Tag Archives: feminism

What I Have Been Up To

Well, it’s been officially two months since my last blog post. Well done, Rachel!

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with other stuff lately, specifically my new job at Girls For A Change. Girls For A Change is a non-profit organization run out of Silicon Valley that that empowers girls to create social change. Over the course of the fourteen week program, groups of middle school and high school-age girls meet with GFC coaches (female volunteers) to talk about the issues that effect their community and implement a group-designed social change project to target a specific issue. It’s an absolutely incredible organization, with “Girl Action Teams” in California, Virginia, Arizona, Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, and internationally in El Salvador, India, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Uganda.

In addition to being a coach here in Santa Cruz County, I also run the social media aspects of the organization. Another big part of Girls for A Change that I am involved with is our partnership with Jennifer Siebel-Newsom and her incredible film MissRepresentation, for which I help run the Social Action component. Check out the trailer for the film here: 

We encourage people to sign up to become Social Action Representatives for the film – kind of like being an intern – and twice a month Action Reps receive an Action Alert email that gives them a special assignment, such as using the hashtag #NotBuyingIt on Twitter to call attention to sexist, misogynistic, or anti-female advertisements and products.  We provide a handy tool kit (designed by Girls For A Change) that has all the tools reps need to take their inspiration and move it into action. I work with the folks at MissRepresentation to create the Action Alerts, so much of my creative thought goes into that rather than this blog nowadays!

If you haven’t yet seen the film, I highly encourage you to do so.  MissRepresentation “exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.” The alarming facts, raw interviews with scholars and celebrities alike, and Siebel-Newsom’s emotional narrative have made this film completely eye-opening and extremely important.

So, that’s what’s been going on. There’s a lot of terrible stuff going on in the world, and I suppose it’s just too aggravating to actually sit down and write about it. Maybe in another two months!

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The Round-Up: June 6, 2011

Here are my picks for today’s media/blog round up!

Michele Backmann Said What!?: Your guide to the Minnesota firebrand’s most outrageous, outlandish, and out-there remarks. — By Tim Murphy via Mother Jones

Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin Impression Is So Good, Even Fox News Is Fooled. — By Lindsay William-Ross via LAist

Do You Think I’d Be Sitting Here If They Were Called “Empowerment Walks?”: Jessica Valenti appears on MSNBC to talk about her WaPo article on SlutWalks and the future of feminism. — By Vanessa via Feministing

Anthony Weiner’s Tearful, Interminable Sexting Confession: A response to the NY Rep’s press conference today. — By Irin Carmon via Jezebel

Psychology Today Agrees to Remove Controversial Author Satoshi Kanazawa from Website: Journal had published Kanazawa’s study which “scientifically proved” that black women are less attractive than women of other races. — Via ColorOfChange

Sarah Palin Not Backing Down on Paul Revere: Palin sticking by her revisionist history — Via Slate

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To Derby or Not to Derby?

As long as we’re blogging, maybe I should mention that for the past few years I’ve been really wanting to play roller derby. The local league in Santa Cruz started when I was a junior or senior in high school, and my hair dresser was a derby girl. I thought it sounded ridiculously fun and wanted to try it out, but then I joined a band and went to college and moved a lot, and I kind of forgot about roller derby. Over the years I thought about it off and on, but I never pursued it. Then last week I finally went to my first bout – the Boardwalk Bombshells vs. the L.A. Ri-Ettes – and they announced that they were going to be having a training camp this summer. And that spark inside me came back.

I really really really want to do this camp. It’s only $150 for 6 weeks, it would be great exercise, and I could finally find out if I’d be any good at this sport. But I’d have to have all my own gear: roller skates, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, mouth guard. I’m sure I have some old safety gear hidden somewhere in the garage, but I’m worried that I’m going to spend all this money on gear and end up either hating the sport or sucking at it!

I think what intrigues me about roller derby is it’s innate girl-power qualities: it promotes community, team work, strong bodies and minds, grassroots organizing, and giving back to the community. Even the little derby groms who played during half-time were adorable, hard-working, and inspiring. I love that derby is about female empowerment, and it sends a positive message to young girls about body image, athleticism, spirit, and inner strength. Plus, kicking ass at a sport is fun.

My mom and all of her friends think playing roller derby would be ridiculously fun and bad-ass. The only thing my dad (who is a sports doctor, a downhill skier, triathlete, and surfer) said is that it sounds dangerous. It’s funny that the person who I thought would unconditionally support my interest in a sport turns out to be the only person against me playing roller derby. What’s up with that? I’m sure he’ll come around, but my gut reaction to his skepticism is that I just want to join the sh*t out of roller derby.

