Thursday, April 19, 2007

new page

FYI I've switched over to wordpress.

it's kinda hot, in my opinion.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Feminism & Punk Spirit

From: The Punk Professor, Vivien Goldman on BBC America:

Assignment # 1: I'd be interested to know if - and how - you see the spirit of true punk in action around you, wherever you are.

Punk is actually something pretty new to me. My musical journey has been one with a lot of strange stops. First it was the top 40 stuff, because while my dad liked the classics he certainly did not try to influence my taste. (however it is thanks to him that I like the Cars.) After I discovered an alternative music station I fell head over heels in love w/ it. 103.9, KUWL fm, it used to be. If I knew the names of the radio djs I loved I would contact them and be like, Thank you so much! It's ridiculous how much that radio station influenced me. But I won't dwell on that. We left Alaska (where that station was) and after that my music taste went pretty undeveloped. I liked random stuff, and I could be found watching the German music channels, Viva and (then) Viva Zwei (I think now it's viva plus). Kinda like MTV & MTV2 only they were a lot better. It was during this period that I found H.I.M. and Placebo & Muse (this was way before Time is Running Out.) I also found German bands such as Die Toten Hosen, Die Aerzte and The Guano Apes (who have the best BEST video to this day. Just ain't nothin' like it.) And near the end of my stay in germany, this was the most popular song. I remember the german section of my school one day (it was divided into sections-there was the american section, the German section and the *cough* Canadian section) during the carnival season went through the school in one of those dance lines singing this song. a bunch of the people in my class and others joined the line. It was funny.
so after Germany my taste begins to get slightly more refined. Remember how I mentioned H.I.M.? well, a wonderful brilliant cousin of mine soon introduced me to Nightwish and Lacuna Coil. And then in 2005 I went to Ozzfest where I saw Arch Enemy. And sometime between having been introduced to Nightwish & going to Ozzfest I discovered the Gathering. Then sometime last year I decided my library (full as it was of metal and and other such music.) was rather depressing. and I needed happy music. Now it should be known that I stopped listening to the radio around 2004, when I transferred here to UNC.CH. so everything I have discovered has come via recommendations/hearing about the bands. One of the first bands I got to help make my library happy: Metric. Note that unlike the bubble-gum disposable pop that makes the pop industry, this is actually good. So yeah. that's pretty much set the standards on my pop consumption since. It's not pop in the popular sense, it's pop in terms of the sound: Catchy, light (but not necessarily light in terms of lyrics. Listen to Metric enough & you'll get what I mean) and Danceable.

So, this has gone on a long time and I haven't even addressed the question. Well, I'm getting there. Right now I'm in the midst of another phase. My punk/riot grrrl phase. (a word about my 'phases' later, because this word makes everything sound so temporary) I recently discovered Patti Smith, who I have an entry about earlier in this blog. such a phenomenal woman. And I also recently discovered the riot grrrl movement. So here's where the punk comes in and here is what I have learned. First of all-fuck advertising, 'girl power' cannot be sold ( but between this and talking with a local band, the Midtown Dickens, it doesn't take a natural born superstar to pick up an instrument and play. It just takes a desire to learn, a desire to make something beautiful, something relevant, something important. (doesn't have to be beautiful. in terms of what came out of the riot grrrl movement, the music was far from beautiful. it was hello-i'm-fuckin'-angry-and-sick-of-this-bullshit, it was I-have-never-ever-played-an-instrument-before, but-damnit-if-that's-gonna-keep-me-from-it.
Many of those women learned how to play their instruments throughout their career. and that's the thing. they did end up developing, and getting better. and that rocks. :)
I wish I had known more about them in my Alaska period (which is around the time this stuff was reaching it's peak.)
If I had, maybe I would've picked up an instrument. Maybe when one of my friends told me and another friend that we should start a band I wouldn't have laughed it off and said, "Me, I can't play anything!"
But here's the thing: because of what I've discovered I am more than ever determined to make sure I learn an instrument. maybe not now...I certainly don't have much I can do at this point in time, but it's a thing I really want to do. There's a "ladie's rock camp" in portland, oregon. I'm pretty sure I wanna hit that up sometime. (I also want to make sure my sisters go to the girl's rock camp, but that's another story.) (oh and these girls seriously have the BEST big sister ever. once I get a job, I'm pretty sure my money will go to my rent, my loans, my groceries, and them. and maybe a music show or two if there's any left.eep.)

