Welcome to the 6th Feminist Carnival!
We're pleased to host the 6th edition (oops, make that the 8th!) of the newly reborn Feminist Carnival! In the spirit of rebirth, and in alignment with the readers and mission of Scarleteen, this round puts its focus on young feminist bloggers and feminist issues particularly pertinent to younger women.
The F-Word & The Myth of the Invisible Young Feminist
We often hear that younger women are eschewing feminism or that young feminists just aren't out there. But maybe we just need to look a little harder and listen a little more.
Sian and crooked rib echoes that sentiment here:
It seems a lot of people are very invested in the idea that there are no young feminists, that young women are turning away from feminism in droves, that young women just don’t care about feminism, that we are embarrassed and ashamed of it.
Well, all I can say to that is it is not my experience AT ALL. I know hundreds of young feminists. I am in touch with young feminists all over the country through networks and Ladyfests, and I am in touch with young feminists all over the world through social media and the blogosphere.
We’re everywhere. Get used to it.
Not Kelsey makes her claim of the f-word, and some common negative associations with it, clear:
I am an advocate of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. By definition, I am a feminist. For many, the word feminist conjures up images of bra-burning ceremonies, shaved heads, and militant lesbians. Man-haters. “Femi-nazis.”
Julie Z. at fbomb makes some analysis of the Shriver Report and writes:
When my peers find out that I am a feminist blogger, I am generally faced with a few questions. “So you’re a lesbian?” is a pretty common one. “What’s a feminist?” is another. I have honed answering these questions into an art form, where I am able to answer both educationally and with a snippet of snark. It’s statements like, “We don’t need feminism anymore,” that truly give me pause.
And Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux calls the report out for neglecting young women, adding that:
Crowing over how far we've come in the women's movement not only alienates young men and women, it gives us more reasons to be complacent.
At the All Girl Army, Em gracefully speaks to what feels like a common experience of younger women and young feminists:
Maybe we are the lizards, shrugging off old skin tempted by a new life, abandoning our memories of a harsh dry existence.
We are the Women, bare of our shells, entangled in a web of your labels, gracefully weaving a finer path, shrugging off a bruised and battered history, moving forward but always watching, waiting for the predator to land upon us.
Also at the All Girl Army, Zen explores shaping her own identity:
Every few weeks I learn something new about my family, and I have to incorporate it into who I am. The more I learn about my family, the more I feel I was destined to become the person I am, even though I feel like a disappointment to my mother. She was raised a hippie, as I was, but she has drifted so far from her roots and my nana's teachings that I don't think she knows how to listen to trees anymore. She says 'it was just a phase,' but I think I am who I am because she (at one point in her life) thought it would be important to fill me with feminist, environmentalist values. And now she's disappointed that I don't have a five year plan (which I do, it just changes about every three months).
Jule Z. at fbomb addresses youth and technology:
...as one of my former teachers recently observed, “Technology is sucking the emotions from today’s youth. Constant contact is not a good thing.” And I don’t know, I think that’s kind of true (says the girl who spends hours every day working on her blog, reading other blogs, social networking and whatnot). But seriously – sometimes it’s good to have time to yourself, to be with yourself. I think this is especially true when it comes to technology and relationships.
Laura Woodhouse at the F-Word is "frantically waving the feminist flag, jumping up and down, blowing a whistle and tearing her hair out" the Feminist Review covers Side Dishes: Latina American Women, Sex, and Cultural Production, and at Scarleteen, Joey checks out "Sexploration Week" and comes away with some cheers and some jeers.
Thoughtful Revolution grapples with the kind of conflict all feminists will have at one point or another: disagreeing with another feminist you admire and respect:
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 2004 novella “Memoria de mis putas tristes,” roughly translated as “Memories of my Melancholy Whores” (promising title, right?) was, like the more famous “Love in the Time of Cholera,” going to receive the silver-screen treatment...
...the amazing Lydia Cacho, a world-renowned feminist activist primarily known for her work against the sexual abuse of women and children vocally opposes the film’s production, saying that “[her opposition to the film] is not about censorship or prudishness, but about the need of an in-depth debate about the ideological support for child exploitation.”
I agree completely. Which is why I think that legally forcing the termination of the film’s production is a terrible idea. And that’s hard for me to say, because in any given debate, I don’t want to side against Lydia Cacho.
Whole Wheat fantastically addresses the giant suck that is being sexualised and ignored as an artist:
I played a show in Seattle last night. Some old dudes were talking to us as we were setting up our stuff. "Who's the drummer?" I point at Claire. "No way!" (I don't know what he means by that.) Pronouncement: "We have to stay and watch these ladies play!" (maybe I am the only one who cringes at the word "ladies"). We go on stage, and on the song where I play drums, Claire sometimes bangs on Davy's chest with a tambourine while they sing the duet and Davy plays guitar. After the song, I went to pick up my bass again, and heard different old dudes in the front row telling each other, "Man, that was really sexy!"
