Fielding a Curve Ball

Here I am, in the third week of my first year of full time teaching.

I am teaching a class in which I am not certified (California Studies, when my certification is in English) and I got hired only days before the school year started. I did not start till days after. My classroom is still full of the belongings and decor of the previous teacher. I’m adapting lesson plans and curriculum from another teacher, who has been teaching Cal Studies for almost a decade. On the plus side, he knows his stuff. On the downside, he knows his stuff–most of the materials are little reminders to himself, rather than detailed information. I’m learning the materials only slightly before my students.

I just got an apartment, and I am still moving in. My belongings arrived from Boston only two days ago. Life is getting easier, mind you, now that I have my belongings.

I’m still finishing all my paperwork with HR. My curriculum is almost entire handouts and the photocopier is always broken. I have a severe shortage of materials. I have zero technology in my classroom (I thought Boston was bad, but I was wrong!). My students have major discipline issues and do not do work reliably at all.

All that said, I am fortunate to have a job, and fortunate to have this job. My administration is wonderful, and my colleagues are fantastic. I feel very supported, and the environment is overall positive. While I am often frustrated by my students, there are great moments as well, and there are several students that stand out as particularly delightful. I already have a Doctor Who action figure at my desk that a student brought in for me. That’s a warm fuzzy.

I am trying to learn to better manage my classes–a problem I had overcome in Boston, but must start from scratch here. I am trying to learn California history. I am trying to learn the particular nature of my school. I am trying to learn to write better lessons for really long classes (in Boston, I had about 45 minutes, here I have two hour blocks!). I am trying to learn a new school-wide discipline system, and how to best use it.

Plus, I’m learning a whole new city. That part is mostly exciting, but sometimes stressful. I’m establishing my adorable new apartment, which is mostly exciting, but sometimes stressful. I’ve downgraded from a fairly spacious one bedroom to a studio, so it’s been a challenge. My books are moved in, though, which is always a wonderful thing to see.

Today, I’m just pushing myself to write in this blog again. Starting tomorrow, I hope, I will begin talking more about what I’m teaching and what’s going on in my classes. I want to talk about how I’m creating my materials and what I’m learning about education.

Urban education is a challenge. Being a first year teacher is a challenge. This year is a huge challenge, but one with which I look forward to grappling. I will overcome it, I will do my job well, and I will come out a better teacher.

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09/13/2011. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

(echo, echo, echo…)

Hello, internets. It’s been a while.

I’m up to my eyeballs in a masters degree, and applying to PhD programs. I just got laid off from my part time job and am now “up shit creek” as they say in the parlance of the times. I’m also dealing with a pretty serious bout of depression, so maintaining basic human functioning has somewhat overridden my desire to keep this updated.

I’m going to try to write here more often, though, as I would like to keep this going. To that end, I’m going to expand my horizons a little. I’ll be writing beyond strictly current events feminism stuff and instead touching in on things I’m covering in class, general reflections and bookishness, and also roping in cooking, writing, and assorted hobbies I engage in, in order to at least keep some content flowing. It’ll be neat stuff, hopefully (sewing, working with power tools, fun stuff!).

Anyways, this month is both National Novel Writing Month AND the Vegan Month of Food (VeganMOFO!). I will be participating in NaNoWriMo same as every year, and my novel this year has a feminist theme (including vigilante justice!), so I might post about that occasionally. I am not participating in VeganMoFo because I don’t have the money to make post-worthy stuff every day. Nor the time, nor the energy. However, I will be regularly posting about the amazingly delicious things that I make for MoFo and tagging them accordingly. I’m calling this MINI-MOFO. In the future, full-on MoFo action will happen, but for now, I’m just a MoFo aspirer. So, if you really hate vegan food, that’s probably good for you. On the other hand, if you really hate vegan food, what’s wrong with you?

So, there’s that. Stay tuned to see if I survive the PhD application process, write a damn novel, cook some vegan food, get a decent GPA this semester, and not have a nervous breakdown.

*whistle* And we’re off!

11/02/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Fun Times in Bostonland!

