Serving up Feminism. My Top 6 Blogs, Sites and Podcasts for the Feminist in You.

I am a blog and podcast hound. I read a ton of blogs and listen to a plethora of podcasts that share real stories told by extraordinary and ordinary people –to- investigative journalism– to- digging in more about my favourite TV shows.

I also have a bunch of feminist blogs and podcasts that I can’t get enough of listening to or reading in my spare time. I’ve dwindled my loooooong list of favourites into a short and comprehensive list for whatever kind of feminism you’re into or may be interested in learning more of- there’s something for everyone.

 

bitch mediaThe Bitch blog is an extension of the print magazine “Bitch Magazine” (which I support monetarily through a subscription via snail mail!) this blog features all sorts of critique. I’d say Bitch is the most cultured blog of my feminist repertoire. It’s a great source that offers well written perspectives about anything and everything pop-culture. I also love their interviews with top feminist pop culture makers. Last, Bitch Media loves one of my favourite feminists, bell hooks.

Accordingly, the Bitchmedia podcast, Popoganda is another podcast forum to reach this influential feminist lit icon. Perfect for my gym jaunt, in fact!

Feministing_logoFeministing’s unique motto is one of the I admire the most about the blog and its feminists that write poignant critical pieces. Feministing wraps social media, feminism and the youth voice all into one unique blend of amazingness! The community offers analysis of everything society – culture, politics, food – you name it. The blog allows young women with great ideas, thoughts and perspectives to organize, and share fresh perspectives. The diverse collective is a great conduit for youth voices to be heard and hopefully leads to more girls and women to become engaging influencers within our communities!

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What I really like about Jezebel is their Facebook feeds. I find that this particular feminist social community offers short and sweet updates when I want a little nibble of ‘what’s up’ especially since I don’t have a lot of time on my hands. Jezebel flips any issue on its head – making the so-serious a little lighter and the not- so- serious a bit more meaningful.

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This blog and podcast is equally as interesting as Popoganda. However, I chose Feminist Current in particular because the ladies who serve up the amazing content are Canadian! They serve up super relevant newsworthy material. What I especially enjoy about the podcast is that hosts somehow manage to sneak in a feminist perspective whereby I rediscover a subject matter. I find that at times feminist perspectives are lost in the abyss in favour of ‘newer’ feminism. For instance, a recent podcast with Max Dashu who spoke on the ‘suppressed truth behind witch hunts”. She reminded me how the hunt is still a game that society plays today and why women today should take note.

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I just love the comedians who host this fun podcast, Sofie Hagen and Deborah Frances. These two feminists always seem to speak the unspeakable – you know, that stuff many of us feel guilty or embarrassed to admit, especially if it relates to how we feel or think about ourselves. It’s a lighter stance on serious issues which is why I do not feel guilty at all for listening!

racist sandwich

 

A couple of weeks ago, Stitcher radio made the recommendation that I should listen to Racist Sandwich. I have not listened to an episode…. yet – but I’m super excited to share this podcast in advance of a thorough critique. I am fascinated with respect to the link between cultural appropriation and food. And Racist Sandwich sounds like they can serve up a great feminist meal! Just think about Aunt Jemima, Chiquita Bananas or the PC brand MEMORIES OF Marrakech Whole Wheat Couscous. I know, it’s hard to put the connection together, but you can and a lot of feminists, sociologists and culturalists have. I think my first foray into this podcast will be Episode 4: Sneakers & Coffee.

So there you have it! Feminism can seem like an abyss of opinions, facts and never-ending- ‘isms’. It can be a daunting task for anyone who wants to know and learn more about feminism to figure out where one should begin. I hope my list offers a simple way that I can help you find feminist material that is fun, challenging and unique, or maybe help you to brush up on your feminism!

How My Feminist Ideals Almost Ruined The Life I Never Wanted.

 

I know, confusing headline right? Let me explain.

I was a feminist before I knew what feminism was. However, my version of feminism was about to be shaken to its core after my thirtieth birthday.

