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Book Review: Wolfpack by Abby Wambach

Showing posts with label feminism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label feminism. Show all posts

04 February 2020

Abrams, Rapinoe, and Bird, oh my!

Yup...The fabulous Stacey Abrams, along with badass couple Megan Rapinoe & Sue Bird join HBO's THE SHOP: UNINTERRUPTED to chat about the state of the world. Also joining the conversation is EGOT Whoopi Goldberg, Malcolm Jenkins, And Hasan Minhaj.

By the look of the trailer this is gonna be a great conversation. Check it out on Friday, February 7 (9:30-10:00 p.m. ET/PT) or later on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.
 

30 September 2019

Real Sports: On the Basis of Sex: Girls' Baseball


I needed to log into HBO GO to catch an episode of Real Sports that I missed about girls and baseball.

The topic is fascinating for me. I played softball in high school and still play in a league - of course, Chicago 16" softball though. But as you know, I love baseball too. I did play Little League and never felt comfortable there.

But you need to watch this episode. It goes through the history of Maria Pepe who sued Little League USA for the right to play baseball. They fought her for 2 years. And after she won, Little League started softball.

I love both sports. And it breaks my heart each time I reflect on softball's role in discrimination against girls and women.

It infuriates me to watch the clip of men giving bullshit excuses why girls shouldn't play baseball including:
  • Dental injuries will make girls less attractive
  • Getting hit in the chest will lead to breast cancer (isn't it FASCINATING how people who don't want women to do something will find a way to link it to breast cancer?)  
  • No one wants a girl to be hurt by a boy (I was on La Vida Baseball a few weeks again and we were discussing women playing in men's leagues. Another panelist brought up this issue as to why he couldn't support women playing in men's leagues.)
  • Some fathers didn't want boys to tag their daughters on the butt or chest. Because apparently everything is sexual, especially at the Little League age. Good lessons there, dads!
It's a great segment and will lead to some great conversations.  Watch the trailer below then log into your HBO account!




13 May 2019

Book Review: Everything Grows by Aimee Herman

A lot of books show up at my home that go unread - to be given away or on the never-ending TBR pile. Thankfully something about Everything Grows urged me to read it and now. And that is exactly what this books does to your heart - it plants into your heart and tears it apart as it blossoms.

Aimee Herman gives us the tale of Eleanor, a teen in 1993 (This GenXer is still floored each time she reads a book that is nostalgic for her own high school days and LOVES it. Even if it is hard to read "historical fiction" for that time.) whose bully has recently taken his own life just months after her mom attempted to do the same. At the prompting for her English teacher, Eleanor journals her way through the months after the bully's death, exploring not just their relationship, but also her relationship with her mother, and most importantly herself.

There are definitely places in this book where I felt it was a bit unrealistic, but it works in the end. It all works. 1993 was a huge year for me. I am the same age as Eleanor's sister, who struggles through her first year of college. Every step along Eleanor's journey was deeply felt due to both superb writing, but also personal flashbacks.

I am not sure how this would go over with someone who has survived their own attempt to take their lives, so please consult someone. I do know that this book is full of hope as Eleanor wrestles with what suicide means - is it giving up? Is it giving in? Why? Why not? This book is also about queer youth, as signaled by the rainbow button on the cover. According to the Trevor Project "suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24 and LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth." From everything I know of LGB youth and young adults, I would like to think this book is a welcome addition to their lives as it is affirming not just for one's identity, but for the really fucked up ways we all stumble through figuring out that identity.

As a parent, I appreciated the insight into the teen mind. As I get older, I lose the finer touch of my memories. Aimee Herman reminded me of all the drama that happens in our minds and hearts. And why sometimes the best thing a parent can do it simply say, "I love you. I accept you." and the shut the fuck up.

I was going to give this to a parent who spotted me reading it at soccer, but I think I'm going to walk this over to our Gender and Sexuality Center over my lunch break.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

20 April 2019

Book Review: Wolfpack by Abby Wambach

https://www.facebook.com/support.womens.sports/photos/rpp.138406009565377/2046455138760445/?type=3&theater

Less than a year ago, Abby Wambach took the stage at Barnard's commencement and gave a speech that shook many, including myself, to the core. Her speech went viral and I made the above image in order to share the highlights of her speech. Earlier this month Abby released the speech in book form.

Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game is short (less than 100 pages) but is much more than just her speech. You get a peek into how the speech came together and why she said everything. And because the book is short and is an expanded speech, it moves quickly. I feel that it moves with the same ferocity that Abby use to move down a soccer field. And you might find yourself cheering as she takes you through the story.

Abby has always been one of my favorite players. The way she ran amok on the pitch was exactly the way I felt I played sports. Never caring how you looked and giving it your all. Leaving it all on the field. When she retired from soccer, international and US soccer were looking for their next leaders. I was sure that the way Abby talked about gender issues that she would head off to an Ivy League school, get her MBA, and come back to run US Soccer. I'm still hoping that will happen one day. US Soccer needs her fire and someone to give attention to the girls program. But after retiring from soccer, Abby appeared to struggle with reentry into ordinary life. Her arrest for driving while under the influence was her public low-point. In her memoir, Forward, she is honest with her struggles with addiction and other ghosts in her life. Perhaps speaking her truth allowed her to exorcise the demons and restart her life. She has even started her own leadership training program, Wolfpack Endeavor.

I finished the book the same day I received it (Monday) and immediately assigned it to my 15-year-old-soccer-playing daughter.  Now I did this while she was on Spring Break and needed to finish a research paper. "It's less than a 100 pages, it reads quickly, and you will have it done by Friday." She had it done by Thursday.

