Monday, April 30, 2012


A thought-provoking newsletter comes out from every week inviting readers to not only speak up but also take action for the rights of women. We must keep struggling for the sake of the girls and young women who are only learning these inevitable truths in their own lives.  As their mentors, women need to question all the misleading images of girls and women rampant in all forms of media.   

I try to keep the ideas at the forefront of my mind and incorporate positive actions into my every day life.  It's difficult to keep #TheConversation (Ashley Judd's article) going, even though I vow to myself that I will help the young women around me realize they are feminists regardless of whether or not they self-identifying as such.  

Women who have public voices and followings, such as Jessica Valenti and Naomi Wolf, can reach a vast audience via social media or various public appearances. Fortunately, there are many other informed women and men who are also online discussing important subjects like the Violence Against Women Act (VAMA).

While I have nowhere near that reach, I can keep the conversation going among my peers, students and other young people I meet or already know.

From the newsletter: 
It's an opportunity to not only challenge the media's limiting labels, but to question how we value ourselves and the women around us. 
Another great blog entry about why feminism matters is at Fem2.0, which would give many people food for thought if they'd dare read it.  I linked to it through a post on another blog I follow(Anything But Beige). Take the @RepresentPledge today at!  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Taking action

The author of the latest MissRepresentation newsletter reminds us:
"We all have a responsibility to help one another overcome limiting labels and transform our culture at large. Together, through, we are doing the daily work to build a more inclusive and supportive community for the next generation. And we can't stop now!  Let's use the energy and attention around women's value in America to grow and propel the campaign forward. Invite everyone you know to take the pledge at, and keep us updated on how you are making things better in your local community!"
My own tiny voice may be limited to this blog, but I feel like it's a small way to reach out to other people.  Our united voices may have the volume needed, and the MissRepresentation project and its activities are a great vehicle to make that happen.  
While I may not have a voice that reaches the masses, I can seek to encourage every young woman I know to look at MissRep or  There are so many females who are feminists and don't realize it.  It is not a negative sense of being, and it is not shameful or "butch" to call yourself a feminist.  We don't all have gravel voices and a lust for spilling men's blood.
An old favorite quote is:
“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."  Rebecca West
Wikipedia authors say Ms. West is an "English author, journalist, literary critic and travel writer" and say she was "committed to feminist and liberal principles and was one of the foremost public intellectuals of the 20th century."  To me, that praise means she cared for people and knew of what she spoke.  

I hope other women with conviction continue to speak up about how society and religion continues to thrive in patriarchy.  Let's cross our fingers people keep speaking against unfair treatment and conditions that bother them.  

Only individuals who show disdain for the horrors inflicted on other people are the ones whom I believe and trust.  It's so disturbing to read daily headlines about women being judged based only on their looks, male politicians making decisions for women about their own bodies, a vast number of men who think women's sole purpose is their sexual dominance and pleasure, and where so many men are arrested for forcing themselves on naive young women or coercing them into pornography or prostitution.  

The first step necessary to stop these atrocities is to declare them WRONG.  We must speak up for the women and children.  We have to join other women and men who also find these things to be WRONG.  Each small voice, wherever it is in this world, adds up to a louder demand for the rights of women and girls in our society.    

