Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: The Good & the Ugly of Occupy, Pro-Choice United Nations, & Pinkwashing

  • Occupy Wall Street: Check out this video of Eve Ensler explicitly detailing the ways in which economic inequalities disproportionately affect women. “Why aren’t we supporting nurses? Why aren’t we supporting teachers?…Why isn’t the work [women more often do] the respected work?” YES EVE.
  • We can also take heart from Sarah Seltzer’s excellent piece at The Nation about the instrumental and visible role of women in Zuccotti park. The narratives from women activists show their awareness of the history of “leftist” social movements. If we know our history, let’s hope we can change it:

“One of the things we didn’t want, which has always been the history of the left, is to start splintering among ourselves,” says Husain. “So how do we create a movement that allows us to swim with one another?” She notes that this includes an effort to discourage anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as well as racism, sexism and homophobia.

The solution, for her and others, lies in the essence of Occupy Wall Street: its leaderless, non-hierarchical nature, which allows any participation to have a say in the movement’s direction. The casual observer, unaccustomed to organizations without hierarchy, might mistake leaderlessness for structurelessness. But in fact OWS is governed by a highly structured, constantly evolving series of processes, with checks and balances to make sure no voice or one faction takes over.

Woman in wheelchair trying to escape tear gas at Occupy Oakland, via The Nation

  • Now the ugly. Police’s violent response to Occupy Oakland has sent shivers down the spines of activists around the country. Here’s Joshua Holland at Alternet, who takes the conservative narratives around OWS–that it’s a bunch of dirty anarchists, that there’s violence and chaos, that it’s a reprise of “Lord of the Flies”–and links them to the justification of violent police crowd control tactics like tear-gas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades, as well as mass arrests and destruction of the entire camp. At The Rumpus:

In the meantime, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan released a somewhat insulting statement and is in DC while all this goes on. She is facing a recall and terrible poll numbers. She’s also taking heat for deleting angry posts from her Facebook wall. Will she be the first politician Occupy takes down?

  • The United Nations–yes, that United Nations–has issued a formal report on reproductive health and rights, calling for the decriminalization of abortion around the globe and recommending that states remove all legal barriers to contraception and family planning services and education. RH Reality Check has a series of articles analyzing the implications of this groundbreaking report!
  • Another huge step in sexual and preventative health care in the U.S.: a panel from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has recommends the HPV vaccine to males aged 13 to 2l, linking the symptomless and highly common STI to a number of cancers in men. Doctors tellin’ it like it is:

Dr. S. Michael Marcy, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California and a committee member, said that the money needed to vaccinate 11- and 12-year-old boys would pay for only a few hours of the war in Afghanistan while potentially saving thousands of lives in the United States.

“I’m constantly being told we don’t have the money. Well, we do have the money,” Dr. Marcy said. “We need a new set of priorities, and we if we don’t set those priorities, who will?”

  • At Tiger Beatdown, an excellent critique of the “pinkwashing” of breast cancer–what is awareness? What does that little pink ribbon actually mean? How can we focus the breast cancer activism movement?

Mindy Kaling is a writer for The Office, in which she also plays "Kelly."

  • And for all the rom-com lovers out there, Mindy Kaling of The Office breaks down her love of the genre by listing some of the fantastical/impossible kinds of women that seem to crop up time and time again–from “sassy best friend” to “ethereal weirdo.” Pure gold:

I regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world operates according to different rules than my regular human world. For me, there is no difference between Ripley from “Alien” and any Katherine Heigl character. They are equally implausible. They’re all participating in a similar level of fakey razzle-dazzle, and I enjoy every second of it.

Self-prefacing

by Quin 

I am a white, lower-to-middle class, heterosexual, male graduate student engaged in the study of history and gender. I use these terms of social location self-consciously because I believe they matter in at least two specific ways: first, because they are terms through which I am socially perceived; second because they offer some clue of where I stand viz. a viz. material, cultural, and symbolic resources in this world. Beyond these generalities, I want to offer a bit of accounting — both for myself, and others — of how I got to where I am.

I write about women’s liberation movements specifically and radical political movements in general. I discovered feminism late in my college years. It was not through an intellectual text or a course on women’s studies, a protest, a rally, or an injustice perpetuated against my body  — it was through music. The undeniably feminist lyrics of Ani DiFranco’s early songs, along with her skilled guitar playing, struck me, for reasons that I was unsure of at the time. After all, I hadn’t grown up within a family that had an explicitly feminist consciousness; I had no feminist friends who self-identified with or advocated feminism. In fact, at the time I had very few female friends at all. In hindsight, it was DiFranco’s honesty that I found compelling. Hearing lyrics such as “We don’t look like pages from a magazine but that’s alright / oh baby that’s alright” (“Imperfectly”) or “It seems like everyone’s an actor or an actor’s best friend / I wonder what was wrong to begin with that we should have to pretend” (“Anticipate”) pierced through a veil of conformity I had been measuring my own self-worth against for years. Continue reading