Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bear Butte Update: April 9 deadline

From Bear Butte International, an update, action alert, and all the background information you could want:

April 9, 2007 is the deadline to submit letters OBJECTING to the proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to divest its easement interests in the Bear Butte Lake National Wildlife Refuge, turning the management of the Refuge entirely over to the State of SD, the Bureau of Land Management and private landowners.

This alert is asking citizens, tribal nations, organizations and allies concerned about the protection of Bear Butte and adjacent Bear Butte Lake to OBJECT to this plan by the APRIL 9TH DEADLINE.

This Alert contains:


Bear Butte Lake is both a State Park and a National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). A 1967 agreement executed between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the SD Game Fish and Parks Department (SDGFP) allows for SDGFP to manage the Refuge. However, because the management goals of the SDGFP are recreational in nature and therefore, not compatible with the USFWS Refuge System, the USFWS Refuge System believes it makes sense to divest itself, rather than enforce its own singular mission, which is to manage the area for wildlife conservation. These conflicting management purposes date back to the 1950's, when no tribal input was solicited. In fact, the planning team that ran the divestiture model to determine whether Bear
Butte NWR should be considered for the proposed divestiture did not include tribal consultation at its March 30, 2005 meeting.

The Refuge was created in 1937, when the USFWS acquired conservation easements from the State of SD, the War Department (now the Bureau of Land Management - BLM) and private landowners. The Refuge was established 'for the purpose of water conservation, drought relief, and migratory bird and wildlife conservation purposes. Following establishment, however, incompatible uses such as boating, camping, picnicking have been permitted and supported', reads page 33 of the Draft EA.

The USFWS has 374.20 easement acres and no fee title lands. The majority of the dam, on the western side, is on BLM land, while the remainder is on State owned land. Three small BLM parcels lie within the Refuge Boundaries, while the private lands border the boundaries. The USFWS 'has not enforced its easement rights for many years, neither has it made its right known' (page 53, Appendix E of the Draft EA).

To date, Tribal interests in preservation of this cultural resource have not been properly solicited and are not documented in the Draft EA. As well, the document proposing divestiture fails to mention the current controversy around inappropriate development near Bear Butte in Section 5 of the EA (page27). This section outlines effects common to all alternatives, including Environmental Justice issues. In fact, this section closes: 'Within the spirit and intent of EO 12898 (President
Clinton's issuance of the Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Population and Income Populations), no minority or low-income population would be impacted by any Service action under the two alternatives presented in this document.'

The timing of this proposed divestiture could not be worse in terms of the larger issue of protection of Bear Butte and its adjacent resources, including Bear Butte Lake. Due to effects of drought other factors that have not been studied, the Lake was completely dry many times during this past Winter 2006/2007 and for quite a long time. We are calling for a complete Environmental Impact Statement along with objections to this proposed divestiture.


The USFWS believs that the SDGFP, via its promotion of the recreation uses of the Lake, prioritizes recreational use over wildlife. The mission of the USFWS is to protect wildlife; it allows for recreation related to wildlife on its refuges, but when conflicte arise, WILDLIFE, NOT RECREATION is the USFWS priority.

For example, they believe that the recreational uses at the Lake prevents whooping cranes, an endangered or threatened species, from using the area.

The USFWS doesn't think a park managed for recreation should be a refuge and want to walk away from the Bear Butte Lake NWR - GIVING UP THEIR EASEMENTS.

The planning document for the USFWS, called an Environmental Assessment (EA), proposes only two alternatives:

1. Continue the status quo, or
2. Divest themselves of the Refuge


Comments are due in writing and postmarked by April 9th, 2007 to:

Michael Spratt
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 25486
Denver Federal Center,
Denver, CO 80225-0486

Questions can be addressed to:
Michael Spratt,, (303) 236-4366, or
Tom Koerner,, (605) 685-6508,

4) SAMPLE LETTER - CUT AND PASTE [Note: using original language will give your letter more weight, but better this one than nothing! - PF]


Michael Spratt
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 25486
Denver Federal Center,
Denver, CO 80225-0486

Cc: Rep. Stephanie Herseth
1823 W. Main St.
Rapid City, SD 57701
Sen. Tim Johnson
405 E. Omaha, Suite B
Rapid City, SD 57701

Dear Mr. Spratt,

I, ______, am submitting this formal objection to the proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to divest its easement interests in the Bear Butte Lake National Wildlife Refuge, turning the management of the Refuge entirely over to the State of SD, the Bureau of Land Management and private landowners. I am urging the USFWS to maintain their presence and enforce their Refuge System mission to manage the area for wildlife conservation.

The USFWS EA is "thin" in many areas, including it's proposed two alternatives. The EA should propose another alternative, insisting that the State of SD change its management of the Lake and the Lake's surroundings to decrease the impacts of recreation to wildlife. The Draft EA provides insufficient documentation of the existance of confllcts between recreation and wildlife. While the EA provides data on the State Parks infrastructure and policies, it does not provide data on the Parks
actual patterns of recreational use or actual wildlife data - except to list species that occur there. For example, the EA says, "Documentation of bird occurrence and use is not well-developed for this refuge." But ironically, it is documented that recreation adversely impacts wildlife.

Native American cultural protections under Federal laws, require consultation with Native Americans regarding environmental justice and protection of historic/cultural resources. As State laws in this area are much weaker than the superior Federal regulations, the removal of the USFWS, a Federal agency, will seriously threaten the protection of Native American interests. In fact, tribal consultation on this Draft EA did not occur at the March 30, 2005 meeting, nor was it sought, or included in the

When Federal government plans a project, gives money for a project, or permits a project, NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) is invoked. If the area affected has "Unique characteristics of the geographic area such as proximity to historic or cultural resources, park lands, prime farmlands, wetlands, wild and scenic rivers or ecologically critical areas." an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed (40 CFR 1508.27 (b) (3)).

I am requesting an EIS on the Bear Butte NWR divestment plan of the USFWS as future development of the area may involve federal dollars and plans. The State of SD is planning to build a highway by-pass around Sturgis to drop traffic from I-90 to the eastside of Sturgis. The recent flurry of commercial rally-related development near Bear Butte is in anticipation of this new by-pass.

With the National Wildlife Refuge status, in addition to the National Historic Landmark at Bear Butte, both on Highway 79, there exist compelling arguments for an EIS rather than an EA on the proposed by-pass or other future projects, which may involve federal dollars.

