Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This is a good time to remind everyone to read The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. It's an excellent parable about what happens when fundamentalists take control.

Tea Partiers Care More About Religion Than You.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Privilege of Absurdity

Scott Antran is an anthropologist, giving him a unique perspective on the Tea Party's utter unwillingness to compromise. Excellent article, especially if you too are baffled by their myopic focus.

Recent research into seemingly intractable conflicts indicates that, for better or worse, radical movements that have attempted revolutionary changes in society do truly act on what they believe to be their sacred values -- core moral principles that resist and often clash with rational calculations. Once locked into sacred values there is a denial of the validity of opposing positions no matter how logically or empirically well-founded. 

The Debt Ceiling and the Tea Party

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Can a Feminist Diet?

An excellent article about body politics and 'thin-privilege'.  Can the desire to be thin be removed from cultural pressure and body image? Or is dieting just another surrender to the dominant narrative of (male desired) attractiveness in our society?

Can a Feminist Diet?

Monday, June 27, 2011

STFU Tea Party Bigots (That Means You, Ms. Bachman)

I love this - I don't know who made it originally, but I found it on one of my favorite blogs, STFU Conservatives.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fear and Loathing and Sarah Palin.

Last election, I wrote the following about Sarah Palin.  I'm convinced that her narcissism will make her run again, and everything I wrote still stands in that case.

"What is it about Sarah Palin that inspires such rage in otherwise rational women? I turn into a red-faced, expletive-spewing demon when confronted with her name, much less her hateful voice. I can't stand Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck, either, but they don't make me as insane as Palin does. Her politics are diametrically opposed to mine, but plenty of Republicans believe the same stuff. She's a working mother, which should be a good thing. She...see? I can't even think of anything else to say about her that might be remotely construed as positive! I'm filled with the urge to type HATEFUL LYING BITCH instead!

I think it's the fact that women are expected to support her just because she has a vagina. Or that she's incapable of telling the truth or taking responsibility for anything. Or the fact that she's woefully uneducated or intellectually incurious. I don't think she's full-on stupid; in fact, she shows a malicious streak of wily manipulation. I think she's just completely uninterested in learning anything. Her education record tells quite a story - 5 colleges?? Really? Introspection is beyond her. In-depth analysis? Forget it. Her specialty is knee-jerk reactionism. She defines demagoguery in the worst sense.

When did it become a negative for a presidential candidate to be intelligent? When did "being one of the people" become the most important quality for the leader of the free world? I don't want my president to be "just another hockey mom", I want them to be smarter than me. Please, Sarah Palin - go away. Stay away. And leave the governing to responsible adults."

Another scary thought - Palin's supporters voted for her with no concept of her policies. And their votes count as much as yours do.

The GOP Hates Women.

Excellent round-up on Jezebel about Republican misogyny.

GOP: What War on Women?

It's hard to see how they can possibly deny their anti-women bent, especially when you consider their attack on Planned Parenthood.  Check out Irin Carmon's analysis of the cuts here.

I blame ignorant women like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman for feeding into this woman-on-woman hate.  Whatever happened to supporting all choices? Makes me feel all stabby.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Joy of Failure

I've been thinking a lot about failure recently. I struggle with blaming myself for everything, seeing every misstep as a failure, and subsequently suffering from a paralysis to try again.  Leaving my job triggered a lot of these negative thoughts, and I've been trying hard to work through them.

We recently had two guest speakers in class, Peter Popovich and Tom Wright, who spoke with us about failure and its blessings.  While they were mostly focused on the business aspects of success and failure, their talk came at a fortuitous time for me.  Two points really stood out for me.  I love the following quote, as I tend to confuse being a failure with failing.

Notice the difference between what happens when a man says to himself, 
“I have failed three times,” and what happens when he says, “I am a 
– S.I. Hayakawa 

The second point that Peter made was avoiding fear - of failure, of losing, of things not working out perfectly.  Replacing the word "fear" with curiosity is an interesting mental trick, and one that I will definitely try to use.  

They also recommended The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharpe, which discusses the inevitability of failure.  Again, this is something with which I really struggle.  I have such a hard time accepting any failure, however minor.  Small setbacks tend to send me into a tailspin, and I struggle against the temptation to label myself a failure.  

