Log in

No account? Create an account
18 November 2012 @ 08:29 pm
14 v logo

This is the official and updated14valentinesFAQ. Last revised November 18, 2012.

14 Valentines FAQCollapse )
Tags: ,
19 November 2012 @ 08:25 pm
Hi Everyone! As we gear up for the 2013 cycle of14valentines, I thought a good place to start off would be to update some basic information regarding the comm.

14 v logo

About 14 Valentines

14 Valentines is a concept/project pioneered in 2006 going into its eighth year year, based on the idea of fandom as a community of women and the power of the relationships there. It's meant to raise awareness of women's issues -- and hopefully as a result increase participation in community women's groups. 14 Valentines will run for two weeks (14 days) for the first half of February, ending on Valentine's Day, also Vagina Day, Victory Against Violence Day and is in a large part inspired by Eve Ensler, her amazing Vagina Monologues, and the organization that grew out of that movement, the V-Day foundation.

The mission of 14 Valentines isn't to solicit money for the cause -- as anybody who has worked at a nonprofit knows, money does not fix all or even some of the problems -- but instead of remind everybody that there is a cause, that it touches each of us every day and that we should embrace the agency we're lucky enough to have and do something good with it. We're all global citizens -- we're a global sisterhood, too.

Please keep in mind that when we say women we are not restricting this to the issues of cis white straight able women in in the West. We understand the different experiences and struggles that come along with intersectionality, and we welcome focus on and representation of women in relation to varied gender identities, races, sexualities, cultures, religions, socioeconomic statuses, etc.

How It Works

Basically, every day for the first 14 days of February an essay at least 1,000 words will be posted to the comm/tumblr that focuses on the theme of that day and talks about the issue. Essays will be written by volunteers who sign up for a particular day/topic.

Participation is not limited to the “official” comm essays, however. You can write your own essays on topical issues, be they personal or informational or activist. Given that this is a project for the fannish community, you can also contribute by the creation of women-centric fanworks of any kind (fiction, fanart, graphics, manipulations, etc.), as well as rec lists (of fanworks or professional works), music mixes, or whatever you can think to do. These fanworks or rec lists do not have to incorporate the daily topic.

Typically, participants include a link back to the official 14Valentines community/tumblr and the essay of the day on whatever contribution they post as a way or promoting the project.

All contributions are linked to on a daily round up post which presents all contributions for the day in one place.

19 August 2012 @ 09:22 pm
Hi everyone! As bunnymcfoo posted on Friday, I'm the new comm runner for 14valentines. Many, many thanks and kudos to Bunners for all her work on the comm in the last couple of years, and I'm happy to have been passed the baton for 2013!

Now that the changeover is official, I'd like to open the floor up for suggestions, thoughts, and changes for the 14 Valentines event for 2013, whether they be about topics, formats, guidelines, etc.

I'm going to mention, right up front, that there are two changes I've come up with. Firstly, there will be a prompt list for participants to go to for inspiration. Secondly, I'm going to add Tumblr as a 14 Valentines component/platform, since there is a large fandom and social justice presence there that is not also represented on LJ/DW.

But I really want to know what all of you, many of whom have participated multiple times in the past, would like to see/add/change.

So if you have opinions and ideas for 14 Valentines 2013, please take a moment to comment with them.
Tags: ,
17 August 2012 @ 07:56 pm
Hey everyone! So there's six months or so left before the next 14 Valentines and there's an announcement that I totally need to make.

I'm officially stepping down as mod of this community and handing it over to idyll, who is amazing and will, I'm sure, be a shining bastion of organization and deadline-meeting - things which I struggle with. I'm seriously excited to see what she does with 14 Valentines and will be sticking around to help when and where I can.

SO I hope y'all are moving and shaking on your fics and graphics and mixes and rec lists and will join me in welcoming idyll as our new mod of awesomeness!
15 February 2012 @ 04:14 pm

Day 01: Body Image essay written by druidspell
Fan mix by lady_writes ("Kick Ass Take Names Make No Apologies")
Never Let Me Go recs by sansets
Artist recs by katherine_tag
NCIS fic by arsenicjade ("Lebanon Tree")

Day 02: Women's Health essay written by druidspell
FREE HUGS T-shirt by lady_writes
St. Trinians recs by sansets
Criminal Minds fic by arsenicjade ("Recuperation")

Day 03: Motherhood and Reproductive Rights essay written by bunnymcfoo
White Collar fic by arsenicjade ("Family Planning")
Thematic vid recs by sansets
Essay by jae_w ("Coming Out as a Mother")
Art by lady_writes ("Matryoshka Gourds")

Day 04: Sexual Assault essay written by bunnymcfoo
Magnificent 7 fic by arsenicjade ("Story In My Mind")
SGA recs for Teyla Emmagan and Jennifer Keller by sansets

Day 05: Domestic Violence essay written by katherine_tag
Women of Sherlock Holmes recs by sansets
Magnificent 7 fic by arsenicjade ("Self-Determination")
Art by lady_writes ("Domestic Violence")

Day 06: Women and Political Action essay written by idyll
Gilmore Girls recs by sansets
A Song of Ice and Fire art colored by lady_writes
Gundam Wing fic by arsenicjade ("Proposed Legislation")
Cooking Blog recs by katherine_tag

Day 07: Women and Athletics essay written by sansets
SG1 recs for Sam Carter and Vala Mal Doran by sansets
Gundam Wing fic by arsenicjade ("Changement de Rythme")
Essay and book rec by druidspell ("And the award for the Most Sportsmanlike Behavior goes to...")

