Posts by Ashley:
- Carrie Underwood
- Kelly Clarkson
- Tina Fey
- Amy Poehler
- Courtney Love
- Lady Gaga
- Whitney Houston
- Jane Lynch
- Jennifer Lawrence
- Emma Stone
- Zooey Deschanel
- Anne Hathaway
- Queen Latifah
- Kate Winslet
- Demi Lovato
- Wanda Sykes
- Mindy Kaling
- Tavi Gevinson
- If you don’t believe that spinach gives you crazy awesome energy, here’s an anecdote for you. We ran out of spinach yesterday, so I had to eat a bagel with peanut butter on it for breakfast. By noon, I needed a nap, and by dinnertime, I felt like I was carrying around an extra 100 pounds all day, that’s how tired I was. True story. ↩
I’m at Offbeat Families today talking about the tough stuff – how I feel about having babies after the Boston Marathon bombings:
My thoughts turned to my friend at work who had given birth that day, and her baby who would always share a birthday with this tragedy. I thought of my other friend who is planning on welcoming twins into this world in October and taking the rest of the school year off to be with them. I thought of my childhood best friend whose daughter is almost a year old. And I thought, I am so lucky to not have children. Granted, their children are all too young to understand these heinous events, but they will grow older, and if this year is any indication, the world will only get worse. How do you deal with questions from a young child about why and what happened when these tragedies inevitably take place? I wasn’t even sure what I would tell my high school students in class the next day.
They say the eight-year-old boy who died in Boston that day was waiting for his dad to cross the finish line. They say his mother and sister were critically injured, as well. This could have been us. My husband, a marathon runner, has always wanted to run the Boston Marathon. We could have been there, and being in our late 20′s, we could have easily had a couple of kids in tow. We could have been cheering Dad on. And all I could think of was that I was so glad we weren’t.
Go read the whole thing, though. I think you might be surprised at the conclusion I eventually come to.
Tim mowed the lawn this weekend. This was not the first time this season that he has done so; the torrential rains this spring have made our grass grow full and green. However, it was the first time he forgot to properly latch the gate.
You may recall that we have two dogs. You might also assume that since we have a backyard and a fence with a gate that latches, that we often let the dogs out in the backyard instead of walking them. Usually they are unintended.
I woke up on Sunday morning, the day after Tim mowed the lawn, and packed my stuff for yoga. I bought a Groupon for the yoga place down the street, and I have been really excited to get back into the yoga game. I’ve missed it a lot, but it’s really expensive when you’re not taking classes through your gym like I used to do. Sunday was to be my first yoga class in a long time. So I got dressed, packed my stuff, got everything ready to go and realized I still had about half an hour before I had to leave. I let the dogs out of their crates (if we have to leave on a weekend morning, we sometimes leave them for whoever is staying behind, who is still asleep – it’s not cruel, I promise!) and let them outside. I made some tea and sat down to get started on a crossword puzzle.
The doorbell rang. At 9:10 on a Sunday morning. Very strange, indeed.
I cautiously answered the door (You really never know who is going to be on the other side of it, and we don’t have one of those peep-hole things since our door is mostly window covered by curtains. We really need to replace that door.) to find my neighbor standing there.
“Hi, do you have a beagle?” he asked.
“Yes…” I responded.
“Well, he is in my back yard and your gate is open. I think he got out.”
“Thank you! We’ll be right over to get him,” I said, closing the door. Then, “TIM! THE DOGS GOT OUT! OH MY GOD!”
He came running down the stairs as I ran out to the backyard to see if Penny was being the good girl she is and was still there. She was not.
Tim and I ran across the street to get Bailey, who was rigged up to a makeshift leash and drinking water from a tupperware bowl (we seriously have the nicest neighbors). I carried him home and Tim ran off to find Penny. We had no idea where she was, and the neighbors hadn’t seen her.
He was gone for 30 minutes. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life.
When he came back carrying her, I felt relief like I had never felt before. When he put her down inside, Bailey was overjoyed to see her, too. He must have known that she had been gone for a long time; maybe he even sensed my worry. I pet the two dogs vigorously, and gave them both hugs, then I turned my attention to Tim.
“You left the gate open after you mowed the lawn yesterday?” I asked.
“Must have,” he responded.
“I. Am. Going. To. KILL YOU.”
He hung his head in shame.
You can’t be too mad at that, so I made him come with me and the dogs on a 3-mile walk since I missed my yoga class I was so excited about and all was forgiven, but this wasn’t his first epic homeowner fail; in the fall, he bumped a knob on the gas stove as he was putting food in the microwave and left for something while I was still asleep. I woke up smelling gas in the bedroom, totally freaked out.
I will probably never let him forget the gas or the gate incidents, but it is more in the nature of good-hearted razzing or whenever I really want something than anything else (except when I’m super angry at him, and then I will bring these things up as proof that I am an all-around better person than he is). I do think, though, that this brings up some interesting questions. When I tell people about these incidents, I get the sense that people generally take an attitude of forgiveness: “Oh, no one is perfect! Don’t be too hard on him! He tries, bless his heart!” whereas when I screw up it’s dismay: “Oh, Ashley! Didn’t you check the gate when you left?” or “You mean to say you don’t triple check the stove and anything you might have plugged in or turned on before you leave the house every day?”
