Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Be Ignorant, Be Silent, Be Thick: Melissa Harris-Perry's Wellesley College Commencement Speech

Many of you have probably heard your fair share of graduation speeches over the last few weeks, but I couldn't resist posting this video of Melissa Harris-Perry's speech at Wellesley's graduation this year.

Some of my favorite parts:

"Don't nod and smile unless you're happy and agree."

"Don’t let your voice do that high-pitched thing at the end that sounds like you’re asking a question when really you’re making a statement."

"You’re going to miss a new syllabus. You’re going to miss someone handing you a piece of paper full of things you didn’t know about; the exquisite moment of utter ignorance just before the learning begins."

"Ignorance is not your enemy. Only complacency with ignorance is to be resisted."

"Never become so enamored of your own smarts that you stop signing up for life’s hard classes."

"Women’s education is very much about finding your voice, about sharing your ideas freely, about battling the boys. But there is an enormous difference between being silenced and choosing to be silent. When you choose to be silent, to quiet it down, to listen, you’ve actually exercised the other part of voice – the part that makes your voice sound like something."

"In a world that teaches women to be thin, be thick. Thin women stand on the sidelines, they’re critical, they’re removed, they’re barely committed. But thick people pitch tents in a park, with the belief that social action can change an entire global system of economic injustice. Thin citizens vote. Thick citizens run for office. Thick leaders listen, learn, and correct. Thin women look great in bikinis. Thick women look terrific in history books."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Graduation!

Happy graduation B!
So much happened this past week!

On Saturday, we went to a friend's graduation party and Brett's parents came into town. On Sunday, we drove up to Watch Hill, Rhode Island to eat ice cream and stroll along the beach. On Monday, Brett graduated from Yale and won lots of awards! We now have official documentation on fancy Yale paper that he is, in fact, the smartest man in the world :-). On Thursday, I had my first job interview for an ATL-based job. And on Friday, I had two big projects due at work, we went to a party in a greenhouse, and we said goodbye to some friends.

It was a whirlwind to be sure. We were so excited for the long, relaxing weekend, which we spent eating homemade guacamole, checking out some museums, sleeping in, doing some yoga, watching Law and Order: SVU, and reading new books.

I didn't post much this past week with everything going on, but I'm really looking forward to spending some more time writing over the next few weeks and months.

And Brett: Happy graduation! You worked hard, grew tremendously as a scholar, wrote some awesome papers, have possibly cultivated the seeds of a really exciting and innovative dissertation topic, and never forgot to include women and the marginalized in your work. You even wrote an entire paper on menstrual blood in Leviticus! I couldn't be more proud of you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

[Katelyn] The Last Name Project

In this new series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique, we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com.   

The following post is from Katelyn, a theologian, ethicist, writer, and FEMINIST. She blogs about theology, gender, sexuality, and women's issues over at Celestial Fig Trees (and sometimes writes about cooking, too). 

Although I am not married, I have spent years thinking about whether I am going to keep my name when I do get married. For most of my life, aesthetic has been the primary deciding point for me; does the name flow off the tongue appropriately? I remember that when I was about five years old, I just knew that I was going to marry my best friend Joshua one day. I also remember deciding that—since he was of Polish descent, and his name was much too difficult to spell—he was going to have to take my name if I would agree to the marriage at all. A practical decision, perhaps, had I not eventually learned how to spell his name (really, Polish spelling isn't that hard!).

Of course, my friendship with Joshua didn't last after my family moved away, but the notion of keeping a practical name stuck with me. Ease of spelling grew less important, since I have the privilege of a mother with two difficult to spell names (Ouida Juanette), and an aunt whose name features a letter not in the English character set (Aïda). It was not until I got together with my current boyfriend, Marc, that I really started considering the possibility of keeping my name. I was not looking forward to having an alliterative name (since his last name is Kashiwagi), but that wasn't what decided things for me. Instead, it was meeting his mother, an early-second-wave feminist who kept her last name when she got married. Her reasoning behind keeping her own name was that since she had been published and received several degrees in her name, it made no sense to change it because of custom. She also handles having a different name from her husband and son with grace. I admire her strength of character; after marrying Marc's father the two of them immediately moved to Saudi Arabia where she faced the difficulties of being a feminist in a country with a history of oppression of women.