Friday, April 20, 2012

Speaking of 4/20

Coming home from the Y last night, I thought I was high for a minute when I saw a crazy-looking tandem bike with a father pilot, son co-pilot, and a baby trailer behind that.  Apparently these are fairly commonplace and are called active passenger bikes in this case. Seeing one being pedaled around town wasn't just an hallucination.  
I'm always looking for offbeat pictures for my "Only in the Ozarks" FB album and my new time-suck Twitter account of the same name.  This sighting didn't quite qualify, and I try not to have people in the shots.  I don't want to be a complete jerk by making fun of them in a recognizable manner.
However (isn't there always a however), the miniature middle biker was not such a friendly chap.  I imagine his feet weren't even helping in the effort to power this tri-ped arrangement, the tiny turd.  With my smile spread out wide, I told my own miniature back-seat passenger look at the funny bike.  With my grin pointed in their direction, I ended up on the receiving end of the kid's fat tongue sticking out in disdain.  So ... maybe I was staring.  Sure, he probably didn't like it.  But what a little shit!
My first impulse was, of course, to the loudly state - in his dad's earshot - to NOT stick his damn tongue out at strangers.  Nah, not a good tactic in this teaching moment.  Instead, I shook my head at rude-bike-boy in disapproval while mouthing the words, "NO ... don't do that" over and over again to him.  Unfortunately, I accompanied it with, "What a little shit!" out loud.  I immediately retracted my use of a bad word, although my son had missed the whole thing.  It was all a futile attempt at parenting in a vacuum.  
The situation sparked a conversation between me and my little guy about rude behavior (not my own), respecting adults, and plain ol' safety of not snarking at people in a public setting.  Especially if they are simply looking in your direction.  Although he found it pretty funny that a kid younger than him stuck his tongue out at Mom, he got the message. (He did make sure his dad heard about it when we got home, though.)  Ultimately, my son agreed the kid on the bike was being a complete ratbag just like I said!  
Sure, there are some kids who will end up doing a lot worse in real life.  Many will get into real trouble in their lives with majorly serious consequences. Through my rose-colored glasses, I'd like to think there are fewer of those kids than there are functional, healthy kids.  It may take a village to raise a child, but I chose not to waste any effort on this rude little chunk of dead weight on the back wheel of the bike.  He's probably sharing the "love" with the younger sibling in the baby bubble behind him.
Our little guy, on the other hand, gets it. I hope he continues to be a good kid.  He doesn't like getting in trouble, appreciates nodding approval pointed at him, and generally enjoys being praised for good behavior.  Let's just keep it that way.

My sister's effort at solo tandem (not as easy as you'd think).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Beauty Myth, End of America, etc.

A friend and I had the unique opportunity to hear feminist author and activist Naomi Wolf speak at a Public Affairs Conference on the Missouri State University campus last night.  Ms. Wolf is a journalist, political activist, and social critic.   
She had been arrested in New York back in October for standing outside a Huffington Post event at which Governor Cuomo was speaking.  Granted, Occupy protesters were nearby, yet she was only advising them on their right to assemble.  Police handcuffed her anyway and swooped her away to jail for "inciting violence" or some such nonsense.  Ironically, her book "Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries" dealt specifically, in part, with non-violent protest and obtaining permits to legally assemble.
Her newest work is "The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot."  She spoke quite a bit last night about "open Democracies" and how citizens should pay attention to their inalienable rights guaranteed by the Constitution.  Ms. Wolf cautioned us about what seems to her a escalating executive power of which we should be wary.  Her thoughts were tempered by an upbeat message of living in a time of great hope where citizens can determine their own destinies.  She recommended we trust in our instincts and believe what we feel inside, protest peacefully about corporate and governmental control being too powerful, and using a united voice through communal assembly.  Images of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. immediately came to mind.  I also considered the parallels between her suggestion to bring people together through common interests and how I perpetually tell my five-year old son you can "catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar."  Adults must also be reminded how better things can result from acting in a civil manner.  
This woman amazed me with her wealth of knowledge and ability to synthesize the audience members' otherwise confusing questions into a clear understanding of what they wished to know from her.  Her attitude was very respectful, although I'm sure this setting was distinctly different from others she visits on a week-to-week basis.  She brought up enlightenment and the universal desire for happy lives, and I enjoyed her time with us greatly.  
A book signing followed the gathering, and I was pleased to have her sign my copy of "The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women," which was originally released in 1990.  The content remains so relevant to any humanist society.  I thanked her for having the courage to speak out for her convictions, and specifically for her feminist viewpoints.  I told her I had seen her on The Rosie Show and followed her on Twitter.  It was weird to be all star-struckish around an author/activist, but I could hardly articulate a sentence.  She gracefully shook my hand and commented on our living in a beautiful place.  The scenery is pretty great around here, especially this time of year, and perhaps I don't give our area enough credit until catching a glimpse for a different point of view.  
Looking at things from a new perspective is what she was all about last night.  I hope we in the audience can heed that call.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Old Books Stink

I mean that literally, not metaphorically.  