Actually, I do triple check everything I might have plugged in or turned on (and, now, I also triple check the stove) every day before I leave the house. I used to think that this was mostly paranoia with a dash of OCD, but I’m really starting to think that it’s what society tells me to do. If Tim leaves the gas on or gate open, he can just take comfort in the fact that nothing bad happened, whereas if I do something like that, I fear for all of the things that could have happened, even if they didn’t.
Is this a difference in our upbringing? In our personalities? In society’s influence on us?
It might be a little of both, but the media plays a huge role in this. When we see married couples on television or in movies, the husband is generally a doofus, always screwing up, while the wife is neurotic and perfect, always cleaning up after him. We tend to expect the same from real-life couples, even though that shouldn’t be the case.
As for me and Tim, our journey is one of mutual growth. I’m working on checking the house once before I leave, and Tim is also working on checking the house once before he leaves, though in a different way.
Do you find that, in your relationship, you are less likely to be forgiven than your male partner? If so, why do you think this is?
I told you a few days ago that I’d tell you all about my brand new craft nook, so here I am. My craft nook is seriously the coolest around. And the best part about it? It used to be a closet!
My office is in one of the bedrooms of our new house. I chose that location because I wanted to make the downstairs den into a library, and Tim had chosen the basement for his “man cave.” A bedroom seemed the perfect place for my office, and I definitely needed one because I do a lot of work from home, whether that’s grading papers or writing articles.
Recently, I’ve also started doing a lot of crafts. I like to have things to do, and I love making new things like jewelry, scarves, coasters, wreaths – you name it. If it’s a simple craft project, I’ll try it. (I don’t do things that are too difficult; I don’t have that kind of patience!)
My office already had a desk and a reading chair in it from when we furnished it this summer. The desk was moved from my bedroom at my mom’s house, and the chair was a birthday present from Tim. However, when I did my crafting, I either took over the entire kitchen island and the card tables in the basement to let things dry, or I had to move all of my writing stuff off of my desk to craft there.
Here’s the closet before:
So, I did what any crafter would do – I took the doors off the closet and put a cheap table from IKEA (seriously, it was $20) in there:
Then, I hung up some shelves and organized all of my craft materials in boxes and put them up on the shelves:
Then, I decorated and voila – a craft nook!
I absolutely love it. I have a space to craft that doesn’t require me to mess up other areas of the house, and if I make a mess, I can just close the curtain and pretend it’s not there. The card tables are also now set up in the unused bedroom next door instead of the basement, so I have drying space very close by.
Have you ever turned a closet into something more useful than simple storage? Tell me about it in the comments!
It’s a strange thing to be so happy that your husband hasn’t yet lived out his lifelong dream.
Tim has always been a runner. Since his high school days, he’s been on cross country and track teams. He gets up early in the morning to pound the pavement during the summer and, during the school year, he runs right after school before he loses momentum. His 30th birthday gift from me was a treadmill. His Christmas gifts from my mom have always been running-related, from new shoes to GPS fitness watches. His Christmas present from me was the fee for his next marathon.
As a runner, his goal has always been to run a marathon. He ran the Chicago Marathon on our first anniversary, and it was quite an experience for both of us. Watching the spectators get so riled up for the runners – for their friends and family, and for people they didn’t even know – was inspiring. Watching the runners was also inspiring. A few days after the marathon was over, I remember thinking that I could probably run a 5K. I started trying to train, but to no avail. I literally couldn’t run a mile before it hurt my entire body. I’ve walked seven 39.3-mile Avon Walks for Breast Cancer, but running wasn’t for me. Just knowing that anyone could run 26.2 miles – that my husband could run 26.2 miles – was mind boggling. They take themselves to the limits of physicality, and survive.
The running community was also new to me. Everywhere we went, Tim would find someone who was also a runner, and they would become instant BFFs. They talked about shoes and technique and the grueling training runs. They welcomed anyone with open arms, whether you ran a mile every day or were training for a marathon.
I think the best thing about marathons is that it isn’t about winning. You sign up knowing you aren’t going to win the race. It’s about doing something you never thought you could do, and being proud of yourself for doing it. No matter how many marathons you run, it’s always the same. It’s never any less of an accomplishment. And you get to share in that accomplishment with the running community as a whole, and with your friends and family who come to cheer you on.
As a marathon runner (I consider anyone who has run even one marathon a marathon runner), Tim’s other lifelong goal has been to run the Boston Marathon – the holy grail of marathons. He knows he probably will never qualify to run it, but when we were in Boston this summer, we met a woman who told Tim he could run without qualifying if he ran for a charity. Since he would run for a charity anyway (he ran for Ronald McDonald House in Chicago, which had nothing to do with whether or not he was allowed to register), he decided this was the way to do it. He even looked into it, but then life got in the way and we just forgot. We loved Boston so much when we visited, and I idly brought up his running the marathon there a few times because I desperately wanted to go back. For this reason, I’ve also suggested he run marathons in Napa Valley and Paris, too. Being married to a marathon runner might mean lonely Saturday mornings while he is out on his 20-mile training runs, but it can also mean traveling to great places to cheer him on.
I didn’t even realize the Boston Marathon was Monday until one of my students asked me if I had heard what happened. He saw the news on Twitter. As they were working, I quickly looked up some information and, immediately when school let out, I texted Tim and my mom to find out if we knew anyone there. We always know someone who runs the Boston Marathon, but strangely, luckily, this year no one went.
