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June 30, 2011

SlutWalk Seattle and the Awesomeness that Ensued

I was so excited to attend SlutWalk Seattle with my friend Sera two weekends ago. Seattle got a very interesting makeover (see pictures above) when hundreds of people gathered to protest an all too common (and completely ridiculous) notion: that women "should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."

As the event's website explains:
People aren’t assaulted because they invited it or enticed others to it by looking a certain way; they’re assaulted because somebody chose to assault them. Saying that survivors could have protected themselves by not looking like “sluts” implies that the survivors are at fault and creates a culture in which the heinous crime of sexual assault is seen as no big deal.
This was my first real "protest." I probably saw more skin that day than I've seen in my entire life, but the fact that people could be so bold in order to make a point (i.e. it doesn't matter what you're wearing  or not wearing  rape is never okay) was truly inspiring. In my nothing-fancy Seinfeld t-shirt and jeans I felt a little intimidated at first, but once I started talking to random people and asking to take their pictures, I realized that these were some of the kindest and most activism-driven people I'd ever met in my life.

Sorry for the cliche, but you really can't judge a book by its cover.

The event itself consisted of marching from Cal Anderson Park to Westlake Center, both in Seattle. The atmosphere was incredibly positive and uplifting, even though we got a visit from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. If you've never heard of WBC, they've gained national media attention for protesting the funerals of fallen soldiers and spreading their hateful, homophobic, anti-Semitic religious dogma at a variety of high-profile events. WBC hates Jews, homosexuals, the U.S. military, sluts (and many others, I'm sure), and are known for their bold, colorful signs that say everything from "Aids Cures F*gs" to "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."

I was excited to see WBC in person. I wanted to see the idiocy up close.

I didn't get any good shots of WBC in Seattle, so I had to Google a photo.
This is actually one of the less offensive pictures I found!
But, I don't want to waste time talking about these assholes. If you'd like to spend the next hour or so yelling at your computer monitor, I suggest you Google them. *smiles*

For me, the most surreal and passionate and amazing part of the protest was when everybody chanted together. Hundreds of voices tangled to create a gigantic, powerful echo; we rattled the entire city with sayings like "Wherever we go, however we dress, no means no, and yes means yes!" and "When women's rights are under attack, what we do? Stand up! Fight back!"

If you can imagine the strangest collection of people ever — men, women, children, the elderly — of every orientation, color, body shape, and style of dress — all united by a common cause, that's what SlutWalk Seattle felt like. Being a feminist can feel lonely and alienating when it seems like the world is against you, but last Sunday I was embraced by an entire community of people who were willing to risk anything to fight for women's rights.

Another poignant part of the day was when we heard from Cee Fisher, a member of a socialist feminist organization called Radical Women. At one point she screamed "Show Seattle what a feminist looks like!" into her microphone, and everyone in the crowd pointed to themselves and repeated the sentiment.

I'm not a loud person by any means. But when Cee Fisher challenged us to show the city — neigh, the world  what a feminist looked like, I pointed to myself and screamed along with everyone else.

You know those times when you feel so impassioned you just want to cry?

That was one of those moments.

There were some very powerful speakers at SlutWalk. We heard from feminists, a spoken word artist, and even people who've experienced rape and sexual assault first-hand. Here's a video of one speaker who nearly had me in tears. A recent women's studies major and graduate of the University of Washington, this woman explained what she had to go through to convict her attacker.

June 27, 2011

Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist's Mom

I can't believe this day has finally come . . . Today is the one-year anniversary of Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist!

Originally I planned to write a long, sappy memoir about my "feminist awakening," but then I thought it'd be much more interesting to ask my mom what she's thought about this past year, and my passion for feminism.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting my mom, she's one of the kindest, hardest-working, and most selfless people on the face of the earth. She's been in the door industry for 25 years and deals with everything from rough openings, to jambs, to stiles and rails (yeah, I don't know what the heck those are either); she's notorious for telling corny jokes that she swears her co-workers think are funny; and, like me, she's addicted to Asian dramas. 

Seriously. Jerry Yan, if you're reading this, please send my mom an autograph. That would pretty much catapult me into "Favorite Child" status for life.