I’m not interested in marriage, kids, living a suburban life – never was interested. From the time I was ten, I recall my dream was to live in a city, have a lot of friends and later in my teens, my dream to travel and be creative everyday, and I pretty much did it all by the time I was twenty-one. However, despite how good I was at my job, how often I travelled and how many men I dated around the world, something was missing in my life. By the time I was thirty I decided to make a change. The solution to all my woes: I didn’t have a Bachelor degree and I wanted one. I had just gotten over two back-to-back toxic relationships, I rented my downtown condo, I didn’t have a child (thank the universe!!) – now was the time to realize my full potential.

My feminist dream never included being a mother. A few years ago when I was about to wave goodbye to Ottawa I met the love of my life, D, and the second love of my life, K. This was a situation I never would have allowed myself to get into if it wasn’t for my Executive Director who threw me in to my first date with D. I never would have dated D strictly for the fact that he would effectively ruin my feminist life. He is a police officer, he has been married, he is in the middle of a tense divorce and the pièce de résistance (insert drum roll….), he has an eight-year-old boy.

What the experience has taught me thus far is that the type of life I thought would comprise me as a feminist actually makes me a better feminist. In fact, the most growing I’ve done as a feminist is due to the fact that I have been offered the unique role as ‘step-mum’:

Constant Warfare with the ‘Other Mother’:

From day one I have had little to no relationship or acknowledgement from the ‘real’ mom. I thought the ‘real’ mom would have wanted to meet the woman that has her son half of the time. I certainly would have approached my ex for a quick meet and greet if I were in her shoes – but I digress….

Let me just start by saying, I KNOW I AM NOT HIS REAL MOM.

realmomstepmomHowever, this simple statement doesn’t mean that I don’t parent. I am constantly having the same conversation with my boyfriend, why can’t she copy me on scheduling emails, keep me in the loop about changes, thank me for essentially taking over as a full-time parent when she was going through a difficult time in her life – in essence, act like I exist?? I am a good person who is not at all wanting to compete with her as a ‘real’ mom. I am virtually ignored until I am needed. Feminism teaches us that we have to respect, support and not judge other women. I have always been quick with my tongue – not caring much to what cost. Now, I’m a step-mum and whether I like it or not the ‘Other Mother’ is in my life for the long haul. What’s most important about this point is that what I say and do affects my precious 8-year-old. For him, I would do anything, including respect his relationship with his  mum and encourage him to love his mother no matter what.

The Evil Step-Mother:

There is a lot of negative stigma attached to the label step mother– just think about the words and images associated with the label. I have constantly had to push aside the fact EvilQueenthat my partner’s mom wouldn’t say my name for the longest time, I was known as “that girl”. I realize this was not intentionally to hurt me; it was due to the hurt and mistrust she directed towards the real mom and had nothing to do with me. Dealing with this point is the hardest for me because I like to be liked and I also take criticism to heart quite easily. Further, the stigma I experience is exacerbated by the fact that I look like I am twenty-five, have re-started my career and have never been married. Oh my god, I must not be an adultchildfree women!

 

Dealing with real moms is a lot like being the nerd in high school. I am not invited into the ‘mom club’ and when I am invited, I often have to defend the fact that I don’t want children of my own and also deal with comments like “Well, you’d understand if you had your own”, “It’s different because K’s not yours”, or my favourite, “You’d understand if you were a full-time parent”. I feel like saying that just like biological parents, my ‘parenting’ never stops. I don’t flip a switch and stop being a parent. I constantly think about and worry about K when he’s not around.

I bear the red mark– how can I be a good step-mum without having my own kids? It is not until I patiently wait to dazzle these women with my personality and experience that the myths are dispelled. Unlike my previous life, I can’t just walk away from these people. I have had to learn to deal with other adults that I likely will never enjoy spending time with – all in the name of my amazing 8-year-old.

Love Comes from the Womb:

my bonus momWhen I first met K, I wondered could I ever love K as if he were my own? Would I know what to do with a then six-year-old boy? Or worse, would K reject me, would he hate me or never love me??

When I worked at an international adoption agency and I would hear stories from adoptive parents. One such experience is the myth that adoptive mums can never know the true meaning of motherly love. In effect, unless a woman gives birth to a child, one can never experience the real mother/child bond. I find that this is something I experience as a step-mom and I’d like to say is one of the most incorrect assumptions of some parents. I have never known a love like this, not even with D. I fiercely love, provide for and defend my child.  That’s right, my sweet K.