Hot on the heels of my last post and potentially directly in contradiction to it…

Tonight! 6PM! Lir Pub on Boylston St!

Boston NOMAS (National Organization of Men Against Sexism) will be hosting a panel/discussion on Dating While Feminist. It is being organized in part by the rad Dave of the BARCC blog, and will include such awesome speakers as his co-BARCC-blogger Shira, Jaclyn Friedman of Yes Means Yes! fame (amongst other fames), and Holly of Pervocracy!

I’ll be there, trying to convince people to eat leftover vegan nutella brownie bites from the massive batch I made last night to give to my students on my last day of field placement today and regenerating my will to live via beer consumption.

On that note, my field placement ended today. Although I still have plenty of academic work for the remainder of the session, I expect to be able to get back into a more regular posting pattern again. It won’t be back to 5 days a week for a while, I imagine, but I’ll keep striving to get back there. My last day at my office is August 20th, so although I’m in a mad rush to get all kinds of loose ends tied off, I’m also able to pass more and more work off to my assistant, who will most likely be stepping into my position when I leave. So, more workday blogging. Neato!

Anyways, hooray beer, hooray dating while feminist, and hooray brownies. Hooray today!

07/29/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Vegan Weekend Warrior: The Reckoning

Great success!

The Vegan Weekend was a great success!

I ate really well and felt really good the entire weekend. Everything I ate was freaking delicious and satisfying. I didn’t really struggle with any cravings (I hate when I eat a meal and then only a little later, I feel like my blood sugar is crashing). It was, over all, a great weekend for food. Plus I biked almost 30 miles, got some sun, bought about 15 pounds of fruits and veggies at Haymarket, did some sewing, watched some Farscape, and did some serious cleaning in my apartment.

Anyways, here’s a rundown of what I ate:

Friday: breakfast of coffee with chocolate soymilk, pecan praline granola; lunch of a banana, green tea, and a protein bar; dinner of pan seared ginger teriyaki marinated tofu, red quinoa, spinach, and orange-infused dried cranberries, a glass of wine; late evening snack of a vegan ice cream sammich (om nom nom!)

Friday night dinner!

Saturday: breakfast smoothie of a banana, a kiwi, vanilla soy milk, and flax seeds, a slice of toast with apricot jelly; lunch of salad, raisins, and cranberry juice (okay, that was kind of lame, but I was volunteering at a blood drive (I gave blood while dressed as Princess Leia. I live a very normal life) and it was catered by Olive Garden. I needed to eat SOMETHING or I was going to pass out from giving blood, but salad was the only option. Olive Garden isn’t exactly what you’d call veg-friendly); dinner of vegetable ratatouille, ciabatta, lemonade; dessert of vegan gluten-free almond cupcakes with chocolate almond frosting.

Cuppycakes! Bad photography!

My cupcakes were a huge success. My sister is gluten-intolerant, so I wanted to make something she could eat. I adapted the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, adjusting to make them a little more almondy because I like almond, and likewise with the frosting. The frosting was chocolate “buttercream,” and was the only thing I was really worried about. I mean, I swear by buttercream frosting.

I have to say, after these cupcakes, I will probably never make normal buttercream again. The frosting was so rich, so creamy, so delicious… We had a ton of leftover frosting, and we kept just taking fingerfulls of it because it was SO GOOD. My sister said it reminded her of chocolate mousse. Oh it was so good.

The cupcakes were a wild success–even after I told everyone they were vegan, everyone still went back for a second. I consider that a win!

Sunday: late brunch of Chesapeake tempeh cakes and iced coffee; dinner of pasta salad with wilted spinach, corn, and sweet onions, tossed in a nayonnaise/mustard/balsamic vinegar/herbes de Provence sauce, and a Blue Moon summer ale.

OMFG CAKES

I got the tempehcakes and remoulade recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen, and you guys, IT IS SO GOOD. I have a ton of leftovers (those three little cakes were more than enough to power me through the day and 15 miles of biking and adventuring) which are currently in a tupperware in my office fridge with sliced red pepper, spinach, and some pitas. I’ll be eating tempehcake sammiches for lunch for the next two days. Fuck yeah.

