Tag: feminism (Page 1 of 5)

Stuff worth reading

Madonna’s “Billboard Woman of the Year” speech

“As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth, and each other’s worth. Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to be inspired by, to collaborate with, to support, to be enlightened by.”

Cheryl Strayed interview for Scratch the magazine/book

Did you aspire to be a famous writer?

I want to be recognized for beautiful work, for good work, for real work. I really want to be recognized for that. Which is different from saying I want to be famous.

If you want to be famous, don’t be a writer. When I was first thinking of myself as a writer back in my teens, the shorthand for that was fame. But then I started to really understand what writing was and who writers were. Who were the writers I valued the most as a young woman learning to write?

So pretty quickly, to me it wasn’t about fame—it was about accomplishment. Once you let go of that fame thing, it’s the first step in really being able to focus on doing good work. Because you can’t fake it. That’s the deal with writing. You can’t fake it.

“Growing Up Unreflected: How Diversity Saved Me” by (my brilliant, beautiful friend!) Tria Chang

What started as curiosity and some confusion about how I fit in with societal beauty norms gradually became insecurity and disappointment in myself. I couldn’t see myself as worthy of compliments, admiration, or love. I concluded I had no worth.

There was not really one good reason for this, but many silly little ones that, in a teenager’s mind, can arrange themselves to resemble the truth.

When young people look for themselves in entertainment, they’re not thinking about network ratings, or even racial inequality. They’re simply seeking a sign of acceptance. That who they are is someone worth aspiring to be.

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BAD FEMINIST by Roxane Gay (part 1)

Bad Feminist I read this book ages ago, and I’ve had two or three drafts with quotes from it sitting in my WordPress queue ever since. I keep thinking I need to add my own reactions or thoughts like I usually do, but whenever try to do so, I find myself thinking that Roxane Gay’s words are pretty close to perfect, and thus much more impactful on their own.

Feminism has helped me believed my voice matters, even in this world where there are so many voices demanding to be heard. (x)

I believe women not just in the United States but throughout the world deserve equality and freedom but know I am in no position to tell women of other cultures what that equality and freedom should look like. (xii)

Discussions about gender are often framed as either/or propositions. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, or so we are told, as if this means we’re all so different it is nigh impossible to reach each other. The way we talk about gender makes it easy to forget Mars and Venus are part of the same solar system, divided only by one planet, held in the thrall of the same sun. (96)

Disagreement, however, is not anger. Pointing out the many ways in which misogyny persists and harms women is not anger. Conceding the idea that anger is an inappropriate reaction to the injustice women face backs women into an unfair position. Nor does disagreement mean we are blind to the ways in which progress has been made. Feminists are celebrating our victories and acknowledging our privilege when we have it. We’re simply refusing to settle. We’re refusing to forget how much work there is yet to be done. We’re refusing to relish the comforts we have at the expense of women who are still seeking comfort. (102)

It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining thing. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly. (189)

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Roxane Gay and writing about oneself

“Having a Heart, Being Alive” by Roxane Gay

I am a fiction writer who stumbled into writing nonfiction. Though I had written a handful of essays as a younger writer, I spent most of my time writing stories and trying to lose myself in the lives of imaginary others.

I also resented how as a woman, it seemed like to write nonfiction, I had to savage my own life to find stories people would be willing to hear. I wanted to keep my stories to myself.

When I began to write more essays, I thought carefully about the choices I would make in exploring myself. What parts of my life was I willing to expose? What parts of my life was I willing to share? I didn’t want to simply bare my pain and have that be enough. At the same time, I was tired of carrying my past around, unexamined.

Why do these explorations of myself matter? How do I make them matter? How do I make my words more than catharsis, more than mere excavations of pain?

I’m still finding my way to the answers to these questions.

There are never going to be universally satisfying answers to these questions. That’s okay.

