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Guest post: Behold the squabbling activists!

June 30th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Note: This is a guest post by Miranda of Women’s Glib, an awesome young feminist blogger of whom I’ve been a fan for a while (isn’t that blog title priceless?). Got a great idea for a guest post? Email me at nona@girl-drive.com.

Cross-posted at Women’s Glib

You might have heard about the Reproductive Health Act. In fact, I hope you have, because I’ve been writing about it incessantly since the creation of my blog. It’s an awesome and necessary bill that I, personally, me, this person right here who is in high school and not a paid lobbyist, have been invested in for the past two years.

The bill will update New York State’s abortion law for the first time since Roe. It will remove abortion from the criminal code, where the right to choose is stated as an exception to homicide, and put it into the public health code where it belongs. Perhaps most importantly, the bill will permit late-term abortions not only if a woman’s life is in danger, but also in cases where her health is threatened. When the RHA is passed, New York’s women will no longer have to rely on federal legislation to protect our fundamental right to choose; no matter what happens on the national level, our rights will be covered.

People have been talking about the RHA a lot recently because the state legislative session is likely to end soon, as soon as the state budget is passed. (Once the session ends, the senators won’t come back to work until January.) Though the budget is top priority, the senators have been discussing and passing other legislation in the meantime, so it’s not unfeasible that the RHA might be introduced before the end of the session.

There’s another layer of complexity with this bill: different advocacy groups have different ideas about the most effective lobbying methods. Some groups, like NARAL Pro-Choice New York (which — full disclosure — I volunteer with and love), are calling for the bill to be introduced as soon as possible, even if it doesn’t get passed during this session. The idea behind this is that pro-choice organizations and voters will know where their representatives stand on choice issues, and hold accountable those who say they are pro-choice but vote otherwise. This is especially important because this fall is election season. Other groups, most notably Family Planning Advocates of New York State, would rather wait to introduce the bill until it is very likely to pass.

[Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: Girls with Drive · Guest Blogger · Young women and politics

New York City: Trust Women benefit

June 28th, 2010 · No Comments

Are you going to be around NYC tomorrow? Then come to this happy hour, featuring lotsa ladies from the feministosphere like Irin Carmon and much of the Jezebel crew, Steph Herold from I Am Dr. Tiller, Chloe Angyal from Feministing, Megan Carpentier from TPM, Shelby Knox, and of course, moi.

Irin and Steph hatched the idea of this happy hour when a similar fundraising effort was sparsely attended, due to the high price tag. This one is more affordable for the young and/or struggling: a sliding fee scale starting at $15. Donations benefit Trust Women PAC, an organization that works to protect the rights of abortion providers and fights anti-choice legislation.

Here are the deets:

When: Tuesday, June 29, 6-9pm
Where: 4th Ave Pub, Brooklyn (76 4th Ave, between Bergen St & St Marks Pl)
Subways: B/Q/2/3/4/5 (Atlantic Ave Station), D/M/R/N (Pacific St Station).

Buy your ticket here. See yall there.

→ No CommentsTags: Girls with Drive · Grass Routes

Modern Lady: Beer Ads

June 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

Sarah Haskins, who did Target Women and is one of my fave female comedians (and who has sold two screenplays!), left Current TV a few months ago. But she has a replacement! Erin Gibson, doing Modern Lady. She recently crafted a takedown of beer commercials–check it out below. I know, I know, easy target, but some of these are just…even WORSE than I remember!

→ No CommentsTags: This Is Hilarious · Young Women in the Media

How To Lose Your Virginity

June 21st, 2010 · 1 Comment

You know how feminists, including yours truly, have been begging for that nuanced convo about sex, for that place between “virgin” and “whore”? Since years and even decades ago?

Well, Therese Schechter, of whom I’ve been a fan since “I Was A Teenage Feminist,” is hard at work doing just that in filmic form. Her new doc, “How To Lose Your Virginity,” examines our culture’s obsession with being virginal. The journey kicks off when Therese herself starts planning her wedding and realizes that, “like many modern brides, I have no business wearing white.”

Check out the trailer:

From the website:

[The film's] true target is idealized, fetishized virginity: its historical role in U.S. culture, its power to mold and damage a girl’s self-image and self-worth; its commodification as something manufactured, sold, given away, taken…

…What is behind this strange American cultural moment where Disney starlets flaunt purity rings while writhing on stripper poles, brothels hold million-dollar virginity auctions, and artificial hymens can be had for $30 on Chinese websites?

Therese plays the audience’s navigator, decoding a landscape of conflicting and hypocritical messages about what it means to be a ‘good girl’ or a ‘bad girl’ – and why it matters. In the end, she follows the white organza road, not only to her own non-white wedding, but also to a place where young women can have open, non-judgmental conversations about their own sexuality.