So before we started our next song, I grabbed the mike and addressed the very sparsely-filled room (we were the opening band). "You know what the best part of being in an all-queer girl band is?" I asked. "When dudes try to hit on you and don't realize that they're dealing with A WHOLE TROOP OF LESBIANS. It's awesome. Totally the best part."
Charleigh at the AGA is a queer Iraq War veteran turned anti-war activist who talks with a brave candor about the biggest boys club there is:
I found a different voice, a strong voice and came out and started to speak out about my experiences in the military. This "enlightenment" our "outlet", as I think of it has become one of the things I draw my greatest strength from, but suffer my deepest sadness from sharing.
...Most of our brothers do their very best to learn the past wrongs introduced to them by one of the most misogynist organizations there is. However the re-learning process is harder because military men are taught that women are weak, and therefore can be treated as second class. Job placements and pseudo-science tell them that as warriors we are inferior and can be dismissed. The untrue notions that our periods or body mass or emotional weakness are re-inforced by the blocking of women in so called "combat roles" IE; Special Forces, Rangers, SEALS, Para-rescue, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery. You name it men are given the excuse, with "science" to back it up. Although this woman can personally attest to some physically weak, cowardly and even deeply emotionally disturbed men. A crackpot man weighing 140 pounds straight out of jail for a misdemeanor can qualify for these positions. Bullshit.
Irmelin at the AGA has had it way-past-up-to-here with catcalls.
Teacher Kate Townsend at the F-Word addresses the sexism and gender inequities in primary schools that no one likes to talk about:
Most of us want to believe that our primary schools remain havens of childhood innocence; skipping ropes, clapping games and a sense of gender blind comradery (or at least immature antipathy between the sexes amounting to nothing more sinister than the “boys are icky” argument).
As recent media coverage has highlighted, we concoct this vision of utopian childhood at the cost of neglecting the facts; sexual bullying is rife in schools at primary level as well as secondary, and so perhaps it is unsurprising that girls are already learning to hate themselves and their bodies before they even make it to double figures.
Written on the Body
Grappling with female and/or female-identified embodiment during and post-puberty is a common thread for young women. While it's certainly an issue for all women, claiming the female body, becoming at home in it is often especially challenging when that process is so new. Brooke at the All Girl Army makes some strong statements that speak to its import:
I see how my own body has been the victim of sexism. Short, thin, bruised, burned, scared. Starved, stressed, beaten, forced, burdened.
We can longer separate our bodies from those of other women, because we are all the same in the eyes of the world.
Vanessa at Athena Magazine talks about the roots of her disordered eating and lists some great creative coping strategies in Sexual Health Sundays: Body Image. Also at Athena, Lessons learned From Tyra. Meloukhia talks about the politics of public healthcare initiatives and makes clear that:
I would rather that my body not be used as a sticking point for political convenience. I would rather that my body not be used, honestly, as a political tool. It is extremely disempowering to know that my body and bodies like it are being used to hold up the entire health care debate in this country, that we red herrings being used to distract from the real issues and the big picture.
Julia considers how tough it is to get to her own positive body image when how she looks to men is so tough to put outside the picture:
It's not so much that I think I look that bad, but to a boy? Who knows? While I consciously know I'm fairly healthy, my subconscious can be screaming to try and drop a few - after all, I wouldn't want a guy to judge me. Even when you're trying to protect a very feminist mindset, impulses brought on by our sexist society can still remain, like bits of debris floating around in your brain. I'd certainly like to clean out those thoughts!
Joss knows I love him (I even embarrassed myself by thanking him in my book acknowledgments on top of tending to call him by his first name as if we were buddies), but Laura does an excellent call-out and analysis of consistent ableism in Whedon's work that you just can't possibly ignore:
TV isn’t usually the place where we see a lot of people with disabilities. It’s not as if Joss Whedon’s shows are any different from other shows in the number of people with disabilities that are regularly featured. But Joss has had a reputation of creating shows that revolve around the promotion of the able body in ways that other shows don’t. His shows value the able body not by only showing people without disabilities, but by centering shows around what able bodies can (and should) do.
Too Much Information... or Too Little?
We often hear that women are being TMI online about their bodies, with too little commentary about the root of that reaction, usually based in the feeling that ANY real-deal talk about women's bodies, and the more complex aspects of living in a woman's body, is TMI based in a long history of too little information. Penny Red covers a fascinating piece and asks all the right questions in "Have You No Shame?":
That right there, in >140 characters, is possibly the most succinct and effective piece of feminist gonzo journalism I have ever read. Personal, factual, shoving the meaty political details of women's everyday life right up in your face. Plus, it quite delightfully manages to combine in 32 words most of the big taboos of modern misogynist thought: women bleeding in the boardroom. Women being candid about the parts of our physical lives which aren't to do with fucking but also matter to us. Women's bodies being, in fact, more than just tools for baby-making and delivering sexual pleasure to men. Women being outspoken and proud about reproductive self-determination. Women reacting to the termi,nation of unwanted pregnancy not with horrific, life-stomping mental breakdown but with what most of us actually feel: relief. The radical truths that women, with their bleeding, messy cunts, can hold high-powered jobs, make decisions about our own bodies, own our own moral compasses and face pain and humiliation with our heads held high.