The practical points she made about keeping a name that had been linked to her in published work (an important consideration for me as a sometime-published writer) resonated with me, and reminded me about my own beliefs about names. I believe that my family names are a part of who I am, and changing my name would remove a certain part of my identity. I want to preserve my family heritage, and I claim my grandmothers' family names with as much pride as my grandfathers'.

Around the same time that I first met Marc's mother, I took a class in Spanish culture, and learned that the Spanish have an interesting approach to naming, and one that I wish the United States legal system would honor. In Spanish culture, each person has two last names: their father's family name and their mother's family name. Upon marriage, a woman does not change her name, and she does not take on a part of her husband's name. Instead, their marriage is recognized in the names of their children, who take their father's family name and their mother's family name. If my family used this system, my name would not be Katelyn Celeste Willis, but it would be Katelyn Celeste Willis Bales, and my mother's name would be Ouida Juanette Bales Riddick, and my father's name Gerald Kenneth Willis Barden. My children, were I to have any with my current boyfriend, would take the last names Kashiwagi Willis, not hyphenated.

What I like about the Spanish system is its elegance; it preserves the matrilineal heritage while allowing women to keep their own names. It solves the problem of trying to decide which name the children should take. And it would make researching family trees so much easier! In an ideal world, my family would use this system of naming. Feminism, to me, is about cherishing one's identity and having the right to be who you are. How can you do that without honoring and acknowledging all of your names?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Is This Feminist?

This new tumblr is amazing, hilarious, and shockingly not problematic.

It's hard being a marginally acceptable feminist!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Make This Tonight!

I've been MIA this week because of a project at work and stress preparations for our upcoming move. But last night for dinner, Brett and I made a salad that was so delicious, I just had to share. And tell you all to make it immediately.

Since Christmas, Brett and I have been vegetarian (more about why we did this and why I think vegetarianism is a feminist issue coming soon). The switch hasn't been hard at all, but Brett and I have both been getting a little bored of our go-to meals. Brett also fears that he isn't getting enough protein and fats, and I fear I'm getting too many fats and that Brett is getting all of his protein and fats from foods that will slowly kill him.

So last night I turned to the happiest, most magical place on the internet, Pinterest, for some recipe ideas. I stumbled upon this Lemon, Quinoa, Cilantro, and Chickpea salad that looked delicious and healthy. We didn't have a few of the items it called for on hand, so we adapted it. And now it is one of my favorite things ever.

                                                                             Source: via Shannon on Pinterest

Here's how to make our version (but check out the original too!):

For the salad
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
3 tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized bits
2 avocados, diced
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tblsp. of lime juice
cumin to taste

For the dressing 
3 tblsp. lime juice
1 tsp. mustard
3 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. cumin
dash of salt and pepper


1. Make your quinoa. I just follow the directions on the box. Make sure it cools before using in the salad. Then pour it into a big salad bowl.
2. Chop your onion, garlic, tomatoes, and avocado. Throw them in with the quinoa.
3. Open your can of garbanzo beans, throw them in with the quinoa.
4. Make your dressing by whisking all the ingredients together.  Pour over salad.
5. Mix until well combined.
6. Add more lime juice to taste. I added 1-2 tblsp. and a dash or two of cumin. You want to use just enough that it complements the other, natural flavors without the lime or cumin taking center stage.
7. Chill for 15 minutes in the fridge.
8. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How the Modesty Myth Harms Women

Danielle, who blogs over at From Two to One, has a great post today about how the modesty myth harms women. She writes:

Preaching that modesty is the new sexy isn’t counter-cultural; it’s adding fuel to the fire of telling women and girls that all that matters is how sexually available and attractive they are (or aren’t).  This is false....

Similar to the purity myth, the modesty myth teaches that covering women up and teaching them to be ever on the lookout for tempting their male peers (and even non-peers such as older men, friends of one’s father’s, male relatives, pastors, and teachers) is actually promoting respect for women and their bodies while restoring healthy relationships between men and women. Another big fat false. 

Read her whole post here. And be sure to check back throughout the week as she continues to explore ideas of modesty in a Christian context.

Source: Kevin Ohlin via From Two to One

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Things My Mother Was Right About

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers, future mothers, and caregivers!

