Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Documentary: Knock Down the House

This Netflix documentary is SO good. Seeing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other women running for the house is truly amazing and inspiring. Check out this film!! It’s on Netflix.

in 2018, never before seen in U.S history, a record number of women took their place among the men in Washington: 90 women were elected to the House of Representatives. Though we still have a ways to go for parity in politics (women still only represent about 25% of representatives in the House and Senate) the 116th congress will go down in history as a historic time. As if that were not enough, these women politicians are fighting for ALL people’s rights: Ocasio-Cortez does not just represent women, she represents the working class and progressives, female and male, and takes on the establishment to create a more equitable world for everyone. This film gives us a glimpse of what that fight for representation in government looks like.

“For one of us to make it through, 100 of us have to try.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

After seeing this film, I thought to myself, “She could be president someday.”

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Game of Thrones: A Game Played on Women’s Backs

Game of Thrones is a fascinating show that has engulfed the minds of millions of Americans. According to CNN, the recent premier of season 8 captivated 17.4 million people. But what is even more fascinating is how everyone seems to just gloss over the disgusting way women are treated in the storyline. Yes, the idea of Game of Thrones is that it is a cruel and dark world. But it just astounds me how millions of people consume these images of naked women being pushed around, raped and degraded without question. (Or maybe they do question it?) Image result for game of thrones treatment of womenPeople do not seem to bat an eyelash at the way the characters refer to women as whores, twats and cunts at every other word. Apparently, there are empowering aspects of this show where the women take control of their own lives, but I have yet to see this. I have numerous female and male feminist friends who love this show, and perhaps I’m missing something, but after only getting midway into season 2 I’ve stopped. I can’t stomach seeing women be treated so grotesquely. Maybe we can acknowledge the awful treatment of women and still watch the show? The thing is, I haven’t even gotten to season 5 where one of the characters is gratuitously and brutally raped. Millions and millions of people watch this show. What does this say about the society we live in where we are ok with watching women be treated this way? If there are empowering scenes of women, cool. But it seems these scenes are few and far between. From what I can tell, it rarely passes the Bechdel Test. I wish I could watch this series but I can’t stomach seeing women being used up in brothels and battered around sexually. Numerous articles have been written about this topic from TIME magazine to Esquire.  Does it get any better as the seasons progress?

As writer for BookRiot, Olivia Páez points out, “As one of the biggest shows on television, one has to wonder what message it sends to its audience when the majority of its female characters are subjected to some form of abuse for the sake of shock factor.” Who benefits from this shock factor? Are we, the viewers, growing ambivalent about seeing women battered around and used like objects? It honestly really disgusts me if so.

And then there’s another side to this argument. Perhaps, according to the Telegraph, we should applaud seeing this horrific violence towards women? In an article titled, “Game of Thrones: Where Sexual Violence and Misogyny are good news for Women” writer Rhiannon Evans states, “We’re talking about that rare breed: a TV programme that portrays women as well-rounded. A programme that says wars aren’t all about men –both sexes can be players and pawns.” The article goes on to discuss the rape scene in season 5. Game of Thrones author George RR Martin said that excluding sexual violence from a story about war was “fundamentally dishonest”. He went on to say, “Rape, unfortunately, is still a part of war today. It’s not a strong testament to the human race, but I don’t think we should pretend it doesn’t exist.” Ok that, I understand: This horrific part of humanity (masculinity, b/c, let’s face it, not a lot of women are raping) still exists and perhaps Game of Thrones is trying to draw attention to it to make people more aware. Certainly it would be wrong to pretend it doesn’t exist. Writer Rhiannon Evan goes on to say, “There is much to be said for this argument. Yes, the women in Game of Thrones ‘suffer wrongs’. But whether it be lost daughters, forced marriages or physical injury in battle, why should they be ignored?”

I still can’t stomach watching the violence against women…

And I honestly can’t help but think the major reason behind the violence against women is more about shock factor and viewership than about awareness about the realities of war. And there are going to be those people out there who get off on watching violence against women, because, as we unfortunately know, violence against women is a common aspect of porn. (Some estimates say that up to 88% of porn shows violence against women. But that is a different, albeit related, issue.)

