By: Rachel Piazza
Kree Harrison and Candice Glover went head to head tonight, each with three stellar performances. This was no surprise, as judges Keith, Nicki, Randy and Mariah have been singing their praises all season, predicting successful careers in the industry for both finalists. But as these two talented women belted their hearts out on stage, I started singing their praises for a different reason entirely.What had been percolating in the back of my mind all season finally struck me, front and center. Each time Candice or Kree step on stage, looking all kinds of fabulous, they are making a powerful statement. Not fitting the cookie cutter mold of female pop stars today, their mere presence on the Idol stage serves to redefine cultural notions and standards of beauty.
Each week, along with over 11 million
people, I get to see beauty in a slightly different package than is typically presented on tv. I sit in awe every Wednesday and Thursday night and admire the way these two women look. Don’t get me wrong, I am most in awe of their talent, and the way they command the stage, as if they know at their core that they belong there. However, the visual appeal of these two women does not go unnoticed. And while that is revolutionary in and of itself, it doesn’t stop there.Candice and Kree’s beauty is not just physical – it is all encompassing. As they perform on the Idol stage, they are not passively pretty – objects performing for a male gaze. Their talent and emotion interact with their physical beauty in a magical way. It’s kind of like they are these full and complex human beings – whose physical attractiveness plays a part in how they are perceived, but doesn’t define it. As I said, revolutionary.
This undoubtedly sends a message to the recesses of girls’ and women’s minds that their bodies, whatever size and shape, are beautiful vessels in which they can do amazing things. It is for this reason I am singing the praises of American Idol’s Season 12 Finalists, Candice Glover and Kree Harrison.
Today is Equal Pay Day - the day when women's 2012 wages catch up to men's 2012 wages. It's a day that we, as women, get to think about just how much money we're missing in our paychecks, which varies depending on our race and ethnicity. According to the National Women's Law Center, the average woman loses $11,000 in wages due to the gender wage gap each year. That means, if the wage gap didn't exist, we might have an extra $11,000 EVERY YEAR. It got us thinking....
If The Wage Gap Weren't a Thing... Feminist Friends Could Travel the World!
$11,000 can get you surprisingly far. Here's a list of all the places we could travel to and still have over $6,000 to spend while on our dream vacation.
Wow! What at amazing trip! $11,000 a year would provide an awesome opportunity to see the world and experience different cultures. Fact is, though, the wage gap leaves many of us struggling to simply provide for ourselves and our families. An extra $11,000 could pay for a year's worth of rent or a year's worth of groceries. With many women without benefits or paid sick days, $11,000 could mean being able to afford getting sick every once in a while. It could also mean saving for retirement, buying your kids new clothes, or simply being able to cover the bills each month. Point is, if the wage gap weren't a thing... life might be a little bit easier. There's also no acceptable reason why gender and race should impact our earnings. Here's to working for progress and prosperity for women. Happy Equal Pay Day!
We recently presented a workshop on using Twitter to achieve feminist goals to Towson University's Feminist Collective. We want to share our Prezi for those in the group to refer back to it, and for anyone who might find it useful! The TU Feminist Collective is now on Twitter - You can follow them at @TU_FemCo!
Rachel Piazza, BJJ purple belt
As a woman, a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and a feminist, I was horrified to learn that two high profile male Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors repeatedly raped their female teammate after offering to drive her home on New Year’s Eve. This story
from Washington, D.C. has shocked the close-knit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) community, many of whom are connected in some way to those involved in this gut-wrenching crime. As BJJ practitioners, we know the bond that teammates share and the trust we put in one another every time we step on the mat. As a BJJ community, we are disgusted at our association with these monsters. When those two men raped their teammate, they betrayed us all. As women, this crime reminds us of our own vulnerability to sexual assault and rape.
While we cringe because we know the trust that is shared among teammates, this scenario is unfortunately all too common. According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), approximately ⅔ of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim
. The rape of a female BJJ competitor by her teammates reminds us that our community does not exist outside the misogynistic culture that fuels these attacks.
For me, BJJ is a way I resist this culture. When I put my gi on and grapple with men, I am refusing to listen to messages that tell me to be quiet, polite and docile. But this act of resistance can be a double-edged sword. Feeling overpowered by grappling partners can be a reminder of the power dynamics I’m trying to overcome. While I trust my grappling partners, as I’m sure this woman did, those fleeting moments bring on the sense of powerlessness that too often characterizes being a woman in this world.