Highly controversial and culturally inappropriate development that currently threatens Bear Butte is not mentioned or portrayed within the "Environmental Justice" section of the EA. Part of Bear Butte and most of the lands immediately under its slope remain in private ownership. At the crux of the issue are the no zoning policies of Meade County, the local governing body, and the impacts of unregulated bike rally development on Native American interests. These critical Environmental Justice issues are not mentioned within the Draft EA and need to be considered in the proposed divestiture of the USFWS.

If the USFWS divests its interests the remaining federal regulating agency will be the BLM, which is a "multiple-use" agency. I PREFER THE USFWS, rather than the BLM and private landowners, as a federal land manager in this most special area and hope you will give my comments favorable consideration.



Here is the link to download the draft EA.

The link to the EA on the USFWS regional webpage.


On the eastside of SD Highway 79, just a few miles northeast of the town of Sturgis, lies Bear Butte, revered by tribes across North America as one of the most sacred mountains. In geological terms, Bear Butte is a laccolith geologic formation, a bubble of magma that did not reach the volcanic stage. Bear Butte rises some 1,253 feet above the plains and sits at an elevation of 4,422 feet on the northeastern edge of the sacred Black Hills. Today, the mountain is owned by several Native Tribes, the State of South Dakota (as a State Park) and various private landowners.

Just to the west of Bear Butte, across Highway 79, lies Bear Butte Lake, which sits in one of the drainages that flow off of Bear Butte. The drainage of Bear Butte Lake is tributary of Spring Creek. Spring Creek flows around the northside of Bear Butte and joins Bear Butte Creek, about 6 miles east of the Mountain.

The Lake was once a natural lake, or prairie pothole. A dam was built along its southwest side and the natural lake/pothole is now augmented with additional surface water runoff now collected by the dam. The Lake has a surface are of 180 acres and a maximum depth of 13 feet.

There was once an artesian well near Bear Butte, which was used to supply additional water to the Lake via an easement that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service held to pipe water into the lake. In 1987, the engineering on this well failed, was not repaired and thus this ground water no longer augments the surface water of the Lake.

The Lake supports an artificial fishery of introduced fish, which periodically die off when the lake shrinks, yielding low oxygen and high temperatures.

The Lake provides for shore birds and waterfowl and is especially important habitat for them during the spring and fall migrations. Due to drought conditions, the Lake has been completely dry many times during the winter of 2006/2007.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Saving Bear Butte: How you can help and why you should care.

(I'm cross-posting this at Dakota Women, as well.)

I had the privilege on Saturday of hearing a panel of Native American women activists talk about their lives and their work on behalf of Sioux and Lakota communities. I hope to be blogging about their efforts from time to time, helping to spread the word about what they are doing and how you can help.

Anne White Hat, a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, shared with us her struggle to save Bear Butte from developers. Bear Butte is sacred ground. Sacred ground means something different, I think, in Western culture, in which "sacred ground" is often loosely translated as, "this is land that has meaning, and it would be nice if we could preserve it, but sometimes we just have to develop it."


In a First Nations context, sacred ground is sacred. As in, it is left alone. As in, it is integral to spiritual practice. As in, you do not despoil it: you protect it.

I think many non-Native people may need to work hard to imagine an analogy that will allow us to understand what this means. The problem is, Western culture is based on movement. We very often do not keep land in our families, much less our communities, from one generation to another. We have sentimental ties to the land, but we don't have the same kind of spiritual ties to it. Buildings - churches, synagogues, etc. - are generally the center of our spiritual practices. And buildings can be rebuilt, remodeled, and moved.

Land cannot. Sacred ground cannot be moved, rebuilt, or remodeled. It can be protected, or it can be destroyed.

Bear Butte is a place where people go to pray and meditate. Prayer and meditation, by their nature, need quiet and stillness. But Bear Butte is located six miles from Sturgis, SD, the home of the infamous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, making it a prime location for developers.

And, since Bear Butte has no zoning regulations whatsoever, the sanctity of Bear Butte is threatened by developers who want to build a giant biker bar and outdoor theater for concerts:
Arizona entrepreneur Jay Allen originally planned to name his venue “Sacred Grounds” and to erect an 80-foot statue of a Native person outside the bar. He boasted in March 2006 on his web site that the re-named Sturgis County Line will provide “hundreds of acres to party… in a safe haven, free from a policed environment, that’s what I’m talking about! … over 150,000 s.f. of asphalt for semi-tractor trailors… 22,500 s.f. of… ice cold beer… kick-butt music & oh yea, hot hot women!”[1] The 600-acre complex will include an outdoor amphitheater with space for 30,000 people, where “the largest music acts known to mankind” will perform less than a mile from the base of Bear Butte.

In case it's not clear from that quote exactly what this means for Bear Butte, let me tell you that the concerts at Sturgis - which are a few miles away - can already be heard clearly from Bear Butte.

The good news is that we can make a difference. Visit the Bear Butte International website to find out how you can take action by contacting SD Governor Mike Rounds (and, for SD residents, your legislators), donating to the cause, or helping to educate others about this important issue.

Anne asks that if you contact the Governor or your SD legislators, please stress that this is not just an issue for Native Americans. I found the following language from an earlier action (urging the Meade County Commission to establish a buffer zone around Bear Butte, which it failed to do), and it's a good model for helping us make the point that the integrity of Bear Butte is a concern for all Americans:

Bear Butte is a Sacred Place to many American Indian peoples such as the Lakota, Arapaho, Ponca, and Cheyenne and many more Tribal Nations. Bear Butte is a place of prayer (church), a place to learn tribal way of life (school), and a place of healing (hospital) to these Tribal Nations. Laws exist in America to protect churches, schools, and hospitals and most governments protect the integrity of such places.

From the perspective of the South Dakota citizenry Bear Butte is a National Historic Site, a State Park that holds much Cultural Relevancy for many Plains Indians Tribes, that Bear Butte Lake is a National Wildlife Refuge. Bear Butte should be protected from further destruction that will come with the development of more campgrounds, bars, amphitheaters, saloons and the heavily trafficked highways that inevitably become part of such developments.

Bear Butte, as a State Park and National Historic Site, and Bear Butte Lake as a National Wildlife Refuge, are a concern to many American citizens. The attitude of wanting integrity for such places is not limited to the American Indian People who hold Bear Butte as sacred. It is a concern of many other people as well.

