I just wanted to share this beautiful story I read, linked to by my friend and former PZS organizer, Doug… http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/05/a_portland_teachers_gift_chang.html#incart_river
As someone who had neglectful parents and felt lost in the world growing up and moving around a lot, a had a few amazing teachers that helped motivate and support me to get through it. I had three different science teachers that were women I bonded with (and even built a wetland with at one high school to filter the campus water, this is why I originally wanted to study biology), as well as some great English and Spanish teachers (again, all women) that kept me in love with the language which also got me into comics and zines. They gave me something I didn’t have at home: positive, female role-models who cared about me in healthy and empowering ways. Women who encouraged my intellect and also helped me get help to get out of my bad home environment.
I believe that is why I am so passionate about teaching and community organizing now. It’s a damn shame we don’t pay our teachers more. It’s also a damn shame that we don’t all work to take care and support each other more. To see when someone is vulnerable and empower them, those are very lasting and radical actions in a divisive and painful world.
You know, I have been uncomfortable with the focus on the neighbor’s recounting in a recent news story and here’s a great article that helps verbalize some of part of why I think it makes me uncomfortable… http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/05/07/charles_ramsey_amanda_berry_rescuer_becomes_internet_meme_video.html
I would like to try to verbalize why, however, further thinking on my part of why the working-class bystander (that intervenes in a terrible situation or that speaks about something terrible) being pointed to and focused on as a colorful hero in a tragic news story really bothers me, because look at the longer clips with him really talking.
Something really, really awful happened and I think putting the spotlight on the working-class, verbose neighbor to have a laugh is part of the collective unconsciousness’ way of avoiding dealing with the troubling story. And it’s a really messed up way of avoiding the serious thing that happened. It speaks to how rampant sexism, classism, racism is in our society, that people will have a laugh at someone that they imagine fulfills a stereotype of poorness, or blackness, or some other kind of objectification to avoid dealing with a tragic event or to avoid processing something awful. Whether it’s toward a poor person, a nonwhite person, a nonmale person, or some other marginalized person. I think it’s really unhealthy and I think it upholds the social justice problems that contribute to the dehumanization of poor people, female people, queer people, people of color, and other oppressed people in our society.
Basically, it’s like a lot of people are unconsciously avoiding dealing with the seriousness of the story .”Something horrible just happened, but let’s have a laugh at this person!” The problem is, we really need to deal with the seriousness of what happened, we need to talk about it..
I would like to point out that the person that everyone is laughing at, is doing more then just calling 911, he’s offering any reward money to the people who were actually affected by the tragedy. You know, because they went through the trauma and it’s not magically over because they walked out of a basement. They are alive, but they are not yet safe. But the way the news reports it, suddenly they are “alive and safe.” To me, that’s a more important part of the story, because they are not safe, it’s not just over. You know what else is important? Asking ourselves, how did this happen? Why did this happen? What do we do in awful moments like this? How so we support and rebuild the lives of the people affected by the horrible thing that happened? The person that a lot of people are laughing at is actually dealing with the situation and you’re focusing on him as joke. I have so much respect toward this man for trying to refocus the spotlight on the people who went through the horrible situation.
I would implore you to listen to this person’s words before you make a caricature out of him.
I am not saying you’re a horrible person if you laughed at the condescending or demeaning memes going around, what I am saying is that you might want to really sit and think about why you’re laughing. What’s so funny about it?
It might be a little uncomfortable, but, as a society, we need to start dealing with this shit.
I wanted to share this comic that I saw thanks to my friend Chelsea.
Word! I love that this was this person’s final project, the comic highlights a common misogyny in nerd culture and it is so bravely personal. Total respect for the feminism here, this person showing their own struggle and being vulnerable, while recognizing another perspective for women in nerd culture who is also struggling even though they might conform to narrow guidelines of beauty-based-on-size.
