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News flash! Emi writes straightforwardly “feminist”–even radical feminist–commentaries on Reddit!

Date: August 7, 2012

I just added many of my recent contributions on Reddit discussion forum in Interchange, the depository of my online commentaries from various fora all over the internet. Most of these comments come from /r/AskFeminists: while it is not the only “subreddit” that I frequent, it is where I tend to write more than just a brief sentence.

My comments from Reddit are very different from my other commentaries elsewhere because I am in conversation with many (mostly white, straight, cisgender) men. Feminist subreddits on Reddit are swarming with “men’s rights activists” and other, more pro-feminist men who are not very familiar with feminism.

I’m not used to this: I surround myself with queer people, feminists, radical activists and thinkers of all kinds, even online. As a result, much of what I write in various online forums end up addressing complexities of multiple oppressions. I tend to criticize feminists and queer activists more than I praise them, not because I dislike feminists or queer activists, but because I am a feminist and queer activist and I experience things within my movements that trouble me on a daily basis.

But on Reddit, I am not talking to feminists or queer activists (for the most part), and as a result I have opportunities to put forth more straightforwardly “feminist” arguments. I kind of found it refreshing to write this way, though it can easily get tiring. That said, they are not mere “feminism 101” materials: I think I bring the kind of sensibility and my own thinking that I always carry around with even though I am discussing seemingly simple topics (well simpler compared to all the super complicated social issues that I usually write about).

The five entries I’ve added to Interchange today represent these more “straightforwardly feminist” articulations of my politics, which I thought you might enjoy, especially if you are familiar with my usual writings.

Enjoy!

Book lists from an indie reference librarian wannabe, June 2012

Date: June 25, 2012

List of books I brought to “Show & Tell” at Queer/Feminist Theory Reading Group at Portland Q Center, June 24th, 2012.

  • Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa
  • Friends from the Other Side / Amigos del otro lado by Gloria Anzaldúa (children’s book)
  • Prietita and the Ghost Woman / Prietita y la llorona by Gloria Anzaldúa (children’s book)
  • Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
  • This Bridge Called My Back ed. by Cherríe Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa
  • On Lies, Secrets, and Silence by Adrienne Rich
  • Women as Womb: Reproductive Technologies and the Battle Over Women’s Freedom by Janice Raymond
  • This is What Lesbian Looks Like ed. by Kris Kleindienst
  • Prostitution, Power and Freedom by Julia O’Connell Davidson
  • At the Heart of Freedom: Feminism, Sex, & Equality by Drucilla Cornell
  • Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation by Eli Clare
  • The Politics of Disablement by Michael Oliver
  • How Nonviolence Protects the State by Peter Gelderloos
  • Violence by Slavoj Žižek

Librarian wannabe comments: My friends know that Gloria Anzaldúa is my hero and greatest influence, but not many people know that she wrote children’s books for border kids. I wanted to share them with the group. In this theory reading group, we’ve read articles that challenge us, things that we might not agree with but it would be helpful for us to know what they are. I often recommend Janice Raymond’s “Women as Womb” in that way: by understanding her larger critique of medical technologies and individual choices, one could more fully understand her vitriolic (and insincere) work on transsexual women (The Trans-sexual Empire: Making of the She-Male) that she is most notorious for. I also picked some books related to critical disability theory and others that deals with the concept of violence/nonviolence critically because they could be good themes for our future meetings.


List of books I brought to June Portland Feminist Meet-up discussion on “waves” of feminism at In Other Words community center, June 3rd, 2012.

  • Letters of Intent: Women Cross the Generations to Talk About Family, Work, Sex, Love and the Future of Feminism ed. by Anna Bondoc & Meg Daly
  • To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism ed. by Rebecca Walker
  • Listen Up!: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation ed. by Barbara Findlen
  • Third Wave Agenda: Being Feminist, Doing Feminism ed. by
  • Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century ed. by Rory Dicker & Alison Piepmeier
  • Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner & Amy Richards
  • Daughters of Feminists: Young Women with Feminist Mothers Talk about Their Lives by Rose Glickman
  • We Don’t Need Another Wave: Dispatches from the Next Generation of Feminists ed. by Melody Berger
  • Feminist Fatale: Voices from Twentysomething Generation Explore Future Women’s Movement by Paula Kamen
  • various issues of HUES magazine
  • the first issue of Alice magazine
  • early issues of Bitch and BUST magazines
  • Rebecca Walker’s article, “Becoming the Third Wave” from January/February 1992 issue of Ms. magazine

