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feminism

Last night, though my desire for a post-work cat nap could not be quelled, I made it to the Wild Flag show at the Black Cat. Wild Flag is a relatively new effort by four women, two of which are ex-members of the iconic riot grrl band Sleater-Kinney, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss. The other two band members, Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole have been involved with their own awesome bands such as Helium and The Minders, respectively. Despite the fact that they have yet to release an album and in their own words, are touring right now to kind of figure things out before hitting the studio for a full length release, the show sold out. The band did not disappoint. The openers, Yellowfever and The Aquarium, were pretty mellow and seemed tame in comparison to the melodic noisefest that followed. It has been a long time since I saw a stage full of women look so completely comfortable in their own skin. Watching four seasoned performers work the stage, the crowd, and each other was a genuine treat. 

It was interesting to watch the band as a whole. Wild Flag is it’s own entity, however it’s almost impossible not to see or hear them without waxing nostalgic for S-K. While everyone was singing in Sleater-Kinney, Corin Tucker was really the main front person.  For Wild Flag, Brownstein seemed to have the lead on vocals in addition to rocking the guitar. Her voice is unmistakable and last night ranged from that low, kind of almost bored tone that I associate with Northwestern music from the 90s to a wild, all out scream. It was great to hear her live again. Janet Weiss is one of my two favorite drummers to watch (the other being Samantha Maloney who I managed to catch back in the day with Shift before she played for the likes of Hole and Motely Crue) and she was all over the place, hair flying, sticks a blur. At one point I think Rebecca Cole was literally punching keys with her fists moving up and down the keyboard. The highlight of the night had to be when the band jammed out, maybe 3/4 of the way through the show. DC native, Mary Timony raised her guitar over her head to catch feedback repeatedly, fighting her guitar strap and the cords to her amp. The sound was amazing. The action was at once sensual and needy and defiant. At that moment she was visibly, 100% invested in the sound and led the crowd in with her. Together the band, the crowd, the bartenders, everybody was swaddled in the reverberations of four women rocking the fuck out.

Recently I have heard more than one of my friends wax nostalgic for the 90s – for grunge and riot grrrls, and well, angst. Sure, part of it is probably just a desire to relive that portion of our lives when we were younger and there seemed to be more possibility. But more than that, this music for me was part of a movement; It was overly feminist. I remember watching Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder on MTV, flailing around the stage, writing Pro-Life on his arm as he jumped from a chair. The riot grrrls movement was a big, musical fuck you to all of society. No pasty-white all male hardcore band of the same era had half as much of an excuse to scream angrily on stage as the ladies. They sang songs about friends who had been assaulted, about reproductive politics, about not taking anybody’s shit. There was an inherent confidence about the music I was listing to in the 90s. Even when it was overtly personal, there was power in the sharing of emotion.

Despite the fact that I’m a feminist, and pretty much surround myself with feminists in my personal life, I miss having almost an entire genre of music that touts feminist ideals.  Am I removed from it because I’m old and out of the loop? Is there a new crop of feminist music and art to carry today’s generation of girls into adulthood?

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clinton speech

Originally uploaded by l@in.

Today, Joanna and I met up with a friend to go see Hillary Clinton’s final campaign speech at the National Building Museum. We waited in the hot June sun with hundreds of others snaking around the building until we finally got inside. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait in the heat for too long, though we couldn’t see much from the second floor. We did hear the applause for Terry McAuliffe as he arrived and joked amongst ourselves that perhaps Bill had stopped off for a snack at the Burger King nearby as we watched the clock and waited.

Clinton is great speaker. She certainly did not disappoint today as she managed to address the disappointment of her supporters, the historic nature of her campaign, the need for full inclusion in the Democratic Party, and throw her full support under Barak Obama as the presidential nominee in a concise and eloquent manner.

I won’t lie, I’m genuinely sad that she didn’t get the nomination. I believe she is the best candidate for the job. I am also sad that this election will not send the first woman to the White House in a position other than First Lady.

I am, however, heartened by her speech. In hearing it live, as well as having time to reflect while awaiting her arrival I realized that there are important take-aways from her campaign. These points are especially pertinent to me as a woman. It’s difficult to explain, but I do feel that this election process has exposed the very serious cracks in the foundation our nation was built on. Sexism and racism are still present in our collective psyche. They are easy issues to ignore or try and overlook because they’re difficult to deal with. They’re messy, and personal, and emotional, but in order to really deal with them, one must do it head-on. It requires dialog both internal and external. There is no excuse for either, but I do feel as if sexism is easier to ignore. I heard a pundit on tv once I returned home this evening talking about how the idea of a glass ceiling was a “ridiculous” idea. Granted, the man was on Fox news, but I was still shocked that he said it. Shocked that he thought that was an okay comment to make as if months ago almost every news poll was asking the question if America was ready for a female President. They asked the question if we were ready for a black President too, and frankly I’m just kind of appalled that we’ve got to ask the question, even though it’s clear that we do, because we’re not sure about the answer.

