Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Apologies for laziness

Hey guyssss. . . .it's been awhile.

How are you? Good I hope? I'm super sorry it's been so long, but I've had like life, y'know?

For one, from like August to the end of November I had marching band. Yes, I am in marching band. I pay the trombone. And I will be next season's brass captain. I'm kind of a big deal.

Kicking ass and takin' names
Then there's the whole "junior year workload" thing. They want me to start preparing for college and I'm all like "I'm gonna study taxidermy!" and "Greendale Class of 2018!" because again, I am ridiculously lazy. At this moment as I type these very words I should be studying for my midterm exams which start in literally two days, but I can't be bothered and I just discovered tumblr.

(P.S. That tumblr was originally gonna be a secret tumblr where I could just look at gifs and stuff but I gave it a pretty background and. . .)

I guess the most significant thing I've done in the past couple of months is start a feminist club at school with my friend. . . that is actually going really well. I think I'll write a post about it when I'm procrastinating in a day or two.

How's it going with you guys?

(P.S. My sister, from the faraway land called college, has a band now)

Monday, October 8, 2012

What Does a Feminist Look Like?

There's a catchphrase in modern feminism, strewn all over t-shirts and cute dresses worn by confident, pretty young woman and girls, meant to be said boldly and flatly to a snarky public: "This is what a feminist looks like."

It was comforting, when I first began identifying as a feminist, to see the girls in these shirts and dresses, all looking young and hip and happy. They weren't the butch or hairy feminists from movies and TV, the kind of feminist I was so afraid of being lumped with.

But why was I so concerned about defying a stereotype? Why was I worried about how people (i.e. non-feminists) would think of me if those were the type people I was supposed to be railing against?

Let's look into the phrase. "This is what a feminist looks like." As opposed to what? As opposed to hairy butch angry lesbians, of course! Okay, but why is it bad to be a hairy butch angry lesbian? Because it gives people the wrong impression. What people? People who feel threatened by feminism. 

We as feminists should never have change our beliefs or any part of ourselves to be more palatable; it's a different way of conforming to the status quo. I suppose the logic behind this is that they're showing people not to give cliches to much credence because straight white girls can be feminists, too.

Here's the flip-side: women and girls are a marginalized group, but straight/white women/girls are the least marginalized out of that group. The catchphrase is an attempt to redefine the image of feminism BUT it is trying to define it, and the face it shows is almost always that of a pretty white straight girl.

I'm not saying that straight white girls are can't be feminists or are less feminist than anyone else or are wholly to blame here but I will point fingers at feminists who cut out entire sections of the community (POCs, LGBTs, etc.) so brazenly. It's the glaring hypocrisy of this and this kind of stuff that I find maddening.

Look, I'm a straight, white, middle-class feminist, okay? That's the experience I understand best. But I think everyone who decides to call themselves a feminist and take up a movement meant to represent around 50% of the entire world's population has a certain responsibility; to try and understand other experiences, perspectives, to be conscious of the meaning of what we say out loud, to be actively inclusive in our actions. And to do all of this without being condescending and patronizing.

Yeah, it's a lot of work, but no one ever said revolutions were easy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Aqua Girl Star

Today was the last day of my summer job, in which I taught lead mentored became the spirit guide of counseled kids at an art-centric day camp. I consider my counseling style to be like, a really balanced mix between stern disapproval and like quirky good-naturedness. Basically, I'm like the best camp counselor ever.

Anyway, during this week's course in clay, the younguns went at it creating underwater scenes with Nemos and octopi and such. A lot of the girls made tiny mermaid figurines, complete with clamshell bras and everything. So naturally Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Counselor had to make her own mermaid.
The kids loved it, actually

How young is too young to be lectured on about the harmful messages of Disney's The Little Mermaid? (The median age was like, eight years old each week). Whatever, Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Counselor was tired after six weeks of paint, scraps of paper on the floor and that one time that kid threw up and didn't tell anybody. Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Counselor was very good and compassionate at her job until suddenly she wanted to hide in a corner and just eat her snack in peace.

Some of these kids broke my heart. Specifically some of the girls. Week after week I brought girls into the hallway for some deep breaths and a pep-talk as they sobbed. The cause was nearly always the same: the girl was confused by the project or was overwhelmed by it or thought she sucked and was awful and it was awful.