So, what do you think? Do you know anyone who plays? Have you ever been to a bout, and did you enjoy it? Do you play roller derby and have any advice/words of wisdom? Let me know in the comments!

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Women Who Rock follow up, part 1

As you know, I recently attended the opening of the Women Who Rock exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland! The Kitchen Sisters and I will be posting our collection of audio/video/pictures soon, but in the mean time here is a review of the exhibit and opening weekend, written by Huffington Post blogger – and new friend! – S.X. Rosenstock. Check it out!

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(Slut)Walk This Way

April 3, 2011: Toronto's seminal SlutWalk / photo: Mark Blinch, Reuters

I was scrolling through my news feed today and came across a term I had never heard of before: SlutWalks. I felt that I needed to immediately stop whatever I was doing (watching You Tube videos of the Go Go’s….) and find out what SlutWalks are.

More Info: SlutWalk Toronto

The movement’s website states:

We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.

The idea of SlutWalks came about in response to a Toronto police officer’s comment in January 2011 that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” This officer perpetuated the commonly held belief that women who dress provocatively, or “slutty” are asking for or deserve to get raped. Unsurprisingly, Toronto’s feminist* community would not go quietly. On April 3rd, 2011 a group of around 3,000-4,000 men and women marched from Queen’s Park South near the Legislative Building to the Toronto Police Headquarters at 40 College Street to protest the unfair treatment of victims of sexual assault.  The Toronto SlutWalk has already inspired dozens of satellite SlutWalks across the United States, Canada, and the world in the past few weeks. The idea is to place responsibility on the RAPIST, and not the VICTIM.  A story from the Associated Press describes these marches:

        The events are similar to “Take Back the Night” rallies and other marches that aim to bring attention to sexual violence… SlutWalkers have danced to hip-hop, worn T-shirts with the word “slut” and held signs that read “sluts pay taxes.” Some women have skated around on inline skates in lingerie, while their male supporters wore shirts reading, “I love sluts”…rallies typically end with speakers and workshops on stopping sexual violence and calling on law enforcement agencies not to blame victims after sexual assaults.

Let’s be clear about one thing: no one asks to be raped. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, saying, or doing. Rape is an act of violence, power, and control. The Toronto police officer who made the disgusting comment is blaming the victim, something men have historically done in response to tragedies involving women (see:  Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire). Although I’m not an expert on this, I would venture to guess that rapists are more likely to walk free if the victim is described during her trial as someone who dresses or acts provocatively. Somehow rape is easier to digest if people believe that women who are assaulted are “asking for it” or “putting out certain vibes.” Participants of SlutWalks are marching in solidarity to raise awareness of sexual assault and victims’ rights. It is not so much about actually “dressing like a slut,” but rather about saying, “No one has a right to rape me simply based on what I’m wearing or what I look like.” It reminds me of  the protests that erupted in the late nineties  after the  Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the 18 year old female victim was said to have been wearing tight jeans at the time of the rape (the court declared that because tight jeans would be nearly impossible to pull off without the help of the girl wearing the jeans, the act must have been consensual).

Sexual violence against women is a DAILY reality all across the world. Campaigns against sexual violence like Denim Day and SlutWalks are creative and effective ways to bring about attention of this violence, and I applaud these women’s courage. To get involved in the movement and find a SlutWalk near you, head over to http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/satellite.

The first SlutWalk Santa Cruz will take place on May 14th, 2011. I’ll be out of town attending the opening of the Women Who Rock exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum, but I hope to be at the SF Bay SlutWalk when it takes place (TBA).

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*Let’s not go ape-sh** over this term. Feminists are people, both men and women, who believe that women deserve the same rights and protections that men have. If you think men and women should be equal, you’re a feminist.

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She Got The Beat


Next week I’ll be heading to Cleveland with the Kitchen Sisters to cover the opening of the new “Women Who Rock” exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum! Designed to pay tribute to the essential role of women in rock and roll history, the exhibit will “spotlight more than 70 artists and fill two entire floors of the museum.” Rock and roll has long held the reputation of being a man’s world, meaning women are often left out of the narrative. This exhibit will help correct the all-male image of rock and roll by highlighting the important role that women have played in the development of rock music, from it’s roots in the early 20th century with Bessie Smith and Mother Maybelle Carter, through the development of rockabilly, R&B, blues rock and punk, to the modern sounds of everyone from the White Stripes to Lady Gaga.