Anyway, it’s a lot to process. Seeing Clinton speak this afternoon was inspiring to me. She was confident and gracious and conceded without being defeatist. I think it’s a good lesson. It got me thinking about what I might do to change my thinking about failures, both small and large, and how to work towards success in my own life. I came up with points made in Clinton’s speech today that I think would be helpful to me.

1. It’s okay to be proud and vocal about your accomplishments.

One of the first comments I heard about the speech today while watching the news was that she talked about herself a lot. My first thought was well… yeah, it was about her campaign. But then I really thought about it – she is able to talk about her own accomplishments without being self-aggrandizing. I think that’s important, especially for women, because I think we’re taught to down-play what we do and wait for someone else to congratulate us for our accomplishments, which ultimately, doesn’t do anyone any good.

2. Don’t stop just because other’s think you should.

People have been advocating that Clinton drop out of the race for months. If she had, we may never have seen just how much support was out there. I think it’s a good lesson in not giving up, trying your best, and having faith in yourself and your goals.

3. Just because you fight hard, doesn’t mean you’re going to win.

I think that sums it up. Along with this though, I think it’s easy to assume that because you didn’t win you weren’t good enough to win. In actuality, that’s not always the case.

4. Be thankful.

Clinton was thankful for the opportunity to run for President, for her supporters, her family and friends, and for the opportunities afforded her. It’s cheesy, but it’s easy to forget to be thankful.

5. Be gracious, exhibit grace.

Throughout the campaign, and even before really, I have always been a little amazed at Clinton’s graciousness. The speech she gave today must have been extraordinarily difficult, but she did it very well. I feel as if the ability to do this is born of a little hardship.

But that’s it. It was a good race. Now, time for a Democrat in the White House.

Today is Blogging for LGBT family day.

For me, almost every issue of this nature is both personal and political and the two are ever intertwined. Currently in 31 states there are no legal protections if you’re fired because of your sexual orientation. In numerous states there is no second parent adoption. And yes, kiddies! Virginia is far, far from gay friendly. Usually if you’re not married and applying for a loan where there needs to be a credit check, each individual is required to pay whereas a married couple pays a single fee together. And if you’re gay and married, good luck with those federal taxes.

On a strictly personal level, referring to or not referring to your partner in the workplace is always a fun conundrum. Everyone else seems to have no issue bringing up their husbands, wives, children even when the context is completely inappropriate. Do you take your partner to the holiday party, the company picnic? What if you have kids?

On the upside, California finally did the right thing. New York inches in that direction. And it’s nice to have friends who email you about how cute you and your partner’s kids would be, and at the end of the email realizes – hey wait! You guys can’t have biological children. Because, to her my relationship is completely natural, and she wants to be an auntie.

There’s a great post on Queercents about traveling as a family. Pandagon also has a post up. Hopefully by the end of the day other big feminist blogs will post as well.

If you know me, you probably know I’m a Hillary supporter. I volunteered for her senatorial campaign until the whole cancer fiasco became too consuming to continue. I waited for her to officially announce her presidential run with great anticipation and was thrilled when she did. I won’t skirt the gender issue – I am extraordinarily excited about a viable female presidential candidate. Especially a Democrat who is wonderfully qualified, erudite, capable and can command campaign dollars. I really thought that the first viable, female presidential candidate would be a Republican. For once I am happy to be wrong.

I could keep gushing, but Dorothy really sums up my enthusiasm and general feelings on the election when she says,

“…your vote will be historic this year. And I’m not trying to influence your vote in any way; that’s your vote and yours alone. In fact, I really like Barack Obama. I’m tremendously moved by his words… if he wins the nomination I will support him 100 percent and put up yard signs and wear pins and vote with gusto. But that doesn’t mean I can’t vote with gusto for Hillary right now.

What has always bothered me about the way these campaigns have been framed is that one is transformational and the other is the same old same old. Certainly, the Clinton name is a standard-bearer in American politics. But why raise one candidate’s “otherness” above another candidate’s? In our nation’s 232-year history there has never been a black man or a woman president. Ever. So why pit them against each other? Both are extraordinary. Both would signal a massive seed change in the culture of our country.”

I’m also excited about Hillary’s recent endorsement by the American Nurses Association, and am of course, looking forward to voting next Tuesday.

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