Anyway, let's just say that discovering the riot grrrl (which is a subset of punk! so it works for the initial question) has been a wonderful enlightening thing for me.
I do think that for a while I was kind of lost on the the way that I didn't feel like there was anything there. Now I've gotten back to this almost whimsical optimism. I think I have some idea. I do want to write for some alternative weekly (hopefully the Salt Lake City Weekly! I should comment on their blog and see if they'll come visit mine!), I want to learn music and I want to make sure that my words are in fact being put to some good use. Like with music I don't think one has to be naturally gifted. if you are naturally gifted and don't do anything about it, it's not going to do you a lot of good anyway. I think everyone has the ability to write, it just takes learning.
Oh--and about the phases thing. While I said that my musical growth has gone through a period of phases I want to emphasize that this does not mean what I liked in one phase is gone forever. I still love The Gathering and Opeth, I still love Metric and b/c of my AK phase I love Ani diFranco's Little Plastic Castles and I love the Squirrel Nut Zipper's song "afterlife" (the AK story is something different)... and I will always love Patti Smith, Joan Jett & the riot grrrl bands such as Bikini Kill & heavens to betsy and sleater-kinney...the list goes on.
anyway, yeah.
that is my excessively long blog post on music. I had to get it out at some point, you know?

Monday, April 2, 2007

human or the 'other'?

I don't honestly think I'll write too much tonight. I do have a bunch of other stuff I need to work on plus I need sleep.
However some things do need to be said.

This past weekend was the Unity Conference at UNC-CH. This is, I believe, one of the biggest GLBTIQ conferences in the south-east, and it's put on by a college.

The weekend events and workshops were all really cool, but Sunday something happened that I wasn't present for but heard about from people who were at the morning workshop sessions. That same weekend, another organization was having a conference. I believe it was Model United Nations. Anyway they noticed the names of some of the workshops and gathered outside the hall and began chanting homophobic things. At one room they began pounding on the door. The director of the conference and the attendees were appalled. I discovered this at the event later that day, around 1:40, when the director of the conference (also a student at UNC) mentioned the occurence.
He had talked to the director, he said, and they intend to address the issue of homophobia and apologize at their keynote speaker event.
Behind me, I heard a jaded comment. "Yeah right."

I don't know how to say what I want to say in any different terms than anyone else has. I wish people would seriously look at how they treat each other and how they address people.
I think there is a serious tendency for us to think of the world in US vs. THEM terms. There's also a tendency to see people in "other" terms. This is most obvious with race. White=the normal skin color. Any differentiation from average white characteristics become "other" and in some minds becomes "less than."
I'm going to leave a link here that will address this issue from the point of view of personal experiences. If you read this blog, then go to this site and read the comments. (I mean read--not skim.)
And definitely think about whether you've ever been hurt by something someone has said to you regarding gender or sexuality --and in addition to that think of whether you have done any of the hurting.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
-Elie Wiesel

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Musical Thursdays!!

As a woman in love with music, I can't help but to love sharing my musical passions. Just ask anyone who knows me. So here's the deal. Thursdays (rather than Wednesdays, since technically it is Thursday currently) I am going to post a video by an artist/band I particularly like/think everyone should know about. *edit, I can't figure out how to do the posting of the videos. so some links are included at the end of the entry, so check 'em out. this post will be pretty meaningless otherwise*
A forewarning--I am more or less interested in women in music, but that does not mean I will ignore everything else.
Also in addition to posting the video I will also give the context of the video in the best way that I can, which means an artist bio, why the artist is important, or the song, and why you should recognize them.

So. Today's installment:


"I don't have any other motivation than to do something great." Patti Smith to rock journalist, Susan Shapiro, 1975

After more than 30 years after she released her first album, Horses, a punk rock legend has finally received her due.

Patti Smith was among the 2007 inductees this March into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As Rage Against the Machine frontman Zach de la Rocha noted, "...Patti Smith, the poet, reavealed truth regardless of political consequences."

At the award ceremony, it was clear that she wasn't going to stay content with performing just her biggest hits--including "Because The Night" (co-written with Bruce Springsteen). Her third song was a politically conscious, hopeful punk tune titled "Rock & Roll Nigger."

