Saturday, March 31, 2012

gentlemen ladies

Ok, so I know I talked about fashion earlier this month, but I have to bring it up again, because if I was made of money, I would buy so many clothes from Marimacho. (And hey, I'm not criticizing them for charging for their craft, their goods are high-quality and tailored. It's just out of my thrift-store based price range.) See if this promo copy doesn't make you drool: "Marimacho is a masculine clothing line for cis women and transmasculine bodies. We design in-house, manufacture locally and distribute our entire line via our website. Our primary focus is fit. We make classic masculine garments with narrower armholes and necklines, shorter sleeve lengths, more bust room, etc. In this way, we offer cis women, trans men and gender queer folks the same standards of fit and style available in mainstream menswear. Marimacho is dedicated to creating classic masculine fashion that empowers people of all genders." Check out their hot, hot shop, their fun and boi-filled blog, and spread the word to your dapper-dressing female-bodied friends.  

Also, isn't the couple who runs it absolutely the cutest? Geez.

breeches part

Back in my good old theater days, something that used to drive me crazy was the lack of great roles for women in most plays, most of the time. Meanwhile, there are always, always more female actors than male actors. I got really sick of talented women working like hell to get cast in roles supporting (all too often) mediocre men in leading roles.

The San Francisco Shakespeare company Women's Will nicely circumvents this problem by casting women, exclusivley. Artistic diretor Victoria Evans Erville clearly shares my frustration, saying, "Every year, I work with a few women whose work I admire, but every year there are many more with whom I cannot work because there are so few good roles for women out there. This company arose from a desire to overcome this problem, to pull together talented women and create a supportive environment where we could grow and play." Shakespeare was always kinda genderqueer, afterall, since the orignal productions of his plays were all-male. In addition to putting on accessible theatrical performances during the summer, Women's Will hosts Playfest, an annual festival of new plays by women.  

Their website, unfortunately, seems quite out of date (all of the information, from auditions to performance schedules, is from 2011), but I lhope to hear more from them as the summer of 2012 approaches!   

Thursday, March 29, 2012

what is the lack

Not just because it's her birthday, but also because she's awesome: I'm dedicating today to Sasha Laudy, founder of the meetup group Women Who Code (SF). What motivated Sasha to form this group? In this blog post on Women 2.0, she states, "While many men were friendly and helpful to me, I grew tired of being the only technical woman at event after event. I craved a space — just one night a month! — where I wasn’t the only one. Where I didn’t constantly have to prove myself with every introduction, and where I could see what other technical women were accomplishing. So I launched Women Who Code." The group's grown to over 300 women and, even though Sasha's moving on to work for Codecademy in New York, it's clear that the group will live on without her. And that's the measure that you've made something good, no?

So hats off to her. And this makes me wonder (and I bet it makes you wonder, too): What is the lack in my life, the lack that is not only mine, that I could make a space to fill?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

the one speaking my heart

Women LEAD is a nonprofit based in Nepal that works to enable "women and girls to take key leadership positions alongside men." Their mission is to "provide young women with the personal and professional skills to pursue their vision for change." Ambitious, yes, and they're quite new in the world; they seem to have just started running full-time programming last year. But they have quite a few impressive-sounding programs: Their Leadership Institute annually trains 30 high school girls "...on issues such as human rights and conflict resolution, personal and professional skills (goal setting, teamwork, public speaking), [offers] leadership experiences, [and] support networks (peers, staff, mentors)." Many of the students they work with teach the skills they learn back at their own schools. They also have a women's entrepreneurship program, and an internship-placement program.

Their get-involved page lists not only the usual request for donations (cameras, or laptops, in this instance), they're also looking for folks to write for their blog. Two opportunities: "If you are a female leader in your school, community, or country, we would love to feature you on our blog!" and "Do you know an amazing young female leader? We want you to highlight her by interviewing her and writing a 300-400 word post for our blog." Think on that, y'all.  

Finally, check out the incredible and super-charming young women they're working with:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

a brave new pedagogy

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” 
― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
I talk and write about education so much not only because I work in it, but because it's become a kind of failed state within our country. Fewer low-income students are graduating college than in decades, and high school graduation rates are sadly stratified along racial lines (check out California's data). Land of the free and home of the brave, right? It is hard to change education. It is especially hard to make sweeping change. But looking local, looking at where you live, and at what can be done right now, for this generation, well, some change is possible.

