Monthly Archives: January 2011

Monday updates!

We have a couple items to post this morning, one of which is that Hollaback! launches their site in ten cities today at ihollaback.org. Hollaback! combats street harassment via mobile technology and now has blogs for multiple cities all on their website.  They are currently recruiting more activists for the next launch in April.  Check out ihollaback.org for more info!

We are also going to be tabling on Sunday, February 6 at Sound Wave, the first of a feminist performance series presented by Permanent Wave at Death by Audio.  There will be music, poetry and art, along with other groups tabling as well.

This is a benefit for the Center Against Domestic Violence in Brooklyn, and the theme of the event is Relationship Violence. Both showgoers and performers will have a chance to engage in activities relating to awareness and activism!

You can find out more about the event and performers at the Facebook invite, by clicking on the flyer below!

Feminism and Veganism

I’ve been a vegan for the last five years.  I have always intuitively connected not using animal derived products to my feminist politics, but only recently was asked to articulate this relationship for a symposium at at local college.  Once I dedicated time, thought, and research to the topic I found many different facets of the intersection, not only between speciesism and gender, but also race and class.
One approach to the topic examines notions of masculinity and femininity within our culture.  Men are often denied emotion, feelings, compassion. Instead rationalization, hierarchy, and conquering are embedded within our notions of masculinity.  Discussed in the works of Max Weber and Theodor Adorno, modernity has contained the thematic of dominating nature (or the feminine).  In reading the work of Carol Adams, I learned that historically men have been the ones to consume meat and determine women’s consumption of meat, despite women’s work caring for the animals and preparing the food.  So while manly men are associated with the active ‘beefing’ up, women are associated more with vegetables. Even in societies where food is more plentiful we can see these distinctions in cookbooks, popular culture, and socialization behaviors (i.e. the bar b que).  

If a male does opt to be a vegetarian, there can be a stigma of not being manly and being a ‘fruit’.  

At the same time in a recent study of ethical vegetarians in college, Ben Merriman found that family and friends were actually neutral or favorable to men’s transition to vegetarianism.  Women, on the other hand, were found to face hostility primarily from male family and friends.  Merriman concluded that this is because the men were seen as capable of governing their bodies, while the women were not.  

Denial over control and exploitation of bodies is certainly not limited to human females.  Animals we culturally define as food have been shown to be sentient beings.  Jonathan Balcombe, a senior research scientist for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has looked at animal’s experience of joy.  He determined that animals have behaviors that are carried out for pure enjoyment, such as oral sex being documented amongst goats, hyenas, various primates, bats, and sheep.  In “Let Them Eat Dog: A Modest Proposal for tossing Fido in the Oven” Jonathan Safran Foer makes the argument that while dogs and pigs are quite equivalent in their emotions and intelligence, we do not eat dogs even though it would simultaneously solve our problems of over population of dogs and hunger.  Even those animals we define as food we need to objectify and remove from their corporeal bodies.  We utilize absent referents, renaming the flesh foods as a way of hiding their origins; we eat pork, bacon, and sausage instead of pigs.  
This becomes an explicitly feminist issue when examining the source of our flesh foods.  The ‘means of production’ in modern factory farming is the female animal body.  Impregnation is no longer something occurring between two animals but now involves a ‘rape rack,’ or a metal pipe used to deposit sperm.  Hens are caged in confined spaces, have their beaks cut to prevent killing those they are caged with when trying to move, and are made to lay egg after egg until they can no longer reproduce and are then slaughtered.  Sows are forcibly impregnated and kept in small spaces, making nursing of their young difficult.  Female cows are kept pregnant for their milk until they are ‘dried up’ and then slaughtered.  Their calves are taken away early, to which the mother cows have displayed emotional grief.  Male babies in all of the above are often considered byproducts.  Male calves are often placed in confined spaces and fed low iron diets so that they become desirable veal, while male chicks are simply thrown away

As human women we are cougars, chicken heads, chicks, foxy, bird (brains), pigeons, bunnies, (ghetto) rats, pigs, cows, pussies, beavers, old bats, and of course bitches.  These comparative labels position women hierarchically below men, justifying our exploitation.  To say you feel like meat is not only to say you feel like an object, but one reduced to flesh.  

In the book Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society, A. Breeze Harper examines the intersection of race, gender, and speciesism.  There are also animal comparisons along racial categories, such as cockroaches and coons, which are used to legitimate colonialism.  Controversial parallels have been discussed with slavery and the holocaust.  While the PETA actions evoking this comparison have been widely criticized, one of the contributors to ‘Sistah Vegan’ writes “I thought of my ancestry as a Black woman: the rapes, unwanted pregnancies, captivity, stolen babies, grieving mothers, horrific transports, and the physical, mental, and spiritual pain of chattel slavery”.