If you are burned out on leadership or inspirational books, I strongly suggest you pick up "Wolfpack." Not only is it a quick read, but it distills so much of what great leadership looks like without fluff. Is that ain't quintessential Abby Wambach, I don't know what else it is. There are citations, there are studies quoted, but Abby gets right to the point and moves on. Us powerful majestic goddesses do not have time to read 300 pages of why we need to have demand the fucking ball. So get yourself a copy and maybe even one for your BFF, daughter, or goddess-in-training.

Please purchase your own copy of Wolfpack from Powells or Indiebound and support Viva la Feminista.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from a publicist.  

16 October 2017

Book Review: Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch: 30 Daring Designs to Celebrate Strong Women

www.runningpress.com/book/feminist-icon-cross-stitch/anna-fleiss/

As the days get shorter and the air gets crisper a lot of us start to move into homebody mode. Part of this for me usually means getting crafty. And that is why I was excited to get a copy of Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch: 30 Daring Designs to Celebrate Strong Women by Anna Fleiss & Lauren Mancuso.

The patterns are pretty easy, so if you have never done cross-stitch before, most of these are totally doable. And you can choose from bad ass ladies such as Frida, as seen on the cover, and Sojourner Truth, Billie Jean King, and Simone de Beauvoir. Each pattern comes with a quick bio of each icon too! So you're learning something while taking some self-care time to craft.

If you are new to cross stitch you might wonder, what do I do with them when I'm done? OMG! You can keep it simple and put them in a frame. Or you can get frames that are ornaments to hang on your Christmas or Yule tree. You can get hand towels with cross stitch fabric included so you can hang Cleopatra from your oven. The possibilities are endless. There are even patterns of some of our current feminist sayings like "Nevertheless She Persisted" and "The Future is Feminist".

Photo of inside cover & good sample of patterns
This is definitely a great gift idea too, because as the days get colder, the closer we get to gift giving season. And if you do office gift bags you must get this. Now to hit my fave craft store and get some new DMC floss.

Please purchase your own copy of Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch from Powells or Indiebound and support Viva la Feminista.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy as well as a swag tote bag from a publicist.

23 August 2017

Why Joss Matters


He left evidence along the way like pieces of bread crumbs. Angel's curse, that Wonder Woman script, and Black Widow as a Hulk pacifier. I saw it. I acknowledged it, but I still saw Joss Whedon as a feminist. "My feminism is not perfect. No one's is!" I would cry. But over the weekend I cried for yet another loss in the battle for men to be included in feminism.

Buffy arrived in my life at the tail end of my college years. She took the baton from Xena to fulfill my need for feminist television. As a pop culture junkie I was desperate to watch something that not just validated my world view but also most importantly did not make me feel bad for being overweight, for liking to hang out in a library, and yes even just wanting to have fun despite the weight of the world on my shoulders. The series finale will always be the best finale ever. It depicted what I feel is the true spirit of feminism - that we are in this together. That together we kick the patriarchy's ass and ride off into the sunset. There is no hero to wait for, we are that hero.


When word came on Monday that Whedonesque closed down my heart shattered and yet it is fitting. If Joss built a universe that collected feminist pop culture junkies like Giles rounded up Slayers, then it is perfect that we read Kai Cole's statement and realized we had to break up with Joss. We looked into his eyes and knew we had to stab him with the weapon he forged.


Buffy will always stand as the most important show in my life. I will continue to egg my 14-year-old daughter to watch it. At 25 I thought Xander was adorable, even if a jerk. At 42 I see more jerk than adorable, but I also see how fragile men can be in our world of toxic masculinity. I see his sarcasm as his mask, his superpower. I see how the weight of Buffy's burden was too much, even for a superhuman, and how she had to delegate. She had to learn to lean on her friends. How long did it take each of us to learn those lessons ourselves?

Joss being a terrible husband is not what broke my heart. We never spent this much time on Brad Pitt or any other horrible husband. Instead we wore Team Angie and Team Jen tees. It is what Joss has done to the feminist community itself that broke me. 

I am a feminist who eagerly wants men to identify in the struggle. When a friend found out she was having a boy she turned to me and said, "How did this feminist body do that?" I told her that means she was charged with raising a feminist boy who would be a feminist man. I know many feminists doing exactly that. They do this in simple ways such as validating their sons when they are hurt, physically or emotionally. Feminist moms make their sons do women's work around the house. Feminist moms do work that is normally men's work.They live feminist lives so their sons know the new rules and hopefully reject society's norms.

Yet here we go again. Another high profile man who claimed to be a feminist turned out to be a fraud. Maybe Joss was a feminist once upon a time, but quickly realized that his feminist card opened bedroom doors too and he was hooked. I do not know and honestly I do not care how he lost his way. See, there I go again, holding on to the fact that he truly is his mother's son and did believe in feminism.

Joss embodied what feminists had been and continues to demand from Hollywood - that men start carrying the weight of feminist work. And he fucked that up. When the next screenwriter pens the brilliant film what will we do for him? Will we ignore it thinking he's just another Joss? Will we watch the film, but keep a safe distance from its creator?

For many, Joss was never a feminist. His flaws were too great to look past and I respect that. But I feel terrible for everyone who has built a very feminist career upon Joss' pile of lies. Whedonesque, where I posted a bit in the early days. The Whedon Studies Association, which I had one my bucket list to write for and present at a conference. And my current fave Joss-related item, Buffering the Vampire Slayer, where they do a fair amount of Joss critiquing already.

I've written about Buffy over the years. Being a Buffy fan is part of who I am and how people view me. Within hours of the Kai statement a dear friend text me as he was beside himself. I ordered cocktail after cocktail as he caught me at a bar on eclipse eve. We were debating Joss, feminism, and if men should ever call themselves feminists. My friend is fantastic. He's married to a kick ass feminist and they are raising a girl who will surely grow up to be a kick ass feminist. I dislike the term feminist ally. For me, you're either with us or not. Maybe as my friend suggests men get to do feminist things, but should stay away from the label. I dunno. This is why I'm writing this. I'm trying to figure it all out with you.