I’m not going to say that I never let the above stigma and other people’s judgments bother me, or that I don’t experience self-doubt or in a way believe the statements to be true when times get tough. Because I do.

My journey into step-mum-hood has been filled with self-doubt, anxiety and fear of failure. But, I try to think mainly of the good stuff like my personal growth; more love, hope and silliness in my life since meeting my son. Although this experience doesn’t change my mind about going through that whole child-birth-motherhood-thing, K has brought to me the privilege of blowing on boo-boos to make him feel better, making his lunches (I don’t know why parent’s complain about lunches?), the delight to provide guidance when he needs help with friendships, school work or just enlighten him about his curiosities surrounding life. He has given me the gift of a child’s unconditional love.

I recognize and I am thankful for the fact that I am now a better person because I welcomed new descriptors into my feminist ideal.

I wouldn’t trade my life or my family for the world!

The Empire Strikes Back – Thoughts on Trump’s Freedom Kids

I am not a Trump-ite and I believe that we should muzzle the man. You may recall a performance this past March at a Trump political rally in Pensacola Florida? Take a peak…

I think about my Nonno’s shared memories of his boyhood in Trieste Italy, in the late 20s and 30s whereby Mussolini’s celebratory songs were sung by my Nonno, his siblings and his friends – with bravado (because if you didn’t you were the enemy and consequences were quite dire). I couldn’t shake dark thoughts. Was Trump’s Freedom Kid’s performance just an endearing performance – an innocent media stunt? No. I don’t think so. To me, the performance appears on its surface to be one of innocence, purporting a unifying goal of national strength – a celebration of Trump’s idealistic America. However, dig a bit deeper and there are connotations to the song and performance that we are remiss to ignore.

Using children and especially young girls to spread political propaganda is not a new concept. It may seem harmless, like a soft sell but there is often a dichotomous relationship that exists – females are seen as the friend and foe of the state, a tactic used to supposedly unite and prop up the state in times of strife.

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In the case of Trump’s Freedom Kids, I literally stopped in my tracks, for I was running on the treadmill at the gym when the rally came on the TV. I watched in awe, quickly drawing parallels between Trump’s USA Freedom Kids and songs of the past. Namely, the songs used by dictator regimes that were meant to unite a nation in times of political upheaval and war. I wondered if anyone else was bothered by the all American girls cute voices that sing intense lyrics about enemies of the state and support violence.Hitlers girl

Did you listen?

I mean, did you actively listen?

The lyrics are: “Enemies of freedom, face the music. Come on boys, TAKE THEM DOWN! President Donald Trump knows how to make America great. Deal from strength or get crushed every time”.

To me, there is nothing cute about this performance. The all American girls sing about hate, the ‘enemy’ and militaristic revenge – all of which exist outside the apparent empire of the United States of America. The little girls’ also make gestures as part of the routine (Do you see the arm raised? Is that reminiscent of any one regime?)

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Did anyone else get past the ‘cuteness’ of the girls and associate some not-so-nice parallels to a time whereby many Americans would sooner like to ignore than acknowledge– Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin… or even today, Kim Jong. The list goes on.

56 Flowers. Literally 56 girls on stage at one time.

56 Flowers. China’s pop sensation parallel’s Jong’s all girl pop band – Moranbong Band. 

Why should we dig a bit deeper?

Hate is rampant in American society today; the mass media reports are proof of this statement. One cannot deny that the trajectory of Trump’s campaign and his hate-speech song lose all of its supposed innocence. The song’s agenda runs deeper and darker. Equally disturbing is the fact that proponents of the song describe it as “Fun music that inspires freedom”. To statements such as these, I reply “I don’t think so!!” Trump plays on the extreme terrorist rhetoric that is rampant in the US, whereby everyone who does not share the same culturally acceptable American values become the enemy of the state. If you have been following Trump, you’ll realize that much of his focus is pointing out the enemies whom exist outside of the empire but his campaign and this song apply to the hate rhetoric within their own borders. It is not enough to be born an American citizen – one has to fit within the prescribed checklist as to what defines a true American. The prescription’s soft underbelly however is sneaky…. it shifts and moves in time but its tactics are always the same, often striking upon one’s religion, colour, sexuality, gender and class in less tangible ways – through music, poetry, mass-media etc.