Librarian wannabe comments: To Be Real, Listen Up!, and Third Wave Agenda were all important “third wave” anthologies in the mid-1990s, but they framed “third wave” differently. Listen Up! was edited by a second wave feminist to “give voice to” younger women, which made it the most palatable (to second wave feminists) representation of the “third wave” voices, whereas Third Wave Agenda traces the roots of “third wave” in the tradition of radical women of color feminism that have resisted second wave orthodoxy since the 1970s. Letters of Intent is the most interesting book ever published on the intergenerational conflict between feminists. Daughters of Feminists and Feminist Fatale are usually not associated with the third wave because they came earlier than that phrase but points to what was to come. HUES magazine, co-edited by Adios, Barbie/Body Outlaws editor Ophira Edut, was for me the single most important feminist magazine in the mid-1990s that represented to me what third wave was all about. Reading earlier issues of Bitch and BUST is interesting because Bitch was pretty much what it is today pretty since early on, while earlier issues of BUST was actually more like what Bitch: clearly and identifiably feminist, rather than simply giving feminism a lip service to sell products.

Danielson’s “Homecoming Queers” details 2000 panel by Raging Exotics: Women of Color Caucus at PSU Women’s Studies Department

Date: June 10, 2012

Recently I came across Marivel T. Danielson’s book, “Homecoming Queers: Desire and Difference in Chicana Latina Cultural Production.” The book draws heavily on the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, who is not just one of my favorite authors, but the single most important influence in my own development as a feminist theorist and writer, so it was naturally very interesting to me.

But what I found most curious about the book was that it refers to the student organization I co-founded while attending Portland State University, Raging Exotics: Women of Color Caucus at PSU Women’s Studies Department. In fact, Danielson concludes the book with a story about a panel Raging Exotics presented at a women’s studies conference at University of Arizona, which was nightmarish. It’s re-traumatizing just to read her description of the incident, but I’m glad that someone put into record what happened, because we were too stressed to write about it ourselves.

Below is an excerpt from “Homecoming Queers” that describes what happened. In the book, she discusses the incident further using concepts she introduces elsewhere, so please take a look at the book if you are interested. (By the way, I believe that the French woman mentioned toward the end was Monique Wittig. Can someone confirm?)


Excerpted from “Homecoming Queers: Desire and Difference in Chicana Latina Cultural Production” by Marivel T. Danielson, p. 184-190

One group of students engaged in such a critical, political, and creative revolution of hegemonic academia emerged from the Women’s Studies Department at Portland State University under the self-proclaimed title “Raging Exotics: Women of Color Caucus.” In the fall of 2000 at the University of Arizona, founding members of Raging Exotics alongside Women’s Studies students from the Tucson campus offered a workshop at this conference proudly entitled “The Future of Women’s Studies Conference.” The panel detailed the student organization’s history, goals, and personal experiences and traumas lived by women of color students within Women’s Studies academic departments as well as the field in general. Although the group offered copies of their work in print, the most vibrant form of theorizing occurred as the panel and audience performed the lived experience of collaboration and confrontation in this “live” venue.

[…]

Over the course of their panel, “Raging Exotics” members Monica Steen, Lamya Chidiac, and Emi Koyama, joined by two local University of Arizona Women’s Studies students, would present their own experiences, each reading a prepared statement” about the unique forms of racism and ignorance with which she grapples on a daily basis as a student in the Portland State University’s Women’s Studies Department. In addition to their panel presentations, the students offered copies of their independently published zine. In this publication, the “Raging Exotics” established their goals as well as demands of audiences and readers alike: “The issues we are talking about are still very traumatic for us, so we may get emotional in the course of the presentation. Do not freak out or use our emotions as an excuse to devalue our words. And if you are white, take responsibility for your discomfort upon hearing our very difficult stories. We are not talking about skinheads or KKK; we are talking about perfectly well-intentioned feminists who end up hurting us due to their ignorance and prejudice” (Raging Exotics Zine).

However, before they could begin their presentation, the validity of their experiences and theories would be performed as a profoundly troublesome introduction. That afternoon I entered the tiny, almost empty classroom with an Anglo female friend who insisted on sitting silently in the back row. When I suggested we move closer to the front of the room, she shook her head and pointed to a sign written in large letters on a blackboard at the side of the room: “This is a space for Women of Color to speak and express ourselves. If you are not a Woman of Color please keep your comments brief. If you do not respect this request we will tell you to stop. This workshop is not about you.”