Those were SO DELICIOUS. I strongly believe that everyone should make them and experience them because holy shit, they had to be one of the more wonderful things I’ve eaten in my life.

I love food. I love food that is creative and exciting and filling and healthy and conscientious of the world we live in. This weekend, I successfully enjoyed all of these things, with a particular elevation of my conscientiousness. I really enjoyed it. I loved the process of preparing my food, nibbling the veggies while I worked, the wonderful smells in my apartment, and I loved how good I felt eating everything.

I’m hammering out my exact food philosophy, but I have a feeling that within the walls of my apartment, it’s going to be more and more vegan (I have some cheese and eggs right now, and I’ll use them up because I can’t abide being wasteful, but I doubt I’ll buy more). I suspect that when it comes to going to friends’ houses, I’ll be fine with holding to vegetarian considerations–I know too many people who are grudging about even that much, and I’d rather slowly expose them through sharing and positive feelings than being militant.

Anyways, I had an awesome weekend. I’ll be back to talkin’ gender and layin’ the smackdown soon, but expect a little bit of reflection on foodie-ism as this continues. Just as where we choose to spend our money is part of everyday activism, so is what we consume in the literal sense.

I leave you with a photo of my beautiful Haymarket haul. This is what $12 will get you on a Saturday morning, except then you have to bike home with it all on your back. As it turns out, that is heavy. X-TREME GROCERY SHOPPING, yo.

That's 3 bunches green onions, a pound of baby spinach, a half pound bundle of fresh basil, a pound of bananas, three lemons, a pound of ginger, 4 sweet onions, 3 red bell peppers, a box blackberries, a box of raspberries, and four limes. We're gonna need a bigger fridge!

06/21/2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

The Weekend Vegan Warrior

I’m embarking on an experiment this weekend. I have basically zero actual obligations for once in my goddamn life, and I feel fantastic about it. Tomorrow I’m volunteering at a blood drive (and giving blood! It’s finally been long enough since I last got tattooed/pierced/traveled out of the country that I can do this!) and then going to my sister’s house for my father’s birthday/father’s day celebration.

I’m bringing a batch of gluten-free cupcakes, as my sister recently developed a gluten intolerance. She’s also historically had lactose difficulties, and I prefer soy milk anyways, so I have a shiny copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (by the same ladies who did my favoritest cookbook, Veganomicon. Check out their ultra-rad website, The Post Punk Kitchen). So, I’m bringing vegan gluten-free cupcakes. Is it possible to get anymore touchy-feely “oh wow, you are clearly a liberal who lived in Cambridge for just a little bit too long”? I don’t know!

But I’m going to try. My experiment: this weekend, I shall be vegan.

I’ve been vegetarian on and off since I was in eighth grade. I really LIKE being vegetarian, even though yes, I do miss meat (I think that is a common misconception–a lot of vegetarians really enjoy meat! It is delicious! But similarly, I really enjoy punching people in the face when they irritate me, but I nonetheless do not do it). I’ve recently been working at steering myself back toward vegetarianism, and it’s going well. I like it.

A weird observation, however: part of the reason I got away from being a vegetarian is my concerns about inconvenience. Not to me–I genuinely love tofu and tempeh and can eat a bucket of raw vegetables for a meal and be incredibly satisfied. I prefer Nayonnaise over mayo (that shit is gross, yo), and any other number of things. However, I don’t like to be the burden. I hate feeling like when I go to someone’s house, they are going to feel obligated to make sure that there is “something Cuppy can eat.” At a wedding a few weekends ago, everyone was piling the chicken and steak on their plates at the buffet while I spooned up the mushroom ravioli. A caterer asked, “Vegetarian?” “Yes.” “Oh, so you’re why we had to bring this stuff.” I know I’m not the only one who ate it–I saw other people with the ravioli–but there was a momentary flash of guilt of, “Oh my god, my friend had to add an entire dish to his wedding catering just because of me!”

