Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift.

This past week, nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) were announced and Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to point out of the systemic inequalities that exist in many spheres of the US, including the VMAs. She tweeted about how if she were a different kind of artist, her video Anaconda would have been nominated for a lot more awards (including video of the year). Minaj implied that if she had been white, more nominations would have happened for Anaconda.

After a bit of Nicki Minaj tweeting about racism within the music industry, Taylor Swift jumped in and tweeted about how she had done nothing but support Minaj over the years. Swift seemed to take Minaj’s tweets as a very personal call out, tweeting:

However, Nicki wasn’t passive aggressively calling out Taylor at all but was instead addressing the issue of racism within the music industry and how black women hardly ever get credit for the hard work they do that impacts culture. Ellie Woodward wrote an article over on Buzzfeed talking about Nicki Minaj’s faved tweets show the reason reason for the Taylor Swift “feud”, many of which address the cultural impact of the Anaconda video, how Taylor totally missed the point, and how the media started painting Nicki as an angry black woman and Taylor as the innocent white woman in the Twitter fight. 

(Janet Mock’s below tweet was so great at pointing out the racist implications of the imagery that was being used in reports of the fight and asked for the imagery to be reversed.)

Nosheem Iqbal wrote a great article about this issue over on The Guardian, highlighting the main points of what Minaj was tweeting and how the debate is much bigger than Swift’s ego. Among so many other things, Iqbal wrote that:

The broader point Minaj is making is clear: throughout music history, black women aren’t recognised in the popular music canon in the same way their white counterparts are. As Minaj tweeted: “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year … I’m not always confident. Just tired. Black women influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it.”

And oneofthosefaces wrote another amazing thinkpiece about the feud, talking about how Taylor Swift is still not a feminist, and brought up so many other great points. At the beginning of the article, oneofthosefaces highlighted that Minaj wasn’t taking jabs at Swift (like so much of the media seems to report) but that Minaj was in fact talking about the racism within the music industry, saying that:

… let’s be clear about who Nicki was talking about when she was indirecting. The ‘Anaconda’ video, which Nicki felt was deserving of a Video Of The Year nomination, snatched the VEVO record from Miley’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ (which did earn a VOTY nom) and reclaimed black women’s bodies for black women… after Miley spent the whole of 2013 building an adult career on the back of strapping on a fake booty and twerking her way to stratospheric success. If you rundown Nicki’s tweets and retweets, she was drawing parallels, not suggesting any of this year’s nominees had taken her spot. Her argument was specifically about the difference in the way white bodies and black bodies are portrayed. It’s an argument she’s made before, when she compared “acceptable” white girls in bikinis to her “unacceptable” ‘Anaconda’ cover art.

The good news is that Taylor Swift did finally apologize to Nicki Minaj for making the entire situation about her, although I do think that’s an exceptionally low bar. Instead of reacting to Minaj’s tweets and making a conversation about systemic inequality about her, Swift should have asked herself many questions and should be reading up on intersectionality to become a better feminist.

Your Faves are Problematic – Joss Whedon.

After watching Avengers: Age of Ultron and finally finishing up season two of Agents of Shield, I’ve been thinking a lot about the problematic man that is Joss Whedon. There is a small, tiny, really minuscule part of me that really does want to love him and his work but there is just so many problematic things that have come from him. So I thought I’d share some of the things that Joss Whedon has done to earn the position of problematic celebrity.

Rather than ramble on and on myself about the man, I’m just going to link to other things that have been critiquing him and his brand of feminism.

  • There’s an entire tumblr called ‘Joss Whedon is not a feminist’
  • Here’s a long list of shitty things he has done with more links, including:
    • Being ableist
    • Being transphobic
    • Racist
    • Whitewashed on more than one occasion in more than one major project
  • There is a tumblr dedicated to collecting receipts on celebrities and has an entire tag devoted to Joss
  • Another list of things he has done with even more links (some in this list have already been covered but wanted to include it anyway)
  • What Joss Whedon gets wrong about the word ‘feminist’

I honestly don’t expect people, celebrities in particular, to be perfect and flawless humans. Making mistakes and messing up is part of humanity and honestly, I don’t think that part of us is ever not going to be a thing. But one of the most awful things you can do regarding mistakes (in my opinion) is to not grow and learn from them. Repeatedly doing the same mistakes and shitty behavior over and over again starts to not be mistakes but reinforced behavior. After a certain point, it won’t be a mistake but instead will be a significant part of the person you are. Or at least, that’s my own opinion.

