March 29, 2010

The revolution will be televised (and blogged and tweeted)


As Thursday’s presenter Carla Ohrendorff said, “the bad-assery” was tangible.  WAM! Los Angeles brought together media makers, activists, and feminists for 2 days of films, video remix, critical analysis, and collaboration.

Blogging/videoblogging, tweeting, and lecturing are powerful tools that allow the feminist movement’s momentum to continue, connecting and expanding the community of activists. But, nothing beats the opportunity to get a bunch of fabulous people together providing the time and space to teach, learn and inspire, leaving us all feeling connected to something larger than ourselves and our immediate peer group. And that’s what WAM! allowed us to do.

After 2 days of events that included the opportunity to socialize, laugh and share ideas for future projects over the communal potluck at Friday night’s movie mixer, I felt high. The collective spirit was palpable and energizing. And while we were “waming” it in Los Angeles, feminist media activists were waming it in Boston, Chicago, New York, D.C., and San Antonio. Knowing that women and men were taking part in similar events, tapping into and invoking the “bad-assery” in their respective communities, not only connected me to the larger national collective but to the spirit of consciousness-raising groups of the second wave of feminism that were integral in creating social and political change.

Like most, I am prone to moments of doubt and self-sabotage (do I have anything to say? does this make a difference?), but the solidarity evident last week in Los Angeles and knowing there other cites across the United States were drumming up the same collective momentum in the same way second-wavers did in CR groups is more than enough to shake off the self-doubt and move forward.

That’s exactly what WAM! is about.

The revolution will be televised by people like me and people like you (thanks to Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency who ended her segment on Thursday with the following clip.)


March 19, 2010

Rule #1, Soldier: No Water After 7 p.m.

By the end of 2010 there will officially be more women in the workforce than men. Both the Speaker of the House and the Secretary of State are women. And, 20% of U.S. armed forces are female. Because of these aberrant shifts we feel like we’ve won the war when the reality is that those are only a few battles. We tend to take for granted the positions that most women in America find themselves in in this “post-feminist” society.

In recent weeks, both Time magazine and The New York Times have published articles on the egregious number of women being raped in the military. Time reported that…

“…a female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.”

I was shocked to read that female soldiers stop drinking water at 7 p.m. so that they don’t have to go the bathroom in the middle of the night as this reduces their risk of being raped. Though the NY Times reported that the number of assults reported is up 11% from last year, Time statesthat the Defense Department still estimates that 80-90% of sexual assaults go unreported. Additionally, they differentiate an assault from sexual harassment which undoubtedly brings the number of women assaulted OR harassed up exponentially. They may as well just say, “If you’re female and you join the military you will be abused in some way.”

We live in a world where we fight to have universities install campus security buttons and cameras and we teach women how to protect & defend themselves against attackers and we create program upon program for victims of sexual assault. All of the security measures we take only further perpetuate the idea that WOMEN need to learn how to protect themselves. Why aren’t we teaching men how to be respectful and responsible? How do we transform the dialogue from Women’s Issues to EVERY ONE’S issues??

I don’t say any of this to discourage women from joining the military or going to college (or from leaving your house!) or to promote the fear that is already so rampant, I say this because as a woman living in a supposedly “post-feminist” world, I believe we need to inspire more people – NOT just women - to struggle, to act!

There was a great article in The Guardian, the UK based newspaper about men and feminism. In it they mentioned a program that was started by Oxfam called “Gender Equality and Men.” Here is a quote from their page:

There are potential gains from focusing on men and boys. As Kaufman has suggested [1], such efforts may:

  • create a broad social consensus among men and women on issues that previously have been marginalised as only of importance to women;
  • mobilise resources and institutions controlled by men, resulting in a net gain in resources available to meet the needs of women and girls;
  • isolate those men working to preserve men’s power and privilege and to deny rights to women and children;
  • contribute to raising the next generation of boys and girls in a framework of gender equality;
  • change the attitudes and behaviour of men and boys, and improve the lives of women and girls in the home, workplace, and community.

