Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009's Best in Feminism

Today I'm going to try my hand at something I do best, making lists! I became inspired as I watched my best friend and wordsmith extraordinaire Julia, from Fear of Arthropods blogdom, craft her list of the best music of 2009. My creative juices began to flow, and I thought it would be fun to tackle a similar endeavor. I am taking a slightly different approach however, generating my personal list of shout outs to 2009's best in feminist pop culture and beyond. I'm going to try to keep it to a list of ten, but we shall see how it goes!

I cannot make a list of the best in feminism without giving a shout out to this queen of witty commentary on what's wrong with modern American pop culture. Each segment surrounds a particular theme, analyzing current television advertisements through the use of witty reparte' on the ways women (and men) are portrayed in the media. Haskins' sarcastic commentary sheds light on how horrific stereotypes are used in order to generate profit in our modern day capitalist system. Now that's a mouthfull! Here's a clip of Haskin's personal best of 2009, summing up the year in the ridiculous to the most horrifying of television commercials:

She's a poet, a songstress, and an extraordinary musician. Annie Clark, the strikingly beautiful leading lady of St. Vincent notoriety really broke the mold with her new album Actor, released in the earlier part of the year. Her songs oscillate between gentle beauty, jarring instrumentation, breakdowns with pop song beats, and allusions to fairytales and chance encounters. With a little bit of searching, I found a high quality video clip of Annie playing the song The Strangers, the first track off of her new album. Bask in the glow of her talent and beauty!!

3.) Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009:
During President Obama's first week in office, we finally saw the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This ensures that anyone who discovers they have received disparate pay from their employer based on discrimination will have a fair chance in seeking legal action. Previously, it was only possible to investigate and prosecute within six months of the unfair paycheck. The act was named after Lily Ledbetter, a female employee of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, who discovered that she did not receive equal pay based on gender discrimination. This case climbed its way to the Supreme Court, ultimately resulting in this addition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that is in place today! Oftentimes justice does prevail ya'll!

4.) Bitch Magazine:
I must give props to my favorite feminist publication, online and in print. The magazine strives to give interesting and informative articles critiquing pop culture via a feminist lens. Bitch's content ranges from questioning whether Prince is a feminist, blog posts analyzing the way those with disabilities are portrayed in the popular media, and podcasts that include a segment called "Ask Your Cervix." If I were you, I'd subscribe, check out their website, and/or donate! They are a non profit organization and rely on its fans to keep the publication afloat!!

5.) O.B. Tampons
Of course O.B.'s have been around for quite some time now, but I recently discovered the joys of using them over the run of the mill Tampax variety. For the eco-minded gal, they produce very little waste. O.B.'s are applicator-less, and have a very thin, plastic covering. This means not having to toss a cardboard applicator and huge paper wrapping, several times a day for 5-7 days, once a month! Even the box is small and easily stashable. This is especially convenient when you share a wee, city apartment such as the one Julia and I reside in. As long as you can get over the lack of the applicator, which really isn't that much of a hastle (I promise!), I think switching to O.B.'s could significantly improve the inevitable arrival of your menses.
(click on the link above and you can receive a free sample from their website!!)

6.) Feminist Women's Health Center
One of my favorite Atlanta non-profit organizations, the FWHC is located on the outskirts of Decatur. FWHC is one of the few safe places in the Southeast that provides safe, non-judgemental abortion services. Not only this, but they also offer a multitude of other services, including but not limited to STD testing (for you and your partner-male or female), gynecological services, access to contraceptives, trans health services, and a reproductive justice advocacy network. As a part of the reproductive justice advocacy network, you can attend informative workshops that give you a run down on where Georgia stands when it comes to reproductive freedom (which is not great, I might add) and how you can take a stand against current and impending policies that prevent women from having access to contraceptives and safe, healthy abortions. I have attended the introductory workshop and I highly recommend signing up for the next available session. Not only that, but I have had wonderful experiences with the gynecology and wellness services as well. Two thumbs up! Click on the link above to access their website; it has all the information you could possibly want, including a complete list of the services they offer as well as the address and telephone number.