Anne White Hat also had another specific suggestion for those who wish to help. The National Wildlife Refuge that currently protects Bear Butte Lake is planning to divest and give the land to the state of SD. Please, contact LaCreek National Wildlife Refuge and urge them not to do so at this time, as this will certainly mean the end of Bear Butte and the beginning of widespread development:
LaCreek National Wildlife Refuge
29746 Bird Road
Martin, SD 57551

And please, spread the word. Link back to this post, link directly to the Bear Butte International site, but please help me get the word out. This is a fight that can be won if enough people pitch in to help. We often feel like there is nothing that we can do to prevent injustice, to make change happen, and there are opportunities all around us. This is one.

Monday, March 26, 2007

This is for Renegade Evolution.

I thought, given some recent discussions about femininity on Twisty's and Witchy-Woo's blogs, it might be good to note that femme feminists have always been a cornerstone of feminist movement and theory. I don't consider myself to be particularly femme, but frankly, I resent all of this disrespect toward femmes, just as I would resent disrespect toward butches (which Leanne Franson takes on quite nicely here).

Fortunately for me, there was recently a request on WMST-L for a bibliography on being a bi or queer femme, specifically works that discussed:
-bi femmes' relationship with queer theory, activism and communities
-one's sense of 'not fitting in' either theoretically or politically
-femmes' relationship to feminism
-the process of coming out and coming to voice; establishing identity relationally

The responses are still coming in, but I will list the few that were posted here along with some others that I'm aware of.

Joan Nestle is, of course, the queen of femme theorizing, and she edited and contributed to the The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader.

Brazen Femme, edited by Anna Camilleri and Chloe Brushwood-Rose. This text reprinted Duggan and McHugh's, "The Fem(me)inist Manifesto."

The film, FtF: FEMALE TO FEMME, covers many of the above topics. More info and a trailer are available here.

The filmmaker of FtF has also compiled a bibliography of femme-related academic materials.

And may I take this opportunity to tip my hat and raise my glass to all the femmes out there, queer and straight, who contribute so very much to feminist struggle. You know, in both straight and queer feminist communities and theory, femmes get dissed because they look like "normal" women. And women who don't, whether because they choose to be subversive in that way or because they just naturally do not meet the feminine, heterosexual "ideal," figure that this means that femmes are not to be trusted.

(Does that sound familiar, bisexual readers?)

Criticizing femme women simply for being feminine is no different than criticizing a woman who is raped because of what she was wearing at the time. Before someone writes "How can you say that?! You don't understand radical feminist theory!" let me just say that I've read it, I get it, and I stand by my statement. Women who support the patriarchy are a problem for feminism and for other women - it's true. But that support CANNOT be judged by a woman's appearance. And if we all have to waste our time changing our clothes before we can get down to work...well...that's just sad.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

On voting and Hillary.

OK. So I read a couple* of "feminist" arguments (I'm not suggesting the authors aren't feminist, but I see nothing inherently feminist about these arguments and I'm uncomfortable using the adjective uncritically here) in favor of voting for Hillary. And they've been bugging me for a while, but I haven't wanted to get into it because, frankly, I'm not the most educated person when it comes to knowing exactly what Hillary and Edwards and Obama have been up to and what they stand for, and I didn't really want to publically display my ignorance.

But now I can't help but feel that it is being implied, if not stated directly, that it's inherently feminist to back a (White) woman over a (Black) man, and I just have issues with this.

I mean, first, there's the whole ugly rearing head of 'gender trumps race' yet again, not to mention the fact that this pretty much leaves women of color out in the cold if they want to argue against this gender solidarity that's being proposed. Why should we assume that a White woman would be any better equipped to deal with - or ready to recognize and address - the struggles of women of color than White men have been? I mean, really? Are we serious as a movement about addressing racism or aren't we?

But even leaving all of that aside, here's the thing.

I used to be very big on the whole vote-for-the-representative-of-the-group-you-want-to-see-represented. I really was. I would vote for the woman, the Black person, the lesbian, whatever. I thought it was brilliant strategy, even.

And then Clarence Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court. And I should note that it was this fact, along with the way that Anita Hill was so vilified, that is probably most responsible for my going back to school and getting a Ph.D. And a few years later, I took a class in Critical Race Theory, in which we studied the Hill-Thomas Hearings in great, hairy detail.

I came away from that course with my belief in the vote-for-the-representative-of-the-group-you-want-to-see-represented strategy thoroughly shaken. I mean, let's face it: Clarence Thomas hasn't been good for anybody. What does it mean to have a Black man on the Court if he does everything possible to rip out the guts of any laws that actually advance Black people? Sure, some little kid might look up to him and think, "maybe I can be that person some day." And sure, it's amazing that a country as racist as the U.S. finally has a Black man on the Court. Except...that this is not progress. This is tokenism. This is actively harmful to the status of Black Americans (who, incidentally, protested his appointment mightily, though the media gave us a very one-sided view of who supported whom during that whole debacle).

And Hillary may be a woman, but that's about all that she and I have in common when it comes to most social issues. I wouldn't vote for Elizabeth Dole or Margaret Thatcher, either, and while I hesitate to put Hillary quite in that category, having a woman in power isn't progress if she's there simply to be a woman and not to have radical politics.

So, yeah, Obama is looking good to me, and yeah, the fact that he's a Black man is a plus (I haven't completely outgrown my earlier vote-for-the-representative-of-the-group-you-want-to-see-represented idealism even though I know rationally that it's bad, bad politics) because it's time to change the face of the "White" House, but what truly impresses me about Obama has nothing to do with race, per se, and everything to do with the fact that I think he's a leader, I think he will do everything he can to change things, I think he will help women and men and children and people of color and all people.

And if America isn't "ready" for a Black president - well, that's not going to stop me from voting for him if I get the chance.

You don't get real change by voting for the most electable, bad politician.

*There was one in particular that I wanted to link to on a blog that I otherwise like, but now I can't find it.

***UPDATE: Yesterday, I picked up an announcement about a local NOW meeting. The speaker, Kim Matthews, has helped to create the "Get Hillary Elected" group, and the purpose of the meeting is, in part, to "share what you can do to get the first woman of the U.S. elected President."***

Friday, March 23, 2007

Kid funny, already.

After getting sent to his room for a time out:

Bean: "You're a baby! If you don't let me out, I'm going to make fun of you!"

Me: "...go for it."

Bean: "Well...I don't really know how to."

Me: suppressed laughter

Bean: "What's funny?"

Me: trying not to giggle "nothing."

Bean: "Well, you were laughing. That usually means that something is funny. ...can I have a hug?"

Before I can respond, Bean slams his door.

Bean: "Mommy, can I come out for a minute?"

Me: "No. You slammed your door."

Bean: "But I want to write 'I hate you.' Can you write 'I hate you' and get me some tape and make it mean words?"

