The Invisible Elephant in the Room

There is a topic that is near and dear to me… Yet I haven’t written about it at all.
Femme Elephant

I’ve begun posts or articles many times…
I have dozens of bookmarks saved in my browser… Nothing to show for it. Yet.

Femme. Being Femme. Femme InVisibility. Femme Identity. 

Headings, tags, pieces of things.

It seems that when things get too personal for me, I cannot write a casual post… I want to write a dissertation (:
And who has time for that…

So.

This is not really a post. It is a note. It is a notice. It is a rant. It is a statement – that there is not enough written about what being a femme is all about. There are things I want to shout out, insist upon, inform… There are stances I want to take, and territory I want to stake. There are misconceptions I want to dispel and conceptions I want to eradicate. So much to say. So much emotion choking down the words. It won’t all be said here and now, but this is the opening shot, clumsy as it may be.

I AM A FEMME. I am not a femme because my girlfriend is a butch. I am not a femme because of internalized heteronormative oppression. I am not worth less because queer communities seem to idolize masculinity as much as – or more than! – straight communities. My identity is not subject to lesbian culture’s identity police. I AM A FEMME because this is the identity I choose, because this is the skin I am comfortable in, what fits, here and now. As a femme, I am the one who defines what it means to be a femme. It might be different than how someone else defines it for themselves. As a femme, I insist on my autonomy to conform or not to conform, to whichever standards I choose.

More than that, I believe that BEING FEMME IS ABOUT AS RADICAL AS IT GETS. Think about it: Being femme is a choice. As such, there is an element of gender transition involved. It also transcends hetero gender policing – by first rejecting the compulsory aspect of it, and then choosing the parts that please you. Wrapping yourself in the “weak” presentations of the hegemony, and using them to express and celebrate your strength and power. Sometimes taking them to the nth degree. That is deconstruction, and that is pretty radical. It is totally “in your face” to heteronormativity and queer normativity (yes, I just said that) alike.

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Obviously I have a lot more to say about this, but let me leave you with these rant bits:

BEING FEMME HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BUTCHES

We are not defined as the absence of, the opposite of, or the partner of. Period. We can be in a relationship with a butch, or with a femme, or with someone who defines themselves as something else entirely. OUR PARTNERS’ DEFINITIONS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR SELF-DEFINED IDENTITY. We may or may not even have a partner.

WE ARE TIRED OF BEING INVISIBLE

We are tired of being assumed to be straight, of being overlooked as not radical enough, of being tagged as “wanting to pass” or as being bound by heteronormative culture. THERE IS NOTHING NORMATIVE ABOUT BEING FEMME.

And personally, I am pretty sick of the hierarchies of the queer communities I know, where there is a very clear status ladder, at the top of which are FTMs and at the bottom of which are cis femmes, and in which female/feminine identities are always subordinate to equivalent male/masculine ones (FTMs are “better” then MTFs, and cis gay men are “better” than cis lesbian women, butch is “better” than femme, and so on).

WE DON’T HAVE TO BE LESBIANS

We can be bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, asexual, even hetero (there are queer heteros. seriously.), or have any other sexual orientation or lack thereof. Because, WE ARE NOT DEFINED BY OUR PARTNERS.

WE DON’T EVEN NEED TO BE WOMEN

Fuck the gender binary. Seriously. Some of my best femme friends are genderqueer. Which means they may or may not define themselves as women to any given degree, at any given time. Which is just one example. I find odd, to say the least, the notion that eliminating the binary must mean we go to a unary system of alikeness. Why not expand our possibilities to the infinite, rather than restricting and policing them?

More to come. Stay tuned.

Insects in the Morning Dew (part II)

This is some of the most beautiful insect photography I’ve seen.

Reblogged from SeaWay Blog

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović

©Peter GarvanovićI’ve published it almost a year ago, when this blog was very young, but I think Insects in the morning dew is still one of the best gallery in this site, and the number of visits it receive it’s a clear proof. It featured some incredible macro shots of insects covered by micro-droplets of morning dew by the photographer Martin Amm.
I’m happy to post another gallery of stunning masterpieces of the same subject by Peter Garvanovic.

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

Insects in the morning dew by Peter Garvanović
©Peter Garvanović

This is just a very short selection. Visit Peter Garvanović’s Photo.net gallery to see hundreds of other shots in a bigger size.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FIRST PART

By Guido Trombetta on 12:01 PM Animals, Photos

via SeaWayBLOG: Insects in the morning dew (part 2…).

Open letter to Talpa Productions (The Voice): The Israeli franchise of your show is promoting sexual violence

On the 3rd episode of the current season of the Israeli franchise of The Voice, a contestant bragged about an incident in which he sexually assaulted Jennifer Lopez. He described how, after appearing on American Idol, during a hug goodbye he “accidentally on purpose” grabbed Ms. Lopez’ buttocks. The host, Michael Aloni, proceeded to joke about the incident, and comments were made (jokingly) about warning Sarit Hadad, the only female judge on the show, about the contestant. Aloni later, in commentary about an interaction between the contestant and Ms. Hadad, giggled that now he was “pulling a J Lo” on her.

