Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Simple, yet powerful

Defending this country...but at what cost?

For your Feminist Bookshelf

From what I can tell, this collection is sure to be a challenging, rewarding read. There's always been a large amount of silence concerning sexual violence against women in times of war. Please check it out if you have time!

World AIDS Day!

December 1st is World Aids Day! NYU celebrated a little early last night with an amazing event, Living OUT Loud: Men of Color Creating HIV Awareness . The event featured

Tim'm T. West: Hip Hop Artist, Scholar, Poet
Cornelius LIFE Jones: Actor, Writer, ARTivist
Brandon Lacy Campos: Organizer, Writer, FierceCook
Pedro Julio Serrano: Communicator, Activist, Blogger

The performers were amazing and inspiring using different forms of art and media to tell their story and to empower others to share their stories. I urge you to check out their work.

There were tons of great things said last night, but one that stuck out to me the most was when Tim'm made a rather simple statement: "We all need to come out!" Instead of not talking about HIV/AIDS we should all learn how to come out about our status. Whether or not it's positive, negative, or maybe that we're too afraid to find out. These are all real experiences, and unless we start talking openly about them, HIV will continue.

I know it can be scary. Maybe you don't want to know. But in this day and age it's incredibly important that we get tested. Visit http://www.hivtest.org/ and enter your zip code for the closest free HIV testing centers! Happy World AIDS Day!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Magnificent Monday

“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” ~Gloria Steinem

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living

My name is Paul James. This is my first post. Read it.

In an equal world gender would not matter-or possibly not even exist. We do not live in an equal world, and we all receive the most fundamental piece of this unequal world right at birth, a name.

Giving newborns gendered names instantly classifies the baby as a male or female. This identity then dictates what the child will play with, what will be his favorite color, what games she will play on the playground.

As the child moves into adulthood, the gender pressure will only increase. She will be given a range of acceptable careers to choose. He will be expected to show some emotions in a specific way and hide others altogether. She will be told that she can be strong, but expected to still display an underlying of weakness. And when this person dies, the tombstone will have the name that started this whole social process engraved on it, etched in stone.

'Men' and 'Women' are just caricatures. In a manner that is nothing short of totalitarian, our over-culture dictates to us how we are to behave and think based upon our gender. All the while, this tyranny of sorts masquerades as 'normal' and 'human nature.' There has rarely been a more insidious form of oppression. This whole process starts with a person's name-the presumed core of their identity.

I wonder how many couples sitting around me at Thanksgiving will be little more than unions of two gender stereotypes instead of sincere unions of two individuals? What will happen to them when their role-playing starts to taste stale?

If a person is truly committed to liberation from the dictatorship of culture, then he or she should not give his or her child a name that symbolically sets all the social expectations in motion. They don't say that one in the parenting books.

Obviously we live in a time when some social gender norms and expectations are less rigid. I acknowledge our advances and the increased right to choose our own paths. However, progress must never be mistaken for resolution. Huge gender norms have yet to be dismantled and the need, no the requirement, to give a baby a name that is either masculine or feminine is one of them. Actually, it is the first big one.

They say politically correct...I say more accurate

I'm incredibly grateful for a lot of things in my life. My family, my friends, my job, my education, the sun, the beach, and who/whatever is up in the sky listening when I sometimes need to believe in faith. I like what Thanksgiving is today, just not where it came from. This cartoon is poking fun at all those who remember the roots of Thanksgiving and try to educate others, but their satire just proves to me why this type of dialogue is important. Surely most families in the United States get together for a shared meal, and that's great. But there are a lot of American Indian families in the states that probably have a very different emotional responses to Thanksgiving traditions. Be grateful we've progressed away from blatant genocide, but remember that reservations are still disappearing to this day.

WOW! I would like to meet this woman and shake her hand...INSPIRATIONAL

Since I've moved to the metro area, I've yet to encounter anything as severe as this, but lewd comments are abundant. I NEVER know how to respond, but I recently came across this site that has some really great suggestions. If you've never been, please check out Hollaback! It's ridiculously empowering.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Welcome Jill!