I sat and watched as women entered, filling the room, reading the sign, and reacting with varying degrees of melodrama, outrage, indignation, fear, righteousness, humor, and fierce accord. One older woman appeared disturbed and seemed to scoff at the sign’s request. She strolled calmly into the classroom, claiming a seat in the front row directly across from the panelists, as if initiating a duel. Before the speakers began, the woman rose from her seat and walked to the center of the table where they had placed a stack of their self-created zines. She first read a sign indicating that the publication was free to women of color and five dollars for allies. In a loftily sarcastic voice, the women challenged, “What if you’re 1/16 Cherokee. Does that count?” Clearly upset, one of the panelists managed to state firmly, “I find your statement offensive. I think you should leave.” The woman offered that she was just joking and, if given the benefit of the doubt, could have been lightly directing an anti-essentialist nudge at the workshop organizers’ establishing statement. When she was met with only stunned silence, she turned to face the now nearly full and shocked audience and implored, “Do you think I should leave?” No doubt expecting a warm and supportive match to her own indignation at the situation, she received, instead, only our own awkward silence and stares. Another panelist quietly argued that perhaps she should be allowed to stay, but the stand-off would not so easily be diffused. Finally, incredulous, the woman turned, gathered her things, and exited the room as the rest of us watched speechless. Perhaps none of us had ever observed a scene where an older Anglo professor, with clear institutional knowledge and authority, had been shut down by a young woman of color student. Perhaps we had never seen or experienced a space in which insensitive quips, derogatory joking, and carelessly tossed racist statements were neither tolerated, nor reciprocated. Perhaps we had only dreamed of such spaces where women of color took precedence even in the company of other dominant groups. And we sat speechless now, not realizing these spaces could actually exist, that we would ever be fortunate enough to locate them, to situate our- selves, our bodies, voices, and experiences within such a site.

In this pivotal moment, graduate students, young and largely queer women of color, assembled a space of their own along the lines of similarity as well as shared difference from larger dominant spheres. They defined this sitio with specific boundaries to indicate whose participation was relevant and permissible. The attention to voice, la lengua, was also imperative, as they were clear in their desire to allow the words and experiences of women of color to not only emerge but also to dominate or at least saturate the discursive focus of the workshop. In addition to invoking such voices, the members of “Raging Exotics” attempted to remove any dominant voices deemed distractionary, demeaning, or dismissive. Even seemingly supportive gestures were deconstructed into their most basic dominant parts, as when one white French woman began to cry as she expressed how upset she was that someone would think her oppressive when all she intended to do was help. After continuing to speak between tearful gasps for roughly a five-minute uninterrupted stretch, one panelist responded dryly that this workshop “was not about her [the French woman].” Whether intentional or not, the woman’s emotions shifted the panel’s intended focus from the unique experiences and needs of women of color in academia to the guilt and indignation of Caucasian female scholars. Rather than rush to the side of this woman, the students simply recognized the attempt to shift attention and refocused on their own critical agenda. The attempt, of course, was to cease what Gloria Anzaldúa calls reactive communication, where a struggle takes the form of action/reaction where all critical thought is focused on combating the ideas of others, rather than offering up new and original ideas of one’s own. For the “Raging Exotics,” the goal was to act and speak, rather than respond to the issues and inquiries of another. Yet Pérez deems such a sitio strategic, since even the original thoughts and speech presented in the room that afternoon were responses to actions and words of the now silenced Anglo women. Painful exclusions, bitter dismissals, and tokenized treatment marked most of the experiences shared that day. Though the imposed Anglo silence rule removed these women’s discourse from the hour or so of discussion-following the conflict and indignant ejection of one woman–the sitio was provisional, not permanent or lasting in its ability to silence or remove the structures of power present among feminist scholars.

