Your Fave is Problematic – Taylor Swift.

Honestly, I am not a Taylor Swift fan – in part because I think she’s way too hyped up and hearing her songs constantly play over the radio has gotten rather irritating. But I’m also not much of a fan because of the annoying way she’s presented herself over the last couple years and the fact that Swift is quite honestly the best example I can personally name of White Feminism™ (okay so Tina Fey and Lena Dunham also rank as some of the best examples…).

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JULY 10: Singer/songwriter Taylor Swift performs onstage with Hailee Steinfeld, Gigi Hadid, Lily Aldridge and Lena Dunham during The 1989 World Tour Live at MetLife Stadium on July 10, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Larry Busacca/LP5/Getty Images for TAS)

Melissa A. Fabello wrote for Everyday Feminism about the 5 ways in which Taylor Swift does exemplify white feminism and why it’s a problem. One thing that Fabello brings up is that Swift seems to only really surround herself with beautiful, thin, rich, famous, white women. Her squad seems to be mostly women who look exactly like her…

And her latest video (The Wildest Dreams), for example? It’s set in Africa (that’s vague as fuck) but features almost exclusively white people. Plus, her Bad Blood video? Not exclusively white people but very close to it. Dayna Evans also wrote an amazing piece about how Taylor Swift isn’t your friend, as much as she appears to be.

Taylor Swift has frequently been critiqued for her cultural appropriation, particularly in regards to her twerking and use of black culture in Shake It Off. (She’s not the only white pop star to not only use black culture and be criticized for it.) Janell Hobson wrote about both Shake It Off and Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda, highlighting in particular that Swift works to distance herself from being overly sexual:

…when Taylor Swift deliberately positions her awkwardly dancing body in “Shake It Off” as a way to defend her innocence against the constant slut-shaming she has experienced, she reifies her whiteness, her purity.

And for me, it just seems like Swift’s own feminism seems the easiest path she could have taken to proclaiming to be a feminist. The thing about fighting oppression, about being a feminist is that there is going to be work and the journey will be uncomfortable. But many of Swift’s actions seem to be a shallow nod at what mainstream White Feminism is. Adding people to the background of your tour doesn’t mean representation. And for someone who has said feminism can mean women helping other women, Swift has made a lot of money off hating other women as Elfity on Persephone Magazine pointed out:

Taylor Swift has made a very, very large amount of money off of hating on other women. She’s sold a lot of records with the, “I’m not like those other girls,” message and helped to perpetuate the virgin/whore dichotomy. She is not without blame. It’s nice that you like t-shirts and sneakers, but it doesn’t make you any better than the woman who likes high heels and short skirts. Lobbing hateful, sexist lyrics like “She’s an actress, whoa. She’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress, whoa,” that seek to specifically devalue someone’s profession because OMGslut don’t really seem like they’re helpful to other women.

I do think that Swift’s identity as a feminist and some of her actions (like apologizing to Nicki Minaj for making Minaj’s critiques of the 2015 VMAs all about her) can have some good implications. People aren’t perfect and we as society shouldn’t expect people to be so. But that doesn’t mean that Swift or anyone else is free from critique. Nor does it mean that we should just ignore problematic behavior because of a few good actions.

A note on fatness.

I made the mistake today of watching a really awful video that was essentially this person rambling on about how terrible fat people are. I don’t know why I kept watching it after realizing seconds into it that it was really just several minutes of this person telling me I’m a sorry existence for a human because I am fat but I did. In the video (which I’m not going to link to or even attempt to find ever again), the person essentially ranted about their deep seeded hatred for fat people and the body positivity movement (which by the way, isn’t just for fat people but not the point right now).

This video honestly reminded me of so many of the people that are in my life and of all the terrible things I think about myself on a regular basis. It made me feel ill and reminded me of the obsessive nature of my weight loss goals from a few months ago. The nature where I couldn’t stop obsessing, the one that led me to occasionally throw up after eating and could barely function outside of doing anything that didn’t help me to lose weight.

My desire to lose weight over the past year has seemed to be more toxic than the fat I have around my stomach and thighs. I was obsessive and destructive and not healthy in anyway.  I was lucky enough to realize all on my own the destructive tendency that had been concealed as a desire to be healthy and stopped.

But right now I want to acknowledge the fact the prevalent and toxic nature of assuming you know what’s best for someone else. This is to all those out there that think you know what’s best for me because you’re thin and I’m not and to all those that think you get a say in a stranger’s life:

Fuck. You. Just straight up fuck you to the moon and back. Also, why are you so obsessed with me?

