Ode to Reginka

June 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

Image: Regina Spektor, smiling broadly.

Friends: Regina Spektor! She is just so delightful! And her music is like when you wake up slicked in sweat on a hot summer morning in your stuffy, un-air-conditioned, fourth floor walk-up apartment and open the window and a cold rush of breeze floods in and you feel alive again. Also, she played a benefit concert for Planned Parenthood. Hearts.

Regina’s music is weird. Seriously, it is strange. She is well-known for her odd and original sound play; she often exaggerates her glottal stop, slurs her words, and switches rapidly between a near-whisper and loudly belted notes. This matters because, as has been said about Lady Gaga, I think a woman’s willingness to be strange — and shamelessly so — is a profoundly feminist act in a culture that prefers its ladies to act like robots.

I also have a feminist (and aesthetic) appreciation for Regina’s musical whimsy. Her work has a strong trend of poking fun at sex, love, and gendered interactions. Below, a selection and explanation of my favorite Spektor lyrics.

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Calling All Crows

May 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

My friend (and frequent commenter) Dava passed along this awesome music video, a promotion for the human rights organization Calling All Crows.

The organization was founded by Chad Stokes Urmston, a musician, and Sybil Gallagher, a tour manager, as a social action and advocacy project of the Boston-based band State Radio. Urmston previously earned a place in my heart for his contributions to Dispatch, a delightful and experimental folk rock band that produced one of my favorite songs of all time. His latest venture with his current band is absolutely inspiring:

During their sold out, 25-city tour this past February, the band performed service projects in every town they visited, from serving lunch at a homeless shelter in Houston to building a community garden at an inner city elementary school in Washington, D.C. Calling All Crows…is committed to continuing the group’s socio-political dialogue once the music ends and the lights come up. In less than a year, State Radio and their fans have amassed over 1,800 hours of community service through projects that have local, national, and global impact.

The group sent their “good friend and Knights of Bostonia director Andrew Mudge to South Africa, India, Brazil and lastly, New York City to capture the power and perseverance of women around the globe.”

The music video really is wonderful. I love the overall visual style and, in particular, the dancing bit at the end. Check it out:

Let’s Talk About Boys

April 10, 2010 § 4 Comments

I love feminist guys. Seriously. I love them; I crush on them; I hang out with them. (Phoebe crushes too.)

Men’s relationship with feminism is, obviously and necessarily, complex. As such, I know a lot of guys who have considerable anxiety about associating themselves with feminism. Once they get past the “ew, feminism is gross and radical” phase — as we all must get past — they have to deal with issues of appropriation and marginalization. I have to negotiate similar boundaries when learning and writing about anti-racism, queer rights, disability… the list goes on. None of us are perfectly qualified to speak about everything. This is the beauty of being an ally.

So boys, do not fear! You too can be a part of the sizeable cohort of male feminists who get it. Some of my personal favorites:

  • Joel of Citizen Obie. Okay, he’s one of my real-life friends, so maybe I’m biased. But his blogging work does a wonderful job linking feminist issues with other political struggles, like environmental and racial justice. Not to mention, he works for the awesome Hard-Hatted Women.
  • Jay Smooth of Ill Doctrine, who is also loved by Phoebs.
  • Michael Kimmel, professor and author of many books on masculinity including the brilliant Guyland. After I read it, I sent him an email full of praise, and he responded! Within twelve hours! Isn’t it wonderful when your feminist crushes respond?

      Thank you so much for your message. Messages like yours, from strong and uncompromising feminist women, are what give me hope that Guyland can be successfully resisted, and that young men can find support and friendship outside it. Women are constantly being advised to give up their feminism — if they want to get a date, if they want to get a job, if they want to get married, whatever. And so it is particularly inspiring for me to hear from women who will not give that up!

  • My dad.

Pick up your ax! For patriarchy-smashin’, of course.

Seriously Crushworthy: Jay Smooth

April 9, 2010 § 1 Comment

A lot of you are probably already familiar with Jay Smooth (Feministing links to him all the time), but in case you’re not, just let me say… He is incredibly, ridiculously, undeniably awesome and, as you can definitely tell from the title, I have a huge crush on him. He does web videos at Illdoctrine on topics such as pop culture, current events, and music. Anyway, his most recent video is one on Sarah Palin’s new show on Fox:

Interesting, no?

For more Jay Smooth, check out his youtube channel or his twitter.

More Thoughts on Christina Hendricks

March 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

(She’s still on my mind from earlier this week…)

Here are some things that I love about Christina Hendricks: She is a razor-sharp actress; her character Joan is deliciously complex, a tangle of contradictions, the kind of woman you’d be terrified of but simultaneously want to be. She is very beautiful. She knows what’s what about rape; here are her comments on Joan’s rape by her fiance:

“What’s astounding is when people say things like, ‘Well, you know that episode where Joan sort of got raped?’ Or they say rape and use quotation marks with their fingers,” says Hendricks. “I’m like, ‘What is that you are doing? Joan got raped!’ It illustrates how similar people are today, because we’re still questioning whether it’s a rape. It’s almost like, ‘Why didn’t you just say bad date?’ ”

I absolutely love this. It is wonderful that actors are allowed to talk about rape in their interviews, allowed to condemn it, and that such comments go to print without an editor’s fear of “ruining the mood” of the piece.

