10.27.2014

Feminism 101: Different Types of Feminism

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I make no bones about the fact that I am a feminist. My friends know I am a feminist, my co-workers know I am a feminist, my students know I am a feminist and the men I date know I am a feminist. I know about Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony, NOW, NAWSA and the Feminine Mystique. (#humblebrag) And yet, I still do not know everything there is to know about feminism. It turns out that feminism is incredibly complex, while simultaneously being very simple.

I think this paradox is both beautiful and confusing. After all, I am a woman and I believe women should be equal; isn't that enough? Isn't that the entire conversation - the beginning and the end - about feminism? Actually, it isn't. Like any other movement (civil rights, gay rights, politics in general), feminism is much more complicated, with a fairly extensive and thorny history. People have differing opinions, differing approaches and the result are differing types of feminism. So, as I start a conversation about feminism on this blog, I thought it most appropriate to begin with a discussion on four of the main types of feminism most people would be familiar with, even if people don't know they know about feminism. Granted, this post is not going to be an exhausting description, nor am I intending to delve into a debate about what's right and what's wrong in feminism - at least, not yet. Simply consider this a primer on feminist labels...

What is Feminism?

So let's start with what's simple: What is feminism?

Celebrities have commented on the definition of feminism, authors have written entire books about what it means to be a feminist, Tumblr blogs are dedicated to explaining what it means to be a feminist. Everyone has an idea on what feminism is, but I believe it can be summed up quickly:

Feminism is the belief that women and men are equal.

Or, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie more eloquently put it in her famous TED Talk,

"Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes."

Okay. Done, right? You either believe that or you don't, as Aziz Anasari pointed out on David Letterman, and that either makes you a feminist or not.



So now that you know whether or not you're a feminist, let's look at how it gets a little more complex from here.

Cultural Feminism

Sometimes known as "Difference Feminism" because this is the idea that women are different from men. A cultural feminist believes that women are naturally made different from men - that women's bodies are structurally weaker than men, that women are naturally more nurturing than men, and naturally calmer and less inclined to violence and more inclined to good morals.

Third-Wave Feminism

Did you know that there's a third-wave of feminism? And we are currently in it? The first wave of feminism was during the fight for women's suffrage (pre-Civil War through 1920 because the United States is cool like that), the second wave came and went from the 1960s through the mid-1980s, and the third wave began in the mid-1990s. The third wave of feminism has been characterized as more man-friendly, more accepting of the different varieties of feminism and encourages political activism, while the second wave is generally characterized as the angry women who burned their bras.

Girlie Feminism

Also known as "Lipstick Feminism", because that's not insulting at all. (I'd roll my eyes but I'm afraid they'd get stuck up there.) Essentially girlie feminism is exactly what it sounds like - that women who believe in the equality of the sexes can also be very accepting of their femininity. That feminists can wear dresses and wear make-up, and crafts and "womanly activities"are acceptable, while sexual experimentation is an acceptable part of femininity as well.

Pro-Sex Feminsim

I bring this one up because it's been a bit of a controversial topic (in popular media and in the school lunch room with my co-workers). This one was also called "Do-Me Feminism" by Esquire in 1994 (ugh, my eyes almost got stuck mid-roll on that one). While the Pro-Sex Feminism came out as a response to anti-porn feminism in the 1980s (I see ya, Reagan) and while it isn't necessarily pro-porn it is the idea that women should have sexual freedom in their choices. Including, I'm guessing, having access to free birth control.

Clearly, this is just a surface level description of different types of feminism. These varieties of feminism can't, and probably shouldn't, be described in one paragraph, not to mention all the other different types of feminism that I didn't even mention. I don't necessarily believe that we should be applying specific labels and categories on what kind of feminist we all are, because I think that separates us rather than unites us. But it is a place to start thinking about the role of feminism in society, and how you personally function in the discussion about feminism.

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Oh and BTW, I didn't actually know a lot of this information on my own. A lot of this information came from "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Feminism But Were Afraid to Ask" on Bitch Media (part of Bitch Magazine). I highly recommend reading that article if you want to know more about different feminist movements (throughout history and in present-day).

10.20.2014

Crossroads

I am acutely aware of this blog's presence and my lack of effort in keeping the blog updated. To be fair, I have excuses, a lot of them, and they're pretty valid excuses. These aren't the kind of excuses I would roll my eyes at if my students came into class with them. Just so you know.

So...where do we go from here? I'm at a rather large crossroads in my life. Professionally, I'm not entirely sure what next year is going to look like. For that matter, I'm not sure what next semester is going to look like. There are a lot of shake ups in my district, most of which are not for the better. Personally, though, I suppose my life is pretty simple. I have my friends and my family. It's simple and I like it that way.