Which brings us to Grace Lee Boggs, who's been doing rocking work for radical education since at least the early 90s – and she's 96 herself. Wow. She lives in Detroit, and her current project is the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, whose mission is "to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century."

I've said here before that the patriarchy hurts everybody, and let's face it, school is often (usually) a place where students, male and female alike, are taught to accept the established order, to fall in line, and to perform within existing systems in order to be rewarded. So when I hear about a non-authoritarian, student-focused, community-empowerment-based system, it really warms the cockles of my heart.

(Cheers to Angie for today's topic.)

p.s. Special bonus at no extra cost: Grace wrote a book called Women and the Movement to Build a New America. I can't seem to get any decent information on it, but I sure do love the title.

Monday, March 26, 2012

the feminists you were warned about

By now, I know, most of you are starting to worry. This is great, you think, but what, what will I do when March is over? Let me sooth your troubled feathers in two ways: 1) Since I started late, a few days into March, I'll continue a few days into April, and 2) Let me tell you about Opinionated

What is Opinionated? Well, it is "[a] podcast to discuss all things feminist, from gender politics to pop culture. Hosts Amanda Marcotte and Samhita Mukhopadhyay comb over the news and spend one hour a week dissecting items that aren’t getting the mainstream media coverage they deserve. When the mainstream media isn’t ignoring important stories about gender issues, they’re providing piss-poor coverage. We can’t fix that problem, but we can aim some sarcasm in its general direction while informing the self-selected smarty-pants Citizen Radio crew. The show will feature news, digressions about music nerding, and interviews with some of the coolest and sharpest feminist minds of our digital age." If you're so excited you can't even finish reading my blog right now, I honestly won't blame you.

In fact, they're such good talkers, I won't put words in their mouths. Here's how they define their feminism: "You won’t be hearing a mealy-mouthed debate about whether or not Sarah Palin is a 'feminist' on this show. (The answer is, 'Sarah Palin is a feminist like Richard Dawkins is a Catholic.') Hardly a day passes anymore that women don’t see basic rights being attacked or glossy magazines publishing pieces about how education makes women unmarriageable, making the only real question, 'How can we triage what needs mocking today?' We see everything from police brutality to DJ culture as feminist issues, and figure we’re pretty persuasive in showing how we’ve come around to that belief."

Check it out! And, if you feel moved, you can become a member at the "Dirty Hobo," "Miscreant," "Pirate," or "Zombie Pirate" level (among others).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

ladies who ink

The hard data seems hard to come by, but all the anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that the tattoo world is pretty seriously male dominated. The women tattoo artists interviewed in this New York Times article have pretty mixed feelings as to how pervasive sexism in is in the industry, as well as the value of a tattoo artist convention solely for female artists. (Marked for Life is an annual conference that gets women tattoo artists together.) Which reminds me that I'd really like to do some extended thinking on female separatism soon. But probably not right now, because I'm sleepy.

Meanwhile, here in the Bay Area, we've got Diving SwallowBlack and Blue Tattoo, and Sacred Rose Tattoo, for starters. There may be more, but it's a weirdly hard search to do. P.S. Hey Yelp: What's up with that? Why can't I search for "women-owned business"? Thanks. Actually, that's a great point. I just searched for "women-owned businesses" on Google and came across this helpful site for women who'd like to open a business, brought to us by the Small Business Administration, who also maintain this (warning: glaringly ugly!) directory of women-owned businesses around the country. It's impressively long and the index isn't even alphabetized, so I can't believe I haven't used it before. Right. This information should be free and friendly, people. No reason why not.

Want to know more? The SBA also maintains this handy page of recent studies and research on women owned businesses. Neato!

so awkward

Tired of mainstream narratives of both women in general and African-American women in particular? Look no further than The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, a web comedy series created by and starring Issa Rae. Totally low-budget (& funded by a Kickstarter campaign). May I recommend, particularly if you're not super into The New Girl? (Or have spent some time mulling over the Zoeey Deschanel problem?)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

how to heal that?

