Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween's spectacular spooky chick

Okay, they aren't spooky; they're adorable. And, they're technically not one chick. But still, I think it's appropriate to write about Daisy and Violet Hilton on the most wonderful day of the year.

The original Hilton sisters are a lot more interesting then their modern counterparts. Born to a young, unwed mother, the Siamese twins were seen by her as a punishment from God. She left them in the care of a pub owner who immediately set out to exploit their freak quality.

By the time they hit their teens, Daisy and Violet were the most popular entertainers in America, maybe in the world. They could sing, dance, play musical instruments, and their intelligence, grace, and vivacity enthralled millions.

The down side to all this is the sisters really just wanted to lead normal lives, get married, and raise families. Violet even tried to get married; she and her paramour fled through most of the 50 states trying to find a judge to wed them before their love disintegrated from the strain.

Today, with political incorrectness, you'd think the public's infatuation with Siamese twins and freakshows would be a thing of the past. But, it's not.

Dean Jensen just published The Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet Hilton, and a musical was made from their story. The public cares enough about the sisters enough to add video clips of them to YouTube.

And, Siamese twins were even included in a stage show for Howl O Scream this year, Freaks.

I'd say the legacy of the Hilton sisters lives on; if only it wasn't at the expense of their happiness.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Night cyclers beware

I love seeing a girl on a bike. Women in general need to raise their activity levels; I often hear my friends excuse themselves from activities like walking, biking, and climbing stairs because they'll sweat, their shoes are too uncomfortable, they'll hit the gym later, and a number of other reasons to take the easy way out.

From what I understand, or at least according to the Telegraph and Eric Smithers, one of my classmates, biking is in.

However, I have some advice from the bike savvy girls out there. If you're not riding appropriately at night, I will hit you with my car. Like I almost did tonight, if it wasn't for a pedestrian who yelled at me to stop from where he was standing on the sidewalk.

I don't usually look to mow down bikers after a quick jaunt to my local Tarjay. Here's what she did wrong:

She was riding on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the road and didn't stop when she reached the area where the parking lot lets out to Bruce B. Downs (a very busy, multi-laned road).
I waited for another biker doing the same thing, looked to my right to see if any more people were biking along behind him, looked to my left to see if the pedestrian was going to walk across while I was at a stop, then inched forward only to hear the guy shout at me to stop.

Her bike didn't have any reflectors or lights.
If it did, I would have seen the reflectors or lights moving towards me from where she was illegally riding on the sidewalk.

She was wearing black.
Also not good for my visibility.

Like I said, I'm all for biking, especially hip-chick biking. But, please, if you need to venture out at night, obey traffic laws (like using bike lanes and traveling on the right side of the road), make sure your bike is as visible as possible, and wear light colors and reflector pads so people can see you. If you're going to drive by a busy side street or business, make sure to stop at all areas where there's heavy traffic coming or going.

My new gig

I'm going to start writing for Sticks of Fire, a blog about, for, and by Tampa residents! I'm going to cover the art beat!

Monday, October 29, 2007

What I'm going to do with all of this free time


I'm going to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.

I'm going to finish the first draft of my first novel before NaNoWriMo starts (on Thursday); it will only be a few months late.

I'm going to promote a local art festival going on this Saturday in Ybor by profiling some of the happenings and artists involved on Artist's Passion.

I'm going to write a special multi-platform series on courage. (More to come.)

I'm going to write some new reviews.

I'm going to read some more books.

I'm going to try my hand at ending racism by joining the Erase Racism Carnival.

I'm going to work on a possible short story idea I got from reading a Web Urbanist article.

Surprisingly enough, I'm also probably going to get more sleep.

Oh yes, and I'm going to make more squiddies for my study abroad in Ireland.

More of the freaks I worked with

I'll get back to writing soon.

The freaks I've been working with the past month and a half

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Last night of scaring people

Tonight is my last night of scare-acting. After this, I should get over my sleep deprivation and once again be able to add posts of substance to my blog. Tonight is also the unofficial costume party/ potluck in my area (it's going to be unimpressive; we have three people), and I'm bringing sushi.

In other news, thanks to Busch Gardens, I now have $25 in my "Send Wendy to Ireland for Study Abroad" fundraiser. I won $50 and used the other $25 for frivolous expenses, i.e. groceries.

Only $7,975 to go.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday's fabulous fat chick (at 1:39 a.m. on a Saturday)

I guess it's me! I got my second-even piece of fan mail today, and I'm allowed to toot my own horn. My scare victims were horrid tonight.

Here it is, a fan letter from Anna in VA:

You are my personal hero.

I've always felt like an outcast in the area where I live. [Pulaski, Virginia.]
Everyone around here is either a Gucci Girl, Sports addict, extremely country, or "gangster".

I get made fun of for being "emo" and big, but I'm so much more than just emo and I like my size.

I love doing bright colors and thick make-up.
It's who I am, but the other kids in my highschool don't respect that.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm extremely ecstatic that there is someone who does what you do, and is the way that you are.

I admire that.