Day 08: Women of Color essay written by afterthefair
Middleman recs by sansets
Suits fic by arsenicjade ("Familiar Feeling")

Day 09: Women and Work essay written by wendelah1
Burn Notice fic by arsenicjade ("Duty")
Social Network recs for Erica Albright by sansets

Day 10: Women and Economics/Poverty essay written by bunnymcfoo
Primeval recs by sansets
Magnificent 7 fic by arsenicjade ("Dusty Footprints")

Day 11: Women and Education essay written by arsenicjade
Eagle of the Ninth fic by arsenicjade ("Oral Traditions")
Multifandom recs by sansets ("Families of Choice")

Day 12: Women and Media"> essay written by bunnymcfoo
Vorkosigan recs by sansets
Hunger Games fic by arsenicjade ("Interference")
Media Sites recs by katherine_tag

Day 13: LGBTQ Women essay written by harborshore
Leverage fic by arsenicjade ("Open Relationship")
Avengers recs for Black Widow by sansets
Art by lady_writes ("L.o.V.e.")
Open Letter and two book recs by druidspell

Day 14: Women and War/Peace essay written by sansets
Captain America recs for Peggy Carter by sansets
Magnificent 7 fic by arsenicjade ("Side Line")
Crafty Women recs by katherine_tag

This year, the mods also set up posts for books and print media, television and movies, and music, so be sure to check those out too!

A huge thanks to rageprufrock, who started this challenge back in 2007; bunnymcfoo, who has run this community since 2008 and done a great job; idyll and arsenicjade who signed on as co-mods this year; all of the essayists who stepped up this year--druidspell, bunnymcfoo, katherine_tag, idyll, sansets, afterthefair, wendelah1, arsenicjade, and harborshore; and to every person who made fic, art, recs, or commented. All of us are beautiful; all of us are strong. ♥
Current Mood: happy
Current Music: Heather Alexander - "Insh'Allah"
14 February 2012 @ 07:47 am

As a child, I watched my father's dad, a Korean war veteran, slowly losing his hearing because of the injuries he garnered and learning to pretend that he was hearing things much better than he was because he didn't want to admit that he was going deaf. As an adult, I listened to my mother's father (who turns 87 today) attempt to explain about his horrible memories that he still suffers from his service in World War II and then leave the room because he could not let himself cry in front of us. I've watched that same man refuse any help with the problems of aging, because "he was a Marine, he didn't NEED any help."

Both of these men are foremost on my mind these days, as I finish up my MA thesis, which is a critique of the expectations of military masculinity in contemporary US culture. I come at this critique from my pacifist background, but I came to that by growing up seeing the effects of war on my families and the families of those close to me. I am mostly supported for this critique in my academic life, but I don't talk much about my work with my extended family, because I am used to being dismissed as a "silly girl" who doesn't know what she is talking about whenever I try to discuss my opposition to war.

And that is the take-away from this for me, that is the reason I am so committed to working for a better solution to conflict than war. This vision of conflict resolution and it's ideals of gender are toxic, both to men and to women. I have lost close relationships with both of my grandfathers because of war and with many of my relatives because I believe that working for peace is harder than throwing bombs and because I believe that neither side has all of the answers. My mother and her sisters are the ones who have to deal with the fact that their own father doesn't know how to ask for help because he was continually taught that he shouldn't ever do that, especially not from women.

Women come in all shapes and sizes. We come from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, from all political persuasions. I long to live in a world where my ideas are discussed and debated on their own merits, rather than being rejected for reasons of my gender or reduced to it. Just as I would expect Rick Santorium not to be shocked by a woman who wanted to become a solider, I would expect you to listen when I talk about my pacifism rather than dismissing it as a silly female thing or assuming that the only reason I came to that conviction was because of the fact that women are "more gentle." That makes about as much sense as assuming my pacifism stems from my gayness and insults my intelligence just as much. Women should not, CAN NOT, be reduced to any one characteristic, other than an affinity with the label of woman. Women's voices must be heard, on BOTH sides of the debate about a need for war in this day and age. Who knows? Maybe there is a way to rehabilitate the ideals of the military to something without toxic gender ideals that bring about death and destruction to millions of lives. But I do know that there is no way we will ever find that out unless we stop assuming that we already know what half of the population will say on the matter.

There aren't any good, clean, clear answers that I can give on this subject. About the best I can do is point you back to the smart things that idyll said about politics, because that's where the ticket lies, in addition to peace protests and fund-raising for displaced persons and drives to stop war violence. All of these things are important, because the personal IS political, but without working in congress with those seeking the voice and the authority to enact change, it all becomes a little pointless.
13 February 2012 @ 04:27 pm

I don't look like I'm queer. Or so they tell me. “But you're so pretty!” said the then-boyfriend of my friend M. I blinked. Up until that point, I'd been unaware that loving women was something I must inevitably had turned to as a second choice, or that it's immediately visible when someone isn't straight.

But I did know that there were (and are) a lot of ideas on how to be the right kind of woman, and for me, identifying as bisexual and queer meant that I wasn't going to live up to some of those idea(l)s. As wrongheaded as many of them are, that was always going to be difficult.

At this point, I should break in and say that this essay is inevitably going to be personal, and that I in no way am trying to claim that my experience is any kind of universal. I'm also going to warn for internalized homophobia and a brief discussion of corrective rape.

