Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: Plan B, Feminist Art, & “Gaslighting”

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Hair Cut Off, 1940.

  • Bitch media does a series on feminism in art: they ask, “How did you discover Feminist Art?” Frida Kahlo (<3) and Judy Chicago get shout-outs! Go and post your own feminist artists of choice.
  • The best thing I’ve read this week: social critic and feminist Yashar Ali published his “Message to Women from a Man: You Aren’t ‘Crazy'” at Huffington Post. He recoins the psychological term “gaslighting,” or manipulative behavior that causes others to think they are crazy when they are not– this, he says, is what men do to women when they tell them, “Calm down,” “Relax,” “You’re overreacting.” Brilliant.
  • A study finds that abstinence-only education does NOT work. In case it wasn’t already obvious, here are some statistics of all the damage done by this unhealthy and unscientific mandate. via Slate.
  • At Jezebel, Hugo Schwyzer explores the stereotype that “sisterhood is easier in the winter.” It is all based, he says, on the “myth of male weakness.”
  • Here’s some warped logic for you: right-wing group “Concerned Women for America” has announced that they do not support abortion access for women in the military who have been raped–because– the abortion will just “distract” from the crime. Huh? Here’s a direct quote from the organization: “Women deserve better than simply being given an abortion as a ‘cure-all.'” Read Amanda Marcotte’s analysis.
  • The newest development in the Occupy movement: Occupy Our Homes. Since December 6th, activists across the country have been focusing their protests on the mortgage crisis and foreclosure. From The Nation:

“To occupy a house owned by Bank of America is to occupy Wall Street,” said Ryan Acuff, who has been working with Take Back The Land in Rochester, NY doing these kinds of actions since Sept 2010. “We are literally occupying Wall Street in our own communities.” The reclamation of foreclosed homes and defense of individuals facing unfair eviction helps make arcane economic issues like deregulation and securitization, local and personal.

Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: The Good & the Ugly of Occupy, Pro-Choice United Nations, & Pinkwashing

  • Occupy Wall Street: Check out this video of Eve Ensler explicitly detailing the ways in which economic inequalities disproportionately affect women. “Why aren’t we supporting nurses? Why aren’t we supporting teachers?…Why isn’t the work [women more often do] the respected work?” YES EVE.
  • We can also take heart from Sarah Seltzer’s excellent piece at The Nation about the instrumental and visible role of women in Zuccotti park. The narratives from women activists show their awareness of the history of “leftist” social movements. If we know our history, let’s hope we can change it:

“One of the things we didn’t want, which has always been the history of the left, is to start splintering among ourselves,” says Husain. “So how do we create a movement that allows us to swim with one another?” She notes that this includes an effort to discourage anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as well as racism, sexism and homophobia.

The solution, for her and others, lies in the essence of Occupy Wall Street: its leaderless, non-hierarchical nature, which allows any participation to have a say in the movement’s direction. The casual observer, unaccustomed to organizations without hierarchy, might mistake leaderlessness for structurelessness. But in fact OWS is governed by a highly structured, constantly evolving series of processes, with checks and balances to make sure no voice or one faction takes over.

Woman in wheelchair trying to escape tear gas at Occupy Oakland, via The Nation

  • Now the ugly. Police’s violent response to Occupy Oakland has sent shivers down the spines of activists around the country. Here’s Joshua Holland at Alternet, who takes the conservative narratives around OWS–that it’s a bunch of dirty anarchists, that there’s violence and chaos, that it’s a reprise of “Lord of the Flies”–and links them to the justification of violent police crowd control tactics like tear-gas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades, as well as mass arrests and destruction of the entire camp. At The Rumpus:

In the meantime, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan released a somewhat insulting statement and is in DC while all this goes on. She is facing a recall and terrible poll numbers. She’s also taking heat for deleting angry posts from her Facebook wall. Will she be the first politician Occupy takes down?

  • The United Nations–yes, that United Nations–has issued a formal report on reproductive health and rights, calling for the decriminalization of abortion around the globe and recommending that states remove all legal barriers to contraception and family planning services and education. RH Reality Check has a series of articles analyzing the implications of this groundbreaking report!
  • Another huge step in sexual and preventative health care in the U.S.: a panel from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has recommends the HPV vaccine to males aged 13 to 2l, linking the symptomless and highly common STI to a number of cancers in men. Doctors tellin’ it like it is:

Dr. S. Michael Marcy, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California and a committee member, said that the money needed to vaccinate 11- and 12-year-old boys would pay for only a few hours of the war in Afghanistan while potentially saving thousands of lives in the United States.

“I’m constantly being told we don’t have the money. Well, we do have the money,” Dr. Marcy said. “We need a new set of priorities, and we if we don’t set those priorities, who will?”

