Sacrifice and Devotion in the Indian Tradition: A Response to the NYT Article

17 Oct

This post is a response to the NYT article in the Sunday, October 17 paper. The article can be found in an online slideshow form here.

What I loved about this article was it’s focus on devotion. At first it starts out explaining that the holiday is a celebration of devotion to one’s husband (with an all day fast), but as you go through the 5 different profiles, which span generations, neighborhoods, and family histories, you find that the focus is on a very different kind of devotion. Instead of the journey of fasting being about a woman’s gratefulness to her husband (whose language, if not theme, is at least problematic), in almost every profile the couple fasts TOGETHER because as Pradeep Kashyap says of his marriage to Reena,”I’ve always thought of ours as an equal relationship, so I chose to fast with her, and we’ve done it together every year.”

What I love about this SO MUCH isn’t JUST that it puts the focus on equality and giving to one ANOTHER (in one situation the man is a doctor and though he used to fast with her, she insisted he stop doing so so that he doesn’t compromise his patients safety). And by all means, I’m not saying that this isn’t how EVERY Indian celebration of this holiday and others it is or should be. My point, and my appreciation for the article, is the way in which the media (and the populous) generally highlights the inequalities, the wrongs, and the “weirdness” of other traditions.

I thought this was a wonderful article which (and I think unintentionally, though no less wonderfully) highlights that even the most “traditional” of families, marriages, and religious unions are still places where equality exists.

Weekly Wrap-Up

8 Oct

The point of the “Weekly Wrap-Up” is to pass along some of my favorite posts from my favorite places on the Internet. I’d expect most of them to be regarding feminism and rabbits.

This week’s post includes some of my all-time-favorite “introduction to feminism” posts. Posts are from Feministing.com, Jezebel.com, and KateHarding.net, all wonderful sites to go to for your feminist-filtered news and opinion.

Can a Man Be a Feminist?

Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced

Why ignore misogyny? (Because it hurts less)

Aaaaand…. an adorable otter, you know, for good measure.

Here’s my own adorable bunny rabbit as a reward for participating in my first Weekly Wrap-Up:

Fiscal Fasting: The “No New Clothes” Clause

7 Oct

To catch you up:

I just moved to NYC and I’m paying with for my MA (and my rent) with loans.

As a result, I really make an effort to spend money only on the things that really matter (like rabbit food, books for additional research, and wine).

Here are a few rules I’ve established in order to help cut unnecessary costs:

  1. drink wine only when I’m in; and only beer when I’m out.
  2. no new clothes, shoes, or accessories. only undies (cause a girl deserves to be so fresh and so clean, clean).
  3. never buy more than 3 thrift items at a time. unless you’re at a stoop sale. and in that case, rob those bastards blind.
  4. one splurge item per grocery trip. (also known as the “pick cheese OR cookies” rule)
  5. never, ever waste food.
  6. buy organic only for the most important fruits and veggies (and all animal products)
  7. only eat out on very special occasions… or pizza. if everyone is meeting up for dinner and drinks, join them for the drinks; and drink only beer (see rule 1).

A lot of my food rules are so that I can maintain my ethical standards of consuming. It’s a double sided coin: being aware and conscious of what I spend my money on and, also, what I put in my body. So, as you can see, this is incredibly important to me to maintain. That means I have to cut corners elsewhere. It means I drink cheap beer (but still not PBR… for ethical reasons), but I get to continue to boycott Kraft and other shit-tastic companies.

The rule I’m really excited about is number 2: no new clothes. The gist is: for one whole year, no buying new clothes. It’s simple right? Mostly… so far. Inspired by the Great American Apparel Diet, I started on September 1 (the day that the GAAD’s marathon ended) and, so far, no temptations.

There are a few “guidelines” in regard to the diet that I’m working out still. Can I buy used clothes (I vote yes)? What about gifts (think about Christmas here people)? What about gifts for OTHER people? What about socks and underwear and things you just can’t buy used (only in emergencies!)?

My boyfriend has already threatened to send me new dress socks… heh heh.

Of course, if I fall off the wagon and splurge on something adorable the point is to bring it to the forefront of the conversation, reflect, and then continue not buying things. It’s not a “see how long you can last” thing, but a “try really, really, really hard to not indulge for a year” thing.

I’m hoping I can keep it going for much longer than a year. Given that I’ll be here for two, I think that’s a great goal. Luckily, my wonderful mother gets my great, classic, professional pieces at Christmas, so that certainly eases the pain.