It took me quite a long time to come to terms with not being straight. This despite the fact that I grew up in a very liberal country, where the most popular teen movie the year that I turned fourteen was about two girls falling in love—and it was most emphatically a love story, not made for the male gaze but from their perspective. But I had a best friend whose parents were conservatively Christian, whose mother hissed something about lesbians at N. when she wanted to go spend a week with me, who wouldn't let her visit me by herself.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I internalized some of that. It was fine to be gay, it was fine to love people of the same sex, but I wasn't. I was straight. It took falling in love so hard I couldn't ignore it anymore to realize that these weren't new and unique feelings for me, that they'd been there all along.

I had no idea how to cope with that. I just fell in love and ignored all the rest, and then when we broke it off, I was left looking in the mirror and trying to fit into myself. Realizing then that the discomfort I felt at feminine ideals wasn't only tied to my identity as a bisexual woman—this is the reason I began identifying as queer as well.

And so we're back at the beginning, at self-image and perception and the idea of what real women are. Because I cut off all my hair, a while after the comment about being pretty, and it made it easier for me. Because I grew up in one of the most liberal countries in the world, and I still couldn't figure out how to accept my own feelings.

Because there are places not looking like the right kind of woman can get you killed, because even one of the most liberal countries in the world (my own) thinks that if you want to legally change your sex, you must be sterilized (essentially, our legal definition of gender boils down to: a woman can't produce sperm and a man can't have a uterus), because so-called corrective rape happens and it took almost two hundred thousand signatures for the South African Government to establish a National Task Team to protect the victims and prevent this kind of crime.

Because every single one of us is real. Whether we like the word woman or not, whether we have long hair or short hair, whether we have vaginas or not; however we choose to define ourselves, we're all real.

The Dyke Marches are—well. Read about them. They started because GLBTQ women were protesting the lack of space for them within the Pride Parades (which are wonderful, but have also traditionally been run by white gay men). They're inclusive (“We celebrate our queerness in all its manifestations. We understand dyke identity to include those of us who are questioning and challenging gender constructs and the social definitions of women: transdyke, MTF, transfeminine, transmasculine, genderqueer, and gender fluid dykes. We also welcome all women who want to support dykes to march with us. Celebrate dyke diversity!”) and great and looking through their photo galleries are a wonderful reminder of the many, many ways that you can manifest and celebrate your identity. Any way you want.
12 February 2012 @ 05:40 pm

Back in 2002 or so, a coworker of mine told me that she didn't like listening to female musicians. There was something about women's voices that she didn't like. Mind you, this coworker was a bit of a wild-child alternative punk kid who had a wide range of musical tastes, and I assumed she was joking. She wasn't.

Last week, a coworker walked in on me singing along to Heart and promptly started to tease me. I initially thought that he was mocking my voice (justified, for sure), but no, he was making fun of my taste in music. See, in his worldview, women can't be rockstars, and he was shocked that I liked that "Cyndi Lauper bullshit". I challenged him to come up with one woman rocker he thought was good and after about five minutes he came up with "Joan Jett's pretty okay, but the rest of them suck."

Last night, my mother and I had a conversation about how the Americana station on Pandora had maybe one song by a woman for every thirty or so by men. She wanted to know if there really were that few women making music in that genre, or if the station was just off. It is, but as someone who gets most of her exposure to musicians from that arena, my mother never would have known something was really askew if she hadn't asked me.

It's not like it's a subtle thing - there just aren't as many women making music as there are men doing it. For every woman fronting a band, there's any number of dudes. For every girl who picks up a guitar or drumsticks, there's a ton of them who never follow that dream because "women can't be rockstars" and probably shouldn't even try. I wanted to play drums once, but every other person learning to drum at my school was a boy. I was teased by both my classmates and my teacher and felt so embarrassed by my understandable beginner mistakes that I quit after three months, convinced that I'd been stupid to even try.

I look at my 12 year old self now and am so angry. More than likely I never would have done anything with it if I had continued on with the classes, but I had every right to be there. My friend who wanted to drum but who was pushed into playing the piano by her parents had every right to the instrument of her choice. All the little girls who are out there playing rockband and wishing they could be a superstar are entitled to their dreams and I only wish they had more rolemodels to follow. We've got a few, and they're certainly amazing women, but I wish that we had more.

I wish that for every Mick Jagger we had a Joan Jett. For every Jimi Hendrix, a Nancy Wilson. I wish that when Rolling Stone puts out their "best guitarist" or "most influential musicians" or "greatest band" lists, that women were more equally represented, rather than being the spare handful that might appear between their male peer's names. I wish that I hadn't quit the drums.

Girls Rock Camp is a group up in Oregon that lets ladies from age 8 on explore their musical dreams. I'm not only linking to them because they're a fucking awesome group, but because they're currently accepting applications for their 2012 programs, which range from summer sessions for girls with no musical experience whatsoever to weekend retreats for those 21 and up. Financial aid is available for those without financial means - if you've ever wanted to unleash your inner shredding demon, this might well be the time and place to prove my coworkers wrong.
11 February 2012 @ 03:35 pm

In the realm of education, I am among the most privileged people in the world. I attended a private day school in elementary, one of the United State's best public school districts for middle school and another private institution for high school. I was accepted into an Ivy League and attended for a year before leaving for a smaller, only-slightly-less-prestigious liberal arts college. I earned a Master's. I worked in the Harvard Graduate School of Education for nearly three years. I will have a J.D. from a highly ranked public institution before the year is out.

Here's why all of this is important: It is not just in the places I studied, the technologies that were available to me, the small class sizes and the level of education that I have been enormously privileged. It is in the fact that until coming to law school, every single one of my educational mentors were women.

In high school, my mentor was a woman who had gotten her doctorate despite coming from a family of small means to who education, particularly liberal arts education, was not seen as something of value.