History is important – is history repeating itself?

Do you think I’m too extreme? It turns out that I am not far off in my thinking.

A Feminist’s Dirty Little Secret: My Top 4 Mindless Television Habits

So far, my blog’s thematic approach is to critique feminist discourses. However, for the sake of blog #3 I’m going to take a break (kinda). I’m going to come clean on something. Whilst I am a self-proclaimed feminist and I am quite serious about anti-“ist” discourses of all sorts, I do like to take a break from what my pals call being ‘thinky’. Like many busy people, I need to take a break from ‘it all’. I sit my butt in front of Netflix and watch hours of endless no-brainer shows. When I do so, I grab some wine and hunker down to business and default to one of four fantastically indulgent shows. The following are the top four shows to watch when all you want is to escape and forget your reality for an hour or two.

Let me begin with the Reality Shows!

Say ‘Yes’ To The Dress (SYTD)

2015.04.04_SYTTD_HeroGahhhhh… How much I love this series! The original SYTD showcased the mecca of all wedding dress bridal shops, Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City – and has since extended its glamorous tentacles to capture the Canadian bridal market. I relish in the glitz, glamour, drama and occasional really really wrong “yes” to a dress. While the show is straight up Consumer and Disney feminism – I purposely shut off my analytical brain so that I can enjoy SYTD. The part of the brain I speak of makes me cringe towards some of these women, their friends and families who want their baby girl to be made into the princess that they are for the one special day in their lives. Moving on. At the end of the day, I love to watch the dynamics between the sales associates and their clientele who are passionate about making the bride beautiful. I love the total melt downs by the brides and at times unbearable mothers. I really enjoy Randy’s antics (he’s the quintessential gay fashionista on the show). I fully admit that if ever I change my mind about the supposed merits of ingratiating myself into the institute of marriage and buy that piece of paper –  I would absolutely drag my wedding party to Kleinfeld’s and try on every dress in the store!  Shhhh.

The Real Housewives Series (TRHW)

RHWOOCThe Real Housewives series makes me feel the dirtiest while I watch an episode. Every episode is like a train wreck that I can’t pry my eyes from. Shame on me! Although I have a pension for TRHW of New Jersey, NYC or Orange County – truth be told, I will watch whatever pops up on my screen to stream with ease. I love it all. This series is all about rich, predominantly white, American women who have either married in to, or inherited wealth; and rarely, but true in some cases made fortunes of their own. My favourite Housewife is Vicki from TRHW of Orange County. She is one of the ladies who made her wealth; unfortunately, she did come from a privileged background and married a wealthy man. I digress… I like her but for dichotomous reasons. On the one hand, after a brutal divorce from her first husband, Vicki went back to school and is now the President of her own insurance company. On the other hand, she is legit the craziest of the bunch which leads to some hilariously brutal and pathetic moments.

I tend to watch this series when I’m feeling sorry for myself because it reminds me how much better off I am than these ladies in many meaningful ways. Sure, I don’t have a yacht or the extra money for a $500.00 pair of stilettos, but I have a family that is down to earth, friends who don’t repeatedly stab me in my back, a career that makes me feel good about my contribution to the world, everyday. Without hesitation the series is Neoliberalism at its best. The show is packed with wealth, fame, fortune and most of all women who make their own so-called ‘choices’.

And now for the fictional shows!

