Author Archives: Brenda

Doin’ Thangs

It’s been three months since my last post. The new year hit and away I went. For the past three months I have been quite busy. With each new adventure I vowed to blog about it and yet here we are three months later and zero posts to show for it. So in order to wipe the slate clean I’m giving you a good old fashioned roundup.

January:

  • I attended my very first Con, Arisia. Arisia is said to be “New England’s largest and most diverse science fiction and fantasy convention.” Now since I have never been to a Con, I can’t say whether this is the most diverse in the area. But if it is, that’s not saying much. Don’t get me wrong, although that was disappointing I did attend some amazing panels. I attended panels on zombies, vampires and Hunger Games-some of my favorite things. A few others that I really enjoyed were shame on slut-shaming and race and Identity in fandom. The feminism panel let much to be desired since it consisted of 3 white women and a white male, none of whom knew who Kimberle Crenshaw is (I reminded them from the audience). My favorite panel was on respectability politics. Not only did I get introduced to Daniel Jose Older, but I got to meet Mikki Kendall in person!!! All in all it was a pretty cool three days. I got to let all my nerd hang out and I was left thinking: how do I get on a panel next year?
  • I became an abortion doula. I first heard about abortion doula work in 2007 while living in NY. I knew immediately it was something I wanted to be a part of. I have been a reproductive justice activist for many years. Being an abortion doula seemed to be an important and much needed way to put my activism into direct action. Several months ago at the New England Women’s Center Conference during a self care workshop, the facilitator mentioned that she was starting the Boston Doula Project and I knew immediately this was my chance to get involved. The training was great. It gave me an opportunity to meet a wonderful group of people who felt as strongly about issues of reproductive justice as I did. The organizers made the distinction between reproductive rights, reproductive health and reproductive justice. This was a really important distinction that set the framework for the remainder of the training. I feel lucky to be a part of this organization from the ground up. I look forward to helping people and doing outreach in Boston about this work as part of the Public Programs team.

February:

  • I found my dress. I won’t go into too many details since my fiance will likely read this. It was a pretty easy process in that I had a clear vision of what I wanted. Some stores were better than others (nicer than others) but I refused to be swayed from my vision. In the end I found the one and it gave me the feeling I was waiting for. The moment I saw myself in the mirror I burst into tears because it was exactly how I want to look on my wedding day. It may be more traditional than one would expect from a feminist (yes, it’s white), however it is 100% me and that’s all that matters.

March:

  • I attended the Five College Queer Gender and Sexuality Conference. I attended this conference as a presenter, co-leading a workshop as part of the Hollaback! Boston team. It was a fantastic weekend. There were many engaging speaking including Tristan Taormino and Jiz Lee. The panels were really engaging. My two favorites were Queering Pregnancy and Media Representations of Queer Women of Color. Although the whole weekend was great, hands down the best part was the performance given by Darkmatter. Their slam poetry made me laugh and cry. I managed to grab a clip for you.

Needless to say I have been quite a busy bee. What have you all been up to in 2014?

 

ICYMI: My Interview with The Marriage Project

My friend Chanel runs a blog called The Marriage Project where she investigates, “a decision that is deeply personal and deeply political.” I have been reading her interviews for a while and once I became engaged, knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. My interview with Chanel is Reflection 118: “I will NEVER be Mrs. anything.”

Feminist Says Yes!-Step One: Find A Venue

For many couples I’m sure choosing a wedding venue is purely a fun and exciting time. But for a couple that is also funding the wedding on their own (mostly), with a very large guest list, it can be a very daunting task. Don’t get me wrong, it is super cool to have a vision of the day and try to find a space that fits that. At the same time it can be exhausting and disappointing, REAL TALK!

We visited one venue where the male wedding planner didn’t look at Jake when speaking to US. Oh and did I mention he also made an inappropriate gay comment, probably should’ve told him my fiance has two dads, at least maybe then he would have faked decency.

I have no doubt we will find a great space. We still have plenty of places to look at. We have also met some lovely people along the way. In the meantime I’m not going to front like it’s all rainbows and glitter. Make no mistake, the wedding industrial complex is real. I have to hike up my feminist panties and dive in fists a blazin’.

Feminist Says Yes!

Almost two weeks ago, my partner Jake proposed. As a feminist I am aware of the history of marriage, what it meant for women in this country and the ways in which it continues to be used to create second class citizens. I do not agree that it should be the primary, legal form of relationships. However, I know with every ounce of my being that I have chosen the right partner for me. I know the history of the institution I am about to become a part of and I couldn’t be happier because I am entering it with full knowledge of what it is and how to make it mine.

The proposal was everything I could have hoped for. I was surprised at a coffee shop in my hometown with family and friends. He then proceeded to sing a song he had written for me that led into the “will you marry me?” It was perfect. 1385040_833742770745_543538592_n

The ring, a purple (my favorite color) sapphire in white gold, was more than just a beautiful symbolic gesture, The ring was purchased at Laura Preshong. Laura Preshong is a jeweler in Boston that makes eco friendly, socially responsible and conflict free pieces. By purchasing the ring there Jake chose something that symbolizes not only who we are as a couple but the kind of future and life we want to have together.