When I got home, I hugged my marathon runner tightly, just as I did when he crossed the finish line in Chicago. I felt so fortunate to be able to do so. I felt so fortunate that he had not signed up for this year’s Boston Marathon. And then I felt guilty for being happy he wasn’t living out his dream.
I watched the news in horror on Monday, and I walked around like I was living in a dream yesterday. I couldn’t even comprehend what had happened, and it didn’t make it any better that our nation has no idea why it happened. I cried many times, unable to think of why anyone would attack spectators at an event that is all about the human spirit and camaraderie.
This tragedy hits close to home in the same way school shootings do because, frankly, it could have been me or Tim or our families. I think it has also struck me so deeply because this was an event that was all about the human spirit and camaraderie. Who could possibly think of attacking spectators anywhere, let alone at a place where they are there to cheer on athletes who are neither celebrities nor wealthy because of their athletic prowess? Who could possibly think of turning an open event that champions endurance and perseverance above all else?
I doubt we will have answers to these questions soon, if ever. My hope is that there was, in fact, a reason behind this and it wasn’t just someone looking for attention. There is no reason that will justify this carnage, but I think some kind of explanation would be better than simple attention-seeking behavior. Maybe not. I don’t really know.
I don’t know much of anything right now, to be honest. The thought of Monday’s events depress me completely. If I’m being completely honest, I should say it scares me a good deal. Tim is running another marathon in November, and he will probably run Boston sometime in the near future; he’s already talking about it as a possibility for next year. I’ll go, and I’ll cheer, but I’ll also be careful, and I would be lying if I said I won’t be worried. But the most important thing we can do right now is continue to run, and continue to cheer, and hug our runners and our cheerleaders a little more tightly, and take our cue from the running community: celebrate perseverance, be astonished by endurance, champion camaraderie, and nourish our spirits in whatever way we can.
I love WBEZ. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it is Chicagoland’s NPR affiliate station. I find the news stories they report to be unbiased, un-sensationalized, and well-researched even if it means they were not the first to report it. In a world where we are barraged with “news” 24/7, often finding information that is untrue or unchecked because news stations are in a winner-takes-all battle to get the quickest, most “interesting” news out there before anyone else, it is refreshing to listen in on my way to and from work for both the facts and the opinions the reporters espouse.
Though I do believe that many liberal people listen to WBEZ – and NPR in general – I wouldn’t even necessarily call it a liberal station. Part of its refreshing nature is its unbiased reporting. For example, they ran a series not too long ago about gun owners and their various reasons for having guns. They didn’t push a gun control angle or anything, they just interviewed people about their guns. The viewpoints were amazing and eye-opening, especially for a liberal, pro-gun control activist such as myself.
It’s also wonderful to listen to WBEZ because of its lack of advertising. So much of advertising today is all about pushing, pushing, pushing using whatever techniques work. Ads have gone from hilarious and smart to offensive and disgusting in a very short time, and I don’t think this is just my heightened consciousness since I’ve become involved in the feminist community.
So imagine my surprise when, as I’m listening to Pandora radio and crafting in my new craft nook (post about that coming soon) and I hear an ad for WBEZ asking listeners to create more babies in order to make more new listeners for the station. The ad directed listeners to a website – gomakebabies.com (I wish I were making this up) – which is a sort of dating site for NPR listeners.
Aside from the obvious questionable implications of asking users to hook up with each other, this ad campaign brings up a host of issues that I don’t think their marketing people anticipated. It can be seen as a comment on birth control, abortion, family planning, fertility, heterosexuality, and a demand to create more babies – something women (particularly those my age) are all too familiar with.
The underlying assumption here is that everyone wants babies, everyone can have babies, and NPR listeners should conceive those babies in heterosexual relationships. Furthermore, it seems that WBEZ doesn’t care if its a sustainable relationship or a one night stand.
While many have argued that this is pure satire, I disagree. Dictionary.com defines satire as: “1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing,denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.; 2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.” WBEZ’s marketing campaign may be using irony or sarcasm, but they are not denouncing or deriding vice, and they certainly aren’t scorning or ridiculing human folly. They are, in fact, making the completely logical assumption that children are often exposed to WBEZ by their parents and, if listeners had more babies, they would in turn become listeners themselves. This isn’t satire; this is logic. Satire isn’t asking people to have more babies, it’s asking people to eat their babies to avoid famine. Satire is something so ridiculous it couldn’t possibly be true. Since it is so logical, WBEZ’s attempt fell extremely short of satire.
Attempts at a literary technique that seems simple yet is ridiculously difficult to complete correctly aside, part of what I love about independently funded media is the reprieve I get from the constant baby push. It seems that everywhere I turn – blogs, shows, movies, advertisements, friends and family – has something to say about my bearing children. WBEZ was one place I could go where I was confident I wouldn’t have to suffer yet more pressure to pop out some babies. Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the case.
I truly expected more from WBEZ. I expected them and their marketing people to be more attune to their demographic, who are “Interesting People” according to the billboard pictured above and, as such, are probably educated. It’s a well-known fact that educated people are waiting longer and longer to have children and don’t want to be pressured to hurry up. Regardless of demographics, I expected them to have more empathy for people who don’t want kids or who can’t conceive or who identify as LGBTQ and are completely overlooked by these ads. Apparently my expectations were too high.