Let's remember, Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Counselor is also a feminist who hopes to spread the feminist agenda to as many impressionable young people as possible. Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Feminist Counselor also wants her charges to be confident and empowered young ladies and it kills her to see these girls with so little self-esteem.

Now, not all the girls suffered from this. Some were happy and bubbly and wonderful little know-it-all's. They were nice to each other. One little girl even had "girl power" written on her folder.

But here's the thing: through all of my six weeks there, I only had one boy cry about the same thing. And he was six years old.

A lot of the boys did their projects incorrectly, had to start over again, got frustrated, blah blah blah but they almost always got back to work and were able to make something. Obviously I'm not bringing this up to suggest that boys are naturally stronger emotionally; but I feel as though they don't fear failure as much as the girls do. My assessment of the situation, as Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Feminist Counselor in Analytical Mode, is that these boys, raised on Edison's "I have not failed not once I've discovered ten thousand ways that don't work," don't need to be as afraid. Most girls, and some women for that matter, feel that they must constantly prove themselves. This is self-conscious; I find myself doing it. We live in a society where women are and have been for centuries less-valued then men. Here are very young girls feeling the pressure of it.

And so there I sit in a hallway with these kids trying to think of a way to impart my Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Feminist Counselor wisdom in them, trying to find a way to let them know they shouldn't be so hard on themselves, trying to tell them they should be incredibly proud of what they've already accomplished. I don't know if I made any kind of difference.

There's Angry Mermaid with her "Free Pussy Riot" T-shirt, and there's my answer. There's the kind of thing I should've told them:

Girl you're a star,
Girl you're my star,

Where it's at is where you are.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympic Playlist: GLORY DAYS!

Oh God, it's over (still I cling!). Since the opening ceremonies I've been pinned to my couch every night, enduring NBC's absolutely awful Olympic coverage to support my nation (America! Fuck yeah!). I mean, I still believed in Michael Phelps when everyone was all meh but Ryan Lochte is gonna be a star and he so hot blah blah blah. Nah, people, Michael Phelps is an American hero. I was right all along and everyone else was a non-believer.

Also, Gabby Douglas is now an American hero because I say so.

Despite what this guy was expecting, I thought London did a sterling job. Brilliant! Aces! Razzers! A tip of my Victorian-style top hat to Danny Boyle and his soundtrack. The Anglophile in me was bopping along the entire time.

So in honor of the end of the 2012 Olympic Games and the glorious United Kingdom, I present to you a special suburban grrrl soundtrack for -- wait for it -- the champion in all of us.

 
Ruby gets the gold in illustration

Sunday, July 29, 2012

DIY T-Shirts

I really don't want to read this summer assignment, a 1033-page "historical novel" Sarum, which covers over a thousand years of English history by focusing on one tiny area. It's awful. The feminist in me is especially upset over all the sexy-times occurring between young, young girls and old, old men, which I get was a reality of the times but honestly-- the descriptions of multiple 14 year-old girls' "supple young breasts" are gratuitous and disturbing.

So I procrastinate with one of my favorite hobbies: making T-shirts! Hurray! And guess what: anyone can do it! Hurray!

Last night's effort was an (admittedly kinda weird) ode to my all-time favorite movie, Taxi Driver.
Went for De Niro, ended up with Ewan McGregor.
The image is based off of this photo, but with less blood.

This was done free-hand. I started out with a basic pencil sketch on the shirt-- just showing the shape of the head, the nose, mohawk etc. For faces, I think it generally looks better when the image is all shadows, so I outlined where I thought they would be.

After I was comfortable with my "rough draft," I started filling it in with marker. I recommend using "Stained" by Sharpie. They wash great, have a nice (if limited) selection of colors, and make great lines with their thin tips. Regular Sharpies work too, but not as well (more on that later).

I used the black and red (which turned out to be quite vibrant). To get the look of his "head stubble" (what would you call it?) I applied the black marker directly onto my finger, which I then used as a stamp. The sleeves have been cut off and the neckline widened. I think I'll edit his nose eventually.

