Guest Blogger: A Mormon Feminist’s Perspective on Prop 8

A few weeks ago, I read this post on Feministing and thought of my Mormon feminist friend, Chris. I asked him what he thought about the Mormon church’s involvement in proposition 8, which led to a long discussion over the internet. I asked if I could post some of his thoughts on the issue to our blog, so he wrote this guest post:

There are a lot of factors that play into this issue, not all of which I feel qualified to fully discuss, so I’ll link where I can to more knowledgeable sources.

Personally, I think a lot of it is just misunderstandings and different ways of viewing the world, what definitions of gender, etc. really mean. Here is a good discussion of this from a Mormon perspective. I also think on some level it comes down to the fact that the Church has outwardly stated it supports traditional ideas of gender/family (there's a famous thing called The Proclamation on the Family-- I understand if you don't agree with it, but it has become official doctrine of the Church and should help you understand a little better why this is an issue for us) and feels like it should back that up when it's directly challenged, as with Prop 8. I've heard so many arguments on both sides and I don't like how they're playing out on either side (the anti-Mormon talk or the anti-gay sentiment some people strike up in order to explain to themselves why the church would speak directly against this), that I'm quite torn, precisely because this is such a hard issue.

Personally, I support giving full partnership rights for everyone who wants them, but marriage I think is a religious institution and should be defined individually by each religion. I think we should adopt the European model, where everyone goes and gets a civil union from the state and then goes and does whatever religious marriage they might want, and then individual churches can decide to perform or not perform gay marriages. Those who still want “marriage” without the religious context could maybe have separate ceremonies of their own, but marriage would be individually or institutionally based and recognized. But we're a long ways from that. One reason I was a little against Prop 8, though, is because I think any state definition of marriage, whether for or against gay marriage, is abuseable and dangerous. But I think I'm a little in the minority there.

One small clarification which I'm not sure is true but might clarify why so many Mormons were scared: on the objection that many had that the issue doesn’t directly affect Mormons, there was a lot of buzz going around that if gay marriage were legally sanctioned then it would be legally required to accept/perform gay marriages and institutions which refused to perform such would no longer be licensed for marriage, i.e. the Church might lose the ability to performs marriages and they might even shut down our temples in California, which is scary beyond all reason to Mormons. That immediately reminds us of burning temples, being driven from homes/cities/states, massacres, and other really nasty things that happened to us during the early days of the Church, when it was made legal by the "Extermination Order" from Governor Boggs to kill Mormons in the state of Missouri, etc. (Funny thing, the Extermination Order was only officially repealed in 1976.)

The really ironic part of this whole thing to me is that the gay and lesbian community thinks the Church is trying to stamp out their rights but on some level the Church is afraid of the exact reverse: losing their rights again. It's two completely opposite but similarly marginalized groups fighting each other instead of getting mad at the greater society.

I'm not saying this paranoia is warranted (because I really don't know if they could shut the Church down like that, though the idea scares even me a bit) but it's one of the reasons why Mormons really went in on this one.

It’s obvious there are a lot of views that differ about the nature of what gender, orientation and relationship mean, and how we should react to those on a societal level. I consider myself a feminist because I do believe in gender equality and in the freedom of choice, but I definitely think anywhere where the law gets involved is messy, because the law is there to limit freedom for the greater good (we don’t have the freedom to kill people so that others don’t have to worry about being killed). How that greater good is defined is up to the majority. So freedom of choice is a complicated issue, as is gender equality. On some level I do believe that men and women are inherently different, but I believe that makes both more valuable rather than less, because both are unique. I don’t understand everything, or even very much, about to what degree we are the same and to what degree different, but learning more is one of the main quests of my life. Mostly, with this post, I hope you see that Mormons are 1) not all of the same mindset, 2) still people, even if you very heavily disagree with them, 3) trying to do their best to stand up for things that are important to them, even if they might do it in ways that do more harm than good.

-Chris Straubhaar


Why You, Too, Can Love American Apparel.

American Apparel is a hipster mega mart managed by a sleaze ball chauvinist who exploits sexuality to sell outrageously overpriced clothing. And I support it. As the two Austin stores near their one-year anniversary, give thanks back to this shamelessly honest company by dropping your paycheck on something with a high waist.

