On intersectionality and toxic body culture…AND…detrimental assumptions.

Alright kiddos, this article right here is a must read. No really. It is. Trust me.

In a guest post for Feministing, Sayantani DasGupta touches on some pretty key issues that arise for women who work to promote intersectionality while simultaneously discussing the detrimental effects of body through the broader social lens of race, class, gender, and sexuality.

The following is an excerpt that truly penetrates and has got my mind churning (it’s either this or the caffeine and I’m thinking it’s a little of both). While several of her points are spot on and important to the advancement of the discourse around gendered, racialized and commodified bodies, there was one part that really stuck out to me.  DasGupta claims:

Although I knew I was to speak with a powerhouse panel of women on globalization and medicalization, and I also knew Courtney’s commitment to diversity and a feminist intersectionality (thinking about gender oppression in the context of race, class, sexuality, etc., see here), my first thought on entering the room was “this issue isn’t relevant to me.” It was a strange, visceral reaction that wasn’t about who was present in the room, but how (I assumed) the argument was being framed.

For me, this is such an honest confession of what women like myself, who identify with several marginalized identity groups, often carry and hold onto. This assumption that we are going to be excluded, to put it bluntly, is one that I find hard to shake off.

I have been conditioned to think this way not only to validate my inherent skepticism of the level inclusion in whichever setting I find myself in, but to protect myself from utter disappointment and subsequent resentment. In essence, yes, holding onto these assumptions that people won’t understand, be inclusive, representative, or flamboyantly anti-racist, anti-homophobic, etc. is simply a defense mechanism I have developed over the years.  Frankly, I would not be at all surprised if this is the case for other marginalized individuals.

What I’m learning is that time and time again I have felt the need to prepare myself for this exclusion, subtle as it may be, and it’s really…wearing…me…down.

While I am in no way, shape, or form ready to offer any advice for how to come to terms with this, I am realizing that mindfulness is key. Yes, these assumptions are in direct opposition with the very way that I have been challenged to see the world (through the kaleidoscopic lens of intersectionality), but I want to catch myself here and just accept their existence.  I want to be aware and keep it there. I want to harness the blame and judgement that I feel building.  It’s not about who is causing “x” reaction– it’s about the fact that this reaction to activate these assumptions even occurs.  What does this say about the society that we live in? The feminist movement  today? The experiences of minorities in any given category? The experiences of individuals who work to promote intersectionality?

Clearly, I am still struggling with this issue of feeling unrecognized. But my time at Barnard has taught me to own my voice, to SPEAK because I can, and to speak and so that we can. And while issues such as these not-so-productive internalized assumptions come up, I’m learning to continue fighting a not-so-quiet battle to accept these realities (hence this pretty tangential post).

Le sigh…I have much to learn and while this has definitely added another layer to my path of self-cultivation and understanding, I am appreciative that I have been challenged and similarly, that I have been supported through this journey.*

So uh, in summary… can we get Sayantani DasGupta to speak at Barnard? No really… like right nao.

*Please note that this post might just be a “HOLY CRAP I’M GRADUATING IN 6 WEEKS” type rant. #$$&$**$%!!


Standing with Planned Parenthood…

snacking with Planned Parenthood, riding a bus with Planned Parenthood…all these are things you can do! Maybe you went to the fantastic rally a couple weeks back in NY, maybe you didn’t–there’s another one coming up in DC and they’re offering (a limited number of) seats on a bus to DC. You have to get there at six thirty AM (ugh, I know!) but I think it could be really great. RSVP! Do it!


McSweeney’s recommends it, and so must I. Folkstreams is a website with free streaming documentaries about all kinds of “American Roots Cultures.” It’s a national preserve! You can search for something, browse by subject, or browse by region. So for instance, I tried browsing under “Narrative & Verbal Arts” and found an eighteen-minute long documentary about girls’ playground games at a LA school called “Pizza Pizza Daddy-O.” Neat! I’ll let y’all know if I find anything else interesting! If you’re an educator, there is also a teacher’s portal on the website with lesson planning ideas.

[via McSweeney’s Recommends]


A Standing Ovation for BioWare!

There’s this game, Dragon Age II, and I don’t know much about it. But apparently, it’s a bisexual free-for-all. At least, that’s the impression you get from this angry comment in their forums:

To summarize, in the case of Dragon Age 2, BioWare neglected their main demographic: The Straight Male Gamer.

I don’t think many would argue with the fact that the overwhelming majority of RPG gamers are indeed straight and male. Sure, there are a substantial amount of women who play video games, but they’re usually gamers who play games like The Sims, rather than games like Dragon Age. That’s not to say there isn’t a significant number of women who play Dragon Age and that BioWare should forego the option of playing as a women altogether, but there should have been much more focus in on making sure us male gamers were happy...Its ridiculous that I even have to use a term like Straight Male Gamer, when in the past I would only have to say fans…it is as if they went “We have straight males, straight females, gays and lesbians. How do we make all these groups happy?”…The romance options, Isabella and Merrill, were clearly designed for the straight male gamers in mind. Unfortunately, those choices are what one would call “exotic” choices. They appeal to a subset of male gamers and while its true you can’t make a romance option everyone will love, with Isabella and Merrill it seems like they weren’t even going for an option most males will like

Aww. Aww! Sexist, homophobic, and did I detect a touch of racism there as well? What an impressive array of things that made me want to hulk out! Guys, that isn’t even half of it. Seriously! Now, BioWare would have been well within their rights to just ignore this, because it’s dumb, and who cares. But instead, lead writer on the game David Gaider wrote back with a lovely and sensitive response, which I have posted after the jump:

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HollabackNYC is looking for bad ass young leaders!

Hollaback is an organization that works to combat street harassment through the use of technology and through creating a forum for women and LGBTQ individuals to share their stories and experiences with street harassment.

Currently, HollabackNYC is preparing to pass on the leadership of its awesome and important project to a group of creative and committed youth (18-22 years of age) from the New York City area. View the flyer here: programflyerFINAL-1

Additionally, check out the video of a panel event hosted by BCRW on Feminist Responses to Street Harassment!

Email claudia@ihollaback.org to express interest or ask any questions!

Why Eating Can Make Me Depressed

I consider myself a conscientious eater. I have made peace with my food issues, questioned the food fads put up in the media, and tried to separate eating from body image and make both of those more positive.
Yet I still get caught up on one particular eating paradigm: sustainable eating. This (admittedly very long) article by Michael Pollan opened up that can of worms again for me, the first time having been after I read his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Continue Reading