And of course, there’s the pointed comments. “Well, we were going to go to XYZ restaurant for dinner, but we have a vegetarian coming.” “For every animal you don’t eat, I’m going to eat TWO!” “I’m going to eat this hamburger right in front of you.” Uh, yeah. Okay. What’s your point?*

And the more I linger on the fringe of being a vegetarian–not putting the label on myself, but simply ordering the veggie burger instead, or ignoring the platter of meaty appetizers at a party–the more I see the weird way we are about them.

If you aren’t one of them, it seems like you’re against them. This isn’t a blanket statement, but it’s a pretty regular trend. If I go out with a group of friends and I order the vegetarian option (say, a veggie burger), I will get mocked. If I make dinner for people and as they’re praising how great it was I toss in, “Yeah, and it was vegan!” they will respond by either saying, “How dare you TRICK me into eating that stuff!” or “Yeah, well, it’d be better with meat,” or both. (Cause yeah, I totally tricked you! You never would’ve eaten… pasta… and… vegetables…) I’ve had people tell me that I’m weak because I choose not to eat meat, I’m a wimp, I’m girly…

Wait, what?

Yes. Eating meat has become GENDERED. And also sexualized!

I’d really like to dig up some images or websites to go with this, but I feel like I can’t be the only one to have noticed this. In the same way in which girls who play videogames are fetishized, girls who eat meat are fetishized. There’s this huge backlash of now when women are asked what their favorite food is, there’s a huge push of “ugh, I hate salad! Give me a bacon double cheeseburger any day!” and so on.

My best guess is that this is a backlash to all the dieting restrictions thrown at women. A woman who shamelessly loves a bacon double cheeseburger is a woman who is not tied to the social mores of what is and is not appropriate for her–she eats what she wants, and, one may extrapolate from that, enjoys all of the hedonistic pleasures of her body. (Personally, I prefer cannolis to bacon double cheeseburgers when it comes to hedonistic pleasures.) There is something, well, sexual about a woman indulging in eating, and eating excessively.

Is abstaining from meat viewed by the male gaze as similar to abstaining from sex? If you don’t know that I’m eating a veggie hotdog, is my consumption of a phallic symbol any less “hurr hurr hurr”-inducing than the girl sitting next to me eating an actual hotdog? Does knowing that it’s vegetarian remove the sexiness from it?

I don’t know. But the more I stand around NOT labeling myself as a vegetarian, the more I hear people’s candid remarks on it. For all that I will get mocked and harassed for being a vegetarian, there’s a lot that they don’t say straight up. Vegetarians are painted as being repressed, joyless people. They’re no fun to bring anywhere. They’re buzzkills.

And maybe this is only me, but I started to associate it with how I used to feel about being a female. In high school, I used to proudly announce that “I’m NOT girly. I’m not like all those OTHER girls!” I took it as incredibly sweet when my boyfriend would tell me how unfeminine I was. I feel a swell of pride when my dad jokingly refers to me as his son.

Basically, I had so internalized that it was BAD to be female and feminine that I took great pains to establish that I was not like that, via renouncing my feminism. I had completely internalized the idea of what femaleness is, and it is bad.

I was even told at certain points that I was allowed to participate in certain things–attending autocross events, or LAN parties–because I wasn’t “really a girl.” I was admitted into a special club.

Does anyone else think that is enormously stupid? Because I do.

But I get the same affirmation–when I don’t speak up about dietary wants or needs, when I just go and eat wherever, I get propped up that I’m a “fun girl” because I don’t get obsessive about needing to have access to a salad or whatever. Because now apparently my gender has predestined my meal plan.

Look, I eat vegetarian for personal reasons. Just because it works for me and makes me happy doesn’t necessarily mean the same is true for you. I appreciate some open-mindedness (why yes, if I cook you dinner, it will be vegetarian!) and some sensitivity (how about we DON’T go to dinner at the All-Meat Uber-Meat-o-rama Meatfest?) but you don’t have to change yourself and I am NOT judging you.

