Rupi Kaur, Menstrual Blood, & Gloria Steinem

I’m feeling the pressure of the end of the semester school work, papers, projects, exams, etc. But that is not excuse to go this long without posting an entry.

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately, I knew I wanted to talk about the Rupi Kaur Instagram controversy:
Feministing Article on Rupi Kaur’s Instagram Post
After a friend of mine first brought it to my attention and I read the Feministing article^

Then, I stumbled upon this link which I posted to my Facebook (I’m sure I’m that friend that everyone gets sick of filling their feeds with feminism and women’s rights news): Social Media is Protecting Men From Periods, Breast Milk and Body Hair by Jessica Valenti
This particular article sparked an interesting conversation with a few friends on FB.

FB For blog

And befitting with the ‘Time of the Month’ theme last week, I had picked up (for the third time) Gloria Steinem’s Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions , which has one of my favorite Steinem Essays: If Men Could Menstruate. If you have not read it, it is hilarious; however, she wrote it in 1978 so some of the witty cracks are from that era.. but it is still relevant.. not much has changed since then.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“Reading Freud made me just as skeptical about penis envy. The power of giving birth makes ‘womb envy’ more logical, and an organ as external and unprotected as the penis makes a man very vulnerable indeed.” (Steinem, 1978)

Women are powerful, do not underestimate a body that gives birth to life! I agree with Steinem, I think Freud has it backwards. Males with their penises are vulnerable beings who need a woman’s envy and support of their egos and status.

“What ever a ‘superior’ group has will be used to justify superiority, and whatever an ‘inferior’ group has will be used to justify plight.” (Steinem, 1978)

“So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not? Clearly, menstruation will become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event.” (Steinem, 1978)

“… Occupy political office (“Can women be properly fierce without a monthly cycle governed by the planet mars?)….” (Steinem, 1978)

Isn’t it interesting when Hillary Clinton announces her candidacy for presidential office, opposition attacks her from both sides. She’s too take charge and masculine, accentuating her grandmotherhood will soften her and make her image more appealing. On the flip side, how could she be president when she is a woman who has mood swings? Ugh!

“And how would women be trained to react?….Reformers and Queen Bees would adjust their lives to the cycles of the men around them. Feminists would explain endlessly that men, too, needed to be liberated from the false idea of Martian aggressiveness, just as a woman needed to escape the bonds of ‘mense-envy’. Radical feminists would add that the oppression of nonmenstrual was the pattern for all oppressions…. Cultural feminists would exalt a female bloodless imagery in art and literature. Socialist feminists would insist that once capitalism and imperialism were overthrown, women would menstruate too.” (Steinem, 1978)

“…If women are suppose to be less rational and emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn’t it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave most like men behave all month long?” (Steinem, 1978)

Amen, sister! I’ll leave you with this final quote that Steinem used to wrap up her clever essay…

“The truth is that, if men could menstruate, the power justifications would go on and on. If we let them. “(Steinem, 1978)

Just a little food for thought,

–Red.

Stand in Solidarity in the Face of Difference & On the Basis of Common Humanity

Its been a while since I have posted something. I have been so busy lately that I am barely even home!

This week seemed to have a theme of finding commonality between people through talks with many of my friends, colleagues, and watching Selma last night. Acknowledging difference but standing in solidarity with those who are different on the basis of our common humanity kept coming up.

In our society, we are so focused on identifying difference, using it against people, portraying difference of others as their weakness. We lose sight of what we do have in common, humanity. We are all humans, struggling in this crazy world. And yes, others do struggle more due to social and institutional barriers. If we acknowledge our differences in  positive ways and use our privileges that we possess to be allies for people who are different from ourselves, then we can make progress. Don’t be afraid to stand in solidarity with those who are different, this is all of our fight.

Today I read the Feministing.com article,  Kerry Washington Gives Powerful Intersectional Speech at GLAAD Awards by Katie Barnes.

“It is a stark reminder that we must commit to doing this work across difference, and not just raising our own boats.” -Katie Barnes

This statement by Katie Barnes hit home to me. It embodies one of the main reasons I am pursuing my Bachelor’s Social Work degree.