And then there's this blog. And the photography business I just started. There's the fact that I want to write a book (books?) someday, although I'm not entirely sure if I want to have a full-time job as a writer. I'm interested in the idea of occasional vlogs, although putting my face out there on the internet is horrifying because the reality is I sometimes have low self-esteem about my appearance. (I think in reality pretty much everyone does, and if someone says they don't, they're probably lying. Then again, maybe I'm saying that just to make myself feel better.)

The bottom line is I do want to inspire people. I want to show young girls and teen girls what it means to be a strong woman, and all the different facets of being a whole woman. That it's okay to be goofy and awkward, and it's okay to be sexy, and it's okay to be smart, and it's okay to be a tomboy, and it's okay to be girlie. I want to encourage young women to educate themselves on health and finances. I want to inspire women to break out of the cycle of competing with other women. For a long time I felt the best way to do that was to be a teacher. I still feel that way, but I also wonder about how effective I can be with a writing career and web presence (a la John Green).

Food for thought. In the meantime, there's this blog, and the present moment, and a persistent gaze forward.

8.08.2014

Some Thoughts On Rape

I know, that title is a little bit...uncomfortable, and probably makes you not want to read this post. But then, that's part of the problem. If you don't know what I'm talking about, or even if you do know what I'm talking about, you should read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. She talks about rape - the gang rape of an 11 year old girl and then her own rape - and it led me to thinking about rape. Specifically, why people talk to women about rape but no one talks to men about rape.

For example:

When I moved into a downtown apartment, I was told very sternly by multiple people to keep my window blinds closed, to not walk alone late at night, to keep my door padlocked the entire time, to buy a can of mace for my bedside table. I was told to do many things to stop myself from being attacked and/or raped.

I have a question about this: If I did not do any of these things, would I be at fault for being attacked and/or raped?

I have another question about this: What are men told about rape? As far as I am aware, no one sits down a teenaged boy and tells him, "You do not have the right to rape a woman. You do not have the right to do whatever you want with a girl who is walking alone, who is wearing a short skirt, who has large breasts, who has spurned your advances." (Or does this happen? I don't have brothers and I haven't asked my male friends, although I probably will now. But I suspect the answer is no.)

I'm sure part of this is because we assume decent human beings would not rape a woman. I think there is something faulty about this thinking, partly because "rape" is a very vague term that encompasses many different forms of unwanted sexual behavior. It's also obvious that assuming decent human beings don't rape isn't an effective way to stop rape because hey, it's still happening, and I'm being sternly told to do multiple things to prevent rape.

I'm tired of women being shouldered with the burden of stopping rape by "preventing it." I'm tired of women being expected to be the "smart one" about sex because "guys are guys and they can't help it." It's time for the conversation to change, and it starts by having higher expectations for men and having frank discussions about sex and rape with our men when they are boys.

8.02.2014

Pantene's New #ShineStrong Ad Is So Much Better Than Their Last

If you'll remember, Pantene produced an ad last December which attempted to break down gender labels. It left me feeling confused and a little bit pissed, although I wasn't entirely sure why. I agreed with the sentiment that women with certain labels are perceived differently from their male counterparts with the same label. But something about the ad was obviously pandering. Maybe it was that every woman's hair was really the focal point of each shot? Either way, I really disliked the ad.

Pantene has a new ad now, one which I think is much stronger and much better than the one from December. I think this video is different for a few different reasons, one being that I completely related to the video's topic. Every woman I know has some issue with saying unnecessary sorries, myself included, and the different takes in the video (with and without "sorry") makes a pretty blatant point about how each woman behaves and is perceived. I also appreciate that hair was not the focal point here - we saw the women first and hair second, as it should be. Is it still pandering? Yes, absolutely. But it's making a very strong and effective statement about how women behave, one that is important for every woman to understand whether or not they use Pantene. (For the record, I don't use Pantene and I don't really see that happening anytime soon. But I do think better of the company for this specific ad.)



Although, one thing that bugs me: the couple at the end needs a bigger bed. Then the covers (probably) wouldn't be an issue. 

7.31.2014

Life Without Facebook

At the beginning of the summer, I deactivated my Facebook account. I read multiple articles arguing the harms of social media (jealousy, lack of contentment with your own life, lack of real connection, time wasting, etc) and when I thought about the amount of time wasted and then suddenly received an unnecessary e-mail from Facebook - despite my disabling all Facebook e-mails - telling me to congratulate someone I didn't even know in high school on her marriage, I was done and decided to leave cold turkey.