Hats off to housemate Annabel for submitting an idea to the Month of Feminist Action! (Yes, you can submit one, too!) She was actually the first person to tell me about the City of Joy, a project in the Democratic Republic of Congo aiming to address the after-effects of the traumatic violence so many women have suffered. The name of the organization couldn't be clearer about the seriousness of the problem: STOP RAPING OUR GREATEST RESOURCE: Power To The Women And Girls Of The DRC. It's sponsored by UNICEF, Eve Ensler's V-Day, and the Panzi Foundation, an organization whose mission is "to raise awareness about the challenges in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and partner with Panzi Hospital to heal women and restore lives." Heart-rending statistics from the Panzi Foundation's website:
  • It is estimated that there are over 200,000 surviving rape victims living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today.
  • From 2006 to 2007, an estimated 1,100 women were raped EVERY DAY.
  • Today, it is estimated that 36 women and children are raped daily.
It's so hard to take that in.

The goal of the City of Joy is to "support women survivors of sexual violence to heal and provide them with opportunities to develop their leadership through innovative programming. Through its groundbreaking model, the City of Joy will provide up to 180 women a year with an opportunity to benefit from: group therapy; storytelling; dance; theater; self-defense; comprehensive sexuality education (covering HIV/AIDS, family planning); ecology and horticulture; and economic empowerment." They seem to have had a rocky first year, and they're so new it's obviously hard to tell what their ultimate impact will be. But the need couldn't be clearer. In addition to monetary donations, the City has a registry where you can provide them with everything from pencils to tables. Let's hope they're able to grow this program to help meet the needs of so many women and children in the DRC. The ultimate goal of the City is to "provide women a place to heal emotionally as they rebuild their lives, turn their pain to power, and return back into their communities to lead."


(Okay. I am behind. Two today & two tomorrow, and then we're back on track.)

Let's kick it off with the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art in the Brooklyn Museum! When I was in New York about two years ago, I made a beeline for this place. Why's it so awesome? Couple reasons: For one, their mission is "to raise awareness of feminism's cultural contributions, to educate new generations about the meaning of feminist art, to maintain a dynamic and welcoming learning facility, and to present feminism in an approachable and relevant way."(ahem, HELL YEAH!) They're also the permanent home of Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party," a work of art I'd dreamed of seeing since, geez, sometime in high school. This is the only permanent, dedicated space for feminist art in a major museum in the U.S. (Anybody know any good ones elsewhere in the world?) When I was there, they were also showing some work by Kiki Smith, so that was cool.

Women continue to be wildly underrepresented in art museums, even modern and contemporary ones. To quote Chicago, "We've made advances, but not enough. I hope the fight for the recognition and validation of feminist art will be seen as part of a fight for larger diversity in our art museums and in art history."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

woah! nominate an awesome woman you know!

Ok, so I just found out that Good Magazine is having a contest to honor awesome local women. And today is the last day to nominate someone. You should totally enter one of the incredible women in your life! What is the contest and who can win? According to the website, they want to "celebrate the women in your local community who make a difference in the fight against hunger and poverty— someone whose efforts make a difference and inspire others." (Presumably, they're focusing on hunger and poverty because the contest is underwritten by Oxfam.)
    More suggestions: "Some possibilities include:
    • The founder of a local charity or nonprofit
    • A chef or farmer who helps promote sustainable food choices
    • A journalist or blogger who writes about poverty or social justice
    • A friend or relative who volunteers her time and expertise
    • An entrepreneur or small business owner who gives back to the community
    • A professor who educates others on these issues"
And then the winner gets $1,000 from Oxfam America. Super cool! More info and contest submission tips here. Shed some light on a rad lady in your life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

hey girl I mean woman I mean person who certainly should be treated as my equal in every way, of course

Feminist Ryan Gosling is exactly what you'd expect it to be. It's cheap, sure, but it's damn fun. (And for those of you studiously avoiding memes, 1) great work! and 2) it's riffing on this decidedly less feminist series). It is awesome. As is the FAQ. Sample:

"4a. It’s not very feminist of you to use a white male as your avatar. As a black women who has lived every moment of my black life as a black person in a country that never lets me forget that I’m black (and who has an academic focus on intersectionality, representations of race, and examining the feminist relationship to racism), this is not lost on me. It’s actually quite intentional. That. Is. ALSO. Part. Of. The. Joke."

