Friday, February 19, 2010

Aircraft launch: aerial acrobatics in Boston

Tonight I went to the Aircraft launch, the opening party for Aircraft Aerial Arts, a new aerial acrobatics school in Somerville*.

The party was (and the studio is) in this cool space in a garage on Webster Ave. in Somerville. There was a silks apparatus, a hoop, and a static trapeze hanging from the ceiling and then space around to watch. Through the course of the night there were various performances, including one performance by owner Jill Maio in the back room with an extra-high silks apparatus. Jill also did this awesome maneuver where she took down the silks apparatus and hung up a cord lisse by climbing up the silks, hooking up the cord lisse, and switching over.

In between the performances people drank wine and hung out. It was an interesting scene--the studio was filled with people from the Boston circus/acrobatics community and other random curious people (like me). I was told that Boston has quite a strong and growing circus/acro community.

Thanks to Ben Reynolds for telling me about this event!

* I am really excited about taking up aerial acrobatics! I signed up for a silks class next weekend. Thanks, Amy Cohen, for telling me about all these cool circus things. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Computer engineer Barbie

My friend Rishabh's dreams have come true. Computer engineer Barbie is here by popular vote. Mattel even worked with the Society of Women Engineers to make sure that she is wearing the appropriate "geek chic" attire. Bravo, Barbie.

Graduate Women at MIT gets some press

I have been involved in starting Graduate Women at MIT, an institute-wide women's group. We got some press in the MIT Tech today, which provides an exciting start to our kick-off spring.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Classy Asian Ladies

From Eugene.

If you are a single white man who loves Asian ladies,, an "Exclusive Upscale Online Dating Service," is what you need. The site boasts:

Our beautiful Asian ladies all live in the US already. They will not try to marry you to get a “green card” or to become financially dependent upon you.

In the "Why Asian Women" section, the site says:

It seems that in today’s society the average woman is becoming very competitive and even a bit more masculine than their counterparts in earlier generations. All the while it seems to be just the opposite is taking place for Asian women who tend to retain their sense of femininity and well-known cultural attitude of gentle and caring support.

On one hand, such a thing seems racist, sexist, and wrong. On the other hand, this may provide an efficient way for "classy Asian ladies" to find the "high quality, sincere gentlemen" they've been looking for*. Thea Lim has a nice Racialicious post makes a good argument for the former**: that this site perpetuates oppressive stereotypes of Asian women and encourages the sexual solipsism of white males seeking the ideal submissive mate.

* Like the controversial Ashley Madison, a dating site for married people--"have an affair, guaranteed!"
** I don't agree with Lim that homogenizing a race of people is bad a priori.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

BOC presents A Little Night Music

The other day I saw Boston Opera Collective's performance of Sondheim's musical A Little Night Music at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. It was fun--some actors, such as the Stephanie Piraino, who plays Anne Egerman, were quite good. I recommend going, especially if you are a student. (Tickets are $15 for students and $25 for non-students. It is showing again next weekend.)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Misogynists are women, too

Being a woman and identifying as a feminist does not mean that I am not a misogynist. Ever since I read Rachel Simmons's Odd Girl out and Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs, I have been thinking the silent prevalence of female misogyny and about my own misogynistic tendencies. By misogyny, I mean judging women by harsher standards than those used for judging men.

While it is easy to identify blatant cases of misogyny, it is difficult to recognize misogyny that echoes society's views and/or reaffirms what people often want to think. More obvious cases of misogyny in society are public figures like Camille Paglia, a self-proclaimed feminist who has said things like "Women are forever softening, censoring, politicizing." There are also the women who adopt society's language for oppressing women, denouncing other women as "sluts" and "whores." Then there are the women who don't trust the abilities of other women before they prove themselves, who don't think women have the same baseline ability as men, who enjoy being "not like the other women," and who get annoyed with some women for being so bubbly and so... girly. (Don't they know they should act more like men?) I used to be this kind of woman.

There are many reasons why women have misogynistic tendencies. Many women in our society grow up internalizing misogynistic values, so it is to be expected that these values will be reflected in attitudes towards other women. There is also the element, which Rachel Simmons describes, of the oppressed oppressing based on the same criteria. It is also easier for women--or anyone--to believe that they are somehow different and special rather than accept society is unfair, and in particular unfair to people like them.

Like everyone, misogynists can change. The first step is to recognize misogynistic tendencies--the most pernicious behaviors are those that you don't know about. Before writing off a woman as a bitch or whore, it may be good to ask what factors influenced you to see the woman that way. When you meet a woman, be conscious of how you are judging her and recognize how much you are expecting her to prove herself. How does this compare to when you meet men? Do you dismiss women for being incompetent, a bitch, or a slut? Awareness can go a long way in changing behaviors.

Women need to recognize female misogyny so they can improve the way men see women and the way they see themselves. Men and women need to recognize that female misogyny occurs not because women are petty, irrational, or unworthy of respect, but because of much more complex factors. It is everyone's duty to call out misogyny whenever they can, even (and perhaps) especially when it is exhibited by women--even if it may be a sensitive subject.

* This issue has been addressed by works such as Rachel Simmons's 2003 book Odd Girl Out and the 2004 movie Mean Girls.