I’m not exactly a wallflower. I stand out for a variety of reasons, mostly due to other people’s gender confusion, but hey, we are all a little different in our own way, right? Regardless, there are people in this world who just can’t stand for anyone to be themselves, or to hold hands with the person they love, or to be, uh walking down the street? being happy? going for a cup of coffee? whatever?
That’s when those sad, bored people take it out on us by saying something rude, or raunchy, or mean (or sexist, homophobic, etc., you get the picture). I’ve been listening to it for years and years and years, and giving it right back to them on many angry occasions. I’m so sick of it. It was a happy day for me then, when I discovered an awesome organization that is actually trying to stop it!
Hollaback! is a group that’s doing something revolutionary. They organized a movement to end street harassment powered by local activists in 45 cities, 16 countries, and in 9 different languages around the world. In so doing, they are attempting to elevate all of our experiences of walking down the street by creating a mechanism for people to holler back at their harassers, literally, metaphorically and technologically. We all know street harassment is just a gateway to way more serious acts of violence. Please check them out and get involved in your local community. Atlanta hollers back! Connect with Hollaback on Facebook or Twitter, and find out how you can help end street harassment in your town.
Seriously, people. I’m in deep. I’ve written 33,595 words in 18 days. I have 12 more days to reach 50,000 words and call myself a winner. It is an amazing experience, and I’d even say it, life-changing. I am writing every morning around 5am before my kid wakes up, before making breakfast, before starting my ‘real’ job. I’m losing myself in a story and it’s a lot of fun. I’ve never done any creative writing in my life. Give it a try. Lose your inhibitions. Then mark your calendars for November 2012 to sign up for NaNoWriMo next year. You know you have a story to tell!
Click on the poster to the right —–> and buy yourself some inspiration, or just donate to the National Novel Writing Month cause. Help sponsor the Young Writers Program for kids and teens. It’s a “month-long creative experience that improves self-esteem, teaches perseverance, and radically alters their relationships with writing and literature.” Who is not down with that?
I listen to GLAAD a lot. They tell me that tomorrow, Thursday, Oct 20th, is Spirit Day and we should all wear purple as a sign of support for GLBT youth and to speak out against bullying. Naturally, this awesome idea was started by a teenager:
Spirit Day was started in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually on October 20, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Getting involved is easy — participants are asked to simply “go purple” on October 20 as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are. Haz clic aquí para ver información en español.
I’m going to straight up link to this Ms. Magazine blogpost because it is so good. Several years ago, actor Geena Davis, having experienced with her own young daughter the gross gender disparity present in television programming, decided to do something about it. She started the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media. We all know how bad mainstream media is overall. Feminist parents are even more acutely aware of the effect on our kids. Some of her findings so far include these gems:
- The aspirations of female characters are limited almost exclusively to finding romance; male characters almost never have “finding romance” as their ultimate goal.
- The number one occupation of girls and women is royalty.
- Female characters in G-rated movies, from 1990-2010, wear the same amount of sexually revealing clothing as female characters in R-rated movies.
- The more hours of TV a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life; the more hours a boy watches the more sexist his views become.
- If female characters are added to media programming at the current rate, gender balance won’t occur for 700 years.
Don’t get me started on the lack of strong, smart and capable mothers in mainstream movies for kids, because, oh yeah, they don’t exist. They are either dead before the movie starts or evil or meet a tragic end. So, do something with your anger and make your own video in support of her “I Want to See Jane” initiative. It requires you to think back to female tv characters of your youth and submit a short video about it. Bionic Woman (with Bionic Dog), anyone?