In college, my mentor was a fantastically quirky British lesbian trying to make her way in the still very (quietly, but nonetheless) conservative field of US Higher Ed Literature. She made me question all my assumptions, and come out a better person for it.

In grad school, I was lucky enough to have four: a woman who had survived getting a DPhil from Oxford in the age where it was still adjusting to having women there at all, a woman who had come from Trinidad at an early age and made her way through the predominantly white, American-centric Ivy League system to attain a PhD, a woman struggling to get the world to notice Northern Ireland in a context OTHER than the conflict, and a Filipina cancer-survivor who fought to keep discussions of composition and rhetoric on the higher ed table despite the institutional push back against it.

While at Harvard, I worked for five female professors, pursuing issues from how to keep good teachers in high school classrooms, to how to teach non-white children "multi-cultural-ness" and engage them in civic activities, to how to help persons fill out FAFSA's correctly so they got the aid to which they were entitled.

You can imagine, then, it was something of a shock to show up at law school and realize that not only was I in the (slight) minority of my classmates as a woman, but that the number of female professors was in the significant minority.

I have brilliant, wonderful, insightful professors who have been of enormous help to me in law school. They are all white males. And it is evident, in talking to them about the job market, about policy concerns, about simple, education-related issues, being so colors their view of things, just as being a white woman colors mine. And I am privileged in my Whiteness. The number of women professors--professors period--who are non-white in this environment is devastating.

My school hosts a fairly large LLM program: a legal masters, largely pursued by non-Americans, although occasionally by Americans who wish to specialize in a certain field. The majority of students who participate are Chinese, largely girls. There is not a single female Chinese professor at my school. There are only a very very few women who come from Latin America, but there are no female Hispanic professors at my school.

Every day, I am presented by how very, extremely lucky I was (am) to have had women along every step of my education to encourage me, to tell me what I was doing was important, that I should keep at it. Every day, I am presented with the idea of how very many women do not have that, how many women struggle alone, or are forced to give up their educational pursuits for lack of support.

GEMS is a New York-based organization that works to help girls who have been commercially sexually exploited to find and achieve their potential, by way of education and mentoring.

The Valuable Girl Project is working to provide 1000 Egyptian girls with mentors, to help them gain confidence and a sense of purpose.

Finally, Big Brothers, Big Sisters is a really great way to get involved in the life of a young girl who very well may not have anyone telling her that being smart/liking to read/enjoying science/whatever is cool. I've done this, and plan to do it again in the near future and believe me when I tell you: it feels awesome.
10 February 2012 @ 06:35 am

My family has always been poor. Growing up, I didn't know exactly what it meant that we moved a lot and my clothes were either home-made or bought on extreme clearance at inexpensive stores. I didn't know why my mother never got the sizable dent in the car (caused by sliding on black ice and hitting an embankment) fixed, or why we used the library instead of buying the books I so desperately wanted. I didn't know why we went to the free clinic (if we went to a doctor at all) or why people looked at us weird when we paid for our groceries with the stamps mom got every month. I just knew I hated all of it and was ashamed to be so "weird" - I thought it was something that was wrong with us.

Of course, when I look at my family from the advanced age of 31, I know what all those things meant and that we weren't exactly weird. I means that my family has always been one of the millions of families in the United States who walk a knife-edge of always being one serious illness, one broken down car, one lost job away from disaster. There's always that ever present fear of something happening. If you're sick, you get really really sick before you go to the doctor. If the car starts making a weird rattle, but still runs, you don't get it looked at. You cling to your job, no matter how bad it is, and you hope you don't lose hours at work. Paycheck to paycheck is a horrifyingly stressful way to live.

The thing that kills me is that, as poor as my family was, for a lot of the time we didn't actually qualify as "living below the poverty line" in the United States. For a family of four to qualify for that dubious honor, they have to be living off of $22,350 annually. That's regardless of where in the country they life, mind you. While there's certainly a significant cost of living difference between California and Mississippi, the federal government doesn't take that into consideration when figuring out who's really broke.

Poverty is included in the subjects we're talking about in this two week period because it disproportionately affects women, who earn less than men do on a global scale. Because it disproportionately affects single mothers, particularly those who are women of color. Because depression and physical illness rates rise as income levels decrease, and (shocker!) more women than men are diagnosed with depression and given prescriptions for anti-depressants. Because women like my mother work 40 hour work weeks with at least 10 more unpaid hours at home for chicken feed and the worry lines never leave their faces. Because in this day and age when we talk about the 99% and the 1%, I don't think anyone really stops to think about the fact that the 15% of the 99% who are in financial free-fall are largely women. Because as poor women in the United States, we're still lucky - it's far worse in vast parts of the world. Poverty is a global issues, and it wears a woman's face.

I know this essay isn't as polished as it could be, and I'm sorry. I've fussed over it for long enough to know that this is as good as it gets for me - it's an issue that I wanted to say too much about and feel too strongly about. As such, it's been really hard for me to figure out exactly what group to link to. I've narrowed it down to two:

Feeding America is an organization that you may have known as America's Second Harvest. It's a biggie and it's important - its support is vital to close to 100,000 different food related initiates including food pantries, soup kitchens, and and after school programs. It's also a damn sure bet that there's local food pantries, soup kitchens, etc in your local community who could use support to help feed people.

The Heifer Project is a personal favorite of mine. The organization provides animals and animal husbandry education to people in developing nations, with the understanding that the off-spring of said animals will be used to better the lives of the recipients - many of whom are women. Animals provided range from bees to chicks to water buffalo, and the meat, milk, eggs, and wool they provide have transformed entire communities standards of living. (If you're ever wondering what to get me for a birthday or any other gift giving occasion, send someone some Bunnie in my name! :D)
09 February 2012 @ 09:56 am

After more than three decades in nursing, I'm retiring at the end of June. I'd to share with you some of the changes I've witnessed first hand in the healthcare system in California. It's been quite a journey.

