Jazz So and So has a new home! Join us at Quntfront for satire, creative pieces and other “qunty” things, all by QPoC!
Please Support JazzSoandSo’s “Juniper Leaves” Kickstarter Campaign!
What is Juniper Leaves?
Juniper Leaves is a YA sci fi fantasy novel about Juniper Bray, kinky-haired queer nerd, who embarks on a magical adventure in Scotland after losing her grandmother.
WHY I WROTE JUNIPER LEAVES
“A survey of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013—out of a total of 5,000—found that only 67 were by African-American authors, and only 93 titles centered on black characters. That’s the lowest number of black protagonists since 1994, when the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison began tracking that data. ” Nina Terrero of Entertainment Weekly.
Times, they are-a-changin’ and it is extremely important that our media reflect that. Growing up, I struggled to see or read about many people that looked like me, and I definitely didn’t see many queer characters anywhere. Visibility is a powerful thing and without it, so many kids and teens will go through their formative years developing the thought that they possibly don’t matter as much as the visible do. Juniper Leaves can be just a tiny part of the movement towards positive representations of PoC and queer youth simply because reading it will show how relatable an awkward teen girl can be, no matter her race or sexual orientation.
About JUNIPER LEAVES
If you asked Juniper Bray (14) why she ever believed in magic, she’d quickly blame her best friend, who just so happened to be her grandmother. But no more of that; these days magic equals fiction to the kinky-haired dreamer and astronomy geek. That’s because just six weeks ago, Juniper’s best friend died. Now she has to go on a long trip to Freeshire, Scotland with her scientist dad and mourning mom, minus the one person that means the most to her in the whole wide world.
And what’s worse, Juniper’s Scottish host family, the McKinney’s, have an evil fifteen year old daughter named Blair that seems to live to torture her. Don’t worry, their arguments come to a halt when they mistakenly fall into a cave that turns into a porthole to a whole other planet. There, Juniper learns of a sort of magic she inherited from her grandmother giving her the power to teleport. But this power comes with paramount responsibility, making Juniper a protector of the Earth overnight. Juniper’s definitely caught off guard, but she’s intrigued by the task until she learns Blair has been appointed as her secret keeper. Now they have to stick together. Just when it seems Juniper and Blair finally don’t hate each other, they are ambushed by a life threatening mission to save their scientist dads’ research, themselves, and ultimately the world. All the while, Juniper has to deal with the awkwardness of being a teenager, from socializing with the locals to experiencing her first kiss. Juniper Leaves is a magical coming of age story of a girl that learns to let go, live a little, and best of all, believe in herself, all before her fifteenth birthday.
The money raised with Kickstarter will pay for the editing, the cover art by the brilliant Aspen Aten, e-book distribution, marketing, and the first 150 print copies of my book Juniper Leaves. It’s most important to me that Juniper Leaves be edited grammatically and developmentally at a professional level so that the final product is at its absolute best quality possible. My hope is that anyone interested in reading Juniper Leaves will have the opportunity.
If I meet my Kickstarter goal or happen to exceed my initial goal, I will use any leftover money to purchase additional books, further promote the book, and sell in other venues.
RISKS AND CHALLENGES
There is a risk of not reaching the deadline to release this book before the end of 2014. However, JUNIPER LEAVES is completely written and ready to be edited. Also, I have scheduled how long each part of the publishing process will take. I am confident that if this project is funded it will release before January 2015.
Similarly, there is the challenge of making sure the best product possible comes from this campaign. The reason this Kickstarter is taking place is to make sure the most professional quality work is released so I am hopeful that supporters will be happy with the outcome.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Join the Juniper Leaves team by donating, telling your friends, or sharing this post! Any donation, big or small is appreciated. Tell two people closest to about the campaign and hopefully they’ll donate as well. If you have a blog, please repost and share info with your followers. Tweet it, Facebook it, talk about it! If we all work together, Juniper Leaves can one day be available to teens and young adults everywhere! So far the campaign has been featured on Afropunk and named a Kickstarter Staff Pick!