Me: ", I'm not going to do that."

Bean: "But I want to put it up so you see it and feel bad! ...when can I have my hug?"

(It ended with a hug.)

Catching up.

I was supposed to be back here on Wednesday night. Instead, I got stuck on the East Coast due to bad weather in Chicago. Two days in a row, my flight was cancelled, which would have been less of a big deal if I wasn't staying two hours from the airport and if they'd have announced the cancellations prior to an hour before the scheduled flight time (i.e., upon my arrival).

I finally got home this morning, after spending a night in an overheated hotel room with a five-year-old who'd spent six hours in the car over the last two days.

I'm behind in everything. And while I was gone, to my amazement, my blog gained TWENTY new links, several of them blogroll links! I'm not even able to check out all the new linkers, yet, but I *am* grateful. This is largely due to my post about the New Bedford sting, and I'm hoping that this sudden popularity is an indicator of a larger national effort to help.

I also got a link from the 34th Carnival of Feminists, which is way cool (and unexpected!). Check it out here.

I was hoping to go back and respond to comments from the past week, but I'm now so thoroughly swamped that I'm not sure when, or if, that will happen.

But I am working on some new posts, including the story of the "Great Flood of 2007," and more ponderings about race and racism. And kid stuff, too. So bear with me, and I will be back.

Now, I need to take Bean to the park before he terrorizes the cats any further with his screeching and bouncing on the furniture.

Oh, but first I want to share something absolutely disgusting, because everyone loves a gross story, right?: I've just learned that Silk Soymilk, both the light and regular varieties, when left in the refrigerator well past expiration, will turn into snot. And then solidify. I can't comment on the smell because I opted not to breathe while trying to pour this gelatinous mass down the disposal.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What the heck is a duclod?

I got a bunch of hits today from a discussion about the duclod man. I thought you might find the article that prompted their discussion interesting.

Creep Factor: High.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Please Help: Immigration Sting in Mass


MIRA members, staff, and allies are responding to the devastation of families caused by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's raid on workers at a defense contractor in New Bedford, MA. ICE rounded up and incarcerated around 350 textile workers, mostly women, leaving many children stranded.
How you can help!

1. Donate Money: The New Bedford Immigrant Families/ Niños Fund is now accepting donations. MIRA is working with the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts (SFSEMA) in distributing all funds raised to the affected children and families.

Click here to donate online. Please specify that the funds are for "New Bedford Immigrant Families / Ninos Fund." Or send a check to the MIRA Coalition, 105 Chauncy St, Boston, MA 02111. Please make checks out to the "New Bedford Immigrant Families / Ninos Fund." Donations are tax-deductible and 100% of your donations to this fund will be distributed to the affected families through the Commuity Foundation of Southeastern MA (CFSEMA).

2. Volunteers: We are compiling a list of willing volunteers. Right now we need people willing to drive New Bedford families from their homes to the JFK federal building in Boston. We also need immigration lawyers willing to take pro-bono cases, preferably a bilingual Spanish speaker. Please call MIRA with your name and contact information at 617-350-5480 x212.

3. Material Donations: Needed items: Pampers in all sizes; Baby wipes; bottles and bottle liners; Enfamil Soy baby formula; all types of baby food and winter baby clothing. Canned food, bottled water and paper produces are also needed. Donantions should be dropped off between 8:30am and 4:30pm at 2 Acushnet Ave, New Bedford at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent.

4. Voice Your Opinion: Write to your local newspaper and call into your local radio station to decry the devestation this raid has caused. Our immigration laws are supposed to unite families not destroy them. Read the press releases and articles and then click here for tips on writing a letter with some local paper links.

5. Write and Call Your Members of Congress: Capital Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Ask them to speak directly with Secretary Chertoff to request that he "Release the Moms." Also demand a moratorium on deportations until reform has passed. A sample letter is below--please invite your friends and families in other states to also write in!


Read Boston Globe March 9th Oped: "U.S immigration system at its worst"

If you have a FAMILY MEMBER detained in this raid, you can call ICE at 1-866-341-3858 to get more information about the arrested individual.

Also, if you're in the area, immigrant families will be joined by community organizations, community leaders, and clergy from New Bedford and across New England at a rally on:
Saturday, March 17th at 2:30 pm
53 North 6th St, New Bedford, MA 02740

On Saturday, please join all the organizations including the Immigrants Assistance Center, Organization Maya K'iche, the Community Connections Coalition of Greater New Bedford, Community Economic Development Center (CEDC), Catholic Social Services and United Interfaith Action who have been helping impacted families.

Sample Letter to your Members of Congress Regarding Humanitarian Disaster Created by the Immigration Raid in New Bedford, MA
(Prepared by Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, March 2007)


The Honorable Senator/Representative [First Name] [Last Name]
District Address

Dear Senator/Representative [Last Name],

I am a constituent and a member of [add any appropriate organizational affiliations].

I am writing to express my outrage at what occurred in New Bedford, MA on Tuesday, March 6, 2007. [Add a sentence or two about why you care.] Over 150 children were separated from parents and an entire community is suffering from trauma--I am appalled that this humanitarian disaster was carried out in my name with my tax dollars.

I want you to speak directly with Secretary Chertoff to demand a moratorium on all raids until immigration reform is passed.

Secondly, I ask you to speak directly with Leadership to bring immigration reform to the top of the priority list. The 110th Congress must pass just immigration policies before August--our communities cannot wait!

I look forward to your reply.

Phone (optional)
Email (optional)

Update: Here's another editorial from the Boston Globe.

Not sure what to think.

First: a couple of days ago, I wrote a draft of a post that discussed the bisexual movement's shift away from feminism. I saved it. Then, I went back into it to steal one little piece of it for a new post, and somehow completely lost my bearings and deleted the whole thing. So. I may or may not be posting about that at some point. There is something very un-fun about recreating an entire post.

Second: I am overwhelmed right now with deadlines and travel. So it is likely that I won't be posting much for the next week. If you can't live without my witty and insightful words (ha), please check out the archives.

Third: My actual post for today:

Thanks to Belledame for the tip to Victoria's blog.

I had read about this (or something similar) earlier at Dooce, and at the time, I was a bit uncomfortable. I mean -

WHY is it moving when this happens?

I don't mean, "why is it moving that he survived and is reunited with his wife."

I mean, what is it we are supposed to be feeling? Are we supposed to be looking at his wife as noble? I hope not.