As I write, there are a number of high profile rape cases in the media. The Steubenville case
is eerily similar to this one, with an incapacitated woman being raped by football player friends. Then, there’s the horrendous gang rape case in India
where the victim suffered fatal injuries. But these are only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, 1 in 6 women
have experienced a rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. As women, this reality is always firmly planted in the backs of our minds. While BJJ gives us many tools to defend ourselves and feel empowered, it does not change the culture that says our bodies are public property. This fact violently infiltrated our close-knit community upon reports of the horrific New Year’s Eve rape.
Having long benefited from a squeaky clean image, BJJ usually attracts attention in the news for thwarting criminal activity
or when a child uses their BJJ skills to fight off an attacker
. Now it finds itself in unfamiliar territory. This heinous crime committed by, and against, some of our own demands that we evaluate how we may be complicit in rape culture and how we can take steps to reject a culture that devalues women and claims ownership over their bodies.
Can we join forces to condemn the actions of these men and stand against rape? Let’s stand in solidarity with the rape survivor, by speaking out against these men and the shame they have cast on our sport.
Here are some things you can do to take a public stand.
- Make a statement on your Facebook page or Twitter account condemning these acts and the shame it has cast on our BJJ community.
- Make and share a “Don’t Rape!” meme to spread the message!
- Use the hashtag #BJJAgainstRape to share what you are doing to end rape.
Ending rape also requires that we take action in our everyday life. Here are some great tips for what WE can do to stop rape.
We are excited to announce that we will be leading a social media workshop in Havre de Grace, MD at the end of January. The workshop will focus on helping artists harness the power of social media. As with all Feminist Friends endeavors, the workshop will promote a feminist ethic. You may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
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Looking for last minute, feminist-inspired gift ideas for the holidays? We at Feminist Friends have cobbled together our own holiday wish list with shiny, pretty things to wear, tasty treats and good reads. Happy Holidays!
1. Men’s Colotenango Oxford by Osborn
These shoes are for the most adventurous guy in your life. Just look at that pattern! As you might imagine, these shoes are made from repurposed Mayan skirts and they’re assembled by Guatemalan artisans. Ladies, there are far more options for you!
Osborn was founded by Aaron Osborn after working at an orphanage in Guatemala. He met some out-of-work cobblers and teamed with them to make some inimitable shoes. Hopefully some of the money makes it’s way back to the cobblers.
2. LemLem Printed Rustic Scarf
Liya Kebede (an Ethiopian supermodel and former WHO goodwill ambassador for maternal, newborn and child health) started Lemlem, which means “to flourish or bloom” in Amharic, as a way to inspire economic independence in her native country and preserve the art of weaving.
Everyone loves a good deal, especially when looking for a gift. This handmade scarf was originally $135 and is now marked down to $68! In keeping with the Lemlem aesthetic, it features a traditional Ethiopian print and a jarring pop of color. Good for all the gals and guys in your life!
3. Josie Maran Argan OilWomen’s cooperatives in Morocco manufacture this argan oil. These co-ops provide a steady income, fair wages and good working conditions along with literacy classes. The oil is a great all- purpose moisturizer for face, hair and body. It’s vegan. There’s no strong scent. What’s not to love? This product is on our wishlist this year!
Find it at a Sephora near you!
4. Krochet Kids International Hat
Feminist Friend Rachel is the proud owner of this hat (in grey). The quality is great. It looks cool. And even better, with a mission of lifting communities out of poverty, Krochet Kids International provides the women in Uganda and Peru who knit the hats employment, education and mentorship. You can even send the woman who knit your hat a thank you note. You’ll find her name handwritten on the label!
5. M.A.C. Viva Glam Nicki Lipstick
For the fierce and fun feminist in your life, this Nicki Minaj lipstick from M.A.C. will be sure to please. This pop of pink goes on strong, and can be toned down or amplified with gloss. Not only will the recipient of this gift look awesome, they will feel great knowing that every cent of the purchase price ($15) goes toward helping women, men and children living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
6. Baltimore “Love” Necklace
‘Tis the season to spread the love around, and this original, one-of-a-kind stainless steel silhouette of hands spelling out the word “love” is perfect. The necklace is from the Baltimore Love Project, a series of 15 street murals created by artist Michael Owen. Situated in various Baltimore neighborhoods, all of Owen’s murals are a design of four hands spelling out the word “love.” Did I mention that stainless steel is 100% recyclable?