The campaign ends October 3, 2014. Let’s make “Juniper Leaves” a reality!
Masculine of center, queer people of color; now is your time. bklyn boihood will be curating “Outside the XY: Queer, Brown Masculinity, “ an anthology highlighting the voices of masculine-of-center and/or trans* men of color, to be released by Magnus Books in print and as an e-book by mid 2015. bklyn boihood is currently accepting submissions of essays, interviews, fiction/non fiction, and literary work of all kinds. No need to be a writer. Simply submit your work before July 31st, 2014, and remember, YOU MATTER.
We are teachers, students, doctors, scientists, writers and so much more. Bois of color are everywhere, and we always have been but in mainstream media, we’re no where to be found. And for the 90 percent of people that don’t directly know someone who identifies as transgender or gender queer, it’s almost like we don’t exist. Now with Outside the XY: Queer, Brown Masculinity open for submissions, masculine of center queer people and trans* guys of color have the chance to show ourselves the most authentic way possible–because our stories to the world will be our own.
It’s important that every marginalized community have an established array of stories readily available to the public. For example, thanks to Janet Mock’s best seller Redefining Realness, we’re able to add to the public understanding of the complexity of women that are transgender. When the public doesn’t have a story to connect to when confronted with an unfamiliar image or event, we have the tendency to link it the closest story we can. It’s our humanistic need to categorize; our natural urge to simplify. Right now, there is no go-to-narrative for MoC queer and transgender men of color, so what’s the next best thing to the mainstream?
“I would say that right now there’s this one image of us; this masculine woman that’s essentially getting boiled down to a woman in boy’s clothes. Masculinity gets oversimplified into human beings that are getting misgendered and basically thought of as grown-up tomboys. ” Mo of the bklyn boihood collective stated in a recent interview.
Of course our lives are so much deeper than that. Of course our truths are so much fuller. But until the media knows that, most of the public will be in the dark.
From the growing popularity of the beautiful model Carmen Carrera, to the complex character, Sophia, portrayed by real-life transgender advocate, Laverne Cox on the ever-so-queer Netflix hit Orange is the New Black, it’s wonderful to see the growing support of transgender people of color in our society. Never have we experience so much positive visibility and productive discussion in the media as we are now.
But it must be recognized that in spite of the transgender community growing so strong today, far too many issues persist in the transgender and queer community for us to claim success. We’re not there yet, folks; not by a long shot.
Outside the XY: Queer Brown Masculinity will be a historic continuation of the queer movement, and such a powerful push for queer people of color.
It doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, a professional writer, or someone who feels your story should be told, this is our time to be the facilitator of our own narratives.
This article explicitly discusses Christianity. I’m not religious nor do I strongly believe in any sort singular higher power- It is important that you note my obvious bias because of this. I won’t go into the specifics of my beliefs here, so as to stay on topic, but am happy to elaborate in separate discussions.
When is a person really, truly healthy? I am a physically fit, twenty-something with an abnormal fondness of dark green vegetables and exercising, but in spite of all this, I still don’t feel healthy. My blood pressure is far higher than it should be and I experience anxiety so strong that sometimes it makes me physically sick. As I delve deeper into the world that is my blackness, I’m finding truths connected to my stress I can never unlearn.
The tragic death of Brown Girls creator, Karyn Washington has raised the long suppressed and painful discussion of black stress and how we have learned to cope, or in many ways avoid, the roots of our stress and anxiety. It’s time we discuss new and better ways of coping with stress, because right now, black people, stress is killing us- literally.
The Root writer, Lottie L. Joiner, revealed a 2010 study with the devastating fact that black people, mainly black women, suffer from higher blood pressure, more strokes, and heart disease, all due to the higher levels of stress experienced; a lot of which stem from simply being black.
“US blacks are more likely to experience stressful situations, such as material hardship, interpersonal discrimination, structural discrimination in housing and employment, and multiple care giving roles than whites,” wrote Dr. Michelle Gourdine, author of Reclaiming Our Health: A Guide to African American Wellness.