ANYWAY — I could spend the better part of your precious "internet browsing time" gushing about all the reasons why I love my mom (and there are many), but let's get right to the good stuff.

Ladies and gentlemen, Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist's Mom:
I have to admit that this is a little bit out of my comfort zone, but when my daughter, Danielle, asked me to write a little blurb in honor of the one year anniversary of her blog Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist, how could I refuse? I mean, she's all about speaking one's mind, being real, and not being afraid to step outside of your comfort zone when it comes to the things you believe in, right? So here goes! (I hope I do her proud!) 
I have no doubt that Danielle was born a feminist/humanist. I've always been proud of her. She's a genuinely good person, with a big heart who works hard and excels at everything she puts her mind to. She has always had empathy for other people and is a strong believer in the "golden rule." It's no secret around our house that she has zero tolerance for jerks, idiots, or injustice of any type, and that she is ever in support of the under dog. It's only been in the past few years, though, that I've seen her passion for feminism grow. 
I had never considered myself a feminist. To be honest, before Danielle started sharing her views on feminism with me, I never really gave it much thought. Shamefully, I think I was one of those small-minded people who thought that feminists were "men-haters." But from day one of Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist, I could see the passion that Danielle put into her posts, and it was contagious. Thankfully, I wasn't so small-minded that I couldn't listen to reason. 
With Danielle, there is no hidden agenda. What you see is what you get. Or in the case of her blog, what you read, is exactly the way she speaks. I think that's what I love so much about reading her posts . . . She's just her being her, speaking her mind in a way that isn't preachy, while touching on subjects and feelings that most of us can relate to, whether we choose to admit it or not. 
I've learned a lot from her . . . I'm much more informed on feminism than I've ever been in my life, and although I can't promise that I will be as outgoing (or brave) as Danielle is, I think that I can finally say that I, too, am a feminist.
- Deeona Burch 

I attribute all of my social graces to this woman. Love ya, Mom.

June 26, 2011

77% of Anti-Abortion Leaders

Speaks for itself, eh?

June 25, 2011

From the Curious Depths of My Backpack #2

On one of the very first days of school last year we were given the task of summing up our lives in six words. If you've ever tried condensing something which could rightfully fill volumes into six measly words, you'll know that it's pretty darn difficult. Here's what I came up for myself (and yes, the acronym counts as one word):

BWSUS: Brain Won't Shut Up Syndrome

What six words would you use to sum up your life?

June 23, 2011

What does being a girl mean to you? (By Becka W.)

Becka W. wrote this piece in response to a question I posted under my Writers Wanted tab: "What does being a girl mean to you?" Becka blogs about feminist issues and her work has been featured on Fbomb multiple times – check her out at Becka Tells All!

Being a girl takes guts. 

I can walk with my feet 3 inches off the ground for the whole day. I walk down streets alone at night in a short skirt even though so many in my society tell me that it’s dangerous for a girl to be out alone, that a man may take advantage of her – and that it’s her fault if she doesn't cover herself up. 

I dream of careers in comedy or media or politics, despite the fact that all of those areas are notorious boys’ clubs.
Being a girl takes compassion and the will to act. I hear stories of other women’s rapes or fights with the healthcare system and I want to help them out. I hear about inequality and injustice in the fight for LGBT rights and I remember how rough it was – still is – for women to be accepted as powerful figures in our society, and I fight with them. I hear about a blood drive, or a cancer research walk, or a charity benefit and I feel compelled to participate. I don’t hate men, I just hate some men who don’t care about girls. I don’t hate conservatives, I hate that they’ve co-opted religion as their defense against women’s reproductive rights. I know how to see shades of gray. 

Being a girl takes confidence. We’re told to look a certain way, to behave a certain way, to like certain things. The fact that I am heavier, hate sitting with my legs crossed, and like Star Wars, Star Trek, comic books, and raunchy comedies more than I enjoy chick flicks doesn’t make me less of a woman. 

It makes me a more complex one. 

Girls are told to be one way, and to be any other way takes guts and confidence and independence and faith in oneself – and every girl is different from that image, that stereotype.
Being a girl means being awesome, intelligent, fantastic, strong, independent, fun, adventurous, kind, smart, and great.