I hate how kids of all ages make fun of people for being "big." In fact, I deal with it all the time at work. It's like them calling me fat will somehow be the worst put-down they can come up with. The thing is, I'm attracted to fat. Fat is beautiful and comfortable. Telling me I'm fat is like telling me I have a nose. I know I have a nose. It's a part of me and makes me who I am (as much as a nose can make a person).

That being said, I'm taking donations for a study abroad course offered in mass communications. It's held in Ireland and is over the summer. I'm also taking commissions on things like squiddies, and I just received about thirty new knitting patterns from a friend. For an example of my squiddie, clickie clickie. My Paypal is; I'm a little too tired to figure out a link or widget to go directly to my account. I'm outtie.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


It's almost three in the morning; I got off work a couple of hours ago and am finally to the point where I can get to sleep. Hopefully I'm peppy enough to post Friday's Fabulous Fat chick tomorrow. Who's it going to be? Even I don't know at this point. But, on a brighter note, take a gander at my new Artist's Passion post. It mixes art, squiddies, and a crazy hippie who loves both in the Northern parts of this great U.S.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On marketing culture to girls

In my post about bad-ass women, I wrote that I wish the character on Heroes, Monica, had chosen a different activity to try out her skills with than double dutch. It was brought up that the character might have had a secret wish her entire life to be able to double dutch and can now her powers are beginning to show. This is an acceptable theory to me. There are many skills other girls and women have had in my lifetime I would like to try out. Unfortunately, it's hard to believe this line of thought with the way toys and culture are marketed to girls and women.

My first beef is a toy I saw in a commercial yesterday while watching television with my mom. It warranted a long and angry rant from me.

It's Rose Petal Cottage! Think of all the fun your little girl can have pretending to wash her baby's dirty diapers in her very own washer and dryer. She has not one, but TWO baby receptacles at her disposal. It's wonderful. As soon as she's finished pretending to do the laundry, she can pretend to cook her husband dinner, then move over a room and rock her baby dolls in the rocker/crib. At least when I was a little girl making mud pies, I was out in the nature getting dirty. Eating mud. Building up my immune system.

Am I cynical? Perhaps. However, this USA Today article chronicles even more the loss of a very important aspect of the modern lives of little girls. They no longer have the freedom to come up with things to entertain themselves, instead commercials and the media are throwing out all the stops to create the track for their lives. Entire books have been written on this subject.

Entire industries are built around swaying little girls to become pretty princess consumers, which will eventually lead them to become pretty woman consumers. These are women who buy cosmetics, bare their midriffs, tweak their looks with plastic surgery, and are quickdraws with their credit cards.

According to an article in VOA News, even high couture clothing is being marketed to young girls. Out of all of the styles available to girls today, high couture is the style I would be LEAST likely to buy for a small child.

I mean, who would dress their child in something like this? (According to Telegraph Fashion, BDSM-style designs are hot on the catwalk this year.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Call to artists, writers, and poets

I'm holding a contest at my blog, Artist's Passion. The prize is a copy of Calligraphy of the Witch, a compelling story about a Mexican woman during the Salem witch trials. There are even pirates in it. My biggest beef about the story is the heroine, Concepcion, is surrounded by people with no redeeming qualities during the first half of the book. Everyone is out to get her in some way or another. She is raped, beaten, and has everything she loves taken from her. Even so, I had a hard time putting it down.

I also posted about a couple of other contests going on right now, but one of them is ending tomorrow.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Bad-ass women

Claire. Niki/Jessica. Molly. The woman who could change her identity. Claire's mom.

And, now there's Monica, Maya, and the new blonde who can shock people from afar.

I don't usually use such trite vulgarities, but in this case, it's so true.

Heroes is the best sci-fi soap opera I've ever seen. It's compelling, and it has strong and vulnerable female characters who aren't just inserted into the storyline to be saved.

Okay, there was the whole save-the-cheerleader storyline. But, it soon became clear Claire is pretty good at saving herself. She even played an important part in the last few episodes, saving her father and working to avoid the nuclear destruction of New York City, all while trying to figure out her powers, test her limits, and give her general freakiness its due. And, she had most of the flesh on her body melt off in a minor nuclear explosion (in a bit of sillyness, a wooden table apparently can protect Mr. Bennet from horrible radiation) then grow back because of her healing powers. (The first few episodes of last season were about her trying to fit in and keep her specialness at bay; it's interesting to see her forced to hide her powers and fighting to showcase her independence and powers without putting her family in danger this season.)

Niki/ Jessica is a very interesting contrast. Niki only cares about her son and keeping him safe. She is an essential caregiver, while her 2nd personality, that of her dead twin sister, is akin to a soldier of fortune. Jessica is an unstoppable killing machine. It does make me sad that both halves of the character can't coexist. She can't be a mercenary and a good mother; Jessica puts her family in danger and does what ever she can to get ahead while Niki is a veritable cream puff. The only time the writers nod to the possibility of Niki getting her violent side on is after her entire family dies in the alternate future episode.

Molly is a little girl, but she was the most important character in the story arc of last season. She can find any of the heroes with special powers wherever they are in the world. She helped them find the badguy, Sylar, and was used by The Company as their personal tracking unit.