I wrote the above quote on a post-it note and stuck it to my mirror. It's my goal to see failure as an opportunity, not as the end of the world.  I didn't fail in leaving my job - I simply opened up a plethora of new opportunities.  

What does failure mean to you? Do you feel comfortable taking risks, even with the possibility of not succeeding?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Return to the Mat

David Swenson, Ashtanga teacher extraordinaire
I used to practice yoga almost every day. I attended weekend long workshops, which left me feeling like a stretchy, , sweaty noodle. I read everything I could find on David Swenson, John Friend, Bikram, and living the Yogi life.  I tried to meditate, but I really stunk at it. I owned a remarkable amount of yoga clothes made of organic bamboo fabrics.

But as of last Thursday, I hadn't done so much as a downward dog in almost 4 years. Why? It's complicated. What I loved about yoga, what originally drew me in, was the focus on the self. There's no competition or comparison, just you and your asanas. There's always work to be done on your form and perfection is (happily) unattainable. But I found that too many studios were encouraging a sort of clique-y environment, all about who had the cutest yoga rug and whose forward bend was the best. Mirrors in the studio are helpful for alignment, but aren't so great when you see everyone scanning and judging the group.

I struggled with an eating disorder for almost 15 years, and this sort of scrutiny was too much for me. I became disenchanted with yoga, as I realized that it was becoming unhealthy for me to engage in the body competition.  I also became frustrated with individuals proclaiming themselves as "gurus" and cultivating a rabid (and exclusive) following. That wasn't what yoga meant to me, so I quit.

Was quitting the best way? No, of course not. I could have searched for other studios or focused on practicing at home - but it felt like the best solution at the time.

I've missed practicing over the years, but was too damn stubborn to go back - until my Creativity and Innovation grad school class met at a studio last week. I can't tell you how good it felt to stretch my body and use forgotten muscles. I slept better that night than I had in a long time and I'm looking forward to going back.  What changed? Me, I guess. I'm in a better place mentally than I was 4 years ago. I'm less concerned by the judgement of others, and less inclined to participate in the competition.  Maybe I'll even succeed at meditation this time around...

For anyone looking to learn more about yoga, check out the following websites.
Ashtanga Basics

The Amazing John Friend

More on the Yogi Lifestyle

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

God is Not a Christian

I recently read the most amazing article by 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  He makes two main points about religion. One, religion and faith are primarily determined by the accident of birthplace.  If you're born in India, you're a Hindu. If you're born in the southern region of the US, you're a Southern Baptist.  This is one of the main issues I've had with organized religion - being born into a religion doesn't mean that that particular religion is somehow more valid than another. I believe every religion is equally 'correct', despite which higher power you pray to.

Second, he cautions against the dangers of proselytization. I've always struggled with Christian missions and the implied belief that becoming a Christian will make someone's life better.  Tutu eloquently argues that we need to expand our views on God, to accept a multitude of truths, and to respect the views of others.

God is Not a Christian

What are your thoughts? Christian missions have done amazing humanitarian work, but is it moral to convert the views of others?

Friday, June 3, 2011

I May Crochet This On a Pillow...

I recently attended the wedding of a good friend in small town Louisiana.  It was a very traditional, very Southern affair - except her wedding reading.  She used a quote from the movie Frida, which shocked the older crowd (most people thought the reader was drunk), but that I found absolutely perfect.

"I don’t believe in marriage. No, I really don’t. Let me be clear about that.

I think at worst it’s a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise of tradition and conservative religious nonsense.

At best, it’s a happy delusion. These two people, who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they are about to make each other.

But, when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don’t think it’s conservative or delusional. I think it’s radical and courageous…and very romantic."

This sums up my feelings on marriage better than any traditional wedding reading (First Corinthians, anyone?).  I don't particularly believe in marriage.  In my opinion, too many people get married for the wrong reasons. Personally, I got married the first time because that was the next step - we'd dated all through college, and getting married was just what you did.  Breaking up would have been messy and difficult, and inertia is a powerful force.  I swore I would never get married again.  When you think about it, marriage really doesn't make a lot of sense anymore.  You can live together, open joint accounts, have kids, all without a formal paper. It's old-fashioned and frankly impractical in our society today.