Pretty Little Liars (PLL)

thI thank the fruition of this blog entry to a recent discussion with my good friend, Jessica who is also a 30-something-year-old closet PLL viewer. Jessica and I often joke that we have the TV viewing habits of twelve-year-old girls. PLL is the epitome of an accurate reflection of our viewing habits. The ABC drama’s line is “Never trust a pretty girl with an ugly secret”. The show takes us through the lives of four teenage girls, Aria, Hanna, Emily and Spencer who are suddenly left without their leader, Alison DeLaurentis. Ali was the leader who brought the four girls together before and after her death. From beyond the grave, Ali continues to manipulate the four friends through a web of secrets and lies. The girls are reunited a year after Ali’s death when they receive threatening texts from “A”. The show brings drama, romance, science fiction, mystery and horror. While the show is highly entertaining, I recognize that it is highly problematic. The show writer’s portrayal of relationships for example, Aria Montgomery’s character has a steamy relationship with her English teacher Mr. Fitz that begins in her junior year. Aria’s parents and school superiors know about the affair (um, Fitz is basically a pedophile), yet, nothing really happens to Mr. Fitz in way of, I don’t know going to jail? I know this is wrong, but it’s a juicy part of the story line. The show is also known for its outrageous stereotypes, often drawing on negative preconceptions and notions. Like calling a character that has a breakdown as ‘Crazy Mona’ or the fat shaming of Hanna are examples of some stereotypes that are thread throughout the series. The show does score high on showcasing real issues, like the modern day surveillance culture and what feminists call *The Bechdel Test.

*The Bechdel Test originated from the cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985. The test is used to gauge gender bias in fiction. It includes a moment whereby there are at least two women, who have at least one conversation about something other than a man or men.

Drop Dead Diva (DDD)

Drop-Dead-Diva-design-drop-dead-diva-8481834-1024-768The show’s writers seek to answer; what would happen if an aspiring model (Deb Dobkins) and an over-worked, supposedly obese Lawyer (Jane Bingum) died at the same time? Further, what would happen if Deb’s soul entered Jane’s body? Entertaining concept, right? I have to admit, the show is pretty funny – Jane’s quirky male guardian angel for example is always getting into awkward situations as he tries to maneuver an unfamiliar world beyond heaven. After the first episode, it is quite clear that Deb ‘remakes’ Jane to some extent. We begin to lose old Jane to the old Deb. Some might say that the fat girl had to die in order to save the skinny model? Or rather, it seems that the writer’s plot intends for Deb to subtly ‘save’ Jane from her fat self. Throughout the first season, Jane becomes more like Deb’s ‘true skinny self’- she sheds weight, dresses more provocatively and wrestles with a love life (DDD scores quite low on the The Bechdel test). Setting this aside, I enjoy the occasional break into “Broadway-esque” song and dance, the quirkiness of the characters and of course, the oddball Client’s Jane defends along the way. It is light, fun and you don’t need to pay full attention, which is great if you want to multi task and give yourself a 30-minute pedicure.

So there you have it, if I had more time I’d discuss my absolute love and fascination with Entourage (maybe another blog post?)

I’m always on the look out for mindless entertainment. What’s yours?

Three Feminists Who Matter

In a search for feminists who are making a difference in the world today, I was not surprised to see that the google search “feminists who matter” brought up more mainstream famous women that in my opinion aren’t the best ladies to represent any type of feminism. I bring to you in my humble opinion the 3 feminists who matter that mainstream media missed. It was a hard list to dwindle down, but here it goes…

bell hooks

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…to be a “feminist” in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination and oppression.”

bell hooks came on to the feminist scene in the late 70s. Her work as a cultural critic and social activist primarily focuses on the cultural commodification of black women in America. hooks defines feminism as a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, violence and oppression. Her work looks at the ways in which patriarchy is the cause of institutionalized sexism (schools, prisons, churches, family and marriage). I find bell hooks views extreme at times, however, she offers us a solid assessment of what she calls double discrimination (cultural minority and that of woman in America). bell hooks includes an intersectional approach to the feminist politic. In fact, without intersectionality in feminist analysis we miss the necessary nuances to properly critique the social representation of women of colour. Accordingly, bell hooks when discussing black men, defines patriarchy as the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit of our nation. The fact that hooks includes men into her discussions is one reason why I get on board with bell hooks’ feminism. In her piece Wanted: Men Who Love (2004) hooks is not afraid to make bold statements that bring the feminism of the 2000s, and today into a different sphere such as “…. feminist writing did not tell us about the deep inner misery of men.” Albeit this statement is seen by some as controversial because patriarchy is mainly understood as driven by men of privilege. I wanted to share bell hooks because she is accessible feminist thinker – she writes poetry, books and presents her work using many social forums. Check out her blog or search youtube where many engaging videos exist.