This article and video from Abe Books made me crinkle my nose in disgust, not at his writing or the video, but just from an imaginary aroma conjured from memory.  It's funny how aural sensations bring forth things long unseen.

For the last few years I've contended liking e-readers better because your hands don't smell bad after holding them.  Someone once asked me, "What kind of books are you reading? Ewww!"  They're not ones rescued from the sewer or anything.  I just think old pages, covers and the "library candy" that binds them just smell bad.

It's like the damp of an old basement.  Those curtains that have never been dusted, much less taken down and washed.  Abandoned game boards left in the corner cobwebs since 1979.  The smell of a damp cardboard box where they've rested unread for too long.  All reeking of long-forgotten stories and abandonment.

Call it OCD, but I have to immediately wash my hands to rid them of the fresh-from-the-wet-dog's back scent.  Wouldn't that send anyone less than a dog fanatic in a rush to the washroom?    

The video guy claims old books smell like a "combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness."  Acids are surely a part of the combination, but I say they're mixed with the dank of sweating concrete walls, rotting sheet rock, a tinge of athlete's foot, and ink decay. And I don't like that on my fingers. Organic compounds, indeed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ashley Judd is my new heroine

She's all over the blogosphere and twitterverse in the last few days taking up for women who suffer from unnecessary scrutiny in the media.  Ms. Judd challenged the denigration of women not only by men but from each other, further empowering the patriarchy and disempowering females.  She is quickly becoming a spokesperson for the innumerable women who are pummeled in the press about their looks equating their worth with no mention of their character, humanity or contribution to society.

Judd's response 
Jezebel article
NPR blogs
This woman is intelligent, eloquent and speaks for us all.  So timely, needed and appropriate.  Let's face it (no pun intended), Ashley Judd kicks ass.  Her comments are re-posted in their entirety at Ashley Judd website.  (and credit to the AP for the photo)

As a side note, I'm so glad to see MissRepresentation getting its due attention.  One such case is at EntertainmentTime.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"We are our own worst enemy!"

It's not just men who act like misogynist idiots:
Vanity Fair reinforces sexist stereotypes

Why must these women be posed as lily-white angels?  It must be that whole sexist whore/virgin thing.  Is this really where we are stuck in 2012?

And the lower article being captioned, "Play it as girls' night in?"  Come on, these are women!  Mind you, they act like idiotic twits who are willing to trade their dignity for a corset and some fleeting fame.  I can't stand to post the picture here.  

All of them are naked, nearly naked, and are literally in positions to be looked down upon.  Stuck in the pajama party obsession.  Playing right into the part.  You'd think women had just taken their first roles on television.  I shake my head in wonder at why these actors willingly allow themselves to be characterized as fetish objects, objectifying themselves in the process, and being reduced to only bed-ridden objects of lust.  

It just makes me sick.  My effort in writing about it here is futile except to allow me to vent my anger and disgust.  I guess I just expected more out of some of these actors, i.e. Claire Danes.  
Fame and fortune rules the day. 

One blogger is at least making some sense:
Women in TV Vanity Fair and Lee Aronsohn comments