Dov Charney, the 39-year-old CEO and founder of AA, runs a proudly sexualized business. Charney himself has faced five charges of sexual harassment from his employees, not including fondling himself in front of a Jane magazine reporter or dropping his pants for a reporter of BussinessWeek. His free-love mentality is filters in to his raunchy advertising campaign—I’m so hot and bothered after browsing their website I often have to take a cold shower. AA’s ads that appear in The Austin Chronicle and on Facebook feature buxom, doe-eyed men and women wearing barely any clothes at all in lurid positions.

Even though Charney and his ads are of questionable character, the ads are a much-needed break from popular culture. Most of his models are amateurs and employees. They’re short, chubby, freckled, oily, unshaven, uncut, and untouched. Their legs haven’t been digitally stretched and they don’t need fat airbrushed to their ribs. Models have razor burn and thigh dimples.

AA is wildly successful not simply because its ads drip sexy, but because they are so accessible to the audience they’re trying to reach. Middle class 20-somethings looking at a BCBG Maxaria ad might have a hard time imaging themselves as an oily Greco-Roman wrestler with their peacoats blowing in the wind. If you can let go of your qualms with their eroticized nature, you’ll find AA’s ads (ironically) unpretentious.

Their supersexed advertising approach isn’t anything new in the world of marketing. Some feminist websites, including Feministing.com, accuse AA for having near-pornographic marketing and refuse to host their ads. Let’s think about Abercrombie and Fitch’s approach to selling clothes: plaster posters of naked teenagers in your store. Armani shows naked women crawling through water with men standing over them. Since the 80s, sex and trendy clothes have been the peanut butter and jelly of America.

Blaming AA for exploiting its models sexually is a poor way to attack an ethical company. Charney pledged to never outsource labor to attain cheaper production, and he treats his workers with the utmost respect. AA employees earn, on average, $12 an hour with unparalleled health care benefits—this includes factory workers, whom are 75% lower-class Hispanic. He hires massage therapists to give free neck and hand massages to on-the-clock workers. He mandates synchronized stretching breaks. And AA still reaps over 200 million dollars in profit annually, according to National Public Radio.

But does paying your workers fair wages simply give you an avenue to exploit them through your advertising, or in Charney’s case, for your personal pleasure? If Charney’s models, both male and female, were coerced or forced into posing for the photos, there may be some argument against the campaign. But his workers are vying for the opportunity. "The fact that some people chose to project 'victim' onto [the ads]…is only an indication of their own distorted perceptions about women and sexuality," said AA photographer/model Kyung Chung during an interview with Newsweek magazine.

So I may have to take more cold showers after shopping at AA this holiday season, because a girl still needs legwarmers in every color of the rainbow. While I’m not comfortable with the avenues marketing has chosen to take in the last 10 years, Charney and his managerial ethics remain ever-sexy to me.


Anybody out there?

Rachel and I were talking about this earlier, and I just wanted to bring it up.
How many people are actually reading this? I'm seriously curious!
So if you read this blog, leave a comment!

Things I've Noticed

Hello all!

As an introductory blog post, I thought I'd catch y'all up on some things I've noticed.

Firstly, "emasculate." As in, "Germany was emasculated after WWI." It irks me that the word people use to express a forceful loss of power has to do with losing ones masculinity. It really irks me that this word is all over the academic world.

Also, "you guys." You can check out bitchmagazine.org's archives to find an article about how awesome "y'all" actually is! It is gender neutral, unlike the popular "you guys," is easy to say, and just rolls off the tongue. Imagine my surprise when something so Texan turned out to be so feminist!

Also, today during a self-education meeting we were reading some articles (aka blogs, but who am I to discredit this incredible art form?) that were considerably less feminist than this. Actually, you could, and they did, call them antifeminist. Of course, this got me a little riled up. The worst part was when one of them was actually upset about the "hug your vagina" movement. Until women can compare hairiness and labia length the way men compare their penises I will maintain that it is imperative to stress cunt love. Vaginas aren't pretty, or at least that's what I was taught to believe. I can't tell you who told me this, it was just something I knew. When a guy first started to head down there my first thought was, "how close do you have to get to do that, exactly?" and I almost refused. Who decided that our genitals are less attractive than the penis? And, how did they get so deep inside of the heads of so many women? For these reasons, for the testimonies of all of my friends and my personal experience, I believe that conversations about cunt love are necessary.

