Archive for the feminism Category

mapping paid maternity leave.

Posted in anthropology, feminism, maps, maps & mapping, politics with tags , , on July 16, 2012 by Sunshine Superboy

North America comes out on top. And bottom.


Some things that aren’t represented in this map are the fact that undocumented workers don’t have access to these supposedly “progressive” benefits in the liberal blue-teal-green countries. Also, there’s a gaping silence regarding men as parents from paternity or “parental” leave all the way down to the much more critical situation of single fathers and dads who are primary parents yet don’t have access to federal or  private sector support in the ways provided by maternity leave.

What we need is a paradigm shift toward parental leave policies, and not this gendered institutionalization of what kind of people can be committed parents. Beyond this, there needs to be a broader sense of caregiving, which can account for taking care of young folks (who aren’t necessarily still babies), elderly folks, people with chronic illness, or even people enduring episodic mental instability.

I ended up in a short back-and-forth with a friend of a friend about this map a couple months ago. She was trying to salvage the US neoliberal fuck-over situation through an anecdotal testimony of her employer, a MAJOR U.S. bank, and their generous maternity policy, and how great it is that even though the Federal law provides no support, ‘we shouldn’t hate because private corporations have gone above and beyond’ even what northern European governments offer.

I of course responded with a critical perspective of particularly large corporations (especially banks??!!), and the bizarre neoliberal/ libertarian logic that corporations should make a killing by-any-means-necessary, the government should give them some space and stop taxing and regulating them for chrissakes, and then we should be grateful/ adorning/ impressed that they take a sliver of their hard-fought earnings and invest it in some HR policies that keep the workers pacified in their frustration, even obliged to the pirating cartels corporations for “taking care of them.” And then of course its understandable when corporations are going through tough times of austerity, that they cut back on “excesses” and “benefits” such as the aforementioned generous big bank maternity policy, since they have a business to run afterall…

I’m not saying that the State is my bestie (lord knows they never cut back on social programs like parental leave, pensions, or medical aid!), but I don’t think we should be so naïve as to think that our jobs/ bosses/ companies are the answer to accessing support when new children/ babies come into our lives.

Reporting Live from Dad Duty,

Sunshine Superboy


Decolonize BART!

Posted in anthropology, feminism, humor, maps, maps & mapping, politics, race with tags , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2011 by Sunshine Superboy

Happy Fall Decolonization Fest part II!
What are you thankful for? Decentralized movements for social justice? The building up of a post-capitalist solidarity economy? Maybe just the sheer joy of public transit??

radical BART map

So many opportunities to reflect on the legacies of colonialism, slavery, genocide, and imperialism for those of us in the Western Hemisphere. Good tidings, and may this map of a reclaimed San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system keep good company to you and your people.

Thanks to my buddy Kenji for this cartographic gem!

If you’ve missed other awesome/ imaginative BART maps, you can click here and have your mind ravaged by BARTOR- the Transitator!!!

June Jordan bound train arriving at platform ONE in seven minutes…
Angela Davis International Airport bound Train is now boarding…

Sunshine Superboy

Go Skateistan! Skate Day Kabul

Posted in culture, feminism, film with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2011 by Sunshine Superboy

Kabul Skate Day

From Kabul:

Take 180 kids, give them skateboards and take to the city streets. Here in Kabul it might seem like a foolhardy prospect, fraught with potential dangers. However, for the third time running on June 21, the simplicity of the idea became the beauty of it. Go Skateboarding Day is an international holiday dedicated to celebration of the sport, from Afghanistan to China to the Americas.

As Skateistan students first trickled, then poured through the park gates on to the road, bursting through the attendant ranks of photographers, officials and police, nothing could have stopped them.

Some skated, some sat and were pushed by a friend and others ran, awaiting their turn. Regardless of how they negotiated the 1.6km route, over potholes in the fiery sunshine, they smiled and laughed all the way. It was difficult to tell what surprised onlookers more, the magical wheeled boards or simply the speeding clusters of boys and girls dressed in flowing, coloured rainbows of Afghan clothing. Gentle nods sent the happy spectacle on its way, as life returned to normal in its wake.

