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The Problem with Intersectionality

I should be going to bed.  I have spent the last 2 days  at the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women Training because I was lucky enough to win a grant for my university to fund victim/survivor services, education and training.  Woo Hoo!

In the midst of heading to wintery Virginia (yes, it is freezing here!), Patricia Arquette, winning a best supporting actress award, has been attacked by liberals, feminists, and others, for her comments off stage.  On stage, she spoke passionately about how wage equality is an overdue piece of the inequality puzzle, even in richy-rich Hollywood where women are paid much less than men, and even more so, as always for women of color.  Then, as everyone has seen in the mass media, she goes on to say that it is “time for us” and that “people think we have equal rights; we don’t. Until we pass a constitutional amendment, we won’t have anything changed. It’s time for all women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

Before I comment on her quote and its backlash, it should be stated that I define myself as bisexual, white, female, middle class and feminist.  I am a survivor of sexual violence.    I serve on the Board of Directors of the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts whose mission is to “eliminate racism and empower women.”  Ending racism is part of my life’s work.  And in everything I do in my job, I am constantly striving, more so than ever, to call out and end racism and transphobia.  (Doing this at a university is hard and somewhat impossible work, especially when the powers that be think that people of color should be the ones explaining what the problem is and then fixing it themselves). I  live in the messiness that is intersectionality.

I didn’t watch the Oscars.  For one, I am on the fence about boycotting that elitist white patriarchal shit.  Two, I didn’t see any of those movies because I don’t have time.  (If I am going to watch acting,  I am going to see it live and support my local theater’s).  Three, I threw my husband a surprise 50th birthday party ,the night before, and we were just plain old tired.  I mean, God! He’s 50! We’re too old to stay up that late.

However, when I read her off stage quote, I honestly read that she was asking men (gay men and men of color) to help women out.  Not just white women, but all women.  And yes, using the term gay “people” and “people” of color was a miss-speak.  That’s all it was, I believe.  And maybe I believe this because I have white privilege.  Can we just breathe for a minute and not tear into a woman the minute she tries to have a voice?

Forbes crunched the 2013 numbers and showed that among the kind of lavishly compensated thespians who fill seats at the Oscars, men make way, way, way, way more than women. The men on Forbes’ list of top-paid actors for that year made 2½ times as much money as the top-paid actresses. That means that Hollywood’s best-compensated actresses made just 40 cents for every dollar that the best-compensated men made. No wonder Meryl Streep and J-Lo are pissed(

I’m sad that a woman spoke up about inequity and because she did not address the intersectionality of the inequity in her comments, using the terms “gay people” and “people of color,” feminists and liberals are branding her with a scarlet F for her flub.  But I’m more disappointed  that liberals are attacking other liberals for their lack of intersectionality in everything they say or do is becoming popular right now.  Coalition building is all we have to fight the never ending attacks by the right against issues like trans* friendly policies and law, reproductive rights, and violence against women  (“in a world where every three years the death toll of women murdered by their partners or former partners tops 9/11 casualties,” Solnit Men Explain Things to Me, 23).

A feminist colleague of mine wrote”

I have been so angry about these attacks on her that I had a hard time sleeping last night. I actually had someone say that white women should not speak because the inequality we face isn’t as bad as other segments of the population and we don’t know real discrimination. In other words, smile and shut up because what you have to say doesn’t matter. Because that is healthy. If only we fought for equality with the same fervor we fight each other. Sigh.

This is the problem with intersectionality.  We can only speak to OUR personal truths.  We can be allies to other people and fight passionately for their rights.  This all connects back to the boycott of The Vagina Monologues by Mt. Holyoke because they are now a trans* friendly school  Eve was not writing a play about EVERY WOMAN’s experience.  She wrote a play based on a few interviews she had with a few women, about their vagina’s, over 16 years ago. And Arquette, by the way, has a trans* sister, so I’m quite certain she doesn’t believe that LGBT rights are all set.

Everyone needs to just fucking relax.  Fighting amongst ourselves about whether we have included EVERYONE in what we just said will not get us anywhere. Not to mention, the right just eats this shit up.  I am reminded of a quote I had for years over my desk.  “Don’t scratch a sister because the system will do it for you.”  Patricia Arquette certainly got scratched.

