Saturday, December 29, 2007

Give Me A Gun So I Can Learn

Interesting. The practice of killing and maiming is a valid educational tool for boys between the ages of three and five who otherwise cannot keep up with the girls. This from the UK Department for Children, Schools, and Families which "leads work across Government to ensure that all children and young people: stay healthy and safe, secure an excellent education and the highest possible standards of achievement, enjoy their childhood,make a positive contribution to society and the economy, have lives full of opportunity, free from the effects of poverty." So, allowing boys to be rambunctious outside during recess in the fresh air is ineffective unless they have a plastic AK-47 at the ready. Perhaps they have missed the true point. If the boys were playing with pink sparkle microscopes and sewing machines like the little girls are forced to do, *then* they would be learning more.

Thank goodness that The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) is not agreeing with this poppycock. Chris Keates, the general secretary of NASUWT points out the obvious, "Many parents take the decision that their children won't have toy weapons. In addition to that, I think this is a clear example of gender stereotyping."

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Fantasy Football Phenomenon

Introducing…drum roll please…the Champion! That’s right folks. You are reading a blog from the winner of the inaugural TBI fantasy football league. Now, lest you think I am simply blogging in order to toot my own horn, I do plan to make a legitimate post. However, before I can do so, I must admit to having done a little victory dance this morning in front of a coworker and I have already placed my order for my prize: a 4-pack of Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. A quick shout out here to Agincourt for helping me in my victory. I couldn't have done it without you.

This was my first year at Fantasy Football. I jumped at the chance to join my work league this year for multiple reasons. (1) You know how I feel about the inequality between male/female sporting opportunities. (2) I was the only woman remotely interested in this league. (3) I was the only woman even asked to compete in this league…the curse of being the token sports knowledgeable lesbian. (4) As the only woman in this league, I felt the need to represent for the ladies. (5) My options for competition grow limited these days so this gave me a way to kick some ass. (6) I thought it might be fun for us to spend our NFL football season interested in the success of players from teams other than the Indianapolis Colts.

I decided to see what the internet had to say about this fantasy football phenomenon. And to be fair, it is better to call it the fantasy sport craze because you can make believe in almost any sport out there. I am also tinkering around with my English Premier League Fantasy Football (soccer) team. Lo and behold, there are articles out there as late as this year focusing on how (*gasp*) there are more women participating in fantasy football now than a mere five years ago and they can't *all* be lesbians.

There are a few articles out there that I would like to focus on in this discussion. Allow me to start with an video about women in fantasy football: “Women Taking on Fantasy Sports Leagues: Do Men Really Want Women in their Leagues?” This piece annoyed me. First, let’s look at the title. Are you kidding me? 2007 and ABC is putting out a new piece questioning whether men want women in their league? My response to that was a knee jerk “I don’t give a rats-ass what the men want, I want to play in the fantasy league and I’m going to win!” At one point, the news anchor suggests that perhaps men should be open-minded to the role of women in fantasy sports. I’d have appreciated this story more if it had focused more on the fact that women are athletes, period. Alexa Pozniak, a producer at EPSN, tried to do so, but I found the piece in general to be lacking in substance.

The New York Times put out an article that I approve of a bit more: “In Fantasy Leagues, the Field Is Level.” A portion of this article states, “Perhaps it should not be a surprise that more women are participating. Title IX paved the way for more women to play sports, and their elevated interest level is manifesting itself in the stands, in the front office and in front of the computer — competing in the sports world’s alternate universe, where genders are not assigned separate leagues.” Now, while I appreciate the optimism of that statement, it is not entirely true. There can still be sex-segregation in fantasy football. All you have to do is create your own male or female only league. The article "Women Tackle Fantasy Football for the Love of the Game" article mentions: how difficult it was for one woman to join a men's league, gives a shout out to two women's only leagues, and waxes poetic about how one wife enjoys fanstasy football with her husband even though he is in a men's only league. I find that so appalling I am almost speechless. Maybe I am being too harsh here. If men or women want to create their own sex-segregated league, then that is a valid right, no? Well, no. Sports in general continue to perpetuate sex-segregation in the real world as it is. Why on earth do we want to foster that Neanderthal notion in the fantasy world as well?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Feminism: C'est pour les enfants!

