kitchen table

Overheard conversations, the low-down, & illness-induced web browsing
August 15, 2006, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Activism, Blogroll, Feminism, Gender, Healthcare, politics, Reproductive Rights

From Feminist Law Professors, a post describing Catholics’ desire for female priests. This reminds me of a conversation I mostly overheard and minorly participated in at my boyfriend’s family party last weekend. His mother and a cousin–his mom raised in an Italian, catholic community on the West side–were discussing the shrinking number of nuns. When they were in school, both went to private high schools from what I gathered, it wasn’t uncommon for a graduating class to “give” upwards of 30 girls to the order. Among the few women who didn’t leave the order for careers or marriage, the youngest age group is nearing 60. BF’s mom was saying that they needed to find another role for women in the church–that something had to change–because those nuns were treated like crap by the priests and women aren’t interested in it anymore. I sat back and listened as I find nuns–and the conversations of older women–to be interesting. Very interesting.

Along similar (if not stretched) lines, Nicole J has some photos up of her thesis project Viola Swamp School for Girls:

It was an interactive installation that allowed viewers to rummage through, among other bags and containers, a pink Jansport backpack. There were notes, biology lab reports, and signed permission slips–all handwritten by Nicole–along with lunches, post-it notes from Mom, and fortunte tellers. Totally brings me back to that time known as middle school.

And finally, Bill & Melinda Gates came out strong for sex-worker rights and the framing of the AIDS epidemic as a woman’s issue. The 16th International AIDS conference is being held just an hour and a half North of this woman’s table, in Toronto, and it was with much nodding that I read the following quote this morning, “We need to put the power to prevent HIV in the hands of women. This is true whether the woman is a faithful married mother of small children or a sex worker trying to scrape out a living in a slum. No matter where she lives or what she does, a woman should never need her partner’s permission to save her own life.” That’s Bill Gates talking and no matter how many other people have been saying the same thing for years, I’m still darned glad to hear it coming from his white, influential, rich-ass mouth. Read more at Common Dreams.

In other news, I have an allergy-attack rash all over my body. Grossssss.


Why be a hater, Phyllis?
August 14, 2006, 5:58 pm
Filed under: books, Feminism, Gender, politics

Dear friend Brynn came to visit yesterday and before I slipped into my allergy-induced coma of sick, she and I walked to the bookstore for some browsing. I made my way to the back of the store and looked, shelf by shelf, for some titles in the women’s studies section. There, staring up at me from a stack 3-4 books deep, was a stack of the following book by Phyllis Chesler:

First reaction: What the fuck, Phyllis? I’ve been annoyed with her since I picked up a copy of the condescending Letters to a Young Feminist at the library several years back. My annoyance was only compounded when a friend bought me another Chesler tirade, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. I take issue not just with the content of her texts but also her flashy, attention-grabbing, a la Ann Coulter dust-jackets.

I can just imagine some asshole walking into the bookstore, seeing the cover of The Death of Feminism, and thinking, “Oh, it’s been proven by an insider!” Chesler should be aware of the rhetoric, aware of the frequency with which outfits like Time and Newsweek claim the feminist movement is dead, and choose her words and images carefully. Her title is reckless and ultimately damaging to a movement about which she claims to care and, it seems, not that appropriate for the content of her book.

fear mongering at the laundromat
August 14, 2006, 5:11 pm
Filed under: Activism

Watching Fox News at the laundromat right now and Governor Pataki is on blah blahhing about the network’s news series, “Forgotten Heroes of 9/11.” It’s been awhile since I sat down with Fox News–probably the morning of Reagan’s funeral when my Uncle had it blasting throughout our family party–and my lord, this shit is fucked up. I decided, unofficially, to disengage with Fox News awhile back because it just makes me angry and distracted from moving forward but how on earth can this be real? How on earth can this be beamed into people’s homes? Blahhhhh.

healthy competition?
August 11, 2006, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Healthcare, politics

If one more co-worker tries to be competitive with me regarding the amount of sleep I didn’t get, or how much of my personal life I’ve sacrificed in the name of Work, I will scream. The lack of humanity in these kinds of exchanges is unbelievable. I don’t have a problem with working my ass off–it’s not that–it’s the encouragement of what is, essentially, an unhealthy lifestyle and the competition to be the most masochistic.


friends who menstruate
August 9, 2006, 9:22 am
Filed under: Buffalo, Feminism, friends, Gender, the Farm

Lauren & Sara, mural on Massachusetts Ave

Since moving back to Buffalo, in mid-March, I’ve acquired quite the collection of guy friends. Previously, the close, male friends in my life were more often than not ex-boyfriends or former lovers but now I’ve got a lot of men in my life with whom I’ve never been sexual or romantic. It’s good–not that it was bad before–and a change that I appreciate.

However, I’ve been craving women.

My college had a 3:1 ratio of women over men. Factor in my English major and women studies’ minor, and I easily had classes that were entirely female or contained less than four men. Since I graduated, the adjustment to a more normal ratio of the sexes has been slow; the adjustment to the ratio in the political business has been difficult. Where are the ladies? Why am I one of three in a room of 15 people? In work, in play, I’m missing the space created by women in a room together.

This weekend my dear friend Lauren, whom I met on the farm, visited Buffalo with her girlfriend, Sara. We ate food, drank beer, sang songs, talked politics, and laughed loud enough to welcome stares. It was wonderful. I talked with them over our diner breakfast about my lack of women-friends in Buffalo, about the general transition from the college bubble to a world where folks have a different education than me, and the significance of it all. They told me about another friend of theirs, one they were visiting after me, who said she was excited for their visit because she needed to be around people who menstruate.

I totally understand.

back and forth
August 4, 2006, 11:54 am
Filed under: Activism, friends, politics

Stephen wrote me recently, saying something to the effect of, “What’s with the constant back and forth: I hate my job, I like my job, I’m quitting, What I’m doing is kinda neat, I hate my job.”

As the date of the primary approaches, I’m both full of dread and a sense of empowerment. It’s confusing. This business I’m working in–politics–gets so ugly at times that throwing in the towel in a fit of disgust seems like the most reasonable action. But then I have a conversation with one of my allies, and another conversation, and another, and I talk it out until I feel comfortable. Until I am reminded of oh yeah, this is why I’m here. This process, these people.

Loads of bull
August 3, 2006, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Darn Kids, the Farm, Uncategorized

When I worked on the farm, in its educational program, the visiting kids would always be obsessed with the bull. The first summer at Hawthorne Valley, he was a giant named Leroy. The second summer, and that following fall, it was Odysseus:

Photo by my friend Zeb Millett.

During our Thursday lunch, when the herdsman would eat with us and answer questions from that week’s group of kids, the bull was the center of the conversation. They wanted to know about why there was only one bull, how old he was, if it was true that he gets angry if he sees red (not true), why he was so dangerous, and on and on. One of my favorite questions though came from a fourth-grader named Lucas. He asked Farmer Dan, with quite a bit of sincerity, if Odysseus ever had to defend the herd from wild coyotes or a lone wolf. I almost choked on my organic apple juice.

Anyway, check out the farm in yesterday’s New York Times.