Learning from your mistakes (and the mistakes of others) and changing your behavior from what you’ve learned should be a key part of feminism – especially for white people. I think it’s important to be vocal about the ways in which people have fucked up and hold others (and yourself) accountable. Liking a problematic person doesn’t make you a bad person but justifying their terrible behavior does. Saccharinescorpine on tumblr wrote a really great post about liking problematic people and states that:

you’re allowed to like something while being loud, vocal, and angry about how much you hate the bad parts. be mean, be unpleasant, but never just be the person who gives a pass to all the bullshit that assholes can get away with in this world just because you don’t want to feel bad for liking a tv show or celebrity

Feminist Friday: The Erasure of Our Own within the Queer Community.

There is so much that I absolutely love and adore about the queer community – this was a community that was often there for me when it felt like no one else was. I’ve gotten support and love and so much from the community but I also realize how much erasure exists here. I’ve learned about the world and about myself in a large part because of the support and resources I’ve found through the queer community. But I’ve also seen more than my fair share of erasure within this same community.

Women, trans folks, and people of color working at the nation’s largest LGBT rights group say they feel excluded:

— BitchMedia (@BitchMedia) June 16, 2015

It’s interesting to see how incredible white and masculine the queer community can be. A report has found that the largest and most funded “LGBT” group in the US (the Human Rights Campaign) is actually more of a white mens club than anything else.

femme1This comic is the first few panels of a much longer comic about the femmephobia within the queer community and 4 ways in which to support queer femmes. In a related article, Erin Tatum wrote about her own experiences as a bisexual person and the glorification of masculinity in the the queer dating scene. Tatum brings up so many good points in that article, including the bi erasure that often occurs and the invalidation of some identities (like bisexuality and pansexuality).

It’s so important to acknowledge the erasure within the queer community, especially for all the identities that are not the LG of LGBTQ+. Josh A. Goodman wrote his experiences as a bisexual man and the barriers that come with non-monosexual identities. Eliel Cruz has written about bisexual erasure before – in particular highlighting how 2014 was the year of bisexual invisibility.

I personally really relate to some of the experiences Michal Jones wrote about in their article on coming out as genderqueer and nonbinary in and out of the queer community. One of the things I particularly relate to was this:

The queer community was one of the first places that I felt free to explore the sides of myself that my childhood tormentors attempted to beat out of me, and still remains a primary source of strength, community, and voice for me.

But as I learned more about the messiness of gender and intersecting identities, I noticed and internalized gender roles and dynamics within queer communities that were reflective of values held by greater,heteronormative society.

everdayfem11-e1425317677882It’s also interesting to see how misogyny shows up within the queer community. Ryan O’Connell wrote about gay men and their not so cute misogyny problem, highlighting some of the misogynistic aspects some gay men have perpetrated.

Transphobia is yet another thing that stays within the queer community and alienates the transgender, gender nonconforming, non binary, and overall trans siblings that exist in the queer community. Laverne Cox says it all so much better than I ever could in the below interview:

(Transcript found here)

And of course, there’s the racism that’s so embedded within so many aspects of US society, including many parts of the queer community at large. Rev. Patricl S. Cheng, Ph.D wrote about his own experiences and other stories of racism against Asian queer people a few years ago, particularly highlighting the racist nature of many planned queer parties.

Like many things I’ve written about in the past, all of this is just the tip of the iceberg about this issue. The exclusionary nature of the mainstream queer community isn’t limited to people who are bisexual or transgender or to people of color. There seems to be a severe lack of intersectionality in the mainstream queer culture (as often highlighted and perpetuated by the Human Rights Campaign, which remains one of the largest and most funded LGBT organizations in the US).