I have seven nieces. Seven. This means that every year I spend November and December staring down the legions of Disney Princesses and Bratz that line the girls' isles of every toy shop. As I search for gifts the girls will like, but that won't reinforce all the worst stereotypes about femininity (see, for example, the Pink Monopoly game), I know that the deck is stacked against me. The girls have asked for new recruits for their armies of Polly Pockets. Savvy marketing reps have already defined femininity for them as being based on glitter and cheaply produced plastic dolls with microscopic waists. All the toys that I think are cool are done in 'boy colors' and show boys all over the package.

So, what's a feminist aunt or mommy to do? We want to give gifts that will encourage the kids to explore their many interests rather than just dolls to dress up, but we know that giving a little girl a gift that screams 'for boys!' is a big taboo in Tot Land.

This year, though, I think I've done alright. So, for my fellow late shoppers, or for those re-thinking all the Bratz dolls currently under the tree, I've complied a list of the things that looked like good gender-neutral or girl gifts that I found this season.

10 non-sexist gift ideas for girls:

1. The Anti Coloring Book

2. Magic Set

3. Face Painting Kit

4. Crystal Garden

5. Rock Tumbler

6. Microscope

7. Gingerbread House Kit

8. Science Kit

9. Puppet Theater

10. Books that feature strong female protagonists

I'm always on the lookout for good ideas, though, so if anyone has found other good gifts for girls, let us know.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Survey Says... Christmas Causes Lesbian Stress

Does the holiday season make you feel stressed? Do the dark days of December bring you down? Then you're probably a lesbian.

Well, maybe not. What this recent survey actually reports is that more women who identify as lesbian say they are stressed during the holiday season than do women who identify as straight:
...four out of five (80%) of lesbian adults say they tend to feel more stressed around the holidays while 64% of the heterosexual women surveyed said they tend to feel more stressed. Additionally, while half (51%) of lesbians said they tend to feel depressed around the holidays, only 36% of heterosexual women said they did.
Alright, pollsters, you've caught my eye. The majority of women, straight or gay, feel stressed around the holidays, but that lesbian community seems to have it worse (shocker). But what might be causing the additional stress for lesbians? Well, there could be a lot of reasons:
Estrangement from family, marginalization within and isolation from society, separation from children (sometimes due to custody battles), and inadequate access to culturally sensitive health care practitioners are all factors that can adversely affect mood during a season so identified with ‘family’ activities and 'belonging,'" said Dr. Linda Spooner, Chair of The Mautner Project’s Board of Directors and a practicing physician in Washington, D.C.
Ah, so it isn't the lesbian gene that makes some women feel more glum around the holidays - it is that our society treats lesbians like crap - which is particularly evident during the Yuletide season's celebration of happy, happy togetherness. This is an important distinction to note, young "lesbian feminists hate Christmas" trolls.

Unfortunately, the survey did not look very deeply into what the participants themselves felt the source of their additional anxiety might be. In fact, the methodology was surprisingly simple:
The survey of 2,625 U.S. adults aged 18 or older was conducted online between November 7 and 13, 2007... 2,251 [participants] indicated they are heterosexual and 326 self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, with 111 self-identifying as lesbian.
All of the women were asked to rank their agreement levels (from strongly agree to strongly disagree) with the following statements: "I tend to feel more stressed around the holidays" and "I tend to feel depressed around the holidays." That's it. We could almost conduct the same type of survey right here in the comments section.

Some Strollerderby readers worry that this poll's findings will provide "one more reason for people to believe lesbians should not be parents," presumably because nobody wants their mommies to be sniffling into their eggnog. Yet, the survey was actually commissioned by the Mautner Project, whose aim it is to improve "...the health of lesbians, bisexual, and transgender women who partner with women, and their families, through advocacy, education, research, and direct service." The Mautner Project goes on to say, "We envision a healthcare system that is guided by social justice and responsive to the needs of all people." Yeah, sounds nice.

