Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tigerlily Cat Rescue

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In my opinion, this is an example of a group that practices care-based ecofeminism by adopting an ethics of care and applying it to the nonhuman world.

If you are ever considering adopting a cat, keep Tigerlily in mind.

Thanksgiving: The forgotten holiday

Before November slips away, I want to reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving, which I believe is the forgotten holiday.

It seems that Thanksgiving has become a day of gorging to be gotten through quickly in order to go out the next day and launch the Christmas season by supporting capitalism in a frenzy of door-busting and deal-hunting.

This view steals the meaning away from what should be a cozy day of relaxation and reflection with family and friends.

For Chris and me, Thanksgiving is that kind of day. This year was our second vegetarian feast in a row. This year we made green beans and potatoes at home, along with a Tofurky roast, and enjoyed a Harvest Salad, cornbread and sweet potato stuffing, and a vegan pumpkin pie from Whole Foods. We also enjoyed the special holiday cider from Rochester Cider Mill, made from Golden Delicious apples. It was delicious and cruelty-free.

There is so much emphasis on the consumption of turkey meat. In fact, I was hard-pressed to find an ecard to share with friends and family that did not depict the turkey ritual. I finally found a design with a harvest of pumpkins, corn, and fruit. Another cruelty-free victory, even if it is superficial.

I thanked the great earth goddess for providing bounty to be enjoyed by all earthlings.

After our vegetarian feast, we felt full and satisfied, not over-stuffed and bloated, with clear conscience clear of brutality and domination.

It still feels great.

Blessed be.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The holidays according to Forbes

While at my therapist's office last week, I found the winter edition of Forbes Woman in the waiting room.

The print edition of Forbes Woman is poly-bagged and sent to Forbes' 125,000 female subscribers four times a year according to foliomag.com http://foliomag.com/2009/forbes-launches-women-s-magazine-web-site. It also has a link on Forbes' website http://www.forbes.com/forbeswoman

There was one article in this edition that I found amusing -- prepare for some initial sarcasm here.

In "The Outsourced Holiday," Lauren Lipton has the following tips for today's working woman:

"Hire a dog walker to exercise Rover on weekends (and busy social evenings.)"

"Ask your housekeeper to come in twice as often as usual."

"Hire a private or in-store personal shopper to handle corporate gifts."

"Hire a personal chef to grate potatoes for latkes, whip up your family's cookie recipe ... or prepare a premade holiday brunch to heat up."

"Hire a landscaping company to put up the outdoor decor. "

"Enlist a personal organizer to unpack tree ornaments and untangle the dreaded lights."

I found this hilarious. Who has access to this kind of help? Obviously women who read Forbes.

"That stuff is ridiculous," said my husband, Chris, when I shared some of the above items with him. "But, in a household with two professionals, it's certainly possible."

When I spoke with Ruth Seymour, PhD, who teaches feature writing and news writing in OU's journalism department, she had a different perspective. She didn't think the article was snooty at all. She told me how she found a wonderful woman to help with her cleaning. The service really helped when she was a single mom, so she made concessions in her budget to cover the expense.

Thinking back to my own circumstances, when I was single, I hired a lawn service to cut my grass once a week, perform spring and fall cleanups, and apply fertilizer. I could depend on the lawn being cut every Friday, and it was a relief.

So, maybe it's more about trade-offs and peace of mind -- within reason, and our budgets, of course.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Of vampires and feminists

The recent release of the second film in the “Twilight” saga, “New Moon,” keeps the hype surrounding this modern vampire series going strong.

As a journalist, I read, and watch, all kinds of things to keep up with current trends. After reading the first two books in the "Twilight" series, I am unimpressed with the writing of Stephenie Meyer, although I know many women, young and not so young, who think she’s great.

What struck me was the clunky dialog. To me, it just does not sound like young people talking.

Before you get all defensive, horror writer and story-telling god Stephen King agrees with me. In an interview published earlier this year, King praised the writing talents of “Harry Potter” series author J.K. Rowling, but was less than kind to Meyer.

Read the interview here: http://www.msnbc.com/id/29001524

Ms. Magazine published an interesting article this spring on the feminist perspective of “Twilight.”

Read and online excerpt here: http://www.msmagazine.com/spring2009/twilight.asp

I asked two of my fellow feminist theory students, Victoria and Sonya, what they think about Twilight from a feminist perspective:

Sonya said the books are better than the movies, but finds it troubling that the main character, Bella Swan, “gave away her whole life to become a vampire.”

Victoria agrees, calling Bella, “stupid for giving up her freedom for a guy.”

According to Ms., there are better books for young women to be reading; books with significant feminist content. The printed article included a website: http://ameliabloomer.wordpress.com/

Believe me -- I realize we all need entertainment and an occasional escape from reality. But, if you like the vampire genre, you will love the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris even more than “Twilight.” http://www.charlaineharris.com/

Harris has written several continuing series with different characters, but the Stackhouse series, the basis for HBO’s “True Blood” series, is the most popular.

However, Sookie is not a model feminist either. I’m not selling this series on the basis of feminist perspective. But, the books are great escape reading. Try one and discover what clever writing and colorful character development reads like.