And now, a question. What do you believe about women who want to get married young, follow their husband, and have lots of kids? I don't want this question to seem biased in my asking of it, because I want an honest answer. As feminists, I feel like this is one of the big questions of our generation. Do we, can we, support all informed choices that our friends make, even if they choose to live a traditional life, seemingly unaffected by feminism?

Lastly, as you noticed, I use the word "cunt." Let me stress that more.
If you find that offensive, or are confused, I recommend that you pick up "Cunt" by Inga Muscio and youtube Eve Ensler's monologue called "Reclaiming Cunt" from the Vagina Monologues.

"A sheath for a sword? Ain't got no vagina."

Peace, Love, and Solidarity,

Hump Day SexFact #4: That wouldn't fit in my top drawer.

When exactly the very first vibrator was invented remains somewhat unclear, but the first so-called mainstream, steam-powered vibrator was invented in 1869 by Dr. George Taylor. The purpose of the device was not to give pleasure (although, it did exactly that) but to cure an common ailment referred to as "female hysteria". Victorian-era physicians treated hysteria, which included symptoms such as sexual fantasies and "excessive" vaginal lubrication, by essentially pushin' patients' love buttons. Not surprisingly, treatment often brought immediate relief from all "symptoms". Imagine that. 

WomEMPOWERment meeting and Discussion 6:30 PM WED. Nov. 19th after Leadership Tracks Event from 5-6:30!

The next meeting will be Wednesday at 6:30 PM WEDNESDAY Nov. 19th in the lobby on the bottom floor of Ragsdale and we will be organizing WomEMPOWERment events for the remainder of this semester and into spring 2009. We will be making plans about where we want to take this organization and the direction WomEMPOWERment needs to move to make the most impact. Open discussion following the agenda! We welcome comments/critiques/suggestions/questions!

If you are going to be at school before the meeting from 5-6:30, Alya Vasquez, the Assistant Director of Leading E.D.G.E, has invited all of us to attend the "upcoming Leadership Tracks event. It is this Wedesday, TOMORROW, the 19th of November. It is in Fleck 315 from 5- 6:30 p.m. Leslie Sans will be leading an interactive workshop dealing with ethical leadership. Its shaping up to be a lot of fun and an amazing way to pick up a couple of skills or tips on how to become an ethical leader. Come and join Leading E.D.G.E. in making this a success! Bring friends!" Join us if you can!

If you cannot make the meeting, I will be creating a thread detailing the meeting and we want your input! Write down your ideas and bring them to the meeting Wednesday at 6:30 PM! Let's collaborate our ideas!

SEU Feminist Blog - Message Rmerrim@stedwards.edu to become a contributor!

Counting down til Dec. 3rd for news about the AAUW grant proposal, keep thinking happy thoughts! Yoga will commence again soon, keep posted for new info.

~Inspired by Martha Grimes ~
~"We don't know who we are until we can see what we can do"~

See y'all tomorrow,


Call in gay and take the day off.

In the same vein as A Day Without a Mexican, Join the Impact has organized a nation-wide boycott for International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2008 entitled A Day Without A Gay

"LGBT workers, business owners, consumers, and taxpayers contribute over $700 billion to the U.S. economy each year and should not be treated as second-class citizens" - A Day Without A Gay Facebook event page

"Gay people and our allies are compassionate, sensitive, caring, mobilized, and programmed for success. A day without gays would be tragic because it would be a day without love." - A Day Without A Gay Website

This is probably the best excuse for calling in sick (er, well, you know what I mean) to work you'll ever have!

More gender analysis

We have our first male blogger on SEU Feminist! Welcome, Timothy!

I thought it would be interesting to try the Gender Analyzer on our blog again now that there's a post up by a man. The results were surprising! Last time their guess was that SEU Feminist was written by a man (82%). This time? Drumroll please...

"We guess http://seu-feminist.blogspot.com/ is written by a woman (51%), however it's quite gender neutral."

Uh... maybe feminist women write more like men and feminist men write more like women? This one has me scratching my head a little. :)


One Catholic's perspective on Prop 8

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone...

I am a devout, practicing, traditional Catholic, and I am against Proposition 8.

