Women in the Heights – Perspectives

March 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

by PHOEBE

You might remember that over the summer I interned at Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance where I worked with the beautiful, bilingual, amazing, feministy, smart, and talented women who run the organization. Since then I have tried to keep myself updated on the goings-on at NoMAA, and there’s a current exhibition that looks badass. From their website:

Time:
Thu, 2011-03-03 18:00 - 20:00
Venue:
178th Bennett Avenue 3rd Floor (@ 189th Street)
Contact Person:
info@nomaanyc.org – 212.568.4396

In celebration of Women’s History Month (March), the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) presents Women in the Heights – Perspectives, an exhibition displaying works by 28 women artists residing in Washington Heights and Inwood, curated by Andrea Arroyo.

 

If you’re in the Washington Heights Area — or anywhere in Manhattan for that matter — I strongly encourage you to go! I mean… The show includes a curtain of cupcakes!

Things to Consider…

October 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

by PHOEBE

  • On September 21, the Senate failed to pass a bill that included the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ They were four votes short, despite the Democratic majority.
  • On September 22, gay college student Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge to his death after his roommate Dhuram Ravi twice posted videos online of him making out with another man.
  • On September 9, Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old high school freshman hung himself in his family’s barn after intense bullying for his perceived sexual orientation from his classmates. In interviews, his principal, the person that’s supposed to have the best interest of all students at heart, said that Billy sometimes created “that atmosphere [of teasing] around him… Kind of like a little tornado because he went around doing things that made dust fly, I guess.” After Billy’s suicide, hateful and accusatory remarks were posted on his memorial page.
  • The cases of Tyler Clementi and Billy Lucas are not anomalies.
  • Andrew Shirvell, Michigan’s Assistant Attorney General, has decided to take a voluntary leave of absence after getting nationwide attention for creating a website devoted to the shaming and bashing of University of Michigan’s openly gay student assembly president, Chris Armstrong. Despite the fact that Shirvell has clearly expressed his bias against a significant group of people–not to mention an oppressed minority that is in need of defense–when a large part of his JOB DESCRIPTION is to uphold the rights that everyone is granted by the constitution, Attorney General Mike Cox has refused to discipline or dismiss him.
  • According to a ten-year study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 9 out of 10 LGBT students are harassed in school. 72.4% of students hear homophobic remarks such as “faggot” or “dyke” frequently at school. In the last month 29.1% of LGBT students missed a class at least once and 30% missed at least one day of school due to safety concerns.

Have I depressed you enough? The list goes on and on and on.

What, if anything, can we take from all this? America has a serious problem. A problem of heteronormative expectations about sexuality and gender expression and a problem of viciously attacking those who don’t fit into these norms. While this problem is damaging to everyone, it predominantly affects young people. From the White House to the playground the message is clear: You’re icky, you’re different, you’re wrong, you’re not like us. We wish you’d go away.

So what do we do? Do something! Do anything! Post on Dan Savage’s It Gets Better youtube channel. Attend an upcoming event. Start a Gay-Straight Alliance at your school. Support GLSEN, The Trevor Project, Matthew’s Place, Angels and Doves and Stomp Out Bullying! Participate in Ally Week.

Be active, be kind, and be hopeful. Hope is what we need more than anything. To use the eternally relevant and powerful words of Harvey Milk: You’ve gotta give ‘em hope.

Feminist Artist Alert: Jessica Lagunas

July 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

by PHOEBE

So I’m currently interning at the wonderful, feminist-friendly, bilingual Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, an organization located in Washington Heights, dedicated to the promotion of artists in Northern Manhattan. It’s a highly community oriented and welcoming environment that I’m already in love with. Its mission is to give voices to artists of various medias that may not typically be given opportunities to show their work.

One such artist is the fantastic Jessica Lagunas. I was lucky enough to see some of her work at an earlier show celebrating Latino artists this year and I was blown away. Born in Nicaragua in 1971, she’s dedicated to exploring themes–often of a heavy nature–such as body image, sexuality, ethnicity, and age, all from a distinctly female perspective.

I encourage you to go check out her stuff, particularly her videos, in which she does certain beauty rituals for up to two hours. They’re grotesque and fascinating and leave me with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. In a good way. I think. It’s certainly thought provoking.

And good news! Her work is being exhibited right now. If you’re in the New York area or Spain go check her out! I know I plan to.

Her bio can be found here.

Quick Hit: The Taliban’s War on Women

July 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

When 22-year-old Hossai was told to quit her job by the Taliban, she refused to be bullied. She was shot and killed…These stories are seldom heard, but it’s not because they are rare. The victims are often too terrified to report such attacks to the authorities, or have little hope that anything will be done if they do. They can expect little or no protection from their government, which seems more willing to provide patronage to senior insurgents who switch sides than assist women at grave risk. When high-profile women are assassinated, their cases are not given the priority they deserve and their killers are rarely brought to justice. While men who run afoul of the Taliban are also attacked — particularly in Kandahar, where the murder rate in recent months has reached unprecedented heights — the situation for women is worse.

Via Human Rights Watch.

Rape Culture Rears its Ugly Head (Again)

July 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

Trigger Warning.

Do you know what ruined my morning? What filled me with a blinding, seething rage? What made me really really sad?