Now the planning begins. A Jewish wedding for Jake’s background with a Latino flair to honor mine. But also a feminist wedding. We will try our best to make it as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. So listen up friends, for the next year this blog will be semi-hijacked by my wedding plans. Why? Because other feminists fall in love and want to enter into this problematic yet wonderful institution known as marriage and I want to throw my two cents into the ring of how to create a feminist wedding. It won’t be easy but here we go….

Inspiration in the Form of HOLLA::Revolution

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Sisterhood as a form of resistance~ Nefertiti Martin

On July 25th I attended HOLLA::Revolution. It’s been a month since the event and I am still filled with inspiration and motivation. HollaRev was Hollaback’s first international conference to end street harassment. It featured Hollaback! site leaders, feminists, activists and academics from around the world. To see a rundown of the amazing speakers, see my last post with my twitter timeline recap. It was not only a day I’ll never forget but a day I needed.

Sometimes being a feminist, especially a feminist of color, can be isolating and exhausting. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one thinking about these issues or nitpicking at the latest sexist commercial. Having an online community certainly helps. Being able to read my daily feminist blog updates or check twitter is definitely a reminder that I’m not alone in this fight. However, that human contact, that direct sisterhood cannot be matched. The feeling of empowerment I feel when I walk into a room full of women who care about the issues I care about and aren’t afraid to shout about it, is incredible. And this is exactly how I felt walking into HollaRev.

Although each speaker was great and brought something unique and powerful to the table, there are a few I need to highlight. This hilarious video by comedian Sasheer Zamata was shown:

It proved yet again that feminists do have a sense of humor.

I then had the pleasure to hear Jennifer Pozner‘s presentation on Media Representations of Street Harassment. As a long time admirer of Jennifer’s work I was totally geeked out. She did not disappoint. I spend much of my time deconstructing media and pop culture (damn you women’s studies). It is a topic I enjoy delving into. Jennifer’s presentation was not only entertaining but informative. How had I never realized how creepy The Way You Make Me Feel video is?!

Ana ‘Rokafella’ Garcia hip hop dancer/choreographer from NYC took the stage. She talked about the misogyny in hip hop and creating a space for women in the music and dance spheres that she loves so much. She spoke specifically about the sexist language often heard in reggaeton music. As a Puerto Rican woman, I have heard many a disgusting reggaeton track. She then performed a reggaeton song of her own, making her voice heard in the genre. Check out her awesomeness:

I couldn’t leave this post without mentioning the one and only Samhita Mukhopadhyay. Samhita is the executive editor at Feministing and a digital strategist at Purpose. She spoke on the importance of online movement building. As I mentioned, this is an important topic to me because often it feels as though online is where I feel my feminist community the most. She made sure to note, however, that online activism can and should be taken off the web. Her presentation was wonderful and really legitimizes the work I do both on and offline.

Change does not happen overnight. But in the 19 (!) years that I’ve been an activist, I have seen progress. As important, I have made my voice heard. Silence is the goal of the oppressor. As Julie Lalonde from Hollaback! Ottawa said, “To be a feminist is to be surrounded by haters.” This conference was another reminder to keep fighting and that the fight matters. Last week I became the Outreach Coordinator for Hollaback! Boston. Now it is guaranteed that I will continue to HOLLA!!

Holla::Revolution–Hollaback! First International Conference

In just two days I will be attending this:

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The description for the event is as follows, “ Hollaback! will provide the platform for leading feminist thinkers, activists and performers, including our very own Hollaback! site leaders from around the world, to give inspiring and empowering multimedia talks, performances and readings on subjects including ending street harassment, the future of feminism, online organizing, movement building and more!” It’s basically a feminist’s dream. I had absolutely no choice but to take a day off from work.

I first heard about Hollaback! several years ago when I had the pleasure of hearing Emily May, co-founder, speak at a feminist conference in NYC. Immediately it seemed like something I should be involved in but it never happened. Recently I attended a Hollaback! workshop here in Boston and immediately clicked with Site Director Britni. It is finally time for me to step up. I’m helping with some cool upcoming events that I’ll be sure to post more about soon.

I couldn’t be more excited to return to NYC on Thursday for a day of feminism and speaking truth to power. I look forward to updating everyone on the day of awesomeness that will be Holla::Revolution.

SPC Feminist Teach-In Feedback

On Saturday, August 13th I attended a Feminist Teach-In hosted by an organization called Stop Porn Culture (SPC). Now I have to say at the outset that as I feminist I agree that porn and it’s infiltration into mainstream culture is a problem and is damaging to women and children as well as men. However, I do not think that the complete abolition of pornography is the solution. With that being said, I knew that attending this event would provide some opportunities for me to disagree with people, which I am always down to do especially if it is productive. Unfortunately, what I was not prepared for was the outright dismissive comments and frankly in my opinion un-feminist commentary.