If you need to find me, I'll be giggling in the corner.

Monday, March 19, 2012


This is so badass, I don't even know what to say. Back in January, feminist punk group Pussy Riot scaled some fences to enter the Kremlin and, wearing some really brightly colored clothes, rocked hard to their song "Putin Pissed Himself." In the snow, because it's Russia. You have to watch this. Rock out with them and their pelvic thrusting until they get arrested by the police. And then they performed in a cathedral! Amazing.

I don't know Russian, but Google offers me this (incomplete and no doubt imperfect) translation of their song about Putin (their cathedral song was called "Holy Shit"):

Go to the Kremlin is the rebellious colonies
In FSBshnyh offices explode window.
Females ssut for red walls
Riot announce Abortion System!

Attack at dawn? I will not argue
For our freedom and yours a whip to punish
Madonna in Glory teach to fight
Feminist Magdalene went to the demonstration

Revolt in Russia - the charisma of protest
Revolt in Russia - Putin zassal
Revolt in Russia - we exist
Revolt in Russia - rayot rayot

Come out to the street
Live at the Red
Show me the freedom
civil anger

(a loss on the square)

Dissatisfaction with the culture male hysteria
Wild leaderism eats brains
Orthodox religion is a hard penis
Patients are invited to conformity

The regime is going to censor the dream
It's time to disruptive clash
A flock of females sexist treatment
He asks for forgiveness from feminist wedge.

Revolt in Russia - the charisma of protest
Revolt in Russia - Putin zassal
Revolt in Russia - we exist
Revolt in Russia - rayot rayot

Come out to the street
Live at the Red
Show me the freedom
civil anger

What can you do? Honestly, today I would just love you to share this video with someone. and, y'know, you can always get involved with or give money to your local chapter of Girls Rock Camp.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

naked people have little or no influence in society

I like clothes. I also hate injustice. So this is actually a big quandary. Even if you're not as mad crazy about cute dresses as I am, you probably wear clothes. And your clothes are probably made by exploited workers in third world countries. This is one of those things we all prefer not to think about, because what can you do, right? Right. I wish I had an easy answer. Obviously I don't, but I do have a few ideas.

For one, I'm happy to have learned about the existence of the Clean Clothes Campaign.  They focus on:
  • Putting pressure on companies to take responsibility to ensure that their garments are produced in decent working conditions;
  • Providing solidarity support in urgent cases of labour and human rights violations;
  • Raising public awareness about working conditions in the garment and sportswear industry and mobilising consumers to push for change;
  • Exploring legal possibilities and lobbying for legislation to promote good working conditions and to compel governments and companies to become ethical consumers.
 (kindly note the British English spelling). I am, however, a little depressed by two things: 1) they're active in 15 European countries, but no North American ones, and 2) they've been around since 1989, and well, here we are. That's not their fault, of course. It's a lot of people's faults. Yours, mine, and most especially various governments. Because it is still really hard to buy fair trade clothes.* (And why is it so much easier to buy fair trade coffee? If you know, please tell me) I want to buy a new bra, and I thought to myself, I wonder if I can buy a fair trade bra? The internet has only succeeded in showing me these four, none of which I'll buy. Ugh.

Another thing I love (although it doesn't solve my bra problem) is shopping at thrift stores. What a nice way to op-out of exploiting labor and also not be naked! In San Francisco, at least, you can dress yourself real nice, pretty much head-to-toe (at least outerwear) from thrift stores.

Finally, I want to point out the genuine and total awesomeness of women-owned co-ops. Poking around the internet just now to see what I could find that would be positive and inspiring and action-oriented, after getting all depressed (justifiably so!) over sweatshop labor, I came across Mata Traders. They have some super cute dresses, as well as jackets, jewelry, and more. Got a couple leagues up on Ideeli, that's for sure.

