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13 Dec

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Quick hit: Riot Grrrl Manifesto

6 Dec

by Kathleen Hanna/Bikini Kill

BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways.

BECAUSE we wanna make it easier for girls to see/hear each other’s work so that we can share strategies and criticize-applaud each other.
BECAUSE we must take over the means of production in order to create our own moanings.

BECAUSE viewing our work as being connected to our girlfriends-politics-real lives is essential if we are gonna figure out how we are doing impacts, reflects, perpetuates, or DISRUPTS the status quo.

BECAUSE we recognize fantasies of Instant Macho Gun Revolution as impractical lies meant to keep us simply dreaming instead of becoming our dreams AND THUS seek to create revolution in our own lives every single day by envisioning and creating alternatives to the bullshit christian capitalist way of doing things.

BECAUSE we want and need to encourage and be encouraged in the face of all our own insecurities, in the face of beergutboyrock that tells us we can’t play our instruments, in the face of “authorities” who say our bands/zines/etc are the worst in the US and

BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t.

BECAUSE we are unwilling to falter under claims that we are reactionary “reverse sexists” AND NOT THE TRUEPUNKROCKSOULCRUSADERS THAT WE KNOW we really are.

BECAUSE we know that life is much more than physical survival and are patently aware that the punk rock “you can do anything” idea is crucial to the coming angry grrrl rock revolution which seeks to save the psychic and cultural lives of girls and women everywhere, according to their own terms, not ours.

BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-heirarchical ways of being AND making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.

BECAUSE doing/reading/seeing/hearing cool things that validate and challenge us can help us gain the strength and sense of community that we need in order to figure out how bullshit like racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism figures in our own lives.
BECAUSE we see fostering and supporting girl scenes and girl artists of all kinds as integral to this process.

BECAUSE we hate capitalism in all its forms and see our main goal as sharing information and staying alive, instead of making profits of being cool according to traditional standards.

BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak.

BECAUSE we are unwilling to let our real and valid anger be diffused and/or turned against us via the internalization of sexism as witnessed in girl/girl jealousism and self defeating girltype behaviors.

BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real.

I love my body.

21 Nov

This is something I have to remind myself of frequently. My body is beautiful. My body is a masterpiece – both aesthetically and functionally. My heart beats and pushes blood through my limbs. My bones hold my entire body up. My legs push me (and sometimes pull me) through each day. My skin is soft. My stomach is round and warm. My mouth is full of smiles.

The background picture on my computer screen says “Start a revolution – stop hating your body.” I really do believe that loving my body is a revolutionary thing to do in this day and age, when so many people are trying to convince me to spend my money making better what is already so incredible.

This post is happening now for a few different reasons. First, I’ve been incredibly stressed out lately – with school, friends, work, and soon, travel. A lot of stuff has been happening which I have no control over, and that scares and upsets me sometimes. I like to be in control, and it frustrates me every time I get reminded that I can’t necessarily control the grades I get or the actions of people I know. My instinct, instilled in me over the course of a lifetime of being told my body isn’t good enough, is to turn to controlling the part of my life which will always respond to what I want. My instinct is to target all my frustration at my body instead of constructively examining what is bothering me and attempting to fix it or at least find a new way of looking at the situation so that it feels less stressful.

I have never had an eating disorder, thanks mostly to the confidence my mom instilled in me. But I have hated my body. I have cried about it. I have been angry with it. I have berated it and compared it and fought with it. Those were all things I did with and to my body when I didn’t have enough other important things to think about. I find that, now, when I start to worry about events and people that don’t matter, I also start to worry about my body. So, with the stress of the past couple of weeks, I started to look at my body more critically. I started to berate it again.

The second reason this post is happening now is because one of my classes just began a unit on the beauty myth, and how it is perpetuated in our country. Although I’ve read the book before, we read a passage from The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf – a book that literally changed my life. I realized I had begun to forget what I learned from that book: as women gain strength and power socially, politically, economically, society seeks to bring us down in other ways. The more time we, as women, spend hating our bodies, the less time we will spend running companies, Universities, the country. We lose our power when we choose to hate ourselves. I don’t say “choose” because I believe we are free to make a decision without the influence of culture. I say “choose” because I believe that, with enough reinforcement, all women would choose to love themselves, and I believe that it’s possible.