I will probably not stop listening to WBEZ, but I am wholeheartedly disappointed that it has joined the ranks of horrible marketing we see every single day.
Photo Credit: Nico Lang, WBEZ
The 9th Edition of the Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival is now posted! Check it out!
We need hosts for future editions, so if you are interested, contact me or leave a comment!
I think you all probably know by now that I am very conscious about gender in almost every aspect of my life. I mean, I am the type of teacher that prefers to call a group of students “y’all” because I don’t want to say “you guys.” I’ve taught my students about gender differences in the way they are treated at school and out in the world. This year, I’ve also taught about vitctim-blaming, gaslighting, and how we market toys to kids. I think my gender-conscious resume is pretty well stocked.
One of my students was using an article titled “The Trouble with Bright Girls” by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. In it, it states that we as a society treat our bright girls differently than we do our boys:
Researchers have uncovered the reason for this difference in how difficulty is interpreted, and it is simply this: more often than not, bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.
How do girls and boys develop these different views? Most likely, it has to do with the kinds of feedback we get from parents and teachers as young children. Girls, who develop self-control earlier and are better able to follow instructions, are often praised for their “goodness.” When we do well in school, we are told that we are “so smart,” “so clever, ” or ” such a good student.” This kind of praise implies that traits like smartness, cleverness, and goodness are qualities you either have or you don’t.
Boys, on the other hand, are a handful. Just trying to get boys to sit still and pay attention is a real challenge for any parent or teacher. As a result, boys are given a lot more feedback that emphasizes effort (e.g., “If you would just pay attention you could learn this,” “If you would just try a little harder you could get it right.”) The net result: when learning something new is truly difficult, girls take it as sign that they aren’t “good” and “smart”, and boys take it as a sign to pay attention and try harder.
I find that this is probably very true of my students. They have been treated so differently – and continue to be throughout high school. As a result, it is much more likely that I see a girl completely give up and never turn it around, but I see boys fluctuate between good work and bad work all the time.
Now, this is anecdotal and not researched evidence, but that doesn’t matter because my students are not what made this article interesting to me. What made it interesting is how it made me think about how Tim and I treat our dogs.
Our first “born,” Penny, is an incredibly bright terrier mix. She is a wonderful, loyal dog who is full of energy and needs constant mental stimulus. I’m also almost positive that she understands literally every word I say to her, so when she doesn’t do what we want her to do, we are almost positive that she is willfully disobeying. She is definitely our “bright girl.”
Her younger “brother,” Bailey, is a lazy, cuddly beagle. He is perfectly happy sitting in an entirely different room than the pack, either staring wistfully out the window (and occasionally howling at passersby) or sleeping on his favorite blanket. His laziness sometimes comes off as unintelligence because he doesn’t ever quite get what we’re asking him to do. In these instances, instead of the expression of overt defiance that Penny gives us, Bailey’s expression looks more like, “Huh?”
With Penny, we often treat her as if she either gets a command or she doesn’t. If she does, she’s a “good girl.” If she doesn’t, we get a little frustrated. With Bailey, we often treat him as if the effort is the thing we are looking for. If we tell him to come to us and he makes it halfway, we praise the initial decision to follow the command, not necessarily the follow-through.
Now, you could argue that we do this because our dogs are so incredibly different and, therefore, require different training. Terriers are inherently very smart and quick to learn. Beagles, on the other hand, are notoriously low-energy. It’s possible that, if Penny were a male and Bailey were a female, we would still be treating them as we do now because of our breed, but what if we are treating them differently because this is the way we have been socialized to treat boys and girls?
I’ll never know the answer to this question, but it does make me think about how we will one day raise our child. Will we inadvertently treat him or her differently based on his or her gender, or will we be able to overcome that and encourage effort and success regardless of gender?
Only time will tell, but it definitely is food for thought.
I had a freebie day off today. A freebie day off is when you are pretty much the only person you know who has the day off. Everyone else is at work, so I stayed home, ate copious amounts of junk food, drank tea all day, and tackled a ton of stuff. I went grocery shopping, got a healthy meal in the slow cooker (vegetable barley soup, FTW!), did the laundry (seriously, I even washed my decorative pillow cases), caught up on the internet, submitted an article I’ve been working on for a long time to a major news outlet (fingers crossed…), wrote two more articles for other places and pitched a fourth somewhere else. Needless to say, I’ve been busy today, which is why I love freebie days off. I can get so much done (and eat so much food)! Oh, and did I mention I sat around in my leggings and neon socks with my hair in a crazybun all day? Well, I did.
I truly had every intention of writing a legit blog post today, but now I find I’m writing-ed out after doing all that writing for those other places, which happens often, and is why I’ve neglected this poor site this year. So, instead, I’d like to share with you a bit of what I’ve been reading today as I’ve been catching up on the internet. Enjoy!
How do you get teenagers to think feminism is cool? by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and Holly Baxter
As far as we’re concerned, the jury’s still out as to whether or not the word itself needs, to slip into publicity speak for a moment, a “rebrand”. We certainly know from what young women are telling us that “feminism” is a dirty word, for a variety of reasons, perhaps most significantly because it’s “angry” it’s not “sexy” or “feminine”. Young women also expressed the feeling that feminism wasn’t really “for” them – that it was too complex and alienating and that they didn’t have the correct terminology. If you’ve read anything else we’ve written then you’ll know that we don’t see anger or verbose pomposity as effective recruiting tactics, but we need to go further than this and try and think about ways in which we can get young women thinking about gender inequality.