Historically, the church has been the place to relieve stress and find community for black people. We have found power through religion, from the liberating civil rights moment of the 1960s, led by peace leader and Christian pastor, Martin Luther King Jr. to Christianity as a catalyst of strength for black slaves during a time where no other hope could be found.
Christianity has become so closely intertwined with blackness, that even the fast-growing community of non religious black people cannot help but be influenced by it. For many black people, our church is our therapy, God is our mantra and pray is our meditation, but with the building proof that stress impacts the health of black people more than other ethnic groups, perhaps religion alone is no longer enough.
It is important to note my upbringing is far from typical of not just black culture, but American culture as a whole. In the middle of the day in our homeschooling courses, my mother would have my siblings and me sit in a circle and focus on our breaths in what I later learned was a form of meditation. We attended a ‘new thought’ church that was so progressive, it was actually called ‘a spiritual center.’ For the first eight years of my life, I understood meditation and spiritualism through humanity as normal.
Then, as a preteen my family left our spiritual center to attend a more traditional church. I remember asking my father why we left a place in which I’d grown to love and find such comfort;
“You need to get the black experience,” he expressed; a response I will never forget.
At our new church we were given sermons by a self-appointed Apostle who preached the gospel of prosperity and fear of our powerful Lord and Savior. The apostle told us to ‘do good’ for our God, to be strong in the presence of evil and to not let the devil bring us down.
In some ways, it was comforting to know that no matter what, I was protected by God. But on the other hand, in spite of the strength in community that was apparent at my new church, there was an overbearing sense of loneliness in accepting God as my only protector from the countless obstacles I would undoubtedly face. Not that all black people interpret Christian teachings as I did, but as an impressionable ten year old, this was my honest evaluation.
My background is unique in that I was given two separate philosophies in the most influential times of my upbringing. I have the unique perspective of a non affiliated mentality and later- a deeply religious, Christian mind; and I’m privileged to be able to analyze the implications of such a shift.
I learned from my time as a devout Christian that in particular, black Christians are taught to hold our own. We are taught to fight like hell so that we don’t go to hell, and God will reward us with prosperity; a goal for many black people because of the fact that we are an over represented group in the working class or under the poverty line.
Due to the major influence Christianity has had on the black American community, I believe that this is true even for non-religious black people- that we either turn to God, or go within to solve our mental issues. Encroaching our issues on anyone else is a sign of weakness and instability. Often times, the furthest we move towards seeking help from our community is asking for pray, usually a request so vague as asking to be blessed in your ‘time of struggle.’
Rarely do we actually speak about our issue.
I understand that discussing religion is frequently a lost cause. People have their beliefs that are usually static, and so it goes. I am not here to challenge Christianity. In fact, I believe that no path, spiritual or religious is better or worse a path than the other- so long as that path does not harm yourself or others ( as, unfortunately, many religions do).
I am writing to propose a discussion that involves finding new ways of building mental peace and healthy mentalities for black people, that may go beyond our modern understanding of black culture so intertwined with conservative forms of Christianity: in forms of counseling, discussing our lives with trusted peers, meditation, mantras, yoga, ect..
The real issue now is that we, black people, have a detrimental communal understanding of what it means to be in control of your mind. To be really in control of ones mind is to understand that, just like the rest of our bodies, our brain needs constant maintenance. A mind in control is always present, not absent (absent in this case, meaning on default). Striving for mental health takes the sort of deliberate thinking that very few people recognize is even necessary. That is why we, as black Americans, understand the community that meditates to be a very small, elite group. I mean really, how often do you stop to think to breath?
Russell Simmons released a book recently advocating meditation for people from all walks of life. While a pioneer effort for a black man to advocate for meditation, I fear his millionaire status and lavish lifestyle may overshadow his efforts in persuading the black community that such a practice makes sense for the average person.
I used to believe that a strong mind meant I could handle anything on my own. I thought that never needing to talk to anyone about my problems meant I was resilient, a warrior of my circumstances. Holding in my emotions gave me a sense of pride. Black culture suggests a hard shell equals a sound mind, when really, a strong disposition may just be a coping mechanism for pain or stress.