I'm so thankful for the wonderful role model my momma is. As I grow up, I become increasingly aware of all the things she has taught me, and all the values she has instilled in me. So in honor of the holiday, I thought it might be fun to share some wisdom I've learned from my mother over the years.

1. Give everything you do 110 percent. Always try your best.

2. Moisturize. Slather your face, neck, and hands with moisturizer every day.

3. Think long and hard about changing your last name when you get married. But even more importantly, don't even think about getting married until you've figured out who you are first. You shouldn't be thinking about becoming Ms. Partner's Last Name until you've figured out who Ms. Current Last Name is.

4. Read voraciously. Turn off the television. And when you're flirting with the idea of reading or watching a movie, choose the book.

5. Study what you love. And ignore all the lists about which majors earn the most money or which majors are "useless" and "silly."

6. Get a job doing something you're passionate about. Work hard at it.

7. Go to a college that is far away from home; a college that is so far away its impossible to do laundry at home or drop by your parents' house for dinner. 

8. Enjoy where you are in life. Don't rush growing up.

9. Doing yoga daily will keep you fit, flexible, and agile - even when you're 80! (This one can actually be traced to my grandmother, who is possibly the healthiest yoga loving, 80-year-old on the planet.)

10. Exercise. You'll feel better. And you'll avoid being the parent/grandmother who is too out of shape to walk all over a big city when you're out on an adventure.

11. Eat less meat and drink less milk.

12. Pay attention when your body is too tired or stressed. Find a way to de-stress, like meditation, yoga, or exercise, that works for you. And use it.

13. Always bake cakes and brownies for less than the recipe says. Even if it is your own recipe and you think you have the timing just right, check on it at least 5 minutes earlier. There is nothing worse than an overcooked, dried out chocolate cake!

14. Always pay attention to where your exits are. And be aware, they may be behind you!

15. Evaluate your life based on whether or not you're making the world a better place. Not by how much money you're making.

16. Travel often. Visit new places.

17. Stay out of the sun. It doesn't matter how good you think that tan looks, you will regret it when you're wrinkled, leathery, and have skin cancer.

18. Buy high-quality, classic clothing that will last for years. But don't buy too much. Go for a less is more approach to your closet.

19. Find a partner who has similar financial values and make sure you're on the same page about what things are worth spending money on.

20. Live your own life. Even if your mom or family disagrees with you, it's your life. Do what makes you happy. Live according to your own values. Be true to yourself.

Momma and I on the Spanish Steps in Rome!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Celebrate Your Mother

Today, I'm over at Fem2.0 writing about why I skip the traditional Mother's Day present and donate to an organization that works to empower women instead. Read it here!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Exciting news! Role/Reboot, an online magazine that explores culture and gender roles, will be posting some of their favorite posts from The Last Name Project on their site. You can see their first repost here.

[Bridget] The Last Name Project

In this new series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique, we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com.  

The following post is by Bridget, a writer, theater artist, and massage therapist. She lives in Louisiana with her husband David and their son, Anton. She blogs about veganism, feminism, books, motherhood and the artistic life at

In my last semester of college, I began to go by my first and middle name only (Bridget Erin) for all of my artistic endeavors.  This idea came from my aunt, who suggested I use Bridget Erin as a “stage name” that would never need to be changed, even if I got married and changed my official last name.   It appealed to me originally because it was a time of great personal transformation – I was becoming an adult, graduating from college, moving to a new city, and establishing myself as an artist. Over the years, I began to see it also as a way to opt out of the patriarchal baggage of last names altogether.  It felt freeing – even if the feminist implications of my chosen name were only apparent to me.  On paper, nothing changed.  But over the years, the majority of people in my life came to know me as Bridget Erin.  Many of them assume  Erin is my last name. 

I didn’t change my name immediately after marrying my husband.  It was a busy time – I gave birth to our son just one month after our wedding!   I originally planned to change my last name to his, since our son had his last name, and because I was still going by Bridget Erin in my artistic life and consequently decided I wasn’t too attached to my “official” last name.  But during this time I read a long an interesting discussion on the blog Feministe about women changing their last names, and I began to have second thoughts.