That may seem callous of me. It's not that I don't feel for the pain he's suffered or that I'm not moved by his survival and by the fact that he's home and safe and with the woman he loves. It's that I'm disturbed by the debate over whether or not his bride looks shell-shocked. It's that I sense an undertone of what a lucky man he is that his wife will still love him, and of what a brave, selfless woman she is. And these things echo for me a lot of the same thoughts that people sometimes express when a person without a disability dates or marries a person with a disability.

And so, again, I wonder, what is it that we are supposed to be feeling? What did the photographer want us to see in these pictures? Why did she feel that this moment was worthy of capturing in such detail? To what extent is she responsible - because she has made images into a story - for the narrative that we invent as we view these pictures?

And what are these narratives that we invent?

And if the narratives involve the wife as heroic for standing by her man, then why is this seen as exceptional? Are we really that shallow that most people would leave a partner for something like this?

Monday, March 12, 2007

More thoughts on racism.

This excerpt is taken from Beverly Daniel Tatum's "Talking about Race, Learning about Racism: 'The Application of' Racial Identity Development Theory in the Classroom." My remarks are bracketed and bolded. The excerpt:

Working Assumptions
[note: these are the assumptions she discusses with her students at the beginning of the course]

1. Racism, defined as a "system of advantage based on race" (see Wellman, 1977), is a pervasive aspect of U.S. socialization. It is virtually impossible to live in U.S. contemporary society and not be exposed to some aspect of the personal, cultural, and/or institutional manifestations of racism in our society. It is also assumed
that, as a result, all of us have received some misinformation about those groups disadvantaged by racism.

[What I like about this is that she does not, as I have seen some people do, tell her white students that they are racist. What she does is reveal the workings of systematic racism so that the students can come to a realization of what it means to have grown up in racist society. I think this makes for less defensive students!]

2. Prejudice, defined as a "preconceived judgment or opinion, often based on
limited information," is clearly distinguished from racism (see Katz, 1978). I assume
that all of us may have prejudices as a result of the various cultural stereotypes
to which we have been exposed. Even when these preconceived ideas have positive associations (such as "Asian students are good in math"), they have negative effects because they deny a person's individuality. These attitudes may influence the individual behaviors of people of color as well as of Whites, and may affect
intergroup as well as intragroup interaction. However, a distinction must be made between the negative racial attitudes held by individuals of color and White
individuals, because it is only the attitudes of Whites that routinely carry with
them the social power inherent in the systematic cultural reinforcement and institutionalization of those racial prejudices. To distinguish the prejudices of students of color from the racism of White students is not to say that the former is acceptable and the latter is not; both are clearly problematic. The distinction is important, however, to identify the power differential between members of dominant and subordinate groups.[my emphasis]

3. In the context of U.S. society, the system of advantage clearly operates to
benefit Whites as a group. However, it is assumed that racism, like other forms
of oppression, hurts members of the privileged group as well as those targeted by
racism. While the impact of racism on Whites is clearly different from its impact
on people of color, racism has negative ramifications for everyone. For example,
some White students might remember the pain of having lost important relationships
because Black friends were not allowed to visit their homes. Others may express
sadness at having been denied access to a broad range of experiences because of social segregation. These individuals often attribute the discomfort or fear they
now experience in racially mixed settings to the cultural limitations of their youth.

4. Because of the prejudice and racism inherent in our environments when we were children, I assume that we cannot be blamed for learning what we were taught (intentionally or unintentionally). Yet as adults, we have a responsibility to try to identify and interrupt the cycle of oppression. When we recognize that we have been misinformed, we have a responsibility to seek out more accurate information
and to adjust our behavior accordingly.

5. It is assumed that change, both individual and institutional, is possible.
Understanding and unlearning prejudice and racism is a lifelong process that may
have begun prior to enrolling in this class, and which will surely continue after
the course is over. Each of us may be at a different point in that process, and I
assume that we will have mutual respect for each other, regardless of where we
perceive one another to be.

So - this is essentially what we've been talking about - this distinction between racism and prejudice, the responsibility to recognize white privilege and to act in antiracist ways, etc.

I also want to excerpt this bit from Tatum's piece, which also illustrates some of the things we were discussing on the earlier thread:

In predominantly White college classrooms, I have experienced at least three major sources of student resistance to talking and learning about race and racism. They can be readily identified as the following:
1. Race is considered a taboo topic for discussion, especially in racially mixed
2. Many students, regardless of racial-group membership, have been socialized
to think of the United States as a just society.
3. Many students, particularly White students, initially deny any personal prejudice, recognizing the impact of racism on other people's lives, but failing to acknowledge its impact on their own.

It strikes me that White people, by virtue of the taboos we are taught when it comes to talking about race and racism, often don't notice racism on a first-hand basis unless we are being taught to be racist. So many Whites get our education about race from other places - books, movies, tv, etc. (I suspect that Whites who've grown up in racially and ethnically diverse communities where there is lots of interaction between the various groups don't expect people of color to be native informants for them because they've grown up learning about race and racism in a different way than have Whites who've grown up in racially homogeneous communities. (I could be completely talking out of my ass, here. This is a thought I had and I'm running with it.))

(BTW, I'm sorry for the weird line breaks. I can't figure out how to fix it without spending too much time on it.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Journal of Lesbian Studies looking for submissions

OK, all you terrific writers out there in bloglandia - here's something for you. Note, please, that the styles of writing they are accepting vary widely and need not be academic.

Journal of Lesbian Studies has reopened its call for submissions for
the upcoming "Lesbians and Body Image" issue with a probable pub date of 2007-8. Deb Burgard, Ph.D., Guest Editor, is welcoming one-page abstracts of articles addressing different aspects of the theme. Articles may raise more questions than they answer, and may range from research to theory, academic to personal, for example:

* Does loving a woman change your own body image?

* Are athletic lesbians more or less accepting of their bodies than non-athletic lesbians?

* How does growing up identifying more with boys affect body image?

* What differentiates body image situations where it is seen as desirable to change your attitude (i.e., "accept your body") vs. where it is seen as desirable to change your body (i.e., transsexual surgery)? What determines whether someone identifies as a butch lesbian or a FTM transsexual?

* How do the differences in attitudes toward weight in different communities (ethnic, class) intersect with differences in attitudes toward lesbianism?

* Would prevailing standards for women's beauty change if lesbians were in charge of the fashion and entertainment industries? How do gay men influence standards of beauty for women, and what is the lesbian response to this?

* What are the dynamics of weight issues in lesbian relationships? Do lesbians have less of a tendency to blame their bodies for interpersonal rejection than straight women or gay men?