Hello! My name is Jill Grimaldi and I am a Psychology and Communications double major at Ramapo College of New Jersey. I have been blogging for over three years now – since before I even identified as a feminist! I think that social media and blogging is the most amazing tool for connecting people and creating real social change through conversations that help to inspire people to become activists in their every day life.

I consider myself an intersectional feminist, because the feminism I believe in embraces everyone as full human beings – the combination of a million unique identities, and fights for a world where everyone is respected and accepted for everything they are. This is idealistic, I know, but every step towards that goal means a better world… and that’s good enough for me.

In my offline life I work for the Women’s Center at Ramapo as the Publicist, and I am the current Web Outreach Intern at the Margaret Sanger Paper’s Project – both of these jobs involve quite a bit of blogging. I also volunteer for the Bergen County Rape Crisis Center, work as a Peer Facilitator for the First Year Seminar Program, and am currently the President of Feminists United at Ramapo. I love working with other people to create illuminating conversations, and artwork, and writing, and activism.

I really look forward to the conversations that will take place on this blog!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Say hello to Jodi!

Hey there. My name is Jodi and I’m a journalist for a weekly North
Jersey paper and I am in desperate need of an outlet to write about something other than local news. I graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a major in communications and minor in women’s studies. Feminism is my passion.

My radical contribution to the movement is being a self-loving, fat feminist, and empowering others that they should and can love their bodies, too. I’m also intensely interested in third world feminism, ecofeminism, and the fake Sarah Palin feminism grabbing the media’s attention. In my spare time, I am an avid consumer of feminist blogs, cooking blogs, photo blogs and now this blog.

“Yes, I’m a feminist. It is an extension of my lifelong war against
pantyhose” – Sarah Haskins.

Apparently, being allowed to live is no longer a human right

Check out this article over at The New Civil Rights Movement.

That's right folks. Apparently the UN thinks that LGBT people should continue to face arbitrary executions. As absolutely terrifying and saddening as this is, I find certain aspects of the article problematic as well.

"Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people were once again subject to the whims of homophobia and religious and cultural extremism this week...a vote that was overwhelming represented by a majority of African, Middle East and Carribean nations."

"Cultural extremism" doesn't come across well to me. Even the name of the site sort of sits awkwardly with me. I feel like the "old" Civil Rights Movement is still happening, and you can't claim a new movement especially if you're going to bring up trite racial/cultural analysis of cross-cultural issues. I mean perhaps the vote was overwhelmingly represented by specific countries, but we have to move away from this fear-mongering mindset. Homophobia and heterosexism exists in ALL cultures, whether it's colloquial or government-sanctioned. Where were the non-"extremist" cultures to stop the vote?

Not being murdered is a human right, and one that must be assessed in all cultures, countries, states, & religions. Officials, in fact everyone, cannot keep simply "expressing disappointment" when things like this happen. What are we DOING to change this pervasive mentality in our own communities?

This is Chris!!!!

Hey Everyone! My name is Chris Woods and I am a senior at New York University studying English and Religious Studies. I am currently applying for graduate school programs in Higher Education and Student Affairs. With that said, I spend all my time trying to make my NYU community a more aware and safe place for all students. I work at the NYU LGBTQ Student Center, facilitating the Quench biweekly lunch series and have started two new groups in the LGBTQ Student Center, the Interfaith Group (for queer students to discuss issues around faith) and the Men's Group (for male-identified queer folk). I am also a Resident Assistant for 45 amazing freshmen students! My goal for my future career in student affairs is to make my student feel beautiful, uninhibited by life, and supported as they find their way towards self-discovery.

Trying to negotiate and understand my identities as a Puerto Rican/Irish, lower middle class, gay, politically queer, temporarily able-bodied, Christian/Catholic man from the Bronx has made me particularly interested in looking at the ways in which social identities intersect and complicate the way that we understand people. At NYU, my academic interests have been on women studies and feminist movements, representations of gender and sexuality in popular culture and how religion plays a role in these representations, critical race theory, literary theory and study in queer, Black, Asian, and Latino literatures (many of these literatures intersect of course), and radical sex theory. My goal for the blog is to post different articles, videos, media representations, etc. that complicate the way we traditionally think about different social identities and how they intersect.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

No seriously...we REALLLY want to hear what you have to say about feminism...

