Quick Hit: Marianne Kirby on Will Grayson, Will Grayson

April 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

by KATIE E.

Linking because:

1. Marianne Kirby is made of win.

2. As are John Green and David Levithan.

3. I’m writing a kind of huge post about the failure in covering Young Adult books in the womanist / feminist / progressive blogosphere. It isn’t quit done, but I will say here: This is how a feminist should write about YA.

What About Brisenia?

January 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

by KATIE E.

Story via Crooks and Liars.

I think it’s highly unlikely any of you have yet to hear the details of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, and almost as unlikely that any of you didn’t hear the details about Christina Taylor-Green.

Before the inevitable cries occur, yes, I think the shooting was a tragedy. I think the death of this clearly very bright, enthusiastic young woman was a tragedy. I think the media was right in covering her life and her story.

But frankly? It cannot be denied that Taylor-Green received the attention she did because her death didn’t reflect as badly on the rhetoric and policies we hold so dearly in the United States. You know, the ones that routinely lead to people of color being attacked?

Brisenia Flores was nine. Same age as Taylor-Green.  She lived in a town on the Arizona border with her parents and sister. Shawna Forde led a vigilante unit who patrolled U.S. borders with weapons. For patriotic “fun,” she says.

Forde decided to lead her absurd group in attacking supposed drug smugglers and using their money to start a “border race war.” One thing or another led to them heading for the Flores home, which had no drugs whatsoever in it.

They entered the home under false pretenses, leading Mr. Flores into believing that they were law-enforcement officials. When he questioned their motives, the group immediately shot him fatally in the head and went on to wound his wife, Gina Gonzalez. Bresenia pleaded for her life, but she was also shot fatally in the head. (Her sister was at a sleepover at the time.)

Brisenia and Mr. Flores were murdered because of the color of their skin. Someone has lost their father, daughter, sister, and husband because a group of people decided they looked too un-American.

Where were the headlines? Where were the feature stories about what Bresenia liked, what she did at school, what she wanted to do with her life? Where are the interviews with her family? Why wasn’t the president calling on us to make the future the way she would have wanted it?

It’s the simple, ugly truth: As Nathan at Dissenting Leftist put it, it’s only a national tragedy when a politician dies. And I’d like to throw in that yes, it’s often only a national tragedy when someone who’s white dies. Or when someone who’s death would not spark more opposition to current immigration policies. Someone who’s death would never inspire us to maybe change our rhetoric about the undocumented workers we, as a nation, so love to virulently hate.

What killed Brisenia and her family? Racism. Xenophobia. Hateful rhetoric. Constant promotion of illegal immigration as the worst thing that’s happened to this country, and even more promotion of the idea that anyone with brown skin must be a part of it.

And now, for the same reasons, her death is being put aside for ones that reflect on the U.S. a little better. After all, that’s always where the government and the mainstream media value.

Disgruntled Adolescent Complaint Department

January 8, 2011 § 6 Comments

by KATIE E.

Something has been irking me for the past couple of days.

I thought maybe I was over-reacting. Maybe that I should have just kept my mouth shut. But, I can’t stop thinking about it. So here it goes:

I do not want to be a part of a feminist movement that conflates youth with a lack of intelligence.

I am, in particular, referring to this. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of misogyny in the piece from the Catholic League, and it deserves to be written about, but not only is it problematic to only pick on the writer’s grammar, it is absolutely infuriating to blame it on supposed youth, even as a “joke.”

You do not get to take your anger about misogyny out on young people. Period. There are many young people (including myself and my co-bloggers) who do not feel that way. Recognition of that is past due.

This is not the first time I’ve seen something like this and been mad, though. This one just wins the honor of putting me over the edge. I can’t deal with so-called feminists who don’t show an iota of respect to young people anymore. I can’t deal with feeling like I’m a sub-par feminist writer just because I’m under 18 anymore. My opinions, ideas, and writings are no less legitimate than any adult blogger, so please stop making me feel that way, thanks.

One thing I hear entirely too much about in feminist circles is the so-called “generational divide” between second and third wave feminists. I hear a lot of complaints particularly (though not exclusively) from 20-something feminists who were too young for the height of either about how they’re not taken seriously, oppressed, ignored, whatever you want to call it.

I’m not going to be a jerk and say that isn’t true. It has only been very recently that younger (emphasis on the fact that they are youngER, not the youngEST) feminists have gotten the respect they deserve. And there are still occasional comments from some older, legendary feminist about how 20-somethings/college students/young people in general/whatever either aren’t feminists or aren’t doing it right. And I feel the sting of those comments, too, and I think the complaints are completely legitimate and should be heard.

But, seriously? It is not the same being a younger feminist and one of the youngest feminists. Not. At. All. There is little to no discussion given to feminists under 18 in these “generational divide” discussions, and feminists who are claiming they are not taken seriously for being born in the 70s or 80s are helping to perpetuate that. The ageism that victimizes you may be real, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t keeping the cycle going in another way. The voices of feminists who aren’t yet adults are silenced even more than yours are, yet you ignore us.