There was also a woman who could change her identity and surroundings at will. She's been the most disappointing hero so far, because she was hiding the fact she was fat. Instead of embracing her curves, she made everyone think she was a tiny wisp of a thing. The writers constructed her so she would eat all the time and made it clear how horrible it is for a woman to weigh more than Hollywood's ideal. Boo Heroes writers, boo. She also worked for The Company, but Sylar ate her brains, so he could steal her powers. (Sylar cuts opens people's heads and does something with their brains. I hope he eats them. It's more interesting that way. If he doesn't I'll be disappointed. He's got that zombie appeal.)

And, there's Claire's mom. I think she was brought into the story to cement the bond by Claire and her dad, the evil horn-rimmed Mr. Bennet who turned to be not-so-evil after all. Claire's mom started fires, set the stage for the Bennet's to adopt Claire, and kept Claire from meeting her father, Nathan Petrelli.

Now, there's Monica, who can make her body do whatever she sees. So far, she has been able to carve tomatoes into roses, beat up shady people, double dutch, and mimic Bruce Lee. It was disappointing when she picked double dutch to test out her powers instead of skateboarding or basketball, but the writers redeemed themselves by having her test out her Bruce Lee moves.

I'm not sure what Maya can do, but it involves people collapsing while her eyes bleed. She is always with her brother, who can somehow stop her horrible eye-bleeding attacks, I guess by calming her down. It's not the most useful power unless they're being attacked by people at close range, then it's fun to watch her eyes bleed. The people collapsing just collapse, no excitement there. She doesn't look like she's having much fun with her powers.

Tonight, the electric shock lady was introduced. She's exciting because of her cockiness, but that will probably be her downfall. Sylar will probably eat her brains, too. Although, I think he may already have shocking powers. Peter Petrelli already does; he can absorb and use the powers of others just by being in their general location. In an interesting twist, she's working for her father to track down Peter. Because of tonight's episode, he's going to start tracking her.

There are more female characters in Heroes, but they're not intriguing to me. It's such a diverse cast with so many integral parts, it can be hard to keep up with why I should care about every single character.

Even better than the online episodes is the comic book series. It delves into the Heroes universe more than the series and provides fans with something to do when they aren't watching the show online or DVD, chatting about the series online, or writing their own fanfic.

The importance of community

It's an anachronistic image. Women huddled over their sewing, talking amongst themselves, their chairs arranged in a large circle. Women knitting baby blankets around a table; the finished projects will be sent to the preemie ward of a hospital. Women gathering to discuss the latest book selection and the newest events in their lives.

It seems the ties of community have been eroding for quite some time. Families don't know their next door neighbors. Women no longer meet in groups to get the worst of their housework out of the way in a friendly setting. Where are the welcoming committees in neighborhoods with the tins of cookies and smiles?

I've heard the complaints. I've even made some of them. But, in the last few years, a renaissance of community has been sneaking into local neighborhoods, coffee shops, and homes. Here are my favorites.

Knit N Bitch/ Stitch N Bitch

Knitting might seem a little old-fashioned, but Debbie Stoller started a feminist revolution of sorts. Stoller's book calls women to gather in groups, knit, and kvetch about their day. It also gives women the chance to hone their skills and get pointers from more-experienced knitters. Stitch n bitch groups have popped up from San Francisco to Ann Arbor. Knitting's not just for grandmothers any more.

My favorite aspect of knitting: happy faces from the finished products, like my coworker Kiki when I made her a squid.

Writing Groups

For the month of November, has forums
by region for people who want to connect in real life. This leads to writing groups up the wazoo, all working on their novels together. A quick Google search can also lead to finding writing groups in cities across the nation.

Poetry Slams

I don't have a cute graphic for poetry slams. But at my local independent coffee shop, Sacred Grounds, I have seen poetry slams occur late on Tuesday nights. SG also has open mic nights, meetings for all sorts of organizations, and movie nights. It's a good idea to frequent independently owned coffee shops and used bookstores; they often have things to do listed on a bulletin board or allow local groups to hand out fliers.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My new favorite primate is the tarsier!

Today is a random day. My newest craft project is going nowhere, I have work in a few hours, and I don't feel like pursuing any subject matter in depth. So, I was watching PBS, and luckily found a documentary on the cute tarsier. They live in the Philippines and are nocturnal animals. They're just creepy enough for me to find adorable. And, according to the tarsier hunter and conservationist on the show, when they die, they have little funerals for the dead and bury them under rocks. So, people never see dead tarsiers in the forest.

While I'm on the subject of animals, here's a picture of a tree frog I took on campus. Both the tree frog and the tarsier have cute little sticky-pad feet!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday's fabulous fat chick: Divine

Sorry RuPaul, you're not my favorite man-t0-woman superstar. Instead, the lovely Miss Divine holds that honor.

Sure, you were in But I'm a Cheerleader, but you weren't even in drag! Plus, you're not fat. Not even a little. In fact, you're buff. Svelte. Divine has so much more to offer.

She was in Female Trouble. Pink Flamingos. She's John Waters's queen of trash. Even though she died in the 80s, she had a giant impact on pop culture. Think of where we'd be now if she'd never taken that role in Hairspray. Broadway would be a lot less fabulous.

