Minnesota Feminists Speak Out!

The unofficial blog of Minnesota NOW


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Selfies – Part 2

By: Colette Hayward

Part 2:

I recently wrote my first blog post on selfies discussing some of the problems I have seen in social media recently. As a person who does not take selfies regularly, I have a biased opinion because I am somewhat opposed to the idea. After some discussion with my Women’s Studies advisor, the point was raised that there are actually benefits to selfies. Selfies are taking over the world and I will elaborate in the next few paragraphs about the benefits rather than the faults as I had previously discussed in this blog post, Selfies – Part 1.

Typing “selfies” into Google will bring up a wide array of articles, blogs, and photos of people, many of which are of half-naked women. However, I also was able to find an article exclaiming that selfies are empowering women everywhere. Twitter and Instagram feminist users are using #feministselfie to label these photos and many bloggers are discussing the idea. The argument here is that individuals who might not fit into the typical white, thin, heterosexual societal norms are able to take a picture and post it online for millions of people to view if the individual so wishes. For people in minority categories, this is a huge step in the right direction. I see it as a way to tell the world, “This is who I am. Accept me or don’t, I don’t care either way.” Women who fit the beauty ideals of western culture might not understand the struggle other women have with taking photos and accepting their physical appearance as beautiful. I am a white female, but I am not thin. In fact, I think I would be considered obese if I asked a doctor. I have struggled with my weight for a long time and still have a hard time considering myself beautiful when I take a photo with my “skinny” friends. Feminism has been a way for me to escape the beauty standards and it has helped me realize I am beautiful even if I don’t look like the celebrities in magazines and on TV. On the blog Bustle, Amy McCarthy wrote, “take your selfies peeps—they’re one way to say ‘fuck you’ to the body standards that have made us miserable for so long.”

Recently, feminist website Jezebel wrote an article claiming that selfies are “a cry for help” and it created quite an uproar on the internet with women explaining how wrong selfies are. Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan wrote that selfies are further forcing girls to conform to society’s beauty standards. This is the point over which people argued. I agree to some extent with Ryan because I don’t think the majority of selfies are taken spur the moment and posted online. Some of them are edited while others were preceded by twenty “bad” pictures. However, when used in the right manner, for instance the way Amy McCarthy does, selfies are absolutely not a cry for help. I appreciate what Ryan was trying to say but I think that she chose to stereotype all women and failed to see the groups of women who are using selfies to boost their self-esteem and feel more beautiful. The claim that women are the only people who take selfies is also absurd. I know plenty of men who take selfies and thoroughly enjoy it. Many of the outraged bloggers labeled Jezebel’s post as a form of girl-hate, which is something we are trying to eliminate not encourage. I think Jezebel could have written a piece that wasn’t so angry and the point would have been equally as clear!

The final point I am trying to make here is this: selfies are not going away anytime soon so accept them for what they are—a form of self-expression. If you aren’t a fan of the trend then don’t participate in it, but also remember it is unnecessary to shame other women who do enjoy them. Society already has so many other oppressing forces for women to face, why attack something that is helping some people feel better about themselves. If you really can’t get over the selfie trend then I think you should take a look at a new term, the “belfie”. I am wrapping up this post now, but before you type that word into Google just know it is a butt selfie, and many women are taking part in it. I think this is much more degrading for women and I also think it is centered around the beauty ideals that feminist women fight so hard to eliminate. The belfie is a new trend and I hope it isn’t here to stay because I would much rather get a selfie of my friend’s face than a belfie of her butt, or her new underwear, etc. Until next time…


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Selfies

By: Colette Hayward

Part I:

As a young feminist I have an interesting perspective on the world, women, LGBTQ rights, and anything that affects underprivileged, underappreciated, and underrepresented groups. The world right now is full of amazing men and women, many of whom think in a similar manner as me and are expressing those views largely through social media. I have never written
a blog about feminism, though I have actively discussed and regurgitated information I discovered around the internet. Blogging as a form of activism is tricky. It can be extremely beneficial for many reasons, one of which being that it is a personal collection of thoughts, reactions, rants, and perspectives on a variety of topics that can allow another individual the
opportunity to feel like they aren’t alone in the world. For my first blog as the Communications Intern at Minnesota NOW I would like to discuss the concept of “selfies” and how they are miraculously changing the world.

I would like to begin by saying that I am a twenty two-year-old female who doesn’t actively take selfies for the simple fact that I think they are annoying most of the time and not all that interesting. Thanks to cell phone apps like Instagram and SnapChat selfies are taking over the world. I didn’t realize how popular they were until I discovered that selfie was Oxford
Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2013. Hmm…apparently, I am not trendy enough to understand the purpose of taking hundreds of photos of myself and plastering them all over the internet. I am currently a women’s studies and anthropology double major and I honestly don’t know where people find the time to take twenty pictures in a row of themselves , hoping to find one good one to immediately post onto a social media site and looking for everyone to tell them how beautiful they are. Recently I saw articles about selfies causing a major lice epidemic due to people putting their heads together to get a shot of the group while one person awkwardly holds their
hand out to take the photo. Now this is worst-case scenario I realize, but it makes me think twice when bunches of people want to squeeze in for a photo together!