Exciting news!!!! We have just added a huge amount of bloggers to Not Your Average Feminist. Over the next week or so you'll be meeting them all. If you decided not to be an official contributor, but you still really want to help build our feminist community, post on our brand new FORUM PAGE!!!

Start a topic. Share your story. Ask a question. Feminism is about having a medley of voices, so please help us out by sharing your voice!!!

Hey Arlene!!!!

Hi everyone! My name is Arlene and I am currently a student at Ramapo College working on my BA in literature.

I am taking a journey into different perspectives and ideologies of not only feminism but life as well. To be honest I am totally new to feminism and I am curious, enraged at times, and happy with every step I take.

Well here is a little random information about me, I am someone's sister,daughter,friend,co-worker,roommate, etc. But before all those thing I am human and a woman, so I deserve and require respect and I will be heard.

Rockin Robin!!!!

Hi all! My name is Robin and I am currently a student of life, among other things. I am pursuing a B.A. in Literature, however, I'm also working on a minor in Women and Gender Studies. And despite it all, I insist upon pursuing a career in medicine, proving that ANYONE is capable of ANYTHING, even me. I'm a writer, a thinker and a lover. I'm a blogger of poetry. I was born female, Jewish, American (first generation) and Israeli, in that particular order. I am a self-identified lesbian, queer woman, and sex positive feminist and I'm proud of every bit of it.

I strongly believe that a person is not limited to merely one identity or label. That in fact, each "identity" is actually a dimensional overlap of all of the various identities we embody and claim as our own. It's an intersection of sorts, and no two are the same. And as a result, I believe that we have a lot to learn from one another. I believe that it is our duty to understand one another's struggles and experiences. I believe that each of us as indviduals has something to offer another and the world as a whole and I believe that everyone should be afforded the right and the opportunity to do so. This is what brings me to feminism.
"Never be someone's slogan because you are poetry" - Sandra Bullock as Gwen Cummings, 28 Days

Friday, November 19, 2010

Welcome aboard Katie!

Hi, everyone! My name is Katie. I am pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology (with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies) at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

I do A LOT of things. I am a Peer Career Advisor at Ramapo's Career Services Center, Transcendent Alpha Theta Chapter Founder of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc., Vice President of Feminists United, Treasurer of Ramapo Pride, and Peer Facilitator for the First Year Seminar Program.

I'm actually fairly new to this whole feminism thing, and I'm learning more and more every day. I'm passionate about social justice, equality, and multiculturalism. I love diversity, but not just diversity of "race." When I talk about diversity, I mean a diversity of ideas, backgrounds, ages, perspectives, religions, classes and more. There is value in learning about all of our differences, and there is beauty in coming together as ONE for the good of humankind.

Family wait to see if mother, accused of blasphemy, will be HANGED!!!

In Itan Wali, Pakistan, 45-year-old Asia Bibi is being sentenced to death by the Pakistani church. Not because she had killed, injured, or stole from someone, but due to something she said. Prosecutors say Bibi, who is a Christian, broke Pakistan's strict blasphemy law by insulting Islam and the prophet Muhammad, a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment according to Pakistan's penal code. As stated in what we would call a constitution they have a distinct code 295-C, which states whoever defiles the sacred name of the Hole Prophet Muhammad shall be punished by death.

The alleged incident happened in June 2009 when Bibi, a field worker, was picking fruit in a village two hours west of Lahore. Prosecutors say when Bibi dipped her cup into a bucket of drinking water during a lunch break; her co-workers complained the water had been contaminated by a non-Muslim. They were not going to accept her ways and were definitely not willing to assimilate her into the community. In spite of her outrage, according to CNN "She said your Muhammad had worms in his mouth before he died," Satar told CNN, a crude way of saying Muhammad was no prophet. The town cleric, Qari Muhammad Salim, reported the incident to police who arrested Bibi. After nearly 15 months in prison came her conviction to the death sentence. Bibi, has appealed her conviction but it can take months before they receive a decision.

