Wednesday
Sep022015

My first book chapter is out!

I'm pleased to note my first book chapter "The Revolutionary Possibilities of Online Trans and Queer Community" is now published! The chapter is part of the book Gender, Sex and Politics: In the Streets and Between the Sheets in the 21st Century. To take a look inside the book, visit the Taylor and Francis website here.

 

 

REVIEWS:

This exciting new book is essential for understanding sexuality and gender in the 21st century. Topics range widely, from sexting to sexual assault. Many chapters are deeply personal, but with broader social implications. This book will stimulate animated conversation and deep thinking; it is one of the most important books on gender and sexuality in the past 30 years.

-Tom Digby, Philosophy, Springfield College, and author of Love and War: How Militarism Shapes Sexuality and Romance

This sparkling book challenges us to pursue fresh critical thinking on feminist issues of exploitation and empowerment, pointing out how we can use constructive dissent rather than destructive disagreement -- a great addition to the canon.

-Loretta Ross, Former National Coordinator, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective

In our insanely fast-paced, Twitter-trigger world, discussion of sexuality and gender too often consists solely of snarky knee-jerk statements that do nothing to contest dominant thinking. These essays, on the other hand, invite us to think and rethink about power, and for the best reason of all: so that we can equalize it. If you care about gender, sex, and politics, this book is for you.

- Leora Tanenbaum, author of I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet

This is a must read for academic and practical alike and should be in every college sociology and psychology course. The first chapter "Hollaback!" is an eye opener and makes me want to join the movement. The book goes on to unveil many truths we must all face.

-Kristin Beck, US Navy SEAL, Candidate for US Congress 2016

Forty years after the sex wars first captured popular imagination, Shira Tarrant makes it brilliantly clear that sex wars matter anew. In this edgy collection of truth-tellers, contributors invite readers to open their minds, hearts, and conversations. They redefine sexual literacy and challenge the very notion of taboo. Bridging theory, practice, and competing perspectives, the book unsettles and entices. As with the best in gender studies, it’s sure to hit a nerve.

-Deborah Siegel, PhD, author of Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild

 

Tuesday
Apr142015

My doctoral student confession: I miss freelance writing

This semester I finish my second year of doctoral work and true story: I miss freelance writing.

The last article I wrote was published in December which seems like a world away for a freelance writer who was pitching editors several times a week regularly and everyday at one point. I wrote pitch letters in my head as a went to sleep and got to work on them when I woke up. Today that freelance writing energy is consumed with writing academic articles, conference preperation, classwork and a dissertation proposal as a doctoral student (not to mention having a relationship with friends and family and self-care) and it has me kinda bummed. 

The opportunity to take grad classes, work as a teaching assistant and write a dissertation as a funded student is amazing. I've met some kick ass faculty who have been at the forefront of bringing coversations about gender into the classroom. I've made connections at conferences I simply didn't have access to prior to becoming part of a doctoral program. I'm very passionate about my research; I love that I'm paid to research a topic I care about so deeply and my job is to develop those ideas into the best piece of research I can to make a contribution to this world. This is definitely a gift I never thought I'd have.

But I miss freelance writing! I want to take my curiosity and turn it into an article to put out in the world in a matter of weeks. I love being able to take issues I care about, pitch amazing publications I respect and write those stories. I appreciate getting feedback from an editor and shaping a piece of writing into something that we both mold into a final publication. I like seeing that dozens (occassionaly hundreds or thousands) of people have engaged with the interviews I collect from activists and academics. I get motivation to keep doing this work from the community of people, friends and strangers, who respond to something I've written. And dammit, I like that after years of writing for free my work is finally valued (read: paid) by a number of publications I respect immensely. 

My primary job after I defend my dissertation proposal at some point this year will be to write a dissertation. There are many reasons to place my dissertation as the first priortiy, not the least of which is the fact that my funding ends after three years in the program (as in, one year after I finish classes this May). Realistically I need to put the best of my writing energy into researching and writing a dissertation.

One of the criticisms of academic writing is that no one reads it. Some people are asking if academics should be writing for popular media. From where I stand as a writer, a queer, a feminist, and an activist I can truly appreciate the education and experience in academic writing and teaching I'm recieving now and at the same time acknowledge I can't wait to be pitching popular media again. I engage on Twitter everyday and promote writing by amazing writers for popular media platforms who I've learned so much from and have enjoyed being in community with as a freelance writer.

When I began my doctoral program I always knew I wanted to continue to write for popular media, but for now that writing will have to wait.

 

Friday
Dec262014

Recognize the LGBT community as the missing group of victims in conflict-related violence

This month the website Women Under Siege published my piece about gender-based violence targeted against LGBT individuals. I originally started working on the story as an Op-Ed in my Gender, Marginalization and Health course, a Gender Consortium of Women's Studies class team taught at MIT by faculty from three different universities with different backgrounds. The GCWS courses offer an amazing opporunity to study with faculity and students from many different Boston-based institutions so I highly recommend you take one should you have the opportunity!