This might seem like a paradox, and may not be conservative enough or liberal enough depending on your views, but bear with me. The Roman Catholic faith, to which I am a fervent adherent, maintains the following official position on the matter of same-sex relations:
"Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They... close the sexual act to the gift of life...Under no circumstances can they be approved...This inclination [however]...constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357-2358
The Catechism goes on to state that LGBT people are "called to chastity". This is the case because the Catholic Church teaches that sexual activity must be both an expression of eternal love and an act open to procreation. Since same-sex relations cannot be procreative, practicing Catholics are bound not to engage in them. Some Catholic theorists go so far as to say that romantic love cannot exist between two people of the same sex.

I can't disagree with the Church on the point that practicing Catholics cannot engage in homosexual acts without committing a sin. And I believe that any form of sexual activity in which a child cannot be created is also sinful (including masturbatory, oral, anal, or "safe" sex between people of any gender). However, I strongly disagree with the latter point: I have seen many same-sex couples who are more loving than a substantial number of their heterosexual counterparts. While I believe that the Church cannot permit her members to be joined in same-sex marriages, American civil law is, or should be, a completely different ball game.

First of all, what ever happened to separation of Church and state? At the end of the day, I'm glad I live in a nation where not everyone agrees with me. Freedom is what makes this country great. Secondly, since when does a government have a right to declare who its citizens can and can't marry? If John Doe can marry Suzy Smith, why can't Jane Doe marry her? In a democracy, the citizens are supposed to have true sovereignty over their government. So how can we let our political leaders tell us who to love, to honor, and to cherish 'til death do us part? I've always felt that part of the American dream was being able to love whomever you love, without apology. No matter what anyone says, I will never be convinced that love is a choice.

I encourage people to be true to their beliefs, whatever they are, and I especially urge all Catholics to follow the Church's teachings. That said, the matter of your sexuality is very personal. Share it with your partner, your friends, your family, trusted members of the community, your confessor, anyone, everyone, or no one at all if you don't want to. Whomever. But who you love is none of Uncle Sam's gosh darn business.

Some relevant links...

Courage, a Church-approved ministry to LGBT and questioning Catholics
The Trevor Project, a non-religious, non-profit resource for LGBTQ youth


Prop 8 Protest in Austin!

This is a long picture post, so I'm sorry if it loads slowly.

Here are a few of the photos I took at the proposition 8 protest yesterday at City Hall here in Austin. We had a much bigger crowd than I expected-- about 2,000 people!

These guys offered me some "homo-made" pumpkin bread.

People lined up along the curb outside City Hall after the speeches were done.

After the rallying outside City Hall for a while, we marched up to the Capitol and around downtown.

Favorite picture of the day.

Passing by Oilcan Harry's, a gay bar downtown.

Gender Analyzer says...

"We think http://www.seu-feminist.blogspot.com is written by a man (82%)." - genderanalyzer.com

In comparison, Feministing gets a rating of 54% (written by a woman, but quite gender neutral.)

Interesting... I wonder in what ways men and women supposedly write differently? I would've predicted us to be pretty gender neutral, if anything. Obviously, it's not an exact science, because we're all women here- although I'm open to getting some male perspective!

Wanda Sykes is out!

Wanda Sykes, one of our favorite funny feminists here at SEU Feminist, publicly came out as a lesbian yesterday at a prop 8 protest. She announced to the crowd in Las Vegas that she and her partner were married in California on October 25th. She said she is coming out now because "I felt like I was being attacked, personally attacked-- our community was attacked." I just want to say congratulations and thank you to Ms. Sykes for having the courage to declare your love to the world and speak up for yourself and other members of the queer community.

I was at the prop 8 protest here in Austin yesterday and should have some photos to post later today.


I missed Wednesday's Sex Fact... so how about a Saturday Song?

"Woman Is the Nigger of the World" by John Lennon

"We make her paint her face and dance
If she won't be a slave, we say that she don't love us
If she's real, we say she's trying to be a man
While putting her down we pretend that she is above us"

He's best known as a Beatle and a peace activist, but I think of John Lennon as more of an individual that deeply cared about all social issues, including feminism! I love how he gives Yoko credit at the beginning of the song. :)


Funny Feminist Friday: Wanda Sykes on same-sex marriage

Happy Friday, everybody! I know I just did a Wanda Sykes post two weeks ago, and there are so many other funny feminists to show you, but tomorrow is the Join the Impact rally, so I thought this clip was particularly relevant:

Austin people, please please please come to City Hall tomorrow, November 15th, at 12:30pm for the Join the Impact rally against prop 8. You can find more information, including a map to City Hall, here. If you're not in Austin, please check out the Join the Impact website to find details about the rally in your city.


