What gender do you consider yourself to be? How do you feel about terms and labels? How do you feel about your body in relation to your gender identity?
These are some of the questions Rhea Ewing has been asking people all over the Midwest as part of FINE, a series of interviews about gender Rhea puts together in graphic novel format. The initial project was a zine that can be read online. Now FINE is becoming a structurally ambitious, full-length book. The curious can follow its progress on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.
As the interviewing stage nears completion, I got to turn the tables and ask Rhea some questions of my own.
• "If you happen to be seriously wounded, there is a temptation to hope not to survive, because you cannot afford to be wounded." Italian journalist Francesca Borri elucidates the terrifying realities of freelance war journalism. [Columbia Journalism Review]
"I'm looking for a book for my 12-year-old daughter. She likes dystopic fiction," I said not too long ago to the clerk in a children's bookstore. As her eyes began to scan the wall of Teen Fiction, I added, "With people of color as the protagonists."
"I feel you," sympathized the clerk, who was also a woman of color.
In my last post, I explained my love for the new anthology Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia. Using personal narratives, empirical studies, and scholarly essays, over 40 different authors discuss the challenges faced by academic women of color in higher education. I emailed with Seattle University School of Law Professor Carmen G. Gonzalez about what it's like to put together such a meaty and long-overdue book.
How did the idea for this book come about?
CARMEN G. GONZALEZ: As women of color who have managed to survive and thrive in academia despite formidable obstacles, we (the co-editors of Presumed Incompetent) felt a need and a responsibility to create a public dialogue about the subtle and not-so-subtle forms of workplace bias women of color experience.
Last week's episode of Parks and Recreation, "Women in Garbage", is fairly unique then, in showing women at work in a male-dominated career: takin' out the city's trash. In their own hilarious way, Parks & Rec focused on the fraught fight that needs to happen in order to undo a city's institutional sexism. In the episode, City Commissioner Leslie (Amy Poehler) discovers that very few women occupy jobs in Pawnee's public sector. She attempts to create a gender equality commission, but finds she's presiding over an all-male group—in April's (Aubrey Plaza) words, a "sausagefest."
I had felt unsafe in that space. The night had represented every micro aggression I'd ever experienced from straight people: cab drivers that kicked me out in the middle of the night because they wouldn't tolerate "that" at the back of their cabs, store managers who kept insisting I'd find better clothing in the women's section, every gay boy that looked me up and down with disdain because I wasn't conforming to their inherited fucked up view on what a woman should look like or wear to be "fabulous," straight women who blatantly ignored me because I didn't fit in the coop, and femme girls that ranted on and on about masculine privilege, but hardly ever acknowledged that their pretty privilege made their worlds so much bigger than mine. That my girl could mindlessly shimmy onto a dance floor even as a gay woman and enjoy the simple pleasure of a dance, go out with her straight friends to bars and not be stared at or called names, etc., while everything about the landscape, from the "Ladies free before 11PM" sign to the man-woman dance partner pairings made me so angry all of a sudden. And, I didn't know how to handle it.
From he-waxing to "gender-reveal" parties, we've covered a lot of ground in the past two months. Despite the ever-growing "hip factor" of gender neutrality, there's evidence of a powerful backlash. But alongside the media missteps and the horrors of transphobia, we've seen some binary-bustin' events happen around the world.
There's been a lot of discussion about the gender pay gap. But there are some jobs that pay women many more pennies than 77 cents to the dollar. Among them: Shoe Shiner, Butler, Secretary, and Computer Repair Technician.
Women who bring home the bacon: Hot or not? The research is mixed. Some guys say, "Yes, please help me through this 'Mancession.'" Others say, "Me, GUY. You LADY. HULK SMASH." (Translation: Please, let's just keep participating in Patriarchy, it's fine just the way it's always been. Let me hold that door open for you, girl.)