Yuletide @ Yule Love It

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My friend, Iris, hosted her Fourth Annual Yuletide Shopping Tea at her lavender farm in Leonard, Mich. on November 13-14.

Be sure to visit the farm in the summer when the fields are in full bloom, it's wonderful.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Electronic Portfolios for Students and Educators

This is a review of an online workshop I attended on Wednesday, Nov. 18. for my JRN 411 class. Although I was not overly impressed with the workshop itself, the application might be worth looking into. -- CWR


Adobe’s Acrobat (current version Acrobat 9) is probably one of the most misunderstood and versatile applications available today, according to Steve Adler, an Adobe Acrobat specialist. He conducted an online workshop for students and educators to demonstrate Acrobat’s electronic portfolio module.

Maybe Adler was having a bad day. The sound and visuals did not always cooperate during his presentation. As it turned out, the focus of the workshop was on promotion of the product rather than on building an electronic portfolio.

The seminar was also peppered with such glib tidbits as, “PDF is a desktop revolution,” “Acrobat loves all and serves all,” and “PDF is the DNA of technology.”

Yet, there were some points that at least familiarized the participants with Adobe’s Portfolio Initiative to encourage students and educators to connect with new channels of communication and incorporate creativity. The portfolio module can be used to organize and collaborate on academic research. It can include audio, video, blogs and more.

Adler referred to the digital portfolio as using a “container approach” with PDF files. He explained how PDF acts like a wrapper and Adobe Acrobat supplies the tools to make the project richer while leaving the component files unchanged.

Collaboration is possible by email, live, or through Acrobat.com – “cloud technology that works like a repository and includes robust security features.” What’s unique is that the comments are owned by those who make them.

A valuable feature is the redaction tool that can hide personal or sensitive information within the document.

Adler quickly walked through the steps involved in building an electronic portfolio from scratch. This would have been the most useful part of the program and should have had the most concentration.

Unfortunately, it fell short.

Adler demonstrated how simple it is to set up a portfolio and then drag files and folders into it. (Actually, Acrobat makes copies of the files.) Then, it’s possible to add a welcome screen, basically a digital cover letter, and select a color scheme.

The end result is document that can be easily “repurposed” to show the growth of its creator’s work over a lifetime. It is truly a living document.

The introduction of this package was impressive, but it would have been more beneficial for Adobe to spend more time on instruction and less time on sales.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Going Veg" is Easier Than You Think

My husband, Chris, and I have been vegetarians since May 2008.

We have always felt strongly about animals. I even had my own rescue and adoption practice. The more we learned, and the more we interacted with the animals, we came to realize that you cannot support the cruelty, oppression, and domination that go along with eating them. This prompted us to make the dietary change.

“(Now ) I can eat my dinner and nobody gets killed,” Chris often says. “No more animals will die so that I can eat.”

Before I go further, I need to explain the difference between vegetarian and vegan. They are not the same.

Vegetarians are primarily concerned with what they eat. Dairy products and eggs are allowed on a vegetarian diet.

Vegans are stricter and do not consume any animal products. This extends to their clothing, shoes, and cosmetics in addition to food.

“I am vegetarian, but I hope to be vegan soon,” Dr. Laura Landolt, an assistant professor in OU’s political science department, told her feminist theory class, “It’s really hard to give up cheese … but I’ve done it before.”

It is easier than ever to make the “veg transition” thanks to products known as “fabulous fakes.” MorningStar Farms http://www.morningstarfarms.com/ makes delicious vegetarian versions of burgers, sausage links, “chik’n patties,” and “chik’n nuggets.” Both MorningStar and Boca Burger offer soy crumbles that can be substituted for mean in soups and sauces.

Amy’s http://www.amys.com/ makes a line of vegetarian and vegan products (read the labels.) This company offers many frozen entrĂ©es that only take a few minutes to prepare in the microwave. Amy’s also makes soups. Amy’s products are available at Meijer and Target. Start with soup, follow with an entrĂ©e, add a green salad, and a piece of fruit for dessert. It’s easy.

Study vegetarianism; see if it speaks to you. Try going meatless once a week. Even if you can’t do it perfectly, every little bit helps to curb the cruelty, domination, and oppression, which extends to women, children, and the planet.

Earthlings: Make the Connection

This week, on Monday, I completed the most difficult assignment I have ever had to do – and I want you to do it too.

Dr. Laura Landolt assigned me and the members of my Feminist Theory Class (WGS 320) to watch the documentary “Earthlings.” http://www.earthlings.com/ The film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, directed by Shaun Monson, with music by Moby.

Dr. Landolt told us the film was difficult and disturbing to watch – that’s why she made it an individual assignment prior to class discussion. “I can’t make you watch it (as a class,)” she said, “Look away when you have to or just listen to it.”

“Earthlings” is about how humans depend on, and use, animals in our lives. It addresses five areas: pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and science.

With graphic images, combined with haunting music and thought-provoking narration, “Earthlings” illustrates the exploitation, cruelty, and oppression involved in these industries. If you think this is just another animal rights film, think again. “Earthlings” will move you and change you even if you are not an “animal person.”