[…]

The 250-word essay that got me a $300 travel scholarship to attend Fukushima symposium

Date: April 24, 2012

Here’s a 250-word essay I submitted to the scholarship committee of the upcoming Atomic Age II: Fukushima symposium at University of Chicago to explain why I wanted to attend it. Luckily I was one of the ten individuals (out of about 30 who applied for it) to receive the $300 travel scholarship. Apparently, I was the only person who mentioned anything about gender, race, and sexuality, which is kind of sad, but it was good for me because it made my essay unique and interesting. Here goes:

*****

I have a long history of involvement in various movements for social and economic justice such as those around domestic and sexual violence, queer and trans liberation, disability rights, and others, but I have largely avoided political movements dealing with larger national and international geopolitics like the war and the use of nuclear technology–those political issues considered “important” by the (white male) Left–notwithstanding my strong stance against both. It was partly because I was alienated by the (white male) leadership of these movements, but it was also because I was fortunate/privileged enough to feel that the threat of war and nuclear disasters were distant for me, compared to the more direct threat of everyday sexism, racism, homophobia, and ableism.

But the recent earthquake and the nuclear disaster that followed it have exposed how vulnerable we all are to this kind of threats, and activists and progressive journalists from Fukushima and beyond reminded me that harsh realities facing women, foreigners, queer people, and people with disabilities are exacerbated by the crisis, rather than existing in isolation from the larger political events. I am particularly interested in listening to Ms. Muto for the experiences of women in Fukushima, and Ms. Paul for how women in the U.S. are addressing the issue of nuclear energy and weaponry in the context of environmental racism and classism.

I also plan to share my experiences at Atomic Age with Tadaima, a radical Japanese-American group in Seattle whose members are planning to visit Japan this summer.

***

By the way, the symposium itself is free and open to the public. I also heard that they provide breakfast and lunch in some form. Plus, it’d be super incredible to hear Ms. Muto in person.

I Heart Google Ngram Viewer.

Date: December 14, 2011

I just discovered Google books Ngram Viewer, which lets users find out historical changes in usage frequencies of particular words or phrases in its vast catalogue of scanned books. It’s not perfect, but a very good tool to analyze how our vocabularies have changed over time. Just as an example, here’s the comparison of terms “transgender,” “transsexual,” and “transvestite” (click for larger graph).

Google Ngram: transgender, transsexual, transvestite

As you can see, both “transsexual” and “transvestite” were used commonly in the literature until the 1990s, when “transgender” started to become more popular. Just to give you the perspective: Kate Bornstein’s “Gender Outlaw” was published in 1994; Leslie Feinberg’s “Transgender Warriors” came out in 1996.

In my zine, “War on Terror & War on Trafficking,” I pointed out that the term “human trafficking” came into popular usage since around 2000. The chart below, which compares frequencies of “human trafficking,” “involuntary migration,” and “forced prostitution” confirms this.

Google Ngram: human trafficking, involuntary migration, forced prostitution

Here’s another interesting graph, comparing the usages of “homosexual,” “heterosexual,” “bisexual,” and “queer.”

Google Ngram: homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, queer

You can see that the word “queer” was commonly used before the 1970s, but probably for different meaning: in the 1970s and 1980s when the word was increasingly recognized as a slur against LGBT+ people, its usage dropped. However in the 1990s the word “queer” makes a comeback as a self-identified label for LGBT+ people, surpassing clinically-sounding “homosexual.”

Chart below shows how current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s middle name was dropped from popular usage after she went from the First Lady to a politician on her own light. I know that during the 2008 primary election pollsters were showing different polling results depending on whether or not “Rodham” was mentioned, so it makes sense that she strategically dropped the middle name and became Hillary Clinton.

Google Ngram graph

Finally, here’s a fun comparison between “womyn,” “womon,” and “wimmin” as to which one is the most popular alternative spelling of “women”:

Google Ngram: womyn,womon,wimmin

Isn’t this fun?

Reclaiming “victim”: Exploring alternatives to the heteronormative “victim to survivor” discourse

Date: November 22, 2011

Feminists organizing against domestic and sexual violence generally use the word “survivor” instead of “victim” to refer to people who experience violence (unless, of course, the person is murdered, in which case the term “survivor” obviously does not apply). “From victim to survivor” (and even “to thriver” sometimes) is a model often invoked by people who are working to heal and empower victims/survivors of abuse as well as by the victims/survivors themselves.

I myself have used the word “survivor” for many years. But as I began questioning “survivor” narratives and exploring negative survivorship as a compelling alternative to the cult of compulsory hopefulness and optimism in the “trauma recovery industry,” I came to identify with and embracing the term “victim” more. I never felt that I survive well enough to call myself a survivor anyway.

Many people prefer the word “survivor” to “victim” because “survivor” feels strong and proactive. I understand that, as that is precisely how I felt for a long time also, but I am starting to think that we need to honor and embrace weakness, vulnerability, and passivity as well, or else we end up blaming and invalidating victims (including myself) who do not feel strong some or most of the times.

