Daily Activism-Products to Boycott

Our generation, our era is known for it’s internet activism or “slactivism.”  We  prefer to call it easy activism.  We sign Change.org petitions, arrange groups on Facebook, and write emails to editors and politicians.  For those of you who are interested, I have Change.org petitions linked at the bottom of my Make a Change page.

One popular way to show a complaint with a company is boycotting their products.  Hit the companies in their profits, not the blogosphere.  It’s easy for us to write, but companies respond more to sales than to reviews.  Remember the fiasco with Bic For Her pens?   Despite the creative reviews by anonymous bloggers and Ellen Degeneris, Bic actually turned a profit, and they didn’t change their marketing strategy.

It wasn’t enough for us to write sarcastic reviews about how this plastic ink thing didn’t work as a tampon.  We need not to buy the products in the first place.  So here are other products to avoid.

Anything else to avoid?  Let us know in the comments!

Motivational Mondays-Reverse Psychology

I’m amazed by this.  As someone who loves libraries and public literacy, this project is awesome.

Awful Assumptions-Feminists have it Too Good to Complain?

Muslim Women

Muslim Women (Photo credit: Jarek Jarosz)

Don’t assume that abuse to women only happens in “less enlightened” countries.

First of all, that’s really offensive, and second of all, it’s not true.

Sara writes about her experiences with abuse in the United States.  It’s just as real as female genial mutilation, and no less wrong.  Feminists are excellent multi-taskers who work on ending abuse everywhere.  Saying that because others have it worse, we shouldn’t be working on issues that affect us close to home is a derailing technique.

Motivational Monday-Kids off the Block

This woman is amazing….

She provides kids in Chicago with a place to stay, an adult to talk to, and someone who trusts them.  She is a lifeline for kids who don’t have one.

She has done nothing more than open her home to kids who need a place to go.  She hasn’t asked for cookies, rewards, or praise.  She just helps people out by simply treating them like human beings.

So, in the spirit of the holiday season, take a page out of her book, and treat everyone like a full human being worthy of dignity and respect.  Don’t assume anything about them, and ask them about their stories, hopes and dreams.  

That’s your challenge for the week.  If you learn something new or hear a cool story, email me at cafeaulait0913@gmail.com and I’ll publish it.

Readers, are there any other everyday heroes you would like to acknowledge?  Honor them in the comments.

Activists and Allies-a Call to Arms

For those  of you who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of Rosie’s blog, Make Me a Sammich.  She is hilarious, and always has new insights on popular culture.  For those of you who don’t read it, you should.

Recently, I read Rosie’s amazing piece , on the impact and responsibility of men to help fight sexism.  She gave great suggestions, with concrete steps to take.  I’ve shortened them to adapt them to fit the format of this blog, but they’re worth reading in their own right.  The original suggestions are for video games and internet forums, but they are adaptable to the real world.

  1. Mockery. Use public shame to police the idiots who can’t behave. They’re social inadequates, immature losers. Let’s tell them so, loud and clear, in front of their friends.
  2. Shut them up. The right to speak in a public forum should be limited to those who don’t abuse it.  Anyone who persistently abuses others gets automatically muted. New users don’t even get the right to talk. They have to earn it, and they keep it only so long as they behave themselves.
  3. Take away their means. Make it abundantly clear that it is unacceptable, then deny him or her the opportunity to do it further.
  4. Anonymity is a privilege, not a right. Anonymity is a double-edged sword.  The default setting in all online forums that are not intended for people at risk should require real names.  A limited number of people need it in certain circumstances: children, crime victims, whistleblowers, people discussing their medical conditions, political dissidents in repressive regimes. But those people normally don’t misuse their anonymity to abuse others; they’re protecting themselves from abuse.
  5. Impose punishments that are genuinely painful.  This isn’t all that unusual; if you smoke in a non-smoking hotel room, you are typically subject to a whopping extra charge for being a jerk.

Any other suggestions to get people to be more polite and more inclusive?  Share your ideas in the comments!

Awful Assumptions about Teenage Girls

UPDATE: If you want to contact Seventeen, email editor Bernadette Anat at mail@seventeen.com.

Seventeen

Confession time: I love magazine quizzes.  So when I found a Seventeen quiz that  which TV character I am, I took it.

The very first question asks me what my favorite class is.  My options are lunch, English, Film Production, Art or Drama.  Science, Math, Shop, or anything that doesn’t involve creativity or emotions is not an option.

The next question asks me about my dream date. Do I envision it at a coffee shop, a gallery opening, a comedy show, a concert, or a candlelit dinner?  Assuming that I actually think about this, none of these options are realistic for the pimply-faced sixteen year old boys that the readers are pursuing.  Seventeen, setting young women up for perpetual disappointment.