But then I fell in love. And got married. I don't believe in marriage in general, but I do believe in my  marriage.  It's illogical and I can't explain this lapse in rationality on my part, other than to say that it feels vaguely radical to jump in with both feet. To throw away my cynicism. To be optimistic, even in the face of odds.  And to believe in my husband.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Clarification is Sometimes Necessary

So my husband pointed out that I needed to clarify that I sometimes refer to myself as a "bad feminist" in the Michael Jackson/80s sense - I'm so good, I'm bad :)

It's no secret that I really struggle with society's expectations - women should do this, women should do that - but I also have to remember that my feminism roots are what give me the freedom to choose my own path.

I shall now go listen to some MJ...

Feminism in Comic Form

When exactly did feminism become a bad word? Was it Rush Limbaugh and his 'femi-nazi' characterization of intelligent women? Or did the younger generation shy away from second wave feminism? (Ironically, this same generation was able to make this choice due to the activism of earlier feminists).  I've always proudly called myself a feminist and have never seen it as a pejorative term, but know many (educated, successful, intelligent) women who would never self-identify as feminists.

I found this comic on the blog Fudge This Sugar, which has great images but even better discussions.  I can't tell you how many times I've had this exact conversation with people. Be sure to read the comments for a fascinating discussion about gender identity.

Yep, You're a Feminist

What do you think? Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The End is Near (and no, I don't mean the stupid Rapture)

(Although there's no chance that I'd be raptured anyway. Plus all the remotely interesting people would be left behind.)

No, I mean the end of my paid employment at the Humane Society.  It's been amazing and frustrating and heartbreaking and joyful all at the same time.  I've never had such an emotional connection to a job before, which meant that I took all of those emotions home with me.  I would get home and be unable to function some nights due to exhaustion, not to mention the nights that I came home with starvation cases or bottle-feeding puppies.  Other nights, I'd be just giddy with excitement after a day of adoptions.  But the vast majority of nights I came home to an empty house. 

David travels every week and I worked every weekend (Wednesday - Sunday). We'd easily go weeks - sometimes a month or more - without spending a day together.  We might get a Friday or Saturday night, but he leaves on Sundays and I have grad school during the week at night.  I don't know about you, but I need more time with my partner than that. We put up with the schedule for almost a year, but it finally became too much.  I love my job and I love working, but I love my husband more.

My last day is Friday, June 3rd.  When I wake up on Monday morning, I have nothing to do.  That's going to be tough - how do I fill my days? How do I maintain a sense of purpose? (And don't say laundry).  I have a ton of volunteer options.  I think it's going to be a matter of setting a schedule for myself...or I'll get sucked into the Bravo tv marathon vortex.

How much time do you spend with your significant other? Do you wish you had more time, or more quality time?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Women in the Special Forces

File-Lara_Croft_film.jpgAnna Holmes, a regular (and bad-ass) contributor to feminist blog Jezebel, wrote an amazing op-ed in the Washington Post today.  She argues that women should be allowed to participate in the Special Forces, despite the historical ban on women in combat.  Our society celebrates female action heroes, so long as they're hyper-sexualized (see: Lara Croft), yet we maintain a certain level of squeamishness when it comes to women fighting in reality.  Holmes points out that women are not asking for special treatment, but simply the opportunity to train and  to be part of these elite groups.  There is no call for some sort of affirmative action, just equal opportunity.

Here's the article - a fantastic example of feminism at work.

Joining the Ranks

A Funny for your Friday

This has absolutely nothing to do with feminism, but it haz a dog. Try to keep from laughing out loud...

Hyperbole and a Half: Wild Animal (The Simple Dog Goes for a Joy Ride)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Quit My Job Today.

So...I submitted my resignation today. I'm officially a 'stay-at-home-wife', which is a title that I never thought I'd have. Am I excited about my decision? Yes and no. It's bittersweet - I've always worked, and we assume identities according to our work here in the U.S. But I left to be with my husband, which is more important than a job.

Would I feel this way if I hadn't been divorced earlier? Would I feel this way if I made the larger paycheck?

I don't know. Right now, I feel as if I have abandoned my feminist roots - but feminism is about making an independent choice, which is what I'm doing. That doesn't make it any easier.

This blog is about examining choices - about parenthood, careers, feminism, and marriage. About the difficult challenges facing women today, and about the difficult judgment facing every one of those choices.

Join me in the discussion.