bossymarmalade: blue eye with lashes of red flower petals (Default)
[ 14 Valentines - Day Six: Motherhood ]

First of all -- motherhood? Is a very restrictive, tangled concept. It's vague but narrow, it's sacrosanct yet devalued. It's horribly skewed as a social construct in relation to race, age, education, and class.

So! I would like to say that 'motherhood' to me is not a solitary occupation, held only by the biological mother (and occasional saintly adoptive mother) and nobody else.

If we take motherhood at its most inclusive definition, it's the grandmother you lived with when you were a kid. It's looking after your nieces and nephews every day before your sister gets home from her job. It's working as a domestic in a different country and sending money back home to your children. It's the foster mom, the family friend, the pair of moms, the women in your community. It's not necessarily a nuclear family or even a single-parent family; it's a state of mind and a state of being.

With that multiplicity in mind, take a look at this presentation on Devi, the Hindu 'Mother Goddess'. Putting aside the irony of the made possible by list for now, it's a really well put-together explanation of the concept of 'mother' within Hindu philosophy and includes cosmic powers, fearsome warriors, crone saints, and childless fertility goddesses!
bossymarmalade: blue eye with lashes of red flower petals (Default)
[ 14 Valentines - Day 5: Sexuality ]

I will be answering each and every comment you lovely, smart people have been leaving me, but bear with me because it might take a little while!

For today's theme, I was considering a whole post about why "asexual" is a valid choice and how choosing to wait to have sex is often just as fraught a subject for women as choosing to have plenty of sex, but to be honest I am tired and pretty much just said everything I wanted to, so instead, download a bunch of songs from me about women's sexuality! )
bossymarmalade: blue eye with lashes of red flower petals (Default)
[ 14 Valentines - Day Three: Reproductive Rights ]

I am completely uninterested in bearing children. I always have been, despite constant assurances (from any and every person who feels it's their business to correct me about what I want for my own body and life) that "this will change" and "what about your future husband's opinion" and "oh, every woman eventually wants a baby". Yep, that's the way to convince me, all right -- heteronormative, sexist cliche!

At any rate, at least I can still buy birth control if I want, and I am educated and priviliged enough to make my own reproductive choices, because I live in the West.

If I were impoverished in India, I might be carrying rich people's children for money.

Every article you read on this subject is chock-full of weeping and grateful parents talking about the miracle of their new babies and Indian surrogates and their husbands talking about how grateful they are for the money and the chance to give happiness. Most of them are just reprints of the same AP article about a quiet town known for producing milk.

Apart from the truthout article (which, let's be honest, takes a disappointing turn for the wimpy at the end there), I found exactly two articles that were unwaveringly critical of the practice: one from The Christian Post noting that it's not the wonderful gift of life motivating surrogates, but their crushing poverty; and one from Qatar's English paper The Gulf Times detailing the emotional and social hardship inflicted on the surrogate mothers.

I am amazed that people can read these news reports with quotes like this from surrogate proponent Dr. Nayana Patel:
"Patel says she will not allow women to use their own eggs, in case they became too emotionally attached to the babies."
-- and think there's nothing wrong here.

This is our privilege at work. This is us *renting* poor, dark-skinned women to carry our babies, because heaven forbid we be denied biological children by either deity or nature should we desire them. This is us ignoring the fact that these women are doing it for the money, are forced to wear masks and live in secrecy, and are from a culture that still suffers the economic and emotional scars of colonialism and constantly faces pressures to be more Westernized.

Our reproductive rights are important, yes. But they are not so sacrosanct that we visit this sort of abuse on other women who don't have the choices, the money, or the power that we do.
bossymarmalade: blue eye with lashes of red flower petals (Default)
[ 14 Valentines - Day Three: Health ]

Oh my god, is Maggie yakking about water security again? People, you should know by now that I never STOP yakking about water security. *g*

This issue is particularly angering for me right now, because when UBC was making its deals with Coke, one of the stipulations for getting Coke machines put in was that the university have NO DRINKING FOUNTAINS. Yes, when I'm at school, I have to either shell out for Dasani or Aquafina, or fill up my water bottle in the bathroom. I'm real thrilled about this.