Finally, dusty and triumphant, the skaters stormed back into their park for a celebratory contest to the beat of Afghan dul drums. The boys’ contest was won by Mohammad Bilal Mir Bat Zai, 15, who is disabled and skates by sitting on his board with crossed legs. The girls’ contest winner, Hanifa, 14, works on the street along with her younger sister. It was clear to see the high spirits of all who participated in Go Skate Day Kabul, who, without exception, could feel proud of who they are and what they represent.

Cool. And then there’s that Sundance Documentary from earlier this year, all about Skateistan.

Here Comes Science! (pixels included)

Posted in comics, feminism, humor, science, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 10, 2010 by Sunshine Superboy

its Sexy Science Friday!
Here are a couple little web comics from our pals at diesel sweeties.

use science properly

sexy science

Up up and Away,
Sunshine Superboy

Pep-Talk Map: Be Strong, Things Get Better

Posted in anthropology, art & music, feminism, maps, race with tags , , , , , on December 1, 2010 by Sunshine Superboy

Imagine a Map as a Hug…

it gets better map

Its a rainy day in Philadelphia. I wanna dedicate this post to my friend kiran who is going through a rough patch right now. “It might be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever”.

I know it has a slight “its gets better” ring to it, and maybe it could be re-purposed for folks who need a glowing light saber in their quest for queer encouragement/ esteem, but the Be Strong map is coming from a much more generalizable place…

As for the ubiquitous & viral It Gets Better campaign, I think Jasbir Puar added the bit I’ve felt lacking in the national conversation giving voice to the silencing power of the tsunami of white, owning class, male homo-normative narratives in circulation. So rather than re-post, I’ll just link to it, and leave you with your cartographic hug of the day…

Be Strong Now,
Sunshine Superboy

Men on Mars: “Try Not to Go Crazy,” All-Male-Crew sealed away for 18 months of isolation

Posted in feminism, humor, sci-fi, science, video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2010 by Sunshine Superboy

this sounds like the set up to a really bad joke:

One Chinese man, one Frenchman, one Italian and three Russians will spend the next 520 days in a 550-cubic-meter (19,400-cubic-foot) mock spaceship at a Moscow research institute to test how they cope with 18 months of isolation.

But its for real. The story goes something like this:

Last month, the six men were locked away from the outside world for the next one-and-a-half years, in an unprecedented simulation of a manned mission to Mars.

[apparently, they are taking this “manned mission” business to heart, and no women were invited??]

Dressed in blue overalls, the six gave the thumbs-up sign and grinned before the camera flashes as loved ones gave them an emotional send-off, some jokingly wishing them happy New Year already for 2011. “See you in 520 days!” shouted Russian participant Sukhrob Kamolov, just before a scientist sealed shut the heavy iron door of the facility at around 1000 GMT.

Like in a proper Mars mission, the crew will have to live on food rations akin to those used by real astronauts and their only outside communication will be by email, with a delay of up to 40 minutes. The hatch will only re-open when the experiment ends or if one of the all-male team pulls out — in which case he will be deemed dead and his ‘body’ pushed out to space.

Newly-wed mission captain Alexei Sitev must now endure a long separation from his wife, just weeks after the two married. “I am already missing him. I’m crying right now,” added Irene Urbina, sister of Italian-Colombian volunteer Diego Urbina, who said he was motivated by his passion for space.

Controversially, no women have been selected for the experiment, called Mars 500. [oh, I guess someone noticed that…]

Long days in the module in the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) will be divided into eight hours each of sleep, work and leisure. With books, language-study guides and 3-D videos games on board, Urbina said: “I don’t think we’ll get bored.” Also in ebullient mood, Frenchman Romain Charles said he has brought a guitar “to annoy” crewmates.

Three of the team will briefly quit the mothership for a special module meant to imitate a Mars landing craft, while two will take mock spacewalks in a sand-filled bunker, donning 3-D specs to help induce the surface feel of the Red Planet.

Wang Yue, 27, a candidate astronaut of China’s space program, told reporters before entering the capsule: “It is just a simulation. It is not a matter of life and death.” The idea is to exactly mimic the timescale of a Mars mission — 250 days for the trip to Mars, 30 days on the surface and 240 days for the return journey, totaling 520 days.

