Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
Divergent is very much a spiritual throwback to The Hunger Games trilogy, which is a series that I devoured as rapidly as possible. It's so close in spirit and feel to The Hunger Games that it almost feels like a ripoff in places. I've recently found out that it too has been picked up for a potential motion picture, so clearly these types of books are flying off the shelves. Divergent is also more than reminiscent of the Harry Potter world, with the members of its society taking assessment tests to see which 'clan' (read: house) they will join. These clans are very much similar to the houses in Harry Potter. The Dauntless might as well be Slytherin. It's basically the Reaping meets the Sorting Hat.
The protagonist of the story (Beatrice, or Tris) is likable enough, though not a spectacularly deep character. Other than her current struggles within the Dauntless society she finds herself in, we don't know much about her likes and interests. Aside from her family ties and her romantic interests, of course. Did she have close friends other than her brother before the assessment tests? Did she have any hobbies? The entire book becomes a whirlwind of mental and physical training and at times I find that Tris's thoughts and motives are predictable and shallow. I found her much less frustrating than Katniss Everdeen though, and connected with her in a stronger fashion.
The pacing of the book is odd, spending tons of time on and going into detail about the assessment testing and the training that Tris goes through, before whipping into the real conflict 75% through the book. Clearly Divergent is preparing us for the second book in the series, which I will eagerly read to see how certain conflicts and relationships are resolved.
My biggest issue with this book (and also with The Hunger Games and Twilight) is in the way the teenage girl protagonists interact with their love interests. In Divergent, Tris is completely mindblown and baffled by the fact that Four has taken an interest in her. Though she is brave, strong, and the top of her class in assessments, she is completely timid and self-loathing when it comes to her interactions with Four. She puts herself down, basically calls herself ugly, and can't believe that a guy like Four would be interested in her. The fact that she tosses aside her achievements and her personality and only thinks about her appearance when talking with Four sets a bad example about the confidence a young woman should have in herself. I found her budding relationship with Four to be far less annoying than Katniss and her relationships with Peeta and Gale, but just once I'd love to see a more confident young woman interacting with the male characters in these books. It's frustrating to see such strong and powerful young women in these fantasy/dystopian novels who can kill people, save the world, win wars, and outsmart anyone yet they are still portrayed as weak girls when it comes to being interested in boys.
All in all, I did enjoy Divergent. I read it in 3 days total and found myself turning the pages long after I intended to go to bed. I will be reading the next book in the series to see how it plays out. I think Veronica Roth is a very accessible reader with a knack for making battles engaging and interesting, and this is a great first effort by her. It's worth picking up if you enjoyed The Hunger Games and wish there was more of it.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
According to this article on Jezebel, supporters of DwtS have taken to posting on the ABC message boards about how disgusted they are with the network for including a transgender person on the show. They claim that it is destroying the family nature of the show, that it is flaunting 'confused people' in their face, showing too much 'homosexual lust' and destroying Christian values. The comments are hateful and judgmental, considering trans people to be freaks and outcasts who shouldn't be depicted as normal. It's a sad look into the reality that many people see to be true.
All of these comments are exactly why Chaz Bono should be on the show. Despite the fact that he isn't truly a 'star' for anything other than being the child of Sonny and Cher, Chaz is proving to be a great representative for the FTM community, a population that is all but invisible in the public eye. Showing that his gender identity will have absolutely nothing to do with his performance on the show or his dancing, and that he certainly isn't 'flaunting' anything simply by just being himself. He is an opportunity to teach young people about the female-to-male transition (if parents choose to do so) and shows that transgender individuals are people.
