feminism is in.
in Commission Sept. 2011 Issue 3
The POP CULTURE issue
Table of Contents ABCâ€™s of Feminism [p 4]
My Alternative Lifestyle Haircut [p 5]
Fat Acceptance [p 7]
Dating (and Fucking) While Feminist [p 9]
Mad Men and Feminism [p 14] A local feminist zine Contact firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: Bird Commission Co-Editor: Pepper Submissions: We excitedly accept: articles, rants, personal narratives, short fiction, poems, prose, photographs, events to advertise, artwork, comics, cartoons, comments, anything really. If youâ€™re interested in being a contributing member (ie passing out zines, helping to bind, etc) of the In Commission project, just ask.
Required Reading [p 16]
All Right, All Right [p 18]
The ABC’S of Feminism A is for AGENCY
O is for OPPRESSION
B is for BINARY
P is for PRIVILEGE
C is for COMPULSORY HETEROSEXUALITY
Q is for QUEER
D is for DWORKIN, ANDREA
R is for RIOT GRRL
E is for EVE ENSLER
S is for SLUT-SHAMING
F is for FAT STUDIES
T is for TRANSGENDER
G is for GENDERQUEER
U is for UTERUS
H is for HETEROSEXISM
V is for VICTIM BLAMING
I is for INTERSECTIONALITY
W is for WOMANISM
J is for JUDITH BUTLER
X is for XENOPHOBIA
K is for KOLLANTAI, ALEXANDRIA
Y is for YELLOW WALLPAPER
L is for LESBIAN BATING
Z is for ZINES
M is for MARGINALIZATON N is for “NICE GUYS”
My Alternative Lifestyle Haircut By Bird]] As a queer woman I’ve lived with all lengths of hair – from hair down to my back, to my shoulders, to short pixies that show my ears. How queer people and straight people assume my sexuality and treat me based off their observations is fascinating. About a year ago I got one last short pixie and then swore off cutting my hair for a full year. I missed my long hair, so I grew it out. But as the year progressed, and my hair grew longer, I began to feel differently about my want for longer hair. Without my short hair I was flirted with by men, my future husband was mentioned/asked about, and I was assumed to be straight. All because I had long hair my other queer identifiers were dismissed. I don't wear make-up, my long hair was not highlighted or holding any hair products, I sometimes dress androgynously, and I only wear sensible shoes. But all of those queer identifiers were overlooked because my hair was longer than three inches. I missed my short hair! But mostly I missed being easily identified as queer. I missed that all-knowing nod or smile from a queer stranger in Walmart. And I wouldn't miss the increasing frequency I was being hit on and flirted with by men. While flattering at times, is just tiring after all the queer faces look past mine. The longer my hair, the less I felt apart of the queer community. It was time to return to the pixie. I walked into the salon, sat down, and told my hair stylist, "Short. I want my hair very short." I meant business and did not want to be talked out of anything. She suggested a bob, "No, no, not a bob. Short hair. Very short." I came prepared with pictures, and when I showed them she exclaimed, "Oh wow! That IS short." I was used to this reation. The first time I went from shoulder length hair to a pixie, a different hair stylist laughed when I showed her a picture of Natalie Portman with very short hair, after she was growing it out from V for Vendetta. “No, no. You
definitely do not want this hair." Would she be so quick to talk me out of an ass-ugly bleaching? No. I could read between the lines: "you don't want this hair cut. You will look like one of those lesbians."
Snip snip. My hair stylist began cutting my hair once we agreed on the length, and it was so satisfying seeing my dismembered locks falling onto the plastic smock. She started chatting to me about the recent trend of short haircuts for women: "This is the year for short hair. I can't tell you how many women have come in wanting to chop off all their hair," she told me, "It's because all the celebrities are doing it. People think, 'if she can do it, why can't I?'" I smiled and nodded, but thought, "It's ALWAYS been the year for short hair in the queer community - and it's NOT because the celebrities are doing it. We don't look like Emma Watson, Emma Watson looks like us."
There is only one type of body that is valued, praised and encouraged - and it is one that does not exist. If you see an advertisement, that model you're seeing does not exist. They are not that size nor that "perfect"-looking; they don't have that poreless complexion nor that frizzy-free hair. While those models have been altered digitally, and they don't look like that in real life, we are sold those image as fact. We are conned into believing that people do look like that, and we should all be reaching for that appearance. And it's shitty.