“You cannot simulate everything. That is obvious,” said Christer Fuglesang, head of science at the directorate for human spaceflight for the European Space Agency, a co-organizer of the project with the IBMP. “The scare factor cannot be simulated… that they might not come back.”

The crew also conspicuously lacks women, meaning possible sexual-tension that could arise from a mixed-gender crew will not be examined. [oh, so its really a crew of all-straight, all-male scientists locked away for a year and a half? this should be fun…]

Yury Karash, a Russian space policy expert, said the choice of an all-male crew would allow the team to focus on their duties and avoid unwitting competing for the attentions of female crew member. “It is better for the crew to be same-sex,” he said on Russian television. “No one has abolished the basic instinct yet.” [“which we know to be trans-cultural heterosexuality, of course”, he was about to add, but thought better of it for fear of being perceived as trying to overcompensate for maybe not being as straight as everyone decided he was]

Sistas in Space?!

[when asked why the same-sex crew was not chosen as a team of six women, they simultaneously shrugged and remained silent till the Italian man quipped: “wait… seriously?”]

Unlike a real spaceflight, mission participants will not be subjected to debilitation effects of weightlessness and ionizing radiation. A real flight to Mars will not come before 20 to 25 years, ESA head Martin Zell estimated, but added such a mission was “absolutely realistic.”

“The question is when and who?” Zell said.

[the answer, of course was “men, smart men from rich countries, men who don’t have babies”…]

Mars Aint the Kinda Place to Raise a Kid,
Sunshine Superboy

Fame Monsters: Going Gaga for Talent Shows, Reviews, and Bad Hotels

Posted in anthropology, art & music, celebrities, feminism, humor, politics, video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2010 by Sunshine Superboy

who dat??!

“The last thing a young woman needs is another picture of a sexy pop star writhing in sand, covered in grease, touching herself. My image was an issue at my record label. I fought for months and cried at meetings. I got criticized for being arrogant because if you’re sure of yourself as a woman, they say you’re a bitch, whereas if you’re a man and you’re strong-willed, it’s normal.” -the LADY

People. I’ve put off writing this post about Lady GaGa for a while, since there seems to always be something new accumulating in our era of viral video and always a new juicy tidbit to incorporate. Two occasions finally pushed me over the edge and I can’t hold back any longer…

Southern Hemisphere (but something is missing...)

First, by the time I finish writing this post Black Maps will have already hit a quarter of a million views since launching in January, 2009!!! This is an incredible triumph for me and commemorating it with a Radio GaGa post seems fitting. I’ll be my own fame monster yet, dammit! Some combination of dedicated viewers, rabid googlers, and geeks for buffy, science, and maps has kept my daily hits floating (around 600-800 these days) even throughout my dry spells of blogging… like when I’m writing papers or traveling to the Southern Hemisphere (which I do de vez en quando). This is my 114th post, BTW…

Second, next week’s episode of Glee is gonna be entirely themed around Our Lady of Gaga– and I can’t let Glee beat me to the punch. (also, glee? gaga? already??! can we say too soon?! didn’t they JUST do an amazing Madonna episode? please don’t go and ruin it by jumping the gun you guyz 😛 )

and thus I present to you…
Fame Monsters: Talent Shows, Music Reviews, and Bad Hotels

So my place of work has been completely overcome with gagamania for going on a year now…, and given that we’re a crunchy non-hierarchical collective (average age of our staff… early 30s?), I can understand the disbelief when our recycling person showed up today and was like “Jeez! Even YOU guys?!” as “telephone” was bumping in the back of the store. He launched into a cranky tirade about how his gym blasts nothing but Our Lady of Gaga, and he just doesn’t understand how everyone is brainwashed into listening to the pop-cacophony and what the deal with all this?

I’d break it down like this. Nobody gives a frack about Lady Gaga. Her songs are mediocre when it comes down to it (they grow on you like all pop songs, I enjoy them now) and her voice is on par with your average American Idol tryout. But but BUT, if you just stop there then you’re missing the anthropological phenomenon that has become the House of Gaga. Its not about her, per se, its about the project of Lady Gaga…

Here we have a female bodied drag queen, which is short circuiting a few mainstream culture braincells right there, and her ability to be a high-femme chameleon is like a flux capacitor for whatever subversive dreams or subcultures teenagers, queers, capitalists, curators, feminists or glitteratti are trying to ignite. And it works, cuz she’s all about all of it.

