Archive for March, 2009

Liveblogging WAM!: Sarah Haskins

Gender, Media, Pop Culture No Comments »

I don’t have much to say beyond these four words: Sarah Haskins was AWESOME!

I really appreciate WAM!’s choice to bring such a talented speaker to the conference.  Feminism doesn’t have to be all serious doom and gloom and comedians like Sarah Haskins prove that the media/pop culture can be taken to task in an entertaining way.  After spending the whole day discussing serious feminist stuff (gender oppression, lack of funding for independent media, corporate douchebags), it was refreshing to laugh. 

Please look to the right, under my Flickr feed, for pictures.  For some reason, WordPress is feeling cranky about uploading pictures right now.

Liveblogging WAM!: Queer Teen Filmmakers

Media, Sex & Sexuality No Comments »

Wow!  I was totally blown away by the session “Queer Teen Filmmakers: Eradicating Homophobia Across the U.S. Reel by Real.”  With the help of moderator Indrig Hu Dahl, three incredible young queer women screened their short films and then opened it up for Q & A.  The presenters were really surprised to find 60+ people who wanted to hear about their work.  We had to switch rooms to accommodate more attendees, but some people still had to sit on the floor. 

Chicago native Zaida Sanabia showed her film A Fish (Almost) Eaten by a Shark , a documentary originally intended to give other teens a step-by-step guide on how to build a Gay-Straight Alliance in school.  When Zaida encounters homophobia from teachers and the principal, administrators try to confiscate her film.  Beyondmedia assisted her with the process of bringing the film to distribution.  We didn’t get to watch the entire documentary, but the piece that we watched was really powerful. 

Next was Genne Scott, originally from Los Angeles, who made Black Widow–a spoke word piece, set to visual images and video, about black men who can’t come out as queer because of the confines of black masculinity.  This video was produced during Genne’s time at REACH LA.  Although really short, maybe three or four minutes in length, Black Widow really effected me.  During Q & A, Genne spoke about her personal experiences of not fitting in.  It was difficult for her to come out, she experienced bullying from other black queer youth who saw her butch identity as too white, and her father kicked her out of the house.  Genne is only in her early 20s, but her advice and answers were well beyond her years.  I think we’ll see great things from her in the future. 

Finally we screened Coming Out, created by Seattle native Kali Snowden with the help of Reel Grrls.  I can’t give away too much about the plot, but this short comedy appeared like a really fun way to present issues of homophobia to youth.  Kali and Reel Grrls have created a discussion guide for the film and have screened it in schools throughout the country. 

As Zaida explained, youth have an incredible amount of energy, talent, and desire to thrive; they just need someone who believes in them and who are willing to help them along the way.

Liveblogging WAM!: Gender, Non-Conformity & the Media

Gender, Media, Pop Culture, Race, Sex & Sexuality 1 Comment »

I just attended a really powerful breakout session called “In/Out of Focus, Broadening a Feminist Lens: Gender, Non-Conformity and the Media” which was moderated by Kate Bovitch and featured Jack Aponte, Miriam Zoila Perez, and Julia Serano.

Each panelist spent a few minutes talking about themselves and then started a discussion about how the feminist community can make room for gender variant people even if they do not identify with the word “woman.”  There was also quite a bit of discussion about the media and how it creates and perpetuates many of the transphobic assumptions found in our society. 

This session was so insighful and full of incredibly important questions about gender and feminism that I know I cannot do it justice here.  I took so many notes and know that I will be pondering these issues for quite a while.  However, there are some highlights I want to point out immediately:

  • I wish everyone in the world could be exposed to the brilliant insight of Julia Serano, the author of Whipping Girl (if you haven’t read it yet, you must…right now!).  As a transwoman, she has experienced misogyny two ways–when people see her as a woman and when people see her as a transgendered woman.  Transphobia and sexism are deeply rooted and related to each other, so much so that feminists should be concerned about transphobia and other trans issues. 
  • Gender variant people, like many other marginalized groups, are invisible in our society and media depictions help shape the way others see them.  Media and pop culture coverage of gender variant people often include objectification, exploitation of the body, intrusive questions, etc. 
  • To loosely quote Jack Aponte, some people feel strong kinship with the female community, but don’t want to squeeze into a gender binary for the cause of solidarity. 
  • There are many ways that transgender allies can show their support.  First, it’s important that if we’re writing about gender variant people, we do so without exploiting them or trying to come across as a trans expert.  As Julia pointed out, we need to educate ourselves and listen to the issues that the community raises–not the issues that people outside the community are interested in reading. 
  • We need to have a large discussion about gender and feminism, not just in the context of gender variance.  Everyone needs to question and study their own gender. 