So many in my community shared this belief to the point that it felt normal, expected even, to stay silent, even when I felt I might fall a part. I recognize that there is great privilege in being able to talk out your problems with a professional, but for those of us that cannot afford counseling, we must acknowledge that expressing our feelings to our peers is not a sign of weakness. Taking time out of our day to collect our thoughts does not mean we are retreating. It merely means we have made our mental health a priority- and I do hope that day comes soon for us all.
For black people, walls can kill, and so we have no choice but to break them down. An no, more silence is not the answer.
Fortunately, this difficult discussion of black stress is showing up more in our media than ever before. This piece was written simply as an additional perspective to a fresh forum that already exists, and I really hope it continues.
NOTE: This essay is of the personal opinion of JasSoandSo. Because the author is a female-bodied queer attracted to cis women, this article will focus on female bisexuality.
When I initially met my best friend, she identified as specifically queer and avoided the dreaded “bisexual” term like a cat avoids water. It wasn’t until recently that she confidently accepts bisexuality as a part of her identity. Why, you ask? Because bi-haters. The worst part is, I didn’t realize, for the longest time, my own prejudice against bisexuality was no better than the bi-haters I’d actively accused.
In mainstream consciousness, the queer community is seen as a close-knit bunch. However, like any other social group, we have our own inequality issues. With the growing trans* visibility in our media, we are (very) slowly growing in support and inclusion of transgender people within our community. But sadly, with all the progression we’ve seen with trans* issues, I find we (the queer community) are equally as stagnant, or even weakening, in the understanding of bisexual people.Seeing that the bisexuality spectrum represents the majority of the LGBT community, it’s time we respect that fact.
MYTH- Bi people are just gay people that haven’t come out yet.
Today many of the people that once identified as bisexual now associate more with “queer,” due to the growing understanding and redefining of gender. Unfortunately, mainstream society hasn’t caught up with queer culture, and as of now we’re still known as LGBT and sometimes Q. Furthermore, the term “bisexuality” holds the weight of dozens of types of attraction that are far more queer, or genderqueer, than the term implies. The B in LGBT could mean anything from a person that is equally attracted, romantically and sexually, to both extremes of the gender spectrum (cis men or cis women), to a person that enjoys sex with both men and women, but is only romantically attracted to men.
MYTH- Bisexuals are indecisive or confused.
According to Buzzfeed’s quiz, ” How Gay are You,” I am “very gay.” Why thank you Buzzfeed, for confirming that for me. But in all seriousness, there is some validity in the phrase “very gay;” just refer to the Kinsey scale of sexual attraction. I’m a Kinsey scale 6, meaning I have no attraction to the “opposite sex” ( in terms of the gender binary). I’ve found over my time, as an out Kinsey 6, that I’ve felt I had some sort of right to condemn those on different parts of the sexuality spectrum than myself. I’ve been, dare I say, elitist, about something as natural and innate as sexuality.
When I learned the news that actress, Michelle Rodriguez, and stunning model, Cara Delevingne, were dating, the most ridiculous thought came into my mind; That relationship’s not going to last- they’re probably just experimenting. Umm…WHAT?
First of all, who am I to put a marker on the demise of anyone’s relationship? Second of all, their sexuality is not up for questioning by anyone but themselves. It sounds crazy, but there is a such thing called gay privilege. I find myself deciding which bisexuality is okay and which is “unacceptable”, as if I have any say in the matter. My privilege as a gay person is that my defined sexuality leaves little to no room for question from possible naysayers. Bisexuality, on the other hand, is by definition, far more fluid. The fluid nature of bisexuality makes people feel the right to question anyone that identifies as such, as if their attractions are less valid, simply because it is not as black and white.
I believe other “very gay” people like myself, when met with bisexuality, find it difficult to know where on the bisexuality spectrum our romantic interest stands, in order to protect ourselves from getting too emotionally involved, in case that person is not interested or capable of romantic attraction to us.
