Tag Archives: feminism

New article posted on Skirt Collective

Hey all!

So, it’s been a few days – lots going on, no time to talk, bit like the white rabbit – but I did just have this article published by SkirtCollective.com, and wanted to share.

Check it out and pass it on to anyone you know who might benefit from some more information on finding help with mental health care.

Mwah!

Nine Things To Know About Getting Mental Health Help 

Two links to check out…

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Volcanic, 16×20″, acrylic on canvas panel. By me.

Hey! So I’m just home from a weekend at Philly’s Wizard World Comic Con, which I fully intend to do an entry on later, but for now here are two pieces I’ve written recently which you may enjoy reading.

The first is a piece that I wrote last Tuesday about John Krakauer’s latest book, Missoula: Rape and Injustice in a College Town. A friend of mine (from Missoula) brought the book to my attention, and when Krakauer came to Missoula to answer to critics offended by the book, she organized a group to support both his book (which unmasks the failures of a legal system that finds it easier to believe rapists than the survivors of their crimes) and survivors themselves. Go check it out to find out more about the hashtag #MissoulaBlue, and why you might want to support it. (And a shout-out to my friend Madelyn for pointing me in the direction of SkirtCollective.com – what a fab site!)

The second is actually a blog by a friend of a friend, Jason Mical, where he quotes some of my thoughts on Black Widow, Age of Ulton, and the feminism of Joss Whedon. It’s over on his blog, so click here.

And finally, I’ve been doing a lot of painting lately, and the featured image for this blog is a close-up of one of them. It and others are for sale on Etsy, if you’re interested in checking that out.

Update: OMG IT’S (sort of but not really) DONE!/The Peggy Carter Project

It’s been a while since I updated you on what’s going on with #thepeggycarterproject. So here goes:

I just finished sewing the test skirt in muslin!!!!!!!

Okay, so maybe I didn’t *exactly* finish – I did something funny along the way and the waistband extension didn’t come out long enough – but I’ve now gone through the process and can put the skirt together. I’ll have to be a little more careful with the zipper, and the button hole will likely be a challenge, but at this point I’m pretty confident that I can make a skirt, and that it will fit.

It was harder than I’d anticipated, mostly because sewing takes a lot of patience and as each step advanced I got a little more nervous about moving on to the next one. (The next step now is actually cutting up my beautiful fabric, so hopefully I’ll be able to screw up the nerve soon.)

wpid-wp-1430574952317.jpegAt last update, I was in the process of cutting the fabric out. Now, it was time to stitch things together. With the exception of one seam, which I sewed the wrong way round (didn’t bother to go back and take it out because this isn’t the actual skirt, the sewing went pretty well – aside from a major tension issue that popped up midway through. (And no, I don’t mean the part where I cried.)

0420152125 0420152125aWhen I took my sewing machine home to show my mom, we decided that the best thing was really to buy a new sewing machine (because why wouldn’t that be the best thing, right?). It was more than I wanted to spend (this project is fast becoming a money pit in its own right) but it made a huge difference in sewing the last few seams. When it arrived, I sewed a few lines and sent her a photo; she approved. The old machine, she said, wasn’t punching the thread through the fabric on both the top and bottom, and given the price and time involved in getting the machine a professional tune-up, the newer machine just made more sense. Here are the photos I sent her; they’re much tighter and more uniformed than what I was getting from the older machine. The new machine also controls the speed of the needle more precisely, which was nice because sometimes you don’t want to go super fast or super slow but somewhere nice and comfortable, in the middle.

