June 10, 2011
On this day in 1963, John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law. Thanks, dude!
Of course, a Gender Pay Gap still exists. And economists still chalk the gap up to the choices women make in our careers (like when I refuse stay late at work because I need to go pick up my daughter from after-school care) as well as discrimination (like when one manager pointed out one of my mistakes to the whole office via e-mail and then my manager said it wasn’t my fault because i hadn’t been trained in that area, and then another manager publicly praised him for the “manly” way he handled the situation).
But anyway, just go ask your gramma (or Lilly Ledbetter), things are lookin’ up for us American ladies!
Also, this whole “women are cheaper than men” situation is less maddening if you don’t really care too much about money. Or if the men you hang out with are also poor. Or if you live in a state like Oklahoma full of cheap laborers.
Seriously, though, I can read and write and make enough money to eat healthily and sleep in a comfy bed and feed my dogs and keep my kid healthy and drive a safe car and buy music and art and wear flip-flops and tank tops and drink beer with my friends in the summertime! Barely enough is enough for me!
So… my daughter has a hyphenated last name. It is a combination of my last name and her father’s last name with a hyphen in the middle. Simple.
But way too complicated for the secretary at my daughter’s school to wrap her adult, educator mind around APPARENTLY. Here’s what my 10-year-old related to me last night:
Secretary (who has known my daughter for 5 years!): What’s your name?
Secretary: Portlyn what?
Secretary: So, what’s your first name?
Secretary: So is your last name Harjo?
Kid: No, it’s Houghton-Harjo. I have a hyphenated last name.
Me: HELL YEAH! HIGH FIVE! Want some ice cream?
Kid: Yes, please. But it’s so frustrating!
Look, I know it’s difficult working for the state. I know it’s difficult working with kids. BUT, if you work in education, and you can’t understand or remember a last name like Houghton-Harjo after 5 years, you are unobservant. If you are fucking with a kid because you are having a bad day, you are mean. If a kid has to school you on the age-old concept of hyphenated last names, you need to learn more about the world you live and work in. If you think a kid’s parents are weird for refusing to pass down merely a patrilineal surname, you are a douche-face and you could start here and FYI:
“At the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, the UN officially adopted the following provision: States … shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women: The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation.”
Don’t call a girl out of her name. It might be letter-writing time again,
February 1, 2011
You know what the little month of February means? Black History Month! In honor of this, here is an incredible American you might not have learned about in your high school history class:
Ida B. Wells (1862-1931). Probably one of my favorite players in all of American history, Wells was born the year before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Wells became a teacher then an anti-lynching crusader who made and passed out graphic and intelligent pamphlets (sort-of intellectual/ social justice ‘zine style) depicting the violence, injustice and racism of lynching throughout the South. She was a co-founder of the NAACP, a journalist, a civil rights leader, and a women’s rights advocate. Before Rosa Parks, there was Ida B. Wells who refused to move to the Jim Crow section of a train. In 1884, she bought a first-class ticket and boarded the train, sitting in the first-class section. When the conductor tried to move her the the Black section by putting his hands on her and physically forcing her removal, she bit him! So cool! Read/ watch more about Ida B. Wells here.
“One had better die fighting against injustice than die like a dog or a rat in a trap.”
~ Ida B. Wells
August 28, 2010
“I wish someone would have told me that our job as mothers is not to take emotional pain away from our children but to hold them through it.”
I like that advice. I read it in a recent blog post on Feministing (which, eh-hem, was quite slanted in its leaving out dads…it’s okay…it happens). And then I decided to come up with some advices all by myself, cuz some of my friends are starting to raise kids, like 5 – 10 years after me because I was pregnant and momming before it was cool Heehee. Just kidding. Here goes:
1. Still do what you love. No matter what. It will show your kid how to make oneself happy and not have to rely on others for thrills.
2. Eat good food. It’s good for you, daddy. And you can’t take care of other people if you only have processed, chemical-ridden, nasty junk running through your veins.
3. Read to your kid. Duh.
4. Read them books you think are well-written and smart. Think about what you read them before you read it to them. Because if they like it, they are gonna want to hear you read it EVERY. DAMN. DAY.
5. Ask your kid questions. Serious and difficult and philosophical ones. Like “Do you believe in a god? Many gods? Which ones?Why or why not?” And “Have you ever wondered where your thoughts come from?” And “What did you dream about last night? What do you think dreams mean, if anything?”
6. Get ready to answer those questions yourself. Honestly. And in words that we all understand.
7. When your kid asks you a question that seriously perplexes you, don’t be afraid to tell her that you don’t know. Uncertainty is certain, mommy.
8. Under no circumstances should you produce more than 8. And I must admit here that I think 3 is pushin’ it.
9. Encourage her to be smart and kind. Encourage him to be the same.
10. If you want to make sure your kid hates you, buy them more toys and games and gadgets and what-nots and disposable bullshit than you had as a child. This will also ensure that your kid will hate herself, and everyone you meet will think both you and your kid are total assholes. The same goes for when you become a grandparent. Spoiling is not cute. It’s annoying.
What about you, moms and dads? Any advice for the future parents of the world? Also, I would love to hear from those of you that don’t have kids, what do you think about parenting?