I think PETA and the nose-in-the-air-pro-veg-bumper-stickers-on-our-Prius crowd has mucked it up a little. Sort of like people abruptly become deeply defensive about owning a car when they find out my primary transportation is a bike, people become really adamant about loving meat and defensive about that love when they hear me call myself vegetarian. They become really defensive about all their life decisions when they hear I’m a feminist.

Is it subconscious guilt? Do people recognize that using a car as a primary method of transit in Boston is wasteful? Do they get that they probably eat way more meat than they need to satisfy their body’s requirements for protein and nutrients? (And that their meat is likely not produced in the greatest way? I actually have a huge eco-friendly boner for people who care enough to buy only small amounts of locally produced, fairly raised, grass-fed meat. Now that is social responsibility and gourmand-love coming together!) Do they get that they probably passively endorse misogynist behavior?

I do a lot of wasteful shit too. Hell, I occasionally prop up “patriarchy,” or whatever you want to call it, because dudes, I like wearing thong underwear sometimes. I’m no flawless angel. So… I’m not judging. But I guess everyone thinks I am? I don’t know. I don’t understand why what I eat, where I shop, etc, is such a big deal to people. Why is how I curate my body so offensive to you?

But anyways, this has been a way, way longer entry than I ever meant. I meant to just throw out one or two cute little comments on why I’m experimenting with veganism for the weekend. Basically, I’m pushing my own boundaries–I know I can be vegetarian and enjoy it, but I’ve let myself be pushed around by external forces. So I’m challenging myself to be vegan for an entire weekend. It’s going to be tough (I have a brick of parmesan in my fridge right now), but I think it’ll be good for me. It will push me to get more creative in my cooking (I’ve fallen into a rut, and vegan cooking uses such fun ingredients!) and it will remind me of how simple it is to be a vegetarian. It’s not hard for me to live my regular life–including social life–and be a vegetarian. Vegan? A little harder. So I’m going to spend this weekend of lack-of-obligations in treating myself well and spoiling myself.

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to the farmer’s market before I head out to the blood drive. I can’t wait!

I’m really, really looking forward to this weekend. I don’t know to what extent being vegan will stick with me, but I know I want to commit to working more veganism into my diet when I can. I want to keep my vegetarianism going strong. I hope this weekend brings about some positive changes in my life. I’m excited!

Also, I’ll share some recipes and results at the end of the weekend. You don’t have to be vegan (or even vegetarian) to enjoy good food! 🙂

*I get that people do this under the assumption that it will distress and horrify me. But dude, if you’re supposed to be my friend, why do you feel like it’s funny and cool to do something that you think might be borderline traumatizing to me? (I know a very sweet vegan who would be brought close to tears by that behavior, and people know it but do it nonetheless. People who are supposedly friends.) Why will you respect my choice of clothing, or what career path I have selected, or where I choose to live. Why is what I choose to eat so offensive to you?

06/18/2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

On Living in the First World

On Sunday afternoon/evening, I spent several hours boiling water by the hot pot load (fun trivia: my hot pot holds exactly one Nalgene-worth of water), washing dishes in my sink, and then disinfecting them via boiling water baths and microwaving.

There was a huge crack in a water main serving the Metro Boston area, so a huge chunk of eastern Massachusetts fell under a boil water order as of late afternoon on Saturday (unless you want to drink the Charles River, of course). Immediately, grocery stores were flooded with panicked citizens buying up all the bottled water they could find.

I went to the Stop & Shop by my apartment to purchase cupcake making supplies (it had been a long Free Comic Book Day of standing in the sun dressed like Princess Leia, and I had Spiderman cupcake papers and a new recipe for cookie-dough filled cupcakes. No boil water order was stopping my cupcake-making destiny!). Standing in line with my cupcake materials and bottle of Diet Coke, I watched frenzied people piling water onto their carts. People were shoving. Apparently in a few communities, there were actual physical fights. A few areas had water-distribution points where they were handing out bottled water; off-duty police officers were all called in to maintain order because of how people were behaving.

People–it’s water. Boil it! Get it to a rolling boil, hold it there for a minute or two, then fill a jug with it and let it cool, then put it in the fridge! It’s really not a big deal.

