Feminist to Follow: Kate from Clear the Way

Contrary to what comment threads on any website might indicate, there are a lot of thoughtful, intelligent and well-meaning folks on the interwebs.

Such folks give me hope that we’re not doomed to a future of violence, misogyny and overall mayhem. (And it’s tough not to feel that way when reading the news these days.) That’s why I’d like to take some time to highlight the people who are spreading good on the web by fostering important discussions and inspiring new ways of thinking.

Enter the “Feminist to Follow” series, in which I introduce you to awesome people writing about feminism.

Every month, you’ll meet a new blogger who touches on the topic in engaging and meaningful ways. And I’d like to kick off the series with the lovely Kate of Clear the Way.

Kate of Clear the Way

I only discovered Clear the Way somewhat recently, but I’m already a huge fan.

Earlier this year, Kate launched the series Feminist Fridays to open up a regular dialogue about all things feminism. And “dialogue” really is the appropriate word to describe the series, as it’s filled with words and interviews with other bloggers about their experiences. I love how the series manages to encompass everything from sexism and the patriarchy to art and music. The series is as diverse and entertaining as the rest of Kate’s blog, which also touches on fashion, decor, vegan recipes and writing.

What I love most about Clear the Way is that it has everything I love in a lifestyle blog—style, food, thoughts on blogging—but it goes beyond the basic requirements of that genre and ties in feminism in a way that makes it accessible and relatable.

Here’s Kate in her own words:

“Blogging about feminism is important because your blog should be an extension of yourself, and if you are passionate about feminism you should share it. Opening up about feminism on my blog through my Feminist Fridays series has been amazing for me and my blog because it has allowed me to talk about the things that are really important to me and connect with others who have similar passions.”

Some must-read posts from Clear the Way:

How Do You Deal: Disapproval  – in which Kate and several other ladies discuss criticism of their feminist views from others
Fem Fridays: Be Bright – a message of inspiration and support for those inevitable dark days
Everyday Feminism – a series in which guest contributors write about how they live out feminism every day

Today, I added my own thoughts to Kate’s Everyday Feminism series, and you can check it out on her blog here.

For those not already a fan of Clear the Way, make sure you check out Kate’s blog. What other feminist bloggers do you love to follow?

Interweb Finds: the most-hated dog, Eurotripping & more

avocado tree

I’m trying to be kind to my body.

Lately, I’ve had lots of aches and pains in my neck and back, and it’s no secret why. (Blogging, technically, is only making it worse.) I’ve also found myself popping more Ibuprofen than usual for headaches. So I’m doing more yoga at a new place (I’m taking a yoga studio tour, if you will, via Groupon), drinking more water and drinking less alcohol. And this week, I plan on taking the plunge and buying new running shoes. Mine are almost three years old. It’s time.

But right now, it’s interweb finds time. Check out this week’s link roundup:

Speaking of yoga, pets interrupting yoga is the cutest thing you’ll see all day.

Did you hear about the American Ninja Warrior competitor who kicked ass and broke records? She is incredible. (Kacy went to my undergrad alma mater, too—represent!)

As someone who browses rescue sites almost daily (ahem), I’m well aware of how overpopulated shelters are with pit bulls. In Los Angeles County alone, an estimated 200 pit bulls are killed every day. Here’s a powerful essay about the breed by a pit bull owner:

“There is no other dog that figures as often in the national narrative—no other dog as vilified on the evening news, no other dog as defended on television programs, no other dog as mythologized by both its enemies and its advocates, no other dog as discriminated against, no other dog as wantonly bred, no other dog as frequently abused, no other dog as promiscuously abandoned, no other dog as likely to end up in an animal shelter, no other dog as likely to be rescued, no other dog as likely to be killed.”

Check out these tree roots growing among concrete. They look like art!

I’ve loved following along on Sydney’s Eurotrip. (Doesn’t she look like she’s having a blast?)

“Women who are ambivalent about women against women against feminism.” The Bloggess nails it:

“I’m not saying you can’t choose to not be a feminist but know what you’re choosing. Don’t make a decision about a group based on the most radical beliefs of a group. Don’t get defensive if you get deeper and are exposed to difficult ideas about intersectionality and race and gender and colonialism and patriarchy and male liberation. Just listen. Some of it will make sense. Some of it won’t. Some of it will later when you’re a different person. Some of it you’ll change your mind about throughout your life and the world will change too. Some of it is bullshit. Some of it is truth. All of it is worth listening to.”

Age 30 is not a deadline. (Seriously, this mentality of “doing it all” in your twenties hurts everyone.)

 

And that’s all for now! Come back later this week for my monthly photo roundup, including shots of the Obama at LAX (!). But right now, I’m going to shut the computer and do a few stretches. What do you do when you’re not sick but your body hurts?

 

Feminist Apparel giveaway! (Why do we need feminism?)

Feminist Apparel giveaway

I can think of a lot of reasons why we need feminism.

I’ll use some examples from my own personal experience, though there are far more reasons than these few:

Because the first time I was called a slut, I was 12 years old.

Because I don’t feel safe walking to parking garages alone.

Because my school campus underreports sexual assault cases.

Because I know too many people (i.e., more than zero) who have been sexually assaulted.

Because I’m called a “bitch” if I ignore catcalls or “compliments” on the street.

Because these awful things are considered normal, part of life, to be expected.

…And those experiences—through the lens of a thin, white, middle-class woman—are just the tip of the iceberg when you consider the issues women around the world face every day.

Everything feminism stands for aims to address these issues.

Which is why instead of fearing the F-word, I want to wear my feminism on my sleeve (or on the front of my new shirt, pictured above). And if you enter today’s giveaway with Feminist Apparel, you could, too. Read on.

