Cranky Fat Feminist Speaks

liberal feminist from the south who ran away to college in the mid-west, and quickly retreated back after my four years were up. trying to save the world one picture book at a time; attempting to live healthier to lose weight, but without giving up beer. challenging the idea that “big is beautiful” as well as what I’ve learned and experienced about women, gender, and feminism from my time in college as well as my time in West Africa. pissed about the apathy of the world, ready to create change one mind at a time.

I'd love any comments you'd like to share! And as always, I'd love for you to click on an ad when you're done reading, it's a simple free way for you to give money towards my student loans!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

[feminist] "Angel" Melek Karasslan

This is Melek Karasslan. A woman wrote to me today through Facebook, asking me to share this story. As requested, I am not sharing our friend's name. (I edited for grammar, as English is not her native language)

"A girl died few days ago in Turkey, her name was Melek Karaaslan. She was married when she was 16 years old. She was beaten every day by mother in law, father in law, and her husband. She had her first child while she was 18. But when she was at the end of her pregnancy, her husband kicked her out of her home and she had to give birth to her child outside where it is -30 degrees. Of course, her child died. She took her baby to her husbands house, expecting her husband to [take her back], but she was beaten again. Her father tried to save his daughter from that hell, but Melek's family and elders told her father that it was a matter of family honour and she had to go back to her husband.

And after this, everything got worse. She locked in bathroom for 3 months, she got weaker every day till dropped to 30 kg from 70 kg. She lost her mind when her brother come to mother in law's house and found her. She died in a hospital, at 24 years old.

That is a terrible horrible shame for our country.

But if she didn't get to that hospital [to which she was airlifted from another], we wouldn't have heard of her at all. That happened in the east side of Turkey. While the west side of Turkey is so modern and respectful to woman, the east is not. Violence against woman in the east is increasing. Our government says that they will do something about this but I don't believe them."

I used Google translate to read the story for myself, but it is just the same as our friend wrote. There are no stories/articles about her in English. Please share this story and picture of Melek (which means "Angel" in Turkish), and remember that domestic violence is everywhere in the world. While we often feel that many of the safety nets for battered women are failing, in many places they still do not exist at all. Remember to help the victims of domestic violence in your city, and raise awareness about the victims on the other side of the world.

Turkey can do better than this, and Melek deserved better than this.

Monday, July 30, 2012

[feminist] defining gender binaries as a social construct

As requested, I've pulled out one of my women's studies books to bring you a definition of gender.

First, we have to acknowledge that the term "sex" refers to biology, and your sexual organs. You are born a girl, a boy, or intersex. Therefore, the term "gender" refers to culture and society-- often phrased "social construction of gender." What does it mean to be a man, or to be a woman? What adjectives have you been called recently?
  • weak, pretty, timid, demure (dowdy/frumpy, matronly, brazen, coy, slut, whore)
  • strong, handsome, burly, macho, stocky, strong (effeminate, queer, weak, timid)
Which line do your adjectives fit into? The top line usually describes women, while the second line usually describes men (and the parenthesis are generally insult-words). See any overlap? Comparing men to women is often an insult "you throw like a girl," while for a woman to be compared to a man is usually a complement "strong like your brother."

Quick homework, go to Toys-R-Us (or some equivalent) online, and search for toys for kids under 5... there is an option to sort for "girl toys" and "boy toys." Here's my test-- "girl toys" got this doll in the top 10 results, "boy toys" got this in the top 10 results. Pink baby doll, sports car, socially constructed gender.

You see your friend's young kid for the first time, what do you say? "Jane, your dress is so pretty!" or "Mark, you're so tall!"-- would you ever tell a boy that he was "pretty"?

Right there, you answered no. There is no escape from social constructions of gender. We are all victims of the society we are born into. But, we must all work to end these stereotypes of gender-- the manly man and the girly girl. Girls can do anything boys can do. Boys can do anything girls can do. We should never limit our children to dolls and pretend kitchens, or trucks and cars. We should never tell a little boy "you can't paint your toenails, that's only for girls" or tell a little girl "you can't play with trucks, that's only for boys." Just like we should never tell girls that they couldn't be things like doctors, astronauts, truck drivers, breadwinners, or the president; and how we should never tell boys that they can't cry, become a dancer, or be stay at home parent. Think before you speak and before you buy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

[feminism] defining feminism, generally

Feminism, defined by Margaret Andersen.
"women's and men's positions in society are the result of social, not natural or biological, factors"
"social insititions and social attitudes [are] the basis for women's positions in society"
"transforming society on behalf of women"
thinking + acting
"women's experiences, concerns, and ideas are as valuable as those of men and should be treated with equal seriousness and respect. This does not mean women have to be like men, but that women's interests should be central to movements for social change."

Feminism, some stereotypes.
social rejection
aggression, angry, radical
male feminists: gay

Friday, July 13, 2012

[feminist] breastfeeding in public

Lately on facebook we've been talking a lot about breastfeeding in public. Many people in American society find it to be "disgusting" "gross" "nudity" or "insensitive"--

Kim: Not going to lie, even as a female I seriously don't want to see anyone nursing. Can't they just put in a nice little room in the malls, with some carpet and a few sofas for moms?

Yvette: One of the biggest complainers about women publicly feeding a child are young women who have never chosen to breast feed or don't have children. What kind of society do we have when we teach young women to hate one of their own natural abilities? Only in America.

Dana: Yes, nursing is natural. You need to be tasteful though. I wouldn't want my ten year old son gawking at it. 

Wendy: Honestly, I dont want to see either one in front of my face when i am trying to eat. Im sorry, but as a nonchild bearing woman with absolutely NO DESIRE to have children, I am tired of self righteous mother throwing their breasts in my face everywhere I turn.-

These were just a few comments on the images above, but what I'm wondering is how our society got to this point. Why did boobs become so sexualized that women can't feed their children in public without risk of being chastised (or even told to go feed their child in the bathroom). 

African woman

Arab woman and child, 1925

East Indian, 1950

painting by Mary Cassatt

Moroccan woman 1909
Why do you think American women's breasts are so sexualized? Why do you think we have become a society in which this is even a topic of debate, instead of a socially accepted norm for all people? While you're pondering your answer, check out these over priced nursing covers which further the idea that a nursing mother should (by society's rules, not by her choice) cover up to feed.

 Trend Lab Polka-Dot Nursing Cover 

Itzy Ritzy Modern Floral Nursing Cover