And if you're all like wait, what does this have to do with feminism? Well, let's see: Women are constantly being encouraged to adorn themselves and their attention is constantly directed away from the way they're participating in post-colonial oppression of women, men, and children in other parts of the world. I'll go ahead and chalk this up to a feminist issue.

(p.s. Know of an awesome anti-sweatshop movement or source of fair trade clothing that I'm ignoring? Super! Tell me all about it!)

*And I am not even going to start on American Apparel. Talk about a wasted opportunity to be awesome. That's all I'm going to say about them.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

feminism is for everybody (part two)

Until quite recently I hadn't been aware of much out there for men interested in feminism and gender equity. I suppose there are a lot of reasons for this: I'm most interested in things that are written for me (a woman), and I already have enough trouble keeping up with those things. And I suppose because I feel feminism is so embracing, I hadn't really thought it would be necessary for there to be a separate place for men. Although of course I can see how it might be alienating or even terrifying for a lot of men to spend time on a website called "bitch" with the tagline, "a feminist response to pop culture" (my personal favorite antidote to the patriarchy). Ok, I'm sold: To ensure that men are being reached, let's get excited about more accessible spaces.

It wasn't until I stared dating my boyfriend that I heard of The Good Men Project. I was immediately intrigued. What is the titular project? They want to talk about "men’s roles in modern life. We explore the world of men and manhood in a way that no media company ever has, tackling the issues and questions that are most relevant to men’s lives. We write about fatherhood, family, sex, ethics, war, gender, politics, sports, pornography, and aging. We shy away from nothing. Our content reflects the multidimensionality of men — we are alternatively funny and serious, provocative and thoughtful, earnest and light-hearted. We search far and wide for new stories and new voices from 'the front lines of modern manhood.' And we do it without moralizing and without caricaturizing our audience; we let guys be guys, but we do it while challenging confining cultural notions of what a 'real man' must be." Which sounds pretty awesome. Which is why it was it was a pretty big bummer when the founder of the project got into some unpleasant feminist bashing lately (tidily summarized here). It lead one of their frequent-contributor male authors to resign. Shortly thereafter, that same contributor was surrounded in a different controversy which caused him to decide to "withdraw from explicitly feminist spaces." It's a big controversy, and complicated. It's also clear to me that Hugo Schwyzer is an incredible and articulate feminist ally, and it's sad to me the way so many have resorted to name-calling. In sum: I am bummed out that The Good Men Project does not seem interested in committing to making space for feminism or treating feminism and feminists respectfully, and I am bummed that so many feminists would so fiercely turn on a male ally.

I remain firm in my belief that there is a place for men in feminism. In fact, I think it's really important that there is. Bitch media recently posted an awesome article about this that pretty much mirrors everything I'd want to say on the subject, but the short version is that feminism is for everybody because the patriarchy hurts everybody. Sure, it hurts some people a lot more than it hurts others; but it hurts everybody. What saddens me about all of the controversies above is that the willingness of people to turn on allies. There was a lot that went wrong here, but when a bridge is broken, you need to repair it, not burn it down. It is a bridge. It is the thing that connects you. We have to support each other. There's far too much worth uniting over to set out to destroy the people who are already on your side. Where is the go-to place for men in feminism now? I'm not sure.

I want to end by saying while most of the feedback I've been getting about this series (which ain't over yet, y'all!) has come from the ladies in my life (encouragement, questions, Facebook "like"s), I'm really, really happy that I've gotten some responses from my male friends, too. I mean, on the one hand, if you're friends with me, you kind of already know what you're in for. So I guess my final thought is a question: Fellas, what do you see is your role in feminism? And what do you think it could be? I invite your comments (ladies, too).

Friday, March 16, 2012


I signed myself up for the mailing list of Women, Action & the Media and promptly filed it away in the back of my brain, i.e. basically forgot about it. Happily, they just sent me an email. Because you know what they're all about? Exactly. It's in the name. And so they're every bit as excited about Women's History Month (or maybe it should be called Women's Future Month?) as I am! They're having a decentralized conference in a lot of places, some of them online, so check that out. What exactly is WAM! (yes, it's the same acronym as the Women's Audio Mission, I know – but it's not my fault!)? Well, WAM! "connects and supports media makers, activists, academics and funders working to advance women’s media participation, ownership and representation. Our work is part of an advocacy movement for gender justice in media." Righteous! They have some pretty stark statistics about the media. So, that should change. Let's get on it!

