Dina Goldstein’s Fallen Princesses

If you followed my blog in its earlier days, you know what I think about young girls’ increasing obsession with princesses, and how Disney Princesses distort their image and expectations of themselves, of life, of relationships, of their sexuality… Everything.

SnowySnowy ~

That’s why I was so thrilled to discover Dina Goldstein, my favorite photographer (today). I saw her Snow White photograph from her Fallen Princesses series on Facebook, sans credit as is common there. Today I finally put together the name with the photography, and what a discovery that was!

Here is Goldstein’s description of the project and some of the pictures from the series, but I truly recommend you browse her website. It’s gorgeous.

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“These works place Fairy Tale characters in modern day scenarios. In all of the images the Princess is placed in an environment that articulates her conflict. The ‘…happily ever after’ is replaced with a realistic outcome and addresses current issues.
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The project was inspired by my observation of three-year-old girls, who were developing an interest in Disney’s Fairy tales.  As a new mother I have been able to get a close up look at the phenomenon of young girls fascinated with Princesses and their desire to dress up like them.  The Disney versions almost always have sad beginning, with an overbearing female villain, and the end is predictably a happy one.  The Prince usually saves the day and makes the victimized young beauty into a Princess.
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Rapunzel1As a young girl, growing up abroad, I was not exposed to fairy tales. These new discoveries lead to my fascination with the origins of Fairy tales. I explored the original Brothers Grimm stories and found that they have very dark and sometimes gruesome aspects, many of which were changed by Disney. I began to imagine Disney’s perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues.

See my other Dina Goldstein post: In The Dollhouse.

Facebook Campaign for Arab Women’s Rights Goes Global

The intifada, or uprising, of women in the Arab world is a campaign that truly excites me. I “made friends” with the group on Facebook via the Femina Invicta FB page a while ago, but truly became enamored of them when they kicked off their photo campaign, “I’m with the uprising of women in the Arab world because…”, which has gone viral, and includes statements from women and men from Arab countries, as well as from supporters around the world.

Femina Invicta was invited to add to the campaign, but ultimately my picture was not included, I guess because the sensitivity of my posting from occupied Palestine, a decision I completely understand and respect. My support remains unwavering.

This is what it said:

See the Facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/intifadat.almar2a

Scroll down for selected images…

And the following is an article on the page and campaign’s success via Facebook campaign for women’s rights goes global – Daily News Egypt.

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A women’s rights group has launched a social media campaign to promote women’s rights across the Arab world.

The Uprising of Women in the Arab World group launched the campaign on 1 October, encouraging Facebook and Twitter users (female and male) to upload photographs of themselves holding a sign reading “I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because…” followed by their reason to support the cause. Since the launch of the campaign, to mark the anniversary of the launch of the group, there have been over 200 replies with more being posted each day.

The group was started in October 2011 by four female activists, Yalda Younes, Diala Haidar from Lebanon, Farah Barqawi from Palestine and Sally Zohney from Egypt. They started the group to harness the social and political progress of the Arab spring. They believe that the calls that came from across the Arab world for freedom, justice and dignity cannot be fully achieved without the inclusion of women.

The group’s slogan is, “together for free, independent and fearless women in the Arab world.” Currently the main source of contact for the group is through their Facebook page and Twitter account. They receive posts from all over the Arab world, however support has also come from as far afield as Spain, Sweden, America, Brazil and Italy.

The group has many demands including, “absolute” freedom of thought, the right to autonomy, equality with men, the abolishment of all laws violating the Universal Declaration of Human rights and protection against domestic violence.

The campaign aims to “highlight the various kinds of discrimination against women in the Arab world” and to “re-open the debate in the social media on women’s conditions.” The group hopes to create a base for feminist activism and to highlight that despite the relative success of the Arab spring in many countries, the issues facing women are still present in society.

Responses have come from both women and men, all giving different reasons for why they support the campaign. Ragheed from Syria said, “I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because my mother, my sister, my girlfriend, my daughter are independent human beings, they are not my followers.” Assil from Palestine said, “I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because it’s not fair that I have to be trapped at home [for] three months to prove to people that the baby in my womb is my late husband’s.”

The group’s Facebook page raises a number of issues affecting both men and women in the Arab world, including the issue of homosexuality. Mohammad from Oman posted his picture with the sign, “I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because all the religious, social, and sexual oppression I was subject to was directed towards the female inside of me.”