I don't watch DwtS and I'm not going to start now, but I'm happy that ABC are giving Chaz Bono a chance to raise awareness about trans men. We clearly have a LOT of work to do in raising tolerance and acceptance for transgender people, and comments like these make me realize how far off we really are.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I was getting my hair done in the Mission area of San Francisco last week, and I was casually making awkward conversation with my stylist to pass the time. I mentioned my boyfriend in passing, and she interrupted me and said "Wait, your boyfriend? I thought you were gay!" and pointed to my bracelet. I replied with, "I'm queer, but yes, I have a boyfriend." She kind of stayed quiet after that and I could see her kind of pondering how that could be possible. It was complete blindness to the concept of a bisexual orientation (or the possibility that I or my partner are transgender). Even though I don't consider myself bi, sometimes I will tell people that I'm bi just to save the inevitable conversation where I explain to them what pansexuality is. I should take the time to educate people, but it can be kind of awkward when I don't know the person.
This is just one example about how queer identities that aren't strictly same-sex can be stigmatized or erased. If other people see me walking down the street with Mr. Boyfriend, they assume we're straight. There is no possible way I could have a boyfriend and be anything BUT straight. Bisexuality isn't really seen as a queer identity, it's just something that you do while drunk. It's not really a Big Deal(tm) that people don't see me as queer when we're together -- being pansexual isn't something I necessarily want everyone to see in passing while they walk by. But assumptions like the one at the hair salon happen all the time. I've had it mentioned in gay clubs before - "why are you here? You're straight!" or from other gay people - "You wouldn't understand because you're straight."
Sometimes, wearing that bracelet helps other LGBT people know they can connect with me. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this year, I was wearing my bracelet. Someone in the game industry who I didn't know walked up to me and asked if I was going to go to the LGBT Game Developers roundtable. I didn't even know that mixer existed, and if this person hadn't spotted my rainbow bracelet and saw me as a potential attendee, I wouldn't have gone to what was a very interesting event. I've struck up conversation with people at coffee shops about local queer-geared events. Sometimes having my visible 'proof' has been a good way to meet people and find conversation about similar interests.
I own up to my privilege. I know that I'm a middle class white cis woman who is able bodied (at least for now) and has had a lot of opportunities that others don't have. But people can be privileged in some regards and marginalized in others. I don't think it's fair that I have to answer to straight privilege when I am not straight. This is why there should be more careful discussions around privilege when it's not necessarily clear how people themselves are marginalized. I don't know people's income levels, their sexuality, or their mental health status just by looking at them. We love to bucket people into clearly divided groups based on affordances, but we should be mindful that we're not making assumptions about people based on our own stereotypical preconceived notions of what marginalized people look like.
While here, I've been noticing just how much I don't fit in here. Not just within the state culture, but also within my own family. My mom and dad are both very much consumed by alcoholism. Their only hobbies include drinking - such as going to the bar with their friends, going to car shows, and playing darts/beanbags at bars. They both come home from work and begin drinking immediately and continue until bedtime, knocking back 6 beers each easily, sometimes more. My mom becomes incoherent and insufferable while she's drunk to the point where I don't want to be anywhere near her. Before I moved away, this was a major source of contention between us. She always feels like I am judging her, and I always feel like she puts her addictions ahead of her family. It's hard to tell who she really is anymore -- the alcoholism and her escalating and untreated mental health issues have consumed her and drowned out the personality that I used to know. And my dad, well, he's always been a conservative white dude. Since being here three days he has railed against fat people, against blacks, against people who ride bicycles, and against poor people. He's only 50 too, so it's not like he's an 80 year old man stuck in his ways.
I can't deny that I have changed. Since moving to CA, I found feminism, grew up a lot and became independent, started to become a fierce ally for LGBT issues, realized that I am pansexual, and started to live the diversity of culture. While I'm here, I feel like I don't fit in. I notice just how white the MN State Fair is and what a monoculture it is. Minneapolis was recently heralded for beating out San Francisco as the gayest city in the United States, but there is a definite divide between the two Twin Cities. St. Paul is a more conservative and traditional city, and of course it's where my parents live.