We don’t look like Emma Watson, Emma Watson looks like us.
It was a great haircut, and my stylist did a fantastic job. But I want a hair salon that isn't filled with heteronormativity. And I want a hair stylist I can say to, "I want queer hair," and zhe knows what I mean. I want a salon that really understands the queer community and our hair. People who have only met me in the last 6 months, and had only known me with long hair had the most interesting reactions. I could tell by their seemingly benign questions, “so what made you decide to cut off all your hair?” that they were trying to seek out my sexual orientation. “Because I wanted to,” was all that I would retort with.
Bodies of all sizes should be in advertisements, but instead we’re constantly being bombarded with images of skinny people, and ways to “fix ourselves” and be skinny too. Entire multi-million dollar industries bank on you and I feeling terrible about our bodies, but sell their product or membership as doing you a favor and helping you out – so you won’t feel so terrible: “Here! Let me make you feel terrible about your body, and then sell you something so you won’t feel so bad.” It’s shameless! It’s a struggle to even realize we’ve been duped, and an even bigger one to unlearn the lies we’ve been told. Thanks to all that fat hatred we spent our lives absorbing, internalized fat hatred is common. No matter how much I support fat acceptance and value all body types, when it comes to my own body, everything I know about fat studies and acceptance is out the window. I believe this is the case for others as well - we've absorbed so many images and ideals about the perfect body, that no matter how much we
we re-educate ourselves about all the beautiful body types, it's not enough to soothe our own internalized oppression. As Charlotte Cooper has said, "no matter how good we feel about our bodies, we still live in environments where there is pressure to lose weight." We are constantly surrounded by reminders of fat hatred, even without the onslaught of advertisements of the skinny people. We are constantly encouraged to be a certain size through not-so-subtle expectations we take for granted. Take seating for example. "Standard seating" automatically implies a "standard" body size. And when someone doesn't fit into the seat, we view that as them not living up to readily accepted standards. Something is wrong with them. When a seat in the movie theater, airplane, doctors office, or restaurant is too small for someone to fit into, people are quick to think there is something wrong with the fat individual. But why is that? Why do we not ask why the environment is failing to meet the needs of individuals – they’re own paying patrons, no less! Seats should come in all sizes! I visited Kishwaukee Community Hospital a few months back, and it was awesome to see they had two different sizes of seats in the E.R. waiting room. More establishments should offer different seat sizes and stop perpetuating one body size as the standard. This was awesome, bird! I want more! Some books to check out: Fat and Proud by Charlotte Cooper Fat! So? by Marilyn Wann (this is also a zine!) Fat Studies Reader edited by Esther Rothblum and Sandra Solovay
Dating (and Fucking) While Feminist By Daphne Dating. WHAT is it exactly? Who defines it? One person’s definition can vary greatly from another’s, identified as simple as going out or as complex as a more serious commitment of sorts. When does “seeing someone” become “dating” or are they, in fact, one in the same? Popular culture stories or illustrations often inform our understandings of what it means to go on a date. In my experience, these media-driven fables tell us datingis a love battlefield with an ultimate goal being longterm commitment and marriage. Men are men, women are women, and somewhere out there is your ONE solitary match. The single life is overly viewed as something to be pitied, feared, and abandoned as quickly as possible, though for some (mostly men, yes?) it is positioned as a time for fooling around and “playing the field.” Open-dating, other forms of nonmonogamy such as polyamory (having multiple romantic consensual partners at once), and even bisexuality and pansexuality (ultimately being gender and sex-blind, interacting with person because you like
Feminist Paper Dolls
Alice Toklas and Gertrude Stein
THEM not their sex or gender identity) become an immature or this topic can be temporary stop along the path to an ultimately monogamous pairing. More on explored in the nonmonogamous “bible” The Ethical Slut, penned by Easton and Hardy. What are your pop culture influences? Sex and the City? Jersey Shore? Jane Austen? The Bachelorette? The L-Word? Hollywood? Smorgasbord of dating columnists (queue Carrie Bradshaw), authors, musicians and other associated know-italls? It is important to be aware and critical of these sources because they synthesize together to form the very ways in which you relate to others romantically, sexually, and emotionally. Compounding the difficulty of dating is dating WHILE feminist. Your fantastical brain might be crawling with such questions as “Why or how is your feminist identity relevant to your dating life?” or “Who would or