But in case you’re not won over by just that, let’s look into some things. Did you know that the BMI scale isn’t that great (and apparently total bogus)? Time, NPR, and FoxNews (weird) all have articles about how the BMI scale isn’t that great and isn’t an accurate indicator of health. This Is Thin Privilege and others wrote about the beginning of the BMI scale, the history behind it, and about how the person who started it had a low sample rate in one specific location in a Tumblr post (which has sources attached).

ALSO let’s talk about fat shaming and size discrimination. It’s not just the fashion industry or that fat people have trouble finding clothes because there are so many other things about society that shames people about their size. Did you know that weight is a factor in grad school admissions? Or that there’s an increased likelihood of conviction, a lack of medical services and legal rights, among other things?

There are so many myths and assumptions about fat people and just fatness in general. Some take downs include:

  • Just the Fat Facts, Ma’am – Golda Poretsky
  • 9 facts shatter the biggest stereotypes about people who are fat – Julianne Ross
  • Busting myths about fat bodies – Kath Read

It is possible to exercise while fat and do it for plenty of different reasons other than weight loss. I walk because I like it and it makes me feel better. And there was a point in my life where I was doing cross country, soccer, and horseback riding all within a span of several months but I was still considered fat. People don’t have to exercise to lose weight or change their shape nor do they have to fit into the societal definitions of what fit people should be like.

I wrote a poem several months ago about how I felt regarding a family member’s comments about my then weight loss. Looking at my life and how I feel and how I take care of myself, it just seems so apparent to me that it’s more likely that I’ll die from other reasons not related to my fatness.

Someone’s inherent worth should not be determined by a stranger’s standards. Fat people do not exist so you can tell them how to lose weight, that they should lose weight. We exist for ourselves, not for your misplaced and unnecessary concern.

Israel, Palestine, and #BlackLivesMatter

free_palestine_now_by_kartix1I have a significantly limited knowledge and understanding of the Israel/Palestine conflict so this post is more about referencing others’ work about what is happening and some historical context.


  • I’m Jewish but I don’t support Israel and neither should any Jew dedicated to social justice – Tessara Dudley
  • Israel versus Judaism
  • Gaza still in ruins, a year after the war
  • African American rights activists endorse boycott of Israel – Renee Lewis
  • Jewish Voice for Peace
  • End the Occupation
    • Resources

There has also been many connections between the fight for racial justice in the US and the struggle for justice in Palestine for decades.

  • Protesters say Ferguson feels like Gaza, Palestinians tweet advice back – Charlotte Alfred
  • Black Solidarity for Palestine
  • 1,000 Black activists, scholars and artists sign statement supporting freedom and equality for Palestinian people
  • History 101: Black Panthers, Palestinians and the fight to end racist Zionism
  • The fascinating story of how the Ferguson-Palestine solidatary movement came together – Bassem Masri
  • Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter, and Ferguson Reps take historic trip to Palestine – Kristian Davis Bailey




tumblr_ntlehjNAu41u3nkrio2_1280-600x552Today, the hashtag #transliberationtuesday on Twitter is calling for more awareness and the ending of violence against trans individuals, particularly against trans women of color and black trans women. I’ve written previously about the violence that happens to the trans community and how that violence disproportionately impacts trans women of color (especially black trans women). It’s so important to realize that many of the violent crimes that currently happen against the LGBTQ+ community are in fact against trans women of color.

Just in the past eight months of 2015, there have been 20 murders of trans people and most cable and news shows have been ignoring the spike in the murders. Not everyone has been ignoring this issue – Janet Mock has been discussing this issue and read the names of those who have died while serving as a substitute co-host for Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that the issue is largely absent from many other news shows.

There are several actions across the U.S. today that are calling for trans liberation and the end of violence. And if you can’t make it to any of these actions – there are other things to do. Support organizations that help house and provide resources to trans women, support trans women directly, call out transmisogyny when you see it or hear it. These are of course just some of the things we can do to support trans women of color right now.

I am not a people person.

I’m honestly not much of a people person – haven’t been as long as I can remember really. It’s not that I hate people (as much as I often say I do) – it’s more that I do significantly better in occasional brief encounters with a few individuals and by myself than anything else. I’m an introvert and very shy – I stumble over my verbal words and get stressed out easily over constant stimulation through interacting with people.