That about sums it up! So, instead of continuing to shake my fist and scream about men not taking responsibility for violence and ignorance – I’ve made a list of some ways in which men (and women!) can become involved in the movement…..which despite those post-feminist doubters… still very much moving!

1) Start simple: Read This
2) Take a Women’s Studies class!
3) Join the feminist club on campus or START one!
4) Get involved in community outreach organizations. Lead by example and show young men and boys how to be!
5) Encourage local organization to implement programs like Oxfam UK did!
6) Be creative! Find ways to encourage change through things you like to do or are good at! Activism isn’t the only way. Music and art speak volumes!

And, if you’re still confused and wondering what you can do – come to WAM! Los Angeles next week Thursday, March 25, 2010!

cartoon-feminist     feminst-cartoons

March 18, 2010

Slut shaming Rielle Hunter

Check out the thought provoking and insightful take on Rielle Hunter at Womanist Musings.


Rielle had sex with a married man and has thus become the modern day scarlet woman.  She made no promises to Elizabeth Edwards and in fact had no relationship with Ms. Edwards, therefore; it puzzles me why she is being shamed alongside John Edwards.

If he had truly wanted to stay faithful to his wife, nothing that Rielle did could have caused him to sway.  Edwards made an active choice to be unfaithful and therefore; if we are going to judge or blame (though I feel we should do neither) it should be him. Edwards was the one that was deceitful.

People have latched onto the photos [in her GQ interview] of Rielle to justify the slut shaming.  Attacking how a woman chooses to dress and then making a correlation to sexual behaviour, is one of the most obvious ways in which patriarchy works to eliminate female agency.  What disturbs me most, is watching women jump on their high horse to finger wag, completely oblivious to the fact that they are supporting their own oppression.


March 12, 2010

Molly Wizenberg @ Skylight Books in Los Feliz, CA

Filed under: Event — Tags: , , , — Lani @ 11:28 pm

Continuing our discussion about Eating In Molly Wizenberg will be reading from her new book A Homemade Life at Skylight Books on March 30, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.! If you’re interested in creating community, generating less waste, and eating good food come and see her speak!


March 10, 2010

WAM!ing it on the westside

Filed under: Event — Tags: , , — Melanie @ 11:56 am


We’re WAM!ing in So. California over two days this month.

Thursday, March 25, 2010 at Santa Monica College, Bundy Campus (Bundy 123) @ 3171 South Bundy Drive, LA CA 90066

2- 4:15PM Heroica Films‘, Kamala Lopez, will show “A Single Woman” Q & A to follow

4:30-6PM Carla Ohrendorff, lecture and discussion on feminist activism and media, Q & A to follow

6:15-7:30PM Anita Sarkeesian, lecture and workshop on feminist activism via blogging/vlogging and video remix

7:45-9PM Mariko Passion presents Media Whores, a facilitated dialogue looking at Hollywood portrayals of street workers, strippers and other sex workers and a look at a few sex worker made sex worker rights films with Mariko Passion, educated whore and urban geisha. Freeway, Monster, Flashdance, The Players Club and the recent Girlfriend Experience…what do sex workers think of the portrayals in these films? What do YOU think about them?

Come hungry, folks! The Green Truck will be there from 2p-9p and will offer a special campus menu at a reduced rate.  The Sweet Truck will arrive at 3p to satisfy your sweet tooth. The event is free but the food is not. Bring cash to enjoy.

PARKING: Enter the Bundy campus from Bundy by turning on College Avenue and entering the parking lot. The first lot you enter is the east student lot. Park here. Parking regulations will not be enforced between 1-10pm. Do not park in the west lot behind the building. This is reserved for faculty and staff.

