Editor’s note: Although this essay discusses specifically being an ally against structural racism in the United States, the concepts apply to many forms of allyship. The author has requested to remain anonymous.
Hi. I am white and I am an ally. I am not a perfect ally—let’s go ahead and get that out of the way. I’m not even sure I could say I am a “good” ally. I would like to be, and I strive to be the best I can. But this isn’t an essay about me. I wrote this essay because I want to encourage other allies to act where they have an opportunity and responsibility to act. This is an essay about one way in which passionate allies—even those who are shy and reclusive—can be effective.
In the wake of its season 13 finale, I can’t help but feel as enamored with Grey’s Anatomy as I did when I first committed myself to the Shonda Rhimes way of life a mere five years ago during my sophomore year of high school. My relationship with the show has been steady and enduring—nothing at all like those I’ve had with practically every other TV show I’ve ever loved and, at times, hated. Grey’s represents everything I’ve come to love about storytelling and, more specifically, storytelling by and for women.
Feminist Camp is a weekend camp for college-age students that goes beyond classroom or campus activism for networking and learning more about feminism. While Feminist Camp was originally based in New York, it has since expanded to the Seattle area. I had the opportunity to speak to the campers last November, and also got to interview the camp organizers!
What are your official roles at Feminist Camp?
KATIE GALLAGHER: I’m one of the Feminist Camp Seattle directors, along with Jody.
JODY JOLDERSMA: I’m the other Seattle director, along with Katie.
CARLY ROMEO: I’m the Feminist Camp Director, I run all the sites!
What is Feminist Camp?
KATIE: Feminist Camp is a transformative experience. I attended the NYC program when I was a senior in college and emerged as an entirely different person by the end of it. Being immersed in a constant exchange of big ideas (from both experts and campers!) shaped who I am as a thinker and an activist. I left camp with a stronger feminist network, a new perspective, and the kind of renewed energy that can only come from spending a week with passionate, driven people.
JODY: I attended the Feminist Intensive program in NYC, which visited many of the same organizations as the week long program but is targeted at professional mid-career women. I was introduced to A.I.R. Gallery (the first women run cooperative art gallery in the United States) during my session. As a professional artist this was a great opportunity to expand my network and was pivotal in my career.
CARLY: Feminist Camp is an intimate week-long conference for folks who want to further explore what feminism looks like beyond theories/campus activism. It’s one part inspirational retreat, one part professional development, and one part launchpad.
At the end of the second season of Jane the Virgin, Jane Villanueva finally marries her longterm sweetheart, Michael Cordero. While this would be, for obvious reasons, a very significant moment in Jane’s life, it would also be a very significant moment in my life. Finally, I would see how this show that has rooted itself so deeply into my heart addresses the big, complicated thing that is Jane’s sexuality.
Before I get into a totally acceptable amount of detail about this episode’s plot and my personal thoughts and feelings about it, let me explain some of the things I was hoping the writers would do with this very important moment. First, I wanted Jane to continue to think of the first time she has sex as a monumental thing—that’s pretty integral to her character at this point. However, I also wanted the first time Jane has sex to be rather less than monumental. I wanted them to continue writing Michael as very thoughtful and considerate and just generally not caught up in his own masculinity. And last, but definitely not least, I wanted them to cautiously and realistically address how Jane’s personal decisions about sex and marriage, while valid in a vacuum, do perpetuate harmful notions about purity and women’s sexuality in general.
To be fair, I will concede that The Episode, Chapter 47, ultimately addressed (if not to the extent I would have liked) most of my concerns. Unfortunately, it also called into question a pretty dangerous idea about the nature of intimacy and communication.
Though GeekGirlCon ‘16 has come to an end, those who support its mission will inevitably continue their work throughout the off season. The world is full critically-thinking geeks and we’re here to point you their way while we gear up for GeekGirlCon ‘17.
Just in time for the arguably greatest time of year, Seattle’s Central Cinema will be staging the latest installment of their series Serious Fun, which pairs panel discussions with film screenings in an attempt to illuminate the complicated relationship between the horror film industry and strong women. On this Thursday, October 13 at 8:00 p.m., three panelists will come together to discuss the need for more and stronger women leads in horror before participating in a screening of The Descent.
The final moments of GeekGirlCon are always bittersweet. On the one hand, it is when it becomes very clear very fast just how near the end really is. On the other, it brings with it the Closing Ceremony, which is always such a magical way to conclude the other-worldly experience that is GeekGirlCon.
To start off, GeekGirlCon staff and board members thanked attendees for spending this weekend celebrating socially-conscious geekdom. They also took a moment to address the sheer amount of time and energy staff and Agents voluntarily and consistently dedicate to the mission of making GeekGirlCon a reality. They implored attendees to add their support to the pool as donors and volunteers. It was a moment of true gratitude all around and a real indication of just what sort of atmosphere GeekGirlCon cultivates. Here is a video compiled of scenes and feels from GeekGirlCon ’16.
After the last shoutout was given and the last round of genuinely heart-warming, congratulatory applause had trickled away, the main event was announced and actors from Jet City Improv took to the stage to debut their upcoming show: Periods in History.
I have a pretty established preference for the serious when it comes to T.V. drama. (TGIT, anyone?) However, one night, about a year ago, in a room-cleaning daze, I happened upon the silliest, most light-hearted, and most romance-novel romantic series I know of: Jane the Virgin. It’s the opposite of everything I’ve come to expect from a binge-worthy dramatic T.V. series and yet, I love it.
Jane the Virgin is about a woman, Jane, who, in the midst of finishing school, getting engaged, and suddenly reuniting with her long-lost superstar father, is accidentally artificially inseminated. The premise is loosely based on a Venezuelan telenovela, Juana la Virgen, and is a jarring but captivating juxtaposition of telenovela tropes and real characters and problems. The drama is decadent, the writing is masterful, and the characters are hilarious, but that’s not the reason I will recommend the show to anyone and everyone. That’s not what has caused me to write not one but two academic papers analyzing the story’s development. I love Jane the Virgin because I love Jane.
I have a hearty admiration for well-written female villains. Hearty, I say, because it is a severe, bountiful, and vigorous admiration, but also because they still seem to be few and far between. While female protagonists are progressively growing in rank, it’s sad to see the nurses from Silent Hill on more “Top Tens” than characters with actual dialogue. It’s not that we totally lack woman antagonists, but we do lack a variety that have believable backstories, relevant motives, and some good TLC from the good ol’ writers. There is a place for leotards and sultry walk cycles, but they still need to fit into some sort of justified environment and have at least a smidgen of narrative integrity.