Cultural Survival

Y’all, I am having Kavanaugh flashbacks it’s not OK. If you know the FH origin story, you know this podcast was born of the despair I and many of you felt during and after those hearings last fall. Kay Ivey signing the Alabama abortion bill into law on the tail of so many other hyper-restrictive anti-choice pieces of shit legislation passing has got me down in a SERIOUS way.

I’m also remembering why I started using the term cultural survival. (If someone else coined this phrase please tell me and I will credit you! I started using it organically, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have a predecessor.) No, I am not sick or starving or being beaten or denied sunlight. I am physically surviving just fine right now (knock on wood), and I will be for the foreseeable future (unless the bill is enacted and I have a miscarriage or need an abortion, in which case I might literally die or go to jail, and if I go to jail all those things will absolutely happen to me—they are happening to millions of people right now. Oh, by the way, why aren’t you smiling? You look so much prettier when you SMILE!). But inside, I am having a really fucking hard time swallowing what our country is dishing up. 

Cultural survival is the term I use to capture what qualities/activities/mojo I need in my life to avoid disintegrating into bitterness or paralysis. How can I resist the urge to engage in posturing and infighting on social media? How can I stop the anger storming around in my head that robs me of my joy and, more importantly, the energy I need to be creative about my own resistance and my ability to be there for my friends and for people who are worse off than me?

The answer for me has been community, connection, affirmation (giving and seeking) and putting my energy into this platform and this community. So that’s what I am doing even though I am mad as hell and all I want to do is scroll through Twitter retweeting the angry/snarky/clever comments other people are making. (I have also rewatched the entire first season of Pose and then the pilot again for the third time, which did help.) I let myself do that for a while, but I know that will not sustain me. 

I made this podcast for you, for all of us, to get us through these times. I am sad and sorry and disgusted this is happening. My heart aches for abuse survivors who are having to hear and see the words “rape” and “incest” over and over again every day this remains in the news. But the march toward liberation is unsteady and it continues and it needs you. Let’s continue to lift each other up. And never feel bad about looking for some good news glimmering from between the steaming piles of bad. Remember, they want us tired and divided and not thinking clearly—but that’s not what’s going to happen because we’ve got each other and generations of badasses behind us cheering us on!

I love you.

OMG WTF 😑

I am so grateful for the Feminist Hotdog community this week.

As I’m sure you already know, Alabama passed a near-total abortion ban on Tuesday that “Governor” Kay Ivey immediately signed into law. (She’s governor in title only—trust me.) Those of us who keep an eye on the Alabama Legislature knew this was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier.

There was a part of me that wondered if Ivey might surprise us and veto the bill. She’s unlikely to run again, and maybe common sense and humanity would prevail, right?

Turns out, no. But a girl can dream. And when she wakes up, she’d better be ready to fight—and podcast!

While our state lawmakers were busy confirming their hatred of womb-having people, I just happened to be editing next week’s episode in which my guest Mawiyah Patten (formerly of URGE) and I discuss reproductive justice and abortion access. Hearing her speak reminded me that this is a long game and that there are passionate and knowledgeable leaders at the wheel, driving intersectional movements that I know will ultimately prevail. It didn’t exactly make my heart sing, but it gave me hope.

One thing that did make my feminist heart sing this week (although it was hard to hear over the tooth-gnashing) was seeing the powerful photographs of the Alabama Handmaids splashed all over the landing pages of every news site on Wednesday. What a brilliant stroke of activist/artistic genius. You make us proud, Handmaids. Y’all follow them on Instagram.

I’m sure you’ve seen the calls for how you can support reproductive justice in Alabama, but if not here are a few:

The Yellowhammer Fund provides funding for anyone seeking care at one of Alabama's three abortion clinics and will help with other barriers to access.

The P.O.W.E.R. House provides clinic escorts and space for patients, companions, and kids before, during, and after accessing the Montgomery Reproductive Health Services.

URGE engages young people in creating and leading the way to sexual and reproductive justice for all by providing training, field mobilization, and national leadership for a youth-driven agenda.

I don’t have too much more to say this week other than 1) thank you, 2) please don’t boycott the South, and 3) please interrupt people when they start talking about how backward people are here. The more we isolate and distance ourselves from the places where oppression festers, the stronger it will grow and the faster it will spread.

Love yourself. Love your buns. (They are YOURS!)

Feminist Hotdog

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What Kind of Feminist Am I?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what exactly I mean when I say I am a feminist. 

The other day I participated in my first Feminist Hotdog-related interview where I was the subject, not the one asking the questions. Predictably, the interviewer asked me what feminism means to me. (I say “predictably,” but was I prepared to answer it? Of course not.) My answer was fine, I guess: The belief that people of all genders are equal and deserve equal access to resources and opportunities (or something like that). I followed this up by saying that this belief did not seem particularly radical to me but noted that some women distance themselves from the word feminism, not because they don’t believe in equality, but often because they don’t identify with what their stereotype of what a feminist is, does, or looks like. 

I wish I’d said more, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. There are a couple of things about that answer that I want to expand on.