*No registration required. First come basis. Please arrive early as we anticipate a full house for all 4 segments. Facebook event page to be created in the next few days. Contact:


Friday, March 26, 2010 at private residence in Culver City, CA
Film Social and Potluck: 6PM-9:30PM
Sarit McCarty, photographer, Melanie Klein, Feminist Fatale, and Lani Phillips Smith, fellow Feminist Fatale, will be hosting the showing of “Who Does She Think She Is?

Facilitated discussion to follow screening

This event is a social and is limited in capacity. Official RSVPs to are required. Location will be given at that time. Guests are encouraged to bring food to share and get ready to have a good time.


Kamala Lopez is an actress, screenwriter, director and producer. Since 1995 Lopez’s Heroica Films has been creating media for women, about women and utilizing women both in front and behind the camera. She sits on the Jury and Advisory Board of The Women’s International Film and TV Showcase, the Advisory Board of Global Girl Media, and was on the Board of Young Artists United. In 2009 she was given a retrospective at the Museum of Latin American Art. She is also an official blogger for the Huffington Post.

Carla Ohrendorff is a media artist and activist. She combines her passion for feminism with her interest in film to share stories from underrepresented cultures and communities. Her first film, Thick Strings y Shredded Cheese, was exhibited at the 2009 San Diego Latino Film Festival. She has participated as a mentor for the ImMEDIAte Justice film program, which explored the intersection between reproductive and media justice in young women’s lives. Carla is currently working as a youth film and video instructor at the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles.

Anita Sarkeesian is a Feminist cultural critic and social justice activist who has provided media support work for a variety of movements across the United States and Canada. In 2007, Anita co-founded the NYC Youth Chapter, a training collaborative dedicated to providing young activists with anti-oppression and media skills. In addition to her workshops on Media Strategy, Organization Building, and Anti-Oppression Skills, Anita recently facilitated youth public speaking trainings at the 2008 Fair Use Remix Institute. This coming Spring, she will be teaching a video-blogging workshop with Reel Grrls in Seattle and organizing an afternoon of curated shows about resisting traditional gender and sexuality norms with Remix Video at California State University, Northridge. She earned her BA in Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge. Anita is currently finishing her Master’s degree in Social and Political Thought at York University.

Mariko Passion is a performance artist, blogger and educator. She has worked for justice in the sex worker rights movement for 11 years, as well as worked in many different occupations in the sex industry. She can be found on twitter, myspace and youtube.

Co-host of Friday night’s movie mixer and potluck: Sarit McCarty, a local feminist photographer, will be hosting a social networking event in her home in Culver City, CA. We will have a plethora of local feminists, artists, activists and community members in attendance. Sarit is working on several conceptual projects, desirous of bringing a feminist perspective to a new batch of images. She uses her photography as a means of political activism and healing for women who have lost their ability to speak for themselves.

March 7, 2010

How far have we come since the first International Women's day?

Filed under: Event — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 2:37 pm

Check out this great piece by Gloria Feldt. She takes inspiration from the wise words of Sojourner Truth and chronicles how far we’ve come and what we still need 99 years after the first International Women’s Day.

“If women want any rights more than they’s got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it.” —Sojourner Truth, former slave, abolitionist, Methodist minister, and early U.S. women’s rights leader

International Women’s Day began 99 years ago. With so much progress accomplished since 1911, yet so much more remaining to be done, it seems to me that it’s time for women to change our approach to something closer Sojourner Truth’s.

Her advice to women as she stated it in the above quote to Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of the influential anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, when they met in 1853, comes from a position of knowing her own power. Despite being been born into slavery and experiencing oppression, poverty, and discrimination far greater than most women reading this blog in 2010, Truth was way ahead of many of us in her perspective about how to advance equal rights.

Without question, in many places around the globe, women remain as oppressed as Sojourner Truth–born Isabella Baumfree in Ulster County, New York, and once sold for $100 and a herd of sheep–was before she “walked off” from her master.

Finish reading this article.