Feminist Friday: Protect all sisters, not just cis-ters.

support_your_sisters_by_shia_chama-d6gihbgI’m not going to lie – I’ll fight anyone that doesn’t think trans women are women. Because trans women are fundamentally women and my sisters in this struggle. And I do want to state at the beginning that this post is most definitely aimed at anyone and everyone who doesn’t believe trans women are women and trans men are men. (But honestly, I’m mainly focusing on transmisogyny.)

If you do want some trans 1o1 resources and how to potentially act as an ally to the trans community, I did write a post for Trans Day of Visibility recently that covers some of that information and some basic 101 information. Also Google is a great and free resource for any more questions.

*Another disclaimer: I am not a trans woman so this is coming from a place where I’ve seen how some cis women and others who don’t identify as a trans woman have been incredibly awful to trans women. And how some have used feminism as a weapon against the very community it should be including.

12511278745_c0045afeb0_oThere is, unfortunately, a subculture of feminism that doesn’t believe trans women are women. Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism (TERF) is an incredibly toxic culture bent on excluding (and even exterminating) the trans population in the name of feminism. This is not feminism – it is hatred and problematic and absolutely terrible. There is a checklist of things terfs tend to believe if you are curious.

Mainstream feminism has unfortunately had a terrible history of transphobia and transmisogyny and it’s damn time that that hatred in the movement ends. Tina Vasquez wrote about the long history of transphobia within the feminist movement, ending her in depth article by saying:

Trans women have been saddled with the responsibility of taking on trans-exclusionary feminists for far too long—but it’s not their issue to deal with alone. Cisgender feminists, such as [Vasquez], have to make it clear that our feminism loves and supports trans women and that we will fight against transphobia. As Williams said, it’s time to expose trans-exclusionary feminists for who they really are.

“I’ve often wondered what their [radical feminists’] end game is. Do they really believe that they’re going to cause thousands of companies and hundreds of towns to roll back trans protections?” Williams asked. “TERFs were the first to politically weaponize the trans-bathroom meme back in 1973 and they pioneered the end of trans healthcare in the 1980s. It’s high time that 40 years of focused, unrelenting hate be pulled into the light of day.”

Leela Ginelle wrote an article about how trans women are in fact women and focused on some of the responses from some radical feminists about Caitlyn Jenner. Ginelle also highlighted the fact that second wave feminist thought (in the 1970s and 1980s) often expressed a lot of trans exclusionary sentiment but there have been several prominent feminists like Gloria Steinem who, in the past few years, have publicly changed their standpoints. Ginelle ends her article with a really great paragraph:

Supporting trans women means seeing them as equal to all other women. When you do this, then Caitlyn Jenner’s self-expression is as valid as any other woman’s. It means every trans woman’s body is a woman’s body and any definition of woman inherently includes trans women. If this is what Burkett means when she writes the trans movement is “demanding that women reconceptualize ourselves,” then I suppose she’s correct. It will be nice when people no longer see it as a “demand,” though, and when people no longer ask, “What makes a woman?” and assuming the answer excludes transgender women.

Some other important reads include:

  • Portland Transgender Pride March planned to raise awareness of high rates of suicide – march is happening this weekend in Portland, Oregon!
  • As [Caitlyn] Jenner’s story breaks the internet, trans women of color discuss their own narrative
  • Unpacking transphobia in feminism 

Ultimately, I will always believe that trans women are women and more than deserve a spot at the feminist round table. Supporting trans women can mean different things – like listening to them tell their own narratives, financially support for trans individuals or organizations, learning more, or calling out transphobic bullshit you might encounter. All of that transphobic and transmisogynist behavior in the name of feminism is utter bullshit and needs to stop immediately.

And to all the trans women and girls out there, I love you I love you I love you. You are worthy and wonderful and created and loved by the universe. Society has failed you miserably but you are amazing.

Feminist Friday: #GiveYourMoneyToWomen

I definitely support the current Twitter hashtag #GiveYourMoneyToWomen because of the way in which women (particularly women of color) aren’t justly compensated for so much of their labor. There are many tweets about why giving money to women is important and I recommend reading through the hashtag to understand more!