It’s amazing how quickly order disintegrates with something as simple as “don’t drink your tap water.” It’s becoming even more ridiculous this morning, as no one in Boston has their morning coffee–oh the surliness! (I made a big pot of coffee using one of my Nalgenes of water, so I’m feeling fine.)

Basically, I can’t help but be a little disappointed by how soft we’ve gotten. As one of my friends remarked yesterday, if anything ever REALLY goes wrong, we’re all so screwed, because clearly no one in this city is capable of coping. It IS a little hilarious, but it’s also sobering.

We would all do well to put into perspective the comfort we live in. All we need to do right now is boil some water. It’s not the end of the world. But people are panicking, breaking down, and even turning violent. What if we had a genuine food or fuel shortage? What if we lost power for an extended period?

First off, the next person who tries to tell me that government shouldn’t have such a hand in running things is going to get laughed at. Yep, the second the water is no longer government-approved, the city goes to hell in a hand basket. Nifty!

Anyways, I want to think that this little fracas will result in people thinking more about the privilege that we steep in daily. Even in my ghetto craphole of an apartment, I can normally switch on the tap 24/7 and have a glass of fresh, drinkable water. I wash my dishes without a second thought. I don’t worry about disinfecting my hands after washing. We brew pots of coffee in our office kitchen daily, simply by filling the coffee maker from the tap.

There are huge swaths of the world where this just isn’t the case. Not ever. Hell, there are huge swaths of the world where you can’t even SHOWER in the normal water. We’re still in the clear to bathe and do laundry. Honestly, I think just boiling water to drink and do dishes is a pretty minor inconvenience (plus we have so much technology to aid us). It’s easy enough for us to drive out to the grocery store and pick up a case of bottled water. Even under a boil water order, we have it so easy.

The sad thing, though, is that I doubt anyone is looking at it that way. We’re sitting around griping because Dunkin Donuts isn’t open.

Welcome to the First World, Boston.  Do you get it yet? Do you understand why so many foreigners want to come live in our country? Do you see how privileged and lucky we are? Do you realize how much we take for granted?

05/03/2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

On Why I Will Never Be A Great Feminist

I think I’m a pretty decent feminist. I change my own oil, can change a tire on the side of the highway, balance my checkbook, pay for my own dinner, do my best not to be a doormat for the men that I date, etc. However, I don’t see myself ever being a truly great feminist. Cuppy van der Cake will never be a household name, nor will I ever become part of the great feminist literary canon.

I’m too goddamn nice.

Seriously–I’ve got a pretty good backbone going on, I certainly don’t think of myself as the kind of girl you can walk all over and most everyone I know has at some point remarked on how they think of me as an exceptionally strong person. So I’m not worried about being a pushover. But I DO just want people to get along, and I believe very much in approaching issues from all sides and trying to share perspectives.

I got into a big fight with my ex-boyfriend once because he was in a fit of borderline violent road rage and I tried to explain what might have happened with the other driver and why it was all just a big misunderstanding and he shouldn’t be so angry about it. He did not like me empathizing with the other driver.

This kind of thing comes up in my life ALL THE TIME. I am constantly sticking up for strangers that I’ll probably never even meet because I hate listening to people get all worked up and spitting mad, assigning attributes to random people just because they don’t agree with them. Hell, I even empathize at times with Republicans and the religious right (I have nothing against the religious right as long as they don’t want to control how I live my life. If they find happiness and guidance in their religion, well that’s just super for them! It doesn’t work for me. But every time I see someone speak poorly of someone else strictly because of their religious or political ideology, when those things are not relevant to the issue at hand, I get really upset).

I don’t want to make myself out to be some great sympathetic morally wonderful person, because I’m NOT. I think terrible things sometimes, and I genuinely upset myself with the sort of bile that I can come up with, so please don’t think that I’m sitting here preaching. All “Oh woe is me, I shall never be a famous feminist because I am just too damn sensitive and sweet and caring!”

That’s not it at all. I see my determination to be fair and listen to everyone as a weakness. I am entirely TOO WILLING to empathize and forgive.

