Who am I, and why am I talking about this? For starters, I live and work as an organic farmer. I initially became interested in organic farming as I become interested in many things—wanting a tangible way to create some good in the world. I help plants grow and thrive, and I do it in the name of growing healthy food for people. We (my husband and I) get to take care and nourish of a bit of earth, using it to grow plants in the most natural way possible, saving it from being used to build a subdivision or parking lot. (Right now we actually rent land that is protected, but you get the idea.) Farmland and forested areas are hacked, clear-cut and smoothed over with layers of fog-colored concrete every day. Instead of vibrant trees and flowers, pale houses bloom right before our eyes to expand never-ending suburbia, as if keeping the oxygen-exhaling, chlorophyll-filed life forms around don't matter. (They're just a bunch of pesky weeds, taking up all that space! Really, the nerve!) Truthfully, our planet is sick. A major principle of permaculture is to "reforest the earth" in order to aid its healing. It doesn't seem to be happening as urgently as it should, but, at the same time, there are positive things happening that give me hope.
Last June, NPR reported that the "end of gender" was near, citing everything from gender-neutral prom courts to clothing ads to suggest that perhaps people aren't so hung up on the male/female gender binary anymore. But despite the growing trend of gender neutrality, the response to disappearing gender constructs in politics and in popular culture isn't always positive.
Today marks the end of my time as a guest blogger for Bitch. Eight weeks and 24 posts later, I've learned a lot from the editors (thank you, Kelsey!) and readers about writing and politics. And the politics of writing. Rather than end off by talking specifically about a particular topic at the intersection of youth, sexuality, and education, I want to reflect on the nature of doing analytical writing at this political nexus.
The Toronto Star reported yesterday that a woman named Jenna Talackova, 23, was disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada contest last week "after it was discovered she was born male." The article goes on to emphasize the "authenticity" of Talackova's female gender identity, saying that she "knew by age 4 that she was a girl…began hormone therapy treatments at 14 and underwent sexual reassignment surgery when she was 19 years old." Aside from the somewhat sensationalist language of "discovery" and the way the phrasing of this reportage kind of re-centers the issue of birth sex as an underlying reality, the article seeks to offer critical, social justice-oriented opinions on this situation as an example of trans* discrimination.
David Wong's article on Cracked, "5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women," has 6,132 comments and counting, and 1.6 million (million!) people have read it since yesterday, so obviously it's striking a chord. What's your take? Is Wong sparking an important conversation about social constructs and sexism, or is he just trying to give sexist straight guys a pass for staring at women's boobs?
Emily Nussbaum's cover story for the current issue of New York magazine, "It's Different for Girls," is about how Lena Dunham's hotly anticipated new HBO series is, well, different. As much as an HBO show about white 20-somethings in New York can be different, anyway. And it's a great profile piece for anyone interested in the show (which I am), as it gives some insight into how it's being made and how Dunham is operating as the show's creator and star. What I don't understand, though, is how this profile inspired this cover:
I noticed a friend's Facebook share the other day of a Maxim "article" along with a critique of the language of "lads mags." Here's the magazine feature, which is disgustingly violent in the most straightforward of ways, in order to give some context, but what I really want to talk about are some of the public conversations that have followed it.