I’m Saturated

The older I get the less engaged I am with, or in pop culture.  I’m not sure if this is just a “thing” or if I am too busy or what.  I feel like it is just because there is only so much room in my brain and so many hours in the day to keep up.

I’m currently watching Season 7 of Dexter. I want to start Orange is the New Black.  I want to see Transparent, even though one of the producers said some transphobic crap about Bruce Jenner.  I could make a list of all the television series I want to binge watch, but I’m not a binge watchers.  (I’m not really good at sitting still for long periods of time.)  I want to find out how to watch the next season of VEEP without subscribing to HBO.  I had to watch back to back episodes of Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder as I missed the first two episodes of the mid-season. I want to get rid of cable, but I was worried about missing my Daily Show.  Not anymore.  We watched his Tuesday night show on demand last night and I wept.  Yeah.  I admit it.  I love that man.

But I work with college students.  Every day.  They are so up on everything pop culture.  I feel mixed about how much I should know about their world and how little time I have to know it.  I want to do more yoga.

media diet

Music is another piece of that puzzle.  I flipped through some pictures of the artists at the Grammy’s the other night and there were many I did not know. Whenever I am in the car with a younger person, like Kendra, my 26-year-old staffer, I ask who the artist is singing the songs I know.

I have a list of books I want to read.  Three people have given me The Secret History of Wonder Woman.  I just finished two books on my trip to Denver, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and a book called The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion, who is a man.  That probably isn’t surprising to most folks, but I tend to read books by women in an attempt to make up for all the male writers I was required to read in high school and college.  Some have said that is a sexist position to take, but I feel as if I am just providing balance where my education did not.  And, I’m 46 and can read whatever I want.

Then there’s the movies.  I have an actor/director friend who I think might see every movie that comes out.  Seriously.  He overwhelms me with how many movies he sees.  He also doesn’t own a house, yet.  This movie machine may slow down once he has to fix an ice dam on his roof.  The last movie we rented was The Interview.  That was probably two to three weeks ago.  I have not seen any of the movies nominated for Oscars.

I love to go to theatre.  But carving out the time to do that on top of all the other media demands in my life is a challenge.  I have seen three live shows in 2015.  Two were plays and one was a musical performance.  Is that enough?  Is it too little?  Is it average?  I can only judge by my peers attendance, which varies, although I am by far, not the best theatre goer in the group.  Like my movie going friend, I have theatre friends who go see everything, which is a challenge in Rhode Island, where there is even a bit of over saturation in the theatre world.

I think it has become increasingly difficult in this media saturated culture to keep up with news, movies, television, music and social media.  And to do all this while exercising at least 30 minutes a day, drinking 8 glasses of water, getting 7-8 hours of sleep, and eating healthy is impossible.  Look at this excellent graphic of the media saturation during the Super Bowl.


Saturate also means to destroy (a target) completely with bombs and missiles.  Maybe that is how I am feeling.

So what’s a gal to do?  The answer is not clear to me at all.  For now, I will go to work, come home, cook dinner and watch an episode of the last season of Parks & Recreation, because it’s Tuesday.

New Local Restaurant Reviews

Our friends know that we like to eat out.  Or we’re lazy.  My partner is an amazing cook, but it’s not always the easiest thing to do after a long day at work.  A lot of new restaurants have opened near us in the past year.  Here are some review-ish notes of local restaurants we have tried.

Simones in Warren, RI.  This place is owned by the man who use to own The Sunnyside which was a popular breakfast and lunch place on Water Street.  They bought a restaurant on Rt. 103 or Child Street that has been home to a number of not so good dinner places.  When we lived in Warren it was a dinner place with live entertainment on the weekends.  We have seen quite a few bands play there.  First, let me say it is good that they have parking since parking is such an issue in Warren.  However, they have not used the space in front of the building wisely, as it is wasted parking space, in my opinion, with large areas of mulch we had to walk through to get to the front. Poor curb appeal.  Hopefully they will do something with it in the spring.  Their menus change weekly, which is a nice touch.