Patricia Monture-Angus

Patricia Monture

“…to shed the colonized shackles which bind my mind, my spirit and my heart.”

Whereas bell hooks is the quintessential intersectional and anti-racist feminist hero of the US, Patricia Monture-Angus is that of Canada. Monture-Angus who died in 2010, was a Mohawk lawyer, activist and educator. Well known for her personal reflections as a Mohawk woman, growing up Mohawk and enrolling in institutions whereby white patriarchy ruled and systemic oppression and violence was abounding, I can get on board with Monture-Angus. The aboriginal activist asks Canadians (and the world) to reflect upon and remember the ways in which aboriginal nations continue to experience oppression and violence at the hands of our lawmakers in particular. In light of the inquest into the missing and murdered aboriginal women and the high rate of suicide amongst aboriginal communities, I believe it’s important to highlight Monture-Angus today. What makes Monture-Angus a feminist to know and read is that she does not make excuses or play the blame-game. Rather, to bring about change for aboriginal communities she writes and teaches inspiration and hope to her communities. Monture-Angus speaks to the necessity of governance and self-determination. In other words, she advocates for self-awareness through language, action and culture, in the hope that future aboriginal generations do not experience systemic erasure. I wanted to bring Monture-Angus to attention because, like hooks she is adamant that in order to successfully fight patriarchy and systemic racism, the fight has to be inclusive – meaning that fighting for women also includes fighting for men.

 Vandana Shiva

vandana-shiva-green-postcard“If we believe in democracy, it is imperative that we have the right to choose which technologies are best for our communities.”

My personal bias is the ecofeminist approach. I toggled between three ecofeminists who best represent this movement. They are: Vandana Shiva, Maria Mies and Wangari Maatha. All of these women deserve a shout out because of their bravery, work and political activism. However, I will focus on Vandana Shiva. I’d like to first point out, that ecofeminism isn’t about worshiping gaya, although some right-wing ecofeminists accept this approach. Rather, the larger movement critiques the global structures in place worldwide, arousing environmental and human destruction through global, capitalistic practices. At the centre of such destruction  are the oppressed women and the ‘third-world’ other. ‘Other’ encapsulates the ‘commons’ (men, children, natural resources, land etc.) Shiva leads the Navdanya movement, which has won legal battles against the appropriation of men, women and the third-world commons by multinational corporations (MNC) like, Monsanto. Monsanto is best known for single-handedly eliminating biodiversity in some of the poorest countries around the world by trademarking genetically modified organisms. Central to Shiva’s work and the ecofeminist movement is the fight against the implementation of international laws, like the World Trade Organization’s Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights agreement (TRIPs). TRIPs, has close ties with the corporate sector by which corporations effectively rape the earth and displace the southern common through the practice of biopiracy. Shiva encourages men, women and communities to work together; teaching and fostering knowledge, sustainable biodiversity and micro-economic principles. What’s there not to like about her?

There are so many feminists who continually improve the movement, past and present. There are also many worthy types of movements- LGBTQ, disability, fat feminism to name a few. For the purpose of this blog, I focus on movements in which I study and engage with, within my own community in some form or another. I should mention that I found one link that shows representation other than ‘that what’s- her-name famous woman who gave that one speech at that one famous awards ceremony that really doesn’t deserve the accolades she’s given (no references required).

Who’s on your list?

 

 

Feel-Good Feminism: My problem with JLO’s “I Ain’t Your Mama”

The appropriation of Feminism has exploded in mainstream media, which I argue has led to a societal (mis) representation of which feminists have fought against the social, oppressive and patriarchal ideologies since the 1800s. As a women’s studies major and a feminist, I observe the appropriation of the “feminist” label – most notably in mass media engagements such as, TV, movies, music and magazines. As such, feminism has massively transformed the ways in which women and men fight together as feminists. Over the past 20-years, the shaping of consumer packaged, feel-good feminism pushed through the media is uncritical, is without flexibility and thus sets back what real feminism was set out to do, ideologically and politically. To be clear, I’m not saying mass media ruins all feminism, I’m saying like with anything there are a few bad apples that regress the real revolution so to speak. No more clearly is the (mis) representation of  feminism showcased in today’s society than Jennifer Lopez’s new song I Ain’t Your Mama. I’m asking you to think beyond consumerist propaganda and focus on greater issues like environmental degradation, equity, violence against women and the list goes on and on. The feminism we seem to receive with grand vigor is (mis) represented and (mis) understood.feminism1