So, as it turns out, I totally support the mission of the institution that commissioned the poll, yet I still think they overlooked the most interesting point. So, here is my question to you guys: Do you feel more stress and/or depressed around the holidays? If so, why?

Happy Holidays! be honest, I probably would be just dingbat enough to go to the gym and lift a 100-pound dumb bell. Just ask Agincourt. However, I stand by my feel good post of the evening courtesy of Christine Kane who is challenging us all to be courageous.

Personally, I think Casmall should embrace #1.

I respect #21 because it makes the profound assumption that your hero is a woman.

Bravo to Habladora for encouraging us all to join in on #5.

Again The Voice of Reason

Has anyone noticed that I tend to praise Angela Merkel? Perhaps it is my German roots. However, I do find that she tends to put forth reasonable thinking. As her term G8 president draws to a close, she is challenging her successor to take the concept of fair globalization seriously.

I have not had a detailed discussion with my German friend to get a full picture about how the country views Merkel, so perhaps the reviews locally are not as glowing. Be that as it may, I cannot help but be impressed by how she is continually challenging everyone around her instead of simply calling her own shots and assuming that is sufficient.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Most Sexist Ad of the Holiday Season: A Competition

MarkH hates this ad:
Fear of cuckoldry is the diamond market's best friend! Because she'll cheat on you if not distracted by constant sparkling. Or perhaps the idea is that her chasing of other tail will be slowed if she's wearing a sufficiently heavy rock?

Masculinity and Its Discontents is annoyed by jewelry ads too, particularly one in which a good-looking, caring guy is shown painting his girlfriend's toes when the announcer cuts-in with the line "Because you’re not that guy, go buy jewelry at Bob’s." Jamie is quite eloquent as he explains exactly why men should be insulted by the ad:
Jewelry ads, then, in brief, work based on the assumption that men are lazy, have no aesthetic sense, don’t know their partners, don’t really care about knowing them or what they’d like as a gift, and want to spend money as they have to on whatever a clerk tells them their women will want.
I'm glad that men are insulted by the suggestion that they are emotional morons who don't know their partners, don't care to, and want a generic 'what girls like' formula to follow for all their interactions with women. Men not being proud to be considered stunted in the compassion department, but actually being affronted by the stereotype... why, it warms my feminist heart (via Pandagon).

In fact, my vote for Most Sexist Ad is insulting for similar reasons. It is a Home Depot commercial in which a guy grabs a female Home Depot employee and says, "Be my wife!" She then follows him around the store, pretending to be his Sweetie on Christmas morning as he presents her with different potential gifts, monitoring her reaction. Because women aren't, you know, individuals or anything. And a husband could never know his wife as a unique person with her own individual interests. Nope - women are a generic brand, infinitely substitutable. (The female employee finally gives the happy reaction when presented with a gift card, by the by - 'cause ladies love shopping!)

And then there's this Lifesaver's ad, which Shameless finds "...patronizing to women, fat-phobic and all around offensive... how messed up is it that her 'supervisor' is making derogatory remarks about her body...":

Copyranter is a whole site dedicated to least favorite ads, and is a good place to start if your still shopping around for your Most Sexist Ad pick.

Bless this Civil Contract

Since we've been talking a bit about heroism and gay rights 'round these parts recently, it seems a good time to mention the small group of churches that are refusing to preform civil ceremonies for any couple, gay or straight, until those ceremonies are legally binding for all:

It doesn't matter if you're gay or straight, you can't get legally married at Lyndale United Church of Christ.

The small, liberal church in south Minneapolis was the first of several Twin Cities congregations last year to stop performing civil marriage ceremonies as long as gay marriage is illegal. These churches, and a handful of others around the country that took the same step, will still hold a religious ceremony to bless the unions of straight and gay couples - but straight couples must go separately to a judge or justice of the peace for the marriage license.