I prefer reading and written communication – it’s often easier for me to think about what I want to say and the best way to say it through writing than talking. (Although I definitely appreciate body language and unspoken cues when having major discussions. Talking about television shows and how a date went? So love being able to text for that stuff!) I love reading and watching stuff on Netflix because I still get to interact with the world outside of just myself but it’s usually not too over stimulating.


So the past couple days has been really stressful because I’ve been constantly hanging out and doing things with plenty of people. And it’s not that I don’t love the people in my life – at the very least I have a deep appreciation for their existence. But it’s exhausting to constantly be on and to be social for me.

I’m very much looking forward to the next few days – really brief encounters with a small group of people and spending so much more time alone are both things I desperately need for some down time. Hopefully with this break I’ll also be able to write a little more as well!

Making Mistakes.

quote-if-youre-making-mistakes-it-means-youre-out-there-doing-somethingFor me, a big part of humanity is that we are flawed and we do make mistakes. But the great thing about mistakes is the ability to learn and grow from them. I do think that if you want to act as an ally and stand in solidarity with different groups, you have to be okay with making mistakes and owning up to them. Ashley Truong wrote about making mistakes as an ally and how if someone does call you out, listening, giving a genuine apology, and learning from your mistake are some of the most important things you can do.

But a big thing is to learn from your mistakes and not repeatedly use “I’m human and make mistakes” as an excuse. Because at least for me, if someone keeps fucking up and uses that excuse on and on again, there’s a very good chance I personally won’t want to be around them for too much longer. Acknowledge mistakes and grow from them.

And I also think it’s important to realize that people change, grow, and learn in the span of days, weeks, months, years. What someone might have believed a few years ago might not be what they believe now and ironclad holding people accountable to problematic stuff they said some time ago can be tricky. I think that if someone is called out and they genuinely apologize and learn from it, it’s important at the very least to acknowledge this.

That doesn’t mean I think marginalized people should coddle the people in power or hold their hands throughout all the discomfort we as people in power are going to face but instead that we can’t expect people to be perfect revolutionaries from the very beginning. Everyone grows in different ways and society is so dead set on keeping up the problematic status quo that what might be apparent to one person might not be so apparent to another.

I hope this adequately describes the points I’m trying to convey about making mistakes. This was actually one of the few times I felt like I didn’t quite have the right words to describe what I’m trying to talk about here but hopefully the message is still understood. And this is as much as a note to self as it is something to consider for everyone else.

The Bechdel Test and Every Single Word.

There have been several projects and tests that have called out the lack of diversity and general problems that Hollywood has in regards to representing anyone other than a cishet white male. Hollywood has an undeniable diversity and representation problem and the problem seems to at the very least start at the top. I think it’s unbelievably important for us to be critical of the mainstream media that so many consume on a regular basis, especially along the lines of a lack of representation towards race/ethnicity and gender.

Dykes_to_Watch_Out_For_(Bechdel_test_origin)The Bechdel Test, for example, first started in 1985 and named after the cartoonist Alison Bechdel whose comic the rules first appeared. The Geek Feminism Wiki highlighted the rules for the test (taken more or less straight from the comic itself), saying that the requirements were:

  1. the movie [media] has at least two women characters;
  2. who talk to each other;
  3. about something other than a man.

And the test is more important than you might realize. Charlie Jane Anders wrote about the importance of the test over at io9, saying among many things that while the test is not fool proof, it does force many to think why so many films would fail such a low bar in regards to representing women.

Additionally, Dylan Marron, a New York based actor, has recently been working on a project titled Every Single Word, which has been a compilation of movies edited down to just the words spoken by people of color. He’s covered many mainstream videos like Birdman, Juno, the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy (which fit into one 46 second video), Into the Woods (which was silent…), and many many more.

The videos highlight how few words are actually said by people of color in big/mainstream movies and the race problem in Hollywood. And the project highlights the dynamics behind a study done by UCLA a few years ago, which found that minorities and women are underrepresented (compared to actual demographics in the US) both in front of and behind the camera.

It’s both interesting and extremely disappointing that so many mainstream movies and television shows fail to have any sort of representation. The new reboot of Doctor Who started off strong in regards to passing the Bechdel test for the first couple seasons but once Stephen Moffat took over as showrunner, the show began to do significantly worse.