If you relate to being left out by the rampant sexism in comics and nerd culture, if you relate to being belittled, objectified, harassed, etc. based on your gender despite thinking that nerd space should be a safe space… Well, you might also want to check out this amazing article by super intelligent nerd, Rachel Ediden. http://feminspire.com/idiot-nerd-girl-has-a-posse-taking-back-the-meme/
Speaking of super intelligent nerds, I went to the really awesome panel “Looking Past the Target Audience” at SCF this past weekend, but missed it at ECCC. It was really great to listen to the conversation with Rachel Edidin, Andy Khouri, Faith Erin Hicks, Scotty Iseri, Sfé M., and David Walker sitting on the panel. There was a lot on intersectionality, which was crucial! Intersectionality is a concept often used to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are INTERCONNECTED and cannot be examined separately from one another. Third Wave Feminism, especially, thrived on the concept of intersectionality in order to redefine Feminism as inclusive. The concept of intersectionality first came from legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989 and is largely used in critical theories, especially Feminist theory, when discussing systematic oppression.
For me, one of the most moving moments of the panel was when Sfé was talking about how an aspect of their process for creating Kyle & Atticus was to write a gender queer character with positive support and acceptance in their life. I think it really hit home for me because a lot of the stuff Matt, Marco, and I have been dealing with Matt’s parents understanding what our polyamorous relationship means and learning that I am a queer atheist. Essentially, he’s been coming out to them and it’s been really hard. That in addition to struggles I have always had with people being unsupportive toward me. This struggle, having parents, acquaintances, lovers, and even a long-time best-friend have acted as if they are shamed by me or have been demeaning or hateful toward me for any of the various reasons people have antagonistic or problematic relationships with me. That I am a woman, that I am queer, that I am polyamorous, that I am or do all these things that they can’t relate to, that I fall under any of the labels in their mind that they view as “bad” and then I go on to dare to have opinions, ideas, boundaries, and confidence to be myself. I am motivated to work with kids exactly because I want to try to be that influence in their life, to be the person who says, “You have a voice and it’s important.” Or, “I accept who you are and I will treat you as a person with their own autonomy and agency.” To be a supportive adult. To be an educator that empowers kids to think for themselves and to be themselves. I write about my experiences in the hopes that I can grow and that I might provide support to peers who can see themselves in me because I realize the positive impact that people have had in my life by being themselves and being open about it, as I have written about a few times on this blog. I really respected that Sfé talked about writing supportive roles in the comics on purpose, because I agree with her that creating those characters in stories feeds into the mothers and friends and parents and whoever seeing themselves in the life of a gender queer person or other underrepresented, marginalized people in our society. We really need those role models.
I also want to give huge props to the panel “The Big Picture,” where a bit of gender and intersectionality issues were discussed kind of inadvertently, with Alison Baker, Kelly Sue DeConick, Jen Vaughn, Shannon Watters, and Emi Lenox. As well as the focus of the panel, discussing how the internet has changed comics, especially independent publishing as, to my knowledge, most of the panelists had roots in indie comics and zines.
Personally, I believe that one of the biggest steps in activism is showing up, being visible.
If you have the ability and patience just to be there, that is a huge step.
Do what you can, REALIZE WHAT YOU CAN DO.
Do say hello to the creators and organizations you do want to support. Do buy zines and comics or whatever from the creators you think deserve it for whatever reason you value them. Do go to the panels that talk about issues you care about. Do say thank you (in person or online) to the panelists, we can’t hear it enough. Do blog/tweet/whatever about it. Do talk to your friends about the creations and panels you do enjoy or support. Do volunteer for an organization you think serves a valuable role in your community. Do go to an event that highlights creators and issues that you feel are important or meaningful. Do start your own event, especially if it’s an event you wish existed but doesn’t. Do make your own stories and creative work that reflects your experience, your passion, your values, your ideas. Do listen to or support the people who have different experiences than yourself.
I long lost the patience to volunteer for SCF, but I try to keep showing up to support the people who I do see promoting real conversations and ethical work I commend those who love comics and other cismale/white dominated communities. I have been able to devote myself to working on the Portland Zine Symposium as an organizer for so many years because it strives and works hard to be a safe space, an inclusive community with anti-oppressive ethics.