I'm concerned because this relates to the growing issue of men using feminism as currency.



Not only in how men identify, but the growing movement to include men in all conversations about feminism. On one hand, I totally get it. We need men to push the agenda forward. On the other hand, we have Joss & scores of other dudes who pay the dues, but don't read the back of their membership cards.

I know that there are people waiting to see if I renounce my Buffy fandom and stop quoting the show now that Joss is fully revealed. You too might have that person in your life salivating at watching you squirm and ready to remind you of your Cosby, Woody Allen, and Casey Affleck boycotts. They are probably the same people who ask you to outline in detail why you go to Target, but won't set foot in a Wal-Mart. Well ignore them. If you are like me, Joss and the universe he created means so much to you that you need time to mourn the myth.

If you cry at the end of "Chosen" and "The Body" is the only piece of pop culture that brings you solace after your mom's death, I get ya. He made that for us. His art is still beautiful, even with the gigantic hole he blasted through it. But I am filling for custody.

But the hole he shot through the idea of feminist men is the hole I'm most worried about. Where is the line between men who support feminism, do the work, but stay back versus men who support the work but don't show up? Is it as simple as asking them to step back and girls to the front?

I don't have the answers. If I did, I might have a book deal. Well I'd also need time to write too. But I'm just saying that this is why this is a post on my blog. No need conclusion. No list of recommendations. Other than, men...dudes! Do better. 

21 June 2017

I'm finally ready to talk about the Wonder Woman movie...


Goddess knows that I had to see the movie at least two times before I could truly sort through all my feelings. Sitting in the theater the first time was like an out of body experience. I was there and knew I was there, but it didn't feel like it. I was somehow disconnected from the emotion of being there. Perhaps because my brain was taking a zillion notes a second. The second time...omg...the second time was overwhelming. First we got to the theater after the movie had already started - 2 minutes, that's ok. But when we got into the theater it was packed and we couldn't find seats. OMG! Where would we sit? Thankfully my daughter spotted three seats in row two. After we sat down it dawned on me...the theater was sold out in the second weekend. YES!!!
AUDIENCE REACTIONS
I found it odd that in both viewings there was little applause or cheering as in other eagerly anticipated movies. It was almost as if we were all stunned that we were actually at the Wonder Woman movie. That said, watching the movie the second time was a thrill because I did get to hear gasps and oohs at places where I knew the good stuff was still to come. The worst was hearing a little boy ask whomever he was with near the end of the movie, "Where's Steve?!" The best was the little girl who dance-punched her way through the credits at the end. She's who the movie is truly revolutionary for...she'll grow up never knowing any difference.
Why I Didn't Cry at the Battle Scene
I've read a lot of comments online about women crying during the Amazon battle scene. Most say it is because they had never seen such a battle. And I'm all...






See also Ripley, Sarah Conner, and a host of other kick ass women from TV and film. Yes, yes, yes...it is different to see a magnificent Amazon battle scene on the big screen with all the money that allows. The whole scene was breathtaking. But as someone who consumes scifi media, the woman warrior battle scene isn't earth shattering to me. Beautiful? Yes. Again, that doesn't mean I didn't love it, cause anytime I can see Amazons charging on horseback down the beach is a good day.



Steve Trevor
Call me a traditionalist, but Steve Trevor is supposed to be the damsel in distress. I kinda liked how ditzy he was in the TV show. But I get why plotwise he needed to know exactly who she was. We get a bit of Steve as damsel in the alley scene, but as Michi Trota at The Learned Fangirl points out, his punch at the end is only necessary to maintain him not being saved by Diana. Also until Ares shows up, Trevor is pretty sure the woman he's falling in love with is crazy. The fact he keeps talking about 'dropping her off at the front' told me that he thought she was delusional. He's getting credit for following her lead, but I am not totally sold that he truly believed in her. He shifts towards belief when he coordinated the others into helping her catapult into the church steeple. All that said, I did like Steve Trevor. I am just not buying all the chatter about him falling in line behind her. Also like Michi, I was upset that it was his death that made Diana realize the extent of her power.
Love
When Diana proclaimed that love was the answer, I let my skeptical side come out. "Oh come on...really? Wonder Woman gets the love will conquer all line?" But after reading some reviews, sitting on it, and seeing it a second time, love is the answer. Love for humanity is what motivates Diana to leave the safety of Themyscira. Love for humanity is what has her jump at the baby on the street. Love for humanity is what propelled her to walk across "No Man's Land." By the way, great hat tip to Lord of the Rings. It also accurate to her origins as amplifying women's goodness.

Women of Color
The critique of where the women of color existed in Themyscira. The first time we see one is as Diana's nanny bringing up images of mammies. This is a legitimate critique. But when I saw the film the second time I tried to pay attention to where the Amazons of color existed. I took the scene where Hippolyta is interrogating Steve Trevor as a meeting of the Amazon Senate. And there are a lot of Amazons of color. Some speak up, and yes are interrupted, but they are shown to be valued for more than just their strength. While I agree with most of the critiques, I do want to give a bit more credit. For me the entire Themyscira scene was done far too quickly. We could have skipped the Pretty Woman scene and add more time on Paradise Island.


In the end...
I really liked the movie. I have a feeling that I'll grow to love it as I rewatch it over and over. I'll find new things to love and new things that make me twitch my nose. Maybe I'll figure out what everyone seems to see in Steve.