Unbelievable Jackassery

I used to watch "Two and a Half Men," mainly because I thought Sheen was so handsome before he went off the deep end (*blushes in shame*).  There is now more evidence why noone, especially women, should watch that misogynistic show regardless of the actors or any funny one-liners the jerks who write it might summon up from their demonic souls.
Hollywood Reporter article
My blood pressure rushed after reading it.  The author kind of hid the b.s. under a headline about Kutcher returning for a new season.  I was glad to at least see many women of "influence" (celebrities, television writers and comediennes) tweeting about it, some directly to Aronsohn The Asshat, and addressing his misogyny.  My response was initial fear of the influence this hate-monger might have on young viewing audiences, and it made me ask, "Did your Momma really hate you that much, Lee?"
I just can't believe that it's 2012 and American people still spout shite like this in interviews (regardless of viewership standing to suffer - how arrogant).  Hate is so rampant in our world where t.v. writers and politicians pump out their vitriol in a public forum and young men can't even walk down the street without worrying about being shot for "walking while black."  
It haunts me to think of my son's future.  Children his age are growing up in such an insensitive time period where conservatives rage against being politically correct.  To me, it's not about just talking the talk.  How about being normal, considerate human beings with a conscience?  Decorum, grace, forget it.  A tiny bit of empathy will suffice.  
Kids his age will see so much before they reach puberty, much less adulthood. Teens have never experienced a world without the blatant hyper-sexualization of their demographic group throughout the media (ads, magazines, and t.v.).  Even sports programs.  Sure, they should only watch age-appropriate shows, but this crap is invasive.
They're witnessing less and less behavior born of self-respect, and the societal norms are changing, warping.  I'm not talking about social conformity; to the contrary, human compassion can fuel a healthy conscience.  
At the risk of being a total prude, I'm still saying, "look at these kids nowadays."  BUT ... they are learning how to act from adults.  These so-called adults unabashedly proclaim their hatred of women (and self-loathing - yes, you Ann Coulter) through their public protestations and discrimination against and bullying of people of others races, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and religions is perfectly acceptable.  It's gut wrenching.
I'm sure they first hid their dirty little secrets and bigoted behavior within their homes, teaching the children not to talk about these things in school, but then vomited their hate to indoctrinate impressionable young minds behind closed doors. 
It's a slippery slope.  Hate breeding for little future Lee Ahronsons, Roy Bryants/J.W. Milams, George Zimmermans, Rick Santorums, and Charlie Mansons alike.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Purple Friday

Last Friday was Purple Day at five-year-old's preschool.  They do fun themes like that from time to time where they talk about things that are a certain color and where you find them in the world.  I have to admit, it's hard to find something for a little boy to wear on Polka dot Day.  Purple, not so much.

My cynical little one professed that purple is a "girl color," and he didn't want to participate in the festivities.  I am always taken aback when I find out how predisposed he already is to such a gender-specific way of thinking and work to thwart the budding sexism of public school exposure.  When I told him that purple is not a "girl color" but more a color of royalty, he was nonplussed when I gave examples of Kings, Queens, Princes, et al who wear their regal violet robes.  Hello ... how about Guppy Goe Bee from Bubble Guppies?

Call me a bad mom, but I harangued him so much about being a Purple Party Pooper that he put a purple-headed monster tattoo on his arm instead.  He wanted to participate at the risk of my reverse teasing.  I'll openly admit to that bit of shamed-based parenting.  :) 

I'm trying to ease him into being a mini-feminist.  He has some sexist uncles and classmates already, and their influence is counter-productive to my own.  The incredible stereotyping happens too early and so often!  My initial reaction was that purple is NOT a girl color, and there's nothing the matter with it if it was or with anything else associated to being a girl for that matter. 

Even if it is a part of kids' maturation to go through this sort of phase based on what other kids say, I never want my son to sound like his uncles.  His dad knows it's forbidden in our house to say anything derogatory about throwing, sounding or acting like a girl.  There is no such thing in our home, and I used to be a girl myself.  Those statements are so negative and destructive, and the only place I can control this language is under my own roof.  Plus, they otherwise get to hear me break into my rendition of: 
"Anything you can do, I can do better.  I can do anything better than you.  No, you can't ... yes, I can.  No, you can't ... yes, I can.  Yes, I can!  Yes, I can.  Yes, I ca-a-a-a-a-a-n!"
My big finish is awesome.  The best part of it all was when I picked up his artistic interpretation of Things that are purple from his hook at school today.  The pictures are all cut from magazines, and it has a very regal rice-krispie treat spider, a little cell from a health ad about diabetes, a violet-colored wicker basket, and a pail with purple paint being dumped from it.  The final item is a line of text from a magazine advertisement set on a lavender background that reads, "A better understanding of better intimate care."  I assume it's from a tampon ad.  How very apropos.  My curiosity getting the better of me, I went straight to good ol' google.  It is the registered trademark for "Cosmetics For Feminine Use, Namely, Foams, Lotions * , * and Powders Pharmaceuticals For Feminine Use, Namely, Creams [, ] For the Relief of Feminine Itching and Irritation, and * of * Other Skin Discomforts" by Combe Incorporated.  

His purple poster had hung there all the weekend ... or maybe his dad was embarrassed and left it there on purpose.  I chalked it up to serendipity but very ironic indeed.