The mainstream animal rights movement has used the woman = meat comparison as a manner in which to ‘sell’ veganism. Skinny Bitch in the Kitch is the first in a series of weight-loss cookbooks that turn veganism into a faddish diet using fat phobia and shaming.  As one article points out, the language in the book includes quips such as “you need to exercise, you lazy shit,” “coffee is for pussies” and “don’t be a fat pig anymore.” A recovering anorexic’s response: “When you have an eating disorder…that’s the voice you hear in your head all the time.”  While these books are relatively new, this connection has been long established, with a 2001 study in the Journal of Adolescent health showing that the most common reasons teenagers gave for practicing vegetarianism was to loose or not gain weight.  
PETA, the face of vegetarianism to the mainstream, has used nearly every oppression as marketing technique for its agenda.  PETA arguably trades off consuming one ‘meat’ for another. Sizism, classism, racism, sexism (pregnant women in cages, bruised and cut women, nude celebrities) and trans phobia have all been turned into marketing ploys. While PETA plays up its image as ‘radical’ they are in fact playing off of the prevalent cultural hierarchies.  As one blogger expressed, PETA ads are ‘roughly 60% boobies, 30% insults, and 10% messaging of unidentifiable purpose’.

While it is easy to hate PETA, it is one part of a larger diet culture that conflates healthy with skinny, teaches women to hate our bodies and cut ourselves into pieces for dissection and critique.  We are taught to concern ourselves with the way we want to look instead of what we want to be able to do, how our bodies can work for us, and how we want to feel.   

(image from Vegan JoJo’s flickr)
For more information there are numerous recipe databases, zines, and guides to get started. And here is a zine I threw together as a holiday guide for new vegans.

ANTI-VALENTINE’S DAY RIOT GRRRL COVER SHOW

PRESENTED BY KATHI KO & CAROLANNE MARCANTONIO


If you’ve been directed here by the article in BUST magazine, hello! The Anti-Valentine’s Day Riot Grrrl Cover Show IS NOT presented by For the Birds Collective. The Anti-V-Day Show was established by Mel Elberg, Amelia Jackie, Elise Kauffman, and Sarah Rose Janko at the 1087 Loft in Brooklyn. Organized in 2009 by Kathi Ko and then in 2010 by Carolanne Marcantonio, the show is co-presented in 2011 by Ms. Ko & Ms. Marcantonio. The Anti-V-Day Show is, and has been, an annual celebration of women musicians & queer-love (and against Valentine’s Day)!

In 2009, Kathi Ko & For the Birds Collective co-released Gimme Cooties (a compilation CD and tape) at the Anti-V-Day show, documenting women-fronted bands in the New York scene & surrounding area. This year, the show will benefit CYCLE, an all-women run bicycle shop that is in its forming stages.

For the Birds has tabled the Anti-V-Day show every year, and we are honored to be a part of this great event again in 2011. Please attend and support Kathi & Carolanne’s efforts! We’ll be there behind our distro table, as always.

>> ANTI-VALENTINE’S DAY SHOW 2011 <<


Organized by Carolanne and Kathi
Monday Feb 14th at Death By Audio
Doors open at 6:30pm

Bangs,
Lilliput,
X-Ray Spex,
Lunachicks,
Bratmobile,
Team Dresch,
Limp Wrist,
Bikini Kill

Tabling by:
Wardrobe Boutique
For The Birds Collective
Kellys baked goods and fashions
Support New York
Means Of Productions Printing

Call for Submissions Roundup!

Below are a selection of relevant zine calls for submissions that we’ve found recently.  A couple of them were also found on the site Compilation Station, which regularly posts compilation call-outs.  It’s a great resource for all you zinesters if you haven’t seen it already.  Please check out the links on each zine for more information.

HOAX #5
The topic of #5 will be FEMINISM & COMMUNITY
“Hoax is a collaborative zine attempting to bring feminism into everyday life & finding the connections between us despite our differences. it is co-edited by sari (crustyriotqueer.tumblr.com) & rachel (ineffableshe.tumblr.com) and kept alive by numerous contributors and people like you. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of our print zine, please e-mail hoaxzine@gmail.com

Out of the Box: Queering the Gender Binary is a compilation zine for those of us who don’t fit into neatly organized gender boxes. Find out more information here.