  • At Tiger Beatdown, an excellent critique of the “pinkwashing” of breast cancer–what is awareness? What does that little pink ribbon actually mean? How can we focus the breast cancer activism movement?

Mindy Kaling is a writer for The Office, in which she also plays "Kelly."

  • And for all the rom-com lovers out there, Mindy Kaling of The Office breaks down her love of the genre by listing some of the fantastical/impossible kinds of women that seem to crop up time and time again–from “sassy best friend” to “ethereal weirdo.” Pure gold:

I regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world operates according to different rules than my regular human world. For me, there is no difference between Ripley from “Alien” and any Katherine Heigl character. They are equally implausible. They’re all participating in a similar level of fakey razzle-dazzle, and I enjoy every second of it.

Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: SlutWalk NYC, Wall Street, & Immigration

Stuck in a homogenized, tightly controlled and dehumanizing “total institution,” in sociology speak, wherein everyone wears the same thing, eats the same thing, and sleeps and showers in the same paltry conditions, the only means to autonomy is through hardened hypermasculinity.

  • Colorlines reports on the new, horrifying anti-immigration legislation that just made Alabama the most xenophobic state in the U.S. Now it’s a waiting game: will the Supreme Court uphold a state’s right to create its own immigration regime?

“Today is a dark day for Alabama,” Mary Bauer, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s legal director, said Wednesday in a statement. “This decision not only places Alabama on the wrong side of history but also demonstrates that the rights and freedoms so fundamental to our nation and its history can be manipulated by hate and political agendas – at least for a time.”

Keep your eye out for the October Issue of re/visionist, coming soon! In the mean time, “Like” us on Facebook. Takes 4-10 seconds, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

Interview with NARAL Pro-Choice New York

The mission of NARAL Pro-Choice New York is to protect safe, legal abortion and expand the full range of reproductive rights for women regardless of age, race or income. To learn more or get involved, please visit www.prochoiceny.org.

Our editors conducted the following interview with David Benzaquen who is the Political & Legislative Action Coordinator for NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

RE/VISIONIST: What is your relationship with New York’s state legislature?  Do you have many strong allies in Albany?

David Benzaquen: NARAL Pro-Choice New York works to support the election of pro-choice candidates and this helps us build and maintain strong relationships with pro-choice officials. Every year during election season, NARAL Pro-Choice New York endorses a slate of candidates who show their unwavering commitment to reproductive rights issues. We are non-partisan and only endorse candidates who are 100% pro-choice, so we are proud to encourage all of our members to support these candidates and their campaigns in any way they can.

R/V: At the federal level, how would you rate the performance of US Senators and Representatives from New York in terms of their level of pro-choice or anti-choice support?

DB: Senators Gillibrand and Schumer are strong pro-choice allies. We thank Senator Gillibrand, in particular, for her recent strong opposition to anti-choice legislation being advanced by Speaker of the House John Boehner. The Congressional delegation from New York is largely pro-choice and includes some tremendous heroes of women’s rights like Representative Jerrold Nadler. Unfortunately there are also several anti-choice members who are even now trying to defund Planned Parenthood and would allow emergency rooms to deny a woman an abortion even if her life was in imminent danger. Continue reading

Interview with National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH)

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) is an organization that focuses on abortion access, reproductive health disparities and immigration reform. You can find out more by visiting their website.

Our editors conducted the following interview with Maria Elena Perez, Director of Community Mobilization.


RE/VISIONIST: In what ways does NLIRH specifically address the Latina community?

Maria Elena Perez: The mission of NLIRH is to ensure the fundamental human right to reproductive health and justice for Latinas, their families and their communities through community mobilization, policy advocacy and research. Our priority areas are abortion access, immigration reform, and reproductive health disparities. Within community mobilization, which is the area I oversee, we cultivate the leadership of a diverse group of Latinas across the country through our Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy (LOLA) Trainings, which give birth to our Latina Advocacy Networks (LANs). The LANs organize and engage in grassroots advocacy efforts on both local/state based and national issues that directly impact their communities. And when I say diverse, our base is truly reflective of the diversity within our community with respect to country of origin, language, urban vs. rural communities, class, education, etc.

R/V: Do you strive to build coalitions with other groups that are also organizing for reproductive justice?

MEP: The reproductive justice framework holds as a core tenet the concept of intersectionality, which maintains that reproductive oppression is a result of multiple, intersecting oppressions like racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, etc. To achieve reproductive justice we must therefore, take into account the intersecting social justice issues. So, while we at NLIRH strive to build coalitions with other reproductive health, rights and justice groups, we also prioritize building alliances with Latino/immigrant civil rights groups and other social justice groups to integrate a reproductive justice analysis and agenda into their work. Continue reading