*     *     *     *     *     *

Any other general rules for saving money? Or input on the rules for the diet? I could use support/tips/partners and I’d be happy to open up the blog to those that want to participate and blog about their experiences with it.

Cravings: Giving In and Getting Sick

9 Jul

Cravings: Giving In and Getting Sick

For years now, eating Kraft mac’n’cheese has made me just absolutely sick to the stomach. I remember when it first happened I think I hoped I was actually coming down with the flew and that it wasn’t the mac’n’cheese that made me sick (please, god! please! not the mac’n’cheese!). Alas, it was in fact the glory that is mac’n’cheese that was making me sick.

“Good” news was a short time after I stopped buying Kraft products all together. (If you dig theories like “voting with your fork” you’ll really dig The Better World Shopper. RUN and get it; don’t walk.)

Recently, I’ve been having the weirdest cravings.

Wild raspberries and walnuts

French fries and Bailey’s (seriously, my fave)

Ham and green olive pizza (says the vegetarian)

Luckily, they’ve all ended up spawning wonderful adventures.

I really tried to ignore the one about Kraft, but alas! after two weeks, which is generally my “is this a real craving or fleeting desire” period of thought (see Food: Guilt, Indulgence, and Maintaining the Balance), today I decided to indulge…

And what do you know! It made me sick again.

I knew it would. Even if it wasn’t for the same reasons as before, I try my hardest not to eat overly processed foods, like, you know, not powdered “cheese.” I avoid things high in sugar (except for alcohol… see my upcoming blog on exceptions… or just have a beer and you’ll know why).

So why’d I do it?

I knew that it meant giving money to one of the douchiest, unethical, domineering companies there is. I knew it meant I was going to end up with a terrible stomachache and nausea. I knew that the craving, too, would pass eventually.

Not only did I give in, but I went out of my way to do so. I went down to the grocery store myself and when I didn’t see the mac’n’cheese on my first trip down all the aisles, I looked again, and again. I even almost spilled all the noodles on the floor and, had I done so… I probably would have gone and gotten another box.

I wonder what it says about my self-control…

What do you think about cravings? Do you give in? If you do, do you feel guilty? Weirdest cravings you’ve ever had?

Food: Guilt, Indulgence, and Maintaining the Balance

9 Jul

For her summer school class project, my friend started up a blog with the intention of discussing the complicated relationship women have with food. (For more of an introduction to the blog go here, or visit Gud Fudz yourself!)  Promising to help and loving the idea of guest blogging, my attention lately has been on precisely this. Consequently, many of the blogs that appear here are cross-posted.  Even though Blas(fem)y has no intention of focusing on food in this way, it does focus on me… and my focus right now is food. This means, for you, that many of the blogs will be of this theme, including my latest adventures into Breaking Veg, The State of Exception (both upcoming), and (posted directly following this one) Cravings: Giving in and Getting Sick. Aside from food, they also have the common theme of “breaking” a “rule” set for yourself. Should I feel guilty for wanting to have a salmon fillet? Should I indulge this? When does it become a legitimate craving?

A few things should be noted on my own standpoint of my vegetarianism and of dieting (not in the lose weight sense, in the lifestyle sense).

Firstly, I am a vegetarian for many reasons: ethical, environmental, health, ease (yea, I do think it’s easier being a vegetarian when you’re cooking for yourself), cost (again, when cooking for oneself especially)… oh and because I lost a bet so I had to be a vegetarian for a month.  I had wanted to do so for awhile, but knew myself well enough to know that I needed a little motivation. So the month “punishment” was perfect. I never looked back. I learned how to cook (like actually cook, not like heat things up cook).  Once the month was up, I would occasionally eat fish and when I was going on a month long trip to Istanbul, I worked some meat back into my diet, unsure if I could (and wanted to) be a veg there. (On a side note, you can be a veg there, especially if you have a little guidance or familiarity with the language. I went back to veg (mostly) for the last two weeks there, but I’m very glad I ate meat. I was afraid that I would miss out on an experience or that if I did eat meat before “preparing” I would get sick.) Once I got back from Istanbul I stopped eating meat again and this time meat as well. I’ve “cheated” twice, though I really hate that terminology…. which is the main point of this blog, the negativity surrounding “cheating” on your diet and the consequences of this negativity.