So, once again, sorry Ru Paul. Divine has curves. She has an outrageous fashion sense and never jumped onto that mainstream bandwagon you perched yourself on for so long.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yaoi fangirls: Where's the girl love?

Go to any anime convention around the U.S. and tell a group of teenage girls you're giving out free yaoi (pronounced yow-wee) and reach into your bag. I dare you. You'll be lucky if you get out of there with all of your arms and legs intact.

Yaoi is a form of manga popular with teenage girls and young women. The premise: men who love men, usually in all-male worlds like male boarding schools. At Megacon last year, I spent over a half hour in line waiting for an ATM, listening to the young girls behind me gush about all of the yaoi they bought while a random father stood with them, oblivious.

Instead of breathlessly waiting for their newest superheroine comic to come in the mail, these girls wait breathlessly so they can drool over two boys with girlish figures and gentle souls kissing. Why are girls today willing to voraciously attack romances where the women are cut out or consist of stock characters?

My theory is this: the U.S. has made the love between two individuals (homosexual males) so naughty girls feel a rush when they read yaoi. The pictures are pretty, and the storylines are usually intriguing and deal with distinct personalities when it comes to the main characters. It's not like much of the American romance market, where stories are driven by "romance despite" plots, like "Genevieve fell in love with Gray Hawk despite the fact he was the savage who kidnapped her" or "Elizabeth fell in love with Ahmed despite the fact he was the sheik who kidnapped her" or "Ruby had a baby and lived in a shack in a little mining town, but the rich mine owner fell in love with her despite all her problems."

To crazed fangirls, their boy lovers become real people. They follow each new installment as it comes out then go home to their computers, where they write their own fanfic and comics.

It's also akin to all of the women who held Queer as Folk parties when it was on Showtime. The Michael (nice guy who just wants to make everyone happy) and Brian (narcissistic ass who just cares about himself) dynamic can be found over and over again in yaoi manga.

If we could somehow harness the power of the fangirls' excitement as they read their manga, we would no longer have to worry about any kind of oil crisis now or in the future.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New developments

I am taking over an art blog, Artist's Passion. I'm excited for two reasons.

1. I'm passionate about the art world and the controversies lying within.
2. It's a paying gig.

So, if you guys get a chance, mosey on over to my other blog, where I will spew forth my knowledge on art, really bad art, really bad art concepts, and whatever else I come up with. (I love bad art. Probably why I love zombie movies. Both make me gushy inside.)

Also, people were trying to drum up sponsors for the Human Rights Campaign on campus at the University of South Florida today. I think feminists should support other human rights groups, so if anyone out there can lend a hand, go for it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The wonders of NaNoWriMo and crazy chick lit

Every November, I take part in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The challenge: write a 50,000 word novel during the month of October. I've never completed the task and won the challenge, the highest word count I've acheived was around 30,000 words. But, this year will be different. This year, I've come up with the most amazing novel premise in the world.

Zombie chick lit.

I love chick lit. I love zombies. In fact, a few years ago I had the chance to model in a zombie fasion show.

This year, I will plow through 50,000 words, win the challenge, and write an innovative and compelling story about a single gal who survives a zombie apocalypse while helping her ex-boyfriend save all of his old girlfriends. (Hint: It won't be the men who take charge after the zombies hit. My heroine is an expert on zombies and Voodoo.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Webcomics: It runs in the family

Skyler, sister to Jennie Breeden, also has her own webcomic: Puppetry. The artistry is sparse, but the thoughts presented are deep and irreverent. I found Skyler's comic through strange twists of fate; it's always good for a chuckle.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday’s fabulous fat chick (a day late): Beth Ditto

Beth Ditto’s voice is sultry; her songs are powerful. She fronts her own band, is a self-proclaimed fashion maven, and gorgeous, beautiful, and many more adjectives meant to describe women in a positive, physical light. What more can we love about her?

How about the fact Ditto is also a fat girl. One of many in the ranks of women who don’t fit in with mainstream pop culture’s narrow sense of beauty but doesn't care. Even Perez Hilton has taken notice.

So, beginning today (or yesterday, when this was supposed to go up), I’m going to showcase a big, beautiful babe on my blog, just to prove how many of us are out there, are powerful, and are making others take notice.

noticed Beth Ditto, so jump on the train!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The weakness of male desire

The shock of hearing my friend died and sheer exhaustion have left me out of sorts in some ways. However, I did manage to stumble across another blog post by Hugo Schwyzer, who always manages to come up with interesting discussion points. Today, it was whether or not men should be responsible for objectifying women who dress provocatively.

A friend asks him for advice on whether or not he was responsible for staring at the breasts of a scantily clad woman at the gym, and Schwyzer's advice is stated eloquently along his line of moral reasoning mixed with the feminist response which peppers many of his posts.

First of all, it’s dangerous to attribute intent to the clothing choices others make: whatever you may believe (or whatever some other sympathetic women may tell you), you can’t possibly know for certain why the woman at the gym wore what she wore. Saying that “if she wore a revealing top, she should expect to be looked at” is the equivalent of telling a black man that if he wears cornrows and walks in a white neighborhood, he shouldn’t complain about being stopped over and over again by the police. Thoughtful, rational people don’t tell black men who are racially profiled that they need to “dress more white” to avoid getting harassed, after all.

