Do(ing) it Like a Feminist

Post-Grad Girl living in a Post-Grad World.


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Moving Past the Funk: Living in a Post-Election World

Like many people, I’ve been in mourning. I actually found myself googling how to immigrate to Canada the night of the Election. Granted, I didn’t make it past the screen showing that the site crashed, but I still wondered how I would be able to do it. Then I thought more about what a Trump Presidency would look like and wondered, what would it look like for me to abandon my place in this country and lose my will to fight? If I were a child, I wouldn’t want my elders to do that to me, so I can’t give up now.

To this day, I can not fathom how people could vote for Trump. You say he is anti-establishment; we say he is a racist demagogue. You say he is a great businessman; we say he has gone bankrupt a handful of times and has only looked out for himself. I can go on and on about this, but there is no point. The only points left to make are what is going to happen next. How can we teach our peers and young folk about what it means to be an advocate for the issues at hand?

And here is where you can get your crash course.

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Harro, page 16

In Bobbie Harro’s “The Cycle of Socialization”, she discusses how we are socialized from birth/toddler into a way of thinking. We are taught biases and stereotypes, and we live with these mechanics as we grow up. We are then socialized on a personal level from parents, loved ones, and teachers (that’s why they are so important). These mechanics are then reinforced through various institutions such as church, TV, and in our culture. When these mechanics are reinforced, they result in anger, discrimination, and ignorance. It’s up to you to figure out which direction you want to go- do you want to continue reinforcing the same cycle, or would you want to head in a direction for change?

For those who says white privilege doesn’t exist, I want you to look at the events that have occurred since the election: swastikas being spray-painted on walls, a woman in Brooklyn was punched by a male trump supporter at a restaurant in Brooklyn, a woman pulled another woman’s hijab off in a Walmart in the name of Trump, and the list goes on and on. In Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, she states:

“My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.” (McIntosh, 2)

As a woman of color, I will never be able to have this privilege. From what I’ve observed about the country post-Election is that many people who have this privilege don’t (or won’t) understand the power their actions have with people of color, and they don’t worry about the consequences of their actions, because most likely, they won’t be reprimanded for it. Is this what we want to teach our future children and voters?

For all you Trump supporters, I hope you realize what your future will look like. Only a week has passed and there is already a white supremacist in a position of power. You did this. Take responsibility for it. Once Donald Trump takes his place in the White House, I can only predict the decline of our Country, economically and socially. You can sit back and say that he will fix our broken “system”, but he will continue to display divisive and demeaning behavior toward people of color, the LGBTQIA community, Muslims, immigrants, etc..

Or maybe that’s what you all really want, which is much scarier to think about.

For those of you who are willing to fight forward, find your local community programs. Volunteer. Protest. Write to your local politicians. We will not be swayed. I am with you all.

___________________________

Harro, Bobbie. “The Cycle of Socialzation.” Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. N.p.: Routledge, 2007. 15-21. Print.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

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The Blessings in Disguise

My fellow bloggers! Today has been a wonderful day full of love, compassion, and understanding which has led to inspiration.

These past few months I have been getting much closer with certain people in my family and it has led me to really think about myself and what my future holds for me. When people ask me what I want to do with my life post-grad, I usually say the same things that associate with things I’ve done in college: feminism and media work, student affairs, feminist activism online, etc. but my life after college has done nothing related to that. Granted, I’ve maintained my presence online, but I’m talking on a larger scale.

Then, I think about what I’m doing while offline: spending time with my family, helping my brother with homework, giving my cousins advice on life, love, and menstruation, having adult conversations with my friends, supporting my older cousins with their new endeavors, etc… What I just came to realize is the blessings that have been placed right before my eyes which made me think about my independent study during college: teaching young people about the things that they may not get from their parents or guardians.

I titled this blog Do(ing) it like a Feminist because I believe that everything I do is feminist. Feminism is who I am and it’s the language I speak. When I’m spending time with my younger siblings/cousins, I’m having honest dialogue about growing up and reminding them to always ask questions because I never really had someone to do that for me as a kid.

Sometimes we don’t see the blessings right before our eyes, so once in a while, it’s good to step back and understand a new perspective.


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The Best Things of 2012

I’ve been inspired to write about the type of year I’ve had today. I’m not one to count down the best and worst things of this year, but this is an exceptional year for so many reasons. There are so many things to be thankful for so I want to highlight a few of them here.

1. Being the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college.

(Thank you to Eppy Suarez for taking amazing pictures)

2. Being a badass Feminist Activist

Vagina Monologues 2012

Meeting Robyn Ochs

CLPP Conference at Hampshire College

Bringing Jenn Pozner to HWS

Slutwalk Geneva

(There is more but I have to keep it moving)

3. Making amazing new friends and building feminist community

Have to end it with these two lovely ladies, my advisors and academic parents of HWS.