"The future is now," Smith yells out, defiant to the core. Like any punk anthem, this one talked about being outside of society. However it wasn't a negative 'we're alone and there's nothing we can do about it' theme.

"We're alive!" Smith shouts, "we have the choice, we have free speech to celebrate--and take that positive energy and go change the world, we can start right now, we can build a new world--TONIGHT!" (I mighta gotten some of those misquoted...'twas hard to catch everything...!) As the song wraps up Smith turns to face the crowd and goes to the front of the stage.
"We salute the future" she said, and physically saluted. She bowed, and walked off the stage. (You can watch this! just check out the RR hall of fame site)

The journey to the R&R Hall of Fame has not been a short one--as evidenced by the time gap between her first album and the receiving of the honor. In the time between 1975 and 2007, Smith has accomplished a number of things. She has released several albums, including Easter, which contains "Because the Night," she has done artwork, poetry and she has been a mother and wife. She has had people come and she has seen the people she loved go. Her husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith passed away as did both her mother and father--making the acceptance of the award that much harder.

But accept it she did, and on the behalf of her husband, who told her in sometime before he passed away that she would certainly find her way to the Hall of Fame.

And indeed she did.

Listen to any album by Patti Smith and it will be unquestionable why she found her way there. Her voice is distinctive, and expressive. Listen to Because the Night closely and you will hear an impossible-to-miss emotion in the way she says the words, in where the breaks between words are, it all creates an effect.

Smith is indeed an inspiration. I will admit that last year I knew very little of her at all. But upon discovering her it is impossible to deny her talent, her ability. Her passion is unquestionable, and we should learn something from it, and live by that passion in our own lives.

The future IS ours. As the generation I'm a part to comes of age, it's harder to deny that we will soon be part of the bigger system, and we will have an ability to make things happen. Civil rights is not a fight that has finished.

Even the wife of Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, recognized this. We can make sure that glbtiq identified person's have equal rights. We can see that people are treated the same regardless of gender. I'm not saying we can change this overnight, but we can start the process.
And the time is now.

"I started out as a missionary, but I couldn't find a religion which didn't promise things to some people to the exclusion of others." --Patti Smith to rock journalist, Susan Shapiro, 1975

Some songs to check out:
Free Money
Because the Night

Monday, March 26, 2007

Re: Jesus Camp

Jesus Camp: a.k.a. Be Afraid—Be Very Afraid

So I just saw the documentary Jesus Camp. And it was eye opening. And shocking. I’d had a little bit of exposure before, because my neighbors in Goldsboro, NC were similar to the kids featured in Jesus Camp. The eldest girl, who was maybe 11, was all about this stuff. No Harry Potter or rock and roll for her. No jeans—they can wear these type of longer shorts (I can’t remember the name) and they went to church every Sunday and did the Sunday school thing… and in fact I believe their school was a part of the church.

Oh, and my sisters and I actually attended one of their children centered Sunday programs. Did I feel uncomfortable? You better believe it. But I did not then imagine what I saw on Jesus Camp.

To be fair what Jesus Camp illustrated was a pretty biased view. But the summer camp and those kids do exist. People like Becky Fischer do exist.

So I’m probably about to give spoilers in this—so if you think you may watch this and don’t want to know too much pre-seeing the film then please don’t read this.

Here’s the problem with what I’m seeing.

These children are not given a chance to be kids. Becky Fischer’s thought process is this: our enemies (read: Muslims) are using children as a primary fighting force with their religion, so why shouldn’t Christianity?

The kids are told things I would not tell my sister until she is ready to hear them. an example: the abortion issue.

These children are told without question that abortion is wrong. That the fetuses aborted could have been among them as good worshipping Christians. I understand abortion is a hugely controversial issue and do not want to turn this into a discussion about the issue.

What I want to say with this is that these kids are being exploited into being used for a cause they cannot fully understand. They do not understand every side of the issue, many because they are too young for it and those that would be old enough to grasp the complexities have not been told about the opposing sides.

I saw some kids used this way and have heard about it in other cases. Imagine being 7-years-old and being told something like this: “Those homosexuals are getting together to do sinful acts (Pride Parade) and you should come with me to tell them just how wrong this is, and how sinful this is.”

But apparently this is okay. As Becky Fischer notes, “every other religion is indoctrinating their kids" (so why shouldn't we?)

She also seems to think that equality is overrated.