But I thought I would create a list of great people and organizations to donate to in support of this idea:

  • Blackamazon
  • Fernanda “Nani” Meier’s fundraiser to get to #BlogHer15
  • Black Girl Dangerous
  • Cherrell Brown (fundraising for going to grad school in London)
  • the bad dominicana
  • Gradient Lair
  • So_treu

All these are just some of the amazing women and organizations that definitely deserve financial support.

#SayHerName – Protesting Police Brutality Against Black Women

Protests surrounding police brutality, the extrajudicial killings of black people around the US, and violent white supremacy have made dramatic waves over the past several months. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has been a calling cry since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and has been a rallying cry for some protests. #HandsUpDontShoot and #ICantBreathe have also been other rallying cries, in reference to the deaths of Micheal Brown and Eric Garner respectively.


[Image of several black women demonstrating topless in San Francisco on May 21st.]

#SayHerName became a hashtag and protest call to bring attention to the violence faced by black women around the country. The poet Aja Monet wrote and preformed a poem under the same name and called out the names of the black women and girls who have been murdered by police.

There have also been numerous demonstrations around the country in response to a call to action from the Black Youth Project. Some articles about the demonstrations are below, including the fact that several incredible women went topless in protest and shut down the Financial District in San Francisco:

  • They Love Our Bodies but Not Us: Powerful Images from #SayHerName Demonstrations
  • Women Go Topless to Protest Killings of Unarmed Black Women by Police
  • Why These Women Protested Police Brutality Topless



[Image reading: black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to be targeted by police and incarcerated than white women.]

The African American Policy Forum has a long list of resources, statistics, and general information about the police brutality against black women if you are looking for more information.


I think that being able to support and amplify the voices and work done by the activists fighting against the white supremacy so built into the fabric of US society is incredibly important. (Especially supporting and amplifying black women. And not forgetting about the intersectionality of gender, class, race, sexuality, etc.) Supporting platforms like Black Girl Dangerous, #BlackLivesMatter, and Operation Help or Hush is always important. There is also a Black Girls Lead conference, an opportunity for black girls between the ages of 13-17 years old this upcoming summer and is an offshoot of BlackGirlsRock.



Feminist Friday: Activism.

th (6)Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about activism and what it means to be an activist in the current technological age. Part of this has been that not everyone is able (for a plethora of reasons) to be on the front lines and constantly present in marches and meetings. And with the change in technology and accessibility, how has activism changed? In the age of Twitter, hashtags, Facebook, and YouTube, what does it mean to be an activist?

(*Photo from this article)

I’ve written previously about being and acting as an ally and remembering the intersectionality of life and issues, which for me are both important part of being an activist. And reflecting back on my life, I’m now able to see how prevalent my depression and anxiety has been in my life. Struggling with both along with being a very shy introvert and someone who doesn’t drink has made being a very loud and proud queer activist difficult.

With my depression and anxiety, I’m not always able to get out and go to marches; phone banks and talking on the phone to strangers is a terrifying process for me. My words and writing are often all I’m able to contribute – this blog was started mostly because I realized that writing was the best way in which I could potentially contribute to different movements. But there’s a certain amount of guilt that I feel about not being able to go out and be present on the ground.

Maisha Z Johnson wrote a post for Black Girl Dangerous specifically to other QTPoC activists, talking about participating in the movement when you’re in a funk. She writes about how all the different contributions are relevant and necessary for a movement. At one point, she also references another relevant post from Black Girl Dangerous written by Michal “MJ” Jones defending the shy in the community and movement. MJ defends the shy, introverted, and socially anxious people from a community that seems to continue perpetuating some harmful messaging from the rest of society:

Non-profit, social justice organizations and workplaces value the go-getters, the energetic and enthusiastic types that can engage audiences while suggesting “speaking up more” as an area of improvement on performance evaluations for quieter types. Each of these provide the same message: “Your silence makes me uncomfortable, and is something to be cured.” The conversation about how to make spaces safer for quieter folks or those who experience social anxiety is practically absent.

Michal “MJ” Jones also wrote a fantastic piece on Everyday Feminism about how you don’t need to be leading the marches for your activism to matter, again writing about how there are so many ways in which to contribute to a movement and how assuming everyone can participate in the same way is ableist.

