7.14.17 Friday Round Up

Welcome to Friday Roundup, where I share relevant things that came across my Internet during the past week, with you, my deserving and glorious readers. This series is inspired by Autostraddle's "Saw This, Thought of You" segment that is very worth reading too.

Welcome back to another semi-regular segment of Friday Round Up. This week I have links on links.

  • In doing research for an upcoming post on summer skin routines, I’ve finally learned what cold cream is. Are we here for it or nah?
     
  • I spent fifteen hours straight traveling this week by way of two planes and a train. I was so exhausted and thirsty by the end I never wanted to see another human being again. Don’t be me and even when traveling in a frenzied hurry, practice these travel tips. And, for the love of g-d, bring a Nalgene.
     
  • I still really really want silver hair, as demonstrated by my excessive pinning. But I don’t want to (read: can’t) pay $500 to have it done. Maybe you have this problem too?
     
  • I think this 2014 piece on environmentalism and inaccessibility from Marc Bamuthi Joseph pairs nicely with EF's posts from earlier this week. 
     
  • I’m staying in my mom’s house currently and last night we went out to dinner with some of her friends and it was a painful evening in practicing how to have awkward conversations with real adults when you’re unemployed and very mentally ill. It was hard not to dodge uncomfortable questions by whipping some of these facts out.
     
  • Also in my mom’s house, a Magic Bullet as seen on early 2000s infomercials. Do we buy in to this decades old hype? I’ll post an insta smoothie shot and you can lmk.
     

That’s it ya’ll. I don’t have to say stay tuned for environmentalism and feminism foundation posts because they went up this week! Read ‘em and share your comments!

How were your weeks? What wild things did you find on the Interwebs, cool cats?

(Femme)inism 101

 

My environmentalism post was a beast so I promise to make this introduction to the importance of feminism more brief. Also I’ve tried to write this post like four times and it just keeps ending in rants, so I’m going to challenge myself to just get the basics out there.

The goals of this post are to:

1.     Demystify feminism a bit if you’re not familiar with it. 

2.    Explain why this blog has a femme-centric approach to environmentalism.

3.    Question what kind of content you as a reader would like to see in regards to environmental, feminist,          and ecofeminist issues.         

So, let’s get some definitions, let’s get on the same page, and let’s go.

Definitions:

Feminism—a sociopolitical movement that combats sexism, the cisheteropatriarchy, and the devaluing of femme people and labor. 

Femme--for the purposes of this blog, a  femme is someone who identifies with the word femme. I’m not the identity police so do what you will. (Autostraddle did a really good roundtable on the word and its origins in Black queer communities if you want to read more!)

AFAB—assigned female at birth; a doctor looked at this person and said ‘that is a girl.’ AFAB people commonly have some combination of a uterus/clitoris/vulva, but not always, and that says nothing about their gender identity.

AMAB—assigned male at birth; a doctor looked at this person and said ‘that is a boy.’ AMAB commonly have some combination of a penis and testicles, but not always, and that says nothing about their gender identity. 

Woman—someone who identifies with the gender identity of woman; can have any sort of genitalia; can be AFAB or AMAB.

Man—someone who identifies with the gender identity of man; can have any sort of genitalia; can be AFAB or AMAB.

Non-binary person—someone who does not identify as either a man or woman.

Cisgender—someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth; an AMAB person who identifies as a man and an AFAB person who identifies as a woman.

Transgender—someone who does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Misogyny--gendered oppression that holds masculinity as superior to femininity; perceives femininity as weakness and threatens its existence with violence.

Transmisogyny—the specific form of oppression experienced by trans women, non-binary femmes, and some AFAB people.

Misogynoir—the specific form of oppression experienced by Black women and femmes.

Disclaimer: Gender is really personal and we are all allowed to relate differently to words, to ideas, to the process of discovering who we are. Terms are only so helpful; people connectto them in many different ways, and sometimes don’t fuck with them at all. Take the words that feel good to heart, challenge those that don’t. Call people in, care about their personhood.

So, if everyone experiences gender really differently and has different feelings about words, then why celebrate femmehood? Why is that good for everyone?

