Is Net Neutrality a Feminist Issue?

August 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

by ADI

You may have heard that Google and Verizon have released a “policy statement” about the future of the Internet, urging people to accept the creation of new, “differentiated” services (they suggest health care monitoring, gaming and entertainment services, and advanced educational options) for which they would be charged more than traditional Internet access prices. It’s been generating controversy because it may violate what’s known as “network neutrality,” a commitment to delivering all Internet content for the same price and at the same speed. But what does this mean for feminists?

For me, this is worrying from a purely self-oriented standpoint: I don’t want to end up paying more to access certain parts of the Internet. For lots of people, however, this wouldn’t be an extra inconvenience, but rather a major barrier to accessing parts of the Internet. Right now, this isn’t likely to affect us much, but imagine that the next major Internet breakthrough–the next Wikipedia, the next health care system, the next Twitter—gets put on the “premium” Internet and you have something of an idea where this might be going.

So as a feminist and generally concerned person, I’m worried about what this means to people for whom the Internet is already an unaffordable or unavailable luxury. I definitely have problems with the effects that my technology has on others, from the way Apple products generate waste to the exploitatively-mined rare metals in most electronics. However, cell phones and the Internet have also been great levelers. Cell phones have given people in rural areas the ability to connect with the world, improving their work and their lives (take, for example, this remote control device for farmers). And the Internet has given people a way to get free online courses from schools like MIT, read articles about virtually anything, and make their voices heard on blogs like this.

At the same time, the Internet has also become as much a necessity as the telephone, making things even more difficult for the 34% of Americans who don’t have broadband Internet, or the roughly 25-30% who have no home Internet access at all. Finding a job, registering your children for school, or even keeping in touch with relatives becomes more and more difficult as a steady Internet connection becomes taken for granted.

Many of these people already rely on schools, libraries and other public places to access basic services like email or job boards; are these places going to be able to pay extra to get whatever premium services are offered through Verizon? It might not matter if, as Verizon and Google say, they’re only putting a few high-content video streaming services up on a for-pay basis, but many things, including those job boards and email systems, can be “differentiated” from the normal Internet, and the more barriers get put up between poor communities and job, education, or health care opportunities, the more we’re moving into a system where class mobility is a pleasant fiction.


The Revolution will not be produced by Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, or Paramount Pictures.

August 15, 2010 § 4 Comments


The last couple of posts have been about women in film (and the occaisonal woman who directs/shoots/produces films). If I am lucky, I will be one of those women in front of the camera. If I am even luckier, I’ll actually enjoy the project that I’m shooting.

That’s the challenge of being a woman in the performing arts field, who is also a feminist. So much of the available jobs in TV/film/commercials are total and complete crap. Because plays are so expensive to produce (a three-person play with one set will cost at least six figures to produce in New York), casts are shrinking, and so are, you guessed it, roles for women.

One of our first assignments in our Acting For The Camera class was to talk about our classmates’ “types”. My professor was straightforward about what we would be most likely to be cast as [Evidently, I’m a quirky “character” type, who would be good in Meg-Ryan type roles]. Frankly, I don’t always appreciate it when people tell me, as a 20-year-old student, what I’ll likely be doing, based on my looks, for the majority of my career. And this year, the projects I filmed included:

-A wheelchair bound wife, having difficulty handling her disability.
-A bobby-soxer in the Fifties.
-A vagabond, living with a collective of people out of the bed of a pickup truck.
-A German prostitute.
-A cancer patient who makes a suicide pact with another cancer patient

Ie, things not in my supposed “type”.

At my first college, I saw talk of “types” totally destroy my classmates, who were convinced that they would not be able to do anything other than what another classmate or professor suggested. There is nothing more tragic in my mind than a bunch of 18-year-old college students that have been convinced that they cannot do anything other than one specific “type”.

As I think about my post-graduate opportunities, I’m leaning more towards jobs not directly related to performing arts, but ones where I could use some of my strengths that I’ve learned as an actor. Why? Because I would have more freedom than having to go on audition after audition, only to be told that I’m “not right for the job” because I am short/have red hair/do not look like Megan Fox.

One of the best things that I learned at my previous college was to make my own work, rather than waiting for good work to come my way. That has to be the future for film, television, and theatre if we want to see things other than Two and a Half Men and Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

I don’t want to be in the position to have to take the horribly sexist commercial/sitcom/film gig because that is the only work available for me. I’d rather break out, and set my own rules, than be stuck having to follow the rules of an industry that occasionally produces brilliant work, but is so stuck in a mentality of “if it doesn’t make money, it will fail” that they keep on doing the same thing, with the same shitty stereotypes, over and over again.