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Ahlam from Palestine

I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because it’s the woman’s right
to stay single as long as she wants and not be labeled as defective.
And because it is my right to choose the type of education and career I want
irrespective of my future role as a wife or a mother

 ~*~

Sara from Yemen

I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because
it is allowed by law to rape me when I am a child
in the name of marriage.

 ~*~

 

Walaa from Syria

I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because
my mother should have chosen whom to marry
instead of whom I should marry

 ~*~

Abdulkareem from Saudi Arabia

I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because
I am 16 years old and according to the law,
I am the guardian of my widowed mother.

Revolt mother!
You are strong, you are free!

Femina Invicta:

I’m in the process of writing a response post to a feminist who objects to “transgender” though not to transgender people… Unlike the hateful radfems, she has an honest desire to learn and understand, which I deeply respect and so am willing to engage and put forth the effort. This very week I discovered this amazing post, which largely corresponds with what I have already written. I’ll be using some of it’s ideas and providing a link to it. Any more good posts on Trans 101 for Feminists/Cis Folk are appreciated!

Originally posted on Tranarchism:

There is a huge problem with the way that people are taught about gender in this society. Children are indoctrinated early to believe that there are two sexes, corresponding with two genders, which are both immutable and non-voluntary and completely beyond our control. This worldview is called the gender binary, and it has no room in it for us.

Trying to teach a new perspective to the victims of this extremely aggressive brainwashing can be daunting. In fact, the task can seem downright impossible. The temptation, therefore, is to “dumb things down” for the benefit of a cisgender audience. This situation has given rise to a set of oversimplifications collectively known as “Trans 101.” These rather absurd tropes, such as “blank trapped in a blank’s body” cause confusion among even well-meaning cis folks, feed internalized transphobia among us trans people, and  provide endless straw-man fodder for transphobic ‘radical feminists,’ entitled…

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Femina Invicta:

Just came across this a few months later… Just as relevant as ever. If you do nothing else, see Asmaa’s video clip.

Originally posted on Cellar Door:

We are, each of us, functions of how we imagine ourselves and of how others imagine us, and, looking back, there are these discrete tracks of memory: the times when our lives are most sharply defined in relation to others’ ideas of us, and the more private times when we are freer to imagine ourselves. [...] it occurred to me that if others have so often made your life their business — made your life into a question, really, and made that question their business — then perhaps you will want to guard the memory of those times when you were freer to imagine yourself as the only times that are truly and inviolably your own.
— We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch

The passage above from Philip Gourevitch’s gorgeously written book about the 1994 Rwandan…

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Transphobia is NOT Feminist!

Until recently, I hadn’t encountered transphobia from feminists. Call me lucky :)

In my feminist community, a key part of our world view is a commitment to equality for all oppressed groups, according to the idea that there cannot be justice for only some — justice means justice for ALL. So there is a connection between oppression of women, oppression of Palestinians, oppression of queer folk… And so on.

Most of the women I know in this context use the term “radical” to some extent or another — in their feminism, politics, or elsewhere. Because we believe in changing societal power structures, from the root (the word radical is from the Latin radix (gen. radicis) “root”, meaning “going to the origin, essential”). On the face of it — Radical Feminism.

Contrast this with my newly found experience with North American radical feminism (sometimes called RadFem). If I understand their position correctly, they claim that gender — as a *whole* — is entirely a cultural construct, and therefore, there is no such thing as gender dysphoria, because your body, or chromosomes are the only thing that make you a man or a woman. Anything else is decoration. RadFems will often use dismissive and demeaning language saying things like “a man who puts on heels and make-up magically becomes a woman, yippee”, totally disregarding the trans experience and identity issues trans people describe.

In the past few months I have come across Facebook groups, blogs, and online warfare, carried out by RadFems, regarding trans women, especially on the topic of trans women’s acceptance in women’s spaces. While I had been generally aware that there is not universal acceptance of trans women in women’s spaces (take the well-known example of the Michigan Music Festival and the womyn-born womyn movement). What I did NOT expect was outright hatred and demeaning of trans women. Call me naive.