I won’t post close-ups of the zipper because the zipper is a travesty and something I will be practicing a few more times before I do it on the actual skirt, but here’s what it started to look like:

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You may notice – or you may not – that while this looks skirt-sized, it is also a bit smaller than you might expect, given the size of my waist. Well, kids, this is where I learned something important about sewing: read the directions. Like, always. Like, four times. Then read everything actually written on the pattern. Like, always. Like, four times. Because sometimes it turns out that just because you only cut two of one pattern piece, it doesn’t mean you don’t cut four of another pattern piece. Who’d’ve thought, right? You need two side panels on EACH side of the skirt, not just two side panels in all.

wpid-0419151229.jpgThat realization came to me, unfortunately, AFTER I had bought a roll of permanent pattern paper because I thought that I was going to have to size the entire pattern up significantly. It was while doing the math required to figure that out that I went back and looked at the pattern again. And realized my mistake. The things writers will do to avoid doing math, you know? But it worked, in the end:

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Next, it was time for the fusible interfacing. After doing a lot of math (this math was unavoidable), I had figured out that it made more sense just to buy a bolt of the stuff (about eight bucks from Joanne Fabrics, though the prices I saw varied WILDLY depending on where I was sourcing from). Interfacing is used to make sure parts of the suit keep their form – so it gets used on bits like the waistband and eventually the suit lapels (eep!). You don’t need loads of it for the project, but if I keep this hobby up it’ll be nice to have on hand.

0420152149For the skirt, the interfacing is fused to the waist band, then the waist band is folded over onto itself and then sewn to the bottom panels of the skirt. The process was a little tricky. The first step was cutting and fusing the interfacing. By this point in the project I had moved on to a “let’s just get it done” mentality, so I wasn’t super careful about cutting it out to match – all that caution is going towards the final product. I placed the fabric on a towel (I don’t have an ironing board, judge not) then laid the interfacing down on top of it. Then you put another towel on top so you don’t get the interfacing glue stuck on your iron, and gently press the interfacing down with the hot iron. Eventually, you pick the iron up and put it down on the next bit of fabric.

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0420152157aNext, you have to press up the seam of the waist band so that you can eventually sew that to the skirt band. This was kind of annoying because you have to make sure the seam is going to be even, and it was sort of confusing to read the directions and figure out what was supposed to be getting pinned facing what. But I soldiered through it and got it done!

Finally, the nightmare of sewing the waist band to the skirt. I didn’t even take pictures of that process, it was so miserable, but once I did that and ran it through the sewing machine, look what happened!
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It might be a little bit messy, but it’s served its purpose, and you know what that means…the next time you hear from me on this project, it will involve real fabric, having to work methodically and carefully, and maybe even a finished skirt!

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Gotta stay inspired, you know?

For more on this project:

Make sure to get updates – subscribe to the blog by entering your email in the upper right hand subscription box,

 

Update: Cutting Out Fabric #ThePeggyCarterProject

wpid-0316152218.jpgJust a quick update re: my progress on The Peggy Carter Project. After one unsuccessful attempt at cutting out my design in cotton muslin, the second attempt went much more smoothly. This time, I knew to cut out the little notches, and properly cut along the fold – so that my earlier panic about the fabric not encircling my ample waist proved to be a result of my learning curve, and not of the pattern being screwy.

wpid-0321151431.jpgThe next step is stay-stitching the tops and bottoms of each panel. Which will require finding the instruction book for my sewing machine, since in the couple weeks since I did my mini-project I’ve forgotten how to make the needle go backwards.

I’m also waiting for the lightweight interfacing to arrive, since my local sewing shop doesn’t appear to stock the right weight.

I also ordered some ribbon for my hat.

And started a Pinterest board for this project.

Guest Post: “A Response to ’21 Tips on How to Be a Perfect Girlfriend for your Guy’, by a Normal Guy

I’ve been focusing on some writing projects (more on that later, so make sure to subscribe to the blog with the submission box at right so you don’t miss it!), so apologies for the lack of updates the last few weeks. The following is a friend’s response to a practically medieval article about how women can change themselves to be the “perfect”girlfriend. I hope you enjoy it!

“A Reponse to ’21 Ways to Be The Perfect Girlfriend For Your Guy'”
By Peter Randall

1. Remember that we fancy you NO MATTER.

If you are dressed in a tracksuit and have make-up streaming down your face from when we argued last night, we fancy you. If you are dressed as a duck and have actual poo on your face, we still fancy you. Although maybe get the poo off. The point is, we find you attractive physically because of who you are much more than what you look like – imagine if that wasn’t mutual? We would have no chance. So yeah. Let the mud stay in your hair for a few days. Who cares. We still think you are the most beautiful woman in the world.