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Stuff worth reading

“No Indian Friends” by Priya-Alika Elias

I’m thinking of answers to questions that we’re embarrassed to ask, like why we’re so quick to describe ourselves as “white on the inside.” I’m thinking of answers we don’t have yet, ways we can tear the roots of internalized racism out of little brown kids. I’m thinking of Toni Morrison explaining how she embraces the title “black woman writer,” because she didn’t consider it reductive to be writing as a black woman. It isn’t a place of weakness, she said. It’s a place of strength.

“The Fire and the Snow” by Jennifer Tseng

Writing a convincing story is like setting fire to your own hands using only the match of your imagination. Success seems unlikely but it is possible. In both scenarios, no one really goes anywhere and yet in both scenarios, with practice and concentration, hearts beat faster and bodies grow warmer.

“What Makes a Woman Is Less Important Than What Makes a Feminist” by Jill Filipovic

Part of the work is to push ideological boundaries, to listen to each other with respect even if that doesn’t translate into agreement, and to face injustice head-on while building the foundations of a kinder, more flexible, more expansive society.

“Hi. I used to be transphobic. Here’s a story about that.” by Sara Benincasa

I’ve come a very long way in this regard, and I feel good about that. Not proud, exactly – I don’t think one deserves a pat on the back for realizing, “Hey, I’m a hateful fucking asshole. I should stop being one of those.” But I’ve shown myself that people can change, if they want to. Person to person contact is the most important aspect of change. It is hard to look into another person’s eyes and hear their honest story and still fear them, or hate them, or see them as less than you.

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Delightful imperfection, contradiction, my past, and Sailor Jupiter

I’m in the process of fixing a weird bug in my blog (where some posts show as having no comments even though the comments are right freaking there) and that requires checking over a lot of my old posts. It’s kind of fun, amusing, weird, inspiring, and embarrassing all at once.

Sometimes I wonder if I should go back and delete the more ridiculous or random posts. I know people who have done that. I even know one person (cough Sarah cough) who likes to “burn it all down.” Old journals, old blogs, old photographs, everything. She can be sentimental, but she prefers to rely on her own memory. She doesn’t like anyone being able to root through the relics of her past.

I’m the opposite. I love looking back on my history (and the histories of people I care about) in all its delightful mess and imperfection. Oh sure, it’d be nice to have a pristine version of myself presented to the public — but then again, I’m not a pristine person. I’m flawed and ever-changing. Is there a point in hiding that?

(Also, few people besides myself will ever go back into the archives anyway. Why hide what no one’s looking for?)

As with most things, it’s all up to personal preference. Me, I’m leaving my past alone. But I do understand the temptation to delete or obscure.

“How Sailor Jupiter Made Me Who I Am Today” by Amanda C. Miller

I always was drawn to Makoto for her interesting juxtaposition of the masculine and feminine. Her version of womanhood was complex, well-rounded, and unique to anything else I had seen in kids shows before. She was at the same time strong and sweet, badass and gentle. On the one hand, a tough self-sufficient independent woman who had lived on her own for years and answered to no one. On the other, a hopeless romantic who liked crushing on cute boys and secretly dreamed of becoming a beautiful bride someday.

I also remember the episode where she gets a lady crush on Haruka, which was not so much about sexual confusion, but more the fact that she deeply admires how Haruka is confidently able to reconcile the masculine and the feminine parts of herself, and doesn’t apologize for how anyone else receives her. Someone else’s confusion or inability to put her in a box is their problem, not hers.

Sailor Jupiter was my favorite too. There’s a superficial similarity — we’re both brunettes — but this essay helped me articulate the deeper parallels between me and Makoto.

I’ve always loved being “one of the boys.” I even went through a (deeply regrettable) phase of believing that “girliness” was a bad thing. But the truth is that even when I was in denial about my femininity, I had wonderful female friends, strong female role models, and a fair number of “girly” tendencies. Thank goodness for all that.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I’m able to look at my various traits without shame, and without assigning genders. I’m able to see that sensitivity and toughness can go hand-in-hand. I might not be as confident as Haruka about it, but I’m getting there.

You don’t have to sacrifice an ounce of your strength in order to maintain your femininity, and vice versa.

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