Thursday, December 22, 2011

Michelle 2012

Mission accomplished Michelle, now I totally want to exercise!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


If you haven't seen the Feminist Ryan Gosling tumblr yet, check it out! I'd love to see one of those brain scans of my brain while I look at this blog. Its like my brain is blushing.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sword Dancing

Jian Sword dancing and then Balisong Knife dancing. I kept trying to incorporate stab dancing into my Halloween costume this year because I was a viking and had the knife I bought in Norway a few years ago. It was not anywhere as cool as this.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Johanna Burton: Taking Pictures (The 80s)

This is a really amazing lecture by critic and art historian Johanna Burton. I've had multiple people recommend this - she's given the lecture in Los Angeles and New York and maybe some other places and I really hope that it becomes a book some day.

This edition of the lecture took place at SVA and they described it as such:
Johanna Burton discusses art history’s recent attention to “the 80s.” What’s gained and what’s lost when the recent past is deemed a proper historical object? Burton was associate director and senior faculty member at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program from 2008 - 2010, and is currently director of the graduate program at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

First of all, I just wanna say Johanna Burton is a superpower. I will not run through her credentials here since they are explained in the intro to the lecture. I will say only that, Johanna you make me want to be a better woman.

The talk really runs through an amazing array of topics from Madonna and Paris is Burning to the "Man Trouble" of Paul McCarthy and John Duncan. Burton does a great job of taking out the Judith Butler magnifying lens and exploring the gender politics and queered theories of these subjects and objects, but also of exploring the differences in our own individual views. Who is Madonna to a gay man in New York versus the teenage girl in suburbia - can she really be everything to everyone?

As a side note, I was just excited that I own the Madonna Justify My Love VHS that she talks about in this lecture. I was unaware of its 'banned on MTV' status but I think I bought it ages ago at a flea market because she just looks so hot and Marlon Brando-ish. Its my favorite Madonna phase.

Johanna Burton: 02/24/2011 from MFA Art Crit on Vimeo.

The question and answer period at the end of the lecture is actually really great also. Don't skip it!

I was really taken with one question that an older member of the audience asked. She wanted to know why younger women -Burton's generation and my generation presumably- haven't adopted a different term than Feminism to describe themselves. She sees the word as old now and wonders if there isn't a more up to date word that could be adopted. It started making me think about my own position on that.

I use the term feminist to describe myself because it is still relevant. It's relevant not only in that the fight for equality between sexes is still relevant but also in that it does still piss people off and/or make people uncomfortable - its too radical of a term to have gathered much dust. In a sense I suppose we've been protecting and fighting for that term for so long that it feels hard to let it go.
I also do wear it proudly because of its history. There is a strategic divide and conquer tactic used on women wherein younger women are taught to fear older women and older women are taught to fear younger woman. This fear is meant to keep women focused on the impeding doom of wrinkles or the possibility that a younger woman will steal your man. If we fear each other we won't form connections or build a dialogue. Without that connection we will lose our mentors and devalue the progress they made - consequently each generation's progress will die with it. So in this way I do adopt the term feminist because it is the term that thousands of women before me have used to fight for the rights that I get to enjoy.
Feminism is equated with older women these days. As anyone who has ever been through junior high will note, it is also associated with lesbianism. So be it! For me it means not being afraid of myself or other women- of aging or the realistic fact that not all body types or sexual preferences or life paths will be the same. It means that I am part of a belief that celebrates that.
In my personal acceptance of the term, I consider the term feminist to be a jumping off point for an understanding of equality in many forms. I take it to be a refusal of domination for any group of people. Perhaps, I use the term Feminist because I've got lady parts or have lived my life as a female and so I come to the world with that view point. Yet, I understand the equality between men and women to be just as important as race, class, sexual orientation, and any other way that we have been divided in order to be conquered. The desire for equality is just that -equality for all.
As Johanna says in her response, her understanding of feminism is"not a subject position but as an operation that has a history". I think I'm going to have to think even more about that. Yet, I do think it is an operation and in that sense still developing and still forming its history.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Everyone Else Has To Say About Your Vagina

The amazing Jessica Valenti has a new dvd out The Purity Myth, that is a movie version of the book she wrote by the same name. Jessica is also a founder of the blog Feministing and the author of Full Frontal Feminism. (If you haven't checked out Full Frontal Feminism I really recommend it - very current and readable understanding of what feminism is today.)

The Purity Myth takes a tough look at our American culture of virginity and all the politics, traditions, and consequences of the importance that the scientifically undefinable term has been given. From the Purity Balls where daughters pledge their purity to their fathers, to Britney Spears, to tax funded abstinence only education, to what "virgins" and "sluts" look like this documentary does an amazing job of covering it all.

The book version is actually still on my 'to read' list but i did listen to a really great interview with Jessica Valenti a couple years ago. One of the things that stood out to me was that the focus that is put on purity and virginity actually ends up sexualizing girls more. Like when I was in high school the 'purity' of Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears was actually a huge factor in their sexualization. And in the instance of Purity Balls - making a prepubescent girl pledge her virginity actually leads girls to view themselves as valuable only by that quality.

In this documentary Jessica Valenti also makes the point that this focus on purity "equates inaction with morality" and "ties women's ethics to their bodies". In this way the only way to consider oneself a valuable being is by passivity.

Valenti's explanation of The Purity Myth is as such"
The purity myth is the lie that women's sexuality has some bearing on who we are and how good we are, because really I think we all know that young women are so much more than whether or not they have sex. We really should be teaching our daughters that their ability to be good people should be based on their intelligence, on their compassion, their kindness, not what they do with their bodies.

The Purity Myth Trailer from Media Education Foundation on Vimeo.

The DVD is available here but its very expensive - like you should tell your school or organization to buy it. But secretly you can watch an "extended preview" here.