Well, folks, even though people experience gender differently, the existence of gendered oppression affects everyone—definitely some more than others. When we think about the most affected--queer women, AMAB femmes, trans women, trans women of color—there is so much violence and hatred directed at these identities. Celebrating them becomes an act of resilience. To this day I work through my own internalized sexism and part of what helps me do that is owning the parts of myself the world would like me to be ashamed of. It was revolutionary for me when I began to feel my own fragility as power. I want to be unapologetic in my femmehood—meaning my embodiment of my self-indulgence, empathy, and love for community. Being femme, for me, is these things and so much more. It’s glitter, wearing skirts when it’s dangerous, having sharp nails ready to be used against catcallers, loving fat people and how they look, fighting for my sisters in all forms, and still more. And because people claim this identity in diverse and multifaceted ways, I want this blog to be a place that celebrates all expressions of femme identity and its reclamation. Especially by fat femmes, disabled femmes, femmes of color, genderqueer femmes, poor femmes and all the femmes who rep the identity among their many others.

This is a lot to digest and I want it to be more of the start of a conversation rather than a single piece, so I’ll end with some bullets on some femme things I want to explore here and please continue your lists in the comments below:

Femme things near and dear to me:

1.      Expectations of womanhood and performativity
2.     Navigating consumption culture as a perceived consumable object
3.     The necessity of intersectional feminism
4.     Acknowledgement of us saavy poor femmes who do it better on a budget
5.     The empowerment of women and femmes in environmentalism aka ecofeminism
6.     The empowerment of women and femmes and especially women + femmes of color into outdoors-y,             camping, hiking, nature survivalist spaces that are dominated by white men. (Isn’t the dream just                   femmes with power tools building greenhouses on the farm?)
7.      Power of the unacknowledged emotional labor demanded of femmes
8.     Mermaids. Everything mermaids forever

I am femme and proud, I am open to learning and expanding, I will dedicate my life to honoring the importance of femmes and recording here all our intricate and nuanced existences. I want to hear your thoughts.

 

Environmentalism 101

If we are to ground this blog in a specific understanding of environmentalism, one that is in constant flux but holds to certain values, we might as well begin at the beginning. What are we talking about when we say “environmentalism,” “environmental justice,” and the “environmental movement?” This blog post doesn’t answer these questions, that’s for this community, but it does position us with an understanding of today’s environmentalist landscape to continue the conversation.

I think many people would say that the environmental movement in the United States was started by Richard Nixon in the 1970s. And it’s true, he created the EPA and passed the Clean Water and Air Acts. Because he was a Republican, he made “saving the Earth” his left-leaning initiative that would please both sides of the aisle. (But Earth doesn’t need #whitesaviorism.) So it is fair to say that Nixon was a key player in the beginning of the environmental political movement in the United States.

But environmentalism was not birthed by Nixon or neighborhood cleanups in the suburbs. Doing things to support the Earth and its environments did not begin with a political campaign in the 20th century.

Urban gardening as a community tool for survival has existed in this country since Black families escaped southern terrorism by fleeing north to cities and creating intricate dependent networks of food growing and sharing.

Subsistence living and symbiotic ways of engaging with the land have been practiced by indigenous people on this land since before settler-colonialism and the invention of the nation-state here.

Taking the bus, reusing items, and having little tech are all sustainable practices that poor people have done out of necessity since always.

People today want to talk climate change. Which is good, we should. It is an issue that is going to actively affect us all in the next 5-20 years in ways we can’t even totally anticipate. But when we have these conversations, we must recognize that ‘first-world’ country white middle-class and up inhabitants are buffered from the effects of climate change. While it surely will affect us all in the near future, climate change is actively affecting indigenous people, residents of the global south, and poor communities right now. With no buffer zone, these people face the brunt of the current environmental burden.

These are the same people who live the most sustainably. Poor people have significantly lower carbon footprints that others. And this makes since—when you take public transportation, don’t travel widely, own few things, shop secondhand, reuse plastic bags and everything else your grandmother’s savvy taught you, you are working significantly to save the Earth. But rarely do those people and those acts go recognized.

This is why I think top-down only solutions to climate change are doomed. But let me take a step back and define the environmental schools of “Top-Down” and “Bottom Up” and their divides.