7. Georgetown Cupcake
Cupcakes have been trendy for years now, but we're not complaining! Georgetown Cupcake is a consistently delicious guilty pleasure that’s rapidly expanding out of the Washington D.C. metro area to New York, Boston and Los Angeles. It’s also a woman-owned business that ships anywhere in the lower 48 states! Sisters Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne use only the finest ingredients in their cupcakes and you can taste it. Choose from everyday flavors (red velvet, gluten-free lava fudge, chocolate ganache), seasonal (chocolate egg nog, gingerbread) and daily specials. Holiday shopping is exhausting. Go ahead and treat yourself. (Cupcakes count as self-care.) A dozen cupcakes: $29.
8. The NationAn online or print subscription to The Nation is the gift that keeps on giving. Established in 1865, The Nation is America’s oldest weekly magazine and flagship publication of the progressive left. For nearly a year, it’s kept us informed with critical, in-depth reporting and commentary on current news from the 2012 elections to Islamophobia and the risks to our food supply from fracking. The weekly magazine also boasts an impressive roster of feminist bloggers and columnists, from Melissa Harris-Perry to Jessica Valenti and Katha Pollitt. It’s the perfect gift to keep the progressive activist in your life deeply informed, educated and fired up on the issues she/he cares about.
Online yearly subscription: $18, 47 issues.
Yearly print subscription: $32, 47 issues (includes online access).
Like these gift ideas? Be sure to check out these cool feminist gift guides for the holidays:
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) released a significant study last week showing that one year after college graduation, Millennial women earn 82 cents for every dollar paid to their male peers. The study, Graduating to a Pay Gap
, found that this wage gap exists among Millennial women and men who have earned the same college degrees and work in the same field. AAUW's researchers also discovered that women are more likely to spend 15 percent of their earnings in paying back student loans.
Although the wage gap isn't news to feminists , AAUW's study
is groundbreaking because it identifies the existence of the wage gap at the very beginning
of women's careers. It also dispels common myths that simply blame women for lost wages. For example, the "women choose lower paying careers" argument. If young women and men train for and perform the same job, but women are still paid less, then the "choice" argument doesn't hold up.
One of the study's recommendations for closing the wage gap is for women to better negotiate their salaries and seek union jobs, which typically pay higher. But how do you negotiate your salary if you don't have reliable numbers at your fingertips? We're taught as girls to be polite and that asking what others earn for a living is none of our business. Except that it is.
During last week's #SheParty Tweet chat, Feminist Friends asked AAUW to recommend a few good resources that could guide Millennial women in knowing approximate salaries in various professions. AAUW tweeted back with these helpful Web sites: Glassdoor - an inside look at jobs and companiesPayscale
Check them out! And join us (@FeministFriends
) from 3-5p.m., every Wednesday on Twitter for #SheParty, hosted by Women's Media Center!
On Wednesday, Fem2pt0, a national feminist blog, published our brand new opinion piece, "No One Wins a (Tug-of) War on Women: From Uteri to Personhood, Why Feminists Must Reframe the Debate."
to read our thoughts on reproductive rights/justice and the ongoing War on Women. The article was a first for Feminist Friends and a great opportunity to highlight the reproductive justice work of Maternity Care Coalition
in Philadelphia. An excerpt:
"Reproductive health and rights can not be separated from economic security, education, political representation and healthy families and communities. A woman’s 'choice' goes beyond the decision to end a pregnancy. Her life choices regarding her fertility and reproductive capabilities are made within, and often determined by the contexts of her life. As women’s rights advocates, we have a responsibility to re-define and broaden the discourse that dismembers women. We must reclaim women as whole persons who struggle not only for access to reproductive health, but as people who fight for economic, political and social rights."
We're proud of our work and we hope to author more thoughtful and engaging articles in the future. Many thanks to Fem2pt0 and to many of you who have responded!
Melissa Harris Perry, one of Feminist Friends' favorite women proudly wore a "Uterus" pin at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Like most reproductive rights advocates, her intentions were good. However, this is a great visual example of how the tug-of-war on women defines women by their reproductive organs - instead of honoring them as whole people. Yes, MHP has a uterus, but she is SO much more than that!