Examples include refusing to refer to trans women using female pronouns (to the extent of changing the text in blog responses), calling trans women “rapey men” who are all about the sex, and trying to get “into the panties” of (cis) lesbians, to terms such as “stealth men” trying to “take over”,  to horrible caricatures and jokes and demeaning representations in quotes and images, meant to denigrate and humiliate and erase the existence and legitimacy of trans women. Well, of all trans people, but particularly trans women. One site went so far as to troll the Internet for pornographic images of trans women and post them against the intention, desire, and permission of the women involved — once again, in an attempt to vilify, objectify, and humiliate. And promote hatred and bigotry, of course.

As an activist who deals daily with multiple forms of oppression against multiple groups, both outright direct oppression, and the hidden forms as well — I’m not generally surprised by the levels of hatred, bigotry, stupidity, meanness, violence, and other negatives humans are capable of. But I guess my naivete shows when people ostensibly committed to such ideas as equality and social justice do it.

I will do more research on this, because my experience with radical feminism in the US has more to do with ideas about sexual violence by men, and anti-pornography, than an obsession with gender identities per se, but then — when I left the US many many years ago, there was a whole lot I didn’t know about a lot of things. (And there still is :) ).

Also note that unlike my usual practice, I have intentionally avoided linking to RadFem blogs, sites, or discussions. Several of the most hateful among them have cleverly pushed their sites up in Google search through extensive cross linking. My goal here is to include several trans links explaining some of the key issues from a trans perspective, while avoiding giving more of a stage to the haters. I will be posting more about this topic, and am also happy to answer questions or point you in the “right” direction if you want to read more.

Meanwhile, here are some links that are must-reads if you want to understand more about the dialog between transgender women and cis-gender women:

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Pretty Queer is one of my favorite sites. It covers a range of issues from a frequently “heretical” perspective — such as calling out privilege and transphobia and transmisogyny within queer communities.

It was here I first discovered Savannah Garmon, who wrote this post:

Requiem for a Dialogue

In the post she discusses her experience in how she is accepted (or not accepted) by cis women, and how trans and cis women came together in a workshop called “No more apologies: Queer trans and cis women, coming/cumming together!”, in which the foundations were set for a wider dialogue about trans woman inclusion in queer women’s spaces/communities and social settings.

Her blog leftygirl is also on my blogroll. Check her out!

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Monica Maldonado — responding to the outlandish claims that trans women are demanding cis women “make themselves sexually available” to them:

The Cotton Ceiling Ain’t About You

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This blog post by Jade Pichette discusses identity erasure, cis-privilege, and consent:

Hey Lesbian Transphobes!

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This event in Ottawa — No More Apologies Ottawa/ Pas Plus d’Excuses Ottawa — has been drawing a LOT of transphobic attacks. See the event on Facebook.

Thursday Round-Up

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Two notable campaign successes: Planned Parenthood vs. Komen, and “gay cure” clinics in Ecaudor are OUT; Do women really suck at math?; Funky art stuff; And more… It’s another round-up!

(Yes, I know it’s not Thursday. I missed a Thursday. Meh.)

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From the Queer 'Sphere

Ecuador President Announces “Gay Cure” Clinics to Shut Down

After campaigns launched by All Out, Change.org and CredoAction went global — and local human rights defenders kept the pressure on in closed door negotiations with the Ecuadorian Health Ministry — the government just announced they’ll be investigating — and shutting down — hundreds of abusive and illegal “gay cure” clinics.

Read more, and sign a support petition to President Rafael Correa

Gender

Surprise! Gender Equality Makes Everyone Better At Math!

Tired of hearing that tired old argument that women are inherently less capable of excelling at math, physics, or other sciences? This delightful article explains the whys and wherefores of why that’s total CRAP. (And I’m sure you’ll have no trouble whatsoever with all the charts :) )

Art & Culture

Photographer Hal’s Vacuum Packed Couples

In his “Fresh Love” series, Japanese Photographer Hal photographed couples in vacuum-packed nylon, representing the “ultimate union”. The couples actually stayed without oxygen long enough for Hal to snap three photos.

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Tampon Crafts

And this is a whole different kind of interesting   → 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Irina Werning’s Back to the Future

Argentine photographer Irina Werning takes subjects from around the world back to the future — recreating old photos quite amazingly!

     

See also Back to the Future 2

Women's Health 

Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project

Continuing with art for a moment, here is art for breast cancer awareness.

The project Facebook page.

An all Breast Cancer Survivor project for awareness, fundraising, inspiration and healing worldwide… So far 25 brave and incredible women have selflessly stepped forward and been painted for the project.

