TWIF: Vol. 32

Mar 03, 2016
This Week in Feminism

For when your friends bail on your Women's History Month-themed trivia party.


1. Women Celebrate WHM With RBG.

Women’s Herstory Month crafts include: baking vagina cupcakes, sewing quippy feminist lines into an embroidery hoop, and adorning illustrations of Notorious RBG with all the colors of the ROYGBIV rainbow. Srsly, what better way to kick off the best month of the year than by playing with the Ruth Bader Ginsburg themed coloring book that has all but broken the Internet with its release this week!? In honor of only the second female Supreme Court justice in all of history (and truly just a queen in every way), feminist sites around the country nearly exploded with excitement for these new (free!!!) RBG printables. Are we surprised? No. Are we giddy with Ginsburg glee? You bet. Now you can finally ditch that chipping floral design and paper your walls over with women’s herstory in all its Supreme glory, enhanced by your own colored pencil magic. Coloring within the lines is entirely optional. Well-behaved women rarely make history, amirite??

Oh, and, see all the ways I plan on celebrating here



2. #OscarsSoMixedMessage.

This past week, progressive movie-lovers everywhere were conflicted AF as the Oscars roared on in typical #SoWhite (and, at times, #SoSexist) fashion. Many people didn’t tune in, either out of disinterest or to send a deliberate political message. As the Hollywood air filled up with equal parts bougie and boozy table conversation, the awards show gave way to a handful of empowering and questionable moments alike, like when host Chris Rock rounded out a totally brilliant jab at white America with a backwards jab at the Ask Her More campaign. HOWEVER, the night didn’t go entirely devoid of feminist moments! Costume designer Jenny Beavan, who won for her work on “Mad Max," gave a big ol’ middle finger to the dress code of the evening and wore what some audience members perceived as too ~casual~ for Beavan to deserve an ovation (goddess forbid a woman be comfortable at one of these things). And, of course, there was Lady Gaga’s incredible performance of her song “Til’ It Happens to You,” which paid homage to survivors of sexual assault. Audiences were profoundly moved by the visual representation of the sheer numbers of young people devastated by the epidemic of sexual violence in the U.S. as Gaga brought a group of survivors up on stage with her. You go, Gaga.



3. Trans Rights Spark Seattle Controversy.

With cities like Houston rejecting legislation to equalize workspaces, housing, and public spaces for transgender folks, criticism has been leveled at Texas conservatives, who have used their vehement disapproval of increasingly gender-flexible public bathrooms to hinder progress for certain members of the LGBTQ+ community. The most widely embraced justification for the opposition to trans-inclusive bathrooms is a crusade to keep men out of private women’s spaces. In theory, this is certainly legitimate; we need to ensure that public spaces are safe for women and girls, and that predatory men are kept far away (AND, like, maybe taught not to be predatory??). However, this kind of thinking translates to transphobia and trans violence when implemented in our current climate of discrimination. In other words, instead of protecting women, rhetoric of this nature feels like a thinly veiled attempt to add to preexisting trans discrimination. Super lame. This past week, the issue got even muddier when the Washington State Human Rights Commission condemned a supposedly cisgender Seattle man who entered a public women’s changing room--and who cited the gender identity rule new to Seattle--leaving Seattle officials unsure of how to respond. The Human Rights Commission used this opportunity to explain that the law does not apply to cisgender people who simply feel like taking advantage of an attempt at trans inclusivity. Some activists are proposing erecting gender neutral public facilities as a compromise.



4. Not Feelin' Good About Nina Simone Biopic.

When we heard about the release of an upcoming biopic about the complex and immensely influential late singer Nina Simone, we could hardly contain our excitement. It’s not often that stories like Simone’s are told within the mainstream. Buuuut, our enthusiasm stalled a lil when we saw that Zoe Saldana (a relatively medium-skin-toned actress) (who we love, BTW) was cast for the part of Nina (a dark-skinned woman). Many feminists are upset by this casting decision, and by the use of blackface to help Saldana appear more like Simone. In response, lists have been compiled that feature bunches of talented women with dark skin, including faves like Lupita and Viola, who could have been cast instead of Saldana. It may feel nitpicky or unnecessarily divisive to criticize the casting directors for their decision, but the truth is, this casting move is another perpetuation of a lesser-discussed form of racism. It’s a sad truth that the history of discrimination against people of color is complexified by an additional discrimination faced by women with darker skin; a form of discrimination that is often called ‘colorism.’ Women with darker skin (AKA women who are further from European/colonially popularized standards of beauty) are made to feel unbeautiful if not entirely invisible because of the shade of the color of their skin. Woof. To counteract this not-so-subtle propagation of institutionalized colorism, here’s a #TBT to Lupita’s ground-breaking speech that celebrates black beauty independent of skin hue. Ya welcome!



5. Lena Dunham Calls Out Photoshop Fumble.

She is beauty, she is grace, she is walking controversy and conflicting feminism (we ain't getting into that today)...ited States? Let's take a look at what happened in Dunhamville this week: After Tentaciones, a monthly Spanish news magazine, put out an issue featuring Dunham as the covergirl, she took to Instagram to convey confusion and frustration about what she perceived as a photoshopped image of herself. In the aftermath of the post, the magazine denied the claims and stood by the photo. Photoshopped or not, could you really blame Lena--someone who A) is very familiar with the commodification of aesthetically ‘perfect’ female bodies, and B) has boldly put her body on display for the world to consume and criticize--for reacting to the possibility of the altering of her own body? Dunham is one of a small-but-growing group of celebrities who are openly decrying airbrushing and photoshopping, including Lorde. Because remember people, if there’s one thing these celebs can teach us, it’s that “flaws are OK :-)” Go gettem, queens.

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