One of my critiques of any dieter is that it seems they so easily fall off the bandwagon. And not that it isn’t hard! Or that people don’t fuck up! Intentionally or unintentionally (I just found out the other day caesar dressing has anchovies, wtf)! Just that it’s actually seen as falling off the bandwagon. Or, rather, that people don’t seem to get back on to the bandwagon. They see it as a “well I fucked up; I’ll start again on Monday.” What happened to the saying, “if you fall off a horse, get right back on?”

Additionally, and here is my biggest worry, the guilt that comes with messing up a little bit.

Because of this, I think it’s important to indulge your cravings. For me this means, get a craving and don’t indulge just yet. Give it a week, or two, or whatever… and if I still have it, indulge! I think that, in this way, you’re able to maintain a healthier balance between abstaining (which can be unhealthy) and over-indulgence (which can be just as unhealthy as abstaining).

Then, after I indulge, I get right back on the horse.

Note: These issues will be further explored in the upcoming blogs mentioned above.

Why Are We Romanticizing (Probably) the Worst Era for Women Ever?

10 Jun

Why Are We Romanticizing (Probably) the Worst Era for Women Ever?

I love Mad Men; I do. I think it highlights precisely how deep sexism was embedded in ad agencies, within the home, and within the social spheres of the women, but like many a-great critiques, this point can be (and is) missed. I hope this show never, ever, ever goes off the air (I mean, I love it), but there is no doubt that it contributes to an unhealthy fascination (which is becoming obsessive) with this era.

There are many great things about the 50s, like The Comets (Rock Around the Clock, anyone?); buuut it wasn’t exactly a great time for women. An interesting transition, or regression rather, was occurring. Women were forced back into the home following WW II. Following World War II, women found themselves with a new image, “but the new image this mystique gives to American women is the old image: ‘Occupation: housewife’” (Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, 43). This shift from the American woman as growing and changing with American society to being, once more, limited to the walls of her home is, as Betty Friedan describes it, world-shattering (Friedan, 44). American society, such as the male-dominated workplace, adjusted and, too, contributed to her confinement.

So what is with the (new?) romanticization of the time period? Is it connected to the religious resurgence and push for traditional household? Is it part of the backlash against feminism? Is it part of the feminist movement, an, “I can be a housewife in all the traditional senses and be a feminist too!” (which I’m not arguing against, not here at least, though I think this line of thought can be problematic)?

What (finally) prompted me to write on this was my recent attendance to a bridal shower. The theme was 1950s housewife and all of the ladies were appropriately clad. There were 11 bridesmaids (though not all of us were present), but aside from that chunk of youth, the rest were 40-80 year old church folk. On the table was this “Guide to Being a Good Wife,” with the last “rule” circled and highlighted:

“The most important thing to know is that a wife always knows her place.”

Doh!

If I didn’t know ma’ lil’ punk rock girl and her man to be so well I would have bolted then and there. And I get it, it’s satirical, but my worry is that the 11 or so that made up the “youth” were the only ones that got exactly how fucking ridiculous said rule is. The absurdity of the statement was addressed at the close of the shower (which, by the way, was a blast and chalk full of dirty-joke induced giggles up at the head table), but we were still among women who (arguably) this was lost upon. For them, it was quite possible that a statement such as this was reaffirming to their beliefs.

This issue of “audience” and the relationship with responsibility of the author/comedian/television show/artist/etc/etc are incredibly interesting to me and there is much to be said which won’t be expounded upon in this particular blog post.

What do you think? Is it innocent dress up? And even if it is (and it is) innocent on the part of the planners and participators, should we be held responsible for the (potentially unforeseen) consequences (such as the message to the young children who don’t understand satire and to the older folk who understand the message, but not that it is a satirical critique)?

Outside of the bridal shower and each individual indulgence in recalling this time period, will there be backlash from this romanticization? Are we (re)selling (unintentionally, maybe) a specific kind of femininity and idea of woman?

The typical reaction to these worries of mine go something like, “chill the fuck out; it’s one night of 6-inch-heel, red-lipstick-wearing, apron-donning dancing.”  I think it’s a mistake (always) to discount the effects of our actions, even if they are unintended, unintentionally, and seemingly harmless.