If you have heard the song and seen the video, you may ask yourself, what IS so wrong with refusing to be the stand in for a supposed ‘mans’ mama’? I bet some of you may ask yourself, ‘Isn’t being a housewife the antithesis of feminism’? I’m going to ask you to be critical and to question your visceral reaction to JLO’s catchy tune. This means going beyond the kitschy imagery, and rhythmic be-boppy-ness of the song itself. JLO’s I Ain’t Your Mama”  is problematic. Here’s why…

1. JLO asks, you want to start a revolution?

feminist-symbol-keyla

JLO uses language like, “revolution”, and implores us to “get mad”. What exactly is she asking us to be mad about? Her feminism is riddled with stereotypes, judgments, hyper-sexualization, thus providing her captive audience with a watered down version of feminism. There is a blatant assumption that all women do not and should not want to be housewives. Her portrait of the apparent housewife is riddled with judgment, mainly that if a woman is or aspires to be a housewife, there is something intrinsically wrong with this picture. I know plenty of strong, brave and intelligent women who choose (gasp, JLO) to stay home. The ways in which she depicts men is despicable. The generalization of one type of masculinity for starters, meaning a man can only be expressionless and emotionless or angry and aggressive. Finally, her video hyper-sexualizes the housewife – those women I speak of… whom choose to stay home – they ain’t wearing red lipstick, high heels and a low-cut dress at home. My feminism fights for more than the simplistic representation in this video, namely releasing women from the shackles of cooking, cleaning and ironing. It is critical and pushes the envelope against the mainstream. Feminism is a fluid ideology that casts no judgment on how one leads one’s life. Feminism must be lived every day without prejudice and disrespect. And this is exactly what JLO’s song and video does not accomplish.

2. JLO says, you gotta get mad!

girl yelling at guyHells ya, I am mad! But it’s not because of cooking and cleaning. I’m angry that JLO’s representation of feminism is at best weak. Feminism isn’t about getting angry over her watered down version of a so-called revolution. Nor is it about asserting your apparent inner-bitch just to be heard. I’m mad that she is complicit in (mis)representing a feminist politic (Let’s face it what has she really done to advance an all-inclusive and anti-oppressive feminism?) Her so-called revolution is outdated and furthermore plain rude. Feminist ideals never included disrespecting another human being – for instance dumping a roast over your partner’s head. I’m mad that she is co-opting feminism in such a way that it becomes meaningless – and all in the name of making a buck. She leads us to sing and dance to a highly uncritical expression of feminism and what’s worse is that much of society is complicit in groveling in this feminist (mis) representation.

3. Living feminism – it’s a responsibility.

The way I see it, is that JLO is another celebrity jumping on the feminist bandwagon. This bandwagon is highly lucrative for one’s personal celebrity gain and JLO is well aware of this fact. It will help make JLO millions of dollars. Saying that one is a feminist (with nothing to back it up) feminism-1-titleis so kitsch at this moment… perhaps JLO is fighting for a way to be relevant within a loud media space. Certain behaviors or so-called feminist stances make headlines. Women are applauded or retaliated against for stating the obvious. I guess it’s like the old adage, “There is no such thing as bad publicity”.

I can’t speak for JLO or any other self-proclaimed feminist. Who am I to do so? What I can do is be critical and unafraid to question the irresponsible appropriation of feminism that is thrown at me every day. Living feminism in your daily life is to be a good citizen and human being. To be a feminist you must be critical of the type of image we put out into the allusive social media space, moreover to think about the ways in which we use our words. My feminism is caring for every living organism, it is brave, and it is inclusive. It’s important to own your interpretation of what you know to be true and be able to back up what you put out in to the world. It’s the reality one lives, but I certainly can’t see JLO spending a day with an ironing board, can you?