I’ve been waiting for this movie to come out for a while–I talked about it on Girldrive back in 2008. The doc is THISCLOSE from having all the funding it needs, and Therese is busting her ass to raise all of it before July! Go here to help out. Even $10 will make a difference–they’re missing less than $2500.

We direly need more people questioning our blinding worship of the intact hymen (or whatever virginity is). So let’s make sure this film gets finished!

ALSO: Check out the companion blog, The American Virgin.

→ 1 CommentTags: Girls with Drive · Grass Routes · Stop chastising young people · Young Women in the Media

Guest series: Young women in theater

June 16th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Note: Aphra Behn, the artistic director of Guerrilla Girls On Tour, has been guest-blogging on women in theater. Have a great idea for a guest series? Email me at nona@girl-drive.com.

Aphra’s note: As a guest blogger on Girldrive this week, I’ll share an interview I did with three young women that I met at our last Guerrilla GALa – the annual networking event for women in theatre in New York City.  They are playwright Mariah MacCarthy; actress and producer Chance Parker; and performer and director Drae Campbell.

APHRA: I’d like to get a sense of your background – Do you have a degree in theatre and if so, do you think having a degree helps?

MARIAH: I have a BS in theater from Skidmore College. A degree in theater isn’t a must, but pretty much everything I’ve done in New York was as a result of the connections I made at Skidmore (mostly with alumni who graduated long before I attended) and my training definitely affected my style – for the better, I think.  Also, most of the plays I’ve had professionally produced started as projects at Skidmore.  I think college is important for theater as long as it gives you an environment to take risks without the monetary/time constrictions of professional theater. But not many people will give a crap about your theater degree once you’re out, so if you’re just doing it for your resume, don’t bother (unless you’re going to Yale or something).

CHANCE: I have an advanced diploma in acting and theater from The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Washington, DC.  I don’t know if a degree is 100% necessary, but having a strong foundation is.

DRAE: I have a BFA from the University Of The Arts in Philadelphia. I don’t think a degree is a must if you’re serious about learning, listening and paying your dues. But I think some kind of degree is practical and helpful. [Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: Girls with Drive · Guest Blogger

If only there were blogs in 1997, or The Seventeen magazine project

June 14th, 2010 · No Comments

I’ve often said that my feminist “click” moment was the day I wrote a fuck-you letter to Seventeen magazine, informing them that their magazine made me feel like total shit. At the age of 13, I was already making lists of the beauty products I needed, weighing myself obsessively, cutting out pictures of my future prom dress, and attempting to somehow transform my curly, unruly hair into The Rachel. Thank the heavens I finally snapped out of it. BUST, Bitch, Sassy, and reruns of My So-Called Life suited me much better.

Fast-forward to 2010: Channelling Robyn Okrant, an 18-year-old from Pennsylvania named Jamie is spending a month following all the advice that Seventeen doles out to young women. Purpose: to “shed some light on the modern teenage experience.” (Jamie admits she’s probably too self-aware for it to actually affect her. Just think of this as a SuperSize Me for teen girls.)

From the blog:

I got to thinking about the role of beauty/fashion magazines in society, and the industry’s intentions. Obviously, teen magazines are not intended to serve as manuals for better living. An informal poll of my friends indicated that roughly 0% of the girls I associate with actually apply the advice they get from magazines to their daily life. Save for the occasional “My-Ear-Got-Deformed-From-A-Cartilage-Piercing” horror story, however, these magazines offer little more than exhaustive lists of how to become cuter/hotter/thinner/fitter/healthier/more popular/etc. So if nobody is applying these supposedly life-changing tips, why are people still buying these magazines? (Cue inevitable: “They’re not… print media is dead!”) Are we really entertained by lists of makeup tips and pictures of girls in intensely-layered ensembles that we aren’t likely to wear? (Guilty pleasure answer: Yes?)

More importantly though, what would happen if an actual teenager were to apply all of these “tips and tricks” to her life? Would it actually improve? Would she actually become cuter/hotter/thinner/fitter/healthier/more popular? Do embodying these traits even make one’s life more fulfilling?

Jamie goes on to call teen magazines “a dying aspect of teen culture,” which truly makes me feel old, but more importantly strikes me as hopeful. With all growing number of feminist teen blogs and orgs out there, who needs a glossy that repeatedly tells you there’s something wrong with you?
via.

→ No CommentsTags: Girls with Drive · Young Women in the Media

A feminist perspective on one-night stands…

June 9th, 2010 · No Comments

…mine, to be exact. I know this is lame to just keep posting FemWeds stuff–I promise I will do more “real” posts soon! But for now, check out my convo with Jack Calhoun on one-night stand etiquette. Hint: men and women aren’t all that different!