* Are body image issues involved in "lesbian bed death"?

* Are the differences among older and younger lesbians in body image concerns more the result of age-specific concerns or more the result of changes in historical periods?

* Does having a minority sexuality make it more likely that you will experience your body as betraying you? Or does it make it more visible that other people's treatment of you is cultural?

* Do lesbians weigh more or do straight women weigh less?

* Why are so many leaders in the size acceptance movement lesbians? Are thin lesbians more or less likely to be allies in the size acceptance movement?

* Does the coming out process help in validating your body and improving body image?

* Does being a member of an already stigmatized group make it easier or harder to have a body that doesn't look like the culture says it should?

* Comparing lesbian and gay male culture: Is lesbian culture "more forgiving" re appearance? What are the gender, sexuality, and cultural issues such that gay male culture appears to be less forgiving than even mainstream culture?


Please submit a one-page abstract (by email, please) by the deadline of April 10, 2007 to Deb Burgard at:

If your abstract is selected you will receive further details on the requirements for the articles. The Journal of Lesbian Studies is published quarterly by Haworth Press, which usually publishes the issue as a book as well, for an interdisciplinary academic audience.

Alas, NO FINANCIAL PAYMENT IS AVAILABLE for authors whose articles are published. Articles should be 10-15 pages, double-spaced, submitted as Word document attachments by email to Deb Burgard at the address above, after your abstract has been accepted. All authors will need to sign a form transferring copyright to Haworth Press. Please do not send already published material unless you hold
copyright or can obtain the rights to publish the material free of charge.

Thanks to all! Please feel free to re-post this call for articles wherever you think there are potential authors for this issue.

Deb Burgard, Ph.D.

This is, of course, the Journal of Lesbian Studies, but I would hazard a guess that the call is open to all women who can comment on these issues, regardless of self-identification. And there's a handy email to check in with, in any case.

And, you know, since they ask...anyone wanna take a stab at any of the above questions right here?


This happened the other night at about 11:30.

Bean was still awake, as my regular readers will not be surprised to hear.

He had just called me into his room.

"Mommy, I wanna draw a picture of a heart that's broken. Out of the crack in the heart, there's love coming out of it. On the picture it will say, 'I love you.'

And wanna know what the love looks like when it's coming out? It's lots of little hearts.

And wanna know why the big heart is broken? It wasn't big enough for all the love that was inside it."

This, from the kid who tells me he can't draw.

I am also a child of the seventies...

...and this made me sad.

Brad, wherever you are, thanks for the music.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Anti-racism, race traitors, and whiteness.

There's been interesting discussion about these issues in the blogosphere lately, and I'm not going to add to that particular discussion. But I did want to make this the topic of a post because it's been on my mind.

I am afraid that what I write will sound sanctimonious. I'm also afraid that I'm going to sound like I think white people are supposed to be the saviors of the world. I don't. But I'm going to write this anyway and hope you guys understand the spirit of what I'm saying if I don't get all the words right. What I'm trying to get at is not "how to make white people happy," but "how to get more white people 1) less racist and 2) involved in antiracist work."

When I teach about racism to white students, they get overwhelmed. Now - before anyone gets pissed off at the notion of privileged youth who are overwhelmed by the idea of racism but don't actually suffer from it, let me make my point: it is a big burden to take this on, this "I am responsible for the unearned privilege I get on a daily basis." It is. It doesn't mean that it is not a necessary burden, nor that it is a larger burden or even an equal burden to the burden of suffering from racist oppression, but let's just remember that sick, awful feeling that comes from the recognition that one is profiting from systematic campaigns that hurt other people. That sick, awful feeling, because you thought that you were just an innocent bystander, and then you realized that there are no innocent bystanders.

And there aren't a lot of public examples of ways to take responsibility for it. We don't have a lot of white heroes who are heroes for being antiracist. White people are always the fuck-ups in the stories about racism, right? So my students - and, quite frankly, I - need some models for what the hell to do to make a difference, to actually be anti-racist.

And because examples don't always come readily to mind, my students - and I - get stuck. The easy thing is to push it away (like we push away Darfur or AIDS or whatever else is too horrible to think about). I want to say first that this is a measure of privilege, this ability to push it away and think happy thoughts. Sometimes it's necessary to push the ugliness away and let it simmer in the backs of our minds for a little while while we gain perspective, but it's still a luxury to be able to do this at all.

The hard thing, though, is to bring it to the fore and start examining what racism means in our own lives. I can think of embarrassing and painful stupid-ass racist things I've thought and said and still cringe about, and I'm sure you all can, too. I have the uncomfortable feeling that there will be more of them to come in my life. And when anxiety and fear about this overtake us, this is white guilt.

White guilt is not a useful emotion. It makes us focus on shame and embarrassment, and it makes us feel yucky, and it doesn't usually prompt us to anti-racist work. So we sit there, and we either feel guilty, or we conquer that guilt by 1) insisting that the racism isn't occurring, or 2) shifting the focus away from ourselves by focusing on other people's racism.

I think white people who want to do antiracist work, to move past that white guilt, need to do four things:

1. We need to talk about racism. We need to do it openly, among ourselves. I say "ourselves" not to exclude anyone from the conversation, but to suggest that people of color do not need to educate us or pronounce us "cured." We are capable of having smart conversations about race and we are capable of unlearning racism, and we can do it if we make a space to talk about the contradictions we find, the confusing issues, the shameful moments, the questions about what to do next. We need to approach this like it's not a dirty secret but a process of unlearning and recovery.

The concept of white people living in families of color and how that affects them and their families, how other whites view them, how their racial sense of self changes, how their white-skin privilege can both be intact and still, somehow, altered, depending on circumstance - all of these are important topics. But, as we've seen, these are topics that require careful, nuanced discussion. Which brings me to number two:

2. We need to educate ourselves. We need to take responsibility for educating ourselves, and this education doesn't come from our friends of color, primarily. It comes from reading, from immersing ourselves in the world, from knowing what is going on.

And once we know, we have a duty:

3. We need to work in coalition with people of color in our communities on their issues (which are our issues, as well). We can't be antiracist in a vacuum. And antiracist struggle is not won through theory alone.

