Reflecting on reflecting #meta

I snagged the Special Double Issue of this week’s New York Magazine from my gift bag at the GenArt Fashion Show #WIN (the rest got left; let’s not get into puns about being weighed down at fashion week after parties #notactuallyfunny). In it, the Encyclopedia of 9/11. F is for (among other things) Flight Attendants. Subtitle: “The heroes of the day weren’t all men.” The piece ends:

“As Susan Faludi argued in her book The Terror Dreamthe nation, frightened, grabbed at traditional gender roles in the wake of the attack. Our symbols of 9/11 courage were ­manly ones: New York Firefighters, Rudy Giuliani, the soldiers dispatched to crush the Taliban. The steely presence of mind of the mostly female flight attendants was largely left out of the hero ­narrative.”

I reflected on two things of note: first, the overall reactionary response, social and political, that defined the past decade, a component of which might be articulated with this quote. Second, the idea of the “hero” being tied to masculinity. I’m sure something can be said of the fact that flight attendants are overwhelmingly women, and perhaps this played a role in them being somewhat overlooked in the mainstream “hero narrative.” Certainly, there are many women firefighters and soldiers, who might have been overlooked by those making the case that female heros (see, I have to say female hero) have been overlooked; or, they’ve had masculine notions imposed upon them because their job has traditionally been one dominated by men. Like most jobs. (…)

I haven’t read Falundi’s book, but I’m intrigued.

I appreciated the bit of intelligent remembrance and analysis of the past decade that I heard, but the facebook statuses I was exposed to were a bit disheartening. Yes, remember 9/11. Also remember the CIA support of islamic radicals in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, the bureaucracy of intelligence agencies, the lack of White House policy toward Afghanistan in what later proved to be a very critical period of history, those imprisoned without charge or trial within the last decade, Islamophobia, and environmental activists prosecuted under “terrorism enhancement.” It’s nice to hope our generation is less unconscious than the previous ones, but better to actively work against selective memory. As part of the generation that came of age during this past decade, I was left asking, we’ve had 10 years to wake up: have we?

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My femasculine utopia

Young women seem to be rejecting the feminist label. I’ve observed this. Others have observed this. While women of other generations struggle with the feminist label as well, the young are expected to be progressive. So, I do think it’s noteworthy that younger cohorts distinguish themselves by being overwhelmingly pro-gay marriage, but are just as split as older cohorts when it comes to abortion.

Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Berstein set out to redefine feminism for the Millenial generation, to uncover where the dialogue has landed us, and to continue having it. They chronicled their findings in Girldrive, after a road-tripping across the U.S. and interviewing many, many women. Smart, insightful, important, and easily recommendable as a whole, there’s one passage in the book that made me smile with particular delight:

“On our way from California to the Southwest, we brainstorm a list of men we want to interview–mostly guys who are our dear friends but whom we would never date because they’re asshole to girls. Or men who seem to defy gender labels and act as feminine or masculine as they want. Or hipster dudes, who, despite their gender-bending aesthetic, are more macho than you would think. Or…the thoughts race on. ‘There should be a femasculine movement, Emma quips in the car, only half-joking.” Continue reading