Also, I want to take this opportunity to promote the Women of Color Zine Symposium at PSU happening this summer, on June 8th. This is such an important event to support to me. It was started by Tonya Jones, a long-time Portland Zine Symposium attendee, powerful writer, and zine educator. The WOC Zine group that she started has self-published three issues of “Women of Color: How to Live in the City of Roses and Avoid the Pricks.” All three issues are available for $3 from the group, Powell’s Bookstore, and In Other Words. The zines can also be checked out from the Multnomah County Library!
And, speaking of the “Women of Color: How to Live in the City of Roses and Avoid the Pricks” zine, they have a submissions call up right now for their fifth issue! The fifth issue is themed for interviews and it’s an opportunity to interview a fantastic woman of color/person of color that you know doing great work in Portland and contribute to a great project. You can read more on their website, http://wocpdxzines.wordpress.com/woc-zine-collective-submissions.
If there is a theme to this post, it is that, whatever your battle in coping with oppression, you are not alone.
Keep showing up and we’ll find each other at all the nerd cons and wherever.
So, recently, my partner Matt’s mom sent him these books….
I jokingly tweeted that Matt and Marco say, “We surrender!” (originally Marco’s joke), and posted this photo. However, it turns out Matt’s mom is reading my blog and internet stuff. And, more recently, Matt got this gem in the mail…
I am pretty sure Matt, Marco and I have already read aloud to each other more of this book than his mom read before sending it. Just in case, let me reassure you, Matt’s mom, you raised a much better son than what this book would like us to believe…
All men are not conniving and deceptive. Especially not Matt. He is one of the most wonderful, honest and sweet people I know. I love him.
Though he might lick the lint out of Buddha’s belly button to impress a girl, I don’t know.
But, seriously, I don’t think he’d become a Buddhist just to impress a girl. I think Matt is a more defined and self-actualized person than that. I know Matt’s mom is having a hard time understanding polyamory and sexual freedom, but I do appreciate that she loves her son and is reaching out to him.
It can be hard to see people taking a different path than yourself or that deviates from your beliefs, but just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s invalid. Just because we have more than one committed relationship in our lives or that we’re open to, doesn’t mean our love for one another is not deep and meaningful. And, nonconformity can really be a saving grace, especially when popular books in Christian mainstream would encourage you to uphold and conform to certain types of relationships because, based on your gender, you must be a conniving liar trying to get into any girl’s pants.
Further, I would like to put it out there that, for me, feminism is about understanding that traditional gender roles can hurt men who aren’t interested in those roles, as well as women and especially any other gender expression. Gender binary is harmful, and narrow gender constructs like what the Ten Commandments of Dating try to convince people about each other based on gender are HORRIBLE. Do we really want to tell men that they’re all conniving liars? And, if the authors of the Ten Commandments of Dating are wrong about you’re son, what else are those authors dramatically negative or completely wrong about?
I leave y’all with a few links on those ideas…
http://thefbomb.org/2010/05/how-feminism-helps-everyone-not-just-the-women/ http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/five-ways-feminism-helps-men/ http://feminspire.com/feminism-its-good-for-men-too/
I talked with them for awhile at IPRC that evening, but then I also hung out with them a little bit the following two days. We hung out on Monday evening for dinner and then some Ground Kontrol fun with my partners Matt and Marco, and then Tuesday, midday, for some walking around PNCA and getting lunch with just Matt. Then they flew back to NYC. Meeting and spending time talking with them was very inspiring! They are both incredibly nice and creatively driven people, which I really respect. They had traveled to Portland for 3 days to visit Portland and, more specifically, the IPRC. While they had flown from NYC, where Asao is learning about his departed father’s life and artwork (which is on display as part of the Gutai: Splendid Playground exhibit at the Guggenhetim Museum), they are from Japan. As I (very unfortunately) know almost nothing of Japanese language, I found myself relying on their English knowledge and a little help from my google translate app to cover the gaps. I learned that they were interested in visiting the IPRC because they have a similar project going in their town of Hamamatsu in Shizuoka, Japan. AND, SERIOUSLY, THEIR PROJECT IS AMAZING.