What I do know is that Wonder Woman rose to the challenge to kick major ass at the box office. Luckily Patty Jenkins signed for two films so she'll get to bring the same vision to Diana in the sequel. As of this moment she's brought in $438.5 million in the US alone and $300 million overseas. Wonder Woman is set to break records that perhaps might force Warner Brothers to give us all the stupid movie promotions we were robbed of like cereal and ice cream. We will have Wonder Woman ice cream next time, right?!
But was it feminist?
SIGH...This is the question that kept eating at me during the first viewing. Does saying it is feminist mean I don't care that women of color weren't featured more prominently? Or that same sex love was only suggested not screamed from the top of a Themyscira cliff? Does it mean I am ok with the fact Etta Candy was given such a poor role? I don't think saying this movie was feminist means it is perfectly feminist. It had a lot to be desired, but it did give us a tale of a strong, smart, and loving woman who acted with an eye towards peace and justice. A woman who loves ice cream, babies, and kicking ass.

Yet at this moment when feminism needs to mean something, I hesitate to call everything feminist. Within our capitalistic society it seems like it is a feminist act to buy a ticket or three to Wonder Woman, but is it really? In Andi Zeisler's book, We Were Feminists Once, she argues that we can not buy our way to liberation. But this movie makes it clear that war is bad without framing even the Germans as evil. Diana wrestles with the source of humanity's urge to destroy itself which aligns with my feminism - the belief that people are inherently good, but misguided by fear. Cue Yoda.

So is the movie feminist? Kinda. There are definite feminist themes, but perhaps instead of focusing on stamping the entire film as feminist, we keep analyzing the film as to which scenes were feminist and which were not. Let's use this film to talk to the young girls in our lives about being ready for a fight, hoping it never comes, but kicking ass when necessary. That may be exactly how to balance the pacifism of my feminism with the reality of our world. Maybe.

If you haven't seen it, go....then come debate with me. 

08 June 2017

I can't believe I still have to blog about Planned Parenthood

Like a lot of people I turned to Planned Parenthood during college. 

Those were the days when Planned Parenthood sold birth control pills that fell under some weird rules that ended in the Dubya era so a pack of pills was maybe $10, maybe a bit less if I bought more than one at a time. But most of the time I bought a pack each month, having to hike over to the clinic off campus and say hi to the staff. Which might be why I love Planned Parenthood so much and ended up volunteering with them soon after college.


Ah, the good old days of the late 1990s when passing out free condoms seemed to be the height of being a radical.

That's how I spent one summer...passing out free condoms at street fairs in Chicago. But of course that was just to get people to the table. To get them talking. Once we lured people in with the free condom we would register people to vote, talk to them about how even with a Democrat in the White House, reproductive rights were being threatened. It was just a few years after the Illinois General Assembly passed a parental notification law, but was soon blocked from being active until just a few years ago. We also had issues with the rise of abstinence-only sex education, not to mention the so-called late term abortion bills of the 1990s. So yeah, handing out condoms to fellow Chicagoans was a crash course in WTF is going wrong in reproductive rights.



I also spent a year volunteering at the clinic that provided abortion services. While I did not work on the days the services were preformed, I did interact with many of the women who came in for post-care. I saw first hand the fear they had until they were assured that yes, you are no longer pregnant. I also interacted with young people seeking care and guidance with STIs, HIV, abnormal pap smears, and general not-feeling-wellness.

I stand with Planned Parenthood not just because they got me through college, but because of the work they did to help all those people I checked into the clinic get through life. And continue to get people through life. While I know that unplanned pregnancies do not have to ruin a life, I knew that I was not ready to become a mother in college. Thankfully Planned Parenthood was there for me when I needed them.



Now we're living in a moment where not just the President flip-flops on his views around reproductive rights, but I live in Illinois where our Governor is a huge donor to Planned Parenthood, but says will veto a bill protecting abortion access.

So we must rise up and protect Planned Parenthood. We need to keep their doors open so people who need their care can receive it. We cannot live in a country where Planned Parenthood's doors are locked.

And the GOP is getting itchy about Trumpcare. They want a vote soon in order to kill it and move on to tax reform. But we have to MAKE SURE Trumpcare is dead. We can't rely on the GOP to mess it up.

There are FOUR ways to protect Planned Parenthood:


Ready? Then let's do this!!


This post is made possible with support from the Mission List. All opinions are my own.

03 June 2017

The Feminist Burden Wonder Woman Carries


Every summer blockbuster film arrives with anxiety over its reception. Will it be the summer champ? Will it be liked? Movies based on beloved harassers such as comic book heroes come with extra anxiety over reception. Then there is Wonder Woman.

Summer 2017 felt like a lifetime away when word came in 2014 that our favorite Amazon princess (Sorry, Gabrielle) would find her way to the big screen. But honestly as we crept closer and closer to the day my stomach churned. Why? The Wonder Woman movie will be the first woman superhero since Electra in 2005 and that was a flop. Not to mention Catwoman, but we must. In addition, Wonder Woman has a woman director. When this film started up filmmaker Lexi Alexander publicly stated she wouldn't take the job if offered over the pressure placed on women directors. If the film flops, not only will the director take the fall, but will all women directors? This may be one of the biggest challenges to feminism in pop culture. Will feminists show up to support the biggest feminist icon to grace the silver screen? Lastly in the age of Trump and still in the fledgling days of the Resistance, will Wonder Woman deliver the inspiration we seek to continue to resist? Now that I list all of those challenges, maybe Ginger Rogers has it easy.

Now you're thinking - it's just a movie! Yeah, not so much...

First of all the movie industry is still a sexist operation. Despite the success of the Rogue One, Hunger Games and Twilight, women-led films are still undervalued. Women continue to have the highest ROIs in the movie business, but still do not demand the same gravitas that their male counterparts do. The mega success of Hidden Figures at the box office was only a surprise if you aren't a woman of color eager to pay to see women of color take center stage in their own stories. Women are hungry to devour stories featuring strong women who reflect our realities and inspire us to dream big.