What is “revealing” is a moving target, defined differently by different groups in different places. There are no public places other than beaches where you would expect to see more exposed flesh than at a gym. For reasons of both comfort and practicality, both women and men will wear less while working out than they will virtually anywhere else. And when you’re a well-endowed woman committed to vigorous exercise, the number of clothing choices that aren’t going to be perceived as revealing “too much” are, in fact, quite limited. I reject the assumption that any of us can “know” with certainty why a stranger wears what she wears.

Schwyzer goes on to write about how different cultures view different parts of the body sexually and tells his friend to let his will win over his roving eyes. For me, the most powerful portion of his blog is when he sums up the woman's complicity in the man's staring at her.

What this means in the end is that the obligation not to objectify another human being is the same whether she’s in a bikini or a burka.

And, of course, once again Schwyzer's audience chimed in with their opinions in the comments section, starting a discussion of their own.

My favorite comment was from Capella, who thinks women do dress to attract attention.

I agree that no clothing gives men the right to touch, talk to, or look at women in an inappropriate manner. I do not think, however, that all forms of noticing a woman are inappropriate. Isky was not eyeing a sixteen-year-old, or ogling during a religious service, or actively making a nuisance of himself. He was observing an adult woman in an environment where many people meet their partners (and where some people go for exactly that reason) as she performed actions that made her an object of interest. The look she gave him was not an “I have been victimized” look; it was an “I have sexual power over you and you have none over me” look.

Adult women control their sexuality. We know how to keep our breasts inside our clothing. Sometimes we don’t want to be objects of the male gaze, and sometimes we do.

So, do women control men when it comes to sexual matters, should men be the ones exercising control even when it comes to looking at female bodies, or is the answer somewhere in between?

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I got home from work tonight only to find out one of my buddies died in his sleep. I'm missing the memorial as I write this. We went to concerts together, we hung out at clubs, and from what I can tell he was a protector of his lady-friends and an all-around nice guy. He always had a hug and a smile ready, and everyone in our scene knew him. He was even prom king one year at a special New Years Eve party; I don't think he ever had to pay to get into The Castle. He will be missed, and things just won't be the same without him. I never went out without seeing if he was around; I think I'll be looking for him for some time to come. He was just that kind of guy.

In defense of chick lit: Jennifer Weiner

There is a negative stigma attached to being a writer of chick lit. A decision made by many authors that chick lit is a lesser art form than other writing. Curtis Sittenfeld, the author of Prep and The Man of My Dreams has argued she is not a chick lit author, even though her novels deal with young women coming into their own in exactly the same way chick lit heroines come into their own, by searching inside and outside themselves while defining how they want to portray themselves to the outside world.

Loise Doughty, in “A Writer’s Year,” has this to say about chick lit:

Funnily enough, I also write novels. They are not romances. They are not chick lit (a genre I despise because the majority of it is romance with designer labels, swearing and casual sex).

So, she writes novels that are somehow serious because they don’t involve designer labels, swearing, and casual sex? I’d never heard of Doughty before I read her article, but now I have to read her novels just to keep her at her word. No romances, designer clothes, or casual sex for her. Or swearing. I suppose she’s not a big fan of novels like The Great Gatsby or Catcher in the Rye.

I have to admit, one of the only books I’ve been able to really relate to as me was a chick lit novel. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner, was about a journalist who had realistic life filled with cranky coworkers, love life implosions, and a cute little dog who kept her going. Sounds like my life if you replace the dog with two cats. Best of all, her character was a fat chick. Not just a fat chick, but one who didn’t spend all of her time worrying about her body or dieting.

There were fairy tale elements to the story (the main character meets a superstar by chance; the famous actress becomes a fairy godmother of sorts), but it made the novel all the more fun to read.

Even better yet, Weiner was at one time writing a novel about Superheroes. Not a comic, but a novel. The project fizzled out, but it proves how versatile chick lit is as a genre and how ingenuous its authors are as a group. It makes the zombie chick lit novel I’ll be writing for NaNoWriMo just another fun installation in a literary category.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What should I write about besides comics?

One of my problems writing this blog is not the lack of ideas. It is the deluge of ideas I have every day for exciting new posts dealing with feminism and the news, feminism and geekdom, feminism and literature, feminism and pop culture, and a ton of other things related to feminism I haven’t even thought of yet. Further bogging me down is a blog I just found: When Fangirls Attack!. Apparently, there’s no place to run when fangirls are involved.

After WFA linked to my site because of the Lost Girls post, I received hundreds of hits in one day. It also started a rousing discussion. I obviously need to keep writing about women and comics. However, I also have to wonder, what do the people out there who at least know I’m out here want to read about? If you have any ideas, feel free to get in touch. Right now, I have topics stretching out for pages, but I’d be happy to delve into other subjects, too.

It's not Satanic porn: taking a peek at The Devil's Panties

Where do gamer girls go to get their kicks? The head straight to Jennie Breeden's Web site to catch the latest installment of The Devil's Panties, a comic written for the discerning female gamer.