One night stands

→ No CommentsTags: Overheard in Chicago

Jaclyn Friedman on Feminist Wednesday

June 3rd, 2010 · 1 Comment

Jaclyn Friedman, director of Women, Action & the Media and Yes Means Yes, was our guest last week on Molly’s and my radio show, Feminist Wednesday. We discussed rape culture and, on a lighter note, dating while feminist. Of course, Brian gets all riled up–sometimes I feel like he’s just trying to be argumentative, but judge for yourself:

Jaclyn Friedman on Feminist Wednesday

Molly, Brian and I talk feminism and lady news every Wednesday at 9 a.m. on 89.5FM in Chicago–stream the show at Vocalo.org.

→ 1 CommentTags: Girls with Drive

Guest series: Guerrilla Girls On Tour

June 1st, 2010 · No Comments

Note: Aphra Behn, the artistic director of Guerrilla Girls On Tour, will write several guest-posts on women in theater in the next month or so. Have a great idea for a guest series? Email me at nona@girl-drive.com.

In 2001, the anonymous/activist group Guerrilla Girls, founded in 1985, split into three new and independent groups. One of the groups that resulted in the “banana split” is Guerrilla Girls On Tour! With two other theatre artists (Hallie Flanagan and Lorraine Hansberry *) I formed Guerrilla Girls On Tour!  As members of Guerrilla Girls and we had initiated actions against sexism in the theatre with sticker campaigns, fax blitzes, street protests and posters like “Oh! The Joys of Being a Woman Playwright.”

To continue that mission, Guerrilla Girls On Tour became a 26-member touring comedy theater company of diverse women who travel the world with new performances that taking a hilarious look at the current state of women in the arts and beyond.  A good portion of our touring takes us to college campuses where we host workshops with young women on creating street theatre and performance art.

As a guest blogger on the Girl Drive site, I’ll talk about the current state of women in theatre by interviewing young women in New York City, our home base; share with you some stats on current sexism in theatre and end with thoughts about the TONY awards (airing on CBS June 13) and how they point to discrimination in US theatre. [Read more →]

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Is our generation “correcting” sexual freedom?

May 29th, 2010 · 3 Comments

After you read this trio of articles by Slate/Double X editor Jessica Grose, it’s clear that at least some millenials are. Grose posits that there’s a “shame cycle,” that each generation tries to correct. She says that our generation is more judgmental and wary of “sluttification,” and more likely to regret sexual experiences.

From her article “The Shame Cycle”:

The current raft of regret seems to be a response to the Girls Gone Wild archetype of the late ’90s and early aughts. Ariel Levy described the new era’s version of sex positive in Female Chauvinist Pigs, “a tawdry, tarty, cartoonlike version of female sexuality has become so ubiquitous, it no longer seems particular.” We were supposed to dance on tables like Paris Hilton and wear ass-baring chaps and hump the floor like 22-year-old Christina Aguilera did in her “Dirrrty” video, or at least find that sort of thing appealing, otherwise we were marmish prudes. We were supposed to go to strip clubs and wear Playboy necklaces around our necks—as Sex and the City star Carrie Bradshaw did.

But after a while, we did not really want to do any of those things anymore, as Tina Fey explained in an interview with Vogue earlier this year. We have been handed “a sort of Spice Girls’ version of feminism. We’re supposed to be wearing half-shirts and jumping around. And, you know, maybe that’s not panning out.” Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis was put in jail. Christina Aguilera married a nice Jewish boy and had a baby. She’s been replaced on the pop charts by 19-year-old virginal chanteuse Taylor Swift, who sings chaste love songs about Romeo and Juliet. Paris Hilton is rarely in the tabloids and we haven’t seen her nether regions in years. Finally, the fictional Carrie Bradshaw is wed and living a New York domestic fantasy.

… [But] women are not quite ready to admit that we are ready to be domesticated again. But the Girls Gone Wild model doesn’t appeal much either. Caught between the false liberation of the last decade and the fervent conservatism of the new one, it makes some sense that Hephzibah Anderson called the whole thing off for a year. It’s much easier than dealing with the shame cycle.

Go read the whole thing; Grose doesn’t explicitly dig for solutions, but the idea of trying to find a sexual medium rather than violently swinging back and forth within a generation is something I’ve been contemplating for years.

UPDATE: Lena Chen responds to Grose’s “Rethinking Virginity” piece at the DoubleX blog, calling the article a “huge misrepresentation.” After reading both, I do agree that her personal position is different (and that, judging by posts like these, the ‘Rethinking Virginity’ conference was not exactly chaste). But I do think the Grose article contains an invaluable account of our generation’s chastising reactions to promiscuity and “oversharing.” This latest piece begs the question more than any: can we finally throw out these damaging virgin-whore complexes and move toward nuanced, constructive convos about sex?

→ 3 CommentsTags: Generations