Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Dave and I got engaged January 1st. Besides being wonderfully happy to spend the rest of my life with the man i love, I am also excited to have a whole new world of wedding hoopla to explore, analyze, and write about! Discussing weddings from a feminist perspective will prove challenging. So here i'll start, at a good place as any, with the ever so important engagement ring... dun dun dunnnnnn
I think i figured out the formula to true marital happiness. The size of the ring = the size of his love for you. Right? Yea, i didn't think so either... but it's what they want us to believe.
The diamond industry is evil. But my dad is a jeweler. It's how he has made a living ever since we immigrated here from Russia in the 90's. Also, my great grandmother and grandmother both passed away and left me beautiful antique stones. I had little choice in the matter of a ring. I was getting one no matter how much i protest the symbolism.
Still, i need to be honest here. Though i wanted to show off my dad's talents and craft, i was very reluctant to wear a ring. I thought it would make me a hypocrite and all my feminist friends would disown me for it. I hate what engagement rings symbolize. The ownership, the "insurance" so he doesn't leave, the conflict diamonds, and everything else Feminist Finance mentions. Instead, i wanted a massage chair. This has been an ongoing conversation and i thought it unfair that i have to wear a symbol of ownership while Dave got his dream guitar as an engagement present from me. (See, now that you realize Dave got a kick-ass guitar all you couples that mocked our egalitarian relationship wish you'd changed your tune). I have always known i would get him his dream guitar when we decided to get hitched, because we should each get something substantial, not just me. So i wanted a massage chair. I wanted something expensive, that i wouldn't buy for myself, that i would love and use and appreciate. Something i couldn't wear on my finger, something that didn't symbolize ownership, something important to me. I realize my economic-privilege is showing here, i apologize for this.
A massage chair was out of the question. Like i said, my father is a jeweler. An amazingly talented, high fashion, well respected jeweler. I had to have a ring. Not just A ring but THE ring. Not having one was out of the question, so was the massage chair (couldn't we just gem-stone the hell out of the chair???) So if me wearing a ring was a nonnegotiable, i would have a say in this ring.
My ring is absolutely gorgeous. It's sparkly, it's unique, and most importantly it's meaningful. The center stone was my great grandmother's and the work is that of my father. I couldn't have asked for more from an engagement ring. Also, Dave is planning on wearing a wedding band throughout our engagement because my ring shouldn't represent i am "taken" while he is still "not." More the reason i love my feminist fiance.
But here's the catch: my ring was a size too big! So i am currently not wearing it while it is getting resized! Oh the horror!!! The first words out of everyone mouth as soon as D and I told them we are getting married were, "Congratulations! Let me see your ring." Or they'd automatically grab my left hand and pull it towards them. Or they stick out their hand, presenting their ring finger, expecting me to do the same as if i'm now a part of this exclusive girl's club. At first, before i can understand what was happening, i would stick out my hand too! When no ring was apparent their face would shift from excitement to disappointment, and then to pity. "Oh you poor thing," they'd think, "he doesn't love you enough to buy you a ring?" I never meant to offend anyone by not wearing my ring so i would quickly blurt out an apology, and that it's getting resized. They would let out a sigh of relief! "Thank god!" They'd think, "Thank god he loves you as much as that ring cost him!" But they never said that to me. Instead they demanded, "Send me pictures then!" I didn't. To be completely forthright, I only sent K a photo because she wouldn't let it go ;)
So what's with that? What if i don't want to be part of this exclusive girl's engagement ring club? What if my ring is incredibly special to me for so many reasons that have nothing to do with what the "engagement ring" symbolizes in America? What if i want to show my ring off, for what it means to me, but don't know how because of so much that is tied to it? What if engagement rings weren't linked to the amount of love = the amount spent on the ring? That's the exclusive girl's club i want to be a part of. The one where love is judged by commitment, honesty, and mutual respect. I've found some of that on OffBeatBride where i'm meeting more and more women in my position. Sick of what weddings have become and ready to reclaim what truly matters. Ready to be as unconventional, off-beat, non-traditional, and "tacky" as they want to be because it suits them and their relationships. Tip of the hat to you, ladies and gents, you're a pretty cool bunch :)
I apologize for the extremely heteronormative and classist post, i'm sure there will be more to come while we plan our wedding :/
EDIT: I read Feministing everyday, but somehow (and i have no idea how) i missed Jessica's engagement announcement! Check out her post and comment section, lot's of good stuff that i am struggling with as well.