Trials and Tribulations of a Hypoglycemic: My Complicated Relationship with Food

10 Jun

This is a cross-post on my friend’s wonderful blog Gud Fudz, which Emmaraptor describes as a blog to discuss the “difficult and unnatural relationship with food.” It’s a (brand new!) outlet for sharing recipes, stories, and to have a dialogue about the complicated relationship we each have with food. This functioned as my introduction to the site and should be posted there shortly.

Trials and Tribulations of a Hypoglycemic: My Complicated Relationship with Food

Most of what I know about food is related to animal treatment and pesticides, which says substantially more about the ethical standpoint of a particular business than about what I’m putting in my body. The rest of my very limited knowledge comes from what I know about what I put into my rabbit’s body. I know, for example, that bananas should be a treat (for rabbits) as they have little nutritional value (for rabbits) and that they (still rabbits) will choose the treat over their nutritional food or that cucumbers are mostly water and, thus, not as nutritious as we (people) like to think they are for us/them (people/rabbits).

I very much enjoy food, but often my relationship with food occurs when I purchase it. I’m particular (read: obsessed) with who I give my money to. I will not buy a product from Kraft (on purpose). My problem is that, after leaving the grocery store, after the economic exchange is done, I often lose my connection with the food that I put in my body. Essentially I buy smart, full of good ideas and good intentions, but I eat stupid. I don’t balance my meals efficiently and tend to repeat the same meals, rather than get a good variety of veggies. I’ve been able to skate by doing so, until recently.

I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia back when I was in high school when I went through a stint of passing out in the shower. The problem was certainly poorly managed low blood sugar issues, but when combined with low blood pressure (thank you, steaming hot shower) had dangerous effects. When I became a vegetarian (or started to become at least; I recently learned about renit, which means I’ve been eating stomach intestines for the 2 years I’ve claimed to be a veg), I paid particular attention to making sure I was getting enough of everything, calculating closely my sugars and irons. I thought I had most of it under control; I ate every 2-3 hours, alternating snack and meal. Then I started dating a nutritionist…

I began complaining about how I felt nauseous every day around one o’clock or so and that, by four, I had a headache. When I spent the weekend with him, I felt just fine. He would ask me around these times how I was feeling. I thought he was being very caring (he was), but in actuality he was monitoring me. At the end of the three days or so he convinced me to allow him to “nutrify” me, which means to chalk me full of vitamin D, B12 and some yellow horse pill that makes my constantly chapped lips smooth again.

We talk a lot about “voting with your fork,” animal treatment, organic farming, physiology. A lot of theorizing goes on. He seems to have fixed a lot of problems, treated a lot of easily treatable things (Except for my hypochondria; that seems to have flared up again). We both got burns around similar times. His has healed, no scars. Mine still busts open when I hit it too hard on the window. Immediately he comments, “you’re probably lacking zinc and vitamin C.” Not a big deal, as these are all treatable deficiencies. Good to know! (pours glass of orange juice)

Then my hypoglycemia seemed to becoming more and more problematic on a daily basis. We were out museum-ing and movie-ing when we had to cut it short so I could get a meal in. This is not okay with me. I’m not okay with interruptions like this. I have things to be doing, galleries to be walking through, drives to be going on, dancing to do. Upon arriving at my then abode, he headed for the stairs, which we always take instead of the elevator. And I realized that if I tried to go up the stairs that I honestly felt that I’d pass out (which I hadn’t done since I was 18). After getting some “gud fudz,” he sat me down to have a serious chat. I’m thinking, “holy crap he is going to dump me… Oh geez he is going to say the l-word…”

He talked to me about type two diabetes.

Does anyone remember the Babysitters Club episode where what’s-her-face has diabetes and has to eat a muffin? She passed out a few times, too. At the time, this was my only connection to how serious these issues could be. Ok fine, this was still how I perceived the seriousness of low blood sugar…

It never occurred to me that this could have a long term effect outside of having to food good and good for you a lot and often. Bummer, right? The conversation was a bit of a wake up call. I know nothing about diabetes other than some people so actually pronounce it die-uh-beat-us and that people can lose a foot from it, which I learned through Scrubs (I should either stop watching so much TV, or watch more so that I know about diabetes).

So this is my (current) frustration with my relationship with food. How indulgent can I be? How serious should I take this? Should I seek out vitamin/nutritional supplements (for this and other issues such as the vitamin b12, zinc, etc)? What does it mean to be “on the path to diabetes?” How quick can I get off of this path? And, constantly, is what I’m eating actually good for me?