(There are tons more but that could take the whole feed)

4. Re-connecting with family near and far

5. Finding an amazing man-partner who supports my choices and shares my views on the world.

Honorable mention: MY SEEDLINGS! I can not forget them ❤

It has been a great year for me, and life can only get better.

Cheers to you 2012, you were fantastic!


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Having an Open & Intellectual Conversation with Your Partner/ A Mini-Lesson on Privilege & Oppression

Bloggers,

Last night, Marcus and I had an extremely interesting conversation that spanned over dinner, before and after a movie, and during a quick trip to Dunkin Donuts. Here’s where it started: while we were sitting in Red Lobster, I noticed that I didn’t see any female waiters and I made a comment about it. Marcus told me that I was being “racist” (wrong word) and before I face palmed myself, I told him that he meant sexist. We then proceeded a conversation about sexism and racism and how they weren’t the same thing. I explained that I wasn’t implying that there should be only women working there, but there should be an EQUAL amount of all genders because that’s how it should be. This led into a conversation about children and his double standard of boys and girls.

Granted, I could have just gotten up and walked away to go to the bathroom or just changed the subject, but these are the types of conversations that need to be created to understand both sides of the relationship. When I decide to have kids, it doesn’t matter whether they are a boy or a girl, they will be treated the same way. If I treat them a certain way according to society’s standards, then the cycle of socialization will continue amongst my children. Marcus felt a different way about raising his children, but after reaching a stalemate (or rather our food came), the conversation stopped and was left alone. Later that evening, we started talking about the impending ratification of Puerto Rico as the 51st state, and to my surprise, we held the same ideals. Then, he made a comment about Latin American’s emulating their culture off of black culture, and I couldn’t just let that go. I started talking to him about urbanization and how we’re socialized according to the environment we surround ourselves with. There was something so genuine about this conversation because although in my heart I knew he was serious about these ideas, I was afforded the opportunity to educate him about these types of subjects.

Now, when it comes to relationships, is it OK to keep the politics out of it, or engage them and create conversations? With that question, I answer by saying that the personal is political, and everything we do, experience, etc. has a political connotation. We can’t pretend like our society isn’t dealing with social issues and economic crisis, so conversations need to happen. Who knows, maybe both sides can learn something and take it to someone else, then the dialogue is really expanding. As a female who understands the simultinaety of privilege and oppression, it is pertinent to retain knowledge about these different types of politics.

According to the SCWAMP theory, it is said that if you fall under SCWAMP, then you are of the privileged few. What is SCWAMP? It is an acronym: Straight, Christian, White, Able-Bodied, Male with Property (meaning social class), and if you fit into this mold, then you are privileged and considered the dominant force in this society. However, many do not fall under this system; many feel oppression from single or multiple identities. As a Puerto Rican woman with no property, I understand the oppression of my race, class, and gender, but I recognize my privilege in my religion, accessibility, and sexuality. It is with the simultinaety of my privilege and oppression that I am able to understand the concept of how I’ve been socialized in my environment, but it is my duty to break free from the cycle and educate others about it, and what better way to start then with your partner.

Granted, this post switched into a personal rant, but as I said before, the personal is political. Stay true to yourself and expand the conversation. After all, it’s the most simple form of activism.


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Preparing Yourself for the Younger Generation’s Questions

Bloggers,

In the past couple of months, I have been hanging out a lot of with my younger cousins (age range 12-14). Usually, I bring a game with me (either a hand game or Apples to Apples), but last week we played Manhunt outside at night time. After having to explain what it was (none of them knew – curse my 90’s self), we played about 5 rounds, the last round being that they couldn’t find me (FTW). After that I was tired (because I’m old) and we went to the store for drinks and candy. When we came back, we sat in the kitchen and the funniest/craziest/weirdest thing happened. The oldest cousin of the three just blurted out “Gabby, did you know that (name) started her lady business.” — Ok, it wasn’t exactly that because I couldn’t remember what she said, but you get the picture.

I was baffled for a quick second. How can my fourteen year old cousin just blurt out something like that? Then my feminist mind kicked in, telling me that it was ok to create conversation about menstruation and puberty. They started asking me questions about how your period works and I began telling them about my first time getting it (I was in church, God gave me a gift of messed up jeans and no protection). After we laughed about it, we got down to the nitty gritty and I drew a picture of a vagina and explained in detail how getting your period works. They kept asking other questions, such as, why do we get cramps and how often do you get it and for how long, etc. I told them it was different for everyone and cramps come from the shedding of the uterus lining (not in those words though).

Then they asked me why boys are so dumb, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I just remembered my thirteen year old self feeling that way about boys because they would bother me, when really they just liked me. I started to explain to them why boys are so simple yet complex and assured them that they would grow out of it a little bit at a time.