All thoughts that have crossed my mind when met with the possibility of dating a bisexual woman #notproudofthis. From that discrimination, I, and many others like me, have grown unreasonably prejudice against all bisexuality. Now my critique is coming from very personal experiences with self- identified bisexual women. I do not think i’m speaking for all lesbians or female bodied queers, but I do believe many can relate to this issue.
The issue with cherry picking which bisexuality is “okay” is that we should not be discriminating at all. You see, these discriminatory thoughts encompassed me, as if the question as to whether someone is actually interested doesn’t come up regardless of that person’s sexuality. Any relationship begins with insecurity of newness and the unknown. Just because I’ve had a few bad relationships with bisexual women doesn’t mean I should discount all people that identify as bisexual.
MYTH: Bisexual women only do it to turn straight guys on.
A lot of how we understand sexuality is fueled through porn. Bisexual women in porn are almost always portrayed as hyper feminine women that hook up with other women, specifically for a male audience. Jezebel wrote an article denying the widely agreed upon belief that all women are, at least, “a little bi.” But consider this article, because this is exactly the angle porn and most other media portrayals of female bisexuality reinforce; bisexual women are best compatible with straight, cis men. The queer community faces the negative repercussions of constantly seeing this trope perpetuated, because whether consciously or not, we may learn to understand female bisexuality as hetero-centric, a.k.a- not queer. Though a very dangerous perception sexuality, I fear that’s kind of what’s happened.
Undoubtedly, popular culture understands female bisexuality as a form of a cis-male arouser. I know many self-identified “straight” women that have made out with other women “for the fun of it,” while in front of cis male comrades. Consider Katy Perry’s song ” I Kissed a Girl,” in which Katy explains that while she just found out she loves kissing girls, she also hopes her boyfriend doesn’t mind. Then there are the countless female celebrities, often “straight-identified,” that make out with each other for the wildly exaggerated publicity that follows such a stunt.
Bisexual-haters be like…
My prejudice is driven by fear. I fear bisexuality because of the complexity of the term; the idiosyncrasies that cannot be assumed simply based on someone identifying as “bi.” Fear is always the culprit behind prejudice, and my discrimination against bisexuality is no exception. So what if some bisexuality is a Kinsey scale 2 and others are 4? Is it not best we make each romantic decision on an individual basis rather than rely on faulty stereotypes to explain an entire group? Bisexuality is no less valid than gay, queer, pansexual or otherwise. To make overarching assumptions of bisexuality is to devalue the person that identifies as such, and that’s just not cool.
Love is love is love… Love you, bi family. – Jaz
UPDATED- March 16th, 2014- Jaz added note before article and also a title change.
Disclaimer: JasSoandSo is in no way a fan of Nicki Minaj.
Nicki Minaj’s new single, “Lookin’ Ass Nigga” from her new album The Pink Print is total rapey, waste of time; or so Jezebel’s recent article argues. But is it really, though? As mentioned by a few music critics, Nicki Minaj’s new song” Looking Ass Nigga,” is simply the NC-17 version of TLC’s ” No Scrub.” However, “Looking Ass Nigga,”does more to challenge the normalization of the danger in the male gaze then it’s feminist predecessor.
Let us start with “nigga.” A lot of you cringe a the sight of that word. Others of you will never, ever be allowed to say this word out loud, and please tell me you understand why. Regardless of it’s disgusting past, or the complete disregard for it’s power by using it in everyday conversation, “nigga” is a staple in regards to hip hop and rap language, and you can find it in just about any major rap song. While I personally believe that no one, not even black people, should use the “n word”, it is possible that Nicki Minaj’s use of the “N” word was necessary in making her point. Stay with me. Would “Looking Ass Nigga” be as powerful a message were it called ” Looking Ass Boy,” or “Looking Ass Man,” or even “Looking Ass Dude?” Would there be such a fuss about the song or publicity regarding the song had it been named differently? I mentioned in an earlier piece that sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. There is a place for softer progressive feminism and a place for radical responses to misogyny and oppression through patriarchy. For Minaj, this was a play for radical.