Sarah Palin on feminism (here we go...)

I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing about Sarah Palin, but I saw this post-election interview and thought y'all would like to know that (after some flip-flopping on the issue) she's finally decided that she is a feminist-- "whatever that means."

Oh yeah, and she insults bloggers, too! I love Rachel Maddow's retort to that:


Next WomEMPOWERment meeting

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon, Ragsdale room 321. Be there.


Ill Doctrine: How to Tell People They Sound Racist

Here's a useful and thought-provoking video from Jay Smooth of ill doctrine:

As I was watching this, I was thinking about how the same idea is applicable to telling someone they did or said something sexist or homophobic, and how often when I have these conversations I do exactly what Jay is telling us not to. I need to work on that.

It's really hard, though, to talk to someone about why I don't shave my legs when he's a sheltered straight man who has never had to think about these things and thinks that just because he has a dick he doesn't have to shave his legs, but just because I have a cunt, I do. Or to convince a female friend who says "I'm not a feminist, I'm an equalist" that they are the same thing. Does anyone else have strategies for talking to people who just don't get it?


Fat is Sexy

Kim's post about Fat Talk reminded me of the music video for Skinny by Lo Rider. The song, which is about how the singer isn't attracted to skinny women, is okay, but the images in the video are what I really love. It's full of sexy, "plus-size" women who are totally comfortable with their bodies and their sexuality. We need more fat-positive images like this in our culture!

Feminist Double Take: Amanda Marcotte at St. Edward's

Controversial feminist blogger and author Amanda Marcotte will speak during the St. Edward’s University Visiting Writer’s Series about her book “It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.”

Marcotte, a St. Edward’s Alumnus, has come under much public scrutiny for her attacks on Catholicism, George W. Bush, and conservative values. After being hired as blogmaster for John Edwards in Jan. 2007, she came under a firestorm of attacks from conservative supporters, most memorably from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Right president Bill Donohue, who called Marcotte an “anti-catholic, vulgar, trash-talking bigot.” Known for her deep sarcasm and satire on her previous blogs, which she was still publishing in, conservatives accused Marcotte of insensitivity and naivety. Marcotte left the campaign less than a month after she was hired.

In an Editorial on Salon.com, Marcotte explained that she was unfairly targeted at Edwards campaign for being a feminist. “Even before Donohue stepped in,” Marcotte said, “Various right-wing bloggers were obsessed with my gender and sexuality…the majority of the hate mail I was receiving was from men, and almost all the e-mails made note of my gender or suggested that I would be a more pleasant woman if I wasn't so "angry."”

Before working for the Edwards campaign, Marcotte won the Koufax award for her blog “Mouse Words,” which discussed culture, politics and feminism. She was then recruited to work for a humorous liberal political blog “Pandagon.” She continued to write there during her stint with the Edwards campaign, and now publishes there full-time.

In late 2007, Marcotte published “It’s a Jungle Out There.” The book is a humorous collection of short, blog-like essays that span topics like pranks to pull on pro-lifers, what to do if your sorority kicks you out, and being told to smile by strangers. It’s primarily aimed at high-school and college level feminists.

The book has received mixed reviews, though negative critiques tend to focus on Marcotte’s choice of pictures for her book. Pulled from a 1950’s comic “Lorna, The Jungle Girl,” the images are of a busty, scantily clad woman warrior saving men from native tribes. A review on Feministe.com called the images “nauseating, racist, and stereotypical.” Marcotte later issued a public apology for them on Pandagon.com.

Later in 2007, Marcotte was accused of plagiarizing a blog posting on RHcheck by several feminist bloggers. The posting, an explication of discriminative language in immigration policy, had never been a topic of Marcotte's writing. The supposed victium of the intellectual property theft was Feminist Blogger Brownfemipower. Whil Marcotte claimed she was inspired by a speech of Nina Perales', she made no mention of it in her citations.

Marcotte will read selections from her book and discuss current feminist topics. The event takes place Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Maloney room. The event is free and open to the public.

