I'm sure I don't need to tell you that women have had a significant impact on the history of American labor politics. From the Atlanta Washerwomen Strike in 1881 to Jane Addams' Hull House, women have always kicked ass and taken names in the name of workers' rights. However, this is a pop culture blog and I am a self-proclaimed pop culture addict, so I say we celebrate Labor Day 2010 with an awesome pop cultural representation of women and labor politics: Norma
I'd be remiss to begin a blog on the intersection of race, gender and pop culture without mentioning that, in reading various other blogs on all three topics, I've kept happening upon the same complaint: that pop culture and many feminist publications often exclude or oversee the unique perspectives offered by women who aren't white. So this blog, then, is a group effort, with your comments and experiences forming an integral part in fostering a thoughtful and inclusive discussion on feminism.
Who needs overpriced beer and heatstroke when you can enjoy a music festival in the comfort of your own city? That's how I feel about Musicfest Northwest, taking place in Portland next week from September 8-11. Bitch Media will doing special daily blog posts on the upcoming acts. Don't worry--we won't flood the interwebs with any more updates on the Walkmen or The National, we'll be covering queer and female artists who maybe aren't getting as much attention as the bigger acts. PDX-ers can be informed about which shows to catch and non-locals can look forward new music, mp3s, and videos from shows. This week's mix is emblematic of the Pac-NW unknowns and international stars playing Portland next week. From New-Orleans bounce to artsy-dance and folk rock, hopefully you'll find something you like! Track list after the jump.
It's become general knowledge that class influences weight. Working class families often don't have as much access to healthier foods as middle and upper class families do, and working longer hours means fast food can be an appealing option for those with little time. So if fat folks, and specifically fat women, are more likely to be working class, why does it cost so much to clothe yourself as a fat woman? Why are more fashionable clothes in larger sizes so damn expensive?
OK, so we can all agree that there is a lack of women in positions of power in the tech industry, right? Right. Well, according to Douche du Jour Michael Arrington, it's our own damn fault. In his piece for TechCrunch (charmingly titled "Too Few Women in Tech? Stop Blaming the Men.") earlier this week, he had this to say:
I'm going to tell it like it is. And what it is is this: statistically speaking women have a huge advantage as entrepeneurs, because the press is dying to write about them, and venture capitalists are dying to fund them. Just so no one will point the accusing finger of discrimination at them.
The silencing of trans people, and trans women in particular, in feminist spaces isn't just limited to discussions about pop culture, unfortunately. Cis voices are centered over trans voices consistently, and sometimes very dangerously, while trans folks are denied autonomy, identity, and even our own experiences.
Trans people are excluded from women's shelters. We are denied medical care. We are told that our opinions have no worth and value and are treated as 'fakers.' It's not just the mainstream media that misgenders trans people; I see it happening in feminist spaces all the time, along with prurient speculation about whether or not trans folks have had reconstruction surgery or what their 'real names' are.
"Death" fat, or "morbidly obese" people are going to experience more discrimination, more shaming and more insults than "in-betweenies" (those that fall somewhere between "normal" and "fat"). That's just the facts. There is privilege there, in being a smaller fat person, that must be acknowledged and interrogated. Words like "curvy, thick, chunky" are going to be applied to more smaller fat people than larger. These words are viewed as more positive than words that may be used to describe larger fat people such as "obese" and "blubbery." Of course, smaller fat people are not immune to the frat boy "fatass" drive-by shout out, but they're more likely to be viewed as sexually attractive (case in point: Sara Ramirez). Because of this disparity, there is sometimes dischord between different sized fat people, with the larger fat people accusing the smaller fat people of being privileged and not truly fat, and the smaller fat people lamenting the policing of fat identity. In a way, both sides are right.
Appropriation is often done in the name of a supposedly greater cause. Those in power tell us that we should wait our turn. They are working on extending a helping hand, it's OK for them to speak for us, because they need to speak for us to help us achieve liberation. Even speaking up about appropriation, whether in the form of cultural or ideological, is shouted down.
I brought up the old disability rights movement adage 'nothing about us without us' in a recent post. And the same should hold true for feminism. Instead of speaking for people, we should be centring the voices of the people currently relegated to the fringes. When the mouse speaks up to inform the elephant that her tail is being stepped on, it is the responsibility of the elephant to lift her foot. The onus is not on the mouse to wait for the elephant to move, to cut off her own tail to escape, to attempt to dig herself out.
Well, it's time to go back to school again. And you know how I know? Because of television commercials, which give me all the information I need on what it takes to be a cool kid these days. (Hint: channel your favorite High School Musical Version of Glee character, then press fast forward.)