"I was even interviewed on CNN where the news anchor asked me, 'Young lady, do you have no shame?'"
To which the obvious retort is: why, was she expected to? Was she expected to be ashamed? Of what? Of suffering through a miscarriage? Of not wanting a third child? Of doing both of these things whilst having the temerity to have, gods forbid, a job?
Here at Scarleteen, Mary addresses the silencing of women's genitals via the infantile language often used to describe them:
The fact that vaginas have turned into vajayjays makes me think that our culture is okay with making vaginas silly and, ultimately, taboo. When we make vaginas scary and unspeakable we inherently consent to the equally prevalent view that women are scary. We are controlled by these scary organs that are plagued by uncontrollable, monthly visits from "Aunt Flow". How in the world can we be trusted? We're so crazy!!
And the ramifications of our silent treatment of vaginas are not only sad, but dangerous.
Feminist Plus One (or More): Sex and Interpersonal Relationships
Why are racial fetishes damaging? Because when someone with a racial fetish has sex with a person of color, they may be thinking of their partner in terms of their race alone--a degrading essentialization--and they also often attach racial stereotypes to that essentialization. Some examples are: "Black men are sexually insatiable" or "Asian women are naughty school girls." Clearly, if someone holds one of these stereotypes and this is all they see in their sexual partner(s), this is problematic.
Stefanie addresses Principles and Desires and Female Impersonator blogs one of the clearest analogies of consent you could possibly want. I talk about How Easy It Isn't for young women today when it comes to sex. Two very different takes on marriage issues, from Ashley, with This is What a Beautiful Bride Looks Like, and Genderbitch, with On Marriage: Impaled? Have A Bandage!:
There’s been a whole lot of talk about marriage lately. I’m sure you’ve all noticed the flurry of activity on the part of the GLB…(t) community to get legal marriage extended to gay couples all over America. A move that might, maybe, cover trans folk who are still legally seen as their birth assigned sex and are heterosexual. Maybe. And prolly cover gay trans folks unless folk really want to be giant cissexist douchebags. Numerous states have blocked it or simply not succeeded in passing it. Some have judicially crushed laws blocking it and legalized it, others have gone to civil unions instead. But surprisingly, that’s not important.
Chally is peeling the sticky tape away from sex ed:
What’s a clitoris? It’s a question I’ve had to answer many times since that day, but every time it makes me very sad that I’m the one answering it. It should have been told these young people by their parents and their teachers, not that oddball feminist they know. It should have been taught along with all the other information they were given, through education formal and informal, about their bodies, and relating to people, and information about how the world works. Because whether they’re waiting for marriage or not wanting to have sex ever or already starting out on their sexual lives, young people have the right to information that will allow healthy, informed decisions about their own selves. And it’s terribly sad that young people are so often left to glean this information as best they can.
Addressing sexual or interpersonal violences, Marcella Chester at Abyss2Hope analyzes a recent report that date-rape drugs are urban mythology, and Cara at The Curvature addresses one of the most common responses to intimate partner violence there is, in Not The Man I Know:
We all know the common response from family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances when a man is alleged to have committed intimate partner violence and/or sexual violence: That’s not the man that I know.
...Never does the statement leave room for, “How could I have been so unaware of his violent nature?” Or, “It must have been so difficult for his victim(s) to shoulder the burden of that violence alone, when we all thought so highly of him.” Because while not all of the above statements are mutually exclusive with violence against women, and the perception of any of them certainly is not, the “not the man that I know” declaration never leaves room for belief that the accuser is telling an objective truth. The statement is rather always followed with the words, or at least the implication: “He would never do that.”
At Amplify Your Voice, Jaclyn Friedman makes absolutely, perfectly clear that Rape is not a game and women's bodies are not toys in addressing the gang rape of of a 15 year-old girl outside a high school dance in California:
It happened because, in the absence of comprehensive, pleasure-based sex ed from an early age, kids are learning about sex by watching gonzo porn that fetishizes violence against women. It happened because rape is literally treated as a game by the powerful video game industry.
It happened because Whoopi Goldberg and scores of other Hollywood heavyweights made it perfectly clear that if you're talented and powerful, it's no big deal if you drug and rape a 13 year-old girl. And who doesn't want to think of themselves as talented and powerful?
It happened because when women accuse men of rape, we automatically question her motives, which leaves rapists free to rape again and again. It happens because movies treat rape like a punchline, and pop music treats women's bodies like trophies or dolls.
It happened because we live in a rape culture. And if you're not actively working to undo that, you're supporting it. And we're all reaping what you sow. Including that 15 year-old girl who's going to have to live with this unspeakably brutal violation for the rest of her life.
Young feminists and feminisms that address or include younger women are, as stated in the blog entry we opened with, everywhere. We could absolutely stand some more, to be sure, but here are a few great places to consistently find a plethora of them:
Know some more? Link us up! A big, bodacious thanks to everyone who submitted for this edition, and if you want to keep track of where the next Feminist Blog Carnival will be visiting town, click here.