This movie poster right here. The one for the I Spit On Your Grave remake.

Now I was almost tempted not to link to it or write this post so as not to give this piece of shit more publicity, but I couldn’t. Not only is this poster heinous, exploitative bullshit, but it also perfectly personifies the serious problem of rape culture in America.

I did some research and the film is about the brutal gang rape of a young woman, who manages to survive. She then goes on to exact revenge on all of her torturers. It was first released in 1978 to much controversy. It was originally entitled Day of the Woman and released under the guise of a female empowerment film, though apparently the way in which she “empowered” herself after the half-hour long, brutal, leaving-nothing-to-the-imagination rape scene, was to track down her rapists, seduce them (excuses for the actress to be naked again), and then torture and kill them in gruesome ways.

The most empowering thing I’ve ever heard.

Let’s get this straight. Let’s lay it out one more time. Rape is not a sexual act. Rape is not sex. Rape is not about sexuality or attraction. Rape is rape. Rape is about humiliating, degrading, and removing all power from the victim. I don’t care how you want to spin it, Cinetel Films in association with Anchor Bay Films or anyone else involved in the creation of and marketing of this film. This poster is about sex. This poster is about her ass and her bare back. So what if there’s encrusted blood and bruises covering her upper thighs and back from her TRAUMATIC RAPE? Look at that body!

This is reprehensible. This is sick. This goes beyond blurring the line between rape and sex–it smashes them together into one thing for your (the general public’s) enjoyment.

And the worst part of this whole thing? Countless people will see this poster and not blink an eye. Because these types of images are normal in our culture. Hell, they’re expected.

Update: Pajiba already has a brilliant takedown up. For more rage, click here.

4th of July Feel Good

July 4, 2010 § 3 Comments

Good news! (Notice that I’m so overjoyed I had to add a new category — “This Makes Me Happy.”) At Hudson High School in upstate New York, two senior boys were crowned prom king and queen.

Amazing. In the same year that Constance McMillen was sent to a fake prom and had to take legal action to defend her rights, something like this happens. Obviously this doesn’t negate all the fucked up shit that has happened and continues to happen to LGBTQ teens across America, but it’s certainly refreshing.

So I say congratulations to Charlie Ferrusi and Timmy Howard. And I hope you had a great time at the Most Important and Magical Night of Your Teenage Life (as the awesome Jamie at The Seventeen Magazine Project has coined it).

Sad, but True

June 27, 2010 § 2 Comments

What teens have to work with, then, are two wildly divergent messages… If you process this information through the average adolescent mental computer, you end up with a printout that reads something like this: Girls have to be hot. Girls who aren’t hot probably need breast implants. Once a girl is hot, she should be as close to naked as possible all the time. Guys should like it. Don’t have sex.

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy (a book I’m currently reading that I hope to review soon – unofficially)

On Shakespeare’s Ophelia

June 12, 2010 § 11 Comments

In my Shakespeare class, our final paper was on Shakespeare’s epic Hamlet and out of all the choices of topics we had to write about, I chose Ophelia. During our unit on Hamlet I found myself surprised over and over again by how intensely many people seemed to hate her. (And I don’t use the term hate lightly, I mean they despised her!) “The play would be the same without her!” “She doesn’t DO anything.” “She’s way too passive!” At one point, I ended up in a very impassioned debate outside of class against five other classmates. Guess who the one person that liked Ophelia was?

To be sure, Ophelia is a passive character, but for some reason that fact doesn’t cause me to loathe her. Weird.

I wrote this paper as a sort of defense, if you will. I think that Ophelia’s passivity stems from her environment and that the truly tragic thing about her is that she knows no other way to act. She is one of only two females drowning (forgive the pun–I’m tired) in an overpoweringly large cast of males. She has no support system that encourages her to act on her own and every man around her somehow feels the need to tell her how to behave. But I won’t lay out my thesis right here and now. You can click below to read the full paper.

I figure at least one reader must be a Shakespeare buff. Enjoy!

« Read the rest of this entry »

Films to Watch: 8

May 16, 2010 § 6 Comments

I just caught the trailer for the new film entitled 8: The Mormon Proposition and I was blown away. If a two minute and forty second trailer can bring out such a visceral reaction in me, imagine what the entire film can do! I remember when Prop 8 first passed, I was one of those people that was just in sort of a daze for a while, wondering how such blatant injustice and discrimination could have been allowed to occur… Watch the trailer below!

I looked into it, and there doesn’t seem to be a release date currently set. I think it played in a few film festivals, but when it will be available to the general public remains unclear. If anyone knows anything, please comment or feel free to contact me because I really really really want to see this.

More Hilarious Hate Mail!

April 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

More hate in the comments! Goody! I feel so popular.

The words “men” and “feminist” are an oxymoron.

There are males who are feminists, but they’re not men. They’re either losers who are just trying to get into your jeans by pretending to be feminists, and silly sods like you fall for it. Either that, or they’ve been so brow-beaten and emasculated by bitch women that they hate their own masculinity.

You hear that? Men who are foolish enough to believe in the silly notion of equality regardless of gender or sexuality are pansies. Also good to know: the numerous male bloggers that identify themselves as feminists are only pretending because they want to get at my ladybits.

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