“I think democracy is the greatest political system on earth, but that’s just it—it’s just what’s on earth and it’s ultimately designed to destroy itself because we have to give everyone equal freedom and ultimately that’s going to destroy us, you know, and so the perfect world is not going to be perfect until Jesus is Lord”

Now what is more scary than Becky Fischer?

The fact that these kids are being spoon-fed this.

One young girl, named Rachel, was so into this evangelical belief that her dream job would be that of a way to get people to listen to why they should accept religion.

“When I grow up I always thought it would be fun to be one of those people who paint nails and stuff because you would get a chance to tell people about the Lord, you know, with Christian music in the background…they wouldn’t have that many walls at that moment, they’d just be able to accept.”

And to those kids who didn’t necessarily think along the same lines, Becky Fischer would let them have it:

“There’s some kids here,” she begins, “who go to church all the time, but you’re one thing to your church and another thing when you’re at school with your friends—you’re a phony and a hypocrite. You do things you shouldn’t do, you talk dirty…and it’s time to clean up your act…because we can’t have phonies in the Army of God.”

There was a panel discussion after the screening of the film featuring quite a few religious people—faculty from the religious department, pastors and the most out of place panel member—a graduate student in the history department.

In fact, some students in a comment on the Facebook event wondered if perhaps this event was staged as a “damage control” kind of thing. I definitely don’t think it was that.

Some of the panelists, including a professor in the Religious Studies Department here at UNC, Dr Yaakov Ariel, had not seen the film until this screening. And he too was disturbed, but more on the account that he felt that the filmmakers assumptions were all too evident and not politically neutral.

While I, as I make blatantly clear to anyone who asks, am not religious, I am also not the kind of person who dismisses religion based on a documentary like this. I, as an educated person, am fully aware that there are nuances to every issue, and what one sees on the surface of an issue does not define the issue as a whole.

Evangelical Christians are not always this crazy. They don’t all leave their kids with feelings such as expressed by one of the children in the movie—“Whenever I run into a non-Christian, there’s always something that doesn’t seem right, that makes my spirit feel yucky.”

Some may even go against the conservative right and vote for liberal people.

It all depends on the people and the circumstances that they live in and how they practice their religion.

Some of the panelists made me uncomfortable, as they made clear that there was only one thing they thought was right. one such example was a campus minister, who in response to a comment concerning how people, in believing so strongly their beliefs, went to push their beliefs on others, admitted that he believed that there is indeed “one truth.”

“One is right and one is wrong.”

While he did agree that the film was sad—fear, he said, should not be used in such a way. “It’s sad to see people abusing the power of Jesus,” he said.

I understand that people have their beliefs and think they are more than welcome to them. But my problem lies with the people that think a)their belief is the only correct one and thus divides the people who believe as ‘us’ versus the nonbelievers—‘them’ and b)that those without their beliefs must be converted to believe the same, because what they think has no value because it is completely incorrect and thus contemptible.

One of the mothers of the children in the film summarized the us versus them idea.

“(It’s) us against them—you’re with us or against us,” she said calmly, having made just made a sandwich for lunch.

San Francisco—March 23, 2007. Hundreds of teenagers gathered at the City Hall to make their voices heard.

A good thing?

Sure, it’s nice to know that the youth are taking a stand.

But the question is—what is it they are standing up for?

The students were part of an organization known as BattleCry. A Christian organization headed by Ron Luce, it is little more than another version of Fischer’s Jesus Camp.

Here are my final words on this topic and then I am done. Completely.

It’s hard to bring rational thought into a belief when it is so tied to emotion and fear.

It’s hard to question one’s beliefs when a preacher is one that has the charisma to make you listen and to call you hypocrites and phonies and makes you feel wretched if you aren’t conforming. Face it, people do want acceptance, and unless they are given the opportunity or make an opportunity for them to get out of such a situation, they will stick with it, in order to belong.

And without some rational thought in one’s beliefs, I find it hard to respect their beliefs. I do respect Christians and otherwise religious people, but not if they are under the idea of blind faith. I respect those who have questioned their faith, have had a serious dialogue with themselves, the people they talk to, learn from, etc. I respect those that through that dialogue have come to understand what it really means to be religious in the modern century and have also come to the understanding that most religious, beneath it all, really are not that different. and that people are people, regardless of their faith, their skin color, their sexuality, their chasteness versus promiscuity.