This seems like a phenomenally good idea, one which will hopefully encourage other churches to mark the difference between church and state and defuse the 'gay marriage issue.' If a couple wants to form a legal contract that will allow them to take advantage of the legal benefits of marriage, they can get a civil ceremony. If they want that civil union blessed by whatever deity to whom they direct their prayers, they can find a like-minded church to bless their union. If you don't like the unions that one particular religious organization is or isn't blessing, go to another or stick to the civil ceremony. The A.P. puts it this way:'s a new strategy for achieving legal gay marriage, with supporters hoping to push toward a society that views civil and religious marriage as separate institutions.

"There's a real shift going on here where I think more and more people are recognizing the distinction, that what the state offers and the church offers are two different things," said the Rev. Mark Wade, pastor of the 540-member Unitarian Universalist Church in Asheville, N.C.

Last year, Wade stopped signing marriage licenses, and now speaks of it as a stand for the separation of church and state. "We tell couples to go to the magistrate," Wade said. "I felt I couldn't serve an unjust law. That didn't make any sense to me."

So, logical arguments in favor of tolerance coming from... churches. It's really different, but I like it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Gay marriage, so shiny!"

As you know, lesbians love Jon Stewart. Really, they do - this is what they are saying about him at After Ellen:

Since taking over as host of Comedy Central's Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has made "fake news" a part of the cultural vernacular. He has demonstrated that there's a market for smart, political commentary — as long as it also makes people laugh. And he has shown that being really angry can also be really funny.

Fortunately for us, one of the things that makes him angriest — and funniest — is injustice against the queer community.

And now you can watch lots of good pro lesbian rights bits of the Daily Show that the After Ellen crowd has compiled for us, to keep us cheery during these dark days of the writer's strike. My personal favorite, a lesbian centric This Week in God:

The After Ellen-ites left out my favorite Sam Bee moment though, which you can find here. Happy Tuesday, folks!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Saudi Women Protest Victim's Sentencing, and the Innocent Woman is Freed

Because heroism should be celebrated, I want to mention the good has come from the bravery of the Saudi women who protested when a rape victim was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for "...being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape." The female victim has been "pardoned" - like Jessica from Feministing, I put the word pardoned in quotes "...because I can't bring myself to repeat rhetoric that frames this woman as somehow guilty of something." It is unclear if the Saudi woman's male companion, who was also raped and was sentenced 90 lashes, has also been released.

While the BBC points out that "The justice ministry recently rejected what it saw as 'foreign interference," it has to be remembered that Saudi women themselves were protesting the sentence, and it took far more courage for them to object than it took any foreigner to condemn.

Hopefully we can be as brave when injustices face us from within our own societies.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

One Amazing Women

With 2007 coming to a close, I would like to submit an excellent feel good story. I found out about this amazing woman at However, I would like to link to this article for a more complete picture. What an inspiration!

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Movie Watching Plans, Twarted

I very much want to see Juno, but I can't seem to find that there are any plans to ever show it in Atlanta-area theaters. Perhaps this is because there is no teen pregnancy in GA, so the issues the film raises simply don't need to be discussed 'round these parts. So... a road trip is in order. Until then, here's the trailer:

Women Can Be: Sexy-Smart, Sexy-Funny, and Sexy-Tough on TV!

Friday Feminist Funny - from The Onion:

Evangeline Lilly Wins 'Best Wet T-Shirt Fight Scene' At Strong Women In TV Awards

(via Shameless)

KBR's Rape Cover-up and Kidnapping: How Do We Prosecute?

MarkH and I share a question:
Reading about the latest atrocity by KBR that is the cover up of a rape of a US citizen by its contractors (apparently one of many), I ask the lawyers a question. Surely there is enough on KBR (formerly known as the evil wing of Halliburton - now independent) now to get a RICO indictment on them, correct?
(You can read about RICO - The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act here). ABC News has been updating the story as new details emerge, and Pandagon has been discussing the case as well. Yet, it this is the first you're hearing of it, ABC reports that a 22-year-old KBR employee was raped by her coworkers and, after reporting the incident:
...the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.
Jones eventually managed to convince one of the guards to grant her one phone call, and called her father. Her father then contacted their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, who worked with the State Department to rescue Jones:
Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones' camp, where they rescued her from the container.
MarkH cuts to the chase, asking how we can finally get government contracted KBR for the many atrocities they've committed abroad:
I realize they do this all overseas where they apparently enjoy complete immunity from anything ranging from fraud to cannibalism... Where's the law and order? This poor woman gets raped, and then after reporting it imprisoned in a shipping crate by KBR. Probably the only reason she didn't end up in a shallow grave in the desert is she got a cell phone call in to her father who then contacted their congressman and the state department.