In case you need to be reminded of the sorts of misogynist lyrics you can find in rap songs today, EliteDaily.com posted just a few of the lovely words to help you recall;
“My little sister’s birthday / She’ll remember me / For a gift I had ten of my boys take her virginity.”- Amityville by Bizzare verse, Eminem
“Bitches ain’t sh*t but hoes and tricks / Lick on these nuts and suck the d*ck.” “Bitches Aint Shit- Snoop Dogg’s verse to Dr. Dre song
“Slut, you think I won’t choke no whore / Til the vocal cords don’t work in her throat no more?!” – Eminem
Nicki Minaj’s style, language and number of insults in her new single parallel male-led rap songs in its aggression, so much so, it’s like listening to a literal response to misogynist rap music. For those of you familiar with black culture, you’ll recognize the phrase “lookin ass…” as the end of a “check,” which is slang for an insult or to “put someone in their place.” You can find someone using an insult like this in response to someone insulting them first, but please note, it is almost always in response to an insult that you can find this phrase used. Not only does it hold the title, but Minaj uses the phrase, “lookin ass…” throughout her entire song (ex. “diggin in ya booty den smell it” lookin ass nigga”… and so on). By doing so, she asserts herself as the winner of an argument, as the champion that gets the last word. It’s a position of power, talking down to the aggressor and making them seem weak in the process. The desert imagery and mainly just Minaj, herself, shown on screen, definitely reinforces the fact that Minaj got the last word on this one.
Branden Soderberg of Spin Magazine wrote a poignant article in support of Minaj’s new single in which he identified the rap diva’s use of two machine guns was to “murder the male gaze.” One could even argue that Minaj’s use of the image of Malcolm X holding a gun was actually Minaj’s attempt in appropriating herself as the Malcolm X of feminism.Though if that was her goal, she most certainly did not succeed in making that come across.
The problem with Minaj’s use of Malcolm X’s profound photo is that she attempted to appropriate an image clearly illustrating the oppressive and all-too-recent history of African Americans as an illustration of black masculinity as oppressive to the female body and femininity. By doing so, she completely ignores if not denies all that Malcolm X did for the black community, which is in itself, is ignorant and disrespectful. It’s a shame that Minaj’s ignorance is, so far, overpowering the strong message within her music video and lyrics themselves.
Regardless, only a certain kind of feminist can create a song so aggressive and deeply rooted in modern rap culture while still speaking pro-feminism and actually be heard. Thanks to Nicki Minaj’s major respect from fellow, male rap artist, along with her pop star appeal, she’s able to use the same language of those she’s accusing, to fight. This allows for a whole new audience to experience feminism in a way they may never have imagined. The power in the imagery of a solo strong black woman, dressed exactly how she pleases ( in a black, crocheted, see-through, mini-dress), holding machine guns, paired with lyrics that call out a number of wack traits- from men that think they can have sex with a woman just because they’ve got a little money (…”Even if that nigga flew me and all my bitches to Dubai…”) to men that lack culture (“Art on the wall, Basqui, fuck who see…”)- Ok, the last one is a stretch, but the point still stands. Miley Cyrus can’t call out men in the same fashion with the same respect, Lady Gaga can’t either; not even Macklemore- the-Great can do that. Please, note the sarcasm.
Of course there are many issues with “Lookin Ass Nigga,” from the normalization of guns, to the perpetual use of the N word (which is an issue within all of rap culture), but this piece is specifically to play a devil’s advocate of sorts. Feminism isn’t always wrapped in a cutesy little bow, and it’s important that we recognize when this is the case.
Feminism has adopted a negative connotation almost as obscene as four letter words your teacher wouldn’t let you say in middle school. Only instead of a class room, the term feminism is often silenced in our media, even by progressives that advocate for gender equity. What’s so powerful about Americans’ perception of feminism today is that many people who dislike the term don’t even really know what it stands for.