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My hands “fell”

This incident is extremely disturbing. Sexual assault is not a joking matter. The fact that some men see Jennifer Lopez – or any other woman – as a legitimate object for them to physically grab is not a joking matter. The fact that this was all viewed as a positive thing on a prime time show with top ratings is not a joking matter, and is in fact quite frightening.

And apparently, there are many who share this view. Since the incident, a growing wave of protest has been seen on Facebook, online publications, and blogs – objecting to the general “boys club” view of women as objects, the support this attitude is getting on Israeli prime time television, the glossing over an actual description of an attack (by the attacker)… And all of this occurring on your hit show, The Voice. But Reshet, the Israeli franchisee, has either ignored our objections, or informed us that “it was all in good fun”. We don’t know how Reshet defines good fun, but we feel that if a man grabs at a woman without her consent, that is not any kind of fun, but rather an extreme violation of her body, and also a criminal act.

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I touched her ass.

Meanwhile, on last night’s episode, the “fun” continued, when special guest Mosh Ben Ari referred to a young contestant as “forbidden fruit” and cited this is a reason to promote her on the show. Forbidden fruit? A term hinting at lusting after a young contestant, while acknowledging that this is “forbidden” raises serious questions as to the general mindset of the show.

Our purposes in writing you this letter are as follows:

  • To inform you what is being done in your name, namely creation of a sexist, sexually violent atmosphere and mindset on The Voice (Israel)
  • To ask you to take action to ensure that The Voice is a safe place for both contestants and judges
  • To make a statement that The Voice objects to sexual/gender violence, and is actively against it
  • And to take action to back the statement up (for example, dedicating an episode to awareness of sexual violence).

Meanwhile, we have already been inspired to act on this subject. On Friday, January 18, we will be holding a singing event in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, to raise awareness of the endemic sexual violence women are subject to, whether on television or in the streets or even in their homes.

We, the undersigned organizers and supporters of the event, look forward to your support and cooperation in this endeavor.

Sincerely,

Mitpakdot Feminist Lobby
Achoti (Sister) for Women in Israel
The Feminist Forum of Meretz
WIZO Israel
Panorama – Bi and Pansexual Feminist Community
Nakum Project – Women and Community, College of Management Law School

Tsipi Erann
Lian Ram
Plia Chetner
Tal Gutman
Efrat Latman
Hadar Stav
Karen Zack
Zoya Pushnikov
Revital Madar
Sharon Zack
Daniella Azulay
Nimrod Ben Ze’ev
Lior Betzer
Gal Shargill
Lin Chalozin Dovrat
Julia Fermentto
Matat Eshet
Hila Shemesh Coohen
Roni Belinkov
Tami Dynes
Hannah Kehat
Sybil Goldfainer
Ronilla Zilberman
Lital Badra
Eshkar Eldan Cohen
Paz Tsoor
Mirit Barashi
Debbie Cohen
Liron Averbuch
Yael Zuck
Ronit Hyman
Shiri Eisner
Tal Amit
Shai Slomka
Atalia Israeli-Nevo
Tali Shapira
Rotem Cohen
Adi Stein
Yaara Liebermann-Callif
Dafna Inbar
Alice Grabois
Lital Weinbaum
Yana Yegorov
Ronna Karni
Avital Agiv Sariel
Lilac Shoshani
David Pond
Dorit Abramovitch
Yaara Shaham
Vered Doron
Ifat Mantel
Yaara Rozenblit
Amnon Brownfield Stein
Hilla Shahrabani
Avital Hedva Eshel
Giovanna C. Kleymerman
Erika Tamara Traubmann
Mirit Sharon
Chen Peter
Yifat Moas
Rachel Algazi
Reut Cohen
Yael Hochman
Rachel E. Bell
Liat Shaked
Roni Ment
Tamar Primak
Racheli Geffen
Shy Buba
Idit Shiloah
Sharon Orshalimy
Shoshi Shamir
Deborah Elhadad-Aroshas
Hamutal Erato
Lilach Ben David
Teddy Sariel
Tammy Riklis
Shira Hertzanu
Arnon Parenti
Daria Svet
David Kafri
Neria Biala
Dana Sharon
Shlomit Lir
Mary Nefo
Orit Dekel
Eyal Molchansky
Shai Abrahan
Shilhav Mayo
Hadar Sharir
Efrat Melter
Keshet Ori
Yonatan Betzer
Daniel Sigawi
Ilil Comay-Dror
Hemed Ben-Ze’ev
Yoav Edelist
Noam Gal
Keren Cohen
Hadas Amin
Noa Hoffner
Naama Cohen
Aviv Yahalom
Roni Doron Matarasso
Elana Kater
Ilan Tabak-Aviram
Grace Shenhar
Ayala Falk
Israel Hintayev
Maia Kalisch
Sefi Kuperman
Udi Neuman
Iris Stern Levi
Miri Rozmarin
Tal(y) Wozner
Yonadav Engelberg-Barbiro
Ayala Levinger
Chen Morad
Orna Zaken Heler
Hilit Vardin
Tamar Geva
Carmen Elmakiyes
Nabila Espanioly
Anat Ben Ezra
Orna Gross
Noa Greenberger
Asa Shemesh
Dana Moss
Naama Goldberg
Michal Goren
Daniella Muallem
Tohar Jacobson
Tal Brown
Amos Madar
Osnat Ita Skoblinski

