On Monday, I took a look at LGBT candidates running for office. The general frame of that article, and of most of this series of articles for Bitch has been set within the confines of the US election structure—a within-system critique, taking a discursive analysis approach to the text and narratives of these 2010 midterm elections. I have not been asking about forms of government, the viability of democracy, nor envisioning some new electorate-driven strategy for liberating the oppressed. Those conversations happen, of course, but the focus here has been narrow because I have been interested in putting pressure on the many and varied contradictions floating in the messaging in these individual campaigns and in the media coverage of them as a whole. And I do see opportunities for feminist and progressive-minded people in investigating why those contradictions are so prevalent and so unexplored. Today, I'd like to push in a different direction. What would it mean to queer the election?
Two fat people sharing a moment together. How DARE they! And right in front of us, too!
Holy fatphobia, Bitch readers! Marie Claire blogger Maura Kelly had some very uncool and uninformed things to say about fat folks yesterday, starting with her belief that they should not be shown kissing on television. (Y'know, because eeewww!) Since we try to combat this type of size-based vitriol around here, I thought we might as well take a look at her "arguments" against ever seeing fat people do anything ever.
Creating art is walking through a minefield, especially in a society like this one that doesn't really do much to support said art. And since many of us critics are also creators, we know that we don't want to discourage creation, we want to make it better.
Ladyween (yes, that's what we're calling Halloween here at Bitch HQ these days—it's gonna catch on, trust us) is fast approaching. If you're still searching for the perfect costume, one that combines feminism with history and still leaves you looking sharp, look no further than the Adventures in Feministory archives!
You've heard about Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution, and now you can hear directly from the author, Sara Marcus. Ellen Papazian (of Page Turner) interviews Marcus about what Riot Grrl meant today and now, how the internet compares to zine-swapping, pushback against Riot Grrl from both within and outside the movement, and why narrative ended up being the best choice for the book.
Yesterday the New York Times ran an article highlighting transgender candidates for office in this election cycle, asking if more trans candidates will translate into greater tolerance for the community. While there are a handful of transfolk running for office, there are also out lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men who are knee-deep in their own campaigns, and then there are the few LGBT members of Congress who are looking to hold on to their jobs. And although the Times may find some choice quotes from people that seeing transgender people in positions of power will generate greater acceptance, there doesn't seem to be any actual cause and effect at play.
In my recent quest to find quality young adult literature, I ended up sitting down to read several YA books about trans teenagers. Trans teens were hard to find in books while I was growing up, so I was pleased to discover several YA novels written in recent years that present very nuanced and sympathetic portrayals of trans teens.
These books are important. Most trans teens grow up feeling isolated because of widespread transphobia, and their ability to access resources is often limited. But these books can act as makeshift resources, showing trans teens that there are others out there that share their struggles. A couple even include lists of websites and phone numbers for trans teens at the end, presenting options for readers looking to further explore transitioning.
And these books aren't just important for trans teens. These books should be required reading for cisgendered teens and adults, as they tune the cisgendered reader into everyday struggles that trans teens encounter, and they teach the reader just how important it is that we work to eliminate transphobia.
Because I'm not a musician, I'm a writer, I tend to like and analyze and pick at the lyrics of songs. But at the same time, to be any sort of a pop music critic I have to look at the whole package, not just the lyrics. Each part of a pop song is a deliberate choice, and sometimes those choices deliberately contradict one another, undercut one meaning and substitute another, add layer upon layer and give you things to think about with each listen.
I wonder if there truly is any fate more depressing than ending up as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. I've only watched the show intermittently over the years—usually under duress, because someone else had laid claim to the remote control—mostly because I get embarrassed for the participants. I hide my eyes when they misstep, and when their smiles falter while the judges offer them harsh criticism, or when I can see the feigned indifference of their shrugs when the scores come up. I'm not claiming to be nicer than anyone who enjoys this show, mind you, but there's a quality to watching it that bothers me, namely the gleeful schadenfreude of watching people cling to fame with expensively manicured hands. After all, I'm not much convinced anyone watches the show for the dancing; it is built on the conceit that the talent can be taught, and well, maybe it can, but I think it isn't likely, for most of us, as late in life as these people are. And in any event, were these "stars" more successful at it, the learning to dance I mean, I suspect the show would be less popular.
The "stars," after all, of the title, are has-beens, and that's no surprise to anyone, it's explicitly part of the show's allure. The show basically winks it at you. And although there's usually, from what I can tell, gender parity among the contestants, it's curious that the people on the show who seem to garner the most derisive commentary, the ones people resent the most as "talentless," are women.