wouldn’t want to date a feminist?” or even “Why should I care what or who you are?” All valid, all without a definitely plausible response. Read and gather a few answers of your own. To you I will be known as Daphne, a unrecognizable but hopefully humorous and informative face that will use feminist framework in trying to make sense of the nature of this beast called dating. I will say that dating as a feminist is much the same as any other kind, except that through no necessarily conscious choice of my own, I use said framework for critically analyzing the desirability or compatibility of another person. Music isn’t just music (Insane Clown Posse: questionable, Le Tigre: hello, lover) and interests aren’t just pastimes (cock fighting: danger town, Slut Walk participation: yes, please). Sure, we all do this, tis just different parameters and measures of analysis. A nerd-level feminist such as myself will (and has) gotten worked up by a fella properly using the term cisgender or regularly following Jezebel. Indeed. As a straight-identified woman I am thrilled to encounter what we in the “business” refer to as male allies…..once you go male feminist (YES, they exist and are incredibly hot), you never go back. That said, you outta know that I am all over dating like bees on honey. I dig on it. In no other way can you learn quite so much about yourself, your needs, wants, deepest desires, and fears….all while interacting with loads of potentially bad-ass
and/or not-so-desirable, individuals. Plus you can choose to go home with your best friend in the entire world (i.e. you) OR even some fabulous new love tiger. Following the end of a multiple-year committed relationship I find dating to be a form of salvation I embrace wholeheartedly. I . I am a bit of an anomaly amongst groups of people who have buckets of terribly disastrous dating stories, since most of mine are seemingly enriching and fairly vanilla in nature. Still, strangely enough I welcome said encounters because even bad situations are informative and highly telling. It’s likely also relevant to disclose that the majority of my dates have been discovered through the helpful means of my favorite online dating site, www.OkCupid.com. I mention it by name because if you are even the slightest bit interested in learning about online interactions, you should likely avoid most others and just go here directly. I know what you are screaming at the Zine pages “gurl, you ARE crazy….online dating? Really, now?!” Yes, really. Prior to a few months back I was on the same hatin’ bandwagon, that is, until I realized online dating is bloody brilliant, especially when you are experimenting with open dating and live in corn fields surrounded by people that are less-than-impressed with your knowledge of intersecting oppressions and disdain for homophobia. Given the right circumstances, it could likely work for you….well, that or bomb worse than Transformers III. Either way, you’re living and learning and loving. Not to mention, I plan to disclose the good, the bad, AND the ugly excerpts of my dating life to you in upcoming issues of this badical publication. It will be joyous and revelatory and just another exercise of consciousnessraising in this rat race of life. Nice to of met you, I’m off to dance the blues in my red shoes. Date on! Recommended resources (accumulated in one area for your examination): 1.) www.jezebel.com 2.) The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Dating Possibilities by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy 3.) www.okcupid.com 4.) Optional- If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path by Charlotte Kasl
Mad Men and Feminism
Quite a few friends and family members suggested I watch this little show Mad Men on this little channel AMC. “No, I don’t think so. It doesn’t really look like my kind of thing,” I said as I brushed off their suggestion. After a while, I caved and watched the first three episodes. I was right, I told my friends, “this is definitely not my kind of thing.” Just thinking about how I so nearly narrowly missed my favorite television show is a troubling thought. The first season, like all of the seasons, took time to build momentum and character, and required patience. Since then the show gained a large following, as the characters and plots are believable and multi-dimensional. Each person comes to the show for a different reason than the next. I look for everything linking feminism to pop culture I can find, and I really hit it big with Mad Men. The show's realistic depiction of rampant sexism and racism attest to how far we've come. Even the non-feminist-minded recognize blatant sexism and racism in the show. For example, in one episode, Betty is driving with her two young children in the backseat when she loses control of the car and crashes up onto a neighbors’ lawn. While confiding in Don, her husband, later that night she expressed relief that her daughter's face was not damaged from the accident. Because what's a girl without a pretty face? We can laugh at Betty’s vanity and sigh for women in the 60s who endured terrible sexism. But after the laughing and the sighing comes the fact: We're not living in a world where racism and sexism are obsolete.