The event began with a talk on Radical vs. Liberal Feminism and Why it Matters. As a women’s studies major, this was a very women’s studies 101 talk however I did appreciate it because a refresher is always good and one shouldn’t assume everyone at a conference is up to par on the theoretical frameworks attached to movements. As a radical feminist organization SPC follows in the vein of Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon, both women I admire, in their condemnation of pornography. Towards the end of this discussion I asked Lori Watson, the presenter, if she could talk about Sex Positive feminism and its response to pornography. Although I do not agree with all aspects of Sex Positive feminism, I thought it was a viewpoint that should be addressed in the discussion and that the speaker would be remiss to leave it out. After I asked, the speaker used air quotes around the term Sex Positive feminists. Instead of simply pointing out the viewpoint, she seemed completely dismissive of the movement in a way that she did not do around Liberal feminism. Isn’t there a way to recognize women’s sexual autonomy while still understanding the patriarchal structure that harms women and that we internalize?! I think so. What is even stranger to me is that apparently so does SPC. While checking out the website under their FAQs they state that yes there can be feminist pornography. Unfortunately that viewpoint was never once expressed or mentioned during the discussions I attended.

The second talk given by Rachel Ivey was on Reproductive Rights and the War Against Women. It was excellent! Her presentation was eye-opening and informative. She broke down the pro-choice narrative and discussed which areas worked and which ones we needed to rethink as activists. She did not put down anyone fighting to oppose laws but instead championed our need to use “a diversity of tactics.” It was all going so well, and then the discussion was opened up for questions. And quite honestly to my surprise the speaker was bombarded by anti choicers. I won’t take the time to talk about why pro-life feminism is not possible. For more on this and why me saying this does not make me a hypocrite read The Myth of “Pro-Life Feminism.” I will say the speaker was attacked by these women but did a great job of basically saying thank you for your thoughts but we’re going to have to agree to disagree. She remained calm although I can imagine she was probably seething on the inside as I was.

The third discussion called Race, Racism and the Second-and Third-Wave Feminism had me super psyched. I mean this is my thing, race and racism within feminists movements and intersectionality. It started out pretty well with the speaker Gail Dines describing the different feminist movements and how they have never made room for women of color. She stated, “the empowerment of white women was on the backs of women of color.” I smiled, nodded. She put into words a major issue I have with Third-Wave choice feminism being that no other movement claims that it is individual to each person. For instance, she pointed out that one would ever say the labor movement is something individual to each worker, why can we say that about feminism. And she was right, if we accept the notion that feminism is what any person says it is, then we would have to accept pro-life feminism as real (which it is not). But then she threw the baby out with the bath water and began talking about “those third-wavers” and throwing out prominent Third-Wave feminists names, many whom I love, and dismissing their ideas. My reaction: wait, what?!! This again, calling discussion number 1 on repeat. But that wasn’t the kicker. She then ended her discussion of how feminism has often excluded women of color by criticizing A WOMAN OF COLOR FEMINIST. Don’t get me wrong, she has every right to discuss how her and Melissa Harris-Perry disagree, but to end this topic with this was not good look. We acknowledge how difficult it can be for women of color to identify as feminists and here is a prominent WOC feminist who openly discusses her feminism on television. She should have been used in the discussion as an example of how some women of color are able to embrace feminism, period.

We broke for lunch and I was already emotionally exhausted. Luckily the last two discussions I attended Patriarchy vs. Planet Earth and Male Violence: A Cultural Endemic were great. Although during the Male Violence discussion half the people in the room said they hadn’t heard of the Steubenville case and at that point I was done. It wasn’t so much that I gave up 3 hours early, it was more so that I realized that these were not people that were going to aid me in the struggle I was fighting. We all have our issues, the battles we choose to take on. If you truly embrace intersectionality, as I do, you can recognize that participation in one part of the struggle will help other areas. So I’ll let them work on theirs and I’ll work on mine and hopefully will meet at equality in the middle.

Feminist theories, like any other theories must be put to action. They need to be tested. To continue to operate under theories that have not proven effective does not allow for progressive change in the movement. I can honor my fore-mothers and yet move forward. Maybe I should have stuck it out. Maybe I should have raised my hand and said more. At the end of the day, I’m saving my energy to fight the patriarchy.

From Twitter to the Blogosphere

I’ve known for some time that 140 characters and instagram alone were not enough space for my musings, criticisms and occasional rambling. But sometimes you really need an impetus to kick your butt into high gear. Before I knew it, July turned into feminist events central and I realized I better get this blog going or I would be spending a whole lot of time in the future wishing I had.

So here we are at Boricua Feminist the blog (thanks to a whole lot of help and encouragement from my partner). A space to call my own. To discuss feminism in all its glory. To (still) talk about Buffy because it is and always will be the greatest TV show. EVER. Where I can critique pop culture as much as praise it. Deconstructing the patriarchy and dismantling racism are some of my favorite things to do.

In the end it’s all me, a 30 something Latina from Northampton, current Bostonian, MHC alum, Women’s Studies major to the bone, law school grad who works in higher ed but refuses to let her feminist activist be silenced *deep breathe* here we go….