And what is with this arbitration nonsense? At a certain point, such as after gang rape, your contract with your company is no longer valid and you get to sue them in federal court for civil rights abuse.

So, feminist lawyers - how should this case proceed? There are obviously criminal charges to be filed against the rapists, and the company has been complicit in covering up the crime. Racketeering - check (kidnapping). Corrupt organization - check. So - RICO?

UPDATE: Here is the AP story about Wednesday's Congressional Hearing. Apparently other women have come forward with charges of rape and sexual harassment by fellow KBR employees, and one woman was fired after filing a complaint. The Justice Department chose not to attend, drawing some criticism from some members of Congress.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Don't Call the Lawyers 'Sweetie Pie,' Pumpkin

Of Council tells the (very satisfying) story of a condescending good 'ol boy lawyer getting his comeuppance:
The short version is that a lawyer during a deposition called opposing counsel “hon” and referenced her “cute little thing going on.” ... His excuses are somewhat pitiful. He claims, of course, they were said “out of context” and had the nerve to say that he meant “Hun” as in Attila, not “hon” as in honey. He repeatedly called her “girl” and overall seemed to be a big fat jerk. The Judge in the case ordered he be supervised at all future depositions.
Like Maggie, I get this sort of treatment all the time. And like her, I have no problem with it when the stranger calling me 'darling' is some well-meaning octogenarian. But I'm glad that this sort of smiling sexism, used to belittle someone because of their sex or perceived age, was called out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Huckabee: Super Plus Sexist Crazy

Via Kos:

Huckabee's opinion on gay marriage is out there, but we should also be publicizing Huckabee's opinions on heterosexual marriage. Specifically, what he believes about a women's role in a marriage.

In August of 1998, Huckabee was one of 131 signatories to a full page USA Today Ad which declared: "I affirm the statement on the family issued by the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention." What was in the family statement from the SBC? "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."

The ad wasn't just a blanket, "we support the SBC statement," but rather highlighted details. The ad Huckabee signed specifically said of the SBC family statement: "You are right because you called wives to graciously submit to their husband's sacrificial leadership."

Add "graciously submit" to his "Take back the nation for Christ" statement, and if the media does its job, he's well on his way to being toast.

Can anyone even tell me what 'sacrificial leadership' is? Anyone want to bet on the likelihood that the 'media does its job'? Is Mike 'the Wignut' Huckabee going to win his party's nomination because Republicans think that Chuck Norris is sexy?

UPDATE: Pandagone sites a GQ article in which Crazy Huck states that "There’s never been a civilization that has rewritten what marriage and family means and survived." So, he's scared that the gays and the liberated women will END CIVILIZATION by tweaking our definitions of marriage.

Also, Huck once advocated isolating AIDS patients, writing "[i]f the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague" in 1992 while simultaneously suggesting that AIDS research be privately funded rather than receiving federal support.

Huckabee also thinks that scientifically speaking, this whole global warming thing might be "overblown."

Super crazy. And, as Casmall points out in the comments, he's doing better and better in Iowa. Scary.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Best Post on Sarah Vowell, Marketing, Christmas, and The Golden Compass to be Published This Morning:

In The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell taught me that the best way to sell anything is by letting people know that it is the best thing - of its kind. And the best way of doing that is to mix broad superlative claims (and never underestimate the power of the word 'best') with some very detailed couching. For example, I could say that Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot is simply the best book to be penned by a New York City dwelling Okie during the early part of the 21st century! Or that Second Innocence is absolutely the best, most thought-provoking feminist blog to to be published out of of northeastern Atlanta by University of Virginia graduates!