The most obvious change is what we nurses wear, or perhaps I should say, what we no longer wear. When I started in nursing, we all wore white uniforms of our own choosing: white shoes, white stockings, and a white dress, or occasionally a pantsuit. As dress and comportment became less formal, hospital workers followed suit, with the nursing staff changing to white slacks paired with colored tops in the eighties and eventually to colored scrubs in the late nineties. Everyone wears flat shoes, and walking or even running shoes are commonplace.

Two years ago when we moved to our brand new hospital building, my employer took the opportunity to impose a new dress code on all of the employees, except for the physicians, social workers and other professional staff.

"The patients are confused. They say they don't know who is a nurse and who is a housekeeper," one of the administrators proclaimed.

I had a hard time believing that. We nurses all wore scrubs, albeit in different colors and patterns, and had stethoscopes hanging around our necks. We all introduced ourselves by name, and said, "Hello, I'm going to be your nurse today." We took our patients' temperatures and changed their dressings and gave their medications, held their hands and listened to their stories. We helped them walk and showed them how to cough so they wouldn't get pneumonia. We called their families for updates and their doctors for sleeping pills and emergencies. We gave nursing care. The housekeeping staff wore uniforms supplied to them by the hospital. They all said "Housekeeping," when they entered a room. They emptied waste baskets and linen hampers, cleaned the floors and performed other essential tasks, but that's not nursing.

But the hospital consultants said our patients wanted to know without being told that their nurse was a nurse, like it was back in the day when we wore white uniforms and caps. So now we nurses all wear identical employer-supplied dark blue scrubs with Registered Nurse embroidered above the chest pocket. Nurses aids all wear olive green. The housekeepers wear dark gray and white uniforms and the diet techs are dressed as waiters. Everyone, from the person who cleans the toilet to the person who does their breathing treatments, has a special uniform.

Administration made other changes as well. The nursing staff now has a hospital approved speech we are expected to say when we enter the patient's room, and one to say when we leave. We must answer the phone using a script, too. "Uniformity makes people feel safe," our managers tell us.

People stand in the hallway with clipboards, watching to see if we clean our hands before we enter and after we leave a patient's room. Nearly every day, a volunteer comes and asks my patients questions about how I delivered their care. Did I tell them about their medication side effects? Was I always respectful? Did I bathe them properly? The level of scrutiny feels so obtrusive now, I wonder if it's not interfering with my ability to care for my patients.

After they leave the hospital, the patients are sent questionnaires that ask them about the care they received. There is enormous pressure because we get graded on our patient's answers and the volunteers' observations, then financially rewarded—or not—based on those grades. The data gets entered and tallied. Our results get compared with other units and with other hospitals, too. There is a company who is being paid millions of dollars to make sure all of the data is being properly programmed, categorized and easily referenced.

For most of my career, I believed I was a professional but I was wrong. Professionals don't get told how to answer the phone or what to say to their clients. They don't have people following them around and listening to their phone conversations making sure they follow the script. Professionals hold themselves accountable. They aren't treated like interchangeable drones.

Nurses are one of the most trusted categories of workers in my country, which makes me wonder what we have to do to become trustworthy again in the eyes of our employers. I became a nurse to earn a living certainly, but I also believed it was a calling, a way for me to help others and ease suffering. I liked that kind of nursing. No, I lived and breathed that kind of nursing. Maybe, eventually, I might come to see the merits of this sort of nursing, too, but as things stand, my last day of work can't come too soon.

I'd like to call your attention to two outstanding nursing organizations. Nurses House is a national fund for nurses in financial need due to acute illness or disability. The California Nurses Association lobbied tirelessly for twelve years over the objections of the hospital industry to get a mandatory safe staffing law passed in 2004 that requires minimum, specific, and numerical direct-care Registered Nurse-to-patient staffing ratios by clinical unit for all acute-care hospitals in California. We want our patients to feel safe, too.
08 February 2012 @ 09:08 am

When I hit puberty, I was Jezebel. The world made it pretty clear that any black girl with big breasts must be up for anything. In high school, as I got older and fatter, I became Mammy, ready to lend a maternal ear to anyone. Then I went to college, started studying the media, and became Sapphire, perpetually angry about something. None of these things were me, but I realized that people wanted to be able to more easily categorize my existence, and they were just using the tools they had. I grew up going to predominantly white schools, watched mostly mainstream white TV, and lived in a white world. Outside of my home and church, everything I was exposed to was reductive when it came to race. And as a kid (and adult) who loved television, I became inured to the fact that I was rarely going to see anything that challenged those stereotypes.

This all changed when my brother had kids, and I realized that one of the things I wanted for them was to have no expectation that the stories they consumed would portray them as an amusing accessory for the main characters. My nieces are now twelve years old, and their environment is a lot like mine was. They never say it directly, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that they want to listen to what their friends listen to, and watch what their friends watch, and still find a way to see themselves in what they’re consuming.

One of their favorite TV shows is Glee.  We have this thing where whenever we watch it, and the characters Sam and Mercedes (who are white and black, respectively) interact, I tend to say, "You know why [x happened]? Because they're in love."  We're big dorks, so they put up with me doing it.  But they're constantly talking about how it's their favorite couple on Glee, and they're more emotionally invested in it than I’ve seen them be about anything else on TV.

