Our faves are problematic (revisited).

So a couple years ago, I wrote a couple pieces for this blog about problematic faves – celebrities that many seem to adore and love but are problematic in different ways. My point with writing these posts wasn’t to be malicious or to really tear people down but instead, to really start the conversation on why we shouldn’t be putting people on pedestals and why we should hold people accountable.

People aren’t prefect – as a species, humans are messy and tend to make a whole lot of mistakes. I know that I’ve made so many mistakes that would qualify as a problematic person and I don’t deny that I’m still not making mistakes. But I’m trying to be better and I’m trying to learn more in order to make less mistakes in the future.

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There is so much going on in the world today, especially with all that the current administration and Congress is pushing through. In the midst of all this chaos, it can be easily to get overwhelmed  – I know I have been. But it’s important to keep fighting, to keep resisting, and to take care of yourself. Self-care and taking a deep breath is just as important as being on the streets and making calls.

With all the issues going on, there are plenty of ways to resist and not everyone’s activism is going to look the same. People have different abilities, resources, and schedules, which means that not everyone can march in protests but there are so many things that need to happen. With this, I thought I’d find some great and different ways to join the fight.

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Last Saturday.

The Women’s March on Washington and related sister marches around the world happened this past weekend and honestly, I have some mixed feelings about it all. On one hand, it was incredibly amazing to see all the crowds that showed up in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Seattle, London, and more. Hell, there was even a (tiny) protest in Antarctica! And I’m not going to lie: seeing the dramatic contrast between the inauguration on Friday and the march in DC on Saturday was spectacular.

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James Deen, Charles Clymer, and the role of Feminist Men.

I’m always a bit hesitant around men who claim the label of feminist – not because I think that men don’t benefit from feminism and the destruction of the patriarchy or that men can’t speak out against misogyny, racism, ableism, and inequality in general. And men do benefit from feminist work because often feminism calls for less rigidity in gender roles that can be hurtful to men, the end to domestic violence (of which men can be victims), among many other things.

But to be truly honest, the reason I’m a little tentative with male feminists is because in my own experience, men who claim the label seem to use that as a fallback and excuse for not being accountable for their problematic behavior. There have been men who’ve done problematic and awful things but their reputation has been saved in a way because their feminist work and identity.

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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.

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.

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: http://t.co/FyWJpdzQge

— 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:

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:

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