Here is an excerpt from "The missing group of conflict-related victims":

Iraq is just one of eight countries in which homosexuality is punishable by death. More than half of those nations, including Iraq, Iran, and Nigeria, qualify as conflict and post-conflict countries. Yet it’s rare to see media mention of this kind of violence, which is also gender-based, when it covers war and iniquities. Little has been formulated in the way of action plans to stop this type of violence, either, despite efforts like those of the commission and organizations like MADRE. To date, there’s not much out there in terms of a nation’s stepping up to respond to this violence in Iraq or elsewhere around the globe. International protection measures to address LGBT-targeted violence—which, as in Leyla’s case, can be state-sponsored—require a response that recognizes that gender-based violence includes cases like this.

I encourage readers to read this and other pieces on the Women Under Siege website, a Women's Media Center "journalism project that investigates how rape and other forms of sexualized violence are used as tools in genocide and conflict throughout the 20th century and into the 21st."

 

Friday
Nov072014

a case of mistaken identity: sex work is not human trafficking edition

 

This week my first Feature article "Boston's strange and problematic approach to curbing prostitution (and addressing violence against women" published. The piece examines what Boston is doing to "reduce demand for prostitution by 20% in two years." I wrote the story for DigBoston, Boston's Alt-weekly.  I initially pitched a somewhat vague idea for a story in June and have been reading, researching and interviewing people on the topic ever since. Many, many, many thanks to my awesome editor Chris Faraone for accepting the pitch and his encouragement to keep digging.

During the time I was researching the feature story I also wrote a piece for Rolling Stone, "5 Things You Probably Don't know About Human Trafficking". I wrote the story about human trafficking as I became increasingly frustrated by the conflation of sex work and human trafficking in much of what I was reading, especially by those individuals and organizations working to "exit women" from prostitution.  

Other related stories in the news this week you might want to check out:

 UPDATE: Lina Nealon from Demand Abolition wrote a letter to DigBoston in response to my piece.

Thursday
Jul312014

Allowing Our Activism to Grow: Continuing the conversation about vegan masculinity

Fanny - Farm Sanctuary Rescue

Over the course of a few days this blog had over 1.3K visitors thanks to all the shares, tweets and comments for my post "My Favorite Masculine Vegan has a Pussy." Vegansaurus also re-published the post. A number of people have published pieces with references to my post including the fat gay vegan who writes, "It is clear that misogyny, sexism, homophobia and all forms of bigotry do not exist solely outside the vegan realm. We need to actively resist the attempts to use tools of divisive language and imagery to sell veganism."

On Accountability


Quite a list of white, male heavy-hitters in the vegan/plant-based diet community have offered their support for the book "Meat is for Pussies" as listed on the Harper Collins page for the book:





John Joseph speaks openly about his decision to go with the title he did in this podcast interview with Rich Roll. It's unfortunate a book with so much potential to reach so many who might never pick up VegNews, as Joseph explains, will do so as a direct result of such a derogatory and divisionary tactic as that embodied by this title. I don't think personal attacks will get us very far as a movement when it comes to challenging single-issue activism that tosses people of color, women and queer individuals under the bus for the sake of saving the animals. Instead we must insist those in our community who we respect as tireless vegan advocates but with a single-issue lens continue to do better.


Challenging Single-Issue Activism

Activist and author Mickey Z writes about the danger of single-issue activism noting, "Sadly and ironically, AR [animal rights] activism—even the Francione branch—epitomizes single-issueism as the vast majority of the movement is white, middle class, and virtually agnostic when it comes to challenging human-to-human forms of oppression." An aspect of this conversation around masculinity and veganism I neglected to include in my original post is race. It's hard to refute the point Mickey Z makes regarding the face of veganism today as white and middle class. Dr. A. Breeze Harper, creater of the Sistah Vegan Project, has now turned to black masculinity, veganism and ethical culture for her next book which she gave a lecture about in May you can watch online.

Much frustration arises out of single-issue activism in all political movements. Women of color in the reproductive rights movement have raised their voices against the erasure of their contribution to the work of the movement. Some queer activists are disturbed to see so much focus by the movement devoted to fighting for the right to marry while neglecting the arguably more pressing needs for the community such as homeless LGBTQ youth.

Most vegans are familiar with the criticism that vegans should be more concerned with human rights than animal rights. But spending much of your time advocating for one political issue doesn't mean you aren't concerned or aware of other ethical issues and I wrote about how my experience doing feminist and LGBTQ activism has informed the intersectional movement work I do today in an earlier post.

Addressing the oversights and shortcomings that arise out of single-issues activism requires we listen and change, a process that can be uncomfortable and humbling. We as a movement must encourage and allow one another to grow past our perspective and become a more inclusive space to create larger and more meaningful ethical change in this global society for each other and for the animals.