And over the past few months, I’ve definitely felt a lot of guilt over not being able to be on the front lines of marches or manning phone banks for fundraisers and support. But I’m definitely regularly reminding myself that everyone’s activism is going to be different. There are some aspects, like marches, rallies, and phone banks, that are incredibly important to a movement. But other aspects (and rather introverted ones) of organizing is also really important to movements as well. The entire idea of wanting everyone to participate in the same way seems so unrealistic and often problematic because not everyone has the same abilities and strengths.

Ultimately, I’m trying to unlearn the societal norm and preference of extroversion as the best and the many forms of ableism that perpetuates US culture and society. And while I do think that protests, rallies, marches, etc etc are so incredibly important, I’m also realizing how important other (and usually more introverted) aspects of activism are.

Feminist Friday: Body Shame and Loving Yourself

I’ve written a lot about my body over the past few months, including my struggles with gender and being fat in a capitalistic society. A lot of this happens to be because my body is something that I think about a lot – especially in the context of societal pressure. I don’t really fit into that narrow view of beauty within the United States and it took me years to understand not only the problematic nature of beauty here but also that I’m kind of okay with not fitting into that “beautiful” demographic.

And it’s been a difficult journey because it seems like society is so determined for fat people to not be happy with themselves. Liz Boltz Ranfeld wrote about what were to happen if we just let fat people be happy, something that really sticks with my own experiences. Jes Baker also wrote about why people hate Tess Munster and other happy fat people. (Jes actually runs the blog The Militant Baker, a site I personally just found but totally love so far.)

I don’t want to shit on those who do fit into the demographic that is considered beautiful – that’s definitely not my point in this post. What I want to address though is the unbelievable pressure we as a society and individuals place on conforming to beauty norms. These norms often reflect the very problematic nature of society itself – ours within the US is heteronormative, white supremacist, fatphobic and fat shaming, ableist, and generally a very narrow demographic of people.

Mary Lambert’s Body Love is a song that I personally find incredibly wonderful and it’s one that just really helped me be more okay with myself. She’s one of the artists that I just adore because she seems so committed to loving yourself and saying fuck you to the pressure to conform.

And to be honest, if I were to listen more to my parents (especially my mother) and follow their advice on my body, I don’t think I would be where I am in terms of loving myself. I’d be in an incredibly dark place in my life because as much as they try, they don’t know the real me. They force those same social norms on me that have often sent me into a deep depression and hatred for my body.

I can tell that my parents want nothing more than for me to be a “normal” woman, one without many piercings or big tattoos, one who has clean shaven legs and arm pits, one who exponentially more feminine and a hell of a lot thinner.

As a society, we’ve gotten exceptionally great at shaming people for numerous things about their bodies. For having too much hair, for not having enough. For having too much fat, for not having enough. For upsetting gender norms and the gender binary. Etc etc.

I’ve long since stopped shaving my legs and armpits (for the most part. Maybe do it once a year?). Partly because I’m just so over spending so much time doing something I barely like doing. But also because I’m so over the incredible amount of shame we give to female assigned and/or female identified people about body hair. And while my gender is all over the place right now, a big part of why I don’t shave is to continue to subvert the societal norms of how much body hair a DAFB and female presenting person should have. Sabah Choudrey wrote about his experiences growing up as a hairy brown girl before coming out as a trans man and how it took quite some time to be okay with his facial hair. Aiden McCormack also wrote a piece about body hair, feminism, and trans identities, saying it quite eloquently that:

Why people find hairy women so threatening continues to bewilder me – and why people believe they have some ownership or right to comment on the state of a female body bewilders and infuriates me even more.

And as someone who is not a trans woman, I can only imagine what it must be like for trans women who deal with body hair and their gender on a regular basis. But that societal desire to having almost completely hairless women is a completely ridiculous myth that continues to help us hate our bodies. (Again though. Not trying to shit on the people who do shave but instead, trying to make it more about having the chance to say no to the societal pressure to be hairless in all the right places.)