Fat Talk

As a woman of size (hell yeah, I'm a woman of size! Plump, fat, large, plus-size, I am that girl!) I can't help but feel alienated by my more skinnier counterparts and feel terrible about myself. I feel bad about my large thighs, my ever increasing wide ass, and my tig o'bitties (big boobs). And I absolutely hate it.

Maybe I am striving for a different equality within genders, within both genders, and that is fatism. I am fighting fatism and the things women (and men!) will do to make themselves feel accepted by a society scared to death of being fat. Anorexia and bulimia are just two disorders out of a host of many that is ruining the confidence and pride of women and men everywhere.

Here's a video on this:

Now, I know it's no longer Fat Talk week, but as a group, as a whole, we should try to eliminate fat talk in our lives as much as possible. Be concious that being healthy is much more valuable than what size you are. It's a hard pill to swallow, I know it is. I'm still trying to accept myself as a healthy, if not pretty overweight, woman. But see, I'm healthy, and I am so much happier for that than the dream of lowering my waistline and the scales.

It's all about the self love! (Rachel, you better write something on self love.)


The Best of American Apparel

Instead of focusing on those delightfully sparkly leggings or the rather apparent display of anatomy like a normal person, for some reason I'm unable to look away from this chick's protruding collarbones. Sexy.

I, too, regularly wear my sweaters without pants. I'm a practical lady, what can I say?

American Apparel: also sexualizing young, barely-legal girls with that "ethinic" look.

It only takes a few frames' worth of convincing to get a girl to show you her tits.

Oh, like cumming. THAT'S HILARIOUS.

Why, hello, weirdest ad I've ever seen in my life.

Although tailored specifically to make my ass look especially luscious and tap-able, I also suspect I'd be taking those off ASAP to avoid what could potentially be the worst wedgie of my life.

I can't imagine what this refers to... I'd sure love to get these panties in my stocking, though!

Not entirely sure this piece of clothing is even functional.

Again, I remain unsure. Wait.. I think... is it designed to cover my nipples? Surely it is! I can't be going 'round with my nips hangin' out for everyone to see, y'know.

Oops! Missed it.

To be fair, American Apparel also features naked dudes in their ads. Way to keep things equal, guys.

Majority female state senate in New Hampshire!


Why do you do what you do?

I've been thinking a lot recently about what it means to be a feminist. What is this movement really about? Is it about equality? On what scale is it about equality? What're we fighting for anymore? Are we fighting for reproductive freedom, equality for the LGBT community, and equal pay for equal labor?
Lots of questions, and the thing is, I think we're fighting for everything. As far as my opinion goes, I believe feminism stands for more than what our foremothers believed it was. It's not about voting rights, or getting out of the house and making our own lives anymore. Well, to some degree it is, but it's not a prominent battle now.

I know the reason I became a feminist. It was because I didn't want to be tied down to a stereotype, I didn't want to be told I couldn't do something just because of my sex. As a girl, I stood up for myself and my friends when seldom ever thought I would. Somehow I had the confidence to do what I thought was right, despite what many people had told me.
I knew from a young age that people should not be judged by anything external, only by who they were inside. I was also told many times by my mother that no one could control what I did with my body, and that it wasn't right when someone thought they could do things to me.

So back to my original question. What is this movement all about these days?
I don't have an exact answer since this is an incredibly broad question, but I would like to think it's about: equality for all (men, women, the LGBT community, EVERYONE), a woman's right to choose what she can do with her body, being paid equally, and standing up for what's right.
I'm curious for everyone here, why did you become a feminist? Have you always been one? What does this movement stand for these days?

Funny Feminist Friday: Ellen!

In light of all the same-sex marriage bans passing on Tuesday-- prop 8 in California, prop 2 in Florida, and prop 102 in Arizona-- I thought I'd share a few clips of one of my favorite queer comediennes, the fabulous Ellen DeGeneres. In this clip from her 2000 show, The Beginning, Ellen shares an interpretive dance about her coming out experience.