It should be common knowledge nowadays that social media sites can be dangerous for women and body image problems, but as with many women’s issues, it falls on deaf ears as far as attempting to fix the problem. Currently there is an IOS app called SkinneePix that promises to remove 5-15 pounds off your figure after you finish editing the selfie of your choice. They should just call it the YourFat app and see if that sells because that is what I thought of when I heard about it. I could preach all day long about how all women are beautiful and how important it is to be comfortable in your own skin, but I feel like the odds are against me when things like the SkinneePix app are created. It is Hollywood Photoshop for dummies and depressed is all I feel after investigating it further. Another report online discussed how selfies are causing mental illness now. Narcissism is the first thing that came to mind but alas it was actually about body dismorphic disorder. It sounds to me like the SkinneePix app is convincing women that they aren’t good enough, along with magazines, celebrities, and the rest of the popular media out there. I asked several of my selfie-obsessed friends how many photos they take before getting a good one and they all said quite a few, five being the smallest number.

Why are we evaluating ourselves so harshly and why are we concerned about a bad angle or a stray hair? I don’t have a solution to fix the selfie addiction that is spreading everywhere, but I do think women should rethink the way they evaluate themselves. Whether you are obsessed with taking selfies or completely repulsed by the concept, the reality is that they exist and in some cases have caused quite a few problems. Do me a favor and tell someone they are beautiful today. I have yet to find a person who dislikes hearing it and everyone is beautiful in their own way. Stop accepting society’s beauty standards as what you should expect from
yourself and see if it increases your own self-esteem. Remember what Aibileen Clark said in The Help, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”.

 


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We’re disappointed with Minnesotans United PAC

Minnesota NOW and the Pro-Choice community as a whole contributed significant resources to the fight for marriage equality here in Minnesota. That is why we at Minnesota NOW were very disappointed to hear that the Minnesotans United PAC screens their candidates focused singularly on the issue of marriage for same-sex couples and that they will be providing funding to several legislators who have a history of voting for anti-choice legislation. We were told the Minnesotans United PAC will raise and spend resources to support legislators who voted for same-sex marriage – they have no other screens and are aware this model won’t work for all donors. We are truly saddened that the Minnesotans United PAC does not have our back when we need them. We are not equal until we are ALL equal.

We encourage you to direct your financial support to the Minnesota NOW PAC which screens candidates on all of our six core issues:  LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, economic justice, racial equality, constitutional equality and freedom from violence. This will ensure your money is supporting a candidate that acts on all of your values, not just one.

The following 11 legislators are being made a priority by the Minnesotans United PAC and had a less than 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota last session:

Representative Joe Radinovich (DFL)

of Crosby, Minnesota – District 10B

 Representative Tim Faust (DFL)

of Hinckley, Minnesota – District 11B

Representative Roger Erickson (DFL)

of Baudette, Minnesota – District 2B

Representative John Ward (DFL)

of Brainerd, MN – District 10A

Representative Pat Garofalo (R)


of Farmington, MN – District 58B

Representative Paul Marquart (DFL)


of Dilworth, MN – District 4B

Representative Jenifer Loon (R)


of Eden Prairie, MN – District 48B

Representative Jay McNamar (DFL) 


of Elbow Lake, MN – District 12A

Senator Branden Petersen (R)


of Andover, MN – District 35.

Representative Andrea Kieffer (R)

of Woodbury, MN – District 53B

 Representative David FitzSimmons (R)


of Albertville, MN – District 30B

Again, we urge you to support a PAC who truly has your back. Donate to the MN NOW PAC here.


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Meet our speakers on intersectional feminism

This year’s Minnesota NOW State Conference features the following theme: Love Starts Here, Love Starts NOW…..FOR ALL.

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This is a kinder, gentler version of the words writer Flavia Dzodan used when she famously declared on the blog Tiger Beatdown: “my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bull****!”  She wrote:

…while I am screaming at you, I am also asking, nay, DEMANDING that you scream with me. And I am asking that you become as angry as I have been…. Because without anger and without righteous indignation and without the deep, relentless demand for change, my feminism, YOUR feminism, everyone’s feminism will fail.

We are fortunate to have four activists from diverse backgrounds who are joining our conference for a morning discussion of intersectionality, its importance to the feminist movement, and how it will strengthen our collective goal of a more just, peaceful, and equitable world.