Yes. Please. Let's meet the asshole.
Dov Charney is the CEO of American Apparel. He has also had three sexual harassment lawsuits filed against him just in one year by employees. He also frequently walks around the office in his underwear and makes a habit of calling his female employees, "sluts," because he considers the term to be endearing and a normal part of "welcomed conversation."
I get it, companies need to be edgy to make it these days. But that edge doesn't have to come at the expense of objectifying women. When questioned on it, Charney claims his style isn't a shtik but rather a business model. He urges that, "the financial guys will miss an opportunity if they are offended by superficialities." Superficialities? Hmm, not so much. Putting up a billboard in the middle of Manhattan with an almost nude model bent over, facing the other direction is objectifying. No doubt about it and no superficialities either. And if the billboard itself doesn't bother you, maybe the fact that it was spray painted with, "GEE, I WONDER WHY WOMEN GET RAPED," will. Not that Charney can control what people tag his billboards with but he should hear the message loud and clear. Advertising like his perpetuates a culture of rape and victimization.
So, let's "Meet Dov Charney," the CEO of American Apparel.
The text on his advertisement (top of page) acquainting us reads, "Women initiate most domestic violence, yet out of a thousand cases of domestic violence, maybe one is involving a man. And this has made a victim culture out of women.” Wait, what? Where the hell is he getting his information? Because that's clearly not the case.
Also, since when do CEOs of companies make it a point to appear in the company advertising? And since when are they so creepy. He looks like a rapist and she looks like she's drugged. Not helping your point, Charney.
AA's clothing has gotten such mass approval for being made in "non-exploitative settings." In a way, that's true. Rather than being made in sweatshops overseas like so many other companies, AA clothes are made in an air-conditioned factory in LA and employees are paid a fair wage as well as receive full health benefits. I can't say anything bad about that, it's a shame more companies don't follow in AA's lead in terms of anti-sweatshop labor. But "exploitative" can mean other things, too. Like regularly being sexually harassed at work, being forced to laugh and cheer as your boss runs through the office in his underwear, and being called "slut" as a term of endearment at work.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Inauguration week in D.C. was not a place for those who feel claustrophobic easily. Everywhere we went there were lines, crowds, and people. The metro was jam packed. I took photos on Monday of the escalator in the L'Enfant Plaza metro stop - people were only getting out, going towards the National Mall, no one was coming into the metro at that stop. We didn't even attempt to metro in on Tuesday morning, we walked the 3 miles to the inauguration, attempting to avoid closed streets and excitedly greeting the military personell lining every block in twos. They smiled apprehensively but you can tell everyone was on alert, waiting for something to go down, hopeful it would not. My brother and sister-in-law live in NYC. They called and texted all of Monday about the importance of us having an escape plan, a place we'd meet at least 5 miles out of the city in case of an emergency. A safe place we can walk to, in case we were split up. I'll admit that we were a bit afraid, but the fear never outweighed our excitement and anticipation to experience the most historical and significant event of our lives to date.
We spent Monday fighting through crowds and waiting in lines. Dave and I went to the Holocaust museum because i had only been to the one in Boston and have heard amazing things about the one in DC. I was glad to see sections on Rwanda and Darfur and incredibly moved by the many exhibits on the Jews during and prior WWII. There was a room dedicated specifically to the people who aided Jews during that time, ones who hid neighbors in their attic, took in children as their own, stood up against the hatred. I also gained a new understanding of Jewish as a race/ethnicity. I always felt that being Jewish is more than a religion but had a difficult time intellectualizing or explaining it. Hitler had come up with a system to determine Jewish race. It was a list of characteristics and determinants of blood line. Jewish blood equaled evil blood, thus we became an ethnicity, not just a religion. But i digress... We met two very nice teachers from Tennessee in line for the Holocaust museum, we talked with them about politics, race, economy, Sarah Palin, education, and mostly our hope for a new tomorrow. It was touching how open and genuine everyone around us was. We don't get that much up here in the North East, it was a welcomed change.