Breeden is certainly catering to a niche market, but in the past few years she's made enough money off the site and the products she sells to quit her day job and travel around the country, jumping from con to con.

Her comic strips are autobiographical and deal with important issues like sneaking up behind men wearing kilts and whooshing them with a leaf blower and finding the perfect pair of flamed biker boots.

In person, Breeden is everything her fans expect and more, with her black t-shirts and real-life biker boots, flames working their way up the sides. As girls pass her booth and her wares, she will often thrust a card with her URL at them saying, "This comic strip is about you."

The thing is, with girls making up a minority of the people interested in all things geek: anime, comic books, science fiction and horror movies and books, video games, and role playing, Breeden's strip and myriad of t-shirts and coffee mugs really are about her readers, and her.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Comic pornography

I came across an article about Alan Moore’s comic book Lost Girls. Is there a place for comic book pornography in mainstream audiences? In feminist audiences? In male audiences when the characters involved are female and dealing with deep-seated issues in a fairy-tale setting?

Fat rant

One of my biggest beefs with society as a whole is the need for men and women to be sleek, sexy, and perfect all the time. Therefore, beautiful, big women are simply seen as fat.

One of the best presentations I've seen to address this issue is Fat Rant, a video I found on YouTube quite some time ago.

I also wrote my own response to this issue in Mookychick; it's the only piece I've ever written and received fan mail for.

My big question for the broader audience out there, i.e. you, is whether or not big girls can be beautiful, or if society is wrong by saying there's something wrong with everyone over a size 10.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I saw an interesting bumper sticker the other day...

If God didn’t make homosexuals, there wouldn’t be ANY!

The words on the bumper sticker forced me into a double-take. On the other side of the license plate was another sticker: DANGER: QUEERS ON BOARD. Nestled all around the back of the small, economical import car were more slogans meant to say to the world, “I am here, I am proud, and you’d better watch out, because I’m not going to hide any more.”

Internally, I wanted to cheer, even though my car, lacking air conditioning, was sweltering in the stalled Florida traffic. My day was brighter because someone was speaking out in their own way.

While the national climate has improved for the Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender community through greater awareness thanks in part to TV shows like Will and Grace, and high profile news events like Ronda Storms’s role in banning public displays of gay pride in Hillsborough County, it is clear that many religious and conservative groups are anything but supportive of the GLBT community.

A Google search of the name Matthew Shepard still brings up on the first page of search results. The site, produced by Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, is counting down the days Shepard has been burning in hell since his murder in 1998.

When the issue of gay marriage was introduced, religious and conservative political groups worked to enact gay marriage bans in states across the country, including Ohio and Mississippi.

With religious and conservative groups trying to protect the world against the alternative value system of the GLBT community and the mainstream for a large part accepting GLBTs as normal and productive members of society, the question becomes, “How does the GLBT community view the rest of the world?”

There is no easy answer to this question. The GLBT community is so wide and diverse, it’s impossible to say the entire group believes any one way about anything. Instead, we have to go to individuals to give us their answers.

The driver in front of me clearly broadcasted his defiance to the world, as well as pride and courage. He is clearly willing to take some criticism to get his viewpoint out there.

For people like Nadine Smith, of Equality Florida, members outside of the community are students, and it’s her job to teach them about equality, diversity, and the need to accept everyone regardless of sexual orientation.

Nadine is open to the world about her life and faces vocal critics of her lifestyle often. She has debated Ronda Storms on national television and lived to tell the tale.

For Vanessa Ruiz, former University of South Florida Pride president and a member of many campus organizations that forward diversity and equality, the question of how she feels can be a little tricky.

While Vanessa works to educate those who don’t want to tolerate her way of life, she is also nervous about reactions she might receive, whether they come from an employer or a stranger on the street.

Vanessa is worried outsiders view her as a target, because of the political message opposing groups send to the rest of the country, that there is something wrong with loving someone of the same gender.

However, Vanessa doesn’t think the view of those outside her community is all bad.

“I think it will come back forward,” Vanessa says. “We’re more progressive than we were 40 years ago.”

Until the day she feels entirely free to live her life, Vanessa will continue to educate, using programs like Equality Florida and civic organizations as a springboard. She is optimistic the GLBT community will overcome to be accepted by everyone, someday.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Feminism vs. Fetish

There has been a lively debate the past few days on Hugo Schwyzer’s blog. The debate revolves around the question of whether feminists can really be into the fetish/BDSM scene. Schwyzer, a college history and gender studies professor, self-proclaimed feminists, and Christian believes they can. The debate continues through more posts and dozens of comments, where it becomes clear that those against BDSM will remain so, and those for BDSM will do the same.

This raises more questions. How can a feminist practice a submission fetish and still be considered a feminist? Isn’t feminism based on the struggle for power and respect lacking in a patriarchal society?
Does a woman like Carlotta Champagne, fashion designer and model, somehow give up their rights as a woman by letting themselves get tied up and bossed around?

Schwyzer answers this question through careful thought and a view different than the one he once held.

Twenty years ago — even ten years ago — I was certain that an authentic devotion to public equality couldn’t possibly coexist with a delight in private transactions in which sexual power is surrendered and taken. But I’ve met too many women whose public “feminist credentials” were impeccable and whose freely chosen delight in submission was equally sincere.