It takes a village, ya know,
August 8, 2010
A week ago I went to a wedding. It was the wedding of my college roommate, the girl with whom I discovered girls. She married her longtime girlfriend, the girl with whom she has bought a house and a car, built a garden and a career and a life, all over the past 10 years or so they’ve been together. They are each 30. They are endlessly in love.
The wedding was lovely. I know that’s what everybody says about everybody’s wedding…”it was lovely”… but I don’t. In fact, I have never said such a thing about anybody’s wedding. I hate weddings, actually. I think they are uncomfortable and spooky examples of how people just do what they think they’re supposed to do and not what their intelligence would have them do. I don’t cry at weddings. Weddings are robotic and soul-less, as a general law.
But when the general law is skirted, it is amazing how much soul and humanity can be shared at a wedding. The two brides wanted all of their very closest friends and family to come to the wedding. They sent out invitations. Some people told them they were sorry but they had to decline because of personal religious beliefs. But the people who did what their intelligence would have them do, we came and supported the young couple with all our soul and humanity and with respect for the couple’s bravery and for their right to kiss in private.
I didn’t tell them this at the time, but if I could have spoken through those obnoxious tears I would have:
Unfortunately, we have lawmakers who are not representative of good people like us. But good people in love and determined to be happy do exactly what they want. Especially when we all know that love came far before politics anyhow.
March 14, 2010
Finally!!! A woman won an Academy Award for Best Directing at last Sunday’s Oscars! Woohoo! Big ups to Kathryn Bigelow and her movie The Hurt Locker! Here’s why it’s a significant win for film-making women:
She was the fourth woman to be nominated in the directing category, after Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion, and Sofia Coppola. This is in an industry where 83% of all directors, writers, and producers on the top 100 grossing films last year were male, where, of the 600 movies reviewed in The New York Times last year, only ten percent were directed by women. So it matters.
So, only 4 female directors ever nominated for an Oscar? Well, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t always recognize everything good and everything they recognize is not always good. Also, read up on how women often end up on the under-valued side of artistic and aesthetic binaries: Art (men) vs. Craft (women), Genius (men) vs. Muse (women), Culture (men) vs. Nature (women), blah, blah, blah…
Anyway, here’s a list of movies by women. The movies on this list will get you started, and I promise they’re not crappy:
1-3. The Piano by Jane Campion, Holy Smoke by JC (calling all Kate Winslet fans; she pees on herself while walking!), and An Angel at My Table (my very favorite JC movie).
4. Whale Rider by Niki Caro.
5. Boys Don’t Cry by Kimberly Peirce (which I think is just as good as the big film of 2000, American Beauty. It should have at least been nominated for Best Picture; I mean The Sixth Sense was nominated for cryin’ out loud!).
6. Savages written and directed by Tamara Jenkins.
7. Persepolis co-written and co-directed by Marjane Satrapi.
8. Whip-It directed by Drew Barrymore. Get your heads out of a$$es, film snobs! This is an awesome movie!
9. The Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola.
10. High Art by Lisa Cholodenko. If you feel like revisiting the 90s…
11. Frida by Julie Teymour.
Movies made by women that I want to see, that look good in my humble opinion:
1. The Hurt Locker (shut up! it’s on the Netflix queue!)
2. Coco Before Chanel, directed by Anne Fontaine.
3. Bright Star, directed by Jane Campion.
4. Seven Beauties, directed by Lina Weretmüller. In 1977, she became the first female director to be nominated for an Oscar.
5. Frozen River, directed by Courtney Hunt.
Any thoughts about any of these movies, my smarty friends? Anything I should add to the lists immediately, like howthehell did I leave it off?
December 10, 2009
I think it is so sweet of Bruce Springsteen to issue a statement in support of New Jersey’s marriage-equality legislation. Here is a brief statement from his website:
Like many of you who live in New Jersey, I’ve been following the progress of the marriage-equality legislation currently being considered in Trenton. I’ve long believed in and have always spoken out for the rights of same sex couples and fully agree with Governor Corzine when he writes that, “The marriage-equality issue should be recognized for what it truly is — a civil rights issue that must be approved to assure that every citizen is treated equally under the law.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement and urge those who support equal treatment for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to let their voices be heard now.
Awe. Swoon…nothing sexier than a man with civil rights on the mind!
November 14, 2009
I’m going to be volunteering as a mentor with Volunteers of America’s Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents program. Filling out an application is the first step, and that’s what I’m doing today. If you’d be interested in participating, here are the details:
Location: Tulsa Metro Area
Date/Time Commitment: Visit at least hour per week with a child.
Children between the ages of 4 and 15 will be matched with a mentor who shares similar interests.
Just follow the link above for more information at the website. There are other volunteering opportunities available, such as the Supportive Housing program and the Caring Companions. If you are interested, I was thinking that I’d like to coordinate some group activities for mentors and kids (like park visits, craft sessions, group games, homework help time, etc.). Contact me if you are interested, or just leave it in a comment!
November 12, 2009
Thanks for the inspiration, lealou!