Maybe Ellen should start a campaign to protest prop 8 through interpretive dance?
This next clip is sad in light of recent events, but here you can watch her totally trump John McCain on the subject of gay marriage:

And to cheer you up, here's a clip of Ellen dancing with President-Elect (!!!) Barack Obama:


WomEMPOWERment meeting recap: 11/5 (and some thoughts on the election)

What a fantastic day this has been. I woke up an hour before my alarm went off (which never happens unless I'm excited or in love) and I felt like it was christmas morning. And actually, I am in love. I'm in love with an America that can move beyond centuries of prejudice and elect the best person for the job, regardless of race. I'm in love with a country that has seen past the slander and the lies about our future president and has recognized that he is an intelligent, passionate person who wants to help rebuild this country, unite us, and make us the best we can be. I'm in love with the feeling of optimism that surrounds us both from the knowledge that Bush's reign will soon end and from the hope that with the breaking down of this giant barrier to equality, that hundreds of smaller barriers will soon be broken-- for people of color, for women, for immigrants, for queers. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong: one small large step for Obama, one giant leap for equality in this country.

What was this post about again? Oh yeah, the meeting. We had our second meeting of WomEMPOWERment on this glorious night. We met outside the main building, where the weather was perfect and the view was gorgeous. Today we concentrated nearly all of our discussion on the AAUW grant proposal, which is due Friday. We also talked a little about future events for our group, most of which were carried over from last week's discussion. (Yoga? Movie and discussion night in Jones? Sex Ed carnival? "My vag is going green" info sessions to promote alternative menstrual products? Watching The Itty Bitty Titty Committee and drinking margaritas for an end-of-semester party? A big fat YES WE CAN to all!) I'll let y'all know more about the grant and about next week's meeting as soon as I know.

I freaking love America. See you all next week.

Hump day SexFact #3

In the Kama Sutra and other classical texts, the word Yoni (a sanskrit word meaning "divine passage" or "sacred temple") is loosely translated to refer to the vagina.

How's that for some cuntlovin'?

Election 2008

I am happy to say I was part of the 1.5 million people in Chicago who witnessed history in the park. It was awe-inspiring, and I've never felt so much pride in my country before last night. 

So, I'm going to express this excitement through pictures, which I hope you'll enjoy. 
I am so happy to have Barack Obama as my president! Pro-choice, pro-equality!


A guy singing, I can't remember what, but he was really cool.





To my right

To my left

People behind me!

This was the moment CNN announced their projections for his win.


This little girl was aorable. She was waving her little flag all over the place!

Everyone leaving the park after Obama's speech. LOOK HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE THERE!!!



As I pulled out onto Highway 71 this morning, jamming out to various politically-charged songs picked specifically to get pumped up for election day, I suddenly came face-to-face with something I forgot existed: Truck Balls

What better novelty item to display your redneck male machismo than a swingin' plastic scrotum hanging off the hitch of your King Ranch Ford 350? Balls. Need a euphemism to describe an individual's gutsiness and bravery? Balls. An adjective to describe something totally awesome? Balls.

I am deeply disturbed by Truck Balls and the implications thereof. I propose we begin to manufacture Dangling Ovaries immediately.

Sarah Palin Makes a Porno

After the invigorating romp we Americans have gotten to experience this election season, I’d like to tip my hat to the most honest political pundit of them all: porno producer Larry Flint, founder and proprietor of “Hustler” magazine.

It didn’t take Flint long to come out and express what all the Joe-six packs of the world were really thinking after a woman was announced as republican vice-presidential nominee. Sarah Palin? I’d hit that.

And so was the birth of “Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?” The standard-issue porno stars an oblivious character, Serra Paylin, who lets two drunk Russians into her home when they run out of gas near her home in Alaska. The x-rated flick was lovingly released on Election Day for only $26. If seeing a Palin look-alike isn’t enough to satiate viewers, the DVD also features duplicates of Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice in ménage a trios. Clinton, of course, was previously sexualized when “Spy” magazine photoshopped her in dominatrix garb on the magazine’s cover in 1993.

Like a lot of feminists, I’m no fan of Palin. Feminist blogs tore her apart for her rigid stance against Roe V. Wade, for charging rape victims for their examination kits, for flip-flopping on whether she feels she’s a feminist or not. The thought of Palin being the first woman running the country alights a sadness in my brain, especially after witnessing Hillary Clinton nearly claim the democratic nomination.

But hate her or not, she’s still a woman, and I’m deeply respectful of any woman who can climb the political ladder regardless of her ideology. I’d like to see more women as leaders, but not if it means we’re going to mock them sexually any time they enter the political sphere. Making a porno about Palin is a cheap way to criticize the woman when she gave us so many other ways to.