Reese and Sandra’s success has done little to kill the myth that women can't open or direct hit movies. This level of scrutiny is not only unfair but it is not even a carrot for women directors. First of all every man who has directed a hit has also released a dud. It happens! Including dud superhero flicks like Green Lantern and Daredevil. Then there is the case of Catherine Hardwicke. She directed the first Twilight film when it seemed no one else would touch it. It grossed almost $200 million in the USA when it cost $37 million to make. What was Hardwicke's reward for directing a film to such heights? Being replaced for Chris Weitz. With rewards like that why even try?

But back to Wonder Woman...

She takes to the big screen, not in LEGO form, at a time when she is not just popular but enveloped in the resistance zeitgeist. Before Trump was even done taking the oath of office I was tagged on a t-shirt depicting Wonder Woman punching the new president. The day after Senator McConnell silenced Senator Warren a RESIST tee with Wonder Woman, fist raised in defiance, was cluttering my Facebook feed.

We have to remember that Wonder Woman was launched during World War II and the US government ensured that her and other comic books would be a conduit for pro-USA propaganda. In the pages of her comic books she fought and punched Nazis. The comics also peddled in racist imagery, especially when depicting Japanese fighters. Wonder Woman is known to fight for justice. This makes her the perfect superhero, comic book character for the resistance, especially for women. She is a reluctant fighter, only recently militarized. But when pushed, she will fight injustice, on behalf of others, and for most of her history with non-lethal force.

Wonder Woman’s standing as the most recognizable woman superhero has propelled her to feminist icon. She appeared on the first issue of Ms. Magazine. Many of the stories told in the 2014 Sensation Comics series were feminist stories such as Wonder Woman coming to the defense of a boy whose classmates were teasing him over his fandom of Wonder Woman. In the movie trailer Wonder Woman is puzzled over the idea of a secretary and equates to the job description given by Etta Candy to slavery. ‎William Moulton Marston created her as a feminist image or as he put it as a role model for modern womanhood. His inspiration was the suffragists including Margaret Sanger the founder of Planned Parenthood. Her feminism is the core of her being, not the result of co-optation by the feminist movement.

These issues are important to keep in mind as we await the response to the movie. Wonder Woman is entering the theaters with Princess Vespa sized baggage. 75 years of comic books, TV, small roles in two LEGO movies and Batman v Superman and cartoon depictions plus the trailers have us all guessing as to what will come.

What we do know from the trailers is that Wonder Woman meets Steve Trevor and leaves Themyscira during World War I. After washing ashore, he tells the Amazon leadership that he is fighting to end the war to end all wars. But he also warns the, that their lives on Themyscira is not as safe as they think. This appears to prompt Diana into deciding to leave and fight to defend innocent lives.

The pulling back of Wonder Woman's origin story to WWI and not WWII is a risk. One that some believe was made to avoid comparisons with Captain America and the Marvel Universe. The other is to reinforce Diana’s ambivalence with war, as World War I was not a war as clear of a just cause as World War II. While a year ago I think the risk would pay off, today in the political climate we are in, I see that risk higher. Because who wouldn’t want to see Wonder Woman punch Nazis?

A screening in late February had twitter abuzz with phrases like “blown away” and “best of the DC movies” thrown about. Of course this just raised my expectations when I thought they couldn’t get any higher!

And that is the bottom line, Wonder Woman fans are more than just eager for this movie. We are desperate for it. For my fellow GenXers, we have been waiting for this movie since we were kids in our Under Roos twirling around like Linda Carter with tin foil wrapped around our wrists. Our grandmothers who read Wonder Woman in the early comics are eager. We raised our girls to worship the Amazon goddess who then consider themselves Wonder Women. It is not fair that this movie has so much riding on it. But it does. We have waited through the excitement that Joss Whedon wrote a screenplay, but then was rejected by studios. We were up in arms over the 2011 TV pilot because we want her to reflect exactly the way she is in our minds.

What I hope we take away from the movie, no matter what, good or bad, is that Diana, Wonder Woman, fights for what she believes in. As we continue to resist against a national administration that attempts to pit communities against each other and empower bullies, we must find the Wonder Woman in ourselves. Not in the sense that we will do it all. But as people who will speak up for those we see being attacked and who will offer sanctuary to those being targeted. If we can walk out of the theaters with that mission, the movie will have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

16 May 2017

The Battle of the Sexes trailer is out!



Battle of the Sexes is a new movie that depicts the legendary tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The trailer was released today and it looks pretty awesome.



I gotta say that I think Steve Carell NAILS Bobby. Normally I want to smooch Steve, but in this clip I wanna slug him! The trailer also teases plot lines about Billie Jean's love life. She kept her sexuality private for a very long time, as almost every professional athlete has done pretty forever. I got to meet Billie Jean King a few years ago at a luncheon. She has always been an inspiration to me so I am really looking forward to this movie. Hopefully Emma Stone's cultural baggage doesn't weight this movie down, but we'll see won't we?

30 April 2017

100 Days after the Women's March

While everyone is obsessed with how much damage the Fake Tanned One has done in 100 days, I'm more interested in what WE have done in the 100 days since the Women's March.

panoramic photo of the Chicago Women's March and skyline

Let's recall that 250,000 women, men, and children descended on Grant Park on one of the most beautiful days Chicago has seen in January. This so exceeded expectations that the march part of the March was officially cancelled, but you know when you have a quarter million people show up somewhere and they move, it's kinda a march.

I've been to a lot of marches and few compare to the optimism this one had. I know it was too happy for a protest and all the marches had issues, but the turn out was a great way to kick off four years of resistance. And the diversity of those in attendance made me hopeful that no matter how bad things would be getting, we would fight every fight and maybe even win a few. 

Crowd in front of Chicago skyline. People holding signs and banner reading "Power to the People"

I think in 100 days feminists have put on quite a resistance.