The next question asks me which yearbook superlative I’m most likely to earn.  My options include most likely to appear on idol, best dressed, most artistic, biggest flirt, or most likely to succeed.  I get excited to see that we’ve finally acknowledged academics.

Still thrilled to have possibility of a career, I click on the next question.  Do my friends depend on me for relationship advice, gossip, “fun, spontaneous plans,” jokes, or listening skills?  I’m mildly annoyed that this is the second question about what other people think of me rather than my own perceptions of myself.

The quiz continues: What is my favorite website?  Is it Tumblr, Pinterest, Youtube, Perez Hilton’s blog, or Pandora?  I’m surprised that Facebook or Twitter aren’t options and extremely annoyed that there is no option for a news site.

Seventeen’s final question inquires after my other magazine subscriptions.  Do I read Vogue, Glamour, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone or Marie Claire?
At sixteen, I read Time and Newsweek, and I currently subscribe to Ms.  Sensing that none of the above contain quite the same content, I settle for Rolling Stone, the magazine with the highest words to picture content.

While asking which TV character I was most like, the quiz assumed that I was into emotions, fashion, music, and dating boys, traditionally girly interests.  It didn’t ask me about my dreams, career aspirations, and values.  Either way, the quiz would have been wrong; I’m sure that even if Seventeen had asked about careers, Feminist blogger would not be a career option.

I end up as Mercedes Jones, the sassy, black soul singer on Glee.  (Because that’s not stereotypical at all.)  Mercedes, although a problematic character, captured my emotions best in her self-written number, “Hell to the No.”

This quiz makes it sound like teenage girls are all about their friends, their relationships and fashion.  It reduces the wonderful, complex young women they are into melodramatic, entitled mall rats with daddy’s credit card.  No, Seventeen, your readers are more than this.  They read smart magazines, have goals, dreams and want more than the latest printed reincarnation of skinny jeans.  They like all subjects, not just the creative ones.  They want to travel, to dance, to start their own businesses, to change the world.  Believe it or not, they care about more than their crush on the cutie in English lit (stop being so heteronormative while you’re at it.  Your readers aren’t all attracted to boys).

Seventeen is one of a few magazines that caters to teenage girls, and they have a unique opportunity to address the issues that teenage girls face, not to just write a one page insert about them and then show new shoes.  It’s a shame that their quizzes and content perpetuate stereotypes about girls instead of helping them.  But that doesn’t bring in ad revenue, does it?

Motivational Mondays-Give a Book this Holiday Season

English: Students in an elementary school clas...

English: Students in an elementary school classroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge advocate of childhood literacy.   Students who don’t learn to read by the end of third  grade are statistically unlikely to graduate high school.  Half the fourth grade curriculum (at least in the United States) is inaccessible for those who cannot read on grade level.  At some of the schools I have been to, there have been amply filled libraries, ones that I could never finish reading, no matter how hard I tried.  At other schools however, there haven’t been enough books for students to read.  How are children supposed to learn to read, to enjoy reading, if there aren’t books to be found?  As one of the students I worked with said, “Books are for school.”  And that school was in the process of developing its own library.  That girl deserves a library so that she can learn how to read and be successful.

In the spirit of the holiday season, you can donate books to children’s classrooms.  So I’ve rounded up a few resources for you to donate a book from the comfort of your own home.  Donors Choose is a great option that allows you to pick the project you’re donating to.  There are amazing pictures and stories of the students you’re helping.

Another option is Fill the Shelves, in which you simply add an order to your Amazon cart and the library of your choice receives your donation.  This holiday season, they are matching donations.  So go and donate a book to help a child learn to read.  Give the gift of reading this holiday season.

Got a Pocketful of Sunshine (Award)

First of all, a huge thank you to Sara of Project Sara for nominating me for this award.  I love Sara’s blog and want to meet her in real life.  She reminds me of my roommate, with her funny anecdotes and sharp social commentary.  On the subject, thank you roommate, for being awesome and helping me deal with numerous blog induced panics.  Because my roommate is awesome.  Also, if you’re reading this, I will replace the soy milk I borrowed to put in my coffee.  Sara, if you’re ever in the Philadelphia area, I will gladly take you out for beverages of your choice.

Anyway, back to the blog and blog awards.  The Sunshine award is an award given to bloggers who inspire other bloggers.  It’s so easy to get frustrated, and I’m flattered to be a ray of sunshine in someone else’s day.  That’s actually one of the reasons I started this blog; I was frustrated and reading about feminism and inequality made me angry.  I wanted to change, and I didn’t know how.  So I decided to start profiling awesome people who were inspiring, or to show people easy activism, “social justice to go,” if you will.