One, some women who believe in equality and emancipation have very good reasons for not wanting to identify as feminists, and that his because the version of feminism that dominated the women’s movement for many years was neither inclusive nor intersectional. As my guest Lecia pointed out in Episode 5 of Season 1, beginning in the 70s many black women chose to refer to themselves as womanists because white feminism, in many ways, reproduced patterns of oppression and harm toward women of color. I hope that by guarding against white feminism and striving to be intersectional, Feminist Hotdog can support a version of feminism that is genuinely inclusive; but I also recognize that I have blind spots and limitations, and I actively welcome feedback on how to improve in this area. 

Two, often when I get into conversations with people about the term feminism and why people do or don’t embrace it, the phrases “radical lesbians,” “femi-Nazis,” or "man-haters" will come up (i.e., these are stereotypes about feminists that cause women to distance themselves from feminism). I don’t think I have to explain why “femi-Nazi” should be left out of any rational conversation on this topic, but I want to address "man-haters" and "radical lesbians.” 

Being critical of patriarchy and harmful male behavior does not make someone a man hater. I firmly believe that feminism is a good thing for men and people of all genders because it strives to break down rigid gender roles that prevent people from forming the kinds of social and emotional connections human beings need to be healthy. Because women demanding equal rights or being critical of male behavior falls outside those gender norms, it is often perceived as aggressive or entitled or even hateful toward men. But I would argue that, in the vast majority of cases, “man-hater” is a weaponized term used in attempts to discredit women or to silence their positions. 

There are (small) factions of feminists who want to live separately from men and believe that men are beyond redemption. This belief is intellectually grounded in some cases; in others, it is born of trauma so horrific that the desire for distance is hardly a mystery. (You know how reverse racism isn’t a thing? Not wanting to hang around with your oppressor, also not sexist.) I don’t believe that lesbianism or queerness automatically equate to radicalism or vice versa, nor does my version of feminism rely on distancing myself from radicals or lesbians (that’s just old-fashioned homophobia, IMO) or radical lesbians or radical feminists or anyone who sincerely believes in the emancipation of women. I may feel curious about or even critical of some of the more radical positions out there, but I am never ever ever going to support a version of feminism that relies on throwing other feminists under the bus or saying, “I’m not like those feminists.” (See also: “I’m not like other girls.”)

When I started this show, I felt it was important to point out that I am not a scholar of feminism. I know a lot about certain figures and key debates, but I would be hard pressed to explain the different waves with much accuracy—and I think that’s OK. Feminist Hotdog was never intended to be a primer. It’s an emotional experience; therapeutic for me and, I hope, for the listeners. At the center of the show is an unwavering belief in the healing power of connection between people of all genders who experience sexism as we find our way through this fucked up time (recognizing that things have always been fucked up for a lot of us). So, while I’m never going to claim that the show is about feminism per se, but I’m also never going stop striving to learn more about what feminism means to other people and to be better at talking about it in inclusive and intersectional ways. Otherwise, there would be no point. 

I meant for this to be a short little post and it turned into a rant; if you’re still with me, thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts/comments. I love you.

Fuck Vision Boards

After trying and failing to keep up with blogging about each episode, I decided to switch gears a little focus instead on posting musings from the mind of Feminist Hotdog. I think this will be a lot more fun for you and for me, and make it a lot more likely that I’ll actually post! Hooray!

Today, I thought I’d tell you about something I just reread in my journal from last fall, right before I decided to start a podcast. I had been feeling low and decided to read a book about “taking control of your life” in which the author instructed me to write down my outlandish, ambitious, over-the-top dream as the first step toward reaching it. 

And…I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t think of ANYTHING. So, instead I just wrote:

“WHAT IS MY DREAM???”

Please imagine the “despair face” emoji here, because that is exactly how I remember feeling when I wrote that.

Talk about self-help gone wrong. In a world where you can’t live your damn life without some coffee mug or Instagram post DEMANDING that you follow your dream, not having one is pretty discouraging. No dream? What a loser!

Well, it’s six months later and guess what? STILL NO DREAM. At least not the “holy grail that drives my every breath/step/heartbeat” kind. And guess what? I’M COMPLETELY FUCKING FINE. I’m better than fine because I stopped trying to force myself into some bestselling prescription for happiness and just focused on the stuff that I already knew made me happy—like talking to my friends and meeting cool women who make the world better. Getting to share it with other people is really the relish on the hotdog. 

Is that an Instagram-approved dream? Does my 7-year-old niece go bed each night asking Jesus to make her the host of an indie podcast? Probably not. But who cares? 

So, yeah. Don’t have a dream? Just focus on the things that make you happy. No vision board required. (Not that there’s anything wrong with vision boards—unless they stress you out. Then fuck vision boards.) Let the little things fill you up; then, if a big dream does come along, you’ll be ready to hop on that unicorn and ride.  

I’ll be dreaming of YOU as I record Season 2 (coming in April!). Until next time!

Love yourself. Love your buns.
Feminist Hotdog