I'm thinking it's about time to have a chapter in San Francisco. If I start one, will you join me?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

feminism is for everybody (part one)

For no particular reason, this thought crossed my mind today: What if I just bought bell hook's Feminism is for Everybody for everybody's birthday for a year? ("everybody" here used to mean, "everybody I would be buying a birthday present for that year") I don't actually think I'll be doing that, but I do want to take a moment to talk about feminism, women's rights, and women's bodies. After all, the body is the start and source of all "difference" and discrimination. But what is a woman's body?

I started writing this post about about the Intersex Society of North America, an organization dedicated to "systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female." (Hyperlinks theirs and, especially if you're not sure what I'm talking about right now, I encourage you to follow them.) It seems that, as an active organization, they are no more, although they do maintain a comprehensive web page. The new action place seems to be Accord Alliance.

Now while I am eager for us all to enter a post-gender world, that's not what Accord Alliance is (or ISNA was) all about. And that's okay with me. They are tackling a largely ignored challenge and source of discrimination in this country, and I stand with them in that. And although ISNA is closed, their webpage continues to have a lot of helpful information about what it means to be intersex, and do a great job of unpacking why it's neither accurate nor okay to call someone a hermaphrodite. Accord Alliance is doing a lot of work around education, for medical professionals, for the general public, and for families of intersex people. What can you do? Read up, get educated, and, if you feel so moved, make a contribution.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

writing women in

I'm pretty sure there are more articles about Yu-gi-oh! on Wikipedia than there are about the Blue Stockings. Or even the suffragettes. Is this related to the fact that over 80% of Wikipedia contributors are male? Possibly. But let's not sit and stew about it; let's change it! 

This Saturday I'll be attending Wikipedia's women's history edit-a-thon, and you should join me! It's in downtown San Francisco, and includes food & drinks. Not in San Francisco? No problem! That's the amazing thing about the internet, kids; you can edit Wikipedia from anywhere in the world. This is something you can totally do. And it's free. I would love you to join me. Hope to see you there!

(p.s. Huge kudos to Angie for sending this my way!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

shoot to kill

Street harassment is a problem that, historically, even somewhat sympathetic male-bodied people have a hard time understanding. If you're not used to the endless pile of insults and come ons that assault women in public spaces, it's hard to understand the rage many women feel even at more "innocuous" remarks. It's never just a drop of water, my friends, it's a drop of water being added to a deluge. Just yesterday I was out for a run and I was jogging in place at a stop light, waiting for it to turn green, when a male voice behind me said, "Did ya forget how to move forward?" I thought: Do I even want to deal with this? Because sometimes just acknowledging these remarks "invites" further comment, acknowledges these remarks "escalates" the situation. 
I turned and frowning, said "Were you talking to me?" 
"It was just a joke," said the middle-aged dude behind me.
"Right," I said, and turned back around. The light turned green and I ran off. But this could have gone a number of ways. And what I think many men fail to understand is that this, this "innocuous" situation, this is annoying. 

Well, no one needs to fake empathy and harbor confusion any more. They can just play a video game. That's right. Hey baby is a game about street harassment. It's a first-person shooter. You're a woman. You're being harassed by men as you walk down the street. And then you shoot and kill them. I've never been a man, but I was interested in this New York Times article by a man who played the game. Speaking of which, you should play it. It's free. I did. Tell me what you think!

Monday, March 12, 2012

sisters doin' it for themselves

It's past time to start reppin' some explicitly lesbian/dyke/queer org, I thought to myself, and happy thought indeed: It lead me to online magazine Sharp, funny, and hella stylish, it saves modesty for others. According to itself, it "is an intelligent, hilarious & provocative voice and a progressively feminist online community for a new generation of kickass lesbian, bisexual & otherwise inclined ladies (and their friends)." Am I a fool for not already knowing about this awesome publication? Clearly. But don't join me in the land of sad regret, read one of their articles about Rush's latest idiocies, or marriage equality, or how to be gay, or their whole section called "NWFW Sundays", and, yeah. Wow. Oh. Um, where was I? Oh, or  "Glee" (Why, why do I watch that show? Oh god. Well, I guess this is as good a time as any to admit that on the internet. Which means it's forever.)