I came home and reflected on the conversation I had with my younger cousins and wondered how kids are getting their information. Granted, there are parents who are open and honest with their children, but what about those who choose to play the ignorance card? The younger generation is in need of some serious information about puberty, sex, boys, education, etc. and we need to prepare them. I am glad I was able to sit down with my little cousin’s and talk to them about puberty, even if we had multiple interruptions. In a society that pushes puberty, sex, and sexuality in to the private sphere, we need to make it public and educate the younger generation about what’s to come.


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50 Shades of Grey: The Feminist Interview

Last month, I was interviewed for an article on 50 Shades of Grey and my feminist perspective of the trilogy. I was looking back on my answers and thought I would share it with the world, so here you go:

1. How did you come across 50 shades of grey?
I first came across 50 Shades during my final year in college when my professor told me she was reading it. I had no idea what it was about, but all I know is people kept talking about it. During the summer, I found myself with a copy of the book and read it.
2. What were your first impressions?
I was really surprised at first because I kept thinking this was almost like a “Twilight” kind of book, but as I kept reading, I found out it was something much more. (A coincidence that 50 Shades started off as Twilight fan-fiction)
3. What did you think when you realised how popular the book was becoming?
To be honest, I am not surprised that this book became popular because E.L. James brought sex to the forefront of mainstream media. Granted, there are many writers who do this already, but seeing as 50 Shades of Grey spun off of it’s reign in the fan boards of Twilight, it seemed only right to pick it up to mainstream media. Regardless of this idea, I wasn’t too thrilled this book became popular because it’s just not a good book.
4. Is 50 shades empowering the genre or ruining it?
It can do both. 50 Shades of Grey opens the doors for people to talk about sex in public spaces, but I just don’t like that fact that it is from this particular book. It’s not a good book because it isn’t really accurate to real life situations. (will explain more about that in question 7)
5. The term ‘mummy porn’ is used when describing the book – what do you think they mean when use this term? Is it derogatory?
To me, the term mommy porn just seems a little off, because people assume that only mothers read this book. Mainstream media has only coined this term because of this idea that 50 Shades of Grey will enlighten mothers to become more sexually active, which may or may not be true. Granted, that may be the case in some instances, but in reality, how true can this be? I know when I read this book, I was completely turned off by both Anastasia and Christian because of how their roles coincide with each other.
6. Is erotic fiction still taboo?
I think it is, but it doesn’t have to be. You go looking for erotica in a bookstore and it has it’s own section, so whenever someone goes to it, others will look at them with knowing looks. Why? Put them on the shelves with other works of fiction. As I said before, 50 Shades has opened up the realm of talking openly about sex and desire, but there are a ton of other books that are considerably better than 50 Shades and have better sex scenes.
7. From your blog, I see you have some disagreement with 50 shades? What are some of them? Do you dislike the genre in general?
First of all, this book is poorly written. James makes poor rhetorical choices with her diction and word-choice.  A lot of the book is repetitive and lackluster at best. The book has coined some interesting one-liners like “kinky-fuckery” and “laters, baby” which stick to people, but others fall flat. I don’t like the argument that Anastasia Steele is a strong woman for changing Christian Grey because we have to keep in mind what she endured to get him that way. She was under scrutiny from him and continues to play his submissive even though he says she has all the power. After Christian tells her she has all the power, there seems to be a shift in context, but we as readers have to keep in mind that the shift isn’t power because that’s an illusion. Anastasia doesn’t really have the power to make her own decisions or be her own person without Christian Grey.
I like erotica as a genre, but I don’t think this book should qualify. It’s “50 Shades of Fucked Up” as it states in the book, and between the hundreds of sex scenes and lackluster plot, the book has basically taught me that women can maintain a relationship and control a a man through sex, and that is not something that can be captured in real life.
8.  If you have read other works of a similar nature, how does 50 shades compare?
When I think about Erotica, I always think about Zane. When I was in High School, I read all her books, some popular ones being The Sex Chronicles, The Sex Chronicles 2: Getting Buck Wild, Chocolate Flava, and Caramel Flava, just to name a few, and I think these books portray erotica well because it plays well into realistic fantasies that people may have. 50 Shades of Grey doesn’t even come close to this, in my opinion. Then again, we also have to consider audience when coming across these two authors. Zane, a woman of color whose books focus primarily on women of color, will yield an audience similar to its characters. However, James, a white woman, seems to yield a wider audience. There is room to create a discourse around female authors and whether or not race plays an issue, but there is something to be said here.
9. 50 shades deals with a different type of sex, BDSM, is this part of the reason its so popular?
It is definitely the reason. Many people don’t really know a lot about BDSM and think this book is a good portrayal of what it’s like to be in a BDSM relationship. It’s all about what’s taboo, and BDSM falls into it. People want to know more about taboo topics because, well, it’s taboo, something that isn’t a part of their normal, everyday lives.
10. BDSM practiced safely, is a lifestyle choice. Do you think 50 shades represents this accurately?
No, it doesn’t. First of all, Christian Grey doesn’t maintain this relationship with Anastasia the same way a dom would be with his sub. He rips up the contract, lets her sleep in his bed, etc. In a true BDSM relationship, a contract must be signed and both parties have to abide by the rules. In 50 Shades Darker, Christian ties Anastasia to a post and begins to arouse her, but also pull back as a ploy to prolong orgasm (he said it was her punishment). When she calls the safe word, he gets upset, not particularly at her, but if you pay attention, he is upset at her. This isn’t how a real BDSM relationship would co-exist. When one calls the safe word, everything stops, no if, ands, or buts about it.
11. Why is domination a popular fantasy?
It’s all about power, and it’s not only something achieved in the bedroom. People love to dominate in all life choices (I guess that’s why capitalism is so popular in the United States). Domination in the bedroom is a fantasy because it can open up a relationship to many different sexual fantasies. In a heterosexual relationship, people often think the man will be the dominant one, but roles can also reverse as well. It’s all about how kinky you want the relationship to be and whether you want to be dominated or do the dominating.
12. Can a feminist be a submissive?
I’m not particularly sure how to answer this. I think it would necessarily depend on the couple at play. People can be feminists but also maintain a submissive role, sexually. It’s all about what that person is interested in. Being in a particular role (dominant/submissive) is all about ownership, and if you own that role, then be it. If you’re in a relationship where one moment you want to be a dom, and another a sub, then be it. Ownership is important when it comes to these types of relationships because you have to be comfortable with what you’re getting yourself into.
13. You discuss in one blog post, sleeping beauty theory – what is it? How is it represented in the genre?
The Sleeping Beauty theory means that a woman needs a man to awaken her (sexually) before she is able to accept her sexuality. In this book, Anastasia is a virgin who never experimented with masturbation or any type of sexual activity before hooking up with Christian Grey. Once this happens, she becomes this sexually charged person willing to do anything for Christian. That would be the difference between 50 Shades of Grey and other books in this genre: virginity. It is something that is considered innocent and pure, and once lost, opens the doors to fantasies and other types of “kinky fuckery”, at least in 50 Shades of Grey.
14. Finally, what’s the a difference between someones fantasy and actually doing it in reality?
I think it’s all about courage and being able to own up to your fantasies. It’s a fantasy because you envision yourself wanting to try it sometime, but it takes courage to step up and actually go through with it. Some people will, and some people will choose not to, and read about their fantasies through these types of books.