Some things shouldn’t be forgiven. Sometimes you have to draw the line and not back down.

I’m not good at drawing the line and not backing down.

When it comes to huge stuff–rape, murder, outright hatred–I can stand up to that. But many of the little things? Maybe, as a feminist, I SHOULD hate Rapelay, or I SHOULD be firmly against cosplay that involves sexualizing women’s bodies, or I SHOULD refuse to take my imaginary future husband’s last name if I ever get married. But here’s my dirty little secret–a lot of that stuff… I just can’t get upset about it as I should. I need to choose my battles.

I don’t think I’ll ever become a famous feminist by choosing my battles. What I think I CAN become is a good role model and guide to the people around me. We all see the high profile members of any movement–Sarah Palin, believe it or not, is not actually representative of every Republican. Just like Valerie Solanas is not representative of every feminist.

People get turned off by extremes, unless they feel that same passion. Sometimes you have to move in baby steps, and sometimes you’re never going to hit the extremes no matter what. However, wouldn’t it be great if more women felt some sort of allegiance to feminism? Just little things, like not just knowing that just because a guy takes you out and buys you dinner you don’t owe him sex, but actually feeling it. Or feeling like it’s okay to pay for your share of dinner so that issues like that never even come up. Or keeping a level head and rational mind on your side while shopping for makeup and shoes and clothes–it’s not easy to overcome the beauty standards of our culture, and sometimes it’s even fun to subscribe to them, but making sure that you keep your rational mind working for you so that you don’t get overwhelmed and depressed is important. Keeping in mind the wage gap, and striving to earn fair pay and good working conditions is important.

We’ve won a lot of the big name battles–we have the vote, we can work outside the home, we have access to birth control and abortion (for now at least). All that’s left are the smaller battles, and most of us don’t have the passion or the investment to fight them.

Some of us are never going to be the intense firebrand feminists. We’re going to be the casual feminists, who want to balance feminism with the rest of our lives. Not everyone can make feminism the center of their lives. I know I can’t, as much as I used to dream of being one of the big movers and shakers in the movement. I know that’s not where my life is headed, or where my personality will take me.

I have faith in my ability to help others feel a little more confident and powerful in themselves. I have faith in my ability to help others become more aware of the inequalities and subtle barbs that clutter our culture–as to which battles they choose to fight is their own decision. I have faith in my ability to help empower others, but I do not have faith in my ability to steer them in a direction.

If I help people to feel a little stronger, I will consider that a victory. If I help people see from someone else’s point of view, even if I don’t necessarily agree with that point of view but just because I think it’s important for people to understand each other, I will consider that a victory.

I know that there are times that my over-eagerness to try to understand and empathize with the point of view of others makes me weaker and less of a fighter than I should be. But that is who I am, so I have to work with what I have. I guess that I could try to change, but that’s not something that I want to do. I think there’s worse weaknesses to have.

If it means that sometimes, yes, I will write in defense of hentai videogames, then that’s that. If it means I’ll keep wearing costumes that might not be ideal, then that’s that. I like to think that I’m still providing some sort of service.

Maybe I’m wrong. But I’ll choose my battles and fight them, and you can choose yours.

04/15/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Reconciling Feminism and, well, Life.

So here’s the thing about being a feminist–it’s, you know, just a thing. It’s another adjective to modify the noun of oneself. It can inform some of the other adjectives that modify oneself (like you can be a writer and a feminist and they can inform each other!) but it doesn’t cancel other things out.

This can lead to some rather irksome tangled messes.

I’ve had a draft entry saved for ages now, and I keep editing it, but I just can’t get it right. The concept is basically “feminism and cosplay.” I’m a fairly active cosplayer, both with the 501st Legion and simply for my own fun at conventions and whatnot. I’m really proud of how much work I put into my costumes and how much their quality and intricacy reflects on me as a craftsman. On the other hand, there’s a whole lot of sexism and objectification in cosplay (full disclosure: I was one of Maxim’s “Sexiest Ladies of Dragon*Con”) and I have to balance my love of cosplay with my feminist politics. After my picture went up on Maxim.com following Dragon*Con 2009, I made a lot of jokes about my feminist card having been revoked. But in all honesty, I was just thrilled that my costume looked good enough out of a sea of 30,000+ people to have caught the attention of the Maxim photographer (who, in fact, was a woman).

