We Need This in Seattle – And Everywhere

I came across this remarkable way to challenge racism in our public spaces, and now I want this to be a thing in Seattle.

The Yarn Mission seeks to “use yarn to promote action and change to eradicate racism, sexism, and other systems of oppression”. The group, founded by CheyOnna Sewell, a PhD student in criminology, seeks to spark conversation about race and police brutality by engaging with curious passersby as they knit, all while providing a comforting activity for beleaguered activists.

“As a black woman, you’re invisible,” says Taylor Payne, a member of the group. “But knitting makes people stop and have a conversation with you. If someone asks me what I’m doing, I say, ‘I’m knitting for black liberation.’ Sometimes they respond and sometimes I just get ‘Oh, my grandma knits,’ like the person didn’t hear me. But at least it opens the door to talking about my experiences.”

[Read more…]

Let’s Stop Punishing Girls for the Behavior of Men and Boys, M’Kay?

When I was in middle school back in the olden days (hint: it was just after leg warmers went out and hypercolor shirts came in), I had this t-shirt that had a cartoon duck on it. It said “Tall, Duck and Handsome.” I’d done some growing, so it was a little short – it skimmed the top of my jeans, and like an inch of belly was exposed when I raised my arms. This was too much for the puritans of our local school district, who pulled me out of class, called my mom, and told her that such skimpy clothing was not allowed on awkward prepubescent girls.

My mother, who was something of a warrior, read them the riot act. She belted them with facts: we were still little kids. The shirt was cute and funny, not sexy. The shirt covered pretty much everything unless I raised my arms overhead, and if they couldn’t handle that little bit of skin, that was their problem. She had them quaking by the end of her tirade. I think they were about to give up and send me back to class, but she pulled me out of school and took me to have either ice cream or lunch – unfortunately, my memory fades on that point. We had a nice mother-daughter day, and I knew from then onward that my mom would always have my back in battles over dress codes. When they divorced, my dad took over the not giving a shit and expecting other people to accept my sartorial choices. When people would ask him how he could possibly let me wear x, y, or z, he’d calmly explain to them that I was comfortable and creative, and if they had a problem, they’d have to deal with it their own damn selves.

I grew up thinking this was how things should be. But I have discovered that we’ve gone rather backwards. Women’s clothing choices have always been policed, but when schools send girls home for dressing like this: [Read more…]

Learning to Shut Up and Listen

How hard is it for relatively* privileged people to just shut up and listen when people talk about the way society shits on them? I’ll be honest: Really fucking hard. And yet there’s nothing actually easier.

B and I were talking about that yesterday while we were waiting for our gyros. I’d just read a great article about why white people shouldn’t wear dredlocks, and he was all offended by the notion that white folk can’t have any hairstyle they want. Why shouldn’t they?

That knee-jerk response comes so easily to those of us near the top of the privilege heap. [Read more…]

Dispatches from Women’s World

B and I are sitting side-by-side. We are in different worlds.

Image shows a red planet, a blue moon, and a binary star system.

Binary Star, Nebula, and Planet with Moons courtesy Matt Hendrick via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

B’s wishing he’d known women actually like sex back in his raging hormone days. Society had told him that girls just aren’t in to doing the wild thing, and he’d believed that, so he missed a lot of opportunities. He’s not the sort of man who’d ask a woman to do something she didn’t like. It’s why we’re together.

We’re watching UFC fights. B wishes the cage girls were curvier – these are famine years for men attracted to women who jiggle more in the bum than boobs. He’s hoping for an audience shot of Benson Henderson’s wife, because she’s a hottie. I’m busy watching various nearly-naked men in exquisite physical condition grapple and writhe. Some of the wrestling moves look like they could easily be modified for incredible bedroom encounters. And if Benson Henderson and I were unattached and he was interested, I’d love to test that theory with him. But as much as I’m assessing the fighters for potential happy fun sexytimes, I’m also aware that every one of them could turn horrifically violent in a heartbeat, and their strength, speed, and skill mean I wouldn’t stand a chance. So as much as I enjoy admiring the bodies and consider their performance potential, I’m also trying to read their character, aware that misjudging it could get me raped, killed, or both.