In the spirit of those websites where authors write letters to their teen selves, I’ve been inspired these past few days to write to my younger self. I keep getting stuck on the tremendous volume of advice I feel I should give the younger me. Also, I’m going a little younger than the teenaged years, let’s say, oh around age 10, because I was always a bit precocious when it came to angst and worry and I’m quite sure it was in full swing by 5th grade at the latest. So how do I start advising such a troubled little soul with the weight of the world on her shoulders? For starters, you will be successful at anything you try (that’s really try, not just say you are going to try, like the several half-hearted attempts you’ve made at backyard organic gardening). You will be relatively financially secure, which will seem impossible to you now, but trust me, reading all those books pays off in the long run. You will be a good friend. You will have really good friends who don’t judge you, and who will watch your back and think you are super cool, not weird and chubby which is how you think everyone sees you right now, which is probably pretty accurate. Also, you will grow tall and love music and have a strong sense of self. Those are all really good. You will sometimes feel like you are on cloud nine with movie stars and rock stars and fun and interesting people all around. You will sometimes feel the total opposite of that. But you learn to move through it all and keep enjoying yourself and stay curious about everything. It’s a good trait, born out of all those books. So keep reading. Also, the whole Grease obsession that kicks in a couple of years down the road? That sorta pans out for you too.
This was supposed to be yet another post about Kathleen Hanna, or maybe parenthood. In my ongoing fascination for all things Le Tigre I clicked over to read a recent interview of her on a blog I hadn’t yet heard of. In the process I discovered an awesome band about whom I am apparently the last to know. Rocking the best band name on earth, Care Bears on Fire is a trio of smart, feminist teenaged girls who have been singing together since 5th grade. The lead singer of CBOF is Sophie Rae, and it was on her blog where I found Kathleen Hanna’s views on Barbie (pro, up to a point) and communication between kids and their parents (also pro). The blog, Grrrlbeat is a brand new online zine, so take a chance and submit something today. I just read an article on there deconstructing the first ever ad using the color red on a maxi pad. Great stuff. Entries like that help me rest easy at night knowing someone is paying attention and writing it all down.
Every once in a great while in life, you come across an organization that is so spectacular that you really can’t believe it exists. It’s so awesome and their work so fun/inspiring/interesting/worthwhile that you just pause for a minute with your head tilted to let it soak in. Then you move on to the slow headshake of whoa. That is exactly what happened when I first heard about Girls Rock Camp ATL. Actually I didn’t hear about it so much as saw a GRC tee shirt and that set my curiosity into high gear. Where in the world is that from and how can I get involved? I’m not going to lie, I went to a women’s college. I believe strongly in empowering girls and women and I think that often happens when they have a space just for themselves. Girls rock camps have popped up in too many cities to list them all now, but I’m partial to our local organization. Girls Rock Camp ATL is in its fourth year of awesomeness and is run by dedicated supporters and volunteers, with support from Atlanta-based musicians such as Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland and the Indigo Girls.
So what happens at camp? It’s a week-long summer program during which campers age 10 – 16 learn to play an instrument, form bands, attend workshops, and perform in a live concert. They also get mentored by professional musicians surrounded by real life rock equipment. I don’t know what kind of childhood you had, but I definitely didn’t know what a boom mike or a bass amp was when I was 11 years old. Somewhere in all of that activity they also get a life lesson in feeling really great about themselves, about trying new things, meeting new friends, making noise and taking up space. Basically, it’s one of those things that you so wish they had for adults. (Oh yeah, they do. That’s for another post.) Tickets are on sale now for the end of camp Girls Rock Camp ATL Showcase & Silent Auction at The Loft, 1374 W. Peachtree St., at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, July 16, 2011, all for the low price of $15. Bring the whole family! Now I’m just going to stop and let the girls speak, scream, and rock for themselves.
Wow. I just watched this trailer for Meredith Heil’s kickstartered documentary “Whistlin’ Dixie” a look at queer music in the South. It’s an age-old tale really, a girl finds herself changed forever at 14 by a mixed tape. In my case it was Olivia Records (way before they got into the cruise business) artists Meg Christian and Cris Williamson. Less than year later, I was needing to take it up a notch with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. On Heil’s tape she recollects being blown away by L7, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney and some other important folks. She set out to learn more about herself and these musicians, and discovered that the South lays claim to a lot of it. Thanks to her for reminding me yet again that life in big cities has prejudiced my own Southern thinking, and that not all awesome things happen in NYC or SF. Hey, and thanks to her also for introducing me to Humble Tripe , The Spooky Qs, Street Poet and Midtown Dickens. I’ll be on the look out for a screening in the ATL if I haven’t missed it already.