All of the accurate depictions of the show about racism and sexism of the 60s are still present today: (Marital) rape? Check. Racism masked as humor? Check. Blatant racism? Still got it. Institutional and personal sexual harassment in the work place? Check. Wage disparity along demographic lines? Check. The show uses overtly racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, and homophobic scenarios of Madison Avenue circa 1960 to make a statement: White patriarchy is still king, and those same oppressions are still happening, albeit are (sometimes) less blatant. Non-feminist viewers are at first not wise to the analogous statements about culture the writers are making. And that's what I love - the show is making more socially conscious individuals out of its viewers- unwittingly at times.
Required Reading a reading list of feminist literature
NOBODY PASSES ed. by matt bernstein sycamore This collection challenges every aspect of "passing" (eg. being queer but passing for straight) that is well-written and extremely accessible. I valued the intersectionality of the authors, and how so many different identities were represented that often aren't - even in feminist books. WHIPPING GIRL by julia serano I identified as a feminist for a long time before reading this book, and I was never more embarrassed when I read this and learned I knew next to nothing about transgender people and my own cisgender* privilege. Julia's insight and analysis of the treatment and exclusion of trans people and exclusion is so needed for trans and cis people alike. CUNT by inga muscio. Inga's manifesto of her love for the word cunt, for cunts as female anatomy, for any radical feminist who is a cunt, is a really empowering read. While at times i didn't agree with Inga's rather militant opinions, the book as a whole is impeccable. Before reading this book, I couldn't utter the word. But Inga's made a believer out of me - I am and have a cunt. THIS BRIDGE CALLED MY BACK ed. by gloria anzaldua and cherrie moraga. Although this was written in the 1970s this collection of narratives and essays written by radical women of color reads like it was written last month. the essays are profound, spot on, and timeless. *CISGENDER: someone with a gender identity that aligns with society's recognition of their sex. (eg. being born female and identifying as a woman).
YES MEANS YES ed. by jaclyn freedman and jessica valenti The essays in this compilation are extremely well-written and well argued. They engage the readers in topics ranging from consent, sexual transgressions that don't have a name, our rape culture, and healthy female sexuality. KING KONG THEORY by virginie despentes king kong theory left me wanting more of virginie's ideas, writing, and rants. This book covers prostitution, marriage, rape, and gender roles. I devoured this book in one sitting. Despentes writing is very refined and articulate. My favorite line from the book is about backlash against feminism: “It’s astonishing and modern to say the least – the oppressor whining because the oppressed isn’t pulling her weight.” WE DON'T NEED ANOTHER WAVE ed. by melody berger This is a great addition to any feminist library as it covers many issues in feminism. But one theme about this book that sets it apart from other feminist compilations was it's honesty, and foregoing political correctness at times in reaching for that honesty. That was refreshing, and what made this collection so amazing. FEMINISM IS FOR EVERYBODY by bell hooks Hooks wrote this book with the non-feminist in mind. She wanted to write a slender book with concise and accessible language to describe the basic tenets of feminism. It’s a digestible-sized book for the seasoned feminist and the genuinely curious. LISTEN UP ed. by barbara findlen This is one of those books that will make non-feminists click with feminism and affirm the beliefs of already identified feminists. It's a great read that will appeal to many readers.
All Right, All Right.
Previous Issues feminism is in.
This whole feminism thing sounds okay. Where can I get some more?
MODERN LADY Modern Lady is a comedic segment on Current TV’s series Infomania. Host Erin Gibson devotes the show to women’s representation in the media, with hilarious insight. If you don’t get the Current channel, no worries, all of the episodes of Modern Lady are available online at: http://current.com/shows/infomania/modern-lady/
May 2011 Issue 2
I’M NOT RACIST, BUT… One can always tell a racist comment will follow "I'm not racist, but..." The owner of this tumblr searches public facebook posts for those exact words, and unsurprisingly finds racist status updates. It derails the delusional idea that we live in a lofty "post-racial" world. It’s difficult to talk about race, but completely impossible if people think it doesn’t exist, or it’s not a problem. GOOD MEN PROJECT The Good Men Project's goal is to "foster a much-needed cultural conversation about manhood..." through articles about fatherhood, porn, sex, race and politics. It's a thoughtful and sincere website with a team of incredible men.
The Men Issue
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Published on Sep 1, 2011