 2. Remember that your smell is the hottest smell.

Perfume is great and everything, but the best smell is you straight out of bed in the morning.

3.  Keep nagging and complaining

We are pretty rubbish. As the great Receivers of the Patriarchal Advantage, we are used to having our own way, having things done for us and everyone agreeing with us. Keep working at us. Don’t let us get complacent or turn into typical misogynist arseholes. Nag at us continually until we grow up or you have had enough and you leave us.

4. Don’t say anything you don’t mean

Don’t go all gooey if you don’t feel like it, just because you think we might need some man-couragement. We are adults (most of us) and we need to deal with it.

5. Don’t worry about asking us stuff

Saying “do I look fat?” is not annoying. We don’t think you’re fat. We think you are perfect. We wouldn’t change you for the world. We are in a relationship because we are a team, and if you need that help then you will get it.

6. Remember we are men and therefore jealous

If we get jealous, it’s 99 times out of a 100 not anything you have actually done wrong. Our engines run on testosterone, which makes us ‘brave’ and shit but also makes us jealous and angry and grumpy and all the other annoying stuff we are. So remember that although we might need to be reminded that we are the only guy for you, we should also be trying to CALM THE F*CK DOWN and be normal.

7. Don’t feel like you have to like our friends

Our friends are not us and so you might not like them. And that is fine. Do we like all your friends? Probably not truth be told. Does it matter? Does it f*ck.

8. Don’t do stuff in the bedroom just for us

If you get a kick out of something because we do, then that’s cool – but putting yourself through something for us and thinking about when it’s over? Not cool. For anyone. We aren’t actually interested in dating a pornstar. We are illogical. Men always want someone who knows what to do in the bedroom and then they get jealous because they wonder how their partner learned all that. IT MAKES NO SENSE. DO NOT WORRY. Do what you want to, for yourself, for us, for both parties. It is fun.

9. Never cook. Get takeaway.

Cooking is something that we have to do in our twenties because our metabolisms have slowed and now we are fat. But please, let’s get pizza just this one time.

10. Love is not in the details. Love is in the functionality of the everyday existence of our prostituted lives.

Now we are all working for “the man”. Our great victory is not in receiving little presents but loving each other as strongly as we do in a hate-fuelled world. If you can come home from respective shitty days at work, smile and laugh, it’s good. No one needs “a small token”. Big ones are fine.

11. Do not say thank you for thank yous, we will become evil.

If you show your appreciation every time we get off our hairy arses and actually do something for you, we would end up only being nice to you because we expect something back. Just take it if we are nice, and move on. We don’t need any more spoonfeeding than society already gives us.

12. “Stroke his ego”

Nope.

13. Don’t make us feel like we have to “be the man” in a relationship.

My girlfriend earns more than me. All year round. Does this make me not feel like a man? Nope, still got a cock and balls. Still feel like a man. My girlfriend is far more intelligent than me, and wins most debates hand down. Still feel like a man. My girlfriend knows her way around Central London better than me. Still feel like a man. The list goes on. Ultimately I feel like a man because I am a man and there isn’t really much else to it. I would still “feel like a man” in the relationship if I was in a relationship with another man. Because, biologically, I am a man.

14. “You are partners, not enemies”

Oh yeah? You try holding on to those covers at night. You try getting the last chocolate out of the box, or picking which side of the bed you want. My girlfriend is constantly my enemy. And I love her for it.

15. Have a life and Passion.

Or, in other words, be a human being.

16. Be better than all of his ex’s combined.

Wow. Way to totally dehumanise everyone else involved. Ultimately, most people’s ex’s and current partner will have some things in common because they have that person in common. They would probably be besties in another life. Well, maybe some of them. Be better than all of them combined? At what? Playstation? They are ex’s because they weren’t compatible, or they cheated, or they got cheated on, or they moved on, or your partner was a dick to them or something. Jesus Christ. Not because they weren’t “better”. They are PEOPLE. Christ. Just… yeah.