Photo Credit: Anastasia Pantsios, whose exhibit "Girls On Film" is now on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum

I’m a big advocate of ‘women in rock’, and I spent 3 years in an all-female rock band,  so getting to participate in and celebrate the opening of “Women Who Rock” is really exciting for me. To get in the mood for the event and prepare for my departure, I’ve put together a playlist of songs that I’m calling a survey of women in rock.

You better believe how hard it was to find a photo of Wendy O. Williams that wasn't NSFW

Putting together the playlist was obviously tremendous fun, although slightly frustrating, because I literally wanted to include EVERYONE. Of course, this would result in a playlist that lasts for days/years – which would be awesome – but I think a sample of music would be  more accessible to those less familiar with the history. I’ve tried to include at least one musician to represent each sub-genre of the major genres that appeared in the decades of the 20th century. Because this is a timeline of rock music, I’ve included less pop, country, hip-hop, and folk (although these do make appearances in the playlist) and focused more on alternative, punk and new wave musicians. Because there are so many amazing bands and female solo artists, choosing the final songs ultimately came down to my own personal preferences. Finally, I mostly just included the BIG names of the genres, but you should know there are countless amazing female rock bands that didn’t make this list.

Here it is! You can also view the playlist on iTunes and buy the music if you like!

  1.  Bessie Smith – Gulf Coast Blues (1923)
  2. Ma Rainey – Jealous Hearted Blues (1925)
  3. Big Mama Thorton – Hound Dog (1952)
  4. Kitty Wells – It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels (1952)
  5. Ruth Brown – (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean (1953)
  6. The Staple Singers – This May Be The Last Time (1955)
  7. Wanda Jackson – Fujiyama Mama (1957)
  8. The Shirelles – Mama Said (1961)
  9. The Ronettes – Baby, I Love You (1963)
  10.  Irma Thomas – Breakaway (1964)
  11.  Goldie and the Gingerbreads – Headlines (1966)
  12. Aretha Franklin – Dr. Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business) (1967)
  13. Jefferson Airplane – Somebody to Love (1967)
  14. Janis Joplin – Flower in the Sun (1968)
  15. Mavis Staples – Chained (1970)
  16. Carole King – I Feel the Earth Move (1971)
  17. Suzi Quatro – Can the Can (1973)
  18. Ike & Tina Turner – Too Hot To Hold (1974)
  19. Bonnie Raitt – Angel From Montgomery (1974)
  20. Loretta Lynn – The Pill (1975)
  21. Heart – Crazy On You (1976)
  22. Fleetwood Mac – Gold Dust Woman (1977)
  23. The Runaways – California Paradise (1977)
  24. X-Ray Spex – Oh Bondage Up Yours! (1977)
  25. Patti Smith – Rock n Roll N****r (1978)
  26. Donna Summer – Bad Girls (1979)
  27. The Pretenders – Precious (1980)
  28. Blondie – Call Me (1980)
  29. Joan Jett – Bad Reputation (1980)
  30. The Go Go’s – We Got The Beat (1980)
  31. X – You’re Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not (1980)
  32. The Plasmatics – Butcher Baby (1980)
  33. Cyndi Lauper – All Through the Night (1984)
  34. Eurythmics – Missionary Man (1986)
  35. Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation (1989)
  36. Madonna – Express Yourself (1989)
  37. The Pixies – Debaser (1989)
  38. Thee Headcoatees – Have Love Will Travel (1992)
  39. Bikini Kill – Rebel Girl (1993)
  40. Salt N Peppa – Shoop (1993)
  41. Sheryl Crow – Strong Enough (1994)
  42. No Doubt – Just a Girl (1995)
  43. Alanis Morissette – You Outta Know (1995)
  44. Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing) (1998)
  45. Fiona Apple – Paper Bag (1999)
  46. Gossip – Hott Date (2001)
  47. Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, Pink – Lady Marmalade (2002)
  48. The Donnas – Take It Off (2002)
  49. The White Stripes – Black Math (2003)
  50. The Kills – Cat Claw (2003)
  51. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cheated Hearts (2006)
  52. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance (2009)
  53. Adele – Rolling In the Deep (2010)
  54. Shannon and the Clams – Sleep Talk (2011) <— BEST FEMALE FRONTED BAND RIGHT NOW!

I’m sure everyone will find one of their favorite musicians missing, so please tell me in the comments who you would have included in your timeline of women rockers playlist!

Thee Headcoatees

P.S. when I return from Cleveland I’ll post all kinds of little nuggets from the event!

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