I am betting now that multiple people are going to claim that starting a whole discussion about the generational divide and ageism against youth stemming from one teeny Feministe post is overreacting, but it is not. Language is how this cycle keeps going, and language is where I feel it the most.

So, please, if you have any respect or support for myself, my younger co-bloggers, and other feminists who are teenagers or younger: stop equating a lack of intelligence, misogyny, or anything else that you hate with us. We are not like that, and you effectively erase us by doing it.

Boy With Disability Unable To Leave Apartment

November 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

by KATIE E.

due to a broken elevator.

Jaime Roman has missed 17 straight days of school. He can’t leave his apartment for anything. All due to the resistance of his apartment’s administration to “get the part ordered.”

This is blatant ableism. Why was the elevator not fixed ASAP? Why was the “part” not ordered as soon as it was reported? The leasing office had to be aware that had at least one person in a wheelchair in their building-not to mention considering people with non-evident disabilities who may have trouble with the stairs.

Denial of accessibility is a widespread issue for people with disabilities. Jaime’s education and right to leave his apartment is seen as trivial to the leasing office, but it is very, very important. Why should he be treated as a second-class citizen? Why don’t all people have a right to education?

Unfortunately, the article does not voice Jaime’s exact opinion on the situation-and it is obvious from the reference to his “I Love School” pictures that he has one. He is being denied a voice, something he deserves.

But, of course, he is disabled and a youth-i.e., his voice is seen as meaningless and unnecessary in a kyriarchal world. He’s reduced to a prop we’re supposed to simply feel awful for, instead of actually listening to him and taking action.

This story was published at the beginning of the month, and I have yet to find an update. If anyone has one or information about contacting the apartment, it would be greatly appreciated. This denial of basic human rights cannot keep happening.

On Ageism and Social Justice: An Introduction, and Women That Are Doing It Right

October 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

by KATIE E

I recognize the general mouthfull-ness of the title, but trust me, it’s all in here.

How often do you think critically about ageism? How often do you think about how it intersects with other forms of oppression? How often do you consider it one of your privileges/things that oppress you, and, to bloggers, how often do you write about it? How often do you refer to comment trolls as “acting like a bunch of children” as an insult, and how often are you amazed that something written here/The Fbomb/Zero at The Bone/Teenagerie/any other young woman’s space was written by a teenager?

I think about those things a lot. I suppose it’s inevitable. I don’t want this series to be all about me and my experiences, but I’m sixteen, I write for a medium-ished sized social justice and feminism blog that aimed at young woman, and I frequently read and participate in discussions on various womanist, feminist, and gender/social justice blogs. I am completely open about and own up to the fact that I am, by all legal and dictionary definitions, a child. I’ve seen ageism happen. I don’t think it is the biggest issue affecting the social justice (I’m still talking about all of the types of blogs I’ve listed before, but for the purposed of the series, I’m going to abbreviate it to social justice. This does not mean I don’t care about and want to acknowledge all of the varieties of social justice out there, it means I have mild carpal tunnels syndrome) by a mile. There are a few posts I’ve read and gone “Wow, that was completely offensive to teenage girls like myself, or to age group X that I don’t belong to,” but ageism does show up in the SJ blogosphere, and I see it typically manifesting in three ways:

1. Word and Phrasing Choice

2. Silencing

3. And, most importantly, Neglect of Issues

I plan to begin a series addressing these matters, from the viewpoint of a ver young woman. Ageism is a unique form of oppression in that no one is really immune. It is not 100% an us vs. them thing. For example, a thirty-five to forty-year-old woman will have her opinion respected than a lot more of other woman of much younger or older ages, but if she chooses not to be married, she will face ageist attacks. A forty-five to  fifty-year-old man will be treated like he has a lot of valuable life experience, whether or not he truly does, but will be attacked if he chooses to act or dress in a typically “young” way.

However, I will not deny that there are factions of ageism that are an oppressed vs. oppressors kind of thing, and this series will focus on the fact that people under the legal age of majority are oppressed, and the ones doing the oppressing are the adults. I do plan to write about how younger people oppress older people eventually, but for the time being, I am choosing to write about something that has deeply impacted my life, opinions, and writing.

I’d like to begin this series on a positive note. I’m going to share with you five posts by social justice bloggers who wrote about teenaged women in a respectful, positive way. These are all by legally adult women, as seeing a grown-up person write in this manner is much rarer than seeing a young person do so, and I offer my greatest thanks to these writers, and I hope they will continue to write in this manner. I’m sure there are many more, and I’d greatly appreciate links in comments, these are just five posts I remembered reading recently.

Teen Pregnancies on The Rise for The First Time In Over A Decade, by Miriam, Feministing.