On a recent episode of Barnard College‘s rightfully titled “Dare to Use the F Word,” Barnard president and recent author of Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection,” Debora Spar, shared her thoughts on what she believes to be the shift in young feminist perspectives in 2014. When prompted on whether Spar felt young women want to be feminist, she responded;
It’s a complicated question, without an easy answer. Because young women, of course, don’t speak with a single voice or share a common attitude. Some are quick to embrace the term feminist. Others despise it. And many – sadly, for the mothers and grandmothers who opened doors for them – no longer really have a sense of what the word implies.
In a poignant piece by Sam Killerman, the progressive mind behind “It’s Pronounced Metrosexual” broke down some of the main reasons feminism is viewed so negatively today, including the fact that, yes, there are men-hating feminist out there that give feminist a bad name. Case in point- I will reluctantly list a few quotes made popular by self-identified feminists:
Ok, you get it. Some feminist hate men. Some women in general hate men, and vice versa. But these women in no way represent the majority of feminists in modern day. I definitely do not support male-hate. Though it must be recognized that feminist-driven male-hate is a disgusting symptom of hundreds of years of patriarchal oppression. The same way society has adopted the “angry black man/woman” stereotype, stemming from black liberation after hundreds of years of slavery and equally dehumanizing Jim Crow laws, feminism has taken on an unsettling ‘mad woman’ stereotype . When regarding revolution from oppression, anger seems to come with the territory. Liberation isn’t always peaceful; sometimes you have fight.
Unfortunately, this bad rap on feminism has taken a toll on on the the fight for gender equality. Jezebel wrote an article not too long ago, highlighting the many strong women in our media, and while definitely expressing empowerment for women, steer clear of the dirty “f word.”
Bjork said identifying as feminist would “isolate” her, claiming her mother was a feminist and isolated herself from men, and “therefore society” as well. Lady Gaga denied the label, stating she ” loves and celebrates men and American male culture,”- again equating feminism ( a position of equity regardless of gender) to hating men.
In spite of their strong female personas in the media, Sandra Day O’Connor, to Kelly Clarkson and many more progressive-leaning celebrities, all avoided the term “feminist,” recognizing it as too harsh a label to identify with. I find these women to be a very accurate representation of the young women and progressive young men they influence on a daily basis.
The term feminist has been through a lot, and it’s got the scars to show for it. In American history alone, feminism has led to the right for women to vote, a movement for better respected in the work place ( mainly a reserved right for white women a the time), sexual liberation and better sex protection, and in much more recent history, inclusion of women of color and the queer community in advocating for social education and equality for all.
Even with all the things feminism has done, we still need it today. Body shaming, , in our internet-driven culture is still damaging mentally and physically mainly among young women and girls,and people are still adamantly asking women if they really can have it all, a question never asked of men. The trans* community is still arguably the most discriminated group in the U.S., with the young, transgender homeless epidemic, transgender discrimination in the work place and transgender suicide rates rising due to discrimination. And those are only some of the thing. Feminism is in no way obsolete. Right now, there are a few great feminist fighting the good fight, but as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie expressed in her TED talk, later featured in Beyonce’s “flawless,” feminism isn’t an elitist stance; it’s a stance for all.
So how do we even begin to make feminism seem less harsh for everyone?
In a 2011 Pew poll, “progressive” was deemed the most positively viewed political stance. According to ThinkProgress, progressives believe in promoting equality and freedom against discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious faith or non-faith, or disability. They believe that every person has a responsibility to contribute to the common good for all human beings, and that we all must cooperate to achieve a greater good. Modern progressives, whether they realize or not, are fighting for the same rights feminists have been for hundreds of years. Regrettably, the majority of Americans, though overwhelmingly progressive, disregard the many similarities of their beliefs to feminism, and in turn, leave the few, strong but tired feminist to continue the fight on their own. Instead of looking like a few passionate advocates, it’s time feminism looked more like progressivism, in that anyone can identify with the term without feeling “isolated,” or exclusionary. It’s time we recognize that feminism simply strives for gender-based justice the same way progressive strives for justice overall, and you cannot think progressively without also being a feminist.
According to Killerman, “the goal of feminism is to create a society in which individuals’ genders don’t restrict them from an equitable shot at success and happiness.” If you believe this, you are a feminist. So, let’s take it from there.