So how's it been?

Maybe at the beginning of the summer it was odd to not have something to check constantly. There were people I hardly ever talked to, but it felt odd to not know what they were doing in their lives. Then I realized I could replace the time I had been wasting with reading or working out (no, really, I went to the gym but no pictures were taken so you can't be sure if it really happened or not) or writing or talking to friends. Come the end of the summer and I'm happy with my life.

The truth is, I've logged on a couple times for a few minutes each time. Mostly to check in on a friend who I knew was struggling but wasn't able to reach out to via phone, but once to see if I might consider getting back on Facebook. There are things I miss about it - I miss seeing when a co-worker I no longer teach with has had a new baby, I miss seeing when a friend (an actual friend) has posted pictures of a new house.... but I don't miss the temptation of Facebook.

So, I guess when it comes to Facebook I'm still not completely decided. In some ways it's my only form of communication with people I've met at conferences or to let people know I've updated my blog. In that way I can appreciate the 'book. But at the same time, the temptation to waste time and Facebook stalk (which is really only different from real stalking in that you aren't physically driving by a person's house) is a pretty big cost. I'm still weighing the costs and the benefits, but for now, I'm steering clear until I know for sure that those benefits outweigh the costs. (Can you tell I'm going to be an economics teacher?)

7.26.2014

What's Making Me Happy: Face Masks and Animal GIFs

It's been a while since I've done one of these... Let's get back to it!

Face Masks

(I apologize in advance for my discussion of zits and pimples and stuff.)

I don't have the worst skin in the world, but it's far from perfect, too. My skin is oily some times and dry other times and freckled all over. I won't get break outs for a long while but then I'll have a horrible bout of PMS and my chin will turn into a giant pimple. What makes it all worse is I have a tendency to touch my face and, even worse, pick my face. I'm well aware of how awful picking your face is for your skin, not to mention how gross it looks. So I've been cutting back on all of that, but I still end up getting at least one painful zit that I can't leave alone, and then there's a scab. And they usually last forever, and I can't leave those alone and the vicious cycle continues.

This is a really long introduction to this face mask I got from LUSH cosmetics. My sister was in town a while ago and we went up to Boulder and made a pit stop at LUSH. I walked away with two face masks: 1. Catastrophe Cosmetic (a loooot of blueberries in there) and 2. Mask of Magnaminity (a looooot of peppermint in there). Long story short: I use them each once a week, a few days apart, and my skin is soft and clear. And when I have a scab because I've been dumb and use the Catastrophe Cosmetic, I swear the scab is gone in a matter of a couple days rather than a couple weeks.

To summarize: I like these masks. They be good.

By the way, not that you were actually wondering this, but LUSH doesn't know they exist, so they didn't, like, pay me or anything.

Animal GIFS

Remember a while back when I posted about using animal gifs to make you feel happier about the world? Given the state of world affairs this summer, I feel like some more animal gifs are necessary. Here they are.

Remember that Baby Beluga song by Raffi? I loved that song. I also love this beluga and the little boy's reaction.
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I firmly believe dogs should be allowed in the workplace. Exhibit A
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I cannot CAN. NOT. handle this dog's expression. OMG.
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7.25.2014

Better Late Than Never

I'm currently sitting in my classroom (with windows!) with every intention to get work done. I'm working on creating videos for my flipped classroom, but working on my computer is basically the same as cleaning my room as a kid: I'm constantly finding things I completely forgot about and have the ability to distract me for hours. Since I'm sure you want to be distracted as well, let me share a few items I found (I think I was intending to decorate my classroom with these...?).

Fresh Prince memes

Actually, are these memes? My students get angry at me when I call a non-meme a meme but they can't really explain it to me. I'm also not entirely sure why I wanted these memes. I guess I was just in a Fresh Prince mood (but really, who isn't?).



Parks and Recreation memes

I'm of the belief that one cannot have too many Parks and Rec quotes.




This demonic baby

I think my intention was to scare my students into submission.


And then there's a lip sync video I made with my students

Set to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". I will not be sharing it with you for the following reasons:

a. My students are minors and I don't feel like having parents get angry at me before the school year even starts.
b. I look insane. As in, someone who shouldn't ever teach.
c. We used old, disgusting wigs. I'm not sure why. Except for the time where I taped a picture of a Wayne's World hat to my head.
d. At one point, a student is playing a guitar on his lap when he is joined by another student who also tries to play the same guitar at the same time and it just does not...look...right.

But it's there. And you should feel better (worse?) for knowing that such a video exists in this world.