Thursday, September 8, 2016

Writing

Eliza is inspiring me with her writing so I am going to try to write a few times a week.

Part 1: Today I did some time supervising the end of lunch recess at the elementary school where my office is housed, fourth and fifth graders.  Fourth and fifth grade recess both horrible and lovely to watch.  Groups of girls run around chasing and being chased, distinguished from one another by obvious and subtle differences in hair, clothes, size, voice, race, athleticism.  A few non-white girls play by themselves or tag on to another group.  Everyone is performing.  I want to reach out to the quiet girls and the loud social ones and tell them to just stop, to just play, to stop playing to the audience.  To enjoy the sunshine and their bodies.

Overhead the sky is blue, the freeway runs over our heads, and kids scream and taunt, play basketball, do cartwheels and some walkovers, play four square.  I also saw some girls doing preliminary pole dancing on the tether ball poles.  They were clearly imitating something they have seen, running and leaping onto the pole and swinging around.

Part 2: I had not heard the word friable until my fiftieth year, a few months ago.  Now I keep hearing it on the radio and reading it in books and articles.  It seems applicable to so many aspects of this life, of my life specifically.  It is less lovely than fragile, more purposeful than decaying.  It implies an order or a will to devolve or dissolve, to cease to be itself.

I heard it from my friend Ellen, the patrician retired nurse who sings with me in Medieval choir.  She is unfailingly kind, generous, erudite, calm.  She and her pink-cheeked husband, retired music teacher at the local expensive private high school, live in a lovely and tasteful  mansion on capital hill.  They are the founders of the Seattle Early Music Guild, and have single digit membership numbers for REI.  Ellen went to Smith in the fifties.  Peter is a composer.  I found that I was slowly bleeding to death, and when my doctor told me that it was due to polyps in my uterus I couldn't find any information online to explain why polyps would cause bleeding.  I found almost no real information about uteruses.   So I asked Ellen during break at a rehearsal, in the social hall at Bethany Lutheran, as choir members chatted and drank tea.  "Well," she said, "Polyps are very friable."  I pretended to know what that meant, but I looked it up.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Girl Hate

I was experiencing a blast from the past with this song:





When I noticed some similarities between that video and a certain Taylor Swift video with an analagous theme:


 

In both videos, the protagonist finds herself competing with another woman, and in both videos the protagonist is the singer and the other woman is the singer in a wig. Because, as we all know, hating on other girls will always be self-destructive.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nice rack?

This is a fantastic article about a lady who felt that her love live was determined by her large breasts and hips. In my experience, being seen as somehow more promiscuous because of my body is pretty common and really troubling. In most of the movies I've seen, the cup size of the female characters seems to designate their relative hotness to goodness/smartness ratio. Larger breasts means smaller brains and hearts. Having large breasts also completely changes how clothes fit, and the "tasteful yet attractive" window is rendered much narrower because of them-- generally when getting dressed I have to choose between being frumpy and being dressed inappropriately because my outfits so often look like Halloween versions of what I'm going for. "Appropriate for a job interview" on someone else translates to "sexy secretary" on curvier women and "it's hot outside" for some looks like "music video set in the summer" on others. Covering up is theoretically possible, but doing so while dressing in a way that is beautiful or interesting is tough. Maybe this makes me the shallow, vapid temptress my breasts and hips hint at, but I don't enjoy feeling frumpy and I don't appreciate that my only other option is to be seem like I'm actively soliciting a certain kind of attention.

All of that said, I do not think that having certain kinds of curves puts women in a less privileged position than other women. My bra was an A cup until I was sixteen, when I grew into a D cup seemingly overnight. I remember having small breasts very well, and that presented its own challenges. The point is that within the Western Patriarchy a woman's appearance, whatever it is, will be used to her disadvantage. Whatever a woman's body looks like and whatever she chooses to do with it will always be wrong because in the Western Patriarchy, having a female body is inherently wrong. Having small, medium size, large, or any other kind of breasts, choosing to breastfeed or not breastfeed or to wear or not wear a push-up presents challenges, pressures, and disapproval from a male dominated society because having breasts generally marks someone as female-bodied and therefore deserving of less privilege.

What is my point here? Ain't nothing wrong with boobie. Boobie feed the world.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hollaback

Yesterday, the college news hosted a wonderful panel and discussion on street harassment with Hollaback Philly. Two women were speaking, one of them made this film:
I thought it was kind of apt because my summer was kind of the summer of street harassment. Every weekday this summer, I traveled from Bryn Mawr to Camden, NJ via Philadelphia. A broad can't spend that kind of time in the public sphere without getting harassed (male anxiety about women leaving the domestic sphere, perhaps?) and Camden and Philly are areas where sexual harassment is just a part of every woman's daily experience. Every time I told someone from the area that I walked by myself from the train station to a clinic for the homeless, or to a soup kitchen, or to a day shelter, they would get extremely nervous on my behalf and suggest that I find some other way to do things. This was really my only choice, though. I didn't have a car and I didn't have a body guard. I considered taking up a different project at my internship, but I felt strongly compelled to stay the course with the project I was working on. I got harassed every day: in the train, in the train station in Philadelphia, on the street in Camden, Philly, and the village of Bryn Mawr. What kept me going was holding this scripture in my heart:
"As they came forth to lay their hands upon me I spake unto them, saying: In the name of the Almighty God, I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh; and whoso shall lay his hands upon me shall wither even as a dried reed; and he shall be as naught before the power of God, for God shall smite him." 1 Nephi 17:48
Of course, I never said that to anyone, and I didn't literally believe that anyone who touched me would "wither even as a dried reed", but I kept is as my street harassment mantra because it reminded me that I had a right to be outside to the same degree as anyone else. It reminded me that I had power-- indeed, that I was "filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh"-- and no catcall could take that from me. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The College News

Bryn Mawr has an excellent newspaper, the College News, that is specifically feminist. I started going to the meetings a few weeks ago, and have been thinking of writing for them. At our most recent meeting we were throwing around ideas for future articles. Not really believing that anyone would take interest, I offered to write an article about Mormonism and feminism and my experience as a part of both groups. The editors were very excited about this idea, and now I'm going to write a few 500-700 word articles on various topics within Mormon feminism or feminist Mormonism. I'm super duper excited, obviously, but now I have the terrifying task of having to figure out what to write about. Thoughts??

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MaƮtresse-en-titre

Today, I turned in a rough draft of a paper about this painting:

Madame du Barry by Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun. She was Louis XV's favorite mistress, as well as a courtesan with many different lovers and a major style icon among the Frenchies (Vigee-Lebrun was the hippest portraitier ever). So basically, she was Marilyn Monroe. The whole time I was writing, I couldn't help but think how her facial expression was exactly like Monroe's in this famous picture:


To me, these images serve to put on display what these women were seen as having to offer: their beauty. Their lovely faces, perfect bodies, artificial hair, and impeccable clothing. We were learning about portraits this week in class, and talking especially about how people tend to showcase their talents-- artists were generally painted with their brushes, knights with a glove in one hand and a sword in the other, and even certain other mistresses of the king were painted with books in hand. These portraits, however, showcase only loveliness.