We got to the National Mall Tuesday morning around 6:30. Still, we were so far back that all we saw of the Capitol was its silhouette. We didn't mind too much, we made sure to secure a spot near a jumbotron. After the 4 hour wait, everyone was cold, wind blown, and eager to celebrate President Barack Obama get sworn in. The anticipation was palpable. As Reverend Rick Warren took the stage, everyone around me remained polite. Though i heard some distant "boos" most onlookers listened respectively and a few nodded along. The woman in front of me praised the lord in prayer along with the Reverend's words. She raised her hands and let out a cry of "Hallelujah" when he said, "Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood but by our commitment to freedom and justice for all." Though he would not have been my pick for obvious reasons, his message was much more unifying than i expected. I was grateful for that, i did not want him to ruin this for me like the protesters outside the event tried to with their posters and chants of hatred and intolerance.
The crowd DID "boo," however, each time they showed Bush on the jumbotrons. Was it disrespectful? Sure. Ungrateful? Maybe. But it sure as hell was honest. Each time the screens panned across his face the sea of people broke out in hisses and boos. At one point everyone began singing, "nananana nananana hey hey heyyyy, goodbye."
I suppose it's better that we unite over a positive and beautiful example like President Obama than over our mutual hatred for a man unwilling to apologize for his actions or take responsibility for the circumstances our country is in. Still, the emotion and energy for both is powerful, empowering, and telling of what America is ready for. As President Obama took the oath and gave his speech everyone around me listened silently. The crowd hung onto each word. Nodding, tearing up, and eventually cheering; they began chanting "O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!"
Needless to say it was a week of emotions. Hope and progress filled the D.C. air and the prospect of a brighter future was on everyone's mind. Though i realize President Obama will not be perfect 100% of the time, and he will make decisions that i disagree with, i do think he is exactly what our country needed. Not to mention he has already made some great calls. As a nation we have been craving a uniting force and a positive example who carries a message of peace, compassion, and hope. I am eager to see what our new administration, with the help of newly empowered Americans, is capable of.
We spent Wednesday walking around D.C. trying to get on TV. We followed around CNN cameras and walked behind newscasters without much luck. Finally we decided to go to the White House and wave to Barack on his first official full day in office, wish him luck if you will. I bought a button outside the White House on our way back to Jackie's. The button was black and white, with photographs of African American leaders. It summed up the week for me perfectly. The text across the top read, "It's been a long time coming."
It sure has.
Friday, January 16, 2009
I am so sorry for my infrequent posts lately! For what it's worth, i'm working on a few great pieces including bullying among girls, future directions of the feminist movement, and tolerance.
BUT first thing's first: I AM LEAVING FOR D.C. TOMORROW MORNING!!! D and I are headed down to stay with my bestest friend, Jackie, for the week.
Will you be at the inauguration? What are your Obama celebration plans, in D.C. or otherwise?
If you see a freezing cold Russian girl in a red coat, say hello ;)
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
There are very few topics that cause similarly minded individuals, like those within progressive movements, to be at an impasse. The topic of
So it hurts, it genuinely and honestly hurts, for me to read the liberal, progressive, and feminist blogs I have grown to love and respect as they now stand firm with Palestine but remained silent when Hamas attacked Israel with over 2000 rockets in the last year (I’m looking at you Huffington Post).
I am scattered and am get testy as I attempt to post responses on various blogs. My comments get shorter and less eloquent, not doing the circumstances justice. I'll try to be concise here. Though I realize doing so might make me unpopular, I think discourse is crucial and hopefully we can all learn from one another. The current and past situations in the
The following are statements from posts and comments that I’ve read on other blogs over the past few weeks. I have responded to some at their place of origin, others I put aside, because they deeply hurt me or because I wanted to give the subject more thought. I would like to respond to many of these here, because like I said, doing it in various places doesn’t do the topic justice from my end.
It’s ok to eliminate
Well no, not exactly. Both Jews and Palestinians lived on that land. When the land became
Like I said, I’ve always been adamantly pro-peace and anti-war. Each time I read that
And a little something from Dave:
There are no easy answers and no easy targets. What really cooks my noodle is how many one-sided arguments sprout up when hostility resumes in that area. There is a humanitarian crisis and