But even with all the struggles I have with my body, I have an incredible amount of privilege within our white supremacist society as a white person. My pale skin and others like me are unfortunately valued significantly more than women of color (black women in particular). Sonya Renee wrote an amazing article, talking about how being a fat black woman makes her and others like her invisible in the body love movement. Her article articulates the struggle of dealing with racism, misogyny, and fatphobia all together and how the places that are supposedly offering body love are rarely extending a hand to women like her. Sonya writes that:

Black women’s bodies have always been objects in the social sphere, but never exalted as beautiful. The fat Black woman’s body has been rendered an object of service whether for food, advice, care-taking, and so on, but never has it been a thing to aspire to – at best, perhaps, to fetishize, but not a thing of beauty.

Blackness is, historically, not beautiful. So even while battling weight stigma and reclaiming size diversity as beautiful, the presence of Blackness complicates the narrative.

And all of this is only the tip of the iceberg that is body shaming and body love. There’s so much more that goes into this – like the classist and ableist ways in which we as a society shame those who aren’t able to afford or fit into fashionable trends. My own perspective and experiences are just some of the so many that exist around the topic of body shame and body love.

Feminist Friday: Mental Health Stigma

I’ve written and tweeted about currently dealing and struggling with depression and anxiety because it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I was even willing to put those terms to what I was experiencing. It took even longer for me to realize how many of the feelings I experience come back to those things and to finally start addressing my struggling mental health.

Looking back (and with the help of medication and therapy), I’m now able to see how much of the deliberating experiences I had came from my depression and anxiety. Leaving my house was so hard, I slept a lot and barely showered, and everything was irritating beyond belief. The little things that make others go curse for a moment and move on would consume my entire day in irritability and annoyance. I slowly started to become someone that I eventually no longer recognized – the face I saw in the mirror wasn’t me but a shallow ghost of the part of me I long lost.

Despite realizing that I was struggling with my mental health, there was so much pushing back on me getting help – financial woes and finishing college were big but most importantly, my depression and anxiety kept me from fixing the problems I acknowledged and the stigma that exists around getting help for mental health issues kept me from really addressing anything. I didn’t realize that the consuming irritability and stress that I felt from small issues stemmed from my depression or that my anxiety led to the obsessive thoughts that ruled my head. And all of this happened over a long period of time – it took several years for things to become really awful and during that time, pieces of me were slowly chipped away.

I also worried that going to therapy and getting on medication would radically change who I am but so far, I’ve found that the complete opposite was true. My depression and anxiety radically changed me, again to the point where I barely recognized the person staring back at me in the mirror. And I am very, very privileged that not only do I have health insurance but that my parents are emotionally (mostly) and financially supportive of me getting myself back together.

And I started to realize that self care became more than watching movies and doing crafts. It became taking a shower because it’s been a few days since I last had. It became doing laundry, cleaning, and cooking myself real food. Self care has become slowly doing all of the things I avoided while depressed or anxious, especially the ones involving interacting with people.


Within the US, we are particularly great at upholding stigmas and negative stereotypes about mental illness (and not just for depression and anxiety). And even those trying to seek help for the struggles they face with exceptionally real problems can run into problems from the very people they seek help from. There are trends of forcing students out of universities on medical leaves for some time, usually with the disguise of a choice. CarmenLeah Ascencio wrote on Black Girl Dangerous about going to therapy as a queer/trans person of color without having to go through experiences of being harmed, erased, or baffled by professionals.

There are so many problematic beliefs around mental illness that continue to do significantly more harm than good for those struggling with one issue or another. A big part of why I never got help before my 23rd birthday is because of the stigma that exists – I felt guilty, shameful, and like I was broken beyond belief. I never had the resources growing up to realize that all that extra angst, frustration, anger, and sadness was significantly worse than what I should have been feeling. Ray Filar wrote about the stigma of mental health over at openDemocracy in an article about why we’re all sick under neoliberalism and articulates it significantly better than I could ever do:

The silence and social stigma around mental health is deliberate, the product of an institutional refusal to talk about the affective impact of socio-political conditions. Some people get depressed, or psychotic, we think, because of chemical imbalances or individual traumatic experiences. They’re just lazy or making it up. We don’t talk about austerity, poverty, demonisation of the unemployed – the politically-driven stigmatising of the least privileged groups of people – but is it any wonder we’re unhappy?