I went on to read Kerry Washington’s GLAAD Speech Transcript and I found myself connecting with and reflecting on society’s and my own actions.

“Sometimes even within our own communities, we designate who among us is best suited to represent us and who, really, shouldn’t even really be invited to the party. As ‘others’, we are taught to be successful we must  reject those ‘others’ or we will never belong.” -Kerry Washington

If you are apart of the privileged majority of society (white, heterosexual, cisgender, male), your privilege is that you will never have to reject an integral part of you as an expense to being successful. But take a moment to try to imagine it.. You have to reject the fact that you are white, male, heterosexual, or cis… BUT when ever you are asked about your success, others ask how you defied the odds and became successful in the face of your differences that you had to reject. People don’t actually care or ask explicitly about your accomplishments and your current works, they care about the difference that you internally had to reject. WHY CAN’T WE HAVE BOTH?! Why do people who are defined as ‘different’ by society have to assimilate, and reject a part of themselves? Its ridiculous!

“I have made a choice to play different kinds of people, in a lot of different kinds of situations. In my career, I’ve not been afraid of inhabiting characters who are judged and who are misunderstood and who have not been granted full rights of citizenship as human beings.” -Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington’s speech embodies the fuel to my passion for social work and advocacy work. I get quite a bit of backlash and questions why I want to put myself out there and stand up for others. In part, I feel like they just don’t understand or don’t feel obligated to stand with people they call ‘others’ because they are comfortable with their privilege. When on the other hand, I am striving to acknowledge and use my privilege to benefit others.

I am not saying people who disagree with me are wrong, or bad people. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and values, no one is right or wrong. I just want to do my best to provide insight, empathy, understanding to everyone.

I feel like I’m leaving this post up in limbo.. but I want it to be that way. I want to create discussion around these points that I write about and feel so strongly about in order to get the bigger pictures. I want to understand the other side of things, if I surround myself with ideas I identify with.. I will never grow.

I will leave you with this final quote..

“We can’t say that we believe in each other’s fundamental humanity and the turn a blind eye to the reality of each other’s existence and the truth of each other’s hearts. We must be allies and we must be allies in this business because to be represented is to be humanized and as long as anyone, anywhere is made to feel less human, our very definition of humanity is at stake and we are all vulnerable.” -Kerry Washington

–Red.

Sexism, Chivalry, and Women.

Friendly, Chivalrous Men Might Be Benevolent Sexists by Maya Dusenbery

Study Mentioned: Smiles, word choice show what type of sexism men display

As a budding feminist, I had mixed feelings after I read this post on Feministing.

Yes, there are blatant sexists out there.. but are we condemning all males who are genuinely chivalrous or are polite? I get the jist, when she says,

“The benevolent sexists were “well-intentioned.” They tended to see women as “warm and pure yet helpless, incompetent and in need of men’s protection” and agree with statements like: “A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man.” ” – Maya Dusenbery

But, what about women who enjoy some of that? Women who like Being put on a pedestal by their man or their significant other and they happen to be feminist.. does that make them perpetuate those gender inequalities even more?  If there is respect for each other and each partner sees the other as their equal, than go ahead put me on a pedestal and I will do the same for you.

I always struggle with that point of feminism. We analyze gender norms, inequalities, societal views and make it out to condemn those who may follow them to an extent. Then we have distaste for those who identify as feminists or follow feminist beliefs who may live out some of those norms. What about empowering other women no matter what?

What about those women who are okay with cooking, cleaning, sewing, catering to my significant other etc. (like myself) but I will never be okay with those duties defining who I am. What about those women who identify being a mother as their occupation? That doesn’t make them any less than you or I. And those women who decide not to bare children or are very career driven, that doesn’t make them any less of a woman.

What are your thoughts?

–Red.

The Feminist Journey

“Honey, I want you to stop being a feminist.” by Gia London

In light of people asking me, “What is feminism, anyway?” and others thinking that to be a feminist is to be anti-man when I bring up my fledgling blog.. here’s a post and a thought provoking article.

On my road to becoming a feminist, I have discovered it is more than just believing women should be entitled to the same rights as a man… because we are all human after all. Feminism is more than empowering each other as women.