I truly believe that the March and the turnout at the March helped people who normally don't get engaged in politics empower themselves to act. How?
  • Protesting at airports: After signing the executive order Muslim travel ban thousands of people ran to their airport to protest the detaining of people. Countless lawyers joined the rush to offer pro bono services to reunite families. The immediate backlash was supported by court decisions that ended the ban. 
  • Community organizing: Barely a week goes by without me seeing a notice about a community action team starting. Most are focused on finding ways to educate undocumented people about their rights. Some are largely on fighting hate by putting up signs. All are about talking to neighbors and creating space where we know each other and have each others back.
  • Defending Obamacare: While I know Obamacare is far from perfect, the loss of Obamacare without a real replacement would be devastating to millions of people. While a lot of attention was placed on the far right Freedom Caucus, I was inspired by Senator Warren's perspective that we protested, called, wrote, and showed up at town halls and congressional offices enough that the moderate Republicans did not dare to support the repeal. I wish I could find that interview from public radio. 
  • Gorsuch: Yes, he is on the Supreme Court where President Obama's nominee should be sitting, but our outrage gave the Senate Democrats to actually do something. Our outrage was enough to force the Republicans to move to the nuclear option and kill the filibuster. They had to change the rules to get what they wanted. There is more than just a moral victory in there. 
  • Women Will Run: Thousands of women who never considered running for office before or who had been putting it off are getting off the bench and into the game. I personally know two women who won elected office in the last 100 days and one more who is planning for a run soon. If the 2016 election did anything is possibly kill the idea that one needs to be well prepared to run for office. No more "I need more experience!" excuses ladies. 
  • Democrats Must Support Body Autonomy: When the DNC launched a unity tour with Tom Perez and Bernie Sanders hitting the road, they hit a speed bump when it came to vocally supporting reproductive justice. Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards, NARAL's Ilyse Hogue and their supporters hit back furiously. 
  • We're Still Marching: Even before the Women's March was over pundits were wondering if it would be a one off thing. It wasn't. In the days after the march we had other national marches announced such as a Tax Day March, March for Science, Climate March, Pride March, and so on. Chicago has been participating, as have I, in Resist Trump Tuesdays. These are far smaller protests, but they were great at maintaining a conversation about funding the EPA, working to protect Obamacare, and supporting public education. There's even a march from Chicago to Springfield, the Illinois state capital, beginning on May 15th.  
I try to keep these things in mind as we pass our 100 days mark. As we get deeper into the long four years of the current administration, as we anxiously await the next episode of "The Handmaid's Tale" (OMG, so creepy and gooood!), and as we hear the drum beats of war come out of the mouths of our so-called leaders...see, I got myself depressed right there. But we are strong, we will not win every fight, but gawd damnit, I know we will win this war. It is said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice...and we will bend it with the weight of our fight.

What is keeping you resisting and persisting?


This post is made possible by support from Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
All opinions are my own.



02 April 2017

Review: Abortion: Stories Women Tell

According to the CDC,  664,435 legal abortions were performed in 2013. The Guttmacher Institute states that in 2014 1.5% of women aged 15-44 had an abortion. On average 1 in 3 women will have had an abortion over the course of their lifetime. This makes abortion or pregnancy terminations one of the most common surgical procedures, but most likely the only medical procedure that requires armed guards to ensure the safety of professionals performing them. The virulent attacks against reproductive justice - including medically accurate sex education, birth control, and abortion - has resulted in an atmosphere of fear. Fear that providers are assassinated in their churches or homes. Fear that providers being harassed outside their own homes. Fear that loved ones won't understand. This has resulted in silence.

And this silence has resulted in people worrying if their decision to abort means they are terrible people or if the fact they valued the lives of their children over their pregnancy means they are terrible parents.

In Abortion: Stories Women Tell these stories are here for consuming. We hear from women who have had abortions and now work in clinics to support other women. Women who regret their abortions and who are now those harassing women outside of clinics perpetuating abortion stigma.

For me, the most touching scenes are with those who chose adoption. The debate over abortion is often pitted against having one and not having one as if carrying a pregnancy to term is easy. But pick up an adoption narrative and one will know that allowing your child to be adopted is a tougher choice for many people. In fact in one scene the mother of a young woman admits that she could not be with her daughter as she gave birth because she needed to keep an emotional distance in order for the adoption to take place. That young woman made a decision to carry her pregnancy to term and her mother could not find the strength to be at her side as she gave birth and let her child join a different family. That is heart-wrenching. That pain is often ignored when anti-abortion advocates and law-makers scoff, "Just give it up for adoption!" as if it was as simple as dropping off a bag of donated clothing.

Abortion: Stories Women Tell beautifully highlights how abortion rights, especially in light of waiting periods, is a class issue. Considering how in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election pundits waxed on about the Democrats returning to economic issues and dismissing race and "identity" politics, few of those economic Democrats are running to include reproductive justice under the economic tent. Keeping the economics of "choice" out of the framing of our political agenda leads to not only Democrats throwing reproductive justice under the bus, but allows for upper class white women to think they are safe even if they vote for Trump. It also leads to the young white woman we meet who organizes against abortion even though she had zero personal experience with someone who had one. I bet she has a friend who had one, but can't trust her enough to reveal themselves.

This is not an easy documentary to watch. It is emotional and you will most likely cry and scream at the TV. I'm holding back tears as I write. But this documentary is one you must watch, especially for those in the mushy middle of the debate and don't have a friend who has outed themselves as having had an abortion. Tracy Droz Tragos, the director, does not pass judgement on those who fight to make abortion harder to access, but the humanity they provide to the women who do choose abortion is fiercely feminist and pro-reproductive justice.


premieres on HBO
Monday, April 3rd at 7 pm Central

******

In light of the class issues discussed in this film and my longtime activism to support those who choose abortion, I am asking you to please donate to my effort to support the Chicago Abortion Fund who financially assists those seeking to terminate their pregnancies. Thank you! 
******


31 March 2017

Women's Review of Books Volume 34, Issue 2

Starting with the current issue of Women's Review of Books you can now read the issues online in addition to print. To celebrate this move towards online access to this great outlet, anyone can read the current issue online.  In this issue WRB looks to the work of Black Lives Matter and the intersectional politics of the new movement as well as its similarities and differences, in politics and strategies, from previous organizing. Go read! Then if you like, subscribe.