I love myself. I love my body. This post is the way I recenter my relationship with my body. This post is the way I come back to what matters – my friends who consistently show me how much they care, my family who will always love me, my plans to travel abroad next year.

I hope this post helps you recenter, reexamine, or consider for the first time your relationship with your body.

Peace.

“Continuing the Battle for Women’s Reproductive Rights”

4 Nov

Abortion is one of the most contentious issues in the United States today. Stemming from a long and complex history, society’s reactions to and perceptions of the procedure have varied over time. Early on, there were virtually no restrictions, either religious or legal, for abortion. Only in the nineteenth century did laws and churches begin to regulate the use of abortion. Long was the battle to regain reproductive rights, but in 1973, Roe v. Wade established a woman’s “right to choose” as a personal, medical decision which did not merit the interference of government (Shaw 320). Since that Supreme Court decision, the issue of abortion has dominated discourse in political, religious, and educational settings. Despite the work of anti-choice advocates across the country, abortion has remained legal, though not as easily accessible as in the past. Abortion should continue to be legal, with no restrictions, because legality does not affect rates of abortion; women who undergo illegal abortions are much more likely to face complications; and because women should be trusted to make the best decisions for themselves, their bodies, and their families.

In the United States, we have a tendency to believe that if something is outlawed, it will stop occurring. The fact that we continue to act based on this assumption shows a lack of institutional memory, as history has shown us repeatedly that people in desperate situations make choices in spite of laws to the contrary. This trend holds true for those seeking abortions. Studies have shown that, worldwide, rates of abortion do not decrease where the procedure is illegal. In a “comprehensive global study” conducted by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute, findings suggest that “outlawing the procedure [abortion] does little to deter women seeking it” (Rosenthal 1). Although some criticize these conclusions as hasty and biased, the World Health Organization serves as a relatively objective institution, and thus a balancing factor when considering an issue as controversial as abortion. Additionally, as we’ve seen in When Abortion was Illegal and I Had an Abortion, the desperation some women feel when faced with the financial and emotional responsibility of a child often outweighs the possible legal consequences of having an abortion. Based on both comprehensive, unbiased studies and individual stories and experiences, one can conclude that the legality of abortion has little to no impact on a woman’s desire to get an abortion and ability to carry out that desire.

Although legality does not deter women from seeking or obtaining abortions, it does impact the safety of the procedure. When forced to secure an abortion through illegal channels, a woman risks severe medical complications, which oftentimes result in death. In fact, globally, “125,000 to 200,000 women die each year from complications related to unsafe and illegal abortions” (Shaw 322). Had those women had access to education, contraception, and legal abortion, they would not have died. This points to one of the most infuriating parts of “pro-life” rhetoric; if anti-choice advocates truly valued life, they would spend more time working to save the lives of thousands of women all over the world. Instead, they choose to prohibit women from seeking a potentially life-saving procedure, and shame them for placing value on their own lives. Again, the films we screened for class offer individual accounts of how dangerous and psychologically damaging an illegal abortion can be, and how important it is to recognize a woman’s personal medical decisions, for those decisions are often truly a matter of life and death.

The evidence presented above is compelling in that it quantifies the importance and relevance of safe, legal abortions for women all over the world. However, offering numbers will accomplish nothing if the root cause of the controversy over reproductive rights is not enumerated. Ultimately, the fight to keep abortion legal is a fight for women’s autonomy. Over the course of the last two centuries, women have fought for equality and fair treatment. We gained many rights, including the rights to vote, to divorce, to own property, and to attend institutions of higher education. Despite these incredible victories, we continue to battle for the right to own our bodies. Women must be trusted to make decisions that are correct for their health, their lives, and their families. The reasons given by women who have had an abortion overwhelmingly indicate a strong consideration of responsibilities to others and to themselves. Approximately “three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals” and “three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents” (“Induced” 1). These statistics demonstrate how careful and considerate women are about their decision to abort, and underscore the importance of having faith in women’s personal choices. The best people to make decisions for women’s bodies are women themselves. Dr. Tiller, a Kansas abortion provider who was assassinated in May of 2009, understood this better than most. His motto – “trust women” – continues to ring through the pro-choice movement (Goldberg 2).