“Feminism is not a mere political orientation: it is a process- long difficult, exhausting, and often disheartening process of unlearning every problematic ‘truth’ one has internalized over their life about sex, gender, and race. It involves a lot of self-education and self-reflection, which requires initiative, and a very thick skin.” -Gia London

Becoming a feminist is truly a never ending journey of self-exploration as well as a battle against culture, norms, and misconceptions.

“We all exist in the thick of it; rape culture, of slut shaming, of glass ceilings, body shaming and the normalization of humiliation porn- and it takes a certain kind of person, a certain analytical mind, a certain amount of open-mindedness and courage, to question a culture from within it.” -Gia London

I noticed that it is common to men that they just see the surface of what feminism and being a feminist is, they don’t see the rough waves of our culture that perpetuates the notion that women are objects and/or second-class citizens. This is because of their privilege in our society and cultural norms. It takes more courage for a  man to delve into the world of feminism and analyze their own population’s actions. Kudos to all you men out there who do reflect on their patriarchal society!

“If you feel like you’re a little sammie swimming upstream, it is because you are. And you are a damn soldier for it.” -Gia London

Amen, sister! That goes out to all those on that feminist journey! Just keep swimming!

–Red.

Heteronormativity: Heterosexual Privilege

“The Construction of Heteronormativity: The Threat of the Homosexual”

Due to our massive snow storm yesterday, (despite the two hour delay) I slipped and slid most of my commute and decided to turn back. “Fuck this, I’ll just fire up WordPress and write a blog post.”, I said while walking back through the door.

Since I am not gracing my Gender in Media class with my presence, I figured I’d write this blog about one if our readings we covered a few weeks ago: The Construction of Heteronormativity. This is one of the articles so far in the class that has spoken the most to me. I think it is because being a social work major, I have analyzed my own heteronormative thoughts through multiple self reflection papers. I approximate it to the sexuality version of white privilege. Many just fear the unknown.

“Heterosexuality is highly organized by society and by culture.” – oliverpoulter

This quote took me back to my Social Work Candidacy paper. We are accustom to a culture that makes us automatically believe that individuals are straight, until we decide there are factors (based on our personal stereotypes) that prove otherwise. We shouldn’t automatically judge and define people. We should let them define their selves, and allow ourselves to discover their intersectionality. After all, we are all multi-facetted individuals.

“The idea that sexuality is not fixed, but socially constructed and variable over time is dismissed by the majority.” – oliverpoulter

Sexuality is fluid throughout one’s life and falls on a scale. Our sexuality does not stagnate, multiple influences affect how and what type of relationships we form with those around us. This statement by oliverpoulter makes me think back to my Human Behavior in the Social Environment II class and the Kinsey Scale. (Kinsey’s Sexuality Scale: http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/research/ak-hhscale.html )
Yes, there can be individuals who are outliers and are at the extreme ends of the heterosexual/homosexual spectrum. However, most of us fall in between the two extremes based on who we connect with and the different degrees of our intimate relationships and friendships. Maybe if more individuals who still feel the world is either/or and not both/and understand this spectrum, it will ease some uneasiness that come with interactions other sexualities.

“The media’s representation of heterosexuality as normative behavior in popular culture is obvious to those of other sexualities,  yet invisible to those under the influence of heterosexuality.” – oliverpoulter

Where there is white privilege in regards to race relations, this quote initially popped the words hetero-privilege or heterosexual privilege into my noggin’. Heterosexuals are oblivious to this normality in media because the media reflects the point of view and lens of heterosexuals. Not only does the media have the lens of a heterosexual, the media also carries the stereotypes and generalizations of other sexualities that a heterosexual may possess. Yes, there are more characters who are portrayed as gay, trans, lesbian, etc.; however, the characters still act out the stereotypes imposed on their community. One reason why is  because most writers and creators of the media industry are white, heterosexual, males.

So, where do we go from here? I’m not sure. I feel with my generation and the following, there will be more flexibility and acceptance of sexual variability and other’s who identify as different sexualities than that of our own. Hopefully this will reflect in the content of media.