Liveblogging WAM!: Cynthia Lopez

Gender, Media, Race No Comments »

Cynthia Lopez’s presentation was very informative…what a great start to the day, in typical WAM! style.  Her overall theme was how we can use media to invoke meaningful conversation about a variety of issues. 

Lopez also spoke at length about the role of women in media and entertainment–particularly that while some positive steps have been made in terms of representation, there is still a long journey ahead of us.  Women, particularly women of color and women over 40, are noticeably absent from Sunday morning news shows, prime time television, radio, and newsrooms in general.  While some women have been successful in public broadcasting, this form of media continues to be grossly underfunded. 

Over the past 20 years, POV has created more than 250 films that represent a diverse collection of topics–poverty in Africa, white supremacy, police brutality, political corruption, discrimination in the Boy Scouts, etc. 

There were two previews shown for recent POV films.  The first was Made in L.A., about three Latina immigrants who helped rally other sweatshop workers to boycott Forever 21.  Made in L.A. has been screened hundreds of times, including at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles and for Washington policy makers. 

We also had the opportunity to see a preview for POV’s next documentary to be aired on PBS–New Muslim Cool.  Focused on a Puerto Rican Muslim rapper named Hamza Perez, the documentary deals with Perez’s goal of lifting young people out of drugs and crime in Pittsburgh while under surveillance by the FBI (and other counter-terrorism organizations) for his religion.  It airs on PBS on June 23rd; I will definitely be watching.

Liveblogging WAM!

Gender, Media, Pop Culture, Sex & Sexuality 2 Comments »

Good Morning Everyone!

Synergy, my monster laptop, and I have safely arrived in Cambridge for the WAM! conference.  I am really happy to report (so far) that I have not encountered any technology issues, so I should be able to live blog today for the first time in three years!

First up is a presentation by Cynthia Lopez, the Vice President for American Documentary for P.O.V. –an award winning film company whose work is often featured on PBS.

Next, I will head to my first breakout session.  It was a really tough decision, but given the scope of my Capstone project I think I will be attending “In/Out of Focus, Broadening a Feminist Lens: Gender, Non-Conformity and the Media.”  Plus Julia Serano and Miriam Zoila Perez will be on the panel!

Happy Spring!

Gender, Media, Pop Culture, Random, Sex & Sexuality 4 Comments »

I am fortunate to have a really fun and full schedule from now through the beginning of May.  Shall we?

  • Every Week: Beginner Yoga Class!  Last week was my first experience taking a yoga class in person, not just popping in a DVD.  I was referred to Breathing Time Yoga in Pawtucket and I had a phenomenal experience.  Please do not think, like I did for the past 5+ years, that a yoga DVD is anything like the real live experience…it is 1000x better. 
  • 3/28 and 3/29: WAM! for a third year in a row.  I am excited about the workshops lined up for this year and I have to admit that I am most excited about Saturday night’s speaker/presenter Sarah Haskins.  Seriously, if you haven’t witnessed the brilliance that is Sarah Haskins, please click here, here, and here. 
  • Sometime in April: For my Capstone project, I have an awesome opportunity to present a series of workshops to queer youth at an organization called Youth Pride.  My workshops will be focused on discussing queer pop culture and working with youth to create our own media.  I cannot wait to start!
  • 4/24-5/3: Best friend visiting from far, far away (yay!) and week-long vacation from work (double yay!). 
  • 4/25 and 4/26: Camping trip with friends.  This is the first time I will be using a sleeping bag in over 15 years and possibly my first experience sleeping in a tent, depending on if I chicken out and use the cabin.
  • 5/2: Dalai Lama at Gillette Stadium.  Whoa, so excited.  His Holiness will be presenting two lectures—“Introduction to Buddhism: The Four Noble Truths” and “The Path to Peace and Acceptance.”  At the home of the Patriots.  Pure bliss. 
  • 5/8: Turn in my LAST term paper, thus finishing my LAST class as a graduate student.  At this point, the only thing standing in the way of my degree is my Capstone project.