Top-Down environmental solutions utilize technology and wide-scale legislative, commercial, and cultural shifts to decrease consumption, carbon emissions, and climate change effects. Things like carbon taxation, regulatory laws, and Carbon Neutral City campaigns are examples of top-down environmental strategy. One thing that often crops up with top-down thinking is that it is up to “first-world” countries to decide and spread protocol change to the rest of the world. Things like the Paris Accords are top-down global strategy to combat climate change.

The belief that it is up to the United States and Europe to create and implement the global solution is flawed because these are the same countries who disproportionately cause the effects of climate change. Furthermore, they are largely responsible for emissions created by other parts of the world. For instance, China, because of its rapid industrialization has some serious carbon emissions—we’ve all seen the photos of the smog—and is ‘running behind’ in greenification. But the industrial demands placed on China are due to demands from the United States and European consumers’ and created largely by foreign companies who manufacture there for cheaper and more exploited labor.

Top down thinkers want to keep their cake and eat it too. We can’t save the earth and continue to live the way we do. Uncomfortable sacrifices, especially on the wealthy’s way of life, is a brutal reality. There’s just no if, ands, or buts about it. If the entire world consumed at the rate of the average middle class American family, we would need four Earths to have enough resources to support consumption. But we only have one Earth. So why are we pushing for third world countries to develop and be like us? It’s simply not sustainable. Technology is not going to save us. The cost of producing that tech in and of itself is a drain of resources. We cannot rely on the policymakers and corporate entities who got us into this mess to get us out of this mess.

Which is not to say that things like the Paris Accords are bad. They’re not, they are strong goals and they make an important statement. However, we cannot reduce the import of bottom-up environmental change as well.

Bottom-up environmental efforts are those that operate from grassroots-level actions to effect change. They’re the actions we take as individuals and communities to build the Earth we want to live on that everyone can enjoy.

Things like Boston’s Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative are examples of impactful grassroots environmental change. The continued practice of interconnecting community gardens that create food sovereignty, foster knowledge sharing, and build competent independent communities who could feasible survive an environmental disaster.

Land reclamation, both of indigenous territory and, in places like Detroit, of formerly corporate land, both redistributes resources and allows intimate person-nature connections. Giving land to those who are closest to it fosters a way of interacting with the land that ensures the mutual gain of both the land and its inhabitants. This idea can be summed up as the “you wouldn’t pollute your own backyard” concept.

Not accumulating trash, rallying your farmers’ markets to accept EBT (and then making the market actually inviting to low-income people), transitioning into smaller housing, valuing keeping your phones and computers for more than five years—these are also examples of bottom-up environmental efforts. These actions may be less flashy than the Accords, they take hard work, sacrifice, and collaborative effort, but they will have just as strong an impact.

A bottom-up framework is inclusive, brings marginal experience to center, and prioritizes the voices and goals of those most affected by problems in creating solutions. Whereas top-down thinkers are often critiqued for being disconnected, bottom-up thinkers are engaged and working from the heart of issues. Bottom-up environmentalism must work alongside anti-racist, pro-indigenous sovereignty, class-confronting, gender equality movements in order to be effective. But unfortunately, we have a ways to go before this intersectional bottoms-up environmentalism is the norm.

Nixon-era mainstream environmentalism prioritized cleaning up the water and air in middle class neighborhoods, praising the creation of the Clean Water + Air Acts, while ignoring environmental issues that were harming society’s most vulnerable. Environmentalism today cannot continue to overlook the issues affecting the least protected communities. Again, these are the communities made of the very people leaving the smallest carbon footprint and are least responsible for our present state. Top-down theorists and policymakers need to confront the reality that the onus is on us—we have made the greatest mistakes and instead of dictating to “third-world countries” or urban communities what they need to be doing, we need to be prioritizing altering our own consumption patterns and modes of operating. You can’t demand someone wash their hands when there’s dirt on your own. We—and I say we as a class-ascending white person—need to be buying less, living close to where we work while actively resisting gentrification, growing our own food, repurposing things—doing a lot of things that poor/migrant/disabled+ marginalized to the point of squeezing folks already do. And we need to be listening to the solutions of those who already live sustainably. The knowledge already exists. It’s been silenced through oppression, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism, but those who know it are the experts. And we need to be paying attention to what these most affected folks are saying. Until then, efforts against climate change will not be equitable and therefore not actually useful in ‘saving’ the world.