Whovian Feminism wrote about the problem between the first few seasons and the last few as far as the Bechdel Test and also addresses the fact that this test is not a measure of feminism but a measure of female presence within a medium and not talking about a man. And fan artists of the Harry Potter series have also helped many to reimagine the characters other than the default white that took over the movies.

Race and gender are not the only identities that Hollywood fails to address – there are so many other problematic issues that Hollywood and mainstream media needs to address. I am happy to see things like the Bechdel Test and Every Single Word addressing the problems, particularly in such blatant ways.

#sHellNo update – #PDXvsShell

CLFoR05WoAAc7I_The fight and protests against Shell’s proposed arctic drilling continues, as protesters in Portland, OR have helped block a Shell vessel from leaving the cities harbor. The #sHellNo movement continues to try and stop Shell from moving any vessels and ships up north to work on drilling. Most recently, several protesters have been suspended from the St. John’s Bridge across the Willamette River in north Portland for several hours. OregonLive (the Oregonian’s online presence) has live updates about the protest.

th (10)In addition to the people suspended from the bridge and similar to the actions done in Seattle several months ago, there are also many kayaktivists who have taken to the waters around Swan Island in the Willamette. King5 highlighted the actions in the Willamette river, saying that:

Without the Fennica and its equipment, the Polar Pioneer rig can’t begin drilling operations, even though the White House has already approved Shell’s exploratory drilling permits for Arctic oil.

It’s unlikely the demonstrations will prevent the Fennica from leaving Portland, but protesters say every delay helps their cause.

In addition to news stories, there have also been several storifies that have collected tweets about the protests into one location:

  • Portland, OR says Shell No!
  • Portland Shell Protest at St. John’s Bridge
  • Activists Suspended off St. John’s Bridge
  • Activists Attempt to Block Oil Vessel in Portland, OR

Shell has already been approved to start digging up north but activists hope that with the delays brought on because of the protests, there will be a huge financial loss to the company.

Writing and Depression.

Over the past couple weeks, it has been really difficult to find the time, energy, and desire to write. I’ve been spending so much of my time sleeping or watching shows on Netflix and I’ve been feeling like I’ve been regressing back to my low point over a year ago. There are so many things that I want to write about and engage with but being able to actually do that? Usually very difficult.

I wish that depression was an easy fix, that I had the desire to do the things I love. Most of my days blend together, with me spending a ridiculous amount of time laying in bed because getting out of bed is difficult. Marathoning television shows is one of the few things that I regularly do.

Hyperbole and a Half’s Adventures in Depression is a great representation for so much of my experiences with depression. Getting up and doing things is so difficult sometimes and nothing seems to motivate me to get many things accomplished. Allie (the author of Hyperbole and a Half) wrote about one experience that I’ve gone through many times:

I spent months shut in my house, surfing the internet on top of a pile of my own dirty laundry which I set on the couch for “just a second” because I experienced a sudden moment of apathy on my way to the washer and couldn’t continue. And then, two weeks later, I still hadn’t completed that journey. But who cares – it wasn’t like I had been showering regularly and sitting on a pile of clothes isn’t necessarily uncomfortable. But even if it was, I couldn’t feel anything through the self hatred anyway, so it didn’t matter. JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE.

A New Space.

A week ago, I moved into a new place. I now live in a tiny little one room cabin on my neighbor’s 5 acres and I am just so happy about it. When I walked into the cabin for the first time, I nearly cried out of relief and happiness because it has been over a year since I had a space and stable living situation. For the first time in over a year, I have a permanent place to call my own, a place where I feel safe and calm.

I’m just so happy because splitting my time between either parents’ places was difficult and stressful. It started to destroy my relationships with my parents – once my mom got really upset and told me to leave and spend the night at my dad’s at like 9:30pm because I wouldn’t share my small sandwich with her. (I can’t even make that up…)

And honestly, I just do so much better when I have my own space and the ability to be alone if I need it. Being in public spaces and spending time with people (regardless of my relationship to the people I’m with) can be really stressful and overwhelming for me so having a space where I can shut off the rest of the world for a while so far has been really helpful.

I’m still trying to figure out what the future will hold for me but having the space to do that will be unbelievably wonderful. And the five acres I’m on is also home to a dog, a llama, three cats, four chickens, and maybe some chickens eventually. It’s just so wonderful to be around animals for such a big chunk of my life because animals have been some of the most consistent things in my life.

I know I won’t be in my hometown forever (or at least I hope not) but having this new space gives me hope for the future that everything will work out.