He also comes to the realization of the pain principle: many people who submit themselves to pain through submission do if for the same rush Schwyzer himself pushes for in athletics.

The greatest payoff of marathoning hasn’t been the lowered resting heart rate or the endorphin high. The greatest payoff has been the end to the dualism that sees the body as separate, disconnected, and alien from me. Running — especially hard, painful running — has helped me understand what it means to be an incarnate spirit, a soul and a body joined together. And I’ve become convinced that for many men and women, participating enthusiastically in BDSM can bring about the same sort of epiphany.

The problem with this and many other discourses about the fetish scene is it focuses on the act of submission almost entirely. Schwyzer does bring up female domination of others, but it is easy for members of the mainstream to forget how much variety really falls under the word “fetish.”

For some, fetish is an obsession for shoes. Some want to be wrapped up in soft scarves or tied with silk ropes. Others want to control or be controlled. Even more individuals in the scene have constructed entire fantasies about their true selves being animals, babies, or something in between.

Fetish is fantasy. Men and women join the scene because something is missing in their everyday life. They want to be different than they actually are. This is what makes fetish an industry, where merchants like Ceres make money selling their wares at conventions. Ceres also has a Web site, where men and women can buy their transformation-wear and have it shipped directly to them.

No one falls into the fetish subculture. They actively pursue the kinks specialized towards their happiness, which ultimately brings them control over their own body and psyche. At fetish conventions, a diverse group of people finds a gathering place where fat women can wear thongs and big burly men can dress up as Little Bo Peep and not attract a second glance.

Probably the most telling aspect of whether or not feminists can be into fetish was displayed prominently at Fetishcon 2007. The superheroines were out in force, in a host of capes, masks, and costumes.

News done right

The News Journal in Delaware has produced an interesting, multimedia project on dwarfism. They have done an excellent job on reporting on the smaller people in our lives with respect and care while highlighting the difficulties they face in their lives.

The section on a little girl named Chloe is especially interesting; when she was born the doctors thought she was so small because she couldn’t get enough calories into her tiny body. Kelly Bothum reports the young girl had a feeding tube forced into her body for four years, even though she could eat fine on her own.

Chloe is a five-year-old who weighs 22 pounds and often gets stares and comments like “She must be a preemie.” At the same time, Bothum reports she is a regular kid full of energy who climbs over everything in her way.

I think this is a wonderful series about a group of people often ignored and misunderstood. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

This just in: men and women aren’t that different!

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and little kids in South Carolina are on two different planets in the way they are taught (see previous post on same-gender classes). So, it’s rational to expect scientific studies to follow the train of thought that men and women are so different, it’s like they live on separate planets, right?


According to Jeremy Dean on Psyblog, a study has been conducted proving men and women are similar. In fact, a quick perusal of his blog shows he often comes across psychological studies proving men and women aren’t that different after all.

The study by Janet Hyde of the University of Wisconsin showed that there are few differences when it comes to cognitive variables, communication, social and personality variables, psychological well-being, and motor behaviors and the least alike in sexuality, aggression, and motor performance.

What does this all mean? Men and women are the most different when it comes to sexually committed relationships, physical and other kinds of aggression, and physical abilities. So, when it comes to the fact middle school girls learn better in classes where they only have to deal with the raging hormones of other girls and are less distracted and nervous. However, tailoring classes to girls by having them learn about chemical compounds of blushes and figure out fractions by surveying each other about shyness and pet ownership isn’t if they don’t have anyone pressing their boundaries, comfort zones, and intellect.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Communities of women and a recipe

As a student working on an anthropology minor, one of my projects is going to be a study of Jewish women in Florida. After reading up on the subject and dipping my toe into the pool of interviews and surveys I will have to conduct soon, I’ve realized how cut off postmodern women are from one another. Throughout history, women have met in knitting groups, quilting bees, cooking groups, and sewing circles. Now, we have careers and a society that says even if we have children and stay at home, we should be superwomen and carry every burden on our own two shoulders.

One thing still keeping people together is food, especially ethnic, home-cooked foods. For many of the women in Matzoh Ball Gumbo, food defined who they were. A bite of spicy gumbo or a pot of barbecued brisket simmering on the stove brings their world into focus as Jewish southerners. The book melds interviews with Jewish southern women and recipes to create a fascinating reading experience.

Unfortunately, the recipes didn’t work for me in my limited kitchen, which was bad because my first assignment in my research class was to make a recipe from the ethnic group I chose for my study.

Between cooking errors and a question from my professor, I ended up making kosher fried chicken, thanks to a recipe I found and modified from burekaboy after a quick Google search. Regular southern-fried chicken includes buttermilk, which makes the chicken unkosher by mixing dairy and meat. I’m posting my recipe; for the original recipe for baked honey lemon chicken, click here.