Despite what the title might make you think, this is not your typical “let’s prevent this horrific tragedy” moral panic piece. Miriam does an excellent job actually acknowledging that some teenagers want to be pregnant, especially when there are class and/or racial issues involved, and that they, along with pregnant teens in other situations, deserve our upmost respect. She also states, and I quote “I don’t think being young makes you a bad parent,” which should not be even remotely considered a radical statement, but in our society, unfortunately is, and I applaud her for making it and sticking up for it, despite the extremely ageist remarks in the comments section.

It’s Not About Me, by Guest Blogger Jay, Feministe

Five beautiful words: Parent denying ownership of child. Thank you Jay, for reminding us that nobody is entitled to anyone else’s uterus, even when the uterus in question belongs to your nine-year-old daughter.

Bill Cosby Tells Black People Off Again, by Renee, Womanist Musings

This post is not entirely about ageism, or even mostly about it-and that’s 100% fine. I commend Renee for pointing out the ageism in a statement made by Bill Cosby, along with many other problematic things about it that are correct, something that many bloggers may have ignored. She acknowledges that young woman are affected by slut-shaming in a completely different way than older woman, something that, again, I frequently see ignored.

Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project: A Counter Response, by Ms. Jacks, The Bitter Buffalo

This is a brilliant argument supporting point number two about ageism: silencing. Young women’s voiced are so often cut off in favor of what older people think they should feel, and Ms. Jacks points out to use that we need to cut that out if we want to be effective social justice advocates.

Teenage Girls and Internalized Sexism, by Rachel McCarthy James, Deeply Problematic

Beautiful. I love this post. Someone acknowledging that they have thought negative things about teenagers and is trying to stop is, again, something that shouldn’t be radical, but is. This is one of the few posts I’ve seen a self-identified feminist adult write entirely about ageism, and it may be the only one confronting personal ageism. An internet standing  ovation for RMJ, who is probably my favorite social justice writer.

I really hope you read these posts, and think about the questions I asked in my opening paragraph. Coming up soon will be part two, on how language and phrasing choices can promote ageism.

Alberta Unveils I.D. Cards for Homeless People

October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

by KATIE E.

Via The Vancouver Sun.

I’m not going to lie and say that this is a huge step in the right direction. It may help some get jobs, but it does little to help the huge population of homeless people who simply can’t work due to disability, kyriarchal discrimination, trying to care for children or other family members, etc.

It will not directly provide food or shelter, and as Cara of  The Curvature put so eloquently the other day, “the corollary to this belief is that people with homes deserve to have them — and those without homes must have done something to make them undeserving of such a basic right as housing.” People should have a roof over their head because that’s a basic human right, not because they have a job or are searching for one.

However, I’m sure many homeless people who are capable of working and can’t find a job due to classist requirements will appreciate this. I don’t live under a rock-classism is classism, and it will still happen-but an I.D. is something many businesses require, and this small step will make a difference for at least a few homeless people who wouldn’t have received the opportunity otherwise.

We actively shame homeless people everyday for not having jobs, but we make it nearly impossible on those that are capable and willing to work to do so. I applaud the Alberta government for taking this step, and I hope they will take bigger measures soon.

The article also mentions that this is part of a ten year plan to end homelessness. I would be extremely curious to hear opinions on the plan overall, especially from any people from Alberta who’ve experienced poverty and/or classism.

Heads Up: New Dutch Government Contemplating Burqa Ban

October 1, 2010 § 4 Comments

by KATIE E.

Via The Guardian:

“Wilders has won pledges to introduce legislation banning Islamic headgear, joining France, Belgium and Switzerland in a growing campaign across Europe to ban a veil that relatively few Muslim women wear.”

I’m not sure of the accuracy of the statement that “relatively few Muslim wear” the burqa, but, does it matter? Shouldn’t the law protect everyone?

I’m sick of the racist, sexist, Westernized idea that Muslim women don’t have agency and would never choose to wear a religious symbol without being forced by a man. As the article states, this is coming from a conservative government, but how long do you think it will be before this type of Islamophobia is again accepted by many as an aspect of feminism? The last time I checked, feminism was supposed to be about giving all women agency, not just when it’s convenient or when we can’t twist it to make ourselves look superior to another culture.

It can’t be ignored that this is coming from a new conservative, anti-immigration government, though. While many will interpret it this way, I highly doubt they’re doing it in the name of “feminism.” Growing numbers of Muslims do not threaten anyone except for white, usually Christian people who would like to remain a privileged group.  If I were leader of The Netherlands, and I tried to ban all cross necklaces or nun’s habits, can you imagine the outcry in the country and all over the world? I would be told I was taking away religious freedom and agency from the same kind of people who support this legislation.

Putting the rampant racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny seen here for a moment, can I just ask what happened to personal freedom? What gives a country a right to dictate what its citizens should wear, and couldn’t this possibly lead them further down a bad road?

If you live in The Netherlands, please contact the leaders of the nation and voice how oppressive the legislation is. We cannot let this happen in another country.

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