CC: Reshet, The 2nd Authority for Television and Radio (Israel), various Israeli government offices, the press.

PS – Attached as an addendum are copies and excerpted translations of responses we received (after the writing of this letter) to our complaints filed with Reshet (your franchisee) and with the 2nd Authority for Television and Radio – both the TV Broadcast Division and the Ombudsman (Public Complaints Department). You will see that Reshet, your franchisee, insists on treating the matter lightly, while both the Broadcast Authority and the Complaints Department have expressed their objections to the sexist nature of the show’s contents. While the Broadcast Authority has not taken any action other than stating the wrongful nature of what took place on The Voice, the Ombudsman has not yet ruled out action, which we are vigorously pursuing, of course.

See Reshet’s response to complaint about sexual violence on The Voice

See the response from the TV Division of the 2nd Authority for Television & Radio

See the Ombudsman’s response, stating that the incident was “outrageous”

Suicide Food

*TW for animal images at end of post

Even before I became fully aware of all the evils of the animals-for-food industry, even as a child, I would cringe every time I saw a commercial or kids’ book that used animal characters to sell meat. I mean, WTF. The implication is two-fold: that animals indeed have consciousness and cognition, wants and desires…  And what they really desire is to be killed and put in our bellies.

That never sat well with me. But like many things, the thought never fully bloomed, until today when I came across this blog – Suicide Food.

The blog defines the issue like this:

What is Suicide Food? Suicide Food is any depiction of animals that act as though they wish to be consumed. Suicide Food actively participates in or celebrates its own demise. Suicide Food identifies with the oppressor. Suicide Food is a bellwether of our decadent society. Suicide Food says, “Hey! Come on! Eating meat is without any ethical ramifications! See, Mr. Greenjeans? The animals aren’t complaining! So what’s yourproblem?” Suicide Food is not funny

 

Here are some of the images featured in the blog posts. In addition to examples, there are lots of helpful links and news.

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Indian Women Teach Us All Feminism

In the wake of the horrific gang rape (*tw) that resulted in a young woman’s death last week in India, major protests have been going on, in the face of police violence, in spite of a justice system stacked against the women… In protest after protest women are standing up to the violence against them. I have no words to describe how I feel reading about this and seeing the images, I am in awe of them, and I don’t understand why we all aren’t out in the street right now. Really lacking the words, so here are some pictures.

See more amazing pictures of protests and vigils

Protests with Police 121222042816-02-india-protest-1222-horizontal-gallery 121223120022-01-india-protest-police-tear-gas-1223-horizontal-gallery 121228052457-01-india-1228-horizontal-gallery india_delhi_rape_protests_dec_2012_6 TOPSHOTS-INDIA-RAPE-PROTEST india_delhi_rape_protests_dec_2012_6 (2)

François Brunelle’s “I am not a look-alike” Doppelganger Series

Canadian photographer François Brunelle photographed a series of people who look uncannily alike. His subjects are not related, and are in fact total strangers. The series, photographed in countries around the world, is entitled, ‘I’m Not a Look-Alike!’, and is the result of the photographer’s obsession with the idea that everyone on earth has a doppelganger.

Not all the pairings were successful in my view, but some are OMG quality. Here’s a sampling.

Francois Brunelle Dopplegangers

Francois Brunelle Look-Alike

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Dopplegangers

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   FB-Doppelgangers-14…….francois-brunelle-jumeau-double-2-600x422

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Plus-Sized Lady Mocks American Apparel’s XL Model Contest – And WINS!

This post I’m reblogging was from about a year ago, but I just discovered it today, and now I’m in feminist love with Nancy Upton!!

Here is American Apparel’s sore loser response:

“It’s a shame that your project attempts to discredit the positive intentions of our challenge based on your personal distaste for our use of light-hearted language, and that “bootylicous” was too much for you to handle. While we may be a bit TOO inspired by Beyoncé, and do have a tendency to occasionally go pun-crazy, we try not to take ourselves too seriously around here. I wonder if you had taken just a moment to imagine that this campaign could actually be well intentioned, and that my team and I are not out to offend and insult women, would you have still behaved in the same way, mocking the confident and excited participants who put themselves out there?”