 My husband did not have strong feelings on the matter.  His mother kept her original name for many, many years, changing it to his father’s name only very recently.  Incidentally, my husband grew up in the USSR and changed his first name to David after moving to the U.S. 

In the end, I decided to hyphenate.  It felt like a way to embrace both my origins and my new family.  This makes my last name long, unwieldy, and an odd combination of Irish and Jewish.  I like it.  But to my friends, I’m still Bridget Erin.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

[Antara] The Last Name Project

In this new series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique, we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com.  

The following post is by Antara, who is from India.

Although India itself is still a fairly socially conservative country, I was brought up in a particularly progressive family. Therefore, when I was growing up, I never thought about whether keeping my last name could be a matter of choice  – it seemed to be such an obvious fact of life that the idea that I could do something differently never even occurred to me.

When I got married, it was to an American with a last name that was not exactly linguistically compatible with my first name. But since I never consciously evaluated my options on this front, this was not a factor in my “decision”.

At that time, I worked with a set of fairly conservative colleagues who kept asking me whether I was trying to be a rebel by refusing to take my husband’s last name. This was shocking to me, not only because I never felt that I was making any sort of decision (let alone a rebellious one) but because even if I were to consciously make such a decision, I would be quite far from being a pioneering trail-blazer on this issue. 

Constant interrogation from various people and several people’s (often innocent) attempts to force my husband’s last name on me in holiday cards and wedding invites left me frustrated and forced me to think about why keeping my last name was such an easy and obvious choice.

I realized that there were two primary reasons: first, my last name gives me a sense of identity. It is the only last name that I have ever had and it is the name that forms the basis of all my memories. I cannot imagine myself with a different last name. But even more importantly, I would never take any man’s last name simply because the tradition represents an asymmetry that is rooted in sexism and I will not be a part of that.

When my husband and I had our first child, we gave him a hyphenated last name that contained both our last names. This was very much a conscious decision and we receive a lot of patronizing questions about it. Yes, we understand that our child’s last name will not be the most common last name in his school. Sure, it may not roll off everyone’s tongue so easily. And if and when our six-month old child eventually has his own child with a partner who also has a double-barreled name, they can make their own decision about what their child’s last name should be (but we thank you for your extremely forward-looking concerns). In the meantime, we realize that there may well be days when he gets a little annoyed with his complicated last name. But we hope that when he grows up, he will think its kind of cool that he carries the names of both his parents. And if he does not, he always has the choice to change his last name. It is a free country after all.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Yesterday, on May Day, I came across this photo on a friend's facebook page:

It reminded me that people struggled, fought, and protested over work-life balance. Some even died. We should be thankful that unions fought so hard for a shorter work day and increased labor rights. And part of being thankful for their work is to continue that work; to continue to fight for fair labor laws, the right to unionize, and work-life balance.

Surprisingly, even with my stellar math skills (ha!), I had never thought of my day as being broken down into three, eight hour sections. I've only had a 9-5 job for less than a year, and after my grad student schedule of endless days in libraries and frequent all-nighters, I've struggled to adjust. There are many days when I feel like work is all I have time for. I seem to get nothing done in the evenings after work. And I don't even have kids!

For whatever reason, looking at my day as 8+8+8 helps me. Instead of thinking that work is my day, and that I can maybe just squeeze in a few other things after hours, it helps me visualize it differently. I suspect that thinking I have eight hours of work, eight hours of life, and eight hours of sleep will help me organize my day differently and get more done, not just after work but during work. It also might help the dramatic tendency I have to feel like I'm somehow letting life pass me by while I'm at work (even though I love my job and need the money for, you know, food).

Do you think of life as 8+8+8? Do you have any tips for getting things done after the work day?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

May Day's origins date back to the Haymarket massacre in Chicago in 1886, when a bomb was thrown during a labor demonstration in support of a worker's strike.

Today, the US, Canada, and Britain try and ignore the holiday's leftist history, while workers in Europe, South America, and China are celebrated and honored with an official holiday.

This year, the Occupy Wall Street movement has plans to organize protests and strikes throughout the country. In support of them, I'm going to follow Feministing's lead and forgo any other posts for the day. A blog strike, if you will.

Mother Jones will have live coverage of events throughout the nation during the day. You can see those here

Source: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters for the New York Times