I'm curious to know what "being a girl" means to YOU. Send your response to, and I might just post it!

June 22, 2011

From the Curious Depths of My Backpack #1

The Keeper of Secrets

When I found a treasure trove of old writing assignments in my backpack, I thought: "Why throw these away? Why not post them?" Thus, a new post-series was born! Some of these old assignments might be quite comical; others might be incredibly sad considering all that's happened in the past few months. But whether they're works of art or worthy of the waste bin, they represent my journey as a writer. 

And yes, I made that sound more dramatic than it actually is.

"Where I'm From"
Written September 16, 2010

I am from a refrigerator whiteboard graffitied with witticisms that weren’t there when I went to bed, left either by curious Keebler elves or a brother hunting for a midnight snack.

I am from a 72-degree home with a thermostat-happy father, the lingering effects of last night’s salmon, and the blare of an electric guitar in the background.

I am from the water drip, drip, dripping down into our lush lawn and coloring it green, the perfect backdrop to a quiet, contented, neighborly cul-de-sac.

I am from sitcom marathons, cookie-baking escapades, hilariously painful pun sessions, and Sunday morning “Mom-always-wins” bowling. From Darrin, and Dee Dee, and DeWayne, and Donna; a litany of D’s.

I am from breakfast for dinner when no one feels like cooking, and Power Naps on drizzly afternoons.

From “don’t pick your nose or your eyeballs will fall out,” “don’t make me turn you upside down and shake your socks off,” and other threats only grandmas can muster.

I am from parents who have allowed me to make my own choices: from secularism, to humanism, to Unitarianism, to feminism.

I am from the bustling metropolis of Parkland, Washington, with infinitesimal flecks of “Polish” buried deep. From homemade lasagna and salty, buttery pierogies. 

From instances we’ll never let the butt of our jokes forget: falling out of a truck at the gas station, falling into a yard waste bin, and then into Iron Creek (poor Mom).

I am from the box of pictures under my parents’ bed, saved for Christmastime, birthdays, and drizzly afternoons (after Power Naps). 

By the four-hundredth picture of my brother’s chubby, smiling baby-face I tease: “What? Did you get sick of taking pictures by the time I came around?” 

But deep down, I’m happy. 

Irrevocably happy.

June 13, 2011

Love the Body You've Got (Take it From a Fat Girl)

I've never seen anyone like Beth Ditto in
the limelight before; I think her beauty is
absolutely magnetic. Hooray for confidence!
I recall a time in elementary school when a friend tried to defend me from a few bullies by saying that I "wasn't fat, just big-boned." A few years later, I had a teacher who — probably in an attempt to keep my ego intact — wouldn't let kids say "fat" in class, only "fluffy."

To set the record straight, I do not have abnormally large bones. And I am not, nor have I ever been, a rabbit. But whether it's these sugar-coated terms or the painfully unoriginal "ugly fat girl," I've never quite been able to shake my overweight status for long.

Despite a few traumatizing events (i.e. falling off the jungle gym, losing my paper pilgrim's hat on Thanksgiving, etc.), I have relatively good memories of elementary school. I was about a foot taller than everybody else and began experiencing all the joys of early puberty (ah, training bras!), but I still don't remember those days in terms of my body. Rather, I remember going insane on Field Day (I still have the ribbons to prove it), competing with my classmates to see who could write the most numbers (we had to sprawl our lists out in the hallway to measure them), and playing "The Magic Scrap" when our teacher needed to trick us into cleaning up our messes.

Middle school was a different story. I don't know what they started putting in the Capri Suns the summer between my 5th and 6th grade years, but everybody got meaner while I became more and more self-conscious. I was significantly - shall we say, heftier - than my classmates, and there were always those intent on reminding me that I was fat and they were not.

I was an emotional wreck. Whether people recognized it or not, I was basically writhing in my own skin, caught between trying to wear clothes that were "hip" (and feeling awkward), and falling back on dingy jeans and band t-shirts (and still feeling awkward).

I love Adele. But whenever I go on
Youtube all I see are comments
saying how "fat" she is. Tell me
this woman isn't beautiful.
High school, I am proud to say, is much better. No overweight teen is going to escape the negative comments that inevitably bounce through high school hallways, but I've found a comfortable niche among friends and clubmates where I feel almost immune to that sort of thing. I've been living by the mantra "If it won't matter in five years, don't worry about it."