Feminist Apparel giveaway

Feminist Apparel is a kickass clothing company that stands for equality and encourages others to do the same—while looking smart in one of their tanks or tees. The styles are sassy, clever and playful… but dead serious. (Here’s the one I’m wearing in the top photo. I love this one and this one, too.)

Most importantly, Feminist Apparel puts its money where its mouth is. Proceeds from their sales go to women-empowering nonprofits like Women’s Way, so you know your purchase is going toward a worthy cause.

But one lucky feminism-loving reader will win a shirt for free.

The details: Win one shirt of any style, size & color (winner’s choice!) from Feminist Apparel by using the Rafflecopter widget below. (You have to leave a blog post comment first to unlock the other entries.) Note that you can tweet daily about the giveaway for bonus entries. The contest will be open all week until Friday, July 11th, at 3:00 p.m. EST upon which one winner will be chosen at random. And yes, it’s open to international readers! I request the winner responds within 72 hours of being contacted, or else the prize will go to someone else. You’ll get extra love from me if you tweet/Instagram a photo of yourself in your new shirt once you receive it. (Be sure to tag @FeministApparel and @WittyCassieHere!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s so important to me to work with brands I believe in, so I’m psyched to be partnering up with Feminist Apparel. And, of course, I’m psyched about my new shirt!

Let’s celebrate the amazing things women and men can do when we work together… like ending sexual assault, sexism and victim blaming once and for all.

And tell me: Why do you need feminism?

 

Must Reads: For anyone who thinks they can have it all

Tanya Selvaratnam

Photo by Naomi White

Last month, I read what has easily become my new favorite non-fiction book.

The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock by Tanya Selvaratnam is the perfect combination of smarts and heart. What business does someone like me, who still shudders at the thought of having a child any time soon, have reading a book about motherhood? Ah, well, lots, actually. The information and message in this book pertain to anyone who might want to become a parent some day.

The book addresses the harmful myth that we can “have it all” and make babies when it’s most convenient—like say, after we’ve established a career and settled comfortably into adulthood. Selvaratnam packs a lot of stats and research about fertility into her book. Did you know 10 percent of the world’s population experiences fertility issues, which affect all people (rich/poor, black/white, male/female) equally? And that the initial drop in fertility among women happens as early as 25 to 29 years old? Which is not to say you should be freaking out if you are 30 or older—but you should be empowering yourself with the knowledge of such facts.

The Big Lie is not all statistics and percentages, though.

What surprised me most about it is how much Selvaratnam’s personal story with three miscarriages and a cancer discovery humanized everything I was learning throughout the book. She really gets vulnerable here, and I found myself teary-eyed and cheering Selvaratnam on along the way. That’s what really set this book apart for me.

Though I haven’t read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In yet, I think anyone who has read it (whether they agreed with it or not) is likely to enjoy The Big Lie. It touches on similar issues, but comes from a generally more relatable perspective—as in, the COO of Facebook didn’t write it.

The Big Lie

I had the chance to do a Q&A with Selvaratnam over at Neon Tommy, and she shared some wise and thoughtful words. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

“When someone says feminism is no longer necessary, I think, Tell that to the mother raising five kids who can’t get paid as much as a man to do the same job; tell that to the woman who is treated as the aggressor when she is raped; tell that to the girl who isn’t allowed to learn how to read. It’s a Big Lie that we don’t need feminism.”

We also talked about Millennials having a harder time than earlier generations to afford children, as well as the importance of having conversations with our partners and doctors about our eventual plans for children. Tanya also had some fantastic book recommendations for anyone interested in these topics. You can read our conversation (and find out what the “big lie” is) here.

The Big Lie has already gotten a lot of attention from the press, and I hope it becomes one of those books you see popping up all over the blogosphere. Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think!

The F-word

this is what a feminist looks like

It’s hard to believe now, but just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have considered myself a feminist.

I believed in equality. I was into “girl power,” in a Spice Girls sense of the phrase. And I was lucky enough to have had tons of great female role models who inspired me growing up.

So why didn’t I see myself in the word “feminist”?

We’re all well aware of the negative connotations associated with feminism. You’d think most people would understand by now how ridiculously off-base the “angry, hairy man-hater” stereotype is. But too often the comments section beneath articles written by or about a woman makes clear there are a lot of sexist trolls who have yet to die off. (Reminder to self: never read the comments if you want your faith in humanity to remain intact.)

Sadly, the trolls who perpetuate these stereotypes about feminists are pervasive. So is ignorance, which I once blissfully possessed when it came to these things. That unfortunate combination is why I shied away from the F-word. I didn’t think I needed feminism. And that makes me shudder to think about.

I’m the oldest of three sisters. They’re much younger than I am but are growing up fast. I remember the kinds of things girls were talking about when I was my sisters’ ages, and it wasn’t always exactly the most female-empowering language. (Why are 12-year-old girls calling each other “sluts” and “bitches” like it’s a compliment?)

There are lots of words used to put women down. I want my little sisters to know “feminist” isn’t one of the dirty ones.

That means it’s on me and everyone else—male or female—who believes in feminism to talk about it. A lot. The more we do that, the more de-stigmatized the word and concept becomes to those who are as skeptical and hesitant as I once was. Luckily, there are more platforms than ever to help us do just that, and there are plenty of people who get into more nuanced discussions than I can (at this relatively early point in my feminist career, anyway).

It’s a wide-ranging topic for sure, but a few examples of some of the things I’d like to talk more about are:

…and so many more.

Do you consider yourself to be a feminist? Why or why not?

I’d love to know about your relationship with the word and which women’s issues are close to your heart. Leave a note in the comments—or better yet, write your own post about it and send me a link when you do!