Plus, why would I want to work in the same industry that still employs Charlie Sheen?

Meta: In which the internet is sharp on both sides

August 15, 2010 § 3 Comments


Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Zeilinger, founder and editor of The F-Bomb. We talked of the teenage girls; we drank of the caffeinated beverages. It was bliss, basically.

I was reminded again of how important human interaction is to my feminism. Because this business can be lonely! Thinking about sexual violence, for example, while immensely important and rewarding, is actually not the most relaxing activity. In a culture where acts of rape, assault, and harassment are still not taken seriously, talking about them can be isolating — especially on the internet. In our dark rooms with our hunched shoulders and our bright little boxes, we are plugged in but we are also deeply disconnected.

So here is where I explain the title of this post: The internet is a sword. Since I am feeling poetic, it is probably laden with rubies and polished within an inch of its life. And like most swords, it has two edges. One side? Is amazing. It lets me read the words of ridiculously smart people who I’ve never met, who live so far away. And it lets me write words back! And people read them! And validate my ramblings!

But the other side is darker. It leaves me tired and sad, alone with my bright box and no one to hug. The sense of power that allows me to write about a deeply upsetting experience is the same sense of power that allows a commenter to joke about raping me. It’s the same sense of power that creates nauseating “blogwars.” Full or partial anonymity can be delicious, but it can also be a poison.

I love me some Internet Feminism. But I don’t want my whole life to be online, and I don’t want to feel as though every waking moment must be devoted to Very Important Lady-Thinking. Because — this is a secret, but I am willing to share it with you — it is okay, really, to not think about feminism all the time.

Internet Feminism is a mighty sword, but it’s not the only weapon we’ve got. Sometimes coffee and conversation can be just as powerful.

Dear FactCheckMe,

August 7, 2010 § 13 Comments


In regards to your transphobic, sexist, anti-feminist blog,

Your feminism is a feminism that isn’t at all… feminist. Whether or not you are born male or female, whether or not you identify with your socially cissed-gender, having women parts does not at all make you a woman. Women are more than parts, having parts doesn’t make you a woman, it’s something much deeper than only an individual can express.

Class Politics According to Trans Activists: The Fallacy of Cis-Privilege. if i had a candy bar, and you wanted it, i would not have “candy-bar privilege”. if i had a nice dog and you wanted a nice dog like mine, i would not have “dog privilege.” you cant just say that any old goddamn thing i have that you want is a privilege. privilege means that there is *power* there, and girls and women dont possess any kind of gender-based power. exactly the opposite.

Cis-privilege is a privilege is different from your perspective, there is no dog, there is just a difference between the man and woman. The fact that the woman has a dog and the man doesn’t shows sexist beliefs. Feminism isn’t at all about a gender being greater than another gender, it’s about equality, diversity, social unity despite our physical differences. This picture doesn’t represent any clear depiction of cis-privilege, as it is an attack on the trans community! In a more realistic representation if the women had a dog, but the man wasn’t allowed to have one, that would be cis-privilege.

while the T’s in GLBT have all the political power and protection that comes from co-opting the GLB movement. crazy + powerful = “eccentric,” doncha know! and “eccentric” is f-u-n, which is about all it takes to be wrapped in the teeny-tiny bosom of the twenty-something fun-fems. without regard, apparently, for the fact that they are spending precious feminist resources on men, and mens problems.

Feminism respects gender identity, which you have just denounced by not calling them the appropriate gender. There is not any “waste on resources” for men’s problems, we embrace that men and women both suffer under our masculine patriarchal society, and thus needs resources to embrace.

(born-women are privileged over men because we arent seen as sexual predators, and men are? boo-******* hoo) about the fact that there are others out there who share the inexplicable desire to amputate healthy body parts, in order for their bodies to conform to “the way they’ve always seen themselves” but *those* people are seen as mentally ill.

You have a keen disrespect to the trans community. A feminist movement is being destroyed by your prejudices against fellow human beings.

I am hopeful that your prejudice, radical “feminism,” and transphobic beliefs are merely a stunt to gain attention from bigots like yourself. So many people, cis-gender and transgender alike, are in disapproval to a mockery of feminism that has replaced the goals of feminism with regressive sexist views.

from the rib?: On Interviews and Intersection

July 4, 2010 § 2 Comments

Over at from the rib?, our own Shira has been posting fantastic excerpts of her Keystone project — a semester-long independent project that every senior at our high school had to complete. She interviewed Jewish women from New York City between the ages of 5 and 95 to explore the powerful intersection between Judaism and feminism.