Ok so the argument is that we cannot ignore this uncomfortable reality that violence against women is a product of war. One thing we ALSO cannot ignore is the fact that war and rape have been man’s creation. Not woman’s; man’s. We cannot ignore this uncomfortable reality either. For centuries, male rulers and citizens have started wars and perpetrated rape. Full stop. Women have not been the creators of these major wars, nor have they been the majority of people perpetrating rape and other types of violence. If indeed we cannot ignore the horrifying reality that rape and violence against women occurs in war, we ALSO cannot ignore the uncomfortable reality of who is behind the wars and who has started them in the first place. So what do you we do about all this? Not all men do this; not all people are ok with this; not all people have to just accept this.

In the meantime, I wish I could watch Game of Thrones… but I’ll pass.

 

Paid Maternity Leave: U.S Still Does Not Require it

Just a reminder that this is a thing: “The United States is one of only eight countries, out of 188 that have known policies without paid [maternity] leave.” (New York Times) Employers may provide paid maternity leave, but it is not a guarantee nor a mandate. Three states do ensure paid maternity leave: California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, but other states do not require it. So… You could have a baby and have to leave for work the next day if you cannot afford unpaid time off. Seems harmful not only to the baby but for the mother who would certainly need some recovery time. Don’t you think our country would thrive better if mothers had a chance to take care of their children when they are first born? And fathers too! We need paid maternity leave AND paid paternity leave. Parents being able to afford to take time to be with their new born seems like a no-brainer to me, especially when the rest of the world is already on board. Paid Maternity Leave Worldwide Map-U.S Has No Paid Maternity Leave .png

Why Does Women’s History Matter?

I am so freakin’ excited to be teaching a women’s history course!!! And no, it’s not just for one token month of women’s history, it’s a whole high school history course y’all!

Below, check out a couple quotes from some historians on why they think women’s history matters:

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Gerda Lerner: “Women’s history is indispensable and essential to the emancipation of women…Women’s history changes their lives.” (Lerner, 1986, p. 3).

 

 

 

Howard Zinn: “It is possible, reading standard histories, to forget half the population of the  country. The explorers were men, the landholders and merchants men, the political leaders men, Image result for howard zinnthe military figures men. The very invisibility of women, the overlooking of women, is a sign of their submerged status. In this invisibility they were something like black slaves (and thus slave women faced a double oppression.) The invisibility of women in history is a major problem. Without adequate attention to what women have experienced, educators run the risk of students assuming they played no role in history or in the creation of societies.” (Zinn, 1980, p. 103)

 

Image result for margaret croccoMargaret Crocco: “Even though women represent half the world’s population, and in that sense have experienced half of human history, their stories are often marginalized if not omitted entirely when world or American history is taught in the nation’s classrooms.” (Crocco, 1997)

 

Where my pro-choice men at?

I’m always astounded when guys, particularly liberal/progressive guys, are not outspokenly pro-choice. If they got a woman pregnant, and abortion were illegal, they would be forced to become a father, whether they liked it or not. This issue deeply affects them.

This issue has come up several times lately in conversations with my guy friends:

Whether or not the child were to be given up for adoption, or if he decided to abandon the kid, he would still have to live with knowing that he has a child out there.

According to the Guttmacher institute, 1 out of every 4 women will get an abortion.  (And by some estimates 1-3.) This means that 1 in 4 men came very close to becoming a father, whether they wanted to be or not. In other words, 25% of men out there would be fathers right now if abortion were illegal. 

How many guys out there have gotten their girlfriend pregnant and just weren’t ready to be a parent? How many guys out there had a one night stand who would dread it if they had gotten the woman pregnant? How many guys out there got a woman pregnant and have no idea because the gal got an abortion without telling him? If that woman weren’t allowed access to abortion, BAM: That man’s life would be changed forever. He would be a father to a child with a woman he potentially never intended on seeing again. He would be forced into procreation. He would be forced into fatherhood for life and everything that comes along with that.

Why is it that so many men, good men, are so quiet on this issue? 

(Shout out to my guy friends who ARE outspokenly pro-choice! Love ya.)

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Notorious RBG

This film is SOOOOO phenomenal. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a true American hero.

One of the best quotes of the movie is one RBG repeated from the infamous 19th century abolitionist and feminist Sarah Grimke who says,

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks…”

When I went to see the film, the theater was packed: People outwardly applauded, clapped, sighed with disdain, and laughed. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie with that captive of an audience. (I also couldn’t help buying an RBG mug for myself and two others after seeing the film.)

RBG directly changed many sexist laws in the United States and has served as a voice for human rights and reason during her time as Supreme Court Justice.

Check out the trailer below: