Friday, June 27, 2008

Well, I did need a lift...

Apparently, some of Bean's friends have seen the new Iron Man movie, or at least they've seen the commercials and heard the Black Sabbath song. Bean came home singing, "I - am - Iron Man - kick me in the balls and I'll still stand!"

So, first, we had to explain what "balls" were, and he didn't believe us, so he started smacking them to prove that it really wouldn't hurt, and Mr. P had to intervene and have a longer discussion with him. Then, once we had established that one should not smack or otherwise traumatize one's balls, we had to explain that songs with the word "balls" in them are not songs to be sung outside of one's own room. (This proved a challenge, though he's taken lately to replacing "balls" with "head." I still think these are unnecessarily violent lyrics for a little boy to sing, but hey, it's an improvement.)

As part of my push to get him to stop singing about being kicked in the balls, I had the distinct pleasure of getting to introduce Bean to the Black Sabbath original. Which is seeming a lot less cool tonight than it did yesterday morning, as we have since listened to it at least 15 times. And in addition to the Black Sabbath version, we've also listened to several "Chipmunks" versions, as well as the parody, "I am Santa Claus," which is really quite clever, and maybe even better.

As a result, all of these songs are now ringing in my head, and I am beginning to hate Ozzy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I have clearly been living in the midwest for too long.

This will not be my last post because I have promised to blog about the Bailey panel - and I will. But after that, I am not sure.

I have been involved in - not directly, but present for them, often commenting on the threads where they explode or on second-tier-out threads - quite a few blogwars. And I've been present at quite a few IRL wars. It used to be that the rage from these things could fuel me for several days. It used to be that I'd jump right in with the best of them, so anxious to prove that I was right about whatever it was (and I'm sure some of you are thinking, "WTF? PF, you did that just yesterday!").

But I'm back now from an annual conference I've been attending for a decade, and this time, I saw it with new eyes. I saw people treat each other so shittily that one of my students was sorry she had come. I saw students and faculty, both, leave rooms in tears. And mostly, what I saw was a complete lack of willingness to communicate honestly, to give the other person any room or benefit of the doubt whatsoever.

What distresses me is not so much that I saw this happen at one particular panel. What disturbes me is that I saw this happen repeatedly - at a panel, at a business meeting, in a social setting.

What the hell are we doing to each other? Is this what feminism/Women's Studies is supposed to be about? This is not productive. It sure feels good to vent, but if what we want to see happen is a change, then this is not the way to do that.

The result that I see is that those who were present at some of these events will not be returning - and this group of non-returnees is a diverse group that cuts across race and class and ability. (And several others I know, also a diverse group, who did not know about these events, had a grand time and will be back, and that's great - I'm happy they had a good time.)

This is one thing that is not the fault of the NWSA as an institution. This is the fault of people who come to the organization expecting it to meet their emotional needs.* And I know this, and I have been one of these people, and we cannot expect all of the practitioners of our discipline to meet our emotional needs.

Somewhere in the past week, I lost the stomach for all of this. I don't think fighting each other is getting us anywhere, not anywhere at all. And I can't seem to find any feminist discussion online that isn't, at some point, about the fighting - even dependent on it.

I'm tired, and I feel like I'm wasting my time fighting with people who I ultimately have more reasons to agree with than not. I'm wearing myself down instead of using my powers for good. So I'm not sure at all that I want to continue this blog in this incarnation.

Maybe tomorrow or in a few days I'll get over this funk, but for now, I expect to begin a serious blog hiatus after one or two more posts.

*Thanks to my airport buddy for pointing this out to me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bailey, Seal Press, NWSA, etc.

This is a teaser post, because I am far too emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted to write tonight. I did attend both the session at which Alice Dreger gave her paper as well as the session by trans activists/scholars on the "Bailey Brouhaha," as it was called in the session title. Andrea James, Elise Hendrick, and Kristina Rose presented on this latter session, which was organized and moderated by Joelle Ruby Ryan, and their papers were absolutely excellent. I, for one, learned a lot. And it's worth saying that, while there was all kinds of drama and throwing under buses and other lovely professional behavior almost everywhere else at the conference, it did not happen at either of these panels (unless it happened in the last ten minutes - I had to leave to give my own presentation).

Also, I got to hang out with Anxious Black Woman, and we got to do some radical drama making. Well, she took the lead, and I followed, but we did at least do something, however small, about Seal Press.

Oh, and the NWSA's Delegate Assembly recommended that we approve the formation of a brand spankin' new Trans Caucus, and I believe it was passed unanimously. History in the making, folks.

There's lots more, all to come.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Off to NWSA.

If you'll be there, too, drop me a line.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Calls for Queer / Mothering / Queer Mothering Papers!

And I certainly hope some of my favorite bloggers will submit their work:

Call #1:
edited by Susan Driver and Zoe Newman
collection of essays to be published by Demeter Press fall 2009

A proliferation of experientially based essays, media stories, documentary films, television profiles, photographic essays and do-it-yourself manuals featuring lesbian mothers and gay dads have emerged to mark out cultural discourses in which to understand lesbian and gay families. But while these images and narratives enable positive representations that counter invisibility and marginalization, they often work to delimit transformative mode of thinking and acting beyond normalizing categories. For LGBTTT2Q communities in Canada, the US, and Europe, family has been a site of struggle and invisibility, and has also been constructed as a site of transformation and pride, sometimes with the result that we have sidelined interrogations of how 'queer families' are normative and exclusionary. It is those troubling, ambiguous and unintelligible subjects that do not fit neatly into parental discourses that need to enter into public dialogues as part of a comprehensive project of queering parenting.

This book adopts a range of critically queer theoretical perspectives to rethink the parameters of parenting and family beyond heteronormative boundaries. Our goal is to engage with difficult knowledges and changing embodied parental experiences that include dynamic gender and sexual arrangements as they are lived through multi-layered racial, national and class relations. Rather than list those identities that fit into a queer paradigm we encourage a more pliable framework that explores the institutions, languages and contexts of parenting, complicating the ways powers shape alternatives to white middle-class heterosexual nuclear formations. Our interest is in fostering interpretive work on parenting that bridges articulations of intimate subjectivity, and analysis of broad social and historical forces that cumulatively impact what can be done and said in the name of diverse family relations.

We hope to include a range of styles of academic writing, and encourage interdisciplinary modes of analysis. The following topics interest us but they do not exhaust the horizon of our search:

Transgender parenting within and beyond bi-gender mother and father roles
Transnational queer parenting or transnational and queer critiques of the family
Affective/psychic/embodied transformations of queer parenting
Queering public/private and national boundaries of reproductivity
The status of 'queer' as a strategic and heuristic tool of family life
Parenting and sexualities
Media representations and spectacles of queer families
Alternative visual and artistic depictions of family life
Racialization of queer family discourses
Queering family law
Queer interventions with reproductive technologies
Reflecting on gay and lesbian self-help parenting texts
Community based queer family activism and organizing
Commodification of queer parenting and queer families

Deadline for papers is October 31, 2008. All papers must be MLA format (7000 word limit).

Please submit inquiries and complete essays to both: and

Call #2:
Dyke Moms, Donor Dads, and Reconceiving the Queer Family: An Anthology
You're an out dyke about town. You meet someone, shack up, get a cat. You survive the non-monogamy negotiations and a renovation, get jobs in your fields, do lots of therapy, and decide it's time to expand beyond your twosome into the world of parenthood. Being enterprising women with a solid do-it-yourself streak, you decide to forgo the impersonality and expense of a sperm bank and ask Tony, your gay friend from college, to donate some sperm to the cause. What could be simpler? A few months, a few syringes, some egg white and folic acid, a bit of awkwardness, and baby will make three.

Uh, make that four. Or five. Or maybe six. Because Tony (who, oddly, didn't just miraculously vaporize as soon as the child was conceived) has a mother and a partner, both of whom want a relationship to the child. Like it or not, baby's made something a lot more than what you bargained for. But what?

This anthology, to be published in Spring 2009 by Toronto's Insomniac Press, will explore, through personal essays and first-person accounts, the phenomenon of lesbian couples (and the occasional single dyke) who choose a male friend or acquaintance, rather than an anonymous sperm donor, to father their children.

With no clear models to follow, this new version of the queer family is creating its own. That's where this anthology comes in. We are seeking stories that are funny, touching, heartbreaking, provocative, thoughtful — and very, very relevant to the new queer (and queer-positive) family.

We are looking for creative non-fiction and first-person accounts by lesbian mothers who have chosen known sperm donors in order to conceive; gay and straight men who have become sperm donors to lesbian mothers; their partners, their children, and other invested parties.

Submissions might explore (but should not be limited to) the following issues and themes:

When baby-making doesn't take or takes too long; dealing with infertility, miscarriage, or even routine insemination is difficult enough for the average couple, so what happens when the donor also becomes emotionally involved? What happens when negotiations break down?

Can his parents come to visit? Is it rude to insist they stay in a hotel? With new family configurations come new questions of etiquette. How to deal gracefully (or at least sanely) with an often unexpected extended family.

The other mother: What happens to the experience of non-biological mothers when a biological "Dad" is also part of the picture? Non-biological mothers in lesbian partnerships have long had to deal with issues of belonging and recognition in a society that is slow to recognize them as parents. Non-biological moms talk about the processes and challenges of claiming their roles as primary parents.

"Daddy" doesn't mean what it used to … How does the choice to become a donor redefine circles of gay male friends and the identities of gay men? From sperm count and motility to number of children fathered, the "donor" phenomenon has sparked new concerns and conversations among gay men.

My husband is sleeping with lesbians! What does it mean when your partner is the father of the new baby — but the baby isn't yours? From straight women who never thought they wanted kids to gay men who must put up with their boyfriends' new "focus," the new "donor" family has far-reaching implications.

What if the birth changes everything? The donor who didn't want to be overly involved is smitten with "his" new son or daughter. On top of figuring out how to live with a newborn, the new moms must find a way to negotiate the demands of a relationship they didn't realize they were entering into.

Gay divorce: What happens to the donor if the moms split up? What happens when the relationship between moms and donor deteriorates?

To submit, send two double-spaced hard copies and an electronic copy on disc (in .rtf format) to the address below. Submissions should not exceed 15 pages or 7,500 words. Please left-justify your submission and use a serif font (e.g., Times New Roman) in 12-point size. Please include your name, address, telephone number, email address, and a brief bio (100 words). Submissions will not be returned. Emailed submissions will not be considered.

Deadline for Submissions: September 15, 2008

Contact us: Chloe Brushwood Rose & Susan Goldberg, Editors, Reconceiving Anthology
c/o Dr. Chloe Brushwood Rose
Faculty of Education
York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

Call #3:
The Future Landscape of Sexualities (deadline: June 20, 2008)
** */thirdspace: a journal of feminist theory and culture*/*/* /
invites contributions for its forthcoming issue on The Future Landscape of Sexualities. Recognizing the central role which discussions of sexuality, identity, and culture have played in recent feminist scholarship, this issue will consider how sexuality informs gendered identities, as well as nodes of power including, race, class, ability, age, culture, nation, and religion. What does the future hold for human sexualities and sexual identities? How might current practices, assumptions, power relations, and identities shape these future sexualities? What new forms might sexualities evolve into in the future? How might these future sexualities transcend/reproduce current definitions of, and ideologies concerning, sexuality and sexual identity? Possible topics include:

· future utopic and dystopic sexualities
· role(s) of technologies (reproductive, virtual, synthetic) in the evolution and expression of sexuality
· the evolution of sex work
· queer sexualities
· inversions and convergences of sexuality and identity (including female masculinities and male femininities)
· the future of 'normative' masculinities and femininities
· sexualities and colour, sexualities and dis/ability, sexualities and age
· depictions of future sexualities in fiction, film, music, and art
Papers that ground speculation about the future with historical analyses of past transitions in sexualities are also welcome.

We welcome submissions from a wide range of disciplinary and geographical perspectives. Submissions from researchers working within, or among, the disciplines of geography, sociology, literature, area studies, cultural studies, film/media studies, art, history, education, law, and women’s/gender studies are particularly encouraged.

We accept the submission of work from scholars of any rank or affiliation, and encourage submissions from emerging feminist scholars, including graduate students.

All submissions to the journal must be submitted electronically through our online submission process. All submissions are peer-reviewed by established, senior feminist scholars. For more information on our publishing policies see:

To submit: Please follow our online submission process at**

** Deadline: June 20, 2008 **

For more information, please contact us at info [at]

Call #4:
Reconciling Art and Motherhood

For centuries, mother artists were an oxymoronic concept. And yet, they existed, carving out unique spaces for themselves in an often unwelcoming profession, amid social pressures and financial hardships. Long denigrated as a viable topic for artistic practice, motherhood is gradually gaining credibility and increasing its visibility in contemporary art. Mary Kelly, Sally Mann, Renée Cox, and many others in recent decades have paved the way to combining this life-altering social role with a successful career. Institutions, however, are so slow to change that, as in centuries past, motherhood can still serve as a detriment in both the art world and academic communities.

Submissions are sought for an anthology to be proposed, tentatively titled Reconciling Art and Motherhood. Essays by artists and art historians will explore how individuals have integrated experiences of motherhood within their work. While recent related anthologies, such as Bee Lavender and Maia Rossini’s excellent Mamaphonic (2004), most often have favored writers over artists, this anthology seeks to highlight exclusively a range of visual artistic practice. The following topics, among others, are encouraged: readings of the maternal body in contemporary art; historical examinations of artist-mothers; artistic documentation of aspects of motherhood and/or childhood; the embrace of motherhood in artistic/art historical practice; the problematics of motherhood as a theme; the delicate balance of maintaining family and producing / writing about art; making motherhood a "legitimate" topic for artistic production; issues of motherhood and family leave in the artist's workplace; the implications of intentionally avoiding motherhood or mothering-based art; artist "success stories" in the face of adversity.
If you are interested in submitting to this anthology, please send an abstract by September 1, 2008.

Submit to: Rachel Epp Buller, Bethel College,
Subject line: Artist Anthology Submission
Deadline: September 1, 2008, for initial abstract
Include: Title, Abstract (200-250 words), Name, Institutional Affiliation, Address, Phone, Email Address, Brief Bio (50 words)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Why I don't get it.

But I have trouble understanding how any woman, including those who didn’t support her, cannot empathize with the sadness of women who supported her at Clinton’s loss.

Answering for myself...first, because there is little about Clinton that bears any resemblance to feminism, unless by "feminism" we mean "white, middle-class, imperialism," which I do not.

Second, because of the things that were said by the Clinton campaign and by some of her more vocal supporters over the course of the campaign. When the racist comments came out of the Clinton campaign, that is when her campaign, for me, stopped being revolutionary. There is nothing revolutionary about trying to step on someone else in order to get to the top. I have trouble seeing past the racism of the Gloria Steinems and the Robin Morgans. And very often, what I hear from the white women I know who supported Clinton, is that there *was* no racism in the campaign.

So yes, I have trouble understanding this sadness, because in order to understand it I have to frame the whole situation as one in which racism isn't a big deal, as one in which women of color simply do not exist.

Second, in order to understand this sadness, I would also have to frame the whole situation as one in which biology is the only thing that matters. Electing a woman president is only radical if the woman herself is radical. I don't care how many yahoos you find who say that America isn't ready for a woman president. It wasn't radical to appoint Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, either (and you know who were, for the most part, the ones having a conversation about whether or not it was? WHITE PEOPLE! Black lawyers were fit to be tied as White people put this man up and argued it was a strike against racial injustice to appoint him!).

And while HRC and Thomas are clearly worlds apart, you cannot selectively pick and choose among Clinton's accomplishments and leave out the yucky bits. Yes, she gets points for some of her wonderful work on behalf of women, but she also loses points for her war vote and for many of her foreign policy positions.

For my part, I cannot understand why seeing Obama as the nominee would bring any feminist anything but joy. Had Clinton won, this feminist would not have felt that women as a group had made a step forward. But because Obama won, I feel that all of us Americans have moved forward, and this has a lot to do with the kind of campaign he ran and the kind of presidency I believe he will have.

Edited to add: two other posts on this issue that I really like:
ProfBW's and BFP's.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Drinking the Weight Watchers Kool-Aid.

Now, I like Weight Watchers. Of the "diets" that are out there, WW is pretty clearly one of the best, and when I'm on it, I generally eat a lot more healthfully - lots of veggies and fruit and lean meats and dairy, and probably less of the non-nutritive stuff than I would normally eat. I like that it's not about deprivation, and I like that it lets you set your own goal weight and doesn't tell you that you're supposed to be able to squeeze into your jeans from high school. I also like that it encourages baby steps, so that everyone who tries it can find ways to succeed, whether that be eating a more balanced diet or increasing exercise or whatever.

But where I always run into trouble with Weight Watchers is here: when you are focused on losing weight, it is awfully hard not to fall back on destructive stereotypes about fat - and about fat people.

For example - at a recent meeting, our leader asked us why we thought it was that people ate so much on holidays. I raised my hand and said that I thought it was because so many of us deprive ourselves the rest of the year and see the holiday seasons as a time to indulge and treat ourselves. She looked at me somewhat incredulously and said, "who deprives themselves? Who are these people you're talking about? I don't see anyone depriving themselves." She said this with such scorn in her voice, scorn that betrayed her disgust at people who don't control their eating.

Readers, I was taken aback. First of all, when you think of the people you are close to, do you not, like me, think of many who refuse dessert, or who will only order it if someone will split it with them? People who leave perfectly delicious chocolate mousse cake on the plate rather than eat the last bite? (And we know there's a power and control thing going on there, too, right, with some folks? That eating two bites and leaving the rest for you?) People whose talk of food is peppered with value judgements: "I was so good this week," or "I'm going to behave and say no and have a glass of water instead."

Second of all, I was a little freaked out by her tone, which seemed to imply that it would be better for these fat folks to deprive themselves a little than to commit the sin of eating too much.

I have heard that in L.A., it's possible to take driver ed classes that focus around a theme - you can be in the environmental concerns driver ed, or the driver ed for 12-steppers, or what have you. I guess what I'd like to find is a feminist Weight Watchers, one that doesn't feel the need to find answers to obvious questions. Why do people eat so much over the holidays? Because it is the one time we feel we are not only permitted to eat all the foods we like, but we are also encouraged to do so. Because food is social. Because it feels good to eat and to share good food with people we like and love. It is not a complicated question, and while we may want to eat less or more healthfully, the answer does not need to put anyone down in order to be helpful.

There are certain comments and suggestions that I like to say come from drinking the WW Kool-Aid. You can tell if someone has drunk the Kool-Aid because they say things that just do not make any kind of logical sense. For example, I have heard WW leaders tell groups that exercise will make them less hungry. Well...yes, in the sense that right after an intense workout, the last thing I want to do right away is eat. I want to drink a bottle of water, and then I want to take a shower, and so I won't be hungry for a little while. But in general, exercise makes us hungrier because our bodies need more fuel for the work they are doing. Telling people that exercise will help to quiet their appetite is just setting them up for failure and self-blame.

Something else that I see as an outgrowth of WW Kool-Aid indulgence is pushing unhealthy foods on people in order to help them to stay on their "healthy" WW plan. For instance, I know a lot of WW members who make cake with a can of diet soda instead of oil. Um, that's great, in terms of keeping the points down on the cake. But diet soda isn't good for you. Sucralose and other sugar substitutes are, in fact, potentially dangerous (you don't even need me to link - just google this yourself and you'll find all kinds of horror stories). So recommending that we bake with Splenda so that we can lose weight always sounds, to me, like recommending that we dust our cheeks with lead (thanks, Zula!) so that they'll be nice and rosy, while we meanwhile slowly poison ourselves.

Finally, I would like to see WW stop repeating the same stupid "science" that is floating around out there, like the idea of this "obesity epidemic." Newsflash: when you change the guidelines of what constitutes "obesity" so that more people are now termed obese, this is not an epidemic. That is like annexing Canada and then stepping up the birth control advertisements in an attempt to slow the tremendous population growth (apologies to my Canadian readers).

I have a fantasy of leaving copies of "The Strange History of Suzanne LaFleshe" in Weight Watchers weighing-in rooms across the country - of becoming a Johnny Appleseed sowing self-content and self-love. There is a place for Weight Watchers, certainly, but there should be a place in Weight Watchers for feminists who aren't fatphobic. (And yes, I think you can be in Weight Watchers without being fatphobic. Sounds contradictory, I know, but I think it's possible.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Hillary feminists and Obama feminists.

So, hopefully we won't need to be talking about this for too much longer (if Hillary concedes and releases her delegates, that is, but that remains to be seen), but I was explaining this to a friend the other day, and I thought it was a helpful way to understand it. I used to think it was a generational divide, and certainly, it does sort of seem to play out that way, in general. But then I realized that it has less to do with generation and more to do with what kind of feminism one subscribes to. If you see gender as the central feature of feminism, then you are likely to be a Hillary supporter. If you see race, class, and other issues as intertwined with gender and equally important to your feminism, then you are likely to be an Obama supporter.

I think that's a pretty good description of the division.

Meanwhile - is it wrong for me to be thinking about how effing revolutionary and awesome it will be to have a Black First Family?! So much, so much will be different from here on out.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Working on my smile.

If I don't know you and I pass you on the street, chances are, I try to flash you a friendly smile. The thing is, when I do this, I seem to have some problem coordinating my mouth muscles, and so what you get can best be described as an "mmmf" face, the sort of face that Charlie Brown makes when he is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and grunting in assent.

When I see someone I know, I'm freed of my muscular paralysis and able to give that person a genuine, open-lipped smile. Why I can't do this with people I don't know, I'm not quite sure, but I suspect that it has something to do with feeling awkward.
(Sometimes, when I pass large groups of teenages, I forget how to walk and have to concentrate really hard. This doesn't happen nearly as often as it used to, but it does still happen occasionally.)

I'm pretty sure that these are the physical manifestations of intense self-consciousness, and they are difficult to overcome.

So, while my "mmmf" face may possibly still be a friendly face, I'm working on a simple smile, not even a full-force, tooth-showing smile, but just a slight upturn of closed lips. I practiced it in the mirror - I don't have to put forth much effort for it to look real, but because this particular smile feels so unnatural to me, not being my regular, without-thinking smile, I need to work on it. It actually looks fine, but it feels like it looks ridiculous, and I have to keep checking the mirror to make sure it doesn't.

(I've tried the teeth-together smile with lips bared, which some people can pull off quite well, and this actually feels very comfortable on my face, but unfortunately, when I do this, I look like a maniacal beaver readying for the attack.)

Please tell me that I am not the only one who has this sort of problem.

I am supposed to be doing something else right now...

...but I had to stop to say, "Holy crap!"

When Ferraro first came out with her problematic comments about race, I wasn't quite convinced that they were racist. Silly me. How very wrong I was. This newest piece certainly provides the context for those earlier comments, and it removes any benefit of the doubt I had been willing to give her. All I can say now is

1) I so regret having worn a Mondale/Ferraro campaign button back in high school;

2) in contrast to Ferraro's attempt to speak for American women, of the feminists I know, only a couple still support Clinton at this point, and the vast majority are just appalled at the blatant racist comments she has made;

3) the fact that White people are afraid to say something because they feel they will be called racist does not automatically mean that they are being treated unfairly, nor is this a recent outcome of the Obama campaign. Hello? It's called entitlement, and it's about having become accustomed to saying racist things and not being called on them because I didn't mean anything by it! I'm not racist! I don't see color! Everyone is white to me!;

4) it is disingenous, at best, to accuse Obama of playing the race card when he was forced to give a speech on race relations in America (but nonetheless, did so with a heckuva lot more grace and honesty than we've seen from any major candidate, ever, thus far);

- and -

5) You know what? Yes, sometimes, White people, we may get called out for racism when, in fact, we have not been racist. That can and does happen. But you know what else? What happens far more often is that White people get called out for racism and refuse to recognize that what we did was genuinely racist - even if we didn't mean it to be! - as we have seen with Ferraro yet again.

I am going to go make a donation to Obama's campaign, now. Was that the effect you were hoping to have, Gerri?

Thanks to Angry Black Woman for the link.