USAToday did a series called The Cost of Not Caring, in which the topics of a failing health care system, waiting years and years before going in for treatment, discriminatory practices, and immense amounts of shame around mental illnesses are all addressed. I really recommend reading through the series if possible – there are quotes and videos of people struggling with different mental illnesses talking about different issues around the stigma and struggles of mental illness. In that series, Liz Szabo (the author of the series) also wrote that:

Nearly 40% of adults with serious mental illness received no treatment in the previous year, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Among adults with any mental illness, 60% were untreated. Though some people with mental illness don’t realize they’re sick, others simply can’t find help.

And all of this is only the very tip of the iceberg as far as mental illness stigma. My limited experiences of struggling both with depression/anxiety and the stigma around them are just some of the numerous experiences that exist. There is significantly more out there about not only mental illnesses of all variations (not just depression and anxiety) but the many stigmas and discrimination that also exist. It seems easy to just pawn off mental illnesses as “fake” or things that are incredibly easy to overcome. The whole argument that they’re “just in your head” and to stop being sad (etc) downplays the often significant role that these illnesses play for the people struggling with them.

Feminist Friday: Classism, Feminism, Racism, and Food

I’ve written a lot recently on farming, the environment, and food; this is partially because living in Bellingham can do that to people but also because I’m starting to realize how passionate I am about these topics. But this week is all about how classism, feminism, and racism all interconnect with food in the United States. Of course, this will only be the tip of the iceberg that is this topic because like many of the other things I write about, there’s so much that goes on.

Paige Lucas-Stannard wrote about how difficult it can be to raise a family on food stamps, including the fact that not everyone has all the tools to be able to cook healthy meals:

A couple other things to keep in mind with regards to Food Stamps: it is easy for me to cook from scratch and that is a very privileged position.  I have time, a plethora of tools that I had before going on Food Stamps, and the knowledge from a mother and grandmother that cooked from scratch.

This is not something that all Food Stamp recipients have at their disposal.

Lucas-Stannard goes on to debunk so many of the myths that surround those who use food stamps and the reality that many of those who use SNAP resources. There are many that are the working poor, where their income can’t quite cover everything. Or others who need the help because of disabilities or age. Whatever the reason, using SNAP/food stamps to help provide food on your table should never be an embarrassment. The people who SHOULD feel embarrassed are the rich capitalists who rob the poor/middle class of an actual livable wage.

And within the US, we tend to hardcore judge and dehumanize those who are living in poverty, on welfare, and/or part of the working poor. There is often this extremely classist judgment from upper middle class and rich individuals who fake concern to try and tell others how to live (including but not limited to how to eat healthy). We dehumanize the poor through assumptions, societal myths (including what welfare is and does), and false stereotypes but the solutions being carried out aren’t helping.

FT_13.07.12_FoodStamps_310pxThe Pew Reasearch Center did a study on the politics and demographics of those who have used SNAP benefits before and found that politics, race, and gender do play a big part in the demographic that has. This, of course, is the proportion of each race that has used SNAP benefits at one point or another, which is different from the total number. Numbers wise, white people make up the most of SNAP recipients but people of color are still disproportionately represented.

Age and disability also come into play with those who have used SNAP at any point, with households that have children, disabled non elderly individuals, and elderly individuals making up a big percentage of SNAP recipients.



I had the chance to work in a food pantry that served mostly low income individuals in one neighborhood of Portland and learned more hands on about the demographics of those impacted by poverty. As a society, I think we (especially the upper middle and richer classes) are very good at maintaining that shame that goes with using federal benefits like SNAP. We tend to believe in the American Dream so much and in that tale of pulling up yourself by the bootstraps when some people aren’t even given boots in life. We need to stop shaming people for trying to provide for themselves and their families, which is so often the case for SNAP recipients, and to stop the continuing cycle of poverty that keeps the poor continuously poor.

All of this is of course only the tip of an iceberg for numerous problems – there is so much more that goes into issues of classism, racism, accessibility to food, and the intersection between them all.