble in which "Brooklyn poet and multi-instrumentalist Alicia Jo Rabins mines dark stories of Biblical women, exploring the hidden places where their complicated lives overlap with her own." (I also hope to get an interview with Alicia!)
  2. A closer look at a decision that might put female Air Force pilots at risk.
  3. An interview with Alexa (author of Blossoming Badass), a teen who's new to the feminist blogosphere!
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