Here's the thing: the black girl on an average U.S. TV show rarely gets a romantic storyline. She's the best friend, and she hangs out in the background making snarky comments, and occasionally they introduce a prop boyfriend who exists to round out the couples.  So the fact that this one show, one that all my nieces’ friends watch, is making this an actual plotline is amazing.  There's a black girl in a love triangle involving two boys who think she's special and talented and worth fighting for, and that’s telling the audience that she is.

I know how dangerous it is to place your expectations of validation on media products, especially validation through heteronormative romantic success, which is a problematic concept in and of itself. But it’s still the primary way the media tells us that women characters are worthwhile.  I’m extremely ambivalent about this because, problematic or not, I believe that everyone deserves fantasies, and it’s a fantasy that black women are generally denied access to.  

I've noticed that in the past few years I've found myself having to explain to my girls why they never even see anyone on TV with curly hair.  They're aware that the media is telling them that they're not worthwhile and that they don't deserve fantasies starring people who look like them.  So this one storyline has been hugely important to them.  The magic box that sells them stories is actually saying, "Look, there's a big black girl and she doesn't have to look or be just like everyone else to get the same things everyone else has.  She's perfectly fine just the way she is."  And that's good for them.  Hell, that's good for me.

I want my girls to grow up watching a media landscape where people who look like them are considered both important and normal.  I want them to feel like the world actually sees and values them.  I want them to know that their stories are stories worth telling.  And being able to watch this one little storyline on a show they like is helping to communicate that to them.

My interests are mainly in the stories mainstream media sells and how we negotiate their portrayal versus our reality, but it’s extremely important to note that there are options out there that provide different voices.

The Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project is a San Francisco-based group that not only holds film festivals showcasing the work of queer women of color, but provides training to teach them how to tell their own stories.

Voices from the Gaps is a teaching resource from the University of Minnesota that provides essays and reviews of work done by women writers and artists of color. There are interviews with people like Sandra Cisneros and Zadie Smith, and a treasure trove of book reviews.

And, finally, one of my favorite blogs is The Crunk Feminist Collective, a group of writers who come out of the hip hop feminism movement and have insightful critiques on media and current events.
07 February 2012 @ 07:43 am

The path to equality can be built on a series of small moments. As a kid, we would alternate between having Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family one year and my dad's the next, but my sister and I always enjoyed the years spent at my dad's side of the family the best. This was mostly due to the fact that there were less people at this Thanksgiving, but also because we split up tasks along who liked to do what, instead of strict gender lines like with my mom's side of the family. And so it came to pass that there were many many years where my father and his father were in the kitchen preparing the last of the sides while my mother, sister, grandmother and I would sit in the living room watching football.

When we were in school, my sister and I were encouraged by my parents to play whatever sports we wanted to play. As typical suburban kids of the 90s, we tried them all - softball, soccer, basketball, ballet - and while none of them really stuck, my parents encouraged us just as much as they encouraged us in our schoolwork. And I will never forget the times my parents told me that I wasn't allowed to say that it was because I was girl that I couldn't do something athletic. It was just because my gifts lay elsewhere and that was OK.

In college, I rowed crew for a semester. I quit for a variety of reasons (mostly because I didn't ACTUALLY want to put in the effort to be an NCAA Division 1 athlete) but the respect that we and the other female athletes got from our fellow male athletes was pretty awesome. Sure there was the usual grumbling about "Title IX bullshit" when funding issues arose, but for the most part, I just remember a sense of camaraderie about the hours of practice required for our various sports, how much we hated having to log our study hours at the library, and how awesome it was to have someone you didn't know high-five you for winning an important competition. I wouldn't say that we had any serious conversion moments, but I know that some of the most jerky guys I knew would stop looking at you like a piece of ass and start looking at you with respect once you translated how many kilometers clocked on the erg into an equivalent of miles ran. It stopped being a place of men versus women and started being one of pride in athleticism irregardless of gender.

Now that I am out of undergrad, I am fortunate enough to be able to live in a city where I not only can still keep up with the sport that I love (rowing is prohibitively expensive outside of a club setting, alas) but have found a great community of friends, both male and female, to share it with. In the case of my rowing club, we don't usually wind up setting an example about the general value of women as people as much as we do the general value of sexual minorities as people, but the theory still remains the same. My club also does quite a lot of volunteering with Athletes Without Limits, which reminds me daily that, as in many cases of intersectional identities, it is usually women that are at a greatest disadvantage and sometimes seeing another woman helping out can make all of the difference. Small moments might not overthrow the patriarchy. A small moment might not even change any one person's mind entirely. But in those small moments, we can make an opening in which the big moments can take root.
06 February 2012 @ 07:35 pm

This is the fourth year (non-consecutive) I've contributed an essay for 14valentines. In the past, I've done my best to keep my essays neat and contained, partly due to the word limit, but also due to a desire to focus and highlight the positive progress made in the area I'm writing in. This year, with the changes to the essay guidelines, I've decided to focus on a topic that, honestly, I find dispiriting and enraging, one with no easy organization to link to, or obvious progress to applaud.

If you're not familiar with 2011's Arab Spring—a series of pro-democracy protests that toppled regimes in the Arab world and made many draw parallels to the fall of Communism—the Guardian has an interesting interactive timeline. For me (and, really, the rest of the world), two things stood out the most about Arab Spring: the use of technology, specifically social media, and the role of women.

Women were more than just participants in this movement: they were organizers, instigators, promoters and viral social media presences. Though it would be fanciful to say women were leading this movement, it's not so out there to say that women were guiding it greatly, and with much international focus on their actions. As conflict arose, regimes toppled, and leaders fled, there was a wave of international pride and hope that followed in the wake of the protests: look at what women can do! Look how we were key to making this not only happen, but work! Now that they've won, imagine just how much better their lives will be!