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FARHEEN HAKEEM is a leader, educator, and community organizer who has done extensive anti-oppression work in fighting Islamophobia and building solidarity in many activist communities.  She is currently terming out as National Co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. Professionally, she is Director of Membership and Communication for worker collective.  In addition, Farheen has been instrumental in including Muslim women voices in forums such as electoral politics, feminism, child welfare, leadership development, immigrant rights, and collective liberation.  As a joke, Farheen likes to say, “I wear many hats, but only wear one hijab.” Farheen was born and raised on the north side of Chicago, with her two brothers from immigrant parents. Her parents were small business owners. She graduated from a public high school and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Oberlin College.

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LIZA SCOTT  is an activist at heart, and currently works with the homeless at the Harbor Light Center-Salvation Army in Minneapolis. She has worked on a variety of issues that are important to her including, civic engagement in her American Indian community with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, where she was Chair of Native Vote Alliance of MN (NVAM), advancing American Indian women in their communities and mainstream society through the White House Project, and most recently, worked as a community organizer in the exurbs and rural MN for Minnesotan’s United for All Families–the campaign that helped defeat the marriage amendment this past November.

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ANDREA JENKINS is a poet, writer and multimedia visual and performance artist. She has been a part of the local poetry community for several years, earning awards, fellowships and commissions during that time. She is a Senior Policy Aide to the 8th Ward City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden and serves on the boards of OutFront Minnesota, Forecast Public Art, and SMARTS. She has one beautiful daughter, Nia, and an equally beautiful granddaughter, Aniyah. Andrea co-curates Intermedia Arts’ Queer Voices Reading Series with John Medeiros. In 2010, Andrea was selected to be a Naked Stages Fellow, supported by the Jerome Foundation, to produce a one-woman show loosely based on her manuscript Black Pearl. She was also a 2010 Intermedia Arts VERVE grant recipient for spoken word poetry.

Roxxanne and Daughter

ROXXANNE O’BRIEN is a community organizer from North Minneapolis. MN NOW connected with Roxxanne through a Facebook page that she created called “Undoing Racism.” Roxxanne tackles the serious problems that plague her community ranging from corporate pollution, police abuse, unjust foreclosures, violence, disparities in education and jobs for people of color and inequities in our justice system.

For more information on the conference, including how to register, visit our website: http://www.mnnow.org/events/2013_conference.htm

Andrea Jenkins’ bio & photo from Intermedia Arts–the rest were provided by the speakers.  


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Announcing the Minnesota NOW 2013 State Conference!

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! Visit our website and register securely online!  You can still get the early bird rate of $50, which includes morning coffee and lunch.

Don’t forget to make plans to join our pre-conference Feminist Fun Friday, featuring Kato Karaoke and a fundraiser for CADA, an organization providing services and support to those experiencing domestic violence in southern Minnesota.

See you in Mankato in May….when the spring will be here and the snow will be melted…we hope…

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We’re all feminists here

Originally posted by Minnesota NOW activist Ami on her blog Minneapolitan Mademoiselle.

Something that I often find frustrating yet awesome about the feminist movement in America is the variety of people and issues that the movement encompasses. Over the years, feminists have fought many battles, resulting in many advancements for women. But theses battles have never been easy, and have often involved internal strife within the feminist movement. During the struggle for women’s suffrage (yes, I consider this an early part of the feminist movement; hate me if you want to), different groups – the most well known being the National Women’s Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association – were fighting to secure the right to vote for American women. Though their end goal was the same, leaders of the two groups held different beliefs on many things and used different tactics to try to achieve their goals.

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Disagreement within the feminist movement is nothing new, and likely won’t be going away anytime soon. All feminists will never agree on what we as a movement should prioritize or what issues should be most important, because we’re all coming to the table with different lived experiences. While I engage in discussion and action around a number of feminist causes, violence against women is an issue that I believe is very important because of my experience working with victims/survivors. I blog and talk about VAW a lot. There are feminists out there who have different opinions, who think that other issues are more important. And I don’t get angry at them or tell them that the issues they care deeply about are less important than others. Why?

Because different issues are more important to different people because we’re different. Because all of the so-called little things add up to create a society and culture that requires us to still have a feminist movement. BECAUSE PEOPLE USE THIS ARGUMENT EVERY DAY TO SHUT FEMINISTS UP.

It usually goes something like this:

Feminist blogger writes a post about a topic of interest to them. People read the post. People leave comments like this: “Why do you complain about lyrics in a song that demean women when women are subject to honor killings in certain areas of the world?” or this: “There are more important issues in the world than the objectification of women in the media. Sex sells and that’s just the way it is.”
Or they try to change the topic of the conversation to something that THEY think is more important, which would be fine if you were writing your own post about something, but is generally considered an annoying way to de-rail a conversation.