“Oh—and regarding winning the contest, while you were clearly the popular choice, we have decided to award the prizes to other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out, and whom we will be proud to have representing our company.”

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After the story hit the blogosphere, Nancy and the friend who photographed her were invited to tour American Apparel’s plant and meet with the team who created the contest. You can read about it in her
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American Apparel’s XL modeling contest ended yesterday. There was a clear leader in the contest, but she was actually making fun of American Apparel’s belittling view of plus-sized models. Here are her entry photos.

American Apparel’s “THE NEXT BIG THING” (Emphasis on big, if you will.)

Think you are the Next BIG Thing?
Calling curvy ladies everywhere! Our best-selling Disco Pant (and around 10 other sexy styles) are now available in size XL, for those of us who need a little extra wiggle room where it counts. We’re looking for fresh faces (and curvaceous bods) to fill these babies out. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next XLent model, send us photos of you and your junk to back it up. Just send us two recent photographs of yourself, one that clearly shows your face and one of your body. We’ll select a winner to be flown out to our Los Angeles headquarters to star in your own bootylicious photoshoot. Runners up will win an enviable assortment of our favorite new styles in XL! Show us what you’re workin’ with!
 via Jezebel

From her tumblr: “My name is Nancy Upton. I’m a size 12 and wanted to show American Apparel my fresh face (and full figure). My good friend Shannon Skloss came over to take some “booty-ful” photos of me… but I just couldn’t stop eating.”

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Plus-Sized Lady Mocks American Apparel’s XL Model Contest.

Unlikely Animal Friendships

I’m in the mood for some stuff that makes me feel good! 

(Stay tuned for more overly cute animal pictures coming soon…)

Cow-Leopard

The leopard crept through the sugar cane on an October night in 2002, and found a cow tied in a field, the way villagers keep their livestock in this dusty farming community. The cat didn’t harm the cow, but villagers worried about its predatory instincts, since they, too, were sometimes in the fields at night. They asked the Forest Department to remove the leopard  to a wildlife sanctuary nearby.

And so the trappers came, and soon found themselves observers of an unexpected interaction. The cat returned to the area nightly, but not as a predator. Instead, she came to be embraced. She approached the cow tentatively, rubbed her head against the cow’s head, then settled against her body. The cow would lick the cat, starting with her head and neck, cleaning whatever she could reach as the cat wriggled in apparent delight. If the cow was asleep when the leopard arrived, the visitor would gently awaken her with a nuzzle to the leg before lying down and pressing close. Other cattle stood nearby, but the leopard ignored them. The chosen cow seemed pleased to give the leopard her nightly bath. For almost two months the cat showed up around eight in the evening and cuddled with the cow until the first hint of sunrise.
The cat stayed away for several weeks. Then on the last night the animals were seen together, the leopard visited nine times before wandering away from her friend for good. Rohit Vyas suggests that the leopard had been young and motherless when it first strayed into the village, using agricultural fields as a pathway from a distant forest. The leopard sought the cow’s warmth for a time, but once she reached adulthood, her need for motherly affection diminished. She moved on. Even with such a plausible explanation, “This relationship was unimaginable,” says Rohit. “We were all spellbound by it. Who would expect a carnivore and hunter like a leopard to show love and affection toward its prey?” ♥
Source – The Times Of India & Unlikely Friendships
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Cat-Birds

Nimra, a one-year-old cat, plays with chicks in Amman (2007). Nimra took care of seven chicks after their mother’s death.

Frog-Mouse

Mouse rides on the back of a frog in floodwaters in the northern Indian city of Lucknow

Monkey-Dog

A monkey sleeps next to a dog at Lacor camp for internally displaced persons in northern Uganda

Tiger-Pigs


 

 

 

A tiger cub climbs over piglets at a park in Guangzhou, south China’s Guangdong. The tiger cub was abandoned by its mother and was raised by a sow.

Cat-Mouse

 

 

 

 

Auan, a seven-year-old female cat,
licks the body of Jeena, a three-year-old male mouse, at a farmer’s house in Phichit, north of Bangkok. Auan found Jeena three years before the photo (2002) and has been his playmate and protector, including warding off dogs, since then.

Dina Goldstein’s “In The Dollhouse”

bedroommagazine

My favorite photographer of the day, Dina Goldstein, features her latest project, which follows B, a “superdoll” and K, her partner in their home life…

bathroommirrorBreakfast1….DiningAloneD

That’s just a teaser. Check out the whole story line on the project site.

(And if you missed it, check out the post about the project through which I discovered Goldstein, Fallen Princesses.)