This shirt was also made with fabric Sharpies a couple of months ago, so you get an idea of how they hold up (admittedly, I could've colored in his hair better). It's loosely based off of this photo of Pogues' lead singer Shane MacGowan, except I was too afraid to draw his eyes thought he'd look totally cool with sunglasses.

Also, it should be noted that I traced this one. I'm sorry. I also traced this one of Kathleen Hanna.
It looks more like her if you imagine she's wearing her hair up.
Same deal, fabric Sharpies.

Here's my Sharpie-Sharpie T-shirt:
I apologize for not having ironed it
I was afraid to wash this one for the longest time after a drop of water once caused slight discoloration and BROKE MY HEART (I really love this one). For awhile I only cleaned it with Febreeze and Tide-to-Go (which, by the way, is my new favorite thing).

But somehow, a few days ago, my mother got into my room, picked up all the clothes on the ground and threw them all into the washing machine! (OhmigodIknowright?) AND for the most part the Sharpie actually survived (maybe because it had *cough* a year to settle into the fabric), except for some light-blue ink patches scattered around it. These were quickly fixed with the help of TIDE-TO-GO.


This was actually the first T-shirt I ever made, which is weird because it was the one I was (and probably still am) least prepared to. If I remember clearly, it was thought up--like all the others-- during a summer's day where I was really really bored.

To start, I made a homemade stencil out of those cheap manilla folders they sell at Staples. Although this worked pretty well because it was thick and didn't let the paint seep through, I wouldn't recommend this. You're going to want paper that's sticky on one side-- this will make it look neater once you actually spray paint over it. My letters are dirty because I haphazardly taped this stencil onto the shirt, allowing paint to get underneath it.

Ah, the paint. It may not have been paint at all, in fact I think it was something you were supposed to use exclusively on shiny metal things BUT I haven't been poisoned by it yet. You should probably get real paint.

Note: If you're stenciling on to a shirt that is any other color besides white, you're going to want do a "primer" layer of spray paint first, meaning white, and then add your color.

WELL THERE YOU GO. I hope this has been helpful to someone. Anyone. Really.

P.S. SARUM SUX!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

RAISING HELL LIKE A MOFO

My sister and I have wanted to do this for years: put up flyers for a missing pet (which would be a squirrel or worm or sparrow, examples of NJ wildlife, y'know?) and put up someone we wanted to annoy's number up.

But today, bogged down by boredom and the heat, we actually did it. Except, we couldn't think of anyone we wanted to bother THAT much. I mean, or cousin? My sister's friend from college? BORING. So, over dinner with our parents, we chose our victim: the local GOP committee.

So please help us find our squirrel. And if you've lost your squirrel, why not do something about it?


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How To Cook Like The Old Country

So far, this blog has been a lot of me gushing over things. That's kind of fine, but I was thinking of all the things people can and do do with blogs and thought that maybe I should try something different for once. This is a story I wrote for my creative writing class this year. It is partially based on my own experience, depressingly enough. Feedback is appreciated!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


She held the frost-bitten block of green above the pot of boiling water. It was unnatural, almost inedible. This can’t be how they do it in the old country, a voice in her head whined. Ignore that, another sighed. The old country is going to default because they don’t appreciate the convenience of frozen spinach. She let go; the spinach cannonballed into the water.

There wasn’t much of a recipe this time. She was performing based off of fragmented memories from the last time she attempted the dish. That last time, when she gave-up and optioned out the neat, triangular wraps her grandfather always made for a messy, lazy roll. Now she was confident, she understood how to fold it. She just had no idea how long to bake for.

~ ~ ~

The class was held in a windowless, mustard colored corner of a basement. The lights were in the midst of an epileptic fit, and so was a boy at another desk across the room. Everyone ignored him, and eventually he stopped and regained himself as if nothing had happened.

This is not real life.

The other children sat in groups, showing off their familiarity with each other, rubbing it in this new girl’s face. When the teacher instructed them, in her fast and foreign tongue, they complied. She could not, it was all Greek to her because it was all Greek. The teacher searched for her name on the list, scrolling down it with resentment due to the hassle. She called out the name with such obvious spite it seemed almost fake. She is joking. The teacher was fat with bad hair a mole and jowls. She is not joking.

~ ~ ~