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Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Media Vacation

Last Tuesday, we loaded up the camper and took off for the 23rd Annual Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, New York.  The drive takes six hours and for most of it we listened to music on the radio or on my iphone.  That evening we swam at the pond, had dinner with my family and sat around a campfire  talking and laughing.  No TV was watched that day.

The next day we hung out by the pond some more.  (It was in the high 90s).  And later that day my husband and I went out for an early dinner with my brother and his lovely partner at a restaurant called Stonecat in Hector, NY and off to play nine holes.  The night ended, again, by the campfire by the pond. My birthmother’s husband built a pyramid style campfire that night.  I began to avoid social media as well.  No TV was watched that day. 

On Thursday the men in my group (my husband, brother and a friend) biked the three miles into town where our cars were lined up to get into the festival.  I got dropped off a few hours later.  We were in and set up at the festival by 12:40pm.  The next four days were spend by our campsite at the festival, seeing live music at one of the four stages, eating at the vendors, or heading out to the pond for an afternoon cool down.   No posts to Facebook.  No Tweeting.  No TV was watched those four days. 

We didn’t read any newspapers.  I left my iphone in my camper top drawer merely so I could hear if I got a text from someone local, usually asking if we needed anyone to pick up beer or ice.  We saw some great music.  My top three include DriftwoodThe Mad Tea, who I have loved since first seeing them at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival in 2005, and Spam Allstars, who “blend improvisational electronic elements and turntables with latin, funk, hip hop and dub to create what they call an electronic descarga.” I always love seeing one of my favorite bands Donna the Buffalo

We leisurely packed up the camper on Sunday to make it back to the pond for dinner and a final campfire before we took off on Monday morning.

A week without any media (other than live music) is something more of us should experience.  Most of what I write about for this blog is about critiquing what I see on the TV or hear about in the news.  I didn’t have much that pissed me off all week except hearing the stories from my family of the Pro-Fracking folks in the area.  Perhaps I would be less pissed off if I was less engaged with the media.

As I drank my coffee Tuesday morning and watched a bit of the Today show with my nieces and in-laws, I wanted to throw up.  The two big news items were that the Pope’s car  had been surrounded by people in Rio, as his driver took a wrong turn, (surrounded by Catholics dying to get a blessing?  Oh my God!) and the new baby of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  These two examples were enough to make me want to throw out our TV.

Spend a day or two away from media and see if it changes your perspective a bit.

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To Speak Badly of One Woman is to Speak Badly of All Women

As you will see from the following link, a lot of very mean men wrote horribly misogynist things about Marion Bartoli, the French woman who won the women’s singles at Wimbledon this year.   (Marion Bartoli).

In my line of work, I spy sexism all over the place.  And racism.  And heterosexism. But this incident has me particularly pissed.  Serena Williams may be tall, but she isn’t blonde and one would NEVER see those same kind of comments made about her very awesome athletic self.  There are numerous so-called “ugly” men who play tennis who would never be called sluts or fat because they weren’t tall and blonde. 

One of the biggest problems with this open world of social media is that people can actually tweet comments or write comments they would NEVER say in public.  For a few years I felt that homophobia, heterosexism and fat hatred were the last vestiges of public (meaning people DARED to say stupid shit in public about other people) oppression remaining in our culture, but lately, I feel like sexism and misogyny is getting a resurgence that makes me want to vomit.

Perhaps it is all connected to the War on Women.   The attacks by republicans on women’s BASIC human rights to control her body and her fertility might be setting a bad tone.  I mean, if those rights can be attacked, why not call us fat sluts at the same time.

If you can stand it and you scroll further down into the “Public Shaming” article you will see tweets that go from calling her a slut to calling her a dyke and saying she has a penis.  I mean, god, can you imagine a female athlete being a lesbian, being tough, and being strong?  What is this world coming to?  Jeez. 

For me, I want to organize and have a strategy to fight this.  Couldn’t the corporate executives who own these social media have policies about racism, heterosexism and sexism?  Couldn’t they have language about what types of hate speech will not be allowed?  Call me crazy, but we know the FCC has rules around what words can be said on the radio and on TV.  If those same misogynists and homophobes who spoke so horribly of Marion were using racial slurs, would there have been a different backlash or comment?  The twittersphere and blogosphere went nuts when The Onion called Quvenzhane Wallis from Beasts of the Southern Wild a cunt.  Is it because she was a Hollywood actress, a child or is it because women’s athletics doesn’t get that kind of attention?

What makes all of this worse is that even the BBC reporter John Inverdale remarked that Ms. Bartoli was “never going to be a looker.”  What does THAT have to do with her playing tennis?  Are you fucking kidding me?  Who is his boss?  Do any women producers work for the BBC who might clue him in that Bartoli is an athlete and her looks have NOTHING to do with her talent? 

Seeing blatant sexism like this, 22 years after I decided to be a feminist makes me feel old, sad, frustrated, and disappointed.  First, I’m disappointed that we are still raising men, HUNDREDS of them, as you’ll see from those tweets, who feel that way about women.  Who are their mothers and sisters and daughters?  Do they not get that to speak badly of one woman is to speak badly of all women?  I’m frustrated that we have an educational system that does not address sexism and misogyny at a young age.  I’m sad that the progress I have dedicated most of my career to seems to be slipping backwards. 

And for those of us with really good men in our lives, take a moment today to thank them for not being an asshole like all those jerks who tweeted so negatively about a champion.  Apparently it takes a lot more effort to be a good man these days than to just tweet that someone is a slut. 

Sexism and Racism and Classism, Oh My!

This past week has been one that in the words of my student “my parents did not raise me to be a queer feminist filled with the wrath of a thousand enraged dragons and yet here I am.”  Here we’ll recap all the awesome oppression taking place in a country which, on the cusp of it’s “birthday” still doesn’t get it.

Sexism:  I want to think this is internalized sexism, but it might include a little class privilege along with it. Serena Williams comments about the victim in the Stuebenville rape case were appalling. 
“Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people,” Williams said to Rodrick.” She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.” (quoted in http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/18/serena-williams-steubenville-rape-victim_n_3462519.html).  My question is why this topic was even being discussed in a Rolling Stone article. 

Sexism Two:  Texas.  My favorite quote by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, “Lawmakers, either get out of the vagina business or go to medical school.”  

Racism:  Cheerios put out a commercial with an inter-racial couple http://youtu.be/kYofm5d5Xdw.  Apparently inter-racial couples are controversial and there was so much hate speech about it that Cheerios disabled comments.  I continue to be amazed that in 2013 people actually have the balls to write out racist comments in public. Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked.  I get socialization, I get all the theory behind oppression but I don’t get people who hate. 

Racism Two:  Paula Deen. 

Classism:  Why does a millionaire sports figure like Aaron Hernandez decide to commit murder when he could afford to hire an anger management therapist? What a sad moment for young children who look up to athletes like him.

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