What I am saying is you have got to check this out, whoever you are. And apparently it's independently owned, so that's rad, too. They have a store with some way sassy posters, including an infographic, called "Is it Sex?"("A handy way to answer the extremely difficult question 'how do lesbians have sex?!' "). What I'm saying is, stop reading this blog, and go check out Autostraddle. (But come back tomorrow, because who knows what I'll be talking about by then? I don't!)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

spin it, sister

It's true that I'm pulling a lot of examples from the Bay Area, y'all, I know. But hey, I live here. (Also, I will happily take suggestions!) Anyway, I think it's pretty kick-ass that there's so much to talk about here in my own backyard, and I'm making a point of covering organizations that focus on various aspects of oppression/liberation. 

So I'm moving on to the utterly fabulous folks at Women's Audio Mission. Here's the skinny: "Women's Audio Mission is a San Francisco based, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in music production and the recording arts. In a field where women are chronically under-represented (less than 5%), WAM seeks to 'change the face of sound' by providing hands-on training, experience, career counseling and job placement to women and girls in media technology for music, radio, film, television and the internet. WAM believes that women's mastery of music technology and inclusion in the production process will expand the vision and voice of media and popular culture." So cool! They offer a variety of classes, a super-fab program for young girls, and (hello!) online training. Did you catch that statistic a minute ago about how fewer than 5% of the people in music production and recording are women? 

Per usual, you can give them your monies. You can also buy a tshirt! And you can encourage a girl or woman in your life who's interested in making music to take some control and responsibility for her sound, and get involved in WAM!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

our bodies, our selves

There are several important issues that are being addressed by Peer Health Exchange, including obesity, alcoholism, and drug-abuse. And while I'm comfortable asserting that all of these issues have intersections with feminism, I particularly want to give PHE mad props because they're also tacking violent relationships and teen pregnancy. Which is important, because they work with high schoolers. Apparently one in three teenage girls in this country becomes pregnant. Meanwhile, conservatives throw their aprons over their faces at the thought of teenage girls taking sex ed. Because, you know, obviously all the girls who are pregnant had great sex ed classes in high school. Of course, the science doesn't bear that out. And while (predominantly male) politicians dither about if and how to teach our youth about consent, safety, personal boundaries, and contraceptives, girls are getting unintentionally pregnant. Male and female people are entering and staying in violent and unsafe relationships. Which brings us back to PHE. PHE targets "high schools that lack health education and in which the majority of the students live at or below the poverty line" and then "recruits, selects, and trains college student volunteers to teach high school students a comprehensive health curriculum consisting of thirteen standardized health workshops on topics ranging from decision-making and sexual health to substance abuse and nutrition." In a nutshell: Free, quality, no-agenda sex- and health-ed for underserved youth. Now you see why I'm excited. 

Was sex ed a lousy, insulting, awkward joke and complete waste of time when you were in high school? Yeah, me too. Wouldn't it be awesome if that stopped being the case? We talk a lot about individual rights in this country. But I for one refuse to believe that a parent's right to raise their child "the way they see fit" trumps a child's right for safe and honest information about their own body. Children and teenagers are also citizens, and it's past time we start treating them as such.

So, PHE? They're hiring and looking for volunteers. (And of course, they'll take your money, too.) Check 'em out, & spread the word.

Friday, March 9, 2012

hell yes we can

I think – I really do think – that pretty much everyone knows that female people are under-represented in science & tech. (But don't take my word for it, check out these transparently-sourced statistics.) Meanwhile, there's a helluva lot of money and jobs in science and tech. Anyway, the point is, if a girl wants to blow things up or build bridges or apps or robots, I'm all for it. Unfortunately, girl students' performance starts differing markedly from boys' right around middle school – just when science gets interesting! This is also the time when girls stop expressing as much interest in topics that are, culturally,"for boys." (There is so much research on this. You should check it out.) Enter Techbridge, an organization that "inspires girls to discover a passion for technology, science, and engineering, empowering our future innovators and leaders." They provide after-school programming to an impressively large group of East- and South-Bay schools (some of the higher-need areas in the Bay Area, in case you didn't know).

