17 March 2014

Feminist Quickies: My Own #365FeministSelfie Series

Tired Mama Working
Each word is its own feminist topic!
Photo by Anoosh Jorjorian
This winter has sucked. In spite—or perhaps because—of our record-breaking warm winter in L.A.,* my kids have been sick a lot, particularly with nasty coughs that linger and linger, sometimes disappearing briefly only to return with a vengeance.

During the month of December, it seemed that we all had one cold that we were simply passing back and forth between each other like some kind of high school basketball drill. Then in January, my grandmother (my last surviving grandparent) contracted a lung infection and spent about a month in the hospital, a forced confinement that made her lonely and depressed. Shortly after she was released, my son got sick again—this time with croup!—got better and attended school for a week, then caught another cold with nonstop coughing and was diagnosed with asthma.

I remember last week as one marathon viewing of the anodyne Canadian cartoon Caillou barely heard over the droning motor of the nebulizer. I didn’t see any of the episodes, mind you, because my eyes were fixed on my son’s upper lip, where I trained the hose spewing vaporized Albuterol.

So, I haven’t been writing.

I have been Facebooking, however. Ah, Facebook! The refuge of the exhausted, isolated mother, trapped with a sick child, yet able to participate in a quasi-social life stolen in five-minute snatches.

A few of my friends began the year pledging themselves to the #365FeministSelfie project, the brainstorm of Veronica Arreola. Arreola began the project as a rebuttal to a Jezebel piece describing selfies as a “cry for help.”  “Selfies aren’t empowering,” the writer scoffed, “they’re a high tech reflection of the fucked up way society teaches women that their most important quality is their physical attractiveness.”

“But what about positive selfies?” Arreola countered. “Yesterday I saw a mom and her maybe-5yo-daughter taking a selfie.They were making silly faces and snapping pics. Those were memories being made, moments of love that both will likely remember forever.” She went on to describe other ways selfies could be feminist: “WOC [Women Of Color] rarely see themselves reflected in media, people over a size 4 are told to hide themselves, transgender persons want to be seen...”
I wanted to take part. Because periodically, someone has to write a clickbaiting column declaring feminism dead, again (too many links to embed, I’m afraid). The #365FeministSelfie project seemed like a way for women (and other-gendered people!) to simply and effectively preempt a 2014 Feminism Is Dead article while bringing up feminist issues in a new way. I wanted to be a visible mixed-race woman of color in the 365FeministSelfie roll call. But-

“A selfie every day?” I thought. “Ha ha ha ha.”

In February, my friend Jaclyn Friedman interviewed Arreola for her podcast. Together they were so convincing, I made for myself the more modest goal of a selfie a week.

Now it’s mid-March. I miss writing. I am having that kind of tired, sad, well-worn Cult of Domesticity feminist mom crisis that we all know. (Members of a parenting group I belong to—again, on Facebook—have titled our version Household Drudge, PhD... or MA, in my case.)

Since sustained writing, research, or even thought is quite beyond me these days, my goal now is to turn out a series of weekly quickie posts, based on my own #365FeministSelfie series. Tomorrow’s post will cover feminine performance, social capital, and body hair.

* Yes, I am sorry to rub it in your face, everyone suffering from the Polar Vortex. The downside, of course, is that we are going to run out of water this summer. Oh, and the earthquake this morning.

Are you participating in the #365FeministSelfie Project? What made you decide to join? Share in the comments below! And please subscribe to be sure to catch every post in the series. 

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