17. Do be a menace

You know what? It aint normal to not know where your partner is for an evening. Because you talk. So even if he says “going to the pub with some mates” like he doesn’t want to say who the mates are, it is perfectly normal to ask who they are. Or where he is going. It’s called conversation. And also, earlier on, there was that whole “give him a reason to trust you by not flirting or hanging out with other guys” and then now it’s all “just try and trust him if yo get all up in his grille he’ll just snog someone else” I mean fuck off.

18. Having a pleasing personality – OR BE HUMAN

“A woman with a pleasing personality puts your pleasure first”. What the actual fuck. Seriously. I can’t even take the piss out of this. Seriously.

19. Take him for granted

He loves you. You don’t need to be on your toes. You watch a ‘ton of tv’? Well, to be fair, you did that anyway, just in secret. ‘Got fat’? Great, more of my favourite person to love.

20. “work out regularly”

Yeah, please don’t get heart disease and die, work out a normal amount so you don’t die. What, you’re working out for me? Why? So you don’t die? No? Because “you’ll be the perfect girlfriend in my (his) mind”? Yeah, you sound MENTAL.

21. Don’t worry about being feminine, because you have all the right bits and we fancied you for some reason anyway

You know what? I don’t need to explain why this is ridiculous. It is madness. It is terrible. It is all kinds of shit.

Guest blogger Peter Randall also writes poetry, which can be viewed on his website at http://poemobile.com/.

 

 

Politics & The Act of Clicking

You may have heard this before, but in today’s world, the most powerful currency you have is your attention. It’s also the thing most internet content producers (*waves* Hiiiii!) covet: to know that, for a few moments at least, they have your undivided attention. Websites use metrics like “unique visitors” and “time spent on page” and “shares” and “likes” and “friends” and more to quantify the size, demographic and engagement of their audiences. And in the case of for-profit websites: your Facebooks, your Huffington Posts, your random looney conspiracy theory sites – these metrics translate directly to ad sales. Hell, even unprofitable outfits like mine benefit from being able, for example, to pull in sponsors for blog posts, or prove to theater companies and authors that I have readers who’ll pay attention if I review their product/ions. And if you’ve ever seen me go ballistic on poor customer service or a bad product (Aereo, anyone?) you’ll know that social media reach tends to be helpful in those areas, as well.

Which brings us to the question of how websites get these clicks. In some cases, they’re purely organic. People list a search term and Google points them at my site. Some people click through from my Facebook page. Others have subscribed to the blog, or follow me on Tumblr or Twitter (most of my hits come from Twitter).

Once in a while, a random reader will repost or link to my site and suddenly I’ll see a surge of traffic – examples of this include my post about Amanda Palmer’s fundraising efforts, David Tennant’s accent in the US series of Broadchurch, or my essay on how much I can’t stand the Hunger Game novels.

Now, here’s the thing. While I don’t run this blog directly for profit (though there is that donate button in the upper right hand corner, hint hint), many websites are profit-generating machines. The Gawker family of sites, Buzzfeed, and others far more offensive – they’re notorious for “clickbait” article titles – titles that try to lure in readers by posing inflammatory questions or statements. You click, they get another unique visitor, their readership numbers go up, and they look more attractive to advertisers. While you don’t fork over cash to read their content, you do ultimately compensate their efforts with your attention.

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A screen grab from the Jezebel article on one toxic website; this link directs the reader to a separate write-up on the topic — one that doesn’t take place on the individual’s website.

Which brings us to what I’m going to call toxic clickbait. This goes beyond the annoying top-twenty lists that make you click through fifteen slides of celebrity haircuts instead of featuring them all on one page (more pages, more clicks) and beyond news-neutral articles from hysterical hate-spewers masquerading as news organizations, and involve people actively posting inflammatory, offensive and outright disturbing material for the purpose of getting as many clicks as they can. Even when this is a secondary purpose, and they actually believe the garbage they’re spewing, the mere act of clicking on their page actually helps support what they’re doing.