But last week, after a several-month streak of body positivity, somebody really hurt me. And I don't even think they meant to.

Long story short, this person (who is probably a size 4 or smaller) complained about how much weight they've gained and, in a not-so-subtle way, alluded to the fact that I was unhealthy. Really? You're going to complain to me about how much weight you've gained? And then you're going to criticize my health, despite the fact you know how hard I bust my butt for school, projects, and all the stuff I'm involved with? I was literally thinking: "Sorry, insert-name-here, I haven't had much motivation to exercise lately. Hard to imagine why."

Needless to say, I felt really crappy when I got home that day. But then I found these posters in the Love Your Body Day section of the NOW website and immediately felt better.

My favorite poster.
To top it all off, I also found this quote in a random comment on the Ms. Magazine website:

The less we judge each other by the contours of our bodies, the more clearly we will see the true content of each other's characters.

Isn't that awesome?

It reminded me that in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter what we look like, just what we do. We're not going to be remembered for being a size 4 (or 24), so we might as well make the most of life without letting insecurities "weigh" us down.

You may not know Beth Ditto (pictured above), but she's the lead singer of a band called Gossip (which originated only 30 miles from my hometown). Ditto is apparently well known for her outspoken support of both LGBT and feminist causes (according to the all-knowing Wikipedia), and is also an advocate of body positivity. Even if this isn't exactly my type of music, it's cool to see a bigger girl rock it out for once!

June 11, 2011

A Video that Summarizes My Views on Gay Marriage

This video perfectly — and I mean perfectly — summarizes my feelings on gay marriage. Watch it (the actual thing starts at 0:28), and I'm pretty sure you'll figure out where I stand. 

If you like Nineteenpercent, check out her other video 
Beyonce - Run the World (LIES)!

20 Ways to Lessen Your Risk of Sexual Assault

(Above) One of the many campaign ads
from Men Can Stop Rape, an
organization that seeks to redefine
masculinity and "mobilize men to
use their strength for creating cultures
 free from violence, especially
men's violence against women."
This article was submitted to me by Corrine at

It's heartbreaking that I have to post this, but clearly sexual assault is an issue that we can't overlook. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), a person in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every two minutes. According to that logic, there will be another victim — maybe two — by the time you finish reading this article.

Extending emotional support to sexual assault and rape survivors is certainly a topic for another post, but the link I'm about to share contains tips that could potentially spare you the pain of ever being caught off-guard in a dangerous situation. Sure, some of the tips are no-brainers (i.e. be aware of your surroundings), but if it could mean the difference between going into a situation prepared and going in unprepared, why not take a few minutes to look these tips over?

Here are the first 3 tips from 20 Ways to Lessen Your Risk of Sexual Assault:

  1. Enroll in self-defense classes: Nearly every major city — and plenty of suburbs — hosts at least a few different self-defense and martial arts schools, as do many colleges and universities. Try to find one within a viable price range and workable schedule and put forth the effort to take regular classes. Make sure to also thoroughly research both the businesses and the different strategies they teach before making any commitment. Even if participants never have to put their newfound skills to use (and here’s hoping they don’t!), self-defense is one of the most valuable investments individuals make for their own safety and peace of mind.
  2. Carry a weapon: Consider supplementing those self-defense classes by keeping a weapon concealed somewhere, like a purse or underneath a jacket. For those uncomfortable with the thought of owning a gun, options such as pepper spray, mace, stun guns or batons and plenty more provide a satisfactory level of protection as well. No matter which one proves best, however, anyone owning such devices must absolutely familiarize themselves with proper care, use, maintenance and (of course) legalities. Particularly when looking into gun ownership.
  3. Travel in packs: It’s not always possible to step out with a few friends in tow, but take advantage of any situations where it is. Predators feed on vulnerability, as assault and rape have everything to do with power and almost nothing to do with sex. A small group, particularly one with a little self-defense training and/or weapons in the ranks, will certainly make each member feel far safer than if they were to travel alone. This strategy works well for parties, too, as a throng of trusted pals can look out for one another and intervene when it looks like something ugly might happen.
    Check out these unsettling statistics from the RAINN's website:
Victims Statistics
Frequency of Sexual Assault StatisticsReporting StatisticsRapists Statistics

Update: Literally two seconds after publishing this article I found this post over at The author's take on this "who should be responsible for preventing sexual assault" situation really touched me. Obviously, a person can take all the precautions in the world and still become a victim. No one is to blame for rape but rapists themselves, and if we spend time educating women how to protect themselves, we should spend an equal amount of time (if not more) reaching out to — let's face it, men — about ending violence against women. 

