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Perhaps you’re stuck in university hell, but lucky enough to attend a university that promotes such radical, heretical values as believing that even women have rights, or ensuring students have to access to emergency contraception to protect their health and futures. If however you attend a uni where authorities believe rape’s not really rape unless your assailant climaxes… well, you may have a bit of work to do, if your goal is to jumpstart, grow or revive the feminist scene on campus....read more
The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington got me thinking about an earlier march. It was May 17th, 1957. I was 15 and although I’d been doing activist work, it had all been near my home in NYC. My friend Pat and I had heard about the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom. Her father, an activist, was editor of the UAW magazine Ammunition. He made the connections so that we could go down on the night bus with the Jamaica (Queens) NAACP. I don’t remember sleeping much. The crowd was by far the largest I’d ever been in. We were asked to wave handkerchiefs instead of applauding the speakers because it was a religious event. The intensity of the suppressed energy of the silent applause is still with me....read more
Dear Mrs. Obama,
I wrote to you several years ago when you first announced your anti-childhood-obesity campaign, stating my opinion that opposition to childhood obesity both focuses on a red herring instead of a problem and encourages low self-esteem in all children (and people) who perceive themselves to be fat. I was sorry never to get an answer....read more
This summer, I did something that I’ve been putting off for eight years: I sat down and talked to my parents about how they handled my abortion. We’ve talked about my abortion before, a sentence here or there, but usually it’s in the context of a larger conversation about something that’s going on in politics or the news. The most we’ve ever talked about it is when I’ve talked about my feelings about my abortion. I have never given my parents the space to talk about how it affected them, never gave them a platform to talk about their own feelings. I think this is because I had been carrying a load of resentment for a long time....read more
So far, the blogosphere has been busy extolling the big box office blockbuster The Heat, a film starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy that netted $40 million its opening weekend. Hailed as both a comic vehicle for its two superstars and a trailblazing movie that “breaks the mold” of the male “buddy-cop-action-comedy” genre, The Heat has garnered great reviews from critics appreciative of its girl power message (e.g., Laura Shamas’ July 1 review in The Huffington Post). No doubt, the film succeeds as a comedy, trading in running gags and clever parody sustained by the talents of Bullock and McCarthy. But is The Heat truly a feminist triumph? If so, what kind and at whose expense? Looking beyond the laughter, how does the film depict women’s ability to succeed in a male dominated profession? And does using this genre really “break the mold?”...read more
Vaidehi. V-A-I-D-E-H-I. Pronounced Vuh-day-hee.
For as long as I can remember, my name has been pronounced in a hundred different ways. VaLdehi. Vidalia (yes, people the type of onion), Veronica, even just Va…. um, like a fill-in-the-blank. It’s surprising what new concoctions people come up with those seven, seemingly normal letters....read more
So most of y’all will know what ‘ABCD’stands for; if not, the term was coined to fit a collective experience of growing up as a brown face in a white space. ‘American-Born-Confused-Desi’ was a 1999 film about the plight of our parents in wanting to see their newly Americanized kids reaping the rewards of the old South Asian proverb: ‘health, wealth and wife.’ It’s an acronym for the generational divide that whilst not being specific to the South Asian/American diasporic community, is almost exclusively attributed to it. In this article I want to redefine the ABCD term and challenge old notions of what it means to be born brown in America....read more
I played a lot of MASH as a child and adolescent. MASH, if you’re not familiar, is a game in which you draw a swirl on a piece of paper and from that, extrapolate your entire adult existence. It decides important things for you, like where you’ll live (Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House), what kind of car you’ll have, and who you’ll marry. In the version I played with my female friends, we included not just options for people (dudes) we’d marry, but also where the wedding would be, and how many bridesmaids we would have (everyone in the game always had to be chosen as bridesmaids, in order to avoid strife and awkwardness.)...read more
Now that I have begun to take notice of this trend, it makes me tile-scrubbingly angry. Why is it that in television commercials for cleaning products, women are still doing all the work? We’re still the only ones trailing our fingers ruefully over dusty tabletops, fretting over grass stains on soccer uniforms, and grimacing through smudged windows. Just once, I’d like to turn on the TV and see a man drying his hands complacently on a dishtowel after washing a sink full of dishes. Am I dreaming too big here?...read more
I might not remember what it felt like learning that I had passed my black belt test, but I do remember the first time my instructor asked me whether I had the ‘hots’ for another student.
I told him I didn’t want to discuss it. So he put me in a headlock so that I couldn’t breathe and told me that good Tae Kwon Do students always do what “teacher” says. When he released me, I said, “Yes, sir.”
I was twelve years old.
I was a good student.
My story is rarely told but depressingly common. Studies of female athletes indicate appallingly high rates of bullying, sexual harassment, and physical, sexual, and psychological abuse at the hands of (usually male) coaches. The problem starts in local pick-up leagues and reaches its grimy hands into elite international competition. Some studies even suggest that the higher one climbs in the sports world, the worse the problems get....read more
In August of 2008, I became pregnant with what I thought would be my second child. A few weeks later, I lay on a table in a darkened room in my OB-GYN’s office while a sympathetic ultrasound technician shook her head sadly and said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat.” A few hours after that, I was in an operating room having a D&C, having chosen, on the very good advice of my doctor, to get it over with sooner rather than later. A few months later I peed on a stick and saw two pink lines, and my miscarriage was largely forgotten....read more