FAQ: LGBT in Tulsa
Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) individuals, couples and families discriminated against in Oklahoma?
Yes. Most LGBT Tulsans and Oklahomans have experienced various forms of discrimination during their lives – from the implicit (schoolyard bullying, derogatory remarks by co-workers) to the explicit (loss of job, physical assault). Some LGBT persons are “in the closet.” They are afraid to be open and honest about their sexual orientation for fear of losing their jobs and/or becoming estranged from their family and friends.
Can LGBT persons in Tulsa be legally fired from their job?
Yes – and it does occur in Tulsa. Some cities and states protect LGBT persons from being fired solely on the basis of their sexual orientation. But Tulsa does not. Presently, the City of Tulsa requires all businesses and organizations that wish to be considered for contracts to perform work for the City practice non-discriminatory employment practices in regard to race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age or disability (Section 110, Title 5 of the City of Tulsa’s Human Rights Ordinances). By amending this ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the City of Tulsa could help end discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation among its contractors. Federal legislation that would make employment discrimination against LGBT persons illegal, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, is under consideration by Congress.
Can LGBT persons in Tulsa legally be evicted from their apartments?
Yes. In Tulsa, it is illegal to to deny housing (leasing an apartment) to a person based on their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, age or disability (Section 104, Title 5 of the City of Tulsa’s Human Rights Ordinance). However, it is legal to evict someone from their apartment or deny them a lease based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Can LGBT persons in Tulsa legally be asked to leave a restaurant or hotel?
Yes. In Tulsa, it is illegal to deny access to a restaurant, hotel, movie theatre, concert hall, sports arena, bowling alley, amusement park, bar, retail establishment, bank, barber shop or other place of public accommodation based on a person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, age or disability (Section 105, Title 5 of the City of Tulsa’s Human Rights Ordinance). However, it is legal to deny access to these public places to a person based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity (Note: churches and private clubs are exempt from this ordinance).
Can LGBT persons in Tulsa legally be refused a home mortgage loan solely because they are LGBT?
Yes. In Tulsa, it is illegal to deny a mortgage loan to a person based on a person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, or familial status (Section 104, Title 5 of the City of Tulsa’s Human Rights Ordinance). It is legal to deny a loan to a person based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
[From the website of Oklahomans for Equality in Tulsa]
September 5, 2009
Maybe you all have heard the story of Caster Semenya, the South African runner who won the 800m gold medal at the world championships recently; she is amazing, and fast, and muscular, and doesn’t wear her hair down when she runs. Then, lo and behold, concerns were raised that she wasn’t really a female. So the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), put her through several tests- including hormonal, gynecological!, and psychological- to prove she was a female.
All this, and Semenya is 18 years old.
The hormone tests are now back, and the results show that she has unusually high levels of testosterone “expected in a female sample”.
Here’s (some of) the problems:
#1 Testosterone levels vary from person to person, from male to male, and from female to female. They also vary at different times of the month, different times of your life (increasing during puberty), even at different times during any given day (highest in the morning), and over the course of any given activity (levels drop after ejaculation, for instance). They often increase under pressure or when risk or harm is posed to an individual. They also increase in winners of a competition and decrease in the losers of a competition!
To summarize, my first point is that TESTOSTERONE LEVELS ARE TOO COMPLICATED AND MYSTERIOUS TO PROVE SOMETHING AS BANAL AS WHETHER OR NOT AN INDIVIDUAL IS MALE OR FEMALE.
#2 People who have been writing about this case, as well as the people who are conducting the testing of Semenya make no distinction between the terms ‘SEX’ and ‘GENDER.’ See ESPN. See The Guardian. See USA Today. What’s the big difference, you ask? It is this: SEX refers to the type of reproductive organs you are born with. What’s between your legs, to put is vulgarly. However, and this is a big however, more than two sexes exist in ALL animal species, especially the human species. When you are born with a mash-up, a variety, a rainbow of XX AND XY chromosomes, you are intersex. Sometimes, being intersex shows up at birth (which presents a real problem for these babies because they encounter all kinds of doctor and parental biases toward “girls” and “boys”.) But sometimes nobody, not even you yourself will know that you are born with both kinds of chromosomes. Sometimes, men have a penis, produce offspring, feel and look like a regular dude, but upon autopsy after they die, they are found to also have a set of ovaries! This chart is very enlightening if you want to look into intersex diversity further.
Okay, so what is ‘GENDER’? Gender is how an individual identifies her or himself. Period. That’s it, in my humble opinion. And, this is why, to me, the Caster Semenya story is such a tragedy. She says she’s a girl. She was raised as a girl. She wore skirts to school for cryin’ out loud! No matter what any doctor with ten degrees says, or what endocrinology tests show, there is only one expert on Caster Semenya’s gender, and that is Caster Semenya!
The test results may show that she is intersex or whatever, but that doesn’t prove she was cheating, nor do I think that means that she should be disqualified. It means that the categories that sports and the rest of our society have constructed are too plain to contain our complexities as human beings.
I also think that she is being poked and prodded like a fuckin’ animal, and I think it’s because she is a woman and she is good and she is black and she is young. Which is fuckin’ disgusting. So there.
Pardon my language,