Mujeres de Maiz – ZINE 2011
Calling all creative women of color! In honor of Women, let us publish your expressions in our annual community arts and poetry maga-ZINE! Submissions should be concerned with the following theme:
Soldadera de Amor
(Soldier of Love)

Femme a Barbe #2
Femme a Barbe seeks to promote discussions of identity and desire (mostly) through that stuff that grows (or doesn’t grow) on our faces. Whether you love it, hate it, want it, got rid of it or are trying to grow it….Issue 3 has a particular focus on relationships, romance, and attraction, but go ahead, deviate from that and see if i care.
From Issue 1: “To the Secret Freaks: Come with me! Dare to imagine a world full of women with beards and other gender outlaws, to imagine the possibilities of a feminist cultural politic that rejects the bullshit concern that feminism appear normal, a queer cultural politic that rejects the mainstream gay desire to assimilate and consume. Make a spectacle of yourself. Join the Femme a Barbe insurgency!”

Disabling Fallacies, a zine about misconceptions of disability
Here’s the skinny: I’m making a comp zine about the misconceptions people have faced with regards to their disabilities.
Find out more information here.

Get it Together #2 “What Happens if Something Happens?”
See information on Issue #1 here
Illustration Zine of Mantras and Self-Motivational Phrases seeking submissions of short written pieces on learned experiences of living with illness or supporting those that do.  I’m looking for paragraph or shorter writing, hoping to gain insight into the needs of those with chronic illnesses and the role of radical support systems and community building.  Submissions can be sent to lauren@blackandredeye.com.

Mexican-American Studies declared illegal in Arizona

via RE/VISIONIST.

My heart is heavy today after reading this Times article by Marc Lacey about the criminalization of Mexican-American studies programs in Arizona and the horrifying news that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat from the same state, has been shot.

…Mr. Acosta’s class and others in the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American program have been declared illegal by the State of Arizona — even while similar programs for black, Asian and American Indian students have been left untouched.

“It’s propagandizing and brainwashing that’s going on there,” Tom Horne, Arizona’s newly elected attorney general, said this week as he officially declared the program in violation of a state law that went into effect on Jan. 1.

Although Shakespeare’s “Tempest” was supposed to be the topic at hand, Mr. Acosta spent most of a recent class discussing the political storm in which he, his students and the entire district have become enmeshed. Mr. Horne’s name came up more than once, and not in a flattering light.

It was Mr. Horne, as the state’s superintendent of public instruction, who wrote a law aimed at challenging Tucson’s ethnic-studies program. The Legislature passed the measure last spring, and Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law in May amid the fierce protests raging over the state’s immigration crackdown.

In statements like, ‘They are the ones resegregating,’ Horne comes off as ignorant and resentful, but his dismissing of multicultural or multiethnic programming as divisive ‘resegregating’ is hardly original.

The NYT article points out a trend in which rights we gained in the 1960s and 70s are being reversed by increasingly conservative gestures: “A discrimination suit against Tucson’s schools in the 1970s prompted a settlement in which an African-American studies program was created. Later, other ethnic-studies programs were added.” Kudos to Lacey (the author) for ending the article with an open-ended, and worthwhile question, posed by Augustine F. Romero (director of student equity in Tucson schools): “Who are the true Americans here — those embracing our inalienable rights or those trying to diminish them?”

Spotlight on Sistas on the Rise!!

Sistas on the Rise is an amazing south Bronx-based collective working to empower and support young mothers and women of color.  They urgently need donations!! Sistas on the Rise is unique in that they create space for youth to do hands-on organizing for themselves, enacting their goal of empowerment through their everyday process.  This is exactly the kind of sustainable feminist groundwork that we love to see happening, and they’ve been doing it since 2003!!!  Upcoming events include the Teen Talk Back Uptown Youth Series and a concert with Rebel Diaz.  Here is some of their herstory from their website:

Established in 2003, Sistas on the Rise is a collective of young mothers, women and girls working with each other to create alternatives that will allow us to sustain economically instead of revolving in the cycle of poverty.  We want to make sure that we own our lives, cultivate healthy futures and realize our dreams.

We utilize popular education, community organizing, spiritual grounding, cultural values and traditions to provide a youth-led program that cultivates a safe space for healing, nurturing, self-growth, social and economic justice. Sistas on the Rise offers an afterschool young mothers leadership development  with free childcare; mother/daughter mentoring, wholistic sex and sexuality workshops: tutoring; college tours; arts and activism classes; organizing, parenting and life skills classes etc.

You can Donate here, or take a look at their Wish List to see if you can help out in other ways.