I am totally using the word amazing on purpose here, because their project is called Zing! Zing! is a combination of the words “zine” and “ing,” which fits well because it involved opening a space for people to create zines for a month for each volume of Zing! From what I understood and the wonderful pictures Canaco showed me on her iPad, each volume of Zing! was the result of a month-long community event in a temporary space. It seems that they rented a space in their town for a month, set up all kinds of materials and a copy machine, then held parties and workshops to encourage people to come in and participate! Check out their blog to read about the launching of Zing!, to see photos of their really wonderful set up, to see their really awesome templates, learn about Zing! events, and more! They were really into sharing their work, they gave Matt, Marco and I some copies of Zing! zines, as well as some beautiful posters they designed, a cd of Asao’s music (Tategu Telepathy, music from a exhibition of tategu, a style of doors or openings), and a couple of Canaco’s prints of her illustrations. I gave them each a copy of The 3 of Us (because it was one of my zines that I had on hand), some IPRC paraphernalia (like the latest catalog and buttons and such), Matt gave them a copy of Garage Raja, and Marco give them a cd from his old band. I also felt very flattered as Asao and Canaco seemed to have printed out the Zine Machine template in anticipation of their visit and liked it.
Above, you can see the shared treasures! In the second photo, I am holding volume 2 of Zing!, which is very image heavy and another zine called Sunday Street. In the third photo, I am holding a zine by Canaco that is ALL illustrations of ice cream sundaes (!) and the Tategu Telepathy cd (which I haven’t listened to yet, somehow). The fourth photo is a spread of zines and illustrations from Asao and Canaco. From what I understood, Asao works in design and Canaco does work illustrating fliers, posters, and other cool things for community organizations. Asao and Canaco weren’t just being so generous sharing with us, I watched them approach other creative people around IPRC in the same vein as well as my friend Kinoko, who we happened to run into when we were at PNCA, she actually knows some Japanese language because she had lived there. I really admired their spirit of sharing creative work and ideas, they seem to have come prepared to share their work. Not only did they seem to have a lot of Zing! issues with them and other examples of their awesome work, they even had little plastic bags that they would put issues of Zing! and posters/fliers in as they were giving them out.
In this photo, you can see Kinoko excitedly receiving ziney gifts from Asao and Canaco.
I posted this on facebook and twitter, but I wanted to dedicate a blog post to it.
You know what is a huge factor in rape?
A culture and media that blames victims and more readily sympathizes with people who commit rape rather than the people who have actually been raped.
CNN’s coverage has been completely unethical, but so has most the mainstream reporting on this case. Reporting like this feeds into why people feel entitled to each other’s bodies as possessions and objects, rather than understanding that consent is key and no one has a right to your body except for you.
Silence is not a yes, inebriation is not a yes, a short skirt is not a yes.
Here also is a list of links that covering the problematic way the Steubenville case was reported on, as well as a relevant petition for an apology from CNN…
And here also is some very articulate writings on rape culture and our society’s reactions…
When the allegations that such men committed rape are first revealed, there is an endless supply of people to normalize and excuse what they did; to doubt that the victim says, and also to blame her own behavior for whatever happened to her (usually under the guise of “well-meaning” rape prevention advice.) When they are tried, CNN and other media outlets qualify every statement about their culpable conduct with words like “allegedly,” and while this is necessary for liability reasons it subtly but surely conveys the impression to the audience that CNN doesn’t believe her.
The justice system so rarely works in the victim’s favor. Rape is the least-reported major crime because rape victims fear for their own mental health if they submit to a process that interrogates every aspect of their conduct — and often their past — and leans so heavily on their credibility. When reported, their stories are often rejected as unprosecutable. When tried, jurors’ biases often result in acquittals that are facially unjustified. And sometimes, particularly with celebrities like Kobe Bryant, the victim’s name becomes widely known and death threats from fans literally force her to withdraw her complaint.