When “Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?” was announced, a lot of women bloggers seemed to all share a laugh that ol’ Palin was finally getting the mockery that she rightly deserved. One of my favorite blogs, “Broadsheet,” expressed their surprise and frustration that the porn had too much commentary, and not enough, well, nailin’.

Should I share a laugh at seeing Palin reduced to nothing more than a sexual object so that she can be demeaned even further than she has in the media: physically? Since the porno encompasses other female political figures, Flint is only reinforcing that all women, no matter how accomplished or intelligent, can be always reduced to the sum of their physical parts. And everyone can laugh at them.

While “Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?” is obviously marketed as a satirical joke that is probably not intended to have the weighty implications I glean from it, I can’t help but wonder how people would react if “Hustler” made a porn mocking Barack Obama for McCain supporters. Flint could dress him up as a young and naïve lawyer eager to get some “experience” under him. I’m sure it would get all the jovial press that Palin’s porno is.

A thicker tolerance has developed for public sexual discrimination of political women. Dick Morris, a political commentator, can say “Hillary Clinton retreats behind the apron strings [when the big boys pick on her]” and suffer no cross-examination; Sarah Palin has inspired a porn. It seems for every step a woman takes forward, there’s a man putting her right back where she belongs.

One thing is for sure, I’ll never think of the phrase “Drill, baby, drill!” the same again.

Sorry, this is a little off topic: Patriotism

When I was a kid, I loved the Fourth of July. I would get all dressed up in crazy costumes, entirely in red, white, and blue, march in my neighborhood parade, and despite the blistering heat melting my flag face paint, I would have a blast.

When I became a teenager, all that stopped. Not because of teenage rebellion, not because I was about to start high school and was therefore too cool to march in the neighborhood parade. I stopped enjoying the Fourth of July then because the year I turned thirteen was the year George W. Bush was elected president. I haven't felt patriotic since.

I gave up marching in parades and started marching in protests. When I went abroad, I felt ashamed to say I was American. My cynicism about our government grew so much that I didn't think we would ever have a trustworthy leader again.

Until now. Today, there is a glimmer of hope in me. It's gotten under my skin and now it's the night before the election and I'm so excited I can't sleep.

I'm anxious too, of course. The cynic that grew in me during those identity-forming teenage years, the skeptical side of me that has all but completely taken over during the Bush administration, is telling me not to get my hopes up, that polls can be wrong and elections can be rigged. But there's a little part of me, some last ounce of national pride crawling out of the wreckage of these last eight years, that is finally starting to believe that maybe, for the first time in my adult life, this country will have real leadership from a president I like, and more importantly, a president I trust. Maybe I won't need to be ashamed of my country anymore. Maybe I will finally have a reason to be patriotic again.


My Wishlist.

So, all in all, I am pretty stoked that tomorrow we will know the next president of the United States. Regardless of who it is, what do you hope will be accomplished for women (or just in general!) during their term?

My wishlist:

1. A new healthcare system that means actual CARE for people, which means taking into consideration the special care -everything from counseling for spousal abuse to those yearly exams we all look forward to- unique to the health care needs of women. Also, affordable birth control, please?

2. Implementation of a national comprehensive sexuality education program, to ensure our children have healthy attitudes about sex and to lower incidence of STI's and teen pregnancy. Also, so I can achieve my dream of becoming a sex education teacher.

3. A plan to make the cost of college more affordable.. preferably, put in place before I graduate, and definitely before I go to grad school.

4. Action on the HIV/AIDS global epidemic, by a president who understands the complexity of the situation and how instrumental the United States can be in helping those affected by AIDS.

5. Stem cell research. If practiced ethically, research on this front could change the world.

6. Last but not least, a big one: the exploration (and implementation!) of green energy alternatives!

I could think of so much more... but I'll get to my point. Depending on who wins the presidency tomorrow, either none or all of my wishes will come true during those four years. So if you haven't already, don't spend tomorrow standing outside waiting to wish on a shooting star, spend it waiting in line to vote! That way, you'll have done everything in your power to make all your wishes -for women or for everyone- come true.

Tomorrow, everything is in our hands. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!


Quote of the day for 11/1/08

Upon my questioning of my brother as to why he shaves his forearms:

"You know, I never thought of this before, but I have a son who shaves his legs and armpits, and a daughter who refuses to... I love my children."

- My Dad :)