But I'll keep it short and punchy today. Here are the salient points:

- "Aquafina brand water is actually nothing more than filtered water from municipal sources, a fact that the company will now note on its bottles. In fact, some 40 percent of bottled water, including Coke's Dasani brand, is water that it gets from the tap for free, puts through filtration processes, and then sells back to the public with a markup of up to 1,000 times."

- "It takes more than 47 million gallons of oil to produce plastic water bottles for Americans every year. Eliminating those bottles would be like taking 100,000 cars off the road and 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere."

- "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water at the federal level, permits the product to contain certain levels of fecal matter, whereas the Environmental Protection Agency does not allow any human waste in city tap water."

- "Bottled water costs from 240 to 10,000 times as much as water straight from the tap."

- "Fortune magazine has touted water as the 'best investment sector for the century.' The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has said that 'water is the last infrastructure frontier for private investors.' The Toronto Globe & Mail has stated that 'water is fast becoming a globalized corporate industry.'"

- "Water requirements for a meat-based diet are five to ten times larger than for a vegetarian diet. Even modest shifts away from meat consumption will cut water demands by a third, or, better, allow the same amount of water to provide nutritious food for more people."

Water security is about more than just recycling your bottles. It's about all of the political constructions and environmental exploitation behind the big-water industry; it's about impoverished communities in South America being forced to pay for basic potable water; it's about rural India losing its watersheds to Coke-bottling plants; it's about the natural aquifers in the grainbelt of North America depleting at an alarming rate and becoming contaminated; it's about us being trained to view fresh water as a commodity that we should be paying exorbitant amounts for.

Potable water is not a commodity. It's a human right. Use a filter.
bossymarmalade: blue eye with lashes of red flower petals (Default)
[ 14 Valentines - Day Two: Hunger ]

I have been a fan of Dr. Vandana Shiva and her work since I first saw her in a documentary about water as a human right; she's erudite, passionate, funny, and look at the size of her bindi! Clearly it has increased in direct proportion to how brilliant the woman is.

One of Dr. Shiva's major areas of work is biopiracy and biodiversity; she is intensely critical of the corporate laws that give companies like Monsanto and RiceTec the ability to patent foods (and when I say 'foods' here, I mean naturally-occurring ones like wheat or rice) and then prevent farmers from cultivating them without paying. She likens it to colonialism, and I think that's a remarkably apt analogy.

What does this actually mean? Well, RiceTec, for example, wanted to patent basmati rice -- a crop grown in India since antiquity -- as their own invention and then forbid poor farmers from using their own seed stock. Farmers have traditionally saved their seed and exchanged with other agriculturalists, making use of wild strains and keeping the diversity of seed-stock going. Genetically-modified "terminator" seeds created by the big corporations will not reproduce; their seed cannot be saved for the next year. Hybrid seeds won't work either. But if that's all the seed that farmers are allowed to use, it makes corporations the sole providers of seed, and a monopoly is good business, isn't it?

This is happening all over the developing world, although it's not confined there (see: Monsanto VS the 68 year-old farmer from Bruno, Saskatchewan) and anybody who thinks that food security isn't a matter of global interconnectedness isn't very well-informed. There's a myriad of politically cagey economic decisions -- structural adjustment programs, embargoes, trade agreements, export processing zones -- that result in people raising crops only to sell to rich countries, people unwittingly eating high-fructose corn syrup in all their food, people not being able to even afford basic food.

If you were Haitian, you might have to resort to eating cookies made of dirt.

Now I know that cleaning our plates won't help children starving in China, and I certainly am not the type to advocate a raw-food diet in order to cut down on supporting the industrial agricultural complex. I don't even have any wise suggestions about changing your food habits, because it's such a highly individual thing I think it would be silly to try. But I do believe that changing our own attitudes towards food, *respecting* it more and understanding where it comes from, is necessary for any improvement. All I can do is offer you some links and my own comments about what works for me, and hope that something in here will be of use to you.

And if any of you have helpful links or personal experiences, please don't hesitate to share!

Lunch in a Box - Building a Better Bento: looking at Biggie's colourful, delicious lunches has changed the way that I eat. I assemble bento lunches the night before, then just grab them on the way out the door in the morning; it's a fabulous way to include variety in your home-packed meals and if you're mildly OCD like me, the process of creating all those little sections and treats is half the fun. *g*

The 100-Mile Diet: my father tells me that when he was growing up poor in the sugar-cane barracks, he'd eat all kinds of little seeds and fruits that were growing wild to keep his belly filled. Obviously we can't graze on our surrounding foliage like that, but produce markets offer a convenient and usually very affordable alternative. When I have the time, I find that visiting farm markets and picking up small amounts of whatever's fresh, on sale, or intriguing, results in very good meals. When I only have time for the supermarket, I try not to purchase any produce that was grown outside of Canada.