History has shown us, however, that while women can be proponents of massive political change, they often find themselves no better off for it afterward—in some cases, they find themselves worse off, actually. That is perhaps what might happen in the Arab Spring countries currently in flux. Islamist parties have swooped in, hoping to gain political clout as these states shift into democracies. Some are, unfortunately, succeeding, and this could mean that the rights of women will decrease even beneath what they were under the old regimes.

This speaks to the patriarchal foundation of the world as a whole, and of Islam in particular, and exemplifies how men are willing to let us do the hard work in instigating change, but balk at letting us have a hand in shaping what comes next because it could threaten their power.

But it also speaks to the massive divide in urban and rural communities of developing nations. The women who participated in and guided Arab Spring were representative of the views of the more progressive urban centers of the affected countries. Now that democratic governments are being set up, they are discovering that many women in rural areas are putting their political support with groups that could erode women's rights. The reasons for this aren't simple and run the gamut from the disparities in education and economic power between women of rural and urban communities, to how entrenched some rural communities are in gendered cultural practices.

Despite the reasons, the end result could potentially damage even the limited rights the women in some of these countries previously had. Which is where my enraged dispirited comes in, because without political power, women's rights deteriorate, and women's issues of all kinds—such as every.single.one we speak about during 14valentines--are not a priority. Indeed, subjugating those rights and issues often become the priority.

As I said above, there's no easy well of hope to link you to on this topic, and no instant celebration of women's actions in the face of the potentially dismal results. In fact, in all honesty, while the topic of today is political action, this state of affairs is due to a culmination of other women's issues. I think, then, that what I take away the most from what is unfolding post-Arab Spring is this: none of these issues can be tackled in isolation because of the complexity and intersected nature all of them.
05 February 2012 @ 07:09 am

I could have written an essay laying out all the facts and figures of domestic violence, but I'm sure you've heard them a hundred times or more. We all know them, and the fact that you're participating in this little community means that you are passionate about changing things. You know all of that already. (And if you don't, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has some excellent fact sheets for national and state specific statistics, with footnotes!)

Thinking about domestic violence (or family violence) made me think about relationships, which made me think about all the different relationship changes my friends have gone through this past year. People have gotten married, engaged, bought a house, divorced, moved to a new state, found love and lost it again, or embarked on new relationships in configurations that some in society wouldn't call normal. In short, my friends have a lot of stories to tell.

Being a writer, and not just an activist, I spend a lot of time thinking about stories, and what I, as a reader, like about stories. A lot of the best stories, the most loved stories, and the stories that are most successful are about, at the heart of things, relationships. And I realized, and perhaps I should have realized this sooner, that we as writers and consumers of stories have a big responsibility to tell all kinds of different stories, and to – not tell the “right” kind of stories – but be conscious of the impact our stories can have on different people, and be conscious about what readers will take away from our stories. Stories, in some ways, shape our worldview; they help us make sense of the world around us, and they help us relate to other people, either by creating common ground or by exposing us to new perspectives.

This is a big, daunting responsibility, when you start thinking about it. Of course there are stories that are just pure fun, that exist purely for entertainment value, and that's fine. But the stories that we remember, that really grab us and affect us, run a little deeper than that.

Each woman I talked to, during the course of my work at two different crisis organizations, had a story. And as she told her story, she would find other women who could say yes, that happened to me too, or yes, I feel that way too, or this is what I did in a similar situation. Having a safe, non-judgmental space to tell her story was instrumental in giving her the tools and the strength to make positive changes in her life.

Of course each woman has her own process, and so sometimes she would go back to her relationship, or get into a new one, the violence would continue, and it would seem like nothing had changed. There are statistics about that too, I'm sure you're well aware. However, what did change was her knowledge – that there were people out there who were experiencing the same thing, that there were people out there who could help her, and that there was a safe place for her to go, if she decided that's what she wanted to do.

This, I feel, is one of the most important things in giving her story a happy ending.

That's why the organizations I chose to link to this year all provide that safe, healing space for a woman to tell her story. They aren't shelters, though of course shelters are intrinsic to the anti-domestic violence movement. Sometimes, all it takes to change someone's life is finding someone to listen to her story.

National DV Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services.

WOMAN, Inc.: 1-877-384-3578
Women Organized to Make Abuse Nonexistent, Inc. (WOMAN, Inc.) has operated since 1978 as a community-based, multi-service agency, serving survivors of domestic violence in San Francisco and the larger Bay Area.

California Partnership to End Domestic Violence: 1-800-524-4765
The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence promotes the collective voice of a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals, working to eliminate all forms of domestic violence.

As an advocate for social change, we advance our mission by shaping public policy, increasing community awareness, and strengthening our members’ capacity to work toward our common goal of advancing the safety and healing of victims, survivors and their families.
Current Mood: proud
04 February 2012 @ 12:41 pm

It's become something of a "thing" that I write the essay for this particular topic for Valentines. Last year's essay was an incredibly difficult one to write, as I discussed having been raped and some of the fallout of that event. This year, I'm going to look at it slightly differently.

I don't know if it's something in the way I carry myself - the way I stand, how I talk, whatever - but I sometimes wonder if there's a flashing red sign above my head saying "Victim! Vulnerable!", or something of that nature. I suppose that it's also possible that I just notice things when they happen to me now, that I'm wary enough that the predatory and inappropriate ways that some men behave around me doesn't go unnoticed. Either way, I hate it. I hate the rape culture that we live in that not only permits these things to happen, but subtly encourages men to think that it's alright to treat women like they're things rather than people who deserve respect.