Prison Abolition is A Feminist + Environmental Issue

I realize this blog has had a lack of love lately. Sometimes when you’re already juggling a full plate, life throws you a curveball. I might have mixed the metaphors too hard there. That is to say, two weeks ago a loved one of mine was arrested after a fight with a family member led to a 911 call, and it has been a very frightening and difficult time. It should come as no surprise that as a critical thinking person in 2017, I am weary of police and the incarceral state.

I think as a society we lack alternative community resources to intervening in a bad situation and that means that too often calling the police is the only option and that makes situations so much worse.

I’ve decided not to discuss too many details here for now—the situation is still very raw and this blog is still very new and I’m still learning where I draw lines—but since this is everything going on in my life right now and I miss writing, this post is about police and the prison industrial complex.

As an added bonus, I know many of you are watching the latest season of OITNB, so please challenge yourself to read one article about prison reform/abolition for each episode that you watch. See end of piece for reading/watching/listening list.

Police

Police are racist. This isn’t a debate about an individuals’ beliefs (though, anecdotally, I know several police officers who hold neo-Nazi values and wear the blue proudly). It’s the statistic-backed and DOJ-researched claim that as organizations, police departments implement and execute racist policies.

Police defend property not people. Look at police response to any protest after the violent killings of Black individuals and you can see how the force and the media are up in arms about destruction of property but not mad about someone being murdered who had their arms up.

Lastly, police escalate situations. They just do. Guns are drawn very quickly, there’s a lot of shouting, they are rarely trauma-response trained, and this leads to really poor actions on their behalf in emergency situations that need to be DE-escalated (ie, “calmed down”). When people call the police because of interpersonal violence, such as domestic violence, the response should not be heightened escalation and automatic punishment. But because we have mandatory arrest laws and because officers are not properly trained on trauma intervention, blowing up the situation is the status quo. Hauling someone off to jail is often not something that is going to make a situation any better or facilitate healing for any party. It’s going to make court fees and fines and jail time add stress to an already tense situation. Also, victims and survivors are punished for trying to seek help by being arrested themselves and/or having their children taken away.

These three reasons are a few of many, many that make the case for the necessity of alternatives to police intervention such as community members who can be called for de-escalation and the creation of safety plans. Because once the police are involved, the incarceral state is involved, and that is a form of enacted trauma and violence in and of itself.

Jails + Prisons

One time someone said to me, “Jail is like a time out. It’s like, you did something wrong, so we’re just going to send you over here to do something about it. We’re not going to talk to you about why it was wrong, or try to give you tools so that you never do it again, we’re just gonna leave you in the corner. For five to ten years.”

And that is so accurate! Jail really is like an extended totally useless timeout. All you have to do is look at recidivism rates to know that time spent behind bars is not a form of rehabilitation.

Additionally, rarely does imprisonment lead to healed community or a forgiven criminal. Locking someone up doesn’t facilitate dialogue between those who harmed and those who were harmed. I think this is really complicated in cases of serial killing, rape, and child abuse—though certainly people are doing transformative justice work in those areas—but it can be very simple and possible in cases of juvenile mishaps, theft, drug charges, etc.

Jails and the incarceral state disrupt daily life. Like I’m just trying to start a blog and get my feet off the ground as an entrepreneur, and all of a sudden someone I love is unreachable and being treated inhumanely. I have a friend who was sitting at home with her 13-day old infant when the baby’s father was pulled over for a traffic violation and arrested for overdue tickets. He couldn’t afford bail so he spent the time until his hearing in jail when he could have—and should have—been at home bonding with and caring for his newborn child. The prison system in the United States is sci-fi come to life, a sudden disruption of normal daily happenings, but the most dystopian thing about it is that it’s treated as though it’s under our shoes—ignored and not to be bothered with. I think this is because people in power don’t have loved ones in prison.