Six pregnancies and seven miscarriages later (one set of twins) we find ourselves facing the very real possibility that I simply can not carry a child to term. Three months seems to be average, though one pregnancy was lost at five months.
This opened up a whole host of questions. What if I can NEVER have a baby? What if he leaves me because I can’t have children? What if he doesn’t leave me but then is unhappy forever? What if we adopt? What if we try IVF? What if we decide to not have children, but end up feeling like we never fulfilled part of our lives? What if I can’t be happy without a baby? What if adoption/IVF is too expensive? If I do manage to get the money together, would it be more sensible to “buy” a baby or a house? What if buying a house means I can’t afford to adopt?
Reasons Girls Are Encouraged to Fail – and How to Change This by Regina Barreca, Ph.D.
What a waste.
When asked to explain exactly why they are reluctant to describe themselves as ambitious, my female students reply that if they seem too eager to get the “A” or to be elected to run some university office, they might lose friends. They will be regarded as ruthless. “I don’t want to claw my way to the top,” a sophomore told me. “I don’t want to seem arrogant,” said another. “I’m no better than anybody else” said a third. These are all dynamic, smart, and diligent students, none of whom wants to be called a “winner” in public because she thinks it might hurt somebody’s feelings.
Golden lads and girls all come to dust: School shootings and gender in a violent America by Sally Campbell Galman
Katz writes that “if a woman were the shooter, you can bet there would be all sorts of commentary about shifting cultural notions of femininity and how they might have contributed to her act,” but because the shooters are male, and US culture is notorious for its lexical inadequacy around male privilege or hegemonic, violent masculinity, the male shooter goes ungendered. These are men and boys conducting mass killings aimed at mostly women, children and occasionally other men. In the frenzied gun control discussions that followed Newtown, one man-on-the-street commentator observed that school shooters choose schools as targets instead of, say, police stations because of the concentration of guns at police stations. He was implying that schools are targets for the simple reason that there are typically no armed people there. The obvious logical problems with that argument aside, it seems instead that men with guns who are interested in killing multiple women and children mostly choose places that are full of women and also usually children as well. And what location more feminized than a school? The man in this case didn’t go to a shopping mall, or a dentist’s office, or to the zoo or a park. Instead, he went to a primary school. While we can’t know the mind of the man responsible, it is reasonable to say this was not serendipitous, but by design.
How to be an Ally: A Guide for Teachers & Other Adults by Alice Wilder
And if something does happen? I won’t be able to do anything. I will go to my next class and raise my hand a little less often than I usually would because I am focusing on keeping myself calm. I am focusing on helping my body feel safe. I am not focusing on Hamlet or geography. Later I might call my sister or friends to talk about it, but that doesn’t help me in the moment. My friends and I often talk about this feeling of isolation. After one of us deals with something, we often feel as if we are alone in our corner outside the cafeteria, left to try and help each other survive the day. We sprawl over the sidewalk and trade stories and advice. But often, it isn’t enough.
Photo Credit: RambergMediaImages
The Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival is now accepting submissions for the 9th edition on Women in Art! Check here for more information, and get your posts in! The deadline is March 15!
Today, I am responding to the #femfest day two questions at fromtwotoone.com. The questions are as follows:
What is at stake in this discussion? Why is feminism important to you? Are you thinking about your children or your sisters or the people that have come before you? Or, why do you not like the term? What are you concerned we’re not focusing on or we’re losing sight of when we talk about feminism? Why do you feel passionately about this topic?
To participate, write a post and link up here!
Feminism is vitally important to me as a human being, a woman, a teacher, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a wife. Feminism has given me a voice, a vote, a reason to hang up the apron, a way to work and have a husband and have kids should I choose to do so. Feminism has given me a choice.
I don’t mean that feminists have given me all of these things in the literal sense, though that is also true. What I mean is that the knowledge of what feminism is has empowered me to better understand my choices, and to make choices I would not have otherwise made.
To that end, feminism is important for me, but it is vital for my students. I am reminded of an article I wrote last year, “Personal Connections Empower Students”:
I stood in front of the class, introduced myself and told them a little bit about myself: I’m married, we have a dog, I like to cook—the usual. After this, they had to fill out a form and put my name on it, so I wrote it on the board: Ms. Samsa. A hand shot up in the air.
“But I thought you were married,” the student called out.
“I am,” I responded.
“So shouldn’t you be Mrs. Samsa?”
I told the class that I didn’t change my name when I got married, and I briefly explained the difference between Miss, Ms. and Mrs. Then, I noticed a hand raised in the back of the room. It belonged to a girl who hadn’t said a word all day. I called on her and she paused for a second to search for just the right words before asking, “You have a choice to keep your name when you get married? I didn’t know that.”
My students have the choices and empowerment feminism has given every woman since the movement started, but what good are those choices if they don’t know about them? Just as my feminism has evolved over time, theirs must, too, and it starts with being made aware of the fact that they don’t have to blindly follow societal norms. They don’t have to change their names or have babies or even get married if they don’t want to, no matter who tells them otherwise.