Kosher Fried Chicken
1 whole fryer chicken
1 cup flour
salt and pepper
1 cup matzoh meal
1 egg
oil for frying (vegetable or canola work best)

Cut up the chicken into individual parts (i.e. legs, thighs, etc.), rinse under tap water, pat dry with a paper towels. Poor the flour onto a plate and sprinkle a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper (up to 1 t each) into the flour, mix well with a fork. Poor the matzoh meal onto another plate. Break the egg into a bowl and whisk with a fork until the whites and yolk are mixed. Dust the chicken with the flour then cover it in the egg. After the egg bath, dredge the chicken through the matzoh meal until it is covered. Fill a pan ¾ of the way full with the oil and heat on high until the oil bubbles or spits when a drop of water is added. Add the chicken and cook the pieces until the outside is golden brown and the inside juices run clear when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes each side. If needed, bring down the temperature by small increments for even cooking.

Honey Lemon Sauce
½ c honey
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon peel
garlic powder *

I add garlic powder or garlic to almost everything, so feel free to think of this as optional. Combine the honey, lemon, zest, and garlic powder* in a small saucepan, bring to a soft boil, and remove immediately from heat. Drizzle over fried chicken.

Monday, October 1, 2007

On single-gender classrooms

In an article The Tampa Tribune gleaned from the AP, Seanna Adcox reported same-gender classrooms are flourishing in South Carolina.

The students in these classrooms are middle schoolers, plagued with raging hormones and insecurities. When I first glanced at the headline, thoughts of all-girl and all-boy boarding schools popped into my mind, with competitive young children fencing and practicing falconry while studying intense subjects like chemistry and physics all while being protected from the distractions of posturing and worrying about kids of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, the climate Adcox describes is nothing like this and seems to disservice both genders in some instances.

David Chadwell, the coordinator of the classes, says research indicates boys don’t hear as well, so teachers are equipped with microphones to get their attention. A ball is also thrown to boys chosen to answer questions to help with focus.

At the same time, teachers in the girls’ classrooms speak softly, so feelings won’t get hurt.

Either way, how is this helping children deal in the real world? If boys really do have problems hearing, their future college professors and potential bosses aren’t necessarily going to care. In most situations, they’re going to be expected to pay attention whether they have a little extra help or not. Also, as the girls get older, people are going to raise their voices around them, even if it does bruise their emotions.

When Adcox describes the actual classes, she describes boys sprawled out, using skateboard parts to help put math into perspective. What do the girls have to work with? Personal interviews they conducted with classmates to figure out “who is shy and who has dogs into fractions, decimals and percentages.”

School should be about investigating the outside world and giving children options, not reinforcing the world views that girls and boys are separate creatures divided by axle grease and lipstick. I was a middle schooler a little over 10 years ago, and I can attest to this: when I was in school, the girlie assignment described would have frustrated me; I hate wasting time, and to me finding out how many girls in my class had dogs would have been seen as a waste. The macho skateboard assignment would have engaged me to no end. My middle school science teacher, Mr. Brown, often assigned us similar tasks. He made science fun as we built structures out of paper and tubing and peered into the tanks of a menagerie of snakes, lizards, rats, and hedgehogs. Even the girls had fun figuring out how the world around us worked, even though we weren't looking up the chemical compounds in our favorite blush.

Adcox manages to make a balanced story by including the opinion of Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women.

'There are ways to appeal to interests and learning styles and abilities without lumping people based on gender, which is not a good measure of anything,' Gandy said. 'At what point is it OK to make judgments of entire groups of human beings based on race or sex?'

Unfortunately, the AP story, at least in The Tampa Tribune, left too many questions unanswered to assess how the classes really work. Questions like whether or not the girls in the class come up with subjects that interest them and when are they pushed past their comfort zones and asked to excel are important to the story. Are these girls being pushed into a life of being fragile, protected flowers because that’s the way these classes are formed? If they are, the trend towards single-gender classes may prove to be a dangerous thing. If single-gendered classes are the way of the future, we need to teach them in a way that push both genders without taking away from either one or quashing the interests of the individual girls and boys who go against popular stereotypes.
When six nuns were excommunicated for taking part in a Mary Cult as reported by Time, Broadsheet contributor Carol Lloyd defended their beliefs and right to stay in the Catholic Church. However, her argument was off-target, and her readers caught on.

In Lloyd’s article, she did her best to argue that the church should be glorifying a Canadian woman who believes herself to be the reincarnation of Mary, should leave the cult alone, and called Mother Theresa a phony. That each church denomination and religion sells its own doctrine and doesn’t want heretics moving away from sanctioned thought didn’t seen to occur to Lloyd as she used satirical language to describe the event and the church.

Lloyd even goes as far as to pose the question:
Still, I can't help but be a little perplexed that the all-powerful Vatican would see fit to crush such a mild-mannered heresy: Are these guys really so threatened by a few old ladies with a Mama fixation?

The answer is, of course they are, but it has nothing to do with a mama fixation. The Catholic Church has worked to crush every heresy in the history of the church, whether it be mild-mannered or not. Hence why scientists and all of those people accused of being witches were attacked, imprisoned, and sometimes murdered for their beliefs.

Instead of seeing this event as another reason to rally for the little guy, or in this case girl, being steamrolled by a powerful international organization, the Broadsheet readers posted their own comments questioning the intent of the article and Lloyd’s research. Most agreed the church can do whatever it wants when it comes to its own religious dogma, even if it means a few old nuns get excommunicated.