Often we think of feminism in splintered sectors: Jewish feminism, conservative feminism, Marxist feminism, eco-feminism, pro-sex feminism, queer feminism…the list goes on. The popularity of feminist blogs can help to support this way of thinking, since some blogs make use of a targeted niche. Here at Women’s Glib, for example, we assert ourselves as a blog for young feminists, though the ideas we cover often aren’t specific to teenage women. As bloggers and writers, we tend to focus on what we know because it’s familiar, it’s safer, it’s more respectful to others’ experiences. (That’s not to say we shouldn’t think or write about oppression issues that don’t directly affect us; it’s only to say that often it’s best to read and interact with those who have experienced such oppressions firsthand.)

Shira’s project is a reminder of the importance of pluralism: the idea that within one group (for example, Jewish women), it is natural and desirable to have “numerous, distinct” individual identities represented. Lucille Weisfuse, Shira’s 88-year-old grandmother, is a conservative white Jew from Brooklyn. She says of feminism: “I don’t feel in this day and age -– women have accomplished so much –- I don’t feel it’s important. Women can get any kind of job they want today. I think we’ve made so much progress that we don’t have to work for feminism so much. There are so many other causes.” On the other hand, Sophia Henriquez, a 16-year-old mixed-race and mixed-religion Reform Jew, identifies strongly with feminism. “It’s instinct. It’s what my mom taught me.”

Our power as feminists comes from striking an organic balance between individual experience and shared identity. We can accomplish the most by working together. Just as two people can lift more weight than just one, feminism works best when groups of people ally with one another to achieve a common goal. This is the concept of emergence, the idea that a whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Shira’s work has also reminded me of the power of personal narratives. My favorite aspect of feminism is that it encourages us to speak, to tell our stories, assert our truths, vibrantly, loudly and without shame. In a culture that’s hell-bent on silencing women, there is perhaps nothing more instinctively powerful, more potent and visceral than freeing our minds from that screaming silence and allowing words to spill from our bodies. This is feminist, and it is biblical, too: Jewish history is built on stories passed from one person to another, through times of immense struggle. When we speak about what has happened to us, we can take solace in our shared experience.

Explore the archive of Shira’s Keystone-related posts, and keep checking from the rib? for more interviews.

Review: Click

June 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists edited by Courtney E. Martin & J. Courtney Sullivan


Click is an anthology edited by two Courtneys: one of my all-time feminist crushes, Courtney E. Martin, and J. Courtney Sullivan, who describes the premise as follows:

It goes way back to this Jane O’Reilly essay in the first issue of Ms. Magazine called “The Housewife’s Moment of Truth.” That essay is where the whole idea of a click moment took form. O’Reilly talks about women in their day-to-day lives going along and then suddenly, click, they realize that sexism surrounds them all the time. I was working on “Commencement,” and one of the characters educates another about feminism, and I was trying to think — why do we call ourselves feminists, if we do? I sent a mass email to a bunch of young feminists. Someone hit “reply all” and wrote what their feminist click was. And then everyone else started replying to all. It was amazing because the responses were so varied. Courtney Martin then said, “This would make a good book.”

I enjoyed this book. Nearly all of the narratives in this anthology are fresh and interesting, but as a collection, there’s something awry. What’s confusing is that hardly any of these talented writers actually had a “click” moment. The majority don’t describe a lone incident that immediately had them up in arms against patriarchy; instead, their essays analyze the series of events, the internal process of coming to feminism, usually rejecting it at first but eventually, over time, discovering a strong personal connection to it.

To be honest, I find the idea of the click to be regressive. It just doesn’t do justice to the many intersecting, interwoven, and complex feminisms that exist in the real world. After all, feminism is not a light that turns on or off. People experience feminism not as a binary — something you are or aren’t — but as a broad spectrum with millions of possible channels for exploration and self-discovery. The click theory propagates the iffy idea that once you’re a feminist, that’s it. In reality — in my experience, at least — one’s feminism is challenged and strengthened and revised over a lifetime.

So I have some issues with the framing of this anthology, but the substance of the book is excellent. The delightfully diverse array of personal essays are representative of the many routes that people traverse to find feminism. What’s more, Click encourages the reader to delve into the layers of our own feminist awakening, to consider: Where am I, and what (or who) got me here?

With each essay, the contributors open their arms and invite the reader into their circle, their club of supportive, hilarious, and insightful feminist warriors. I, for one, can’t wait to find my place at this amazing table.

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.

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