If I can teach one girl the importance of the choices they have – the choices feminism has allowed them to have – I will consider myself successful.
I’m very excited to be hosting this month’s Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival! This month, we are talking about Feminism and Love, and what better time to do it than
the shortest, coldest month of the year the month that holds Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love and relationships?
This month, we have many different interpretations of love. From being afraid of marriage to the difficulties of the first year post-nuptials, from babies to name changes, from music to dating, we’ve got it all. So, without further ado, I present to you, the 8th Edition of the Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival:
Carrie presents Anders and the Altoid: A Story for Our First Anniversary posted at Don’t Be Afraid to Open Your Eyes, saying, “My favorite story about the wedding is about an event that I wasn’t around to witness.”
Ashley presents Reclaiming Wife: The First Is The Worst posted at A Practical Wedding, saying, “For the longest time after my wedding I was embarrassed every time anyone asked me archly, “So, how’s married life?” What was I supposed to say to that? That it was horrible; that within the first week of our marriage I was half-wondering if it was too late for an annulment; that we had each declared that if we’d known what it would be like, we wouldn’t have married each other because it was so completely different from what we expected?”
Debbi Pless presents Growing Up Is Hard to Do (Girl Meets World) posted at Kiss My Wonder Woman!, saying, “Topanga is my role model. And I have to say that I wonder what will happen when we get see into her marriage, thirteen years down the line.”
Ashley Lauren presents Tension Can Be Fun, but Relationships are Too posted at Small Strokes, saying, “What I love about this trend is that it shows that important, long-term relationships can take center stage and that they don’t end the show but rather add another layer to it.”
Emilie Littlehales presents Let’s Give Engagement Rings New Meaning posted at Role/Reboot, saying, “the only way to combat the sexist tradition behind engagement rings is to strip them of their original meaning.”
Leah Sipress presents Being an Educated Housewife is Possible posted at The Broad Side, saying, “I don’t understand why it is that people assume that because one is educated that they must be an economically active member of society.”
Sarah presents Scared Beyond Belief, Thrilled Beyond Dreams posted at A Practical Wedding, saying, “I recently became engaged, and my fiancé Mark is truly the man of my dreams. Except at night, in my actual dreams. In those he’s kind of a jerk.”
Elizabeth Spiers presents Why Developing Serious Relationships in Your 20s Matters posted at Medium, saying, “Now is the time to live!”
This concludes our carnival. Stay tuned for information about next month’s carnival. In the meantime, get your posts on feminism ready and submit them here, and you can find more information about the carnival here.
Today, I am responding to the #femfest linkup on loveiswhatyoudo.com. The questions are as follows:
What is your experience with feminism? What’s a story or a memory or a person that you associate with that word? Why does it have negative or positive connotations for you? How do you define the term, either academically or personally? What writers have you read whose definitions you want to bring out? Or, if you don’t have a definition, what are some big questions you have?
To participate, just write a post answering these questions and link up here!
Students like to ask me when I knew I was a feminist, or what made me become a feminist. I would love to have a straightforward answer for them, but the truth is, I don’t. There isn’t one true moment that made me a feminist. I read stories all the time about the “click” moment that women have had that have made them a feminist, but I don’t have that moment.
The truth is, I’ve been a feminist my whole life. My mom is a feminist, and she raised me to be a feminist, as well. She told me when I was a very young child that she wished she had kept her name when she married my dad, so I kept my name when I married my husband. She caught me giggling about a celebrity who had come out, and asked me why it was funny, setting me firmly on a path toward tolerance and acceptance.
To be sure, I didn’t know the word “feminism” until I was much older, but it never really held the awful connotation for me that it does for some women. I don’t think I’ve ever said, “I’m not a feminist, but…” There was just a time when I didn’t know the word, and a time when I did. I’m not sure if knowing the word made me more of a feminist than I already was, but embracing and being embraced by the feminist community certainly changed my views. As I started to make more friends who defined themselves as feminists, I started to become more confident in my activism. One of the best friends I’ve ever had, Jillian, and I met at a Chicago feminist meetup several years ago. At the time, I was engaged to my husband, and with the wedding planning came a desire to have the right image all of the time. I wanted to be “cool” and have a “cool” wedding with the “right kind” of music and people and flowers and dresses. I didn’t want to be too much of a feminist at my own wedding because I was afraid of how people would see me. I didn’t want people to roll their eyes from their seats and say, “There she goes again. That Ashley is just a crazy feminist,” subsequently shutting down any political agenda I had.
I think a huge part of the problem was that I had a lot of people around me tearing me in a million different places. Some of my friends just wanted to talk about babies and weddings, and some wanted more. One of my friends who stood in our wedding, found out that I was keeping my last name and my bank account and that we didn’t necessarily want kids, and asked me why we were getting married at all if this was the case. I wasn’t firm enough in my feminism at the time to see the societal issues behind this. I just got offended, quietly and alone, and didn’t say much of anything to anyone. Or I came here to write about it on this little blog.
These sorts of things happened all the time. I did make it through the wedding, but in the years since, I’ve noticed a significant distance between some of the friends that I had during those months leading up to our wedding and a closer bond between friends like Jillian, who never once made me feel that my choices were inferior or inadequate just because they weren’t the norm. (In fact, she always embraces all of my choices, even when I change my mind from one minute to the next, and she never makes me feel awkward or awful about it. She never calls me out on it, like some of my other friends do, saying, “But I thought you were against that,” just trying to catch me in a lie to feel superior to me in some way.)