7.) Bat for Lashes-Two Suns

Bat for Lashes' sophomore album Two Suns is another of my favorite female fronted musical releases of 2009. British Natasha Khan, the real name behind BFL, uses a fascination with mystical imagery and subtle undertones of celtic instrumentation (not in a cheesy way mind you) and pairs it with electronic pop beats and harpsichord-heavy keys. According to Wikipedia, Two Suns is a concept album that Khan based on an alter ego she imagined for herself named Pearl. Ultimately I love the album for the living room, dance crazed jam sessions that it inspires. She puts on a pretty rockin' live show as well that I attended at Center Stage back in August. I recommend you give this album a good listen, as well as her first release Fur and Gold. Warning: you may feel an intense need to paint a bit of glitter around your eyes and don a bejeweled feather headdress, but don't worry, the wizard won't hurt you.

8.) ANGELA DAVIS-best public speaker of the year
Back in March I had the pleasure of hearing Angela Davis speak on behalf of Women's History Month, sponsored by Emory University. I am sad to say that I missed the National Women's Studies Conference that took place at the beginning of this past November, where Davis also spoke. This was perhaps one of the greatest opportunities I have had to hear one of the most influential feminist activists and writers of the past 40 years. Most importantly, Davis has contributed to the black feminist movement that spoke out against the racism in the women's movements of the past. In Women, Race, and Class, which I am currently reading, she analyzes and discusses not only the racism that occurred during the 1960s and 70s women's movement, but also the exclusion of black women's voices from the suffrage movement and the denial of reproductive justice to women of color that found its basis in the eugenics movement. Here she discusses how women of color were oftentimes forced into sterilization and the restriction of access to contraceptives and healthy, safe, abortion services. These are just a few of the many points that Davis touches on in her book, all of which still hold relevancy in the socio-political climate of today. She has also gained recognition for her commitment to speaking out against the prison industrial complex and its disproportionate effect on women and men of color, yesterday and today. This small blurb on Angela Davis is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her significance in the arena of social justice; what an amazing, awe-inspiring woman.

9.) Whip It

The film Whip It, Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, stars Ellen Page (Hard Candy, Juno) supported by an incredible line up of amazing ladies: Marcia Gay Harden (Mona Lisa Smile), Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live), and Alia Shawkat (Pash, Bliss's best friend in the film) to name a few. Raised to compete in beauty pageants by her post beauty queen mother, 17 year old Bliss Cavendar, resident of small town Bodeen, Texas, finds her true calling as the Austin city roller girl Babe Ruthless. Can't help but love Ellen Page in yet another role as an outspoken, tough adolescent pushing the limits of what it means to be female in America. Whip It provides a realistic portrayal of this genuinely brutal sport, proving that women can roll with the punches just like the rest of em.

10.) Aida Battle and the Finca Mauritania Coffee Farm
Alongside my passion for feminism and social justice, I also share a deep love for coffee. I decided to add this amazing woman in coffee to my top ten. Aida Battle runs the farm Finca Mauritania in Santa Ana, El Salvador. She is not only dedicated to producing pure, quality coffee, but also has the guts and the passion to take risks! This means that she's dedicated to maintaining organic practices, which is quite rare for a coffee farm in El Salvador. Battle also experiments with microlots (small, single plots of a particular coffee plant) and different methods of coffee processing. In 2009, she rolled out her Grand Reserve, which consisted of washed, natural sundried, and pulp natural coffees from Finca Mauritania, as well as the other delicious peaberries from several other microlots. This may consist of a bit of coffee jargon, so feel free to ask questions. Also, here's a link to Counter Culture Coffee's website, which is full of information about all the coffees they roast. Counter Culture works very closely with farmers like Aida Battle through direct trade. Direct trade is a step above fair trade, where buyers work directly with farmers, building relationships and ensuring that the farmers receive wages that are truly fair. Here's to you Aida Battle; I truly respect you for your hard work and daring to produce some of the most interesting and delicious coffees I have ever tasted!

Once again, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I look forward to another year of great moments in feminist history and beyond!


  1. Fantastic! I'm really interested 7, 9, and 10! But you can't blame me for skipping over 5...

    Hope you're doing great, and glad to see you're still doing this. Keep in touch, say hi on campus sometime.


  2. Thanks Joseph, I appreciate it! I am doing well, and I hope you are too. I look forward to seeing you on campus!