March 5, 2010

Spreading the word is powerful

One of my former students sent me a link to Nicholas Kristof’s latest op-ed piece in the New York Times. He explores the world of child marriages and makes a correlation between societal violence and the degree of female repression in that society.

It’s hard to imagine that there have been many younger divorcées — or braver ones — than a pint-size third grader named Nujood Ali.

Nujood is a Yemeni girl, and it’s no coincidence that Yemen abounds both in child brides and in terrorists (and now, thanks to Nujood, children who have been divorced). Societies that repress women tend to be prone to violence.

Not only was I excited to read yet another piece by Kristof detailing the global injustices waged against girls and women, I was excited that Samantha had sent me that link the morning after I had attended the Half the Sky event in celebration of International Women’s Day. The event created  an educational platform to foster dialogue about global women’s rights violations, make these violations center stage and offer solutions and examples of triumph. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn authored the book that inspired the movement and last night’s event.

Last night’s event and this morning’s message from Samantha linking me to Kristof’s article came after an inspiring morning with my classes yesterday and the women from Global Girl Media and Heroica Films. The morning was an inspiring mix of presentation and brainstorming. The power of the new media, online social networking and spreading the word became inspiring themes, themes that are not unfamiliar to many of us but themes that came alive for many for the first time and became alive again for many others (myself included).

These 3 events combined have stoked the fire anew. After decades of activism and consciousness-raising, I can never be reminded enough about the power of community, the connections that spark our imaginations and hearts and the power of spreading the word by any means necessary.

February 28, 2010

Eat in Week ~ Day 6:

Filed under: Event — Tags: , , , , — Lani @ 12:55 am

Sarah’s Winnemucca’s Tortilla Torte:      


12 oz veggie “meat” grounds (preferably Quorn Grounds)
1 cup Salsa
15 oz Organic Pinto Beans, fresh or canned
1/2 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
2 cloves Organic Garlic, minced
1 package Spice Hunter Taco Seasoning
1 cup Nacho or Cheddar flavored Soy Cheese (preferably Follow Your Heart brand)
1 Organic Tomato, very thinly sliced
5 8″ Organic Flour Tortillas

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Saute the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent and tender. Add in the veggie “meat” and taco seasoning. Saute until warmed through. Add the beans and salsa.

2) Place the first tortilla in a lightly oiled 9″ round pan. Add 1/2 cup of bean mixture and flatten. Top with a handful of cheese and a few of the tomatoes. Repeat the tortilla, bean mixture, cheese, tomato routine until the tortillas are gone. Top the last tortilla with the remaining mixture and cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted and it is heated through. Serve with diced, fresh avocado and sour cream 🙂

February 24, 2010

Half the Sky Event

Filed under: Event,Gender,Politics — Tags: , , — Melanie @ 8:53 pm

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Half the Sky: A One Night Event, inspired by the stories from the book with the same title, will take place Thursday, March 4.

February 23, 2010

Eat In Week ~ Day 2:

Filed under: Event — Tags: , , , , , — Lani @ 9:56 pm

Susan B’s Quaker-simple Brown Rice & Lentil Soup:   eat-in-week-food-002


1/3 cup Short Grain Organic Brown Rice
1/2 cup Organic Green Lentils
2-4 Cloves Organic Garlic
2 Bay Leaves
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Organic Low Sodium Tamari
2 cups Vegetable Broth
1 Medium Organic Onion, Chopped
2 Organic Carrots, Sliced Thin
2 Stalks Organic Celery, Sliced
1/2 cup Celery Leaves, Chopped
14 oz Diced Tomatoes with their juices
1/2 cup Tomato Sauce
1 tsp Organic Dried Basil
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Organic Dried Thyme
1/2 tsp Organic Dried Marjoram

Combine the first seven ingredients and 1 cup of water in a heavy bottomed soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 8 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and 2 additional cups of water. Return to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is tender.

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