I’m not saying that I am no longer friends with people I’ve held dear to me my entire life. Rather, I’m saying that, like my friendships, my feminism is constantly evolving. I’m adding new pieces and taking some old ones away. And that’s how it should be. No one should be so indoctrinated with a belief set that the ideas never evolve and change as we grow. Like the poet Taylor Mali said, “Changing your mind is one of the best ways to find out whether or not you still have one.”
I have my first ever piece up at The Guardian today! I’m so totally excited!!
The piece is published in the Comment is Free section today, and I’m talking about armed guards in schools:
On Monday, Congressman Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, and six other House Republicans took this one step further and introduced a bill that would fund the Cops in Schools program, which would give a total of $30m in grants to schools looking to increase armed police presence.
Putting more people with guns in schools is not the answer. By increasing police presence in school, we are guaranteeing that more students will be arrested – perhaps unnecessarily. Increasing police in schools will contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.
Please, go read the article and comment and share!
Featured Image Credit: Bob Daemmrich/Alamy courtesy of The Guardian
Oh my god, I love Catcher in the Rye. Seriously. Love it. Every time.
I tried to explain to my students the other day why I loved it. They haven’t read it, so they were confused. “Is it about baseball?” they asked. No, no. It’s not about baseball. And, if it was, what would make you think that I would love a book about baseball? “Is it a feminist book?” No, it’s not. In fact, Holden Caulfield isn’t even a particularly good person let alone someone who champions women’s rights.
I can’t even really explain it. There is just something honest about it. Holden’s inner narrative doesn’t try to pretend to be anything other than who he is, even if his outer self shows us differently. He just desperately wants to connect with someone. So desperately, in fact, that he calls upon many, many people as he wanders through New York, from a prostitute to a former teacher to his little sister Phoebe.
I see Holden in my students; I see him in myself. I see him in the most deeply troubled people who have graced my past, and in the people who would have you think they were extremely happy. Holden – self centered, whiney, desperate, lost, finding joy in small things, working slowly through his issues, working slowly through life – is all of us.
Originally posted on The Samsanator Tumblr
Featured Image Credit: condour
I love love LOVE this article about teaching Macbeth to junior high students that appeared in the New York Times a few weeks ago:
Reading Shakespeare sounds like pandemonium. They take 10 minutes just to give out parts, one boy always holding out for Duncan, wanting nothing to do with traitors.
Another boy, a seventh grader, large-eyed, with a lisp, has acted in “Macbeth” in an after-school program. He glides through Macbeth’s speech, opening and closing stout arms, declaiming, When I had most need of a blessing, the word Amen… His little hands shake as the other kids gape, impressed by this previously invisible boy.
When you listen to them, it’s like they’re playing. They mock one another and cajole. They fight over the good parts. The disciplinarian in me wants them to hold still, though it’s a play with plenty of standing and yelling.
THE new Common Core Standards for English Language Arts say students in grades seven and eight should be exposed to texts written in archaic language. I tell myself this is an exposure.
So much of teaching is messy and ridiculous. In this article, Ms. Hollander wonders what she might tell someone who walked into her classroom at this moment. On my best days, if an outsider were to walk into my classroom, they would see much of the same pandemonium. I say these are my best days because they are the ones when the most learning happens.
So much of Macbeth is standing and yelling. So much of literature is revolutionary, and revolutions cannot happen from a desk in the middle of a classroom. Good literature, the stuff that teaches us Truth with a capital T, is not just to be enjoyed in a quiet corner of the world. It is to be argued with and explored out loud. So much of the literature we are supposed to give our students whispers “yes” and affirms everyone’s delicate sensibilities. Real literature must yell a booming “NO” and turn our sensibilities on their heads, or else we do not have to think at all. Literature should boom and shout and make us think, whether we want to or not.
Education reformers want to turn teaching into a science. They want discipline to be clear-cut and swift. They want literature to whisper “yes.” They want teachers and students to whisper “yes,” as well.
What I love about Ms. Hollander’s article is that she doesn’t whisper anything. She embraces the mess and the art of both teaching and literature. She is the kind of teacher I aspire to be; hers is the kind of classroom I aspire to have.
This is teaching at its finest.
Featured Image Credit: andrewasmith
The Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival Edition 8 deadline has been EXTENDED!
I will now be taking posts on Feminism & Love for the February blog carnival until February 22, and the carnival will be posted on February 27. So what are you waiting for? Submit your posts TODAY!
Well, since it got such a buzz, I figured I’d show you all a little behind-the-scenes glimpse of our creative process:
Yup, there’s the whole list.
My girls named a lot of women that surprised me:
What are your female pop culture role models? Any you would add to the list?
I’m also at the Bitch Magazine blog today talking about pop culture role models for my Fearless Females!
I’m a feminist and a high school English teacher in the south suburbs of Chicago. Last year, one of the students in my class was inspired to start a group for girls at our school and approached me about sponsoring it. Of course I agreed! A few weeks ago, we tackled the topic of positive female role models in pop culture. The high school students came up with a list of eight current, mainstream “feminist idols” they and their friends look up to.