Asia, a loving mother and wife, is being sentenced due to her belief in another god and for disrespecting the Muslim religion. But, was she wrong for the statements she had said. Pakistan has never executed someone convicted of blasphemy but in Bibi's village public opinion was unanimous. Human rights groups have long blamed Pakistan's blasphemy laws for persecution and violence against religious minorities. There is no unity or acceptance for anything other. The town cleric, who made the initial complaint against Bibi, called her death sentence one of the happiest moments of his life. This is unnecessary and outraging, this reminds me of stony in Nigeria, as well as honor killings. Countries outside of America do things differently and we can respect that but when does it become too far? At what point do people say we need to do something about this? This is a story of discrimination and social alienation.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meet Paul!!!!!

My name is Paul James and I am currently living in the Jersey Shore.

The scariest thing in the world is when a person thinks that his or her perspective is the only one. That’s why I try to constantly grow and learn through experience. If people took the time to read about and participate in different group’s way of life then things would be much better than today. The real secret is not the variety of life but the variety of us. I hope to see all of our variety.

Oh, and I graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a BA in International Studies and minors in Latino Studies, Spanish Language, Political Science and Anthropology. Graduate school is on the horizon- in Public Policy for now. I have worked for LGBTQ rights, Women’s rights, immigrant rights, the rights of the poor, religious freedom and the Democratic Party in various capacities. I am never bored because I am never being boring.

"The whole point of liberation is that you get out. Restructure your life. Act by yourself." --Jane Fonda

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Curing" Feminists

aka...how to seduce women who think for themselves and make their own decisions without regards to the pressures of patriarchy. Oh yes, these tips in MAXIM will totally help:

A feminist is just like any other woman: She won't give you the time of day if you don't know how to approach her. To prove you're not part of the dreaded penisocracy, pretend to share her beliefs. But hide your lack of actual knowledge of feminist issues and show her how much you value her opinion by asking intelligent questions: "What must women do to earn equal pay for equal work?" or "Has Gloria Steinem's marriage hurt the feminist agenda?" or "Did you see Cagney & Lacey on Lifetime last night?"

Don't just wait for her to think differently--give her some options. Begin by discussing "lipstick" feminism, which is far more moderate than the combat-boot variety. "She can be a girly-girl and still be a feminist," explains Jennifer Baumgardner, coauthor of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future. "There's no need to eschew things like shopping, makeup, or boyfriends." Don't think she's ready for a Maxim subscription just yet? Sign her up for Bust, a feminist-lite mag that says women can be independent, strong, and relatively hairless.

Once a relationship is established, you should treat a feminist just like you'd treat any other girl you're interested in, Baumgardner advises. As long as you're not overbearing, she won't object to your opening the occasional door or picking up a check. Next, unlock her repressed Malibu Barbie fantasies and buy her a tight tank top with FEMINIST printed on the chest from outspokenclothing.com. Tell her she looks great--but try to avoid phrases like "bodacious ta-tas."

To preserve any chance of getting your chin buttered, you'll have to reshizzle her feminist-tinged interests so you can actually spend time with her. "Focus on the things you have in common," suggests Michele Weiner-Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Marriage. She likes pro softball? Take her to a major-league game. She's a staunch environmentalist? Go camping. She supports a woman's right to reject the outdated mores of our male-dominated society? Tell her to get closer to your mike.

REALLY????? The patriarchy is so afraid to lose control.

Women's Sexualities are Never their Own...

Have any of you heard about Purity Balls? Well if you haven't, check out this trailer for a new documentary:

After taking an ancient law class a few semesters ago, I've been drawing so many parallels to traditions and customs that are still practiced today. For instance, women were seen as property. Before they were married, they belonged to their fathers. After they were married, they belonged to their husbands. In their older age, they belonged to their sons.

A woman's ownership over her own sexuality is what's at stake with these purity balls. I don't know about you all, but I find it straight up creepy that young girls pledge their virginity to their fathers. Not only that, but there's totally a double standard for young men. Young men pledge to remain abstinent not because they have to maintain their purity, but because if they were to have sex before marriage, they would be "tainting" another man's daughter or future wife.