The society views victimhood as something that must be overcome. When we are victimized, we are (sometimes) afforded a small allowance of time, space, and resources in order to recover–limited and conditional exemptions from normal societal expectations and responsibilities–and are given a different set of expectations and responsibilities that we must live up to (mainly focused around getting help, taking care of ourselves, and recovering). “Healing” is not optional, but is a mandatory process by which a “victim” is transformed into a “survivor”; the failure to successfully complete this transformation results in victim-blaming and sanctions.

This is the so-called “victim role,” an extension of sociologist Talcott Parsons’ theory of “sick role.” The society needs victims to quickly transition out of victimhood into survivorship so that we can return to our previous positions in the heteronormative and capitalist social and economic arrangements. That, I believe, is the source of this immense pressure to become survivors rather than victims, a cultural attitude that even many feminist groups have internalized.

This victim-to-survivor discourse is a common theme in the trauma recovery services/industry. A self-help website, for example, states:

This section is about moving from Victim-To-Survivor.

This is an action step, and a change in mentality.

Yes, you are a victim of sexual abuse, but a victim stays in a victim role and never moves further and changes any behaviors that might change the outcome of the feelings that you are suffering from.

You can’t change what happened to you… but you CAN change how you will react to it and how you want your life to be from this day forward!

Once you make the decision to recover, you have the power to change your life!!

Your abuser does not have to win! You can take back your power and move on and not stay stuck where you are!

Hence, victimhood is construed as static and uncomfortable. Being a victim means that the abuser has won, and the victim is left without any “power” and is “stuck” where she or he is. The only hope for the victim is not a revolution, or community accountability and care, but “a change in mentality.” I find this rhetoric overly apolitical, individualistic, and victim-blaming.

Such messages are not uncommon. Another examples is a recent (10/26/2011) “expert blog” article on Mayo Clinic website, which is ironically titled “Victim or survivor? It’s your choice.” When I first saw the title, I thought the article was about how we as victims and survivors get to define our own experiences. but it wasn’t. Because the author is an oncologist, I assume that it is an advice intended for cancer survivors–but the article itself does not make that explicit, and his comments feels very similar to things people say to victims/survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Everyone has setbacks, disappointments and frustrations. But the way you respond to these challenges and opportunities is what defines you. Whether you become a victim or a “seasoned survivor” depends on your attitude and the way you view the setback.

When faced with an overwhelming crisis, whether personal, spiritual or financial, your circuits can be overloaded. You may feel paralyzed. However, once a little time has passed, you can marshal your options to creatively deal with the problem.

Whatever has happened, you can choose to whine and complain about it, or to profit and learn from the experience. Whining is not only unproductive, it also pushes away your support network. Friends and colleagues will listen for just so long, but then it is time to move on. The choice is yours. Your life depends on it.

Once again, victims who “whine and complain” are blamed for causing their own suffering by pushing away our support networks, as if our mentality is the only barrier for us victims/survivors to thrive. While the author pretends to offer “choices,” he is clearly promoting normative survivorship over “unproductive” whining and complaining, blaming those of us who remain “victims” for failing to live up to our societal expectations.

I argue that feminist anti-violence movements and communities must embrace unproductive whining and complaining as legitimate means of survival in a world that cannot be made just by simply changing our individual mentalities. We must acknowledge that weakness, vulnerability, and passivity are every bit as creative and resilient as strength and activeness. And I think we can start that by reclaiming “victim” and “victimhood” and resisting the heteronormative “victim to survivor” discourse of the trauma recovery industry that imposes compulsory hopefulness and optimism in the service of neoliberal capitalist production.

Pedagogy of the Bound and Gagged: Teacher as a Dominatrix (memo)

Date: November 1, 2011

This is actually a serious pedagogical paper I was going to write many years ago, but a pedagogical conference rejected my abstract and I never ended up writing. I just re-discovred it in my hard drive, and I thought you might find it interesting…

1) Traditional feminist pedagogies:
– create “safe space” for women where personal experiences can be shared, honored, and placed in sociopolitical context.
– foster egalitarian relationship among students as well as between students and the teacher.
– personal awareness connected to political action.

2) Problem with the traditional feminist pedagogies:
– creates pretense of egalitarian relationship, when in reality there are definite power imbalances not just between teacher and the student, but also among students along their respective social locations.
– notions of “safe space” privileges women who are oppressed only because of sex (i.e. white, middle-class, able-bodied, etc.)