The list is a good insight into what interests teen girls these days, as well as hopefully a helpful resource. We talk a lot about degrading and regrettable portrayals of women in media, here are eight actresses and comedians my high schoolers are excited about supporting.
I’m not telling you who is on the list, though. You’ll have to read the article to find out.
Featured Image Credit: Gage Skidmore
Today, I’m over at In These Times talking about why having armed guards or police officers in schools is a terrible idea:
I have spent most of my life in a school setting: first as a student, then as a high school teacher. In more than 20 years of observation, I have never witnessed a need for armed guards. Perhaps I am fortunate in this. But school shootings are still relatively rare, despite their high media profile; Implementing an armed police presence in every school because a few have been the scenes of heinous crimes would be like screening every white male in the school system for a mental illness because the perpetrators of such crimes are predominantly white males. It just isn’t feasible, nor does it help the problem; what it does is unnecessarily invade our privacy.
Read the whole article here!
How do you feel about armed guards in public schools? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: grendelkahn
Recently, I have started feeling run down almost constantly. It’s been more than just being tired; I feel almost sick and totally lethargic. At first, I attributed it to a tough school year and keeping up with the new house. However, after I started getting some pretty nasty breakouts again, I took a look at my diet. I had started eating meat again after six years of being totally vegetarian and two more years of eating seafood but no other meat, but I was constantly eating heavy foods filled with cheese, bread and pasta, and very few vegetables or anything else with, well, any nutrients at all. When I would get home from a difficult day of work, all I would want was a piece of pizza and to curl up on the couch in front of the television. We were eating pizza, lasagna, or pasta with cream-based sauces at least once a week. Each of those once a week. You are probably thinking, “Duh, Ashley. No wonder you felt awful,” but it wasn’t clear to me right away. Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees, and I was attributing my exhaustion to my difficult school year and the changes in our lifestyle.
I started reading up on what foods can cause acne and, although most of the research has not found a direct correlation between diet and breakouts, many people will tell you that dairy and refined carbohydrates can mess with your insulin levels and your hormones which may produce more breakouts. Similarly, pretty much everyone will tell you that eating all the carbs and cheese and cream that we were eating will make you tired all the time.
So I decided to do a complete overhaul of my diet. I actually sort of feel like I’m becoming Rob Lowe’s character from Parks and Recreation with all of the healthy alternatives, supplements, and teas I’ve been intaking, but whatever. What counts is that I’m feeling better, right?
Anyway, I start each day with a green smoothie – literally, the thing is green. It’s made of soy milk, a banana, some honey, some peanut butter, and a bunch of baby spinach. If it sounds disgusting, you are half right. The first time I made it, I had to plug my nose to drink it, but after a few weeks of experimenting, I’ve gotten the right ratio of ingredients so it tastes mostly like peanut butter and bananas. I drink this for breakfast every morning along with my multivitamin. For lunch, I’ve been eating a lot of carrots, celery, and hummus with the occasional tuna salad. Oh, and trail mix. Trader Joes makes the best trail mix ever. For dinner, we usually eat some kind of slow cooked meat, because I have been obsessed with the slow cooker. Seriously, I can make the meal in the morning and have the meal ready when I come home with almost zero cleanup? Count me in. I’ve also started drinking lots of various herbal teas.
You may note from this menu that I have completely cut out dairy and have significantly reduced my intake of refined carbohydrates. No cheese, cream, or milk. If I eat bread or pasta, it is whole grain. I am actually on week two of a no-dairy diet, and I feel awesome. Granted, the spinach smoothie (Seriously, spinach is really good for you. Popeye wasn’t kidding. 1 ) and increase of other healthy, raw foods such as vegetables and trail mix definitely also have something to do with that, but I probably wouldn’t be eating all of that were it not for restricting the dairy because I’ve now had to find other things to eat.
At two weeks, I’ve been able to completely stop drinking coffee. Coming from the woman who inhaled at least four cups of coffee a day for the past ten years of her life, this is huge. I now drink one cup of green tea in the morning, and that’s enough. The rest of the tea I drink is caffeine free. The energy I have now is also sustainable. Every day last week, I was able to make it through a whole day of teaching, an hour at the gym, and then come home and write an article or two before bed. Since you’ve seen the dip in productivity on this blog over the past semester, you know that was impossible for me before now. I also have a significant reduction in stomach problems. I haven’t seen a decrease in breakouts yet (and, even if I did, it could definitely also be attributed to my change in skincare routine and medication I’m on for it rather than the dairy), but since I’m feeling so great, I’m willing to give it a while longer to see what happens.
Obviously, completely eliminating dairy from my diet is not sustainable. I mean, I really, really love cheese. We give the dogs cheese when they go in their crates at night, and sometimes I get really jealous that they can have cheese and I can’t. I do think, though, that if I maintain this kind of healthy eating and add dairy back in moderation, I can maintain this level of energy while still enjoying some of the foods I love once in a while. For now, though, I’m just excited that I feel like I’m back to my old self.
Author’s note: DO NOT start on a new diet or start taking things out of your current diet without talking to a doctor. I was able to do this because I’ve spoken extensively with a number of professionals, and I’m also able to get important nutrients that dairy has from elsewhere. If you are not able to do that, don’t try this. Calcium is really important, and diary has a lot of calcium, among other things! Just be safe with your food choices.
Featured Image Credit: HealthGauge