And then, finally:

4. We need to point out examples of how white people can do antiracist work. This is not to lionize the efforts of white people but to teach white people how to fight racism. We need to think of teaching moments, for example. How many white people know what to say when someone, seeing white skin and thinking they have an ally, makes a racist comment? I will tell you that I have no clue how to respond to this most effectively. Is it the time to educate? Is it the time to curse and yell? Do I go for education? Blowing off steam? Simply taking my business (for example) elsewhere after delivering a scathing explanation of why I won't give my money to a racist business owner? What will work? I ask these questions, not because they have simple answers (I would bet that the best reaction to each would depend on the situation), but because these are the kinds of questions white people need to be asking ourselves and each other. We need to be sharing our success stories, the times when we said something that made the racist person stop and think, or the times when we helped correct a wrong in our communities. We need to know what to do so that we can do something.

Barbara Smith once said something at a conference that I took to heart. She talked about how afraid white people are when it comes to working with Black people, that we are afraid of their anger. Sure, she said, sometimes you'll get anger. But, she went on, as a white friend of hers who did antiracist work had told her, she was surprised to find that much more often she met with generosity and kindness.

I would like to see whites being generous and kind to each other, as well, when we struggle. All too often - and maybe this was particular to my own grad school environment - I have witnessed (and participated in) a kind of smack down whenever someone would inadvertently reveal her unconscious racism. We never gently corrected. We publically humiliated. And I'm quite sure that this approach only leads to more fear and guilt, and not to confident, antiracist work.

I'm not sure if I've said anything of value here. I hope, at least, that I haven't come across as a self-important asshole. These are things I've been thinking for some time, and they're things my students often ask me about. I want to clarify, too, and say that of the four points I list, I think the most important is number 3. Number 3 is taking action. The other points are supplementary, but necessary.

I didn't talk yet about race traitors. I think if we do these things, that does make us race traitors - in the sense that, as the journal, Race Traitor says, "Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity." What the journal focuses on is rejecting white privilege, refusing to see ourselves or let others see us as white. But rejecting white privilege - to the extent that that is even possible - alone doesn't cut it. We have to take action.

I'm curious to know what people think of this.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sex, desire, mini-skirts, and feminism.

“I believe in a relation between theory and practice. If I’m wearing a miniskirt and stilettos – I’d to ask just who I’m wearing these for.” - Womansspace

“First off, in MY mini-skirt wearing days, I mostly wore them to the gay bar. I really enjoyed flirting it up with other women in my ubber-girlie attire. I also relished the thought of being an object of desire for those women. FOR WOMEN ONLY, that is. However, if I would’ve been at a straight venue, it makes no difference. Desire is desire” – Sally Sunshine

“Why must we involve sex in bringing about a meaningful poltical revolution? What is “sexy” about that.” - Womansspace

“I’ve never wanted to be anyone’s object of desire. To be honest, it’s not fun when men gaze and it’s not more fun when women do it." – Womansspace

I’m really intrigued by the subthreads that have emerged in the comments section of Friday’s post. I think the first question is an excellent one, one that we as feminists should always be asking ourselves, not because we have to vigilant about meeting any particular feminist standards but because it can be helpful in recognizing patterns of behavior that are harmful as well as those that are helpful.

Tangent: In my freshman year of college, my Woman’s Studies professor asked us “Who benefits?” And in a sudden flash of realization, I wrote it in all caps in my journal – “WHO BENEFITS?” – and marched straight back to my room and broke up with my asshole boyfriend, who wasn’t really my boyfriend (which is part of why he was an asshole, because he was playing a weird head game with me and some other women. His newest acquisition came up to me later that semester and demanded to know why I hadn’t told her “what a scoundrel he is?!”, which I should have done, only I hadn’t realized at the time that she was a person of substance.).

So – what does a meaningful political revolution have to do with sex? Whom do we wear “sexy” clothes for? Is it ever ok to be the object of desire? Does it make any difference who’s looking? And who benefits?

I have certainly depended overly much on the affirmation of others in order to feel good about myself. I don’t see that as a good thing. But at the same time, I think there is such a thing as a gaze of admiration. I don't think that being looked at and appreciated is synonymous with being objectified and disrespected. I *think* that I can mostly tell the difference. There are looks and then there are looks.

But it can be scary to be the object of that gaze, whether or not it's a respectful gaze. It means that others will approach you. They will tell you that they are attracted to you. You will have to deal with this. They won't always hear your deflections because they are entitled or arrogant or socially awkward or persistent or inexperienced in dating or whatever. This will happen whether the other person is male or female, and whether *you* are male or female.

Having to deal with someone you need to say "no" to can feel like a burden, and I've seen feminists, in their annoyance and discomfort at having to speak the "no," refuse to do it and then get angry at the other person for not taking a hint. And then feel indignant at having been oppresed. (I'm not talking about stalking or harassment here.)

It can also be scary because a woman in a miniskirt and heels looks, to many men, like a woman who wants to be fucked - like a woman who is available to men. Whether or not she actually does is irrelevant. And it is this that upsets radical feminists - this knowingly playing with clothing that is designed to stimulate and to convey sexual messages (though, I'd argue, while this may have been the intent of the designs, they function differently these days).

And I think that all of this is wrapped up in the feminist debate about clothing and desire.

What do you think?

Friday, March 02, 2007

The meaning of feminism.

Over on A Woman's Space, there's a really interesting discussion of the differences between feminist generations. This is a response to Jessica Valente's piece on her frustrations as a "young feminist." Excerpts from A Woman's Space's post:

"One thing that I find young feminists unwilling to examine is their basal ideology. To give you a really clear idea about this let’s pursue this theme of yours, (not mine) on feminism and “social justice.” That’s a new phrase, not totally untrue, but largely alien to feminists. In the second wave, feminism focused on WOMEN’S ISSUES, not social justice. Your definition I believe moves women out of the center, and into the margins where patriarchy always places women. The purpose of feminism is to keep the political focus on women. To many second wavers this looks like a concession to the backlash as much of third wave feminism does.

You go on to talk about many things you don’t like about feedback you receive from second wavers. Some examples you gave had to do with the sexism of your logo. Let’s be more specific because much is lost in the word sexism. Your logo [link mine - PF] objectifies women and makes women prominent as sex objects and not as people. That’s exactly the opposite of what feminists want and is probably why you are not included as much as you’d like. As I see it, your ideology is not really consistent with feminism."


"I look forward to your participation in feminism which has a core political ideology which seems really inconvenient to younger “feminists”. It’s not you, it’s not your youth, it’s your conceptualization and to be honest, I think that you way detract from feminism rather than to add to it. Being even more specific, I KNOW we need young feminists but your liberal/queer/heteronormative ideology isn’t going to help feminism at all."