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Life is All About Rhetorical Choices

Bloggers! Today was an exciting day for feminism and community!

Don’t you just love graffiti art?

My friend Connie came to visit me this past weekend (also known as my birthday weekend) and we have been having great feminist conversations since her arrival! Considering we are social justice sisters, it is fitting that once we get reconnected, we start devising plans of world domination (or what flavor cupcake we want to try). Today, we met up with my friend Carrie for some Brooklyn fun, which may or may not have included cupcakes, feminist lit, and tattoos.

Yes, you read correctly – TATTOOS. Everything about this was a rhetorical choice, based on a previous situation that left three people tattooed with the word “choice” in various fonts a couple months ago. Even when I got my first tattoo (FTB – F**k the Binaries), it was based on a rhetorical choice, as all tattoos should be considering it’s permanent. As usual, my thought process behind today’s tattoo was spontaneous even though Connie was dead set on getting it for weeks. She decided on getting “womynist” with the O replaced by a venus symbol (aka the female symbol for those who don’t know). I had to sketch the idea for the tattoo artist, and this is the best I could do in a short time:

Check out my hand drawn font! Yes, that is helvetica.

This tattoo is both a personal and rhetorical choice, because as you all know, the personal is political (as usual). After talking with the tattoo artist and my fellow fontist Carrie, we decided to go with the Franklin Gothic Demi Condensed font in size 36 (Michele you would be so proud). And because you are all anxious for the finished product, here it is:

JUST KIDDING! If you don’t know where this is from, you need to get out more. Here it really is:

This is some rhetorical shiznet

Aside from the tattoo being at a steal of a price, it was also a great to finally get a tattoo with my social justice PIC (never mind the awesome look on Carrie’s face when I made a split decision to get it as well).

For me, tattoos are meant to be rhetorical, but personal. This is a representation of the person I am due to feminism and activism. If you are going to permanently ink your body, it should have a higher meaning than the average “it would just look cool” thought.

Next up: I found a signature of my mother’s and I’m going to have a tattoo artist scan and enlarge it for my next tattoo project. Here’s to the next rhetorical choice!