Avoid food containing cottonseed oil. Here's the science, for those of you who like that kind of stuff; otherwise, just consider that cotton is *not a food crop* and so it can be treated with all kinds of insecticides. The seeds and oil are chemically treated to make them passable by the FDA as food-grade, but do you really want to be eating that? I mean, you shouldn't even be giving your dog cottonseed, much less yourself!

Sustainable Table: plenty of information and tools for making sustainable food choices
Seed Savers Exchange: based in my beloved city of Decorah, Iowa, this organization is for you green-thumbed people who are interested in growing heirloom fruits and vegetables.
The True Food Network: more helpful tips and guides, as well as many informative articles about GMOs and food additives.
bossymarmalade: blue eye with lashes of red flower petals (Default)
[ 14 Valentines - Day One: Body Image ]

It seems I signed myself up for all 14 days this year. o.O

Y'all, I don't even know what I want to say about body image. It's a complicated subject, and I'm sure most of you have heard the most common stuff -- women feel more pressure to be thin, to be groomed within an inch of their lives, to view eating as being 'sinful', to strive towards the 'perfect' white Western construction of heterosexual porn centerfold ideals.

We know it, we all live it. So, I dunno -- maybe I don't want to go over that again. And I don't even want to do that thing where you pick one part of your body that you love unequivocally, because even that strategy's been co-opted by Dove and other beauty campaigns.

So here's what I want to know: what is the single most ridiculous piece of beauty advice you've ever read/heard/been given/followed?

I have dutifully attempted all of the following stupid shit, as dictated to me in my younger years by Cosmopolitan:

- doused my head in perfume ("Hair is a fabulous perfume vehicle!"); I smelled like a cathouse even after shampooing it all out
- removed old nailpolish with a new coat of nailpolish ("Lifts that old dried-on gunk right off!"); a waste of both nailpolish *and* my time, plus made a godawful mess
- at the end of a shower, blasted my breasts with cold water ("Gets the blood circulating and makes them perky and tight!"); IT FUCKING HURT

I can't be the only one who tried all this foolish nonsense. Chime in and make me feel better about myself. *g*
bossymarmalade: jam cookies shaped like hearts (love in cookie form)
It's Valentine's Day! That means it's the last day for [ profile] 14valentines, and that means I get to talk about something that's been big in the news lately: the environment.

Now, most of you are of the same generation as I am, which means we grew up celebrating Earth Day and learning to recycle and stuff like that. Which is great, but there's so much more to be done.

Sustainability is a cause I believe strongly in, but I have to admit that in some ways it's just too expensive for us average people to invest in. I certainly don't have the money for a hybrid car or the willpower to give up meat or anything like that, but at the same time it frightens me horribly that the place where I grew up (along with some forty-odd low-lying island states worldwide) is in danger of drowning in the next thirty years due to the melting icecaps. I don't want to have a hand in sinking islands, jesus.

Everyone has their own routine of stuff that they do to be environmentally conscious. Here are a few of my tips, because I find them painless to do and the best place to start is to do something painless. As an added bonus, all of these tips will *save* you money, which is why I was raised to follow most of them to begin with! And if any of you have money-saving green tips, please share them in the comments.

- turn off the lights when you leave a room; set your computer to hibernate
- wash clothes in cold water; hang them to dry when possible
- re-use/re-purpose whenever possible (ziploc bags, grocery & produce bags, fast-food napkins [i keep excess takeout napkins in the car])
- try going shampoo-free or using natural cleaners
- run the dishwasher only when it's full; try to cook multiple things if you use the oven
- buy produce from a local farmer's market/stand (it will be fresher, often cheaper, and will have traveled less to get to you)
- scale back on the following: red meat, excess packaging, heating & air conditioning
- recycle everything you can! IKEA will take depleted batteries; Office Max will take used printer cartridges; charities will take broken electronics, old clothes & magazines & videos, and whatever else
- and I can't stress this one enough: AVOID BOTTLED WATER. I understand if your municipal water happens to be unsafe; what I'm talking about is if you live somewhere that the water's good (which, let's put it in context, is most of the developed world) and you still insist on buying bottles of Dasani. What you are doing is paying an exorbitant amount for a BASIC HUMAN NECESSITY, which signals to corporations that they are completely within their rights to place this market value on water and charge impoverished people for water security. People, I'm not just harping on this bottled water thing because I dislike Coca-Cola's politics; there are serious consequences for us 'First-Worlders' monetarily and the rest of the world resource-wise and survival-wise if we continue turning something as elemental as water into a fucking designer accessory. If you absolutely cannot live without bottled water, at least consider buying the generic grocery brand. It'll taste pretty much the same (since after all bottled water is drawn from your municipal source) and it'll save you some change.