"I think there has been a loss willingness to listen to women who are a heck of a lot more experienced than you are. You do seem “bratty” for what looks like an inability to actually dialogue. But these aren’t the things I’d criticize you for. I was there and when I was there, I was thinking exactly about you and the legacy we would be handing to you and how that common shared legacy could help break down a generation gap. I was wrong. It never occurred to me that your generation wouldn’t even bother to read second wave literature. That is a painful rejection when I can so clearly remember thinking about your face, before your face existed."
And here is my own response:

I disagree with many points in this post. First, I would argue that feminism has *always* been about social justice. Women's oppression is an issue of social justice. Feminists of color have always fought for social justice for white women and people of color. Historically, feminist activism has rarely been narrowly concerned with only women's rights. RARELY. Sojourner Truth's speech was as much about being a person of color as it was about being a woman. Labor uprisings led by women were about workers' rights as much as women's rights. Indigenous movements led by women are feminist AND simultaneously about the survival of native peoples. This does not mean that feminism has *never* focused only on women's oppression, but my point is that reading as feminist only those actions and politics that focused so narrowly leaves out a great many examples of feminist activism. And it's this kind of selective memory that make "feminism" synonymous with "white middle-class feminism" for many, many people.

I also take issue with your claim that young feminists in general don't read second wave lit, which is about as fair and as accurate as saying that second wavers don't read third wave lit. In other words: some do, some don't, but we can't paint everyone with the same brush. It often seems that a lot of the people who are complaining about one or the other haven't actually read the literature. But at the same time, a lot of us have.

A valid criticism of *some* second wave ideology is that it insists on "woman" as a universal and doesn't accept that in doing so, it is defining "woman" as "white, middle-class, able-bodied," and so on - which is what ends up happening the minute you say that feminism is only about women. Such a statement ignores the reality of, for example, Black women's lives. Native American women's lives. It ignores working-class struggles. It ignores women with disabilities. And so on. And on.

A valid criticism of *some* third wave ideology is that it doesn't seem informed by second wave ideology - there doesn't seem to be an understanding of what those ideologies were and are. It casts second wave feminists as anti-sex and anti-humor. It sometimes deals with issues like sex work less than critically.
But let's remember that part of the second wave of feminism is also sex radical feminists, who challenge the anti-porn and anti-prostitution notions of other branches of the second wave. The third wave is building on these well-respected, feminist thinkers, as well as on womanist and Black feminist and other feminists of color thought - The Combahee River Collective, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua. So in some ways, this division between the waves is artificial - it's not about generation, but rather about schools of thought that have continued, and continued to be in conflict with each other.

In keeping with this, I also disagree as much with your categorizing of young feminists as I do with Valente's categorizing of feminists older than she is. I see just as much feminist policing going on within generations as I do between them. This particular practice has very little to do with age. I know radical feminists who are in college and sex radicals who could be my grandmothers. I see this policing happening in every identity political group - there are "dialogues" (read: near fistfights) about who is Jewish enough, lesbian enough, Black enough, Indian enough, working class enough, feminist enough.


You can argue that certain things - miniskirts, heels - aren't feminist, but that doesn't make them not feminist. I will continue to wear my miniskirts and heels, and you can tell me until you're blue in the face that I'm not a feminist, but that won't undo the feminist work that I am doing, and it won't make me not a feminist simply because you say so. The underlying issue here is about desire, and we feminists have never agreed among ourselves about desire.

And all of that came out angry-sounding when I'm not, in fact, angry at all, just firm.

But I think there is sometimes another issue here, and it's one you hint at and one that Baumgardner and Richards also note in their book Manifesta (which, for what it's worth, I don't think is a very good assessment of the issues in the movement) - it's this mother-daughter metaphor, this sense that feminist foremothers saw themselves as handing down a particular legacy to the younger generation and are pissed and frustrated that the younger generation isn't more grateful and doesn't seem to be carrying the torch. I understand that. I really do. But this is how it is: movements change. People come of political age in different environments. The political landscape changes. You can't expect that the movement you gave birth to will look the same, that feminism will look the same now or that it will meet the needs of young women today in the same way. You just can't.

And this is the woman you're saying does not have a feminist ideology:

"Jessica is a 28 year-old feminist writer from New York and the founder of She has a Masters degree in Women's and Gender Studies from Rutgers University and has worked with organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice America, Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund), Planned Parenthood, the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and Ms. magazine. She is also a co-founder of the REAL hot 100, a campaign to highlight the important work that young women are doing across the country.

Jessica is the editor of Beijing Betrayed, a global monitoring report on women's progress worldwide and a contributing author to We Don't Need Another Wave (Seal Press). Her writing has appeared in Ms. magazine, Salon, The Guardian, Alternet, The Scholar & Feminist and Guernica.

Her book, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters, will be available in Spring 2007."

Not a feminist?

Or just a different kind of feminist than you are?

Snow day.

Blizzard warning here in South Dakota. We've had the last two days off - everything is closed, even the mall.

You know it's serious if they close the mall.

Yesterday was Bean's first snow day. Bean's daycare closed early yesterday, but we kept him home the whole day since the roads were so awful. Even my own classes were cancelled, which NEVER happens, so you know this blizzard we've been hearing about is for real. Mr. Plainsfeminist's classes were not cancelled, initially, but he stayed home, anyway - the highways were too treacherous, and we knew from past experience that it was likely his classes would have been cancelled by the time he got there (which is exactly what happened).

I haven't had a snow day in a long time. When I was a kid, my elation at the news that school was closed was soon erased by my dad calling me to help shovel the walk and the driveway so that he could get to work. But snow days often meant hanging out with friends, or at the very least, lying on the couch and watching t.v. at home.

As a parent, it's been fun trying to make these snow days special. Since I can't work at home with Bean here, I've been released from the pressure to produce - and I have permission to have fun. My efforts to include Bean in baking (Gramma's butter cookies and apple cake) were not successful: he prefers to eat what I've baked. But we both had a blast taking a homemade sled (a cardboard box with a plastic bag taped around it) down the hill made by the snowplow. And he's gotten to watch far too much television, to his delight. I also took the mattress off his top bunk so that he could jump on it, which kept him busy for some time.

I think he's been having fun.

For my part, I've barely been out of my pajamas for the last day and a half. I've slept a lot - not entirely on purpose, as I had a bad headache last night - burned a few cds I've been meaning to burn, started downloading new stuff from eMusic, baked, done many loads of dishes, and talked on the phone for some time to friends and relatives I haven't seen in a while. In short, I did "Saturday things." These are the things that most people, who are not academics, do on the weekend, when I am usually running around doing work that didn't get done during the week.

I could get used to this.