We talk a lot about affecting corporate ethics with our dollars – boycotts of socially liberal or conservative businesses, supporting small or local operations, etc. – but what people don’t talk so much about is affecting the tone of discourse on the internet, in whatever minor way possible, by consciously and actively deciding what we support with our clicks.

This was all brought up the other day when a friend posted a horrible and offensive piece she’d found from a horrible, offensive blog, talking about why women with tattoos were worthless, damaged “sluts.” She posted it on Facebook with a comment about how awful it was, and before you knew it, there were a dozen or more comments from those of us who read it and realized the post had been made by someone who was not only a deeply disturbed misogynist, but who was probably profiting off our outrage. After the first handful of comments, a few people started chiming in with admonitions not to click the link – and the discussion turned instead to sites that critiqued the piece and other posts made on the same site.

Most of those critiques refrained from posting links to the article in question, although many referred to it by name. Why? Because most people are too lazy to go to Google and seek out an article that isn’t right there for them. Which, in these cases, and in my opinion, is a good thing.

Not citing the piece you’re writing about or commenting on is antithetical to most of us who grew up writing in hyperlinkable text. And yet, there are some pieces and people that are just so toxic that to direct others towards them is just spreading their pollution. What’s more, people who are used to having rational, informed debates and engaging in discourse with those who don’t agree with them are trained to consider both perspectives, so deciding not to click on a potentially offensive story seems like playing the ostrich; sticking your head in the sand and just ignoring the problem instead of engaging it head-on.

And yet there is no way around it: avoiding engagement of any kind with toxic sites might be the only way to deprive them of the “oxygen” of unique page visitors, and the only way to ensure their writers don’t get rich off the bile they choose to spew.

It’s a problem I really don’t have a solution to: “spending” my attention on sites one agrees with only contributes to the increasingly narrow set of views we’re all exposed to, creating silos and echo chambers and over-curated content streams. And while many of us enjoy reasonable discussion with those who don’t agree with us, being exposed to new points of view and considering the perspectives of others, it’s hard to tell whether the “opposing side” is willing to have a civil conversation until you’ve already started to engage with them.

How do you handle the darker side of internet opinion pieces, websites and political arguments? And I mean the really ugly stuff: misogyny, racism, homophobia, toxic nationalism, class prejudice…? Do you avoid it entirely? Do you read links from The Daily Mail and shake your head? Do you pass links on to your Twitter followers and Facebook friends in order to shred the “arguments” put up by bigots and monsters? How do you balance talking about issues that need to be called out with not supporting those who spread hate?

I’m interested in hearing how others deal with these issues; if you have any thoughts or want to talk about how you approach the political act of following hyperlinks to toxic clickbait sites and other “hate speech”-style articles, please share in the comments.

(Note, please, that that is decidedly not an invitation to post toxic content. I will be the judge of what constitutes toxic content. Toxic content will be removed.)

Within that framework, I look forward to hearing from you.

Man Candy (Because Chocolate is just SO femme)

wpid-bsrigp4cmaavltf.jpgSo, Men’s Pocky is a thing.

If you haven’t tried Pocky: it’s a really awesome chocolate-and-cracker treat from Japan.

However, it’s also apparently a very complicated candy, because I didn’t realize this – and I’m guessing you didn’t, either – but apparently, of all the flavors of Pocky that have ever been invented in the history of Pocky are…wait for it…POISON TO MEN.

But wait! Fear no more, dudes – now you can actually try this magical candy without fear of death. Because this Pocky? This is MEN’S Pocky.

(That sound you hear is me slamming my forehead against the wall. Really, Pocky-manufacturers? MEN’S CHOCOLATE? Because dark chocolate is just WAY TOO GIRLY for men to buy on their own?)

So what happens if a group of people, mixed in their genders, sit down to play girls’ monopoly while eating boys’ Pocky? Do worlds collide? Does the multiverse implode?

Also, sidenote: What does it say about Pocky’s feelings towards men that the flavor designated appropriate for them is the bitter chocolate?