We sat at the bar.  Immediately Jeff said to me that they need a low temp glasswasher as each time they opened the glasswasher, steam poured over and up the bar.  All the stemware was set behind the bar, glass side up, ready to be filled with dust.  These pieces need to be hanging.  We ordered a few different dishes to try.  The lobster ravioli had little lobster flavor.  It was very bland.  The cucumber martini was delicious but I had to ask for a second.  A good bartender will ask you if you want another drink before you do.  We ordered the bowl of marinated olives but the olive picks didn’t work very well, so we had to use our fingers.  They really could have used a second bartender that night.  The server who was carrying drinks near us needed some training as she was carrying her tray with two hands in front of her.  As someone who waited tables from 1988 to 1993, I wonder how you can even get a job as a server without knowing how to carry a food or drink tray. The Grand Marnier was a good pour at the end of our meal.

I went back with my sister-in-law for drinks and small plates a few weeks later.  The grilled lobster was horrible but the baked oysters were delicious.  Then we brought friends for brunch in December and everything was good, except my Eggs Benedict, which were overcooked.  The three times we have gone, there’s always been something not quite right about our meals, so I am hesitate to return.

In mid to late October, we attempted to get into Eli’s Kitchen, which everyone was raving about, but there is no place to hang out there if there is a wait, so we stumbled into Metacom Kitchen, where Tinker’s Nest was for years.  No parking for this place.  It was pouring out that night (remember October?) and we had to park way down Metacom Avenue to find a spot on the street.  The owners are, Richard & Sue Allaire.  Richard was recently a chef and part owner at Providence Coal Fired Pizza.  He was a also a chef at Tuckers in Newport.

The use of the space, in general, was our biggest issue with the place.  The art work is weird and too small for the space.  The layout of the dining room is wasted space.  They could easily put two more 4-tops in the middle.  And every time the door opens, you get a big gust of wind as there is no barrier/entryway.  Jeff was impressed by the flatware.  We tried the egg in a blanket and it was amazing.  Strangely, in this new day of mixology, there was no drink menu.  Jeff had the burger, as he always does when we try a new place.  And I had the salmon but highly disliked the strange mushroom side dish that came with it.  We weren’t blown away at all.  Not sure if we’ll go back.

Two weeks ago, Thursday, we tried The Aviary, which recently opened in Swansea on Rt. 6, next door to Tickles.  Tickles is a country store with a boutique approach.  They sell jewelry, clothing, Stonewall Kitchens, and knick knacks.  They are also famous for their Tea Room where they sell sandwiches and soups.  Their new restaurant, directly adjacent to Tickles has a beautiful interior design.  Two big rooms, one with a bar and the other with a fireplace are tastefully decorated and laid out.  A lot of money went into the design of this place.  Walking in, on a very cold January night, however, one wonders why the entrance is the furthest place from the parking lot.

We went with another couple and got their early so ordered drinks at the bar.  I had their specialty cocktail, the Whooping Crane, which is organic cucumber vodka with muddled basil and lemon, topped with lemonade and club soda.  Jeff had the Foul Game which was bourbon infused with apples and cinnamon sticks.  Mine was delicious.

For appetizers we tried the duck wings and the deviled eggs.  I wasn’t a fan of either.  The eggs were boring.  If you’re going to serve deviled eggs as an appetizer, they need to be jazzed up in an interesting way.  The best deviled eggs I have tried, since they’ve become a popular restaurant item, were at the Red Fez in Providence.  I ordered the Lobster Salad Roll.  It was good but I don’t think the lobster was very fresh.  Jeff had The Aviary burger, our friend’s had the Aviary grilled pizza and the Handmade Gnocci.  Everyone was pleased with their food and the service.  We will return.  The grilled pizza looked delicious and would be a great meal to have at the bar one night.  I would include the link to their restaurant, but they do not appear to have a website yet.  I had to find the menu on Facebook.