“Earthlings” left a cold, tight feeling in my solar plexus, it made me cry, it made me angry and disgusted with the human race. It haunted my sleep and stayed with me through the next day.
It’s still with me -- and will be for years to come.

My husband, Chris, did not want to watch the film. “We don’t need to see the cruelty to have compassion,” he said, after finding me upset when he came home from work.

But, I forced myself to watch the whole film and did not look away. Because, as Gretchen Wyler http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/gretchen_wyler/ said, “We must not refuse with our eyes what they (animals) must endure with their bodies.” I am not celebrating the completion of my assignment as proof of how strong or how tough I am. I did it because I believe it’s important to look, to get out of denial.

An earthling is one who inhabits the earth – not just human beings. Other life forms have just as much right to be here as we do.

So what does this have to do with feminism? “ I assigned the film to illustrate how all the “-isms” (sexism, racism, ageism, speciesism, naturism, etc.) are connected,” Landolt said. She went on to explain how animals are objectified, and, by connection, so are women and nature.

Leo Tolstoy said, “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.” What that means to me is that we will not have peace as long as these brutal practices continue, because, by extension, we do the same things to each other.'

“Earthlings.” See it. Think about it. Make the connection.

Do Fish have feelings? The answer might surprise you. Check it out at http://www.nofishing.net/kids/html

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Avatar Cherie


Damn! She looks better than I do. Check out my avatar. She's got attitude -- don't you think? So easy and fun to create, I did it between classes at http://www.mywebface.com/. Thanks to Elizabeth S. for pointing me there.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Equal Opportunity WGS

Benjamin Lemon, 19, is one of two male majors in Oakland University’s Women and Gender Studies program http://www.oakland.edu/ouws. When I first spotted him at the WSG Fall Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 12, I am embarrassed to admit my curiosity was mixed with suspicion.

So, I asked him to, “Tell me why, as a male, you are majoring in women’s studies – and be honest.” I must admit he handled my challenge with grace and honesty.

Benjamin wants to be a counselor some day and believes the knowledge he gains in the WGS program will lead him to a better understanding of women’s issues that will help him in his practice.

The most surprising thing he’s learned is that the program is that it is not all about man bashing, although that perception is still alive on campus.

Yet, attitudes are changing, if even on a small scale. Now that the program’s male enrollment has grown from one student to two, “we’ve experienced a 100% increase,” says the program’s director, Jo Reger.

As the luncheon progressed, and Benjamin’s sincerity continued to surface, I realized that we need more young people like him who want to foster cooperation and understanding between the sexes. Here is somebody who really “gets it.”

Anthony Paletta asks, “Where are the men for Women’s Studies?” check it out at: http://www.mindingthecampus.com/forum//2008/04/where_are_the_men_for_womens_s.html

Ecofeminism in Action

I am an ecofeminist www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecofeminism. I say this loud and proud. I believe women have a special connection to the earth and nature that leads us to emerge as advocates and activists for the planet, as well as its human, nonhuman, and inert inhabitants.

On Saturday, Nov. 14, I visited my friend Iris Underwood at Yule Love It Lavender Farm http://www.yuleloveitlavender.com in Leonard, Mich., during her Third Annual Yuletide Shopping Tea. Yule Love It is Iris’ organic vision that began in 2006. In my mind, Iris is an ecofeminist and the lavender farm is a realization of ecofeminism in action.

Yet, as I spoke with Iris and her assistant, Deb, in the farm’s gift shop, it became evident that the marriage of the prefix “eco” with the word “feminism” is a concept that evokes strong sentiments.

Deb associates feminism with man bashing. “I hear so much of it, (from women) everywhere,” she says. She believes that men and women should work together to heal the planet instead of maintaining the “he vs. she” dichotomy associated with feminism.

Deb’s reaction is a common one because of the feminism’s negative connotations. There is even debate among ecofeminists as to whether fostering women’s connection to nature is beneficial in terms of making social gains and challenging traditional gender roles.

Iris strongly believes that women should maintain a connection to the earth and nature. She hands me a book by MaryJane Butters, the mother of the Farmgirl Sisterhood http://www.maryjanesfarm.org/. Through here books, Butters serves as Iris’ on-going inspiration for the farm, and her way of life.

“Study this woman, Cherie,” she tells me. “I challenge any academician to say she is not her own woman.”

I will, Iris. But, there is no doubt in my mind that women’s connection to nature should not only be reaffirmed, but celebrated and validated.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why say, I advocate feminism?

"Am I a feminist?" That's the question I've been asking myself this semester as I study feminist theory.

That is why I agree with bell hooks that it is better to say, "I advocate feminism," rather than, "I am a feminist."

I am learning that feminism is not just one thing, or defined one way.

If we say, "I advocate feminism," it opens the way for a conversation without evoking old or stereotypical connotations. It allows room to address other issues such as racism, sexism, and ageism also. This is a more inclusive viewpoint that we can implement in everyday life.

All issues are connected and people are connected by them.

When it comes to feminism, one size does not fit all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Welcome to my blog. I hope you find it a mind-blowing, eye-opening, or at least thought-provoking experience.