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I’d like to apply this to something that happened recently. In case you haven’t heard, President Obama found himself in an awkward situation after he commented on the appearance of California attorney general Kamala Harris. His remark has been getting ‘mixed reviews'; some thought the comment was harmless and others thought it was sexist. I personally think he shouldn’t have made such a comment in a public, professional context – and that his tendency to make such comments about both men and women is annoying. A lot of blog posts and other pieces have been written on the topic, with many folks disagreeing about the nature/intent/effect/sexism of the comment. Discussion and even disagreement is fine with me, but I’m troubled by the dismissive tone of some folks, responding with phrases like “who cares,” “it’s not a big deal” or “there are more important issues.” (Obviously not all of the folks making such comments consider themselves feminists, but I think we’re all guilty of doing this at some point).

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I will admit to THINKING, ‘you’re overreacting’ in some situations, but I don’t police other feminists’ reactions or their choices to write about topics that interest/concern them because it’s not productive and it’s not really all that nice. Just my two cents…


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Gender essentialism and the feminist housewife

Cross-posted at Shannon’s blog The Radical Housewife.

 

Hi there!  My name is Shannon, and I am a feminist housewife.

 

This is me in my kitchen.  Behind my arm is –NO JOKE–a loaf of homemade gluten-free bread.  I am a housewife, and a damn good one!

Do you like my apron?  it’s from the HOTDISH Militia, a group that fundraises for abortion clinics with tasty casseroles–the acronym stands for Hand Over The Decision It Should (be) Hers.  I support affordable access to the full spectrum of women’s reproductive health services, including abortion on demand, without apology.  That’s feminist, baby!

Combine my job with my passion, et voilà: you get me, a feminist housewife!

I didn’t aspire to be a feminist housewife when I grew up.  As a child, I wanted to write books.  As a child, I assumed that writing books would magically make money appear.

Ha, ha.

Six-year-old Shannon can be blamed for her ignorance, but what excuse does Kelly Makino, a self-identified feminist, have?  From New York Magazine’s March 17, 2013 cover story “The Retro Wife”:

The maternal instinct is a real thing, Kelly argues: Girls play with dolls from childhood, so “women are raised from the get-go to raise children successfully. When we are moms, we have a better toolbox.” Women, she believes, are conditioned to be more patient with children, to be better multitaskers, to be more tolerant of the quotidian grind of playdates and temper tantrums; “women,” she says, “keep it together better than guys do.”

Oh Mrs. Makino!  You retrograde goofball, you.  In case you missed this lecture in Women’s Studies 101, let me break it down for you. Choosing your choice is feminist, sure!  But GENDER ESSENTIALISM IS NOT FEMINIST.

I can’t pick on only Kelly, though, for the author of the piece, Lisa Miller, makes some mind-boggling observations of her own:

I prepare our daughter’s lunch box every morning with ritualistic care, as if sending her off to school with a bologna sandwich made by me can work as an amulet against all the pain of my irregular, inevitable absences. I believe that I have a special gift for arranging playdates, pediatrician appointments, and piano lessons….

 

 

“The feminist revolution started in the workplace, and now it’s happening at home,” says Makino. “I feel like in today’s society, women who don’t work are bucking the convention we were raised with … Why can’t we just be girls? Why do we have to be boys and girls at the same time?”

Again, I must ask: what makes a girl a GIRL?  Is it a baby?  An apron?  A kickass banana bread recipe?  A Pinterest account?

What makes a boy a BOY?  A wife?

I made a choice to be my kids’ caregiver, but that choice wasn’t made in a vacuum.  My hubby and I had to weigh some very harsh realities.  Who made more money?  Who would probably ALWAYS make more money?  Who could count on consistent work for the next two decades?  If you guessed the BOY, you’re right!  You win a wife.*

Understanding how patriarchal capitalism works is feminist. GENDER ESSENTIALISM IS NOT FEMINIST.

For the record, I am terrible at arranging playdates.  My vag has nothing to do with it–I am not only forgetful, I hate using the telephone.  I’d rather bake you a rice-tapioca-soy flour loaf.  If you want our kids to hang out, you’d better have my e-mail–or better yet, Matt’s!

All of this is very funny in the echo chamber of the internets.  I really don’t care whether Kelly Makino, Lisa Miller, or hell, Sheryl Sandberg is a housewife or not.  I DO care when one pretty white New Yorker’s lifestyle is trotted out as “proof” that women are this or that and feminism is a failure blah blah blah, because you know that articles like these delight conservatives eager to push back on women’s rights,  especially reproductive rights.  Sen. Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential contender, has already said he’d support a fetal personhood bill that would outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception.  Without control over their fertility, women would be stuck in the kitchen making hotdish (and this is the important part) whether they want to or not.

It’s a future too horrible to contemplate.

Maybe I’ll cook a pie.  That would make me feel better.

 

*offer not valid for women

 

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