Here’s the thing—when you argue that it’s impossible to teach men not to rape, you are saying that rape is natural for men. That this is just something men do. Well I’m sorry, but I think more highly of men than that. (And if you are a man who is making this argument, you’ll forgive me if I don’t ever want to be in a room alone with you.)
And when you insist that the only way to prevent rape is for women to change their behavior—whether it’s recommending that they carry a weapon or not wear certain kinds of clothing—you are not only giving out false information, you are arguing that misogyny is a given. That the world will continue to be a dangerous and unfair place for women and we should just get used to the fact. It’s a pessimistic and, frankly, lazy view on life. Because when you argue that this is “just the way things are,” what you are really saying is, I don’t care enough to do anything about it.
Do people making this argument really want to live in a world where we just shrug our shoulders at epidemic-levels of sexual violence and expect every woman to be armed? (And little girls, do we give them guns too?)
Teach young men to see women’s humanity, instead of seeing them as sexual objects for male pleasure: There is a reason why women are shamed into silence and why teenage boys in Steubenville, Ohio are caught on camera laughing about gang raping an unconscious girl at a party. The dehumanization of women spans all areas of American life.
There is no shortage of evidence that rape culture results from the objectification of women and the view that we exist simply for male pleasure. When a ESPN football commentator implies that the reward for being a star quarterback is that you get to have a pretty girlfriend, that takes away a woman’s individual agency. She is simply an object to be possessed. An object there for male desire and nothing more.
The young men in Steubenville aren’t monsters. They did something monstrous and criminal but perhaps we should begin to stop repeating the notion that “criminals” are the ones raping 1 in 5 women. No, it’s our husbands, boyfriends, acquaintances, relatives, and friends and they rape because they are not taught to see women as full autonomous human.
Let me also point to some well written allowance for sorrow for what has happened in a way that honors the humanity of everyone involved.
I do feel sorry for these boys. And not only because they will be put in cages that will not make them any better. I also feel sorry that two 16-year-olds are capable of the things these boys have been found guilty of doing. That makes me deeply, deeply sad. That we have created a world in which, at just 16 years old, and even younger, boys can already hate girls this much. That they can already dehumanize and degrade them. That misogyny is so insidious and so effective as to make 16-year-old boys incapable of respecting this girl, of seeing her as a human being with the right to make her own choices, even when drunk, and the right to remain unviolated, even when passed out. I am sorry for these boys that, at 16, some of their humanity is already gone. The cruelty of kids is not new, and I guess it should not shock me, but this specifically gendered cruelty, at such extreme levels and at such a young age, is shocking to me. And I do feel very sorry for these boys.
Just not as sorry as I feel for the girl they raped.
And what do we do? I am firmly in the camp advocating that we MUST TALK about these issues. And we need to all talk about them in a real and accountable way, a way that takes into account the broad scope of problems that feed into misogyny and rape culture, a way that makes us all responsible. We all need to be allied in the fight against oppression and recognize the very real privileges any of us hold. If you are a male person, perhaps it feels overwhelming. Here is another great article I have seen passed around for what you can do, everyday, as a potential male ally against rape culture and misogyny.
Part of male privilege is that, as men, we expect people to listen to what we have to say, and that’s no surprise—we’re socialized to take men’s voices seriously, to hear authority in them. And as much of a problem as that is, I can’t help but consider a few possibilities. An obvious start is for fathers to talk to their sons about consent, but there’s more. Think of the power that a high school football coach has to talk about violence against women. Think of how this kind of message sounds coming from an educator whose primary field has nothing to do with social justice. Think of how far consent culture can spread when a popular male artist, or blogger, or politician starts talking about it. And you don’t have to be a celebrity or leader to be powerful—anyone with a Twitter account or Facebook page can push the conversation forward.