I really love California. It's not perfect, and it's certainly a hell of a lot more expensive, but I feel like it's worth it just for the diversity and the culture that is missing here in Minnesota. I have 4 more days to try to get along with my parents. I hope I make it!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Hey everyone! Tami somehow roped me into contributing here, and since I'm going to make an effort to do that on a somewhat regular basis, I figured I should introduce myself. My name is Caitlin, I'm 26, and I live in Tami's backyard (it's a long story). Here is my feminist click moment!
This whole world of feminism is all very new to me. I know almost absolutely nothing about it, yet I think I am one. And I think I SHOULD be one. But am I any good at it? Probably not yet, but that is why I am learning!
It was not very long ago that a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless, though I’m sure you could guess) started becoming interested in this strange concept called “feminism.” She started scolding me for using words like “bitch” or “slut.” She started pointing out and getting offended by sexist comments and jokes that she heard. She started going on slightly “holier-than-thou” tirades about women, equality, sexism, blah, blah, blah… I had NO idea where all this was coming from.
Here is a brief summary of several conversations we’ve had.
“WTF is up with all this feminism nonsense?” I ask.
“It’s not nonsense and I can guarantee you that you are already a feminist,” she tells me.
For some reason feminism was a scary word, a label that I didn’t quite like the feel of when it rolled off her tongue. In fact, it is something that I am still getting used to. If I had to describe myself in 3 words, I do not think feminist would make the list.
Anyway, I replied with a “How am I a feminist?”
“You believe that women and men should be paid equally for the same jobs, right?” And I of course said yes. “Well then, you’re a feminist” she tells me.
What? ME? A crazy femi-nazi? I don’t think so, that’s not feminism, that’s just wanting equality!
She asks me, “What do you think feminism IS exactly?”
[Insert all sorts of stereotypes about feminism]
To all of which she replied “Um, no. Here, read this book.”
And she handed me Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti.
I read it and I found it interesting. I read it and I found I agreed with things. I read it and I disagreed with things. I read it and found some things hard to swallow. I read it and got SO PISSED OFF about things. I think I may have even teared up a bit here or there. But seriously, it got me thinking.
Why do I feel that feminism is a four letter word?
Why do I want to lose weight, wear make-up, etc? Is it ok that I still enjoy reading Cosmo (because I do)?
Why do I feel the need to call women bitches or sluts? Do I really mean what I’m saying? What AM I saying exactly?
Seriously, my brain was freaking out for a while. In fact, I am still sorting this entire thing out.
So, here goes. Feminism noob takes on the world!
Saturday, August 20, 2011
"We are a free speech site," Erik says. "We don't want to be in a position of deciding what is and isn't offensive, nor would we be capable of deciding what's offensive and what's not."You are not CAPABLE of decide whether or not posting pictures of abused and beaten women is offensive?! Or dead children? What the hell kind of world are the Reddit administrators living in? This couldn't be a worst response in my opinion.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Take me, t-take me
Wanna be a victim
Ready for abduction
Tell me what's next, alien sex
I'ma disrobe you, than I'mma probe you
See I abducted you, so I tell ya what to do
I tell ya what to do, what to do, what to do
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
How silly of me, this blog has been up and running for half a week now and I haven't wrote about my feminist click moment yet. Here's the anticlimactic way I discovered that I was a feminist.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Saturday, August 6, 2011
I have done three startups and each time it has been with a male co-founder. And each time, the fact that I am female has been a distraction to us. It has been a source of friction. When I was young, people thought my co-founder and I were a couple. (This is not surprising. The majority of male-female co-founder situations for a funded startup have a sex component.)
The problem is that men and women are different at work, and the intensity of a startup magnifies these differences ten-fold. In my last company, Brazen Careerist, I had two male co-founders. Sometimes I’d cry. Or throw a fit. And the guys would say I was so difficult. I am a woman who has been in tech startups for 15 years. I thought, if anyone can deal with men, it’s me. And still, I was too emotional for these guys. You know what? Most women cry at work. And most guys throw a fit.