Seriously people, wake UP. Learn to respect people.

And I will reiterate this quote upon finishing:


“I think democracy is the greatest political system on earth, but that’s just it—it’s just what’s on earth and it’s ultimately designed to destroy itself because we have to give everyone equal freedom and ultimately that’s going to destroy us, you know, and so the perfect world is not going to be perfect until Jesus is Lord”

Friday, February 23, 2007

Feminists vs. Humanists--what's in a name?

Labels. They’re everywhere. Whether we like it or not we are all labeled in certain ways. There are labels based on description: “man” “woman” “adult” “child” “blonde, blue eyed” and many others. There are those that define profession—“teacher” “white collar worker” or “police officer.” And then there are the contested labels, those that label you via your beliefs, be they political or spiritual.

Any one of these labels have a contested definition, one person’s definition will not be the same as another persons. Yet, there is a reason labels exist.

I’m a woman (not a girl). I’m a student and I’m white. I’m also a non-religious feminist.

Yes, I know the common perceptions of feminists. Feminists are angry, man-hating lesbians who don’t shave and would rather see their bras burnt in a bonfire than on their bodies. Feminists, some say, aren’t advocating for equal genders, they’re really trying to take over the world to prove that women are better than men!

Well, I’ve done my reading. I’ve read authors like Audre Lorde, Marilyn Frye and some bell hooks. I’ve got a lot more reading on my book list. And despite the negative connotations associated with feminism, I’m here to tell you that I am a feminist.

It’s not an easy thing to come out and admit. It is a lot like coming out—nowhere near as emotional, of course, but once you come out as a feminist, you’re not going to be looked at in the same way.

I recently came out to a friend I’ve had since high school. We’ve known each other for at least five years and despite going to different colleges in different states, we have kept in touch. I was idly telling him on messenger how I’d checked out a good number of books on the subject of feminism, and was stunned when I got his response:

“Feminism. Sigh. Will you be lost to this madness, too?”

I sat there in shock, staring at my computer screen wondering how to respond.

He added that he felt that one should look into a cause and know what the commitment is before committing oneself totally. If I had responded with my initial response, I’m sure I would be down one less friend today.

I agree with him in the context that people should know what they’re getting into. However, I also think people should know about what they are criticizing before they make comments.

I’ve done my research. I’m not a fair-weather feminist like celebrities such as Nelly Furtado. I believe women should have equal rights. I believe we should have every opportunity that men do. I believe that socializing girls to be passive and boys to be super aggressive is wrong. I believe changes need to be made in our society and I believe that women should stop being objectified in advertising and music videos.

I am not man hating nor am I oblivious to the fact that men face problems too. We all do—but there are differences. And the differences are substantial.

At the same time I am aware that feminism, like any other label, has issues—both from an outsider’s perspective and from the inside. Even within the movement there are issues, but when recognized problems can be addressed.

Some people rebel against labels all together. Labels, they argue, are too limiting and present a viewpoint that may not be entirely correct. If feminism is about working towards equality and recognition of women as important human beings, then why can’t we just say we are humanists—working toward the advancement of all humanity?

The reason: if feminism is a broad label, a humanist is even broader. Feminism has certain goals and for all it’s misinterpretations the one obvious thing remains—feminism is related to women’s rights. Thinking practically, there is a lot of injustice in the world. As nice as it would be to say it’s limited to women, it’s not. In addition to gender, there are still inequalities based on race, sexual orientation and class. With the myriad of inequalities plaguing our society it’s impossible to focus on all of them at once.

As a feminist, my focus is on the equality of women, and that doesn’t mean just white women. Intersectionality of inequalities is a vital part of feminism—where does race and class and sexual orientation cross with gender? How are black women treated in comparison to white women? Queer women as opposed to straight women? All of these issues are part of feminism and they all deserve answers.

One criticism of feminism is that they, by supporting measures such as hate laws and similar proposals are trying to give women more opportunities than their male counterparts. If the critics would look carefully at the society in which they are a part of they would realize that despite whatever measures women are supporting, our society is still male dominated and unequal.

One more thing with labels: the stereotypes such as “oh, she’s a feminist, she must be a lesbian”—this is not necessarily true. Lesbians aren’t always feminists just as the straight women who are feminists aren’t necessarily lesbians. Stereotypes are stereotypes.