Last week we finally made it to Eli’s Kitchen. We were relieved to finally get into the place.  We sat at the communal table, rather than waiting for a 2 top.  We ordered the Shiraz.  The server let us taste both of the red wines on the menu and the Shiraz had more earth than the Cabernet Franc.  We tried their famous Sweet Chili Cauliflower.  It was outstanding.  For dinner I had the Seared Bomster Scallops, served over a ragout of braised pork and heirloom beans, fingerling potatoes, lemon relish and chervil.  The lemon relish topped each of the scallops.  It was outstanding.  I licked my plate clean.  Jeff tried the Eli’s Kitchen Burger, saying to me as he ordered, “I have to try out the burger to judge every new place.”  He said it was much better than the Aviary burger.  IMG_1592

So, there’s your brief tour of new restaurants in Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island as you voyage through 2015.  I’d love to hear your critiques!



The Freedom to . . . Speak


The Washington Post showed Charlie Hebdo’s cover of this week’s issue in their article discussing it.  The New Yorker didn’t. Nor did The New York Times.  (Although their online edition contains a link to Charlie Hebdo).  I read an article online about the new edition with the caricature of Mohammed crying, holding a sign that says “Je suis Charlie” and the words above him Tout Est Pardonne (All is forgiven).  I hesitated before posting the article on my facebook page.

Yesterday I saw a friend’s post that said “Why is no one posting the cover of this week’s Charlie Hebdo on Facebook? I believe The Times ran a front-page article, but neglected to print the image. We all get kind of quiet when it’s truly risky, myself included.” People are critical of The New York Times not posting it because print readers do not have the access to the links provided to online readers.

This is all very timely in connection to the hack of Sony Pictures in response to the release of The Interview.  There are literal violent attacks on free speech taking place in the world.

As a theatre artist and a writer, this is heavy shit.  And it should give anyone pause who writes, who tries to express themselves through art, pause.  These attacks are on artists.  The people who made The Interview are writers, directors, and actors.  The people who work at Charlie Hebdo are artists and writers.  If you are an artist or writer, you should be upset by this.  Very upset.  And you should be speaking out about what this means.

I have written things that people don’t like.  They tell me.  I tell them I appreciate their opinion.  And then we move on because it is my opinion.  I have also had people comment on my blog in hateful and misogynistic ways.  I delete them.  The difference to me is that we can disagree with each other without being hateful.  We can express our opinion without hate.  Once hate or violence enters the discussion or the debate, we’re not going to come to any understanding or respect for each other.

After 911, the citizens of this country did not come together for a Unity March against terrorism.  We became very afraid.  I honor the people of Paris and of France for coming together against violence, coming together against attacks on free speech.  For coming together.  Period.


We are not a nation that tends to come together for much.  We tend to unravel, mistrust, and debate in nasty ways.  It saddens me.  The recent divide on the killing of black men is a perfect example.  I have seen more hate on facebook by defensive white people than I have ever seen.

The gray that is our world is unacceptable to so many people who want to live in the black and white.  Audre Lorde, a feminist writer and activist whose writing inspired so much of who I am and what I believe said “your silence will not protect you.”  She was right.  If we cannot speak and act and create, why live?


It’s 2015 and Agent Carter is Here!

agent carter

Many of my friends and colleagues understand my obsession with Wonder Woman.  I collect all things Wonder Woman and obsessively rant about the lack of female superheroes in today’s media.  In fact, I wrote a play for my doctoral dissertation about the lack of female superheros.  There has not been a Wonder Woman movie.  I know, one is coming, one is coming, but I’m not holding my breath.   Catwoman has had one movie about her, and secondary parts in other Batman movies, but rarely does a tv show or movie feature a strong woman superhero.

Last night I watched the season premiere of Agent Carter. It’s 1946, men are back from war, and Agent Peggy Carter is now being pushed aside as the male agents of the SSR fight crime.  The sexism is rampant in the mostly male cast, but that’s the point.  It’s campy and vampy like a superhero show should be.

H. Shaw Williams critiques the show for not being feminist on Screen Rant.  While I agree with much of what she says, I don’t agree that the show isn’t feminist.  When I look around at how women are represented throughout our media, I will take any positive and powerful expression I can find.  And Agent Carter is that.  She is strong, powerful and smart.  And while it is an “old” story of “I’m just as good as the men” or “treat me like the boys,” it’s still a good message.  And it’s 1946, we have to remember, and the world was much different then.