I”m thrilled to receive this award, now to fulfill the requirements of the award, I’ll answer the questions about me and nominate ten other bloggers who inspire me.

Q&A:

  1. Who is your favorite philosopher?  Whoever I’m not reading for class this week.  Sorry, I’m not much for philosophy.  Ask me about my favorite author, my general worldview, etc, and I’ll write you a novel.
  2. What is your favorite number? 42.  It’s a nerd thing.
  3. What is your favorite animal? -Owls.  I’m a night owl and they’re beautiful, powerful, and strong creatures.  Plus, the owl was the pet of ancient Greek goddess Athena, goddess of wisdom.
  4. What is your favorite time of day?-Nightime.  I love the contrast between soft lights and stars.
  5. What are your Facebook and Twitter?  I use Facebook to see pictures of my cousin’s really adorable kids, and to check up on my old classmates.  A surprising number of them have babies, and I wonder if I’m getting old.  My twitter account is affiliated with the blog, and that’s pretty much all I use it for.  Not much of a fan of Twitter, honestly.  I just don’t have the time.  Plus, the format is #annoying.  I am on Pinterest though.  Check me out.
  6. What is your favorite holiday?-Hands down Halloween.  I love costumes, dressing up, creativity, and free candy.  I was a bat as a child, I’ve been a gypsy, a stewardess, Pokerface (out of cards), sixties girl, and when I was little a ballerina/fairy/princess.  In my defense, i was five and liked all the pieces so I wore them together.
  7. What is your physical favorite activity?-Kayaking.  I’m terrible at it, but I love the feeling of being close to the water, powerful and one with nature.  I’ve kayaked on lakes, rivers, and in the ocean.  It’s so much fun, especially ocean kayaking.    I’d love to learn to surf, but i can’t balance to save my life.  I also love ice skating and wish that I hadn’t quit gymnastics before I learned who to do handsprings and tucks.
  8. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?-Coffee. (You couldn’t tell from my blogger ID is cafeaulait (coffee with milk) or my blog’s name; Confessions of a Latte Liberal?)   Slit my wrists open and I will bleed coffee.
  9. What is your passion?-reading, feminism, writing, drawing stick figures, and historical fashion.  Fun fact, when I was younger, i wanted to be a costume designer for the BBC period dramas.
  10. What is your favorite flower?-Sunflowers.  They’re tall, proud and strong.

I’m honored to receive this awesome award.  So I’d like to pass the award on to:

    • Reasonable Conversations -the author describes issues well.
    • The Dancing Professor– an academic mix of history, privilege and real life.  Plus, she teaches at the University I attend, so I especially get her posts.  Full disclosure, I’ve never taken her class.
    • Make Me a Sammich: Rosie, you are awesome beyond words.  I love this blog, its design, content, and style.  It has serious discussions of feminist issues, complete with Rosie the Riverter imagery.   Nothing says we can do it like Rosie the Riveter.
    • Online Dating-While I’ll Soon Be a Crazy Cat Lady: This woman is hilariously chronicling her exploits in online dating.  I read her blog just to laugh at all the crazy people in the world.  Especially when I blog a lot about serious issues, it’s always nice to have a funny anecdote to read to brighten your day.
    • End Rape Culture: Exactly what it sounds, and it profiles people who are fighting and tells about what they do.
    • Captain Awkward -Love the advice style format.
    • BroadBlogs: Broadblogs has a really good combination of serious theory with real life examples.  I like her links and she doesn’t despair or rant.  She explores the issues with a critical eye and is definitely worth reading.
    • Small Girl, Big City-Blogmistress Meg is delightful, and has been really supportive of me.  She is really cheerful and writes about living in Paris.  Remind me to catch the next plain to Paris, so I can have un cafe au lait, sil vows plait.
    • Damn Right I’m a Feminist: This blog is amazing.  Although the blog mistress swears, she has great feminist songs of the day, feminist quotes of the day, and is always to the point and inspiring.  She finds the best material.
    • Shakesville-for anyone who doesn’t know the magic of Shakesville, I’d highly suggest reading it.  It’s a safe space with clearly written articles that articulate all the little things that bother you..   Best of all, it includes suggestions for activist men, and a healthy community for discussions.
Not a nominee for the award, but I just want to also recommend Prego and the Loon.  I love her blog, about escaping an abusive relationship and as a survivor, I emphasize with her.  She is a powerful writer, and I want to share her strength.  Warning: her writing is gritty, real, and sometimes dark.  It’s well worth the read, but not a sunshine inspiring blog.  Sorry, Prego, I really do love you.
Other shout outs include: The Human Rights Warrior, who profiles international efforts for justice.  She always has new issues to learn about and is a role model.
Happy blogging, and check out the awesome work these bloggers have already done.