3) “Safe, sane and consensual” S/M pedagogy:
– explicit negotiation of power within classroom which outlines rules and responsibilities
– exercise of power is consensual and designed to maximize equity and learning (e.g. use of teacher’s power to interrupt oppressive patterns and model anti-oppressive behaviors)
– positions as “teacher” and “students” played as roles, rather than something inherent in the individuals or the relationship
– use of “safe words” to time-out

WE ARE THE 33%: A Call for Radical Survivor Activism Because Marching in Slutty Clothes is Not Enough.

Date: October 18, 2011

WE ARE THE 33%.

We are forming a radical activist group for survivors of sexual abuse and sexual violence…

BECAUSE it is fucking infuriating that the legal system consistently fail us, and the media continues to scrutinize personal histories of those of us who speak out.

BECAUSE we want more than just marching in slutty clothes.

BECAUSE our homes and communities are the most dangerous places.

BECAUSE we reject constructed ideals of survivorship that we are expected to aspire to.

BECAUSE taking a hot bath, drinking tea, going for a walk, and journaling about our feelings just don’t cut it sometimes.

BECAUSE “trauma recovery” industry treats survivors’ coping strategies and attitudes as the problem to be repaired.

BECAUSE acting hopeful and upbeat all the time in the aftermath of trauma is exhausting.

BECAUSE living with histories of sexual abuse is still so fucking hard.

BECAUSE acting out alone is considered pathological, but acting out with a large group is a REVOLUTION.

We are a group of survivors interested in radical activist responses to sexual violence and the society’s treatment of it. We reject mainstream narratives about sexual violence and the “trauma recovery” industry that often engage in victim-blaming and promote individualistic “healing” that seeks to change our attitudes and feelings rather than the society while profiting from our pain.

We are open to all survivors of sexual abuse and sexual violence, as each person defines it. But we place emphasis on women, queer/trans people, and others who experience sexual abuse and violence most frequently. Intersectional anti-oppression analysis is central to our movement, because single-issue approach privileges the already privileged and fractures movements.

Come to our founding meeting (date/time to be announced in Portland, Oregon) to discuss projects and actions you want to be part of. Do you want to publish a group zine or make art? Throw eggs at The Oregonian office window? Scream in public? Bring your idea and your fierceness!

(Leave comment on facebook or here to receive updates!)

Historical: Catharine MacKinnon defended Clarence Thomas during his confirmation to the Supreme Court

Date: August 9, 2011

Found an interesting “roundtable” article in an old issue of Tikkun magazine in which Catharine MacKinnon defends Clarence Thomas during the early phase of his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court (before Anita Hill’s story became public).

“Conservatives talk about the real injury that, say, pornography causes; liberalism trivializes that injury and defends it as the ‘free speech’ of pornographers. It makes more sense in terms of women’s life experiences to hear someone talk a right-wing ‘law-and-order’ line that at least acknowledges the reality of sexual violence against women. What I’m saying is that I’m not at all alarmed, as someone who, among other things, practices law, about the prospect of litigating before Judge Thomas. I feel I can talk to this man…I’m really opposed to the way that some women’s groups have been first off the starting block to condemn Thomas, based on scanty evidence about his views on abortion.”

— Catharine MacKinnon, in “Roundtable: Doubting Thomas.” Tikkun, 6(5):23-30.

Starbucks gives away free male/masculine music

Date: June 25, 2011

So I go to Starbucks once a week or so, which is actually how frequently they give away promo codes which let customers download free “pick of the week” music through Apple iTunes. So I’ve been picking up the cards that contain these codes each week without actually downloading the music for the most part, and today I noticed that they have accumulated in a pocket of my purse. Here are the cards I’ve collected:

free song cards

Is it just me, or do you see the pattern as well? Week after week, Starbucks is picking male musicians and bands. In fact, the last female artist I remember on one of these cards is k.d. lang several months ago (which I downloaded), so perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Starbucks keeps picking artists who are masculine in their appearance (most of whom also happen to be men).

I don’t necessarily go to Starbucks every week, so perhaps they are featuring female and/or feminine-looking artists while I’m away from their stores. But that is unlikely. The question is, is the obvious male/masculine slant simply a reflection of the taste of whoever is picking the songs at Starbucks, or based on some sort of internal marketing data, or perhaps even a result of promotional strategies at record companies?

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