H. Shaw Williams seems young.  I don’t know her or her writing, but for young women who don’t have any experience watching strong women kick butt and take names, this is a show to watch.  I agree there should be more women on the show and better representation, but we have to start somewhere and I think Marvel might have a beginning here.

Does this give me hope for 2015?  It does.  While the 81% male House of Representatives spends all its time trying to strip away my reproductive rights and any hope I have for social security, I can at least look to Marvel and think, there is the tiniest bit of hope in this dark woman hating universe.agent-carter-7683

Things That Get My Goat 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, here are a few things that drive me nuts, Lewis Black style.

Recently I’ve seen two signs in neighborhoods that say “Drive Like Your Children Live Here.”  OK, I don’t have children.  How should I drive?  Batshit crazy?  How about “Follow the fucking law.”  Let’s not even bring children into the subject.  You should drive legally whether there are kids around or not.

Racism exists.  Excessive force by police exists.  End of story.  Defensive white people trouble me.

Women do not often report rape.  Women do not report rape and sexual harassment by powerful men until years later.  This is also real. The Washington Post did a great article on it here.

Women continue to be miss-represented in Hollywood and television and theatre.  As do people of color.  Don’t be offended, white man, when I speak the truth.  It’s not about YOU, it’s about a system of oppression and favoritism.   Support movies that are directed by women and tell women’s stories.  Pay attention to who is writing the story and who is directing it. Remember the Bechdel Test?

A movie production company talks bad about actors?  People think this is wrong?  They are actors.  They are picked based on their talent.  None of this shocks me.  And I don’t think any actor in Hollywood should be surprised by this.  Nor do I think email is some safe secret place where you can tell the truth.  It’s the fucking internet.

I live too far away from people I love very much.  Why hasn’t teleportation happened yet?  Seriously?

Conflict is part of the world in which we live.  There is no black and white.  There is almost always just gray.  I have colleagues and family members who think conflict should never be out in public.  I disagree.  Working through conflict is the best way to get to agreement, negotiation or at least the realization that we have two different opinions on a subject.  This saddens me.

I hate so many Christmas commercials that get played over and over again.  I can’t even listen to the Surface Pro commercial made to the tune of Walking in a Winter Wonderland.  And I can’t even hear that song without seeing Christopher Walken in my head, since a friend posted it on Facebook.


And finally, Facebook.  Don’t air your dirty laundry there.  Be nice.  We don’t need to see you rant about your miserable life.  Your life is not miserable, clearly if you have a computer and have the leisure time to post on Facebook.  Educate, share love, share pictures of children and animals, start healthy debate on important subjects, but please don’t whine.  In memory of the late and great Dr. Sandra Hardy, my favorite acting teacher:  No Whining.

I promise to write something more sweet before the end of the year.

Happy New Year!



Life Interrupted.

One day you’re living your life.  The next day, you get a phone call and BOOM!  everything changes.  You start driving to Boston to go to doctors and hospitals.  And then suddenly, this way of life is your life.

This is my “what tore me away from my blog” excuse for a month while the world was filled with Bill Cosby rape allegations, Ferguson, MO Grand Jury non-indictments, Staten Island Grand Jury non-indictments, and executive orders on immigration reform.  Racism and sexism continue unfettered regardless of how life interrupts.

My stepmother was diagnosed with a non Hodgkin mantle cell lymphoma.  We were immediately sent to a Dana Farber affiliate at St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Brighton.  The doctor knew what type of cancer it was just by looking at the cells.  I’m pretty impressed by her knowledge.  Now she is doing chemotherapy 2 back-to-back days a week a month.  And then we revisit plans A, B, and maybe C.

It’s also odd how something so scary, like cancer, can become so normalized in your life.  Just this Sunday morning, there was a fascinating story on Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong who believes cancer can become what we would call a “chronic disease” and is experimenting with different ways to treat it.