26 March 2017

Review: Ovarian Psycos on PBS

In the fifth grade a few of my friends & I wanted to feel connected. We decided to always were jean jackets and call ourselves a gang. Of course our teacher stepped in and said it was ok to want to band together, but not call ourselves a gang. She never fully explained it, or I have forgotten, but it was clear that as working class kids, most of us Latin@, that calling ourselves a gang was not cool.at.all. But while we couldn't call ourselves a gang, we still stuck together until we grew apart. Nevertheless I would continue to want to organize my groups of friends into tight circles.

That is why when I watched Ovarian Psycos I was emotional. While my working class upbringing is far from the life we see in this new documentary, that sense of wanting to create your own family struck me to my core. What we get in this documentary are tales of young women seeking to strengthen their community by banding together, riding their bikes around LA, and being bad ass. Ovarian Psycos is a tale of love and determination. I highly recommend this documentary.     

Ovarian Psycos is a documentary about a new generation of young women of color from the Eastside of Los Angeles who are confronting injustice, building community, and redefining identity through a raucous, irreverently named bicycle crew: The Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade. Produced and directed by Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle, Ovarian Psycos premieres on Independent Lens Monday, March 27, 2017, 10:00-11:00 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS.

20 March 2017

Book Review: Body Horror by Anne Elizabeth Moore

http://www.curbsidesplendor.com/books/body-horrors-essays-on-misogyny-and-capitalismDisclaimer: Anne & I are friends. Not just social media friends. We've been in each others homes, have shared food & drink, and all that jazz. I continue to be honored to call her a friend.

Anne Elizabeth Moore's autopsy of our culture's obsession with bodies and how they define more roles than you can imagine is pure art.

Knowing that Moore fits the definition of a feminist may make you scoff at the revolutionary manner in which her latest book, Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes, focuses on the body and gender roles. Yes, feminists are at the forefront of critiquing body image and our cultural obsession with perfection, but Moore stands at the front of that movement. WAY IN FRONT. So far ahead of the curve that some of the essays will leave you pondering, "What was Veronica thinking? This has nothing to do with feminism or bodies?" Then you'll turn a page and get smacked with what I'm talking about.

Moore opens many of the essays (most which were previously published, but updated for this collection) with personal stories, especially of her growing list of chronic diseases and near death experiences. Her reflections of her mortality and how once close friends abandoned her will draw you in. The sympathy you feel is a grand trap she sets that ensnares you faster than your favorite roller coaster drops your stomach. Before you know it her death bed musings turn into a lesson on the politics of table-to-farm restaurants, living wages for fashion models, and pondering the feminism of horror movies. One moment you question how people can abandon a friend in need (if you are said author's friend you wonder if you have done enough and realize you have not.) the next you are trying to find something in the world that is not controlled by big business.

The outrage over the current administration's budget cuts especially towards arts and the elderly creates an image that everyday people value art. That we value people for their own sake. Yet Moore's essay on people's reaction to her decision to not reproduce gives us a peek into what people really value. Time and again she is clearly told that her art and contribution to our collective intellectual knowledge base is not enough. Her contributions to humanity can only be calculated by the number of humans she produces. As the mother of an only-child, I feel for this as I have been accused of robbing the world of more amazing feminist-minded persons as if having children was as easy as making a photocopy of my fabulous teenage daughter.

What that essay does is actually scarier than tell people who do not have children that they are not contributing to humanity. What it does is call into question HOW we reproduce creative and kick ass people like Moore. Her parents were not creative public intellectuals, yet she is one of the best GenX will ever have. Moore's essay actually reopened my fear that my daughter will grow up to reject everything that I taught her. It questions the power of parenting in creating the next generation of anything. In the time of test prep and helicopter parenting, this essay is scary as fuck and liberating, if you have the courage to embrace it.

All that from her recollecting that one time a friend wouldn't let go of the fact she decided she did not want to gestate a human being in her uterus.

That is why you should get a copy of this book. Moore not only pushes us to question capitalism, but even ideas that make us secure in our progressive bubble when we brunch at the hip organic cafe and buy local. Don't get me wrong, she does not make you want to give up the resistance. Rather she demands that you question if you really need one more "Nevertheless, she persists" tee and Facebook algorithm generated coffee mug. Two questions I ask myself almost daily. She pushes you to value the work of not just the woman who made your t-shirt on the other side of our planet, but also the model who sold it to us. Moore connects the dots that you did not even think were on the same page. And if we are going to resist, we might as well go all the way.

[ Pre-order your a copy at Powells or IndieBound ]

Second disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publisher.

17 March 2017

Pence's War on Women to be rewarded with "Working for Women" Award

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Independent Women's Forum (IWF) is hosting Women Making History, an exclusive event on Wednesday, March 22nd, at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, DC.

Vice President Mike Pence will be honored with the inaugural IWF Working for Women Award. The award recognizes an individual who values free markets, works to create a more dynamic and innovative work world, and celebrates the valuable contributions women make to society.
Yup...you read that snip of a press release right. The man who help cause an HIV outbreak in Indiana is getting an away for working for women. I'm surprised this press release didn't mention his possible influence in sending a hate group to the 61st annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. "The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) is a think tank that has been labelled as a “hate group” for their international anti-LGBTQI advocacy work and violent rhetoric by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy organisation which specialises in protection of civil rights." 

https://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/trump-vp-pence/
 
I know that IWF is not a progressive feminist organization. They value the free market over feminism. But it still irks me that Pence is getting an award touting him as a champion for women when he is otherwise. He is so bad for women that many of us refuse to consider impeachment for Trump!