This skill is particularly important during the holiday season, since it always feels a bit yucky to lie to your grandma. Now, though, when she give you a hideous sweater on Christmas day you can truthfully say, "Grams, this is simply the loveliest orange sweater that anyone has ever purchased from Target for me!" This superlative clause + detail clause structure is also useful in grant writing.

This new knowledge of spin craft has saved me, for I was thinking that, after months of promoting The Golden Compass, I was not going to be able to review it for SI readers. But now I can tell you that a group of us went to see it this weekend, and I am happy to inform you that it is simply the most wonderful fantasy film set in a parallel universe which stars Nicole Kidman to be released this December!

Sarah Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot really should be read by everyone though, no couching required.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sex Sells... Sobriety?

Perhaps they have good intentions, but this 'ambient ad' from Arrive Alive makes me feel nauseated. A half passed-out young woman in an otherwise all-male space does make me worry, but not about traffic accidents. Can the makers of this ad seriously hope that this will serve as a warning against the dangers of drunk driving? Why sexualize the intoxicated lass who is supposed to show us the error of our ways? Why the provocative pose? For that matter, if the ad is to be placed in the men's bathroom, wouldn't it be more effective to use a male model who would more closely resemble the supposed target audience? Perhaps the point is that if you see this image as anything other than grossly inappropriate, then you are too intoxicated to reach for your keys?

Seem a bit more like fun with voyeurism than a genuine attempt to get people to evaluate their own sobriety before getting into a car. But hey, as long as we can moralize while we objectify, it's OK, right? (Via Jezebel)

Friday, December 7, 2007

So, Are We Adults Now?

MarkH of Denialism is defending his thesis about now, and will soon be MarkH, PhD. His description of the academic experience is both funny and insightful, and young scientists and scholars everywhere should really go read it. Actually, everyone should go read it. Now.

Clever, wasn't it? Yet, as happy as I am for all my buddies earning spiffy grown-up degrees, it has made me realize that we're, like, adults now or something. I've graduated from the young feminist club and must now go with the adjective-free feminist. And, as Sarah Vowell explains in The Partly Cloudy Patriot, that means that sooner or later we'll all be dead because:
...being a grown-up for real means you're getting old and getting old means you are definitely, finally, totally going to die. My mother is a grandmother and my sister is a mother and I have decided the dressing will be yellow this year, therefore, we'll all be dead someday. (p. 13)
Actually, I've never made dressing before, nor made any decision about the preparation of any meal, so perhaps I can avoid acknowledging death for another year or so.

But here's my question, can one still be a grrrl when the term girl no longer applies?

Congratulations, Mark!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Microscopes for Lads, Discovery Diamond Scopes for Lasses

Yeah, you thought it couldn't get any worse when you saw the pink monopoly, didn't you? But then PZ asked:
...but what is the Discovery Channel Store's excuse? Here's what they advertise as appropriate science gifts for boys:
  • Cube Word Series 2 Set ("Create your very own interactive world")
  • Discovery ATM Machine ("This at-home ATM is an excellent way to learn about saving money.")
  • Discovery Radio Controlled Arthropods
  • Virtual Distance Football
  • Discovery Star Theater

And here's what the girls get:

  • Rainbow In My Room
  • Discovery Sew Fun Sewing Machine
  • Discovery Pink Slide and Text Messengers ("Chat with your friends wirelessly and transmit text messages up to 15' away.")
  • Discovery Diamond Dust Microscope
  • Discovery Fashion Design Studio
I looked it up. It's all true - go see for yourself. Discovery Channel, you got some 'splain to do!

But, it is nice to realize that, despite corporate efforts to keep girls away from science, our young women are taking home the prizes at the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology this year (Via Feministing).

Feminist Poem of the Day

I was first introduced to the work of Alfonsina Storni when her poem “Tú me quieres blanca” was added to the syllabus of a Spanish 202 course I was teaching. It was love at first read, and have been teaching these verses in language and literature classes ever since. You can find an English translation of Alfonsina Storni’s “Tú me quieres blanca” here, along with a brief biography.