Whew! And now that I've flipped my shit over bottled water and its EVILS, here's some music! artists m to z. )

14 Valentines: V-Day
bossymarmalade: the wry virgin of guadalupe (la morenita)
"Peacebuilding cannot succeed if half the population is excluded from the process."

Today, obviously, is Peace Movement day on [ profile] 14valentines. One of the biggest arguments against feminist peacebuilding is, in a sense, strangely non-discriminatory: that a world ruled by women would not be any more peaceful than a world ruled by men, because women are not inherently less warlike.

While I agree that men and women shouldn't be essentialized into "masculine/feminine traits", this objection is pretty ridiculous on most other levels and I'm surprised that people treat it like a salient point. First of all, our world has evolved through systems of patriarchy, so naturally turning power over to women wouldn't erase centuries of patriarchal history and thinking. In order to compare the two empirically, you'd have to reverse time and start all over with a matriarchal system to see what differences pop up.

Second, feminist peacebuilding is not about a world ruled by women. It's about a world built on feminist anti-racist ideas; it's about understanding that women, as the primary victims of war and the people left behind to pick up the pieces, have a valuable contribution to make when it comes to circumventing conflict in the first place.

Our media likes to concentrate on the image of the victimized Third World woman, subjected to barbarous tortures, ignorant, submissive. I think it's important to know that there are many, *many* women out there doing grassroots work to improve not only their own lives but the lives of women around the world. So instead of linking you to statistics about death and rape and impoverishment, here are some links to women's organizations that are working for peace:

MADRE: working with women at a community level for human rights and security
Coalition of Women for Peace: Jewish and Palestinian women mobilizing for an end to conflict
Code Pink: rejecting Bush's pro-war politics and anti-woman domestic policies
The Green Belt Movement: bringing rights education, civil development, and greenery to Africa

And now that I have talked your ears off about feminist peacebuilding -- here's some music by female artists to download! I'll do half today and half on the 14th.

artists a to m )
bossymarmalade: blue eye with lashes of red flower petals (Default)
Right-o! Today on [ profile] 14valentines it's Economics/Wealth day, which to me means the feminization of poverty. Most of the impoverished people in the world today are women (and by extension, children). The 'good' side to this is that when women *do* get some money, they generally spend it on stuff that improves their families and the community. The bad part is that they rarely get the chance to make a decent living.

My mother told me that all the old women in the village back home used to have something called a souk, where they would pool their money, give loans to women who needed them, and basically run a little informal bank that was fluid in forms of repayment. This sort of thing now is done by organizations like Grameen Bank, which offers microcredit to poor women.

Now, obviously, we random mortals can't erase debt loads for developing nations or offer loans to impoverished people. What we can do is *be aware* of the world we live in, and understand that we are privileged to be able to live the way we do. We need to make the connection between the things we consume and the people who produce them. We need to comprehend that our excessive energy and resource consumption is what keeps people in poverty.

Look, I'm not saying give up everything you love or anything like that. Just, y'know -- spring for the fair-trade coffee next time, or turn off the lights when you leave a room, or re-use things a couple of times before you throw them out. You'll not only be helping the environment, you'll be doing a wee bit to staunch the economic gluttony of our consumer culture.

And since this is not intended to be a screed about world economics, here are some female-themed icons! Barbarella; Beyond the Valley of the Dolls; La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc; Kama Sutra; Myrna Loy; The Last Life in the Universe; Janghwa, Hongryeon; Spirited Away. )


bossymarmalade: blue eye with lashes of red flower petals (Default)
miss maggie

April 2015

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