So Happy Freaking Women's History Month! At the rate this administration is going, it could be our last before we're all sent back to the kitchen.

16 March 2017

Call for Proposals: Race/Gender/Class/Media 4.0: Considering Diversity Across Audiences, Content, and Producers


Proposals are sought from scholars across all disciplines for the fourth edition of Race/Gender/Class/Media: Considering Diversity Across Audiences, Content, and Producers (Routledge, 2019). Edited by Rebecca Ann Lind, University of Illinois at Chicago (rebecca@uic.edu), the book will examine the consequences, implications, or opportunities associated with issues of diversity (socially constructed differences such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, etc.) in media. The fourth edition should be at least as wide-ranging in scope as prior editions. Most accepted pieces will present original scholarship.

There are three main sections: content, audience, and production.  Content focuses most closely on texts created by media  organizations. Audience includes media usage, effects of media, audience  interpretations of media content, and studies of user-generated content. Production includes studies of media organizations and the creation of content, as well as media activism, access, policy,  and regulation.   The book is designed primarily for undergraduates, although it has been used in graduate courses and in high schools. Final manuscripts will be about 4000 words, including pedagogical activities, and must be written in an accessible fashion. Contributors who meet the deadline will receive $100 payment upon publication. More details are available online , or email rebecca@uic.eduFor more information and to submit proposals, visit  http://go.uic.edu/rgcm .

The priority deadline for proposals is June 1, 2017; decisions will be announced by July 1, 2017. Completed readings are due January 5, 2018, with editing and revision through May 2018. Additional copyediting should take place in fall, 2018.

14 March 2017

Review: America Issue 1


America Chavez, aka Miss America, finally has her own stand alone series and if you missed the news I wouldn't be surprised. While America's arrival has been a hit especially in the feminist and LGBT media, if you went to Marvel.com and tried to find any news, you'd find yourself on a character page that doesn't have an icon yet.

Maybe this reflects a hesitancy to fully embrace this bad ass queer Latina superhero? In the first issue we get to meet America as she kicks ass, kisses her girlfriend, punches Hitler, and has a horrible first day at college. I legit cried when I saw that she is attending Sotomayor University. I mean, THIS COMIC!!

Go ahead and click on this section of the map to read the motto of S.U. I need a hoodie from this school.

Why should you pick up a copy?

Because it is a moral imperative. America is part of the growing Marvel universe that looks like the world. She also looks and acts like a young Latina ready to be on her own, complete with the swagger and attitude of a young person. Alas, keeping with the trope that one must rise above without parents, America has lost her mothers. Marvel is working on representation in relation to our superhero and her creators and it matters, so buy a copy.

Outside of supporting representative media, it is a great first issue. While I am a comics reader and have been consuming a lot of Marvel since Thor was reborn as a woman in 2014, I am not super familiar with America's backstory. Which can be good when a comic is relaunched like this. There is enough backstory and current story that left me wanting more. Plus America reminds me of so many of my Latinx friends that I can not wait to see what she does next.

Go buy a copy from your local comic book store or buy a digital copy from Marvel.

Disclaimer: I bought my own copy and get no kick back for telling you to buy this comic.

08 March 2017

Why I'm Working on March 8th


Today is "A Day Without a Woman" and I'm headed to work.

It is not because I cannot afford to not go to work as I can. But as a salaried worker who gets paid vacation and sick days, if I don't show up at work, I still get paid. Not sure how that fits into the rhetoric about striking.

I am also at a very critical start-up moment for my new job. I am trying very hard to not bring home work or check email over weekends, so being an efficient as I can be during work hours is very important to me. And this being efficient during work means I've been so tired when I get home that I've been too tired to write much here.

I fully support everyone who does strike on Wednesday and support those who have no choice is showing up at work. If anything comes from this day is a larger examination of who provides the volunteer hours to make our schools function, who organizes the medical appointments in the family, and how many vocations are dominated by women that the threat of a strike causes places to just up and close.

As I pondered about where I usually spend my money on a workday, it was nice for me to realize that I usually get my coffee at the independent cafe co-owned by a Latina and one of my favorite lunch spots is owned by a Black woman. But in reality I'll pack my lunch and suck it up on coffee for the day. And be upset that I don't have a lot of red to wear! 


15 February 2017

AMERICAN MASTERS "Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise"

Credit: Ron Groeper
The first feature documentary about Maya Angelou, American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, premieres nationwide Tuesday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) during Black History Month as part of the 31st season of THIRTEEN’s American Masters series. PBS Distribution will release the film on DVD the same day, with additional bonus features, and on Digital HD February 22.

Most people know Angelou as a writer, but this documentary showcases all of her geniuses in literature, speaking, acting, signing, and dancing. The best part of a full-length documentary on Maya Angelou are the moments when she is reciting a poem while footage of the world runs.

This documentary is touching, but most importantly it is funny. Angelou's laughter rings throughout the film. It wraps around your heart like a warm hug...just the type of hug we need during these dark times. Seriously though, for progressives and feminists, these are dark days. Days when we lose hope than we can imagine before we even finish our commute to work. Days when we feel extra guilty of tuning out the world in fluffy and stupid pop culture. But watching this documentary will reground you in the belief that justice will prevail. Angelou does not promise us a happy ending, but her words, her breath, fill you with hope. Even when she speaks of dark times! I do not know how she does it, even years after her death.

Catch it. DVR it and save it for viewing when you lose hope.

Disclaimer: Thanks to PBS for letting me preview this documentary in order to review it for VLF.

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.
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