June 8, 2011

American Experience: The Pill (PBS Special)

In my American History class we had to write a research paper on an invention that has had a substantial impact on American society; it's probably no surprise that I chose to cover the birth control pill. I was going to post my long, tedious (albeit well-written) essay, but then I thought "Hey, why not post the documentary that was the basis for my paper in the first place?" Here you have it folks, the introduction to my research paper (for the heck of it) and the PBS special The Pill:

The birth control pill, or simply “the Pill," is no stranger to controversy. Devised at a time in American history when wholesome values and sexual conservatism reigned supreme, it was pegged by certain religious sectors as “intrinsically wrong,” and effectively divided the nation into two warring states: those who believed the Pill was an unnatural, sacrilegious abomination, and those who believed it was a pivotal step in securing sexual freedom and reproductive rights for millions of women nationwide. 

No consensus was ever reached as Americans continue to bicker over the morality of contraception to this day, but whether the Pill is seen as a one-way ticket to Promiscuityville or a beacon of hope and liberation, it has drastically changed the way our nation thinks about sex, birth control, reproductive rights, and gender roles, and will likely do so for years to come.

June 5, 2011

The Most Epic Page in My School's Yearbook

The caption under our totally rad group picture reads "Women Around Campus
Standing Up for Their Rights!" Two words: heck, and yeah.
Rejoice with me.

This is an actual scan from my actual high school yearbook, and it is so epic. Even though Real Beauty Revolution, the club I started back in September, only got a third of a page (while other groups got two pages *cough*cheer-leading*cough*), I'm still excited that it got in our book at all. Just look at that shot of my This is What a Feminist Looks Like t-shirt - I seriously want to laugh, cry, and do an interpretive dance all at the same time!

I don't know about you, but I still crack out my parents' yearbooks whenever I'm in need of a good "blast from the past" or chance to mock some what-were-they-thinking hairstyles; it feels good to know that I'll be able to show this yearbook to my own kids someday. Even though my head kind of looks like a mushroom (heh), I bet they'll be proud of me.

I count this page as a major triumph for feminism in my school. I had a hard time finding recruits for RBR earlier this year, but if we can break down barriers and show girls that it's not "bad" or "unattractive" to stick up for themselves, I bet we're going to fare extremely well next year. 

Next year, I'm shooting for a full page - and an editor who can actually spell my name right! *laughs*

June 3, 2011

Quite Possibly the Cutest Video Ever

I'm sorry, but I had to steal this video from a blog called I Am Beautiful, I Am Woman (which, by the way, is written by a 15-year-old feminist!). Is it just me, or should we all have this type of confidence, gratitude and hunger for life? I plan to start my "daily affirmation" regiment tomorrow.

June 2, 2011

Pop Culture Decoded: Feminist Frequency

Feminist Frequency is an ongoing web series of video commentaries from a feminist/fangirl perspective created by Anita Sarkeesian. Feminist Frequency looks at, critiques and occasionally celebrates representations in popular culture specifically looking at gender, sexuality, race, class and ability in the mass media.

June 1, 2011

Submit girl-created digital media for readings of Eve Ensler's "I Am an Emotional Creature" in South Africa

The V-Girls Network is "a global platform for girls to amplify their voices, empower themselves and inspire one another to create the change they imagine for the world."

This summer, V-Girls will be traveling to South Africa with Eve Ensler to create workshop readings of  I Am an An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World

The organization is currently seeking submissions of digital media including photos, videos, and text to set a uniquely girl-created stage in Johannesburg. Ensler and her production team will use these photos, videos, and text as the set design for the readings, which will take place at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg from July 15th to the 27th!

The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2011. Check out this link for more information!