Apparently her live shows (in addition to having dazzling choreography and special effects), is like a motivational speech for kids who feel like they don’t fit in. She tells people they should never feel too fat, or too weird, or too feminine or too masculine, and that they are beautiful (and then breaks out into song).

So the thing is… we don’t need Lady Gaga as much as we use “Lady Gaga,” and we use her to inspire us to do incredible things that we always had the power to do (think ruby slippers).

we instrumentalize Lady Gaga to believe in our own fabulocity.

Exhibit A. This kid is thirteen years old, performing at his middle school talent show, and he will take over the world in fabulous kate bushian ways!!!

Exibit B, LGBT and Queer activists in San Francisco parody Bad Romance in a piece of brilliant guerrilla theater aimed at Boycotting the Hyatt and other “Bad Hotels”:

They are calling on folks to support Hyatt and other hotel workers across the country in their quest for jobs with respect and dignity, decent wages, affordable health care, and safe working conditions.

Exhibit C, Glee:

who knows what Will Scheuster will prod them with this week? I hope the writers let Kurt shine!

Exhibit D, Newsies bring the ruckus through a retro-new york Bad Romance danceparty!

Obviously examples abound. The viral videos are endless. We’ve all seen the army battalion lip-sync implicit protests to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (meh, armies…), the bedroom best friend sing alongs and all the rest of it. There are also plenty of blog deconstructions, and I don’t need to get in on that (I do it in the student lounge at grad school, which is more than sufficient thank you very much).

lady gaga or a drag queen? obvies, its both!

Oh, except that can we just say that (prison industrial complex notwithstanding), making Beyoncé a homicidal boyfriend killer in favor of lesbian affections was a triumph I didn’t think we’d see from the hip-hop R&B charts for a while (I mean, OMG, Queen Latifah is still closeted!!!)

Anyways, I think the lesson is clear: at a certain level, we’re all drag queens!

I’ll leave you with the best review I’ve read anywhere of the Fame Monster (just a snippet, the full awesomeness is something you’ll just have to surf to yourself).

If we can define good pop albums the way Howard Hawks famously defined good movies- that’s three great scenes and no bad scenes- then Lady GaGa’s The Fame Monster is certainly a good pop album. At least three songs are great, the rest aren’t bad, and at only 34 minutes long it never threatens to wear out its welcome. It’s shamelessly sleek, glossy and digital, but with enough heart, humor and horror that it is far from soulless. The only significant problem I can hear is that its tracks are in slightly the wrong order.

It starts with the current mega-hit “Bad Romance,” a move that might have made more sense if not for the last track, “Teeth.” One of the album’s fun n’ catchy fillers, “Teeth” throbs with four-on-the-floor stomp and neo-burlesque brass as Lady GaGa entices the men in the house to show their proverbial fangs. It sounds like a slow-burning fuse that’s supposed to psyche us up for a big-ass pop explosion, and for some reason it’s anti-climactically placed at the very end of the record.

So after my tenth spin through The Fame Monster, I shuffled “Teeth” to the top of the order and it worked much better. Besides, a song as show-stopping as “Bad Romance” deserves at least one opening act. The profusion of succulent hooks, the Amazonian-cyborg lust and the near-operatic drama would have been enough to cement this song’s status as an instant classic, yet Lady GaGa goes the extra inches when she delivers one of the most deliciously reprehensible lyrics that will ever infect the Billboard Top 40 (”Want you in my room/ while your baby is sick.”) [editorial correction, its actually this whole Hitchcock thing: “I want your Psycho, your Vertigo schtick. Want you in my Rear Window, baby, you’re sick.” -SS]

If “Bad Romance” has any warts, they’re the moments when she insists on reminding us in plain English that she’s “a freak bitch, baby.” Well duh- she made that crystal clear with that sick baby lyric. I’m nit-picking, though. Criticizing Lady GaGa for her lack of subtlety is kind of like complaining that Andy Warhol didn’t use enough earth tones.

Be Fierce+Embrace Yr Inner Drag Queen
(let her crawl out),
Sunshine Superlady