Icing on the cake? Their website includes a holiday gift guide of presents that encourage girls in science, technology, and engineering. Pretty charming. And rad radness itself.

How can you get involved? Well, they don't seem to be accepting volunteers, but they are hiring. And hey, I've said it before, but I'll say it again: You can give them some of your money! People, I'm serious. Think of all the money you spend on stuff that does nothing to improve the world. Now go out there and find your favorite 501(c)(3) who is rockin' it, and give them $15. You'll like it!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

rooms of their own

Wait, literacy and a focus girls' education? Be still my heart! That's exactly what's going on at Room to Read, an international nonprofit organization based (yup) in San Francisco. Their website is full of shitty-but-true statistics like this one, "In the developing world, 42% of girls are not enrolled in school," and, "Of the 793 million illiterate people in the world, two-thirds are female." On the other hand, they also have awesome-and-true statistics such as, "Providing a girl with one extra year of education beyond the average boosts her future wages by 20%," and, "More than 13,000 girls in eight countries now have access to improved educational opportunities and holistic support as part of Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program." Can we just stop and look at that for a minute? 13,000 girls. 13,000, since 2000! Room to Read's programs focus on girls transitions into and out of secondary school, the organization engages with government officials and school admin, buys uniforms and ensures safe transportation, they get parents involved – and many of the girls they work with are the first in their families to finish secondary school. Let's think about that for a moment, too. The wasted talent, intelligence, and potential around the world. They're changing that.

Room to Read also builds schoolsschool libraries, provides reading and writing instruction, and, in an especially cool twist, produces children's literature in local languages. Are you excited yet? This is so awesome. You should really consider giving them some of your money.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

bang bang bang

Today I want to talk to you about Tom Tom Magazine. This is so transparently cool, I'll let it speak for itself: "Tom Tom Magazine® is the only magazine in the world dedicated to female drummers. It serves as the ultimate go-to guide for the latest and hottest info on lady drummers and beatmakers. Tom Tom seeks to raise awareness about female percussionists from all over the world and hopes to inspire women and girls of all ages to drum, all while strengthening and building the community of otherwise fragmented female musicians." They have a tv channel, the aforementioned magazine, a shop, and they even host events.

Can I get a hell yes? To community building, and to making loud noise. It's only been around since 2009, but I hope it's here to stay. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

that money is just sitting in your bank account anyway

People, I am late. As a matter of fact, I am very late. But I am not so late that I won't start. 

It's March, my friends, and that means it's Women's History Month. Loyal readers may recall that two years ago, I ran a "lesser-known-but-exceedingly-awesome-woman-of-the-day" feature. Other loyal readers may recall that last year I did nothing. This year, I've decided, will be based on action. Everyday for the rest of the month, I'm going to tell you about an awesome organization that's doing rad things that empower women, fight the patriarchal hegemony, etc. You will have the opportunity to Take Action. And so, without further ado, I present:
You may already be familiar with this microlending site. After all, it's been around since 2005. Their mission statement is pretty straightforward, "We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world." What does that have to do with women? Well, investing in women in developing countries is generally a good idea (there are so many articles on this, you guys, check it out). Women don't have access to the same opportunities or education. But they're damn good at running businesses, at investing back in their community, and at raising up their society right along with them. You don't have to take my word for it; in addition to reading the above, spend five seconds on google.

What I especially like about Kiva is how easy it is to loan someone your money. It is $25 (min.) to you, but that money goes a lot further in poorer parts of the world. And you'll get it back. And maybe then you'll be so inspired, you'll loan it again. That's my plan, anyway. In January I made a loan to Yadira, a baker in Nicaragua looking to buy a refrigerator to expand her business. My $25 just covered a small part of the expense, of course, but she's already started to pay it back. And once it's paid back in full, I intend to loan it to someone else. Because how much interest was $25 collecting in my bank account, anyway? Next to none. I don't have a lot of money. But I can use just a little bit of what I have to do some good for struggling women in the world, and I urge you to do the same.

Cheers to March!
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