Sick, I know.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Magnificent Mondays

I don't know about you all, but Mondays general feel like daggers through my soul. I need to laugh at least once to cheer up! So every Monday, we will be posting something to uplift all you moody Mondayers too:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Female Friendly Funk!

Gender-bending bad-ass women. Enough said.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Choice meets Access meets Justice...thanks Tyler Perry

Say what you will about Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls, but you've got to admit that he knows how to tug a heart string. It was a mixed bag for me. I absolutely hated his trite down-low/HIV storyline. Homophobia at its finest. There was TONS of victim blaming. The strengthening bonds of sisterhood were poorly developed. Ultimately, there was very little to leave the movie feeling good about. One scene that I did appreciate was the abortion scene. Think back to If These Walls Could Talk and Demi Moore's character. Perry's film features a very similar plot, except the character is an inner-city high school student whose mother is extremely religious and completely broke. She can not admit to her mother that she's been sexually active, but she can't afford the 300 dollar abortion either. She begs her sister for the money, but tells her it's for college applications. Her older sister suspects that she's pregnant, and indirectly tells her about a woman who performs abortions in her apartment. The character goes to the woman alone to get an abortion, but ends up almost dying from an infection.

What does all this mean?

While certainly the fight for the right for a person to choose what happens to their own body is important, but economic access has to be part of the conversation. Not only that, but society's one-sided obsession with women's sexual purity needs to be deconstructed. CHOICE IS NOT ENOUGH. It must be about reproductive justice for all, not just those with the privilege to afford to choose.

What does your Feminism look like?

You may have noticed that Not Your Average Feminist looks a bit different. Well, I've been thinking about creating a blogging team! And I desperately need your help. I want to create a cohesive medley of diverse voices and experiences. Whether or not you have your own blog and you would like to cross post, or your brand spanking new to the Feminist blog-o-sphere, comment on this post if your interested in contributing!!!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Perception vs. Reality

So I just got back from one of the coolest retreats I've ever been to, so I'm sort of in a euphoria of Higher Education & Social Justice! I've been struggling with putting some of my thoughts to words lately about gender and sexuality, but I have to say being at NYU around people who are unapologetic about both queer theory and identity, I've finally been able to experience a wee bit of clarity.

Sexuality first:

When I first came out I identified as bisexual(7th grade), lesbian(freshman year of college), and now queer(junior year of college). The main reason I began identifying as queer is because...(get ready for a GRAND epiphany)...it simply felt right. I knew that there were other genders out there aside from "man" and "woman" and while I can say that my track record is mostly lesbian women, who's to say that I can never be with a person who identifies outside of the gender binary? Queer just fits for me!

And now gender:

Through my feminism, I learned that the constricting roles of manhood and womanhood are the root of a lot of injustices, violence, and inequalities in this world. And certainly people can continue to redefine womanhood as they see fit, and that is great, but for me I'd rather not. I want to interrupt "woman" For a while now I've identified as queer to acknowledge the fact that I'm attracted to people outside the binary, while ignoring that I was struggling with the fact that I myself had the same inclinations. I'm not talking about transitioning. I am who I am. I dress how I dress. I don't shave my legs. I sometimes let my mustache grow thick. I look how I look. I am a female-bodied person, and that's fine. But I don't feel like I'll ever be a "woman"...and I never really have. Genderqueer just feels right!

But still I struggled. Most genderqueer people I've met are more androgynous. And once again that's fine for them, but I will always be perceived as a woman. How can I call myself genderqueer if I don't look the part. Well, none of this came about because I didn't like the way I looked. It was always about how I felt and what I was expected to be. I identify as queer, yet almost everyone I meet thinks I'm straight...and this doesn't strike me as odd. This doesn't keep me from being queer. So why should I stop myself from identifying as genderqueer just because everyone I meet would classify me as a woman?

Sexuality is fluid. Gender is fluid. And so am I...

I may navigate this world and experience privilege as a cisgendered, heterosexual woman (because that's what I look like)...but I'm a queer genderqueer. Just thought you may want to know...