Tú me quieres blanca

Tú me quieres alba,
Me quieres de espumas,
Me quieres de nácar.
Que sea azucena
Sobre todas, casta.
De perfume tenue.
Corola cerrada

Ni un rayo de luna
Filtrado me haya.
Ni una margarita
Se diga mi hermana.
Tú me quieres nívea,
Tú me quieres blanca,
Tú me quieres alba.

Tú que hubiste todas
Las copas a mano,
De frutos y mieles
Los labios morados.
Tú que en el banquete
Cubierto de pámpanos
Dejaste las carnes
Festejando a Baco.
Tú que en los jardines
Negros del Engaño
Vestido de rojo
Corriste al Estrago.

Tú que el esqueleto
Conservas intacto
No sé todavía
Por cuáles milagros,
Me pretendes blanca
(Dios te lo perdone),
Me pretendes casta
(Dios te lo perdone),
¡Me pretendes alba!

Huye hacia los bosques,
Vete a la montaña;
Límpiate la boca;
Vive en las cabañas;
Toca con las manos
La tierra mojada;
Alimenta el cuerpo
Con raíz amarga;
Bebe de las rocas;
Duerme sobre escarcha;
Renueva tejidos
Con salitre y agua;
Habla con los pájaros
Y lévate al alba.
Y cuando las carnes
Te sean tornadas,
Y cuando hayas puesto
En ellas el alma
Que por las alcobas
Se quedó enredada,
Entonces, buen hombre,
Preténdeme blanca,
Preténdeme nívea,
Preténdeme casta.
Storni was an amazing poet and feminist, and quite ahead of her time (and perhaps ours). For more of her poems in Spanish, visit Los Poetas. Does anyone else have a favorite piece of feminist art or literature?

UPDATE: More feminist poetry - right here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Golden Compass... Much Ado

This message was waiting in my inbox for me this morning, forwarded to me by our school secretary:
Yesterday, I was handed a children's book by a staff member who said, "I think you need to see
this." The book is published by Scholastic and is part of a collection of books. The book I was given is called The Golden Compass. This children's book is one of the most alarming things I have ever read. What makes it worse is that a movie based on the book premieres in December. Both the book and the movie introduce atheism to children. The story ends with Adam and Eve killing God. THIS IS A MOVIE THAT WE MUST PROTEST AND OPPOSE AS CHRISTIANS.
As I have mentioned (a few times) before, I am excited about the release of The Golden Compass, a film adaptation of the novel by Philip Pullman. Lyra, the protagonist and a (gasp!) girl, is an appealing character with whom children of both sexes will readily identify, and Mrs. Coulter is a memorable villain. Yet, I do not want to draw you to the ticket window under false pretenses - the movie, while promising some charming feminist fun, is going to be far more vanilla than the concerned Rev. Cutshall would have you believe.

Cutshall is, unfortunately, either lying about having read the books, or in his portrayal of their plot; for (Spoiler Alert) Adam and Eve do not kill God... nobody really kills God. In the final book of the trilogy, an aged god-like angel called The Authority merely dissipates happily into thin air under the watch of two characters who are prophesied to be the next Eve and her Adam (yet, they hardly live up to their hype). Trust me, it would have made for a much better story had the children had some more active role, but perhaps Pullman chickened-out (I think the second two books in the trilogy are far inferior to the first). Although Pullman has apparently asserted that he is "...trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief," the books fail at that rather sweeping goal. They might, however, prompt readers to do some questioning of religious institutions and dogmatism, which would be refreshing.

So, the movie will be released 'round these parts on Friday. Anyone interested in going with me to see it this weekend?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Go Git 'Em Angela!

It is so refreshing to see a world political leader, a female leader at that, stepping up to the plate when others seem hesitant to do so. A coworker of mine always says that we need to be wary of the Germans as they can still take over the world. You know what, if the idea of taking over the world means challenging said world to do the right thing, then I am on board.