How many men consider calmly the chance that a potential sexual encounter will turn violent? [Read more…]

Two Glittery Hoo-Ha’s in a Month? What Are You Trying to Tell Me, Universe?

Coinky-dinks are funny things. I didn’t think I’d ever come across glittery hoo-ha’s again outside of the Dogs and Goddesses deconstruction I’d got inadvertently sucked in to at Raven Wings. For those who are blissfully unaware of it, Dogs and Goddesses is a gawdawful romance book about a bunch of single women, their dogs, and some Mesopotamian goddess, plus a sexy god (of course), and a weird murderous priestess (ditto), and the sexy but assholish math professor (yep), and some other people I don’t even remember, because the bits Yami quoted were atrocious. There is a potion, and aphrodisiac cookies, and one of the ladies ends up with endless orgasm powers, and I just can’t with this.

Look, I only got involved in it because I was reading her This Present Darkness deconstruction. I will tell you about that book someday soon. Then you will understand why I enjoyed watching Yami savage it, and why I accidentally ended up reading a deconstruction of a really bizarre romance novel. Yami’s really damned good at deconstructions and I was powerless, okay?

Anyway. Goddesses. Dogs. And, toward the end the book, glittery hoo-ha’s. [Read more…]

How Feminism Changed My Duck-Feeding Habits. Plus: Epic Food Fight!

Here’s an interesting thing about becoming a full-bore feminist: it’s changed my duck feeding habits. Seriously. Female birds tend to be pretty plain, and they’re not usually aggressive show-offs like the males. Before I started getting seriously into feminism, I just kind of ignored them. The boys were prettier. The girls were boring. [Read more…]

“There Have Never Been Frontiers Between Astronauts.”

This is a beautiful sentiment from the first human to walk in space:

“There have never been frontiers between astronauts. The day that this notion sinks into the minds of politicians, our planet will be different.”

Part of me would like to see that world. Part of me wonders if, as Robert Frost’s neighbor said, “Good fences make good neighbors.” I know we need fences even in our own communities. I know sometimes those fences are the only way to co-exist. There are some frontiers between people and nations that need to be there, at least for a time. I just hope that if we do ever get to the point where frontiers dissolve, it’s because we’ve all learned how to treat each other well. [Read more…]

Bi-Erasure and the Prejudice Against Bi-Oriented People

Goddamnit, humanity, can we for once just bloody learn to get along? I mean, seriously. You’d think the one safe space for people with bisexual or biromantic orientations would be the LGBT community. I mean, there’s a B, right there, specifically for them. But it appears there’s work to be done breaking down bigotry. K.C.’s post on her experiences coming out reminded me that prejudice lurks everywhere. [Read more…]

A Victorian MRA Interlude: Coverture

I’ve fallen a bit behind in fisking our Victorian MRA dude, but never fear! I shall persevere until the end. Eventually. After finishing mah bad Bible stories book, doing up some hawt geology posts and working on this amazing backlog of nature photography I have got. In the meantime, there’s this very concise (and potentially rage-inducing) post on coverature by Cerys Gruffyydd for your history-of-how-horribly-women-were-treated needs. Trigger warning for marital rape. [Read more…]

Kumbaya Feminism

I cringed when I read about Patricia Arquette’s oblivious comments at the Oscars. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there had been an immediate, “Whoops! I’m so sorry, I definitely should’ve phrased that differently and not implied everybody else’s struggles are totally over.” It’s too easy, when you’re a white feminist, to get wrapped up in your own problems and forget that other people are dealing with far more shit than you are. It’s far too easy to assume the black feminist in the room faces the same issues you do. And then you end up blabbing something that comes across as dismissive, erasing the existence and concerns of huge swathes of people and then wondering why they’re mad at you.

At its worst, we end up with “kumbaya feminism.” [Read more…]