Abortion has served as a wedge issue in political debates, religious settings, and even among friends. Ultimately, however, there is only one right answer. Abortion should remain legal, because the legality of the procedure has no impact on the rate of abortion; complications and death often accompany illegal abortion; and women need to be trusted to make the best decisions for themselves. If we lose the right to abortion, we lose the right to our own bodies. We lose the right to rule our own lives. We lose ourselves.

 

Author’s note: Please do not use my words without assigning proper credit. That’s called plagiarism.

 

Works Cited

 

Goldberg, Michelle. “The Compassion of Dr. Tiller.” The American Prospect. The American Prospect, Inc., 2 June 2009. Web. 3 Nov. 2010.

“Induced Abortion: Facts in Brief” (2010). The Alan Guttmacher Institute. http://www.guttmacher.org/

Rosenthal, Elizabeth. “Legal or Not, Abortion Rates Compare.” The New York Times 12 Oct. 2007. Print.

Shaw, Susan M., and Janet Lee. “Health and Reproductive Rights.” Introduction. Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw- Hill Higher Education, 2009. Print.

Speak Out: I Had an Abortion. Dir. Gillian Aldrich and Jennifer Baumgardner. SpeakOut Films, 2005. DVD.

When Abortion Was Illegal: Untold Stories. Dir. Dorothy Fadiman and Beth Seltzer. Prod. Daniel Meyers. Concentric Media, 1992. DVD.

 

Quick hit: GWSS reading

2 Nov

“Because emotional intimacy is about self-disclosure and revealing oneself to others, when people are intimate with each other, they open themselves to vulnerability. In the process of becoming intimate, one person shares feelings and information about her-/himself, and then the other person (if that person want to maintain and develop intimacy) responds by sharing too. In turn each gives away little pieces of her-/himself, and, in return, mutual trust, understanding, and friendship develop. Given the baggage of gender, however, what can happen is that one person does more of the giving away, and the other reveals less; one opens up to being vulnerable, and the other maintains personal power. The first person also takes on the role of helping the other share, drawing that person out, translating ordinary messages for their hidden emotional meanings, and investing greater amounts of energy into interpersonal communication. The first person has taken the role prescribed by femininity and the latter the role that masculinity endorses. The important point here is that intimacy is about power. Men who take on masculine scripts tend to be less able to open themselves up because of anxiety associated with being vulnerable and potentially losing personal power.”

– Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions by Susan Shaw and Janet Lee

the civil rights battle of our generation?

28 Oct

I’ve seen posters all around campus for the last couple of weeks which urge people to vote/volunteer for preserving gay marriage in Iowa. The bottom of the poster says “In 25 years, what will you say you were doing during the civil rights battle of our generation? …homework?”

Now, I totally understand the sentiment here. Oftentimes, people compare gay marriage to interracial marriage – there was a time when interracial marriage was illegal, but looking back on that time, most of us can’t understand what the big deal was. Same with gay marriage. Once it becomes legal in all 50 states (which it will, believe you me), people will start to wonder why there was such a problem with it in the first place. 25 years from now, it will seem so obviously awesome and necessary and constitutionally appropriate. It already seems that way to many people (including me).

That said, do I really believe it is the civil rights battle of this generation? I’m not sure. I think it might be one of the civil rights battles of this generation. I think we are still fighting for racial equality, gender equality, a smaller income/wealth gap. I think those are all civil rights battles of this generation.

That’s not to say that one kind of oppression is any more worthy of our time and energy than another. Rather, I just want to point out that there are many things we, as a country, need to be spending our time on. 25 years from now, I won’t just be looking back at what I did as an LGBTQIA ally, but also what I did as a feminist, a fighter of human trafficking, an advocate for racial equality…

Unfortunately, there is not one civil rights battle of our generation. We can’t lose sight of all of the battles being fought every day.

this thought

27 Sep

has occurred to me repeatedly over the past few months:

How boring would the world be if we all looked the same?

Initially, I thought of this in terms of body type. If we all matched the Western “ideal” of body type (thin, big chest, moderately big butt, long legs, longish torso), there would be no creativity, no variability, no beauty in humanity. Being able to look around and see different heights, weights, sizes of chests and hips, musculature, skeletal makeup, makes everything so much more interesting and wonderful.

This idea can also be applied to skin color (the range of skin tones in the world is so beautiful. each person has their own nuanced and unique skin), physical ability, cultural mannerisms (ways of walking, gesturing, etc.).

The variety of the human race is our most important asset, and should be cherished.