In the course of this month of cancer in the family, I’ve had some illuminating conversations with two of my favorite nurses (my best friend and my little sister) about cancer.  My sister has studied cancer as part of her work as an oncology nurse, but also in her studies for her NP.  She, herself a cancer survivor, believes that cancer is just a mutated gene and that the environmental (or hippie ideology, as she called it) is not quite on point.  Dr. Soon-Shiong believes it is cells that are unable to die as they should.  While I am in no way any kind of medical anything, I  feel like it is a mixture of all of these things.  And I say this partially because we do know that cancer is more common in certain geographic areas of the world.

My step-mother, for example, has a family history of cancer that would make you faint.  All these people grew up in small town in northern New Jersey.  There is definitely something genetic or geographic about this family’s connection to cancer.

It’s been years since I’ve spent 8+ hours at a time with my family, probably since high school.  That, in itself ,is a unique experience.  And one, that is in many ways, a gift.  My parents keep saying they have forgotten how funny I can be, as we are stuck staring at each other for hours in a hospital room.  And they seem impressed at the kind of questions I ask her doctors.

I guess, as parents, your child is always your child, even as an adult, so they are pleasantly surprised when I do “adult” things, like ask smart questions.  We’ve certainly been having some good laughs as we crawl, literally, in and out of Boston.  And we’re trying to live each day in the moment, in the present.  This has become sort of an inside joke but is still always a good lesson.  For anyone.

Even if life gets interrupted by something:  cancer, death, sickness, unemployment, we still have to live every day.  And that is what my family is being taught by this recent event.  Life was interrupted for a moment.  But we will continue to live it.  I will get back to blogging.  One moment at a time.10690317_10100546096600246_5056555251769015208_n

The Politics Surrounding Bill Cosby

I’ve been away from my blog for a bit. Life interrupted my writing schedule. but I do so appreciate Mr Brewton’s take on this. More from my voice, soon!

Voting with Your Conscious

It’s a mid term election.  There is, as usual, a Democrat and a Republican, neck and neck, and there are three Independent candidates with no chance.  I was told by a friend on Facebook last night that “a vote for an Independent is a vote for a Republican.”  If we continue to think this way, I believe, we will be forever stuck in this horrible two party system.  George Washington said “Beware of political parties, they will be your demise.”  See more about this here.

Martha Coakley/Steve Kerrigan running on the Democratic ticket.
Charles D. Baker/Karyn Polito  running on the Republican ticket.
Evan Falchuk/Angus Jennings   running on the United Independent Party.
Jeffrey McCormick/Tracy Post  running as Independents.
Scott Lively/Shelly Saunders running as Independents. They are crazy independents, I might add, who believe some whacky downright homophobic and anti-woman stuff.  Google them for a good laugh.  Seriously?

Falchuk is an interesting Independent.  He is affiliated with the United Independent Party. If Falchuk achieves more than 3 percent of the vote, the United Independent Party will gain recognition in Massachusetts. More than half of registered voters in Massachusetts are not affiliated with the Republican or Democratic parties.

Falchuk addresses the two-party problem in Massachusetts, but it can easily be applied across the country, in this article.

Most of my friends and colleagues probably think I would be all over having our first women elected to Governor (we have had a woman Governor, Jane Swift, but she was not elected, she was acting Governor when Paul Cellucci left to work for the Bush administration).  However, I don’t agree with Ms Coakley on a few issues that are important to me. And I’m continually concerned about voting for people with so much privilege that they can’t see the reality of so many people’s lives.

I owe my vote to Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, who starved themselves for the right to vote.  I doubt they would be pleased if I voted for a candidate because I don’t want a Republican to win, not because I believe in their views.  We need more of us to take a stand for a third party system and vote with our conscious not with a myth that pervades our democracy.

275px-AlicePaul_1901 220px-Lucy_Burns_1913

Alice Paul, author of the Equal Rights Amendment, and her friend, Lucy Burns.

What We All Could Learn From The Street Harassment Video

This is so well put, by Eric Brewton, a blogger I follow for his progressive politics. Attention to the intersection between race and gender must be paid and when it’s not, it’s troubling and problematic.

my feminist praxis

critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

The Feminist Critic

Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.