It is common knowledge this system isn’t working. And as I work to validate the identities of femme people, and as I do the work to combat climate change, I must also make it my work to fight injustice in all forms. Trans femme people of color are disproportionately affected by the Prison Industrial Complex. As climate change deprives us of raw resources, prisons and private industries continue to be incentivized to hold cheap labor in prison—in the form of Black and Brown bodies. All issues are intimately connected, feeding off of each other, making the successful challenge of one dependent on the strategic takedown of all.

These personal thoughts are by no means a thorough breakdown of the present incarceral state so if you need to begin by equipping yourself with more knowledge, start with Black + Pink’s curriculum on Prison Abolition. And then commit to concrete action steps such as:

-Calling your local country jail and/or warren and citing their human rights violations and demanding to know how they’re addressing them. And/or showing up at their office to ask in person.

-Reading prisoners’ demands from prisons all over the country and calling in to ask how their demands are being addressed as a solidarity tactic from afar. (Oftentimes prisoners’ demands are not even heard until people on the outside are putting pressure on the jail/prison.)

-Not calling 911 on people in the neighborhood you’re gentrifying.

-Becoming a Black + Pink pen pal with an LGBTQ+ inmate.

-Advocating your city or town become a sanctuary city so that undocumented immigrants--many of whom are fleeing environmental and economic disaster--cannot be held illegally and indefinitely in local jails.

-Challenge your loved ones to look under their shoes, confront what is broken, and recognize the humanity of imprisoned people, and fight for their rights they way we fight for our own.

By the virtue of the fact that you are reading this, I know that you care about this planet and its people. Just as we cannot continue to take people’s lands away, we cannot continue to disrupt communities with an ineffective intervention system. Prison Abolition is a feminist and environmental issue. Create the change we care about.

 

Friday Round Up #2

Welcome to Friday Roundup, where I share relevant things that came across my Internet during the past week, with you, my deserving and glorious readers. This series is inspired by Autostraddle's "Saw This, Thought of You" segment that is very worth reading too.

It's that magical time again! This week I panicked a lot, had some snazzy stress-induced vertigo, and ate entirely too many Hot Pockets. I hate Hot Pockets because capitalism is evil and food pipelines in the United States are fucked up but I love Hot Pockets because preservatives are delicious and I never have the energy to cook. If anyone knows some low-spoons recipes for pizza pockets, please put me in the loop.

Life

  • I finally started watching Naruto and I like it so far but I’m waiting for Sakura to become a badass. This actually has nothing to do with environmentalism, so in order to talk about it I found you this list of anime suggestions that explicitly engage with environmental issues.
  • I’m trying to lease a car and I probably will have a long commute so I definitely want something that gets great gas mileage (cause I care about the Earth and all) but I have no idea what I’m doing. I think an electric vehicle would be cool but I only make $25,000/year so I don't think I can swing it. Can someone teach me how to negotiate car deals?
  • I finally bought some summer shorts this week and I've been feeling pretty cute with the idea of my flubby thighs hanging out in them. Here's some gay advice on what to wear to take down the patriarchy this summer.

Politics

  • Donald Trump has officially had the U.S. pull out of the Paris Climate Accords. As this article mentions, other countries mostly are just going to continue to do their thing. Additionally, a body of American leaders are gearing up to ensure the United States is still involved in this conversation without our President. Perhaps in the future on this blog we’ll discuss the potentially disastrous effects of such a macro-impact move of a leading country of carbon emissions, or the hopefulness of a group of people across disciplines coming together to advocate for a solution to a problem that affects us all. Or even the merit of big-policy maneuvers as a solution to climate change--as opposed to grassroots fundamental cultural shifts around usage and waste. I really do want to get into how no matter what world leaders do, the environment will never be okay until individuals reject capitalist consumptive norms. And what is our role within this, as people who care about the world, our looks, and our beings? But alas, I haven’t got my medications refilled this week and I’m too depressed.
  • In more political news, I'm sure Trump did five million other things to ensure the burning of the world. I didn't have to research this with journalistic integrity because #alternativefacts.

Good Reads

  • This week I spent an hour reading to a friend summaries of Queer YA Sci-fi and Fantasy. Sometimes, especially after a week like this, escapism is need. This and this list are good places to start for suggestions from authors I trust.

+ that's it folks. Stay safe, stay loved. Stay tuned for those environmentalism + gender 101 pieces.