Susan G. Komen Foundation vs. Planned Parenthood

Last week was all about the furor caused by Komen’s announcement that they would no longer provide funding to planned parenthood for breast cancer exams and screening, as a result of right-wing pressure opposed to PP’s abortion services. It was heartwarming to see the support that quickly arose for PP — from petitions, to blogs, to news coverage, and of course to donations that came pouring in and the increased awareness of both the need for breast cancer services and Planned Parenthood’s activities in general. The Komen Foundation’s top director resigned, and their site was even hacked. Now, Komen has announced that it has reversed its decision, and PP will remain eligible for funding. This campaign was the second great victory of the past week… Don’t let women die in the name of being “pro-life”… Keep the good news coming!

Palestine-Israel Medley

Selected posts and articles from the Israel/Palestine frontier. Mostly about women, of course. 

Palestinian artist is removed from art competition

Larissa Sansour is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist, who uses Middle-East politics in her work. Sansour was shortlisted for the 2011 Lacoste Elysée Prize, an art competition hosted by the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée, with funding from the Lacoste clothing brand.

The theme of the competition this year was la joie de vivre, and participants were given free rein to interpret this any way they desired. Sansour’s project, Nation Estate, envisioned “a Palestinian state rising from the ashes of the peace process.” The project depicted a science fiction-style Palestinian state in the form of a single skyscraper housing the entire Palestinian population.

Sansour was then notified that Lacoste requested she be removed from the competition, as her work was too “pro-Palestinian”. Controversy ensued, with accusations of censorship against Lacoste and the Musée de l’Elysée. The museum eventually withdrew from hosting the competition. The museum and Lacoste stated that Sansour’s work did not fit the theme. The museum offered to do a separate exhibit of Sansour’s work.

♦ Larissa Sansour Speaks Out
 Detailed interview with Larissa Sansour
 Larissa Sansour’s Nation Estate

Palestine: Women First / Photographic Exhibition

Photographed by Mati Milstein and curated by Saher Saman, the exhibition will open May 25th at Marji Gallery & Contemporary Projects, in Santa Fe, New Mexico

“This is the story of a new generation of radical Palestinian activists who stand out from their society in the most distinct way: they are women. These activists are on the front lines of West Bank protest, they are beaten and face arrest and sexual harassment for their bold role. “ Read more…

Palestine: Women First II from Mati Milstein on Vimeo.

Milstein was inspired to do this project by the following analysis by Gila Danino-Yona, on photographic documentation of women in the Arab Spring:

Women of the Revolution, or Revolutionary Women?

How have women been depicted in these Arab Spring uprisings? Danino-Yonah identified several typical categories.

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Category I – Weakened Femininity

Women crying, women frightened, women throwing up, women screaming….


.Category II – A Woman is Always a Woman

Women cleaning, women preening, women pretty in pink and chatting on the phone…

Category III – Thanks to Our Men

Women being grateful, women being worshipful, women swelling with maternal pride…

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Category IV – Female Gaddafi supporters beyond the consensus

The “good” women are represented according to the feminine stereotypes above. But when a woman supports, say, Gaddafi, she is shown ugly, angry, scary, crazed, violent…

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But – if you look for them – you will find revolutionary women, too.

Maybe not the typical image shown, but they were certainly there!

(You can see my personal take on some revolutionary women here)

Reflections of an Arab Jew

This article is by an American, but it relates directly to the Israeli-Arab conflict. One of the major casualties of this conflict is the identity of millions of Jews who are from Arab countries. In today’s political climate, “Arab” and “Jew” are deemed opposites. What does that do to someone who is both? Especially when the “Jew” in that equation is assumed to be European — related to via European literature, humor, art, food, music… That they have nothing to do with?

Ella Habiba Shohat is only the second person I have had the privilege to read on this greatly underrepresented topic, and I am so glad I found this short, but poignant article.

B’Tselem West Bank Video

B’Tselem is the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

In January 2007, B’Tselem launched its camera distribution project, a video advocacy project, providing Palestinians living in high-conflict areas with video cameras, with the goal of bringing the reality of their lives under occupation to the attention of the Israeli and international public.

In 2011, volunteers in the camera project filmed over 500 hours of footage in the West Bank. The video was edited into two minutes meant to sum up the passing year