Friday, June 25, 2010

Quick Rant: Websites for Women

Forbes just released a Top 100 Websites for Women. Feministe, Feministing and Jezebel are on it. But... that's it. The rest of it? Lifestyle blogs, work, mothering, all very important, yes!

But, where is Shakesville, which covers all sorts of feminist issues, providing insight on how media and culture affect women's lives? Where is Love Isn't Enough, a blog about parenting and how to raise non-racist children? Where is the Pursuit of Harpyness, which discusses self-esteem, academia, pop culture, and other such issues relevant to women? Geek Feminism, resource and discussion for and about women in the still-male-dominated IT industry, HELLO? Racialicious may have more focus on race and pop culture, but they still lean towards questions of gender, they just don't limit themselves to that! Feminists with Disabilities too! Oh wait, disability isn't a women's issue, okay. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Malaysiana: Cheering for Cheer 2010

Sometimes, I like to take note when boys are doing the smashing of the gender binary. 

There is a national cheerleading competition every year here in Malaysia, which got its start several/a few years ago (depending on how you calculate time - I know its first year was before I left for Canada, so that's quite a long time from my perspective). I've never actually seen it in person, but there's always one splash page in the newspaper, featuring the teams in some sort of cheerleader-y pose, with the name of the team and what school they're presenting. 

The first year this happened, I noticed that there was an all-boys team, and I thought, that is so awesome! Good for the boys. I hope they do their best. And from what I read later on, they certainly did. 

There are a lot of gender stereotypes floating around, many of them stemming from the West, about how men should act and what women should (not) do. I've noticed that some of them just don't have any roots here, like women taking husband's surnames and staying out of tech jobs, so, it doesn't really surprise me that much that cheerleading would be seen as somewhat feminine but not locking out boys entirely. But I was still very impressed, because we do get some North American influences, and that there are more all-girl cheerleader teams than all-boy ones shows that. 

This year, out of eleven teams featured in the national newspaper I was reading, three of them are all-boy teams, one of them is the male counterpart to an all-girl team from the same school. 

It's not perfect, obviously, because there'll always be some residual ideas and stereotypes that even the teams will hold on to. But I think it's a nice start, seeing boys and girls cheerleading, competing and having fun with it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ally Issues: On Juneteenth vs. Helen Keller Blogswarm Days

Helen Keller Blogswarm Day came and went, and since I knew about it beforehand, I'd already made a promise to write something for it. This, despite not being Helen Keller's birthday, or even the day of her death. 

At the same time, Juneteenth came and went, an actual day of celebration. 

And from here on out, this post is going to be All About Me. Even though I know it ain't about me.

Happy Helen Keller Mythbusting Blogswarm Day!

June 19 is the designated day for Helen Keller Mythbusting

Image: A grey banner divided in three parts. A photo of a young Helen Keller is in the center. On the right, it reads “Political Activist. Radical Thinker. Suffragist. Pacifist. Journalist. Socialist. Who was she?” On the left it reads “Helen Keller Mythbusting Day 2010″

I first learnt about Helen Keller through a calendar book of sorts in which each day was marked with something of significance to the date. The item was illustrated by a blond girl at a waterpump, one hand pumping, the other hand under the rush of water. Her eyes were wide and looked rather bewildered and lost (she was also blonde and blue-eyed). I learned that she was blind and deaf, until her teacher taught her how to read and write through impressions on her hands. 

I did not know her teacher was also deaf blind until much later.

I only caught snippets about Helen Keller later, and saw a picture of the first story she typed up; I think it was a re-telling of Cinderella, but I can't say for sure now - I only know it was a famous fairytale. I remember being impressed that she could do that deaf and blind. I also saw a movie in which she was a character, touching a soldier's lips to hear him. 

Here's the thing, though, until Anne at FWD talked to me about Helen Keller Mythbusting Day, I didn't really think much about what else she had done in her life, besides being generally awesome in how she managed to live a full life while being deaf and blind. And then it was, wait, what?

What do you mean, Helen Keller was a political activist? A radical thinker? I knew she travelled and was a speaker, but I always assumed it was all about disability - obviously that would be her main concern in life! I visited her Wikipedia page, and lo, stuff I didn't know about this amazing woman.

I let her disability cloud my entire perception of her, and am thus ashamed, and now, I exhort ya'll who read my blog to hie on over to FWD's Blogswarm post, into which many links and discussions about Helen Keller, and other incredible women with disabilities, will be shared. Or, if you have some myths to bust about Helen Keller yourself, write a post and share!