Here are some things that I dislike, not about Christina, but about the way she’s talked about: Every fucking article in every fucking publication harps on her body. For example, this above-quoted, perfectly normal, perfectly informative New York Magazine article: Dangerous Curves. Even this article — again from NY Mag — all about Christina’s annoyance over all the body talk, is titled Woman of the Hourglass.

Other articles, while not explicitly and entirely about Christina’s body, are peppered with such references. See: “Mad Men star Christina Hendricks is the sexiest woman on TV today—and with her hourglass curves, she’s changing Hollywood’s skewed views of females. Meet the whip-smart, funny (and, yes, va-va-voom) charmer who’s a throwback to the days of Marilyn Monroe.” Or: “Christina, on the set of the award-winning Mad Men, proves her character, Joan Holloway, is the curvy queen bee of the office secretarial pool.”

Paraphrase: “Christina Hendricks is a lady who is an actress and who we think is smokin’ hot and SHE HAS CURVES. HER BODY IS CURVY. LOOK AT HER BOOBS. CHECK OUT THEM HIPS. CURVY CURVY BRAVE CURVY LADY.”

This obsession is outrageously demeaning. It suggests that her talent as an actor is corollary to — or validated by — the shape of her body. Women are more than a collection of body parts, on display for consumption.

For her part, though, Christina isn’t turning a blind eye to this insulting chatter: “It kind of hurt my feelings at first. Anytime someone talks about your figure constantly, you get nervous, you get really self-conscious. I was working my butt off on the show, and then all anyone was talking about was my body!”

Quotable Gabby

March 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Cherry on top of the ice cream sundae that is all the things I love about Gabby Sidibe…

“If fashion were porn, this dress would be the money shot.”Oscar nominee and beautiful person Gabourey Sidibe

THESE LADIES

February 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

ARE HOT.

Because their little ditty encompasses pro-life, anti-bullshittery sentiments. And because, well, they’re raging grandmas, and that is always hot. So sit back, relax, and let these ladies’ voices TAKE YOU HIGHER.

On a serious note, though, it is fucked up that the Super Bowl will be airing anti-choice ads from that stuuuuuupppidd right-wing group Focus on the Family. Whack. Although, the Super Bowl ads don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to equality…

It’s just sad that people would get outraged at Janet Jackson’s publicity-stunt nip slip, yet be okay with millions of children (and adults!) being taught an anti-choice message. Priorities?!?!

Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

January 27, 2010 § 1 Comment

Goodbye Howard Zinn, noted historian, progressive prophet, activist and status quo rebel soldier.

Lefty history classes will miss you. Thanks for your many contributions to this world.

Go Read This

January 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

When Sex is Normal, Normal People Will Have Sex, by the ever-awesome Jaclyn Friedman — one of my most passionate feminist crushes.

Think about tattoos. It used to be that a tattoo meant that you were low-class and possibly dangerous. Part of a fringe element. Nowadays, over 35% of Americans age 18-40 have at least one tattoo. You can’t write off people because they have a tattoo anymore — there are just too many people involved. It’s too normal.

What if public acknowledgments of sexuality became like tattoos? What if, due to Facebook and Twitter and blogs and all the other ways we have to communicate with each other online, and the number of young people posting personal things about themselves through these media — what if it became normal for there to be some publicly available information about a person’s current or former sex life? What if too many people were in that situation for it to mean anything about your authority, or anything about your character at all? What if kids knew, via Google or whatever comes after Google, that their teachers — heck, their parents — are or have been sexual beings, and that there’s nothing wrong with that? What if the web made sexuality normal?

This is an issue I think about a lot. I’ve skirted the topic of my own sexuality here on Women’s Glib, for many reasons. Though I don’t print my last name or my school, many of my friends and acquaintances — people who know me already — read this blog, and anyone who is friends with me on Facebook knows I’m the author of many posts here. I don’t want just anyone knowing details that might shame me in another context.

And part of it is exactly what Jaclyn describes — I don’t want to limit my professional opportunities now or later in life. Talking explicitly and personally about sex, unfortunately, is unprofessional.

Shira’s New Blog

January 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’m a little late on this, but our own Shira has launched a new blog devoted to Jewish feminism: from the rib? (Is that a great blog name or what? Context here.)

From the blog’s About page:

WHAT? A blog written by a Jewish feminist and it is for everyone to explore what it means for two identities to collide and progress. Topics will range from exploring biblical inequalities/women’s untold stories to the current injustices Jewish women face to the successes Jewish women have had in obtaining equal opportunities across denominations to the complexities and ambiguity surrounding gender roles in Judaism. I know – it’s a lot, but it’s because we have a lot to change.

WHERE? from the rib? resides here on WordPress, but should also inspire dialogue on the streets, in synagogue, during seders, at the Shabbat table, in school, at work, and wherever opinions can be transformed into action on behalf of Jewish women (which translates to bettering Judaism as a whole).

WHEN? I will explore the lives of Jewish women past and present, biblical and historical.

Head over there and show her some love.

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