It seems like I have to joke about my feminist card a lot. I’m involved in a lot of things outside of just feminism, and while feminism is a foundation of who I am, it doesn’t cancel out anything else of who I am.

I was thinking about this partially because of the great post about “Fucking While Feminist” over on the Sexist, featuring an interview with the amazingly bad ass Jaclyn Friedman. I like to think of myself as a less awesome version of Jaclyn, and that maybe someday I can slowly approach being closer to her level of awesome. In it, she talks about how, when dating, you kind of have to realize that dudes are usually not going to be at your level of feminism, so it’s finding compatibility and sometimes reconciling what you want in a relationship with your feminism. That makes sense to me.

It’s not just dating, though, for me. I consider myself pretty damn feminist, but a lot of parts of my life it seems like I end up having to be a slightly more moderate feminist, or have to make sacrifices in participating in things that make me happy or, to be honest, even being myself.

However, this bounces off a post from Tiger Beatdown recently about her irritation with the Liz Lemon character on 30 Rock. Now, I don’t watch 30 Rock, so I’m not familiar with the character or anything that she talks about. But I guess sometimes I feel, well, kind of Liz Lemony. It doesn’t help that I am white, educated, decently well-off woman–I’m from like the Betty Friedan pool of feminists. Feminism isn’t the number one most defining attribute that I think of myself by because I don’t need to–I think of feminism as a jumping off point for all the other things that I am. (I don’t know what my most defining thing would be, to be honest, but that’s a personal problem and not for here.) I believe that my entire life is informed by my feminism, but sometimes it’s “diet feminism” or “feminism light” or whatever, because if I’m at 110% all the time, I’ll stop enjoying the things I enjoy.

I fluctuate between feeling like I’m a bad feminist and feeling like it’s okay, because there has to be more to life than just my politics. On the other hand, politics shape our lives.

I don’t know. I’ve had a rather tumultuous week in my personal life, so trying to focus on writing a good blog entry isn’t going too well. I’m sorry about that. But I think there’s definitely something linking those two articles that needs to be looked at, and it has to do with how we live our feminism. Sometimes I think simply being who I am is feminist, but then I get a lot of people constantly asking me “how can you be a feminist and do XYZ?” So, maybe I’m doing it wrong.

One of the really awesome things that I LOVE about feminism is how interconnected it is with EVERYTHING. If you stand for gender equality–the basis of feminism–then you have to stand for all equality. So feminism and racial equality and class equality and all of this stuff ties up together. Everything is important, and interconnected. The drawback, of course, is simply that this means there’s a lot of stuff to think about and be aware of. Yeah, it’s whiny for me to call it a drawback, but there it is–sometimes I can’t live up to the feminist ideal because I just don’t keep it at the forefront of my thoughts and there’s a lot to keep yourself aware of.

Well, this is a little bit of a downer of an entry. Sorry about that. I guess, in conclusion, it’s important to balance feminism and life, without making huge sacrifices in your integrity or happiness. The slippery slope is simply avoiding slowly sliding to the easy way out of letting go of feminism under the guise of balancing.

03/26/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. 4 comments.

Radio Silence Redux

Hey, check it out, this thing still exists.

I haven’t used this since May of 2009. Damn. I initially wrote a kind of long post here, talking about what I’ve been up to and what’s lead me back to this. But that’s beside the point. I think I’d rather just start making some posts.

Anyways, I’m back, and I’m polishing up my stormtrooper helmet, in case I ever go through with starting the “ask a chick in a stormtrooper helmet” vlog segment. In the meantime, I have a mug of hot cocoa that has been liberally treated with creme de menthe, so I suppose it’s time to roll up my sleeves, put on my slippers, and do some writing.

02/04/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.