I have very few male friends, because most of the men I know don't understand what that last sentence means. Last year, I lost two people who I thought either were friends or could become friends. One of them asked if he could see my breasts and the other asked if I would perform oral sex on him. Now, I'd been very careful with my behavior around these men, watching myself sharply to make sure that there was no "encouraging" or "inappropriate" behaviors or language. I was careful not to "lead them on", because I've been accused of that in the past. I had no sexual or romantic interest in either of them, and had thought that they both understood that. I had known one for years and he knew my issues. The other I'd only known a few months, but he had a partner and two month old twins - I thought I was safe with both of them. In the wake of these incidents I found myself feeling incredibly violated.

Both of these encounters left me shaking, in a tail-spin, and questioning my own behavior. Had I really been careful? Had I slipped up and flirted? Did I do something to indicate interest? Even more insidious was that little voice in the back of my head - was I wrong to say no? Both men found me attractive and desired me - and due to my weight, I'm not usually considered to be either attractive or desirable by many people. Should I have done what they wanted?

Of course I shouldn't have. Of course it was completely out of line and inappropriate for either of them to behave the way they did - even if I had been flirting, that should not have been taken as an invitation to literally out of the blue ask me to expose myself or perform sex acts for them. I'm not surprised that they triggered panicked reactions in me - but even if they hadn't, what they did was not right.

We live in a culture that thinks that "boys will be boys" and that men should be allowed to "sow their wild oats". Male sexuality is valued highly - the studs and pimps are people of note, and whores and sluts are people who should be ashamed of themselves. We live in a rape culture, and it sickens me. Men Can Stop Rape is an organization that brings men into the fight against that rape culture, educating them and, in a campaign launched last month, asks them "Where do you stand?" and conducts trainings to "discuss bystander intervention strategies and how men can prevent and respond to gender-based violence and sexism." I can't say enough good things about this idea and this organization's goals. If more men were aware of and cared about these issues, the world would be a much, much better place.
03 February 2012 @ 07:31 am

I grew up in a non traditional household. While I certainly had two parents, we were a far cry from the nuclear stereotype of father, mother, child, with possibly a dog and a white picket fence. Instead of that I was raised in a multi-generational house of women - I was raised by my mother and my grandmother. While it was far from being a bed of roses, and at times was incredibly hard on all three of us, I think at the core of my childhood were two things: family takes care of family, and my mother and grandmother love me more than anything - the bond between a mother and a child is incredible.

My relationships with these women has twisted and turned over the years - there was a great deal of hurt and a lot of fighting in my late teens and early twenties, for instance - but through it all there's been those two lessons. When my boyfriend of five years left me abruptly and I was a shattered mess, my grandmother and mother were there to hold me together. When my mother found herself heartbroken and deadlocked in her career and education, I was there to help her figure out her next steps. And now that Gran has gone blind and has difficulties walking, Mom and I have shifted gears into care-giver mode.

I've always imagined that being responsible for someone else on the level of caring for a child or an aging parent would be something beyond me, something terrifying. I've never been the responsible one, I was usually the one who needed cared for. I'm having a really difficult time finding the wording for this, but the last two years have given me incredible insight into how I think Mom and Gran felt for so long - the power of my protective instincts and sheer love that I feel for Gran stagger me these days. I may occasional whine about giving up my days off of work to do her laundry, shopping, sorting her pills, and taking her to the doctor, but the idea of shifting those responsibilities to someone else is completely unacceptable to me. This is my parent and it's my turn to carry her.

I still find being responsible for someone else on this level to be terrifying and overwhelming, and my decision to not have children is certainly not wavering, but I've also found previously unknown reserves of strength and perseverance that I think must be somewhat akin to what Gran and Mom drew on when they raised their kids. I know I certainly have a great deal more compassion and understanding for the sacrifices they made and the work that they did - and my relationship with them is stronger than it's ever been before. Because family does for family, and the bonds between a child and her mother are like nothing else in the world.

While the focus of this essay was more on motherhood than reproductive rights, I'm gonna switch gears here for a second and say that y'all should consider supporting Planned Parenthood. They've been in the news a lot the last week or so, but the work they do with women has been going on for a long time and the work they do is really good and really vital stuff.
02 February 2012 @ 10:00 am

On May 19, 2010, I had plans: sarahtales was going to be in Lexington, KY (where I lived up until two days ago) doing a book signing and reading to promote her Demon's Lexicon series.  I've been a fan of hers for quite some time, ever since she was active in Harry Potter fandom doing things we don't talk about since she went pro, and the idea that I'd have a chance to meet her and talk to her had me on, if not cloud nine, at least cloud seven or eight for a month.  

Here's what I actually did on May 19, 2010: I sat in a hospital room talking to my Aunt Doris (a Harry Potter fan who had enjoyed a significant volume of work produced by sarahtales in her pre-book deal days) as she recuperated from a mastectomy, necessitated by her recent diagnosis with Stage 4 breast cancer.  

By last spring the cancer had spread to the bones in her legs, which required radiation and eventually a titanium rod implanted along her left femur, because radiation had made the bone so brittle that the stress of standing could fracture it. 

At twenty-one months into her diagnosis, her doctors say that she is a model of living with Stage 4 breast cancer.  She's doing incredibly well, with bone and tissue scans that came back clean in early January.  But an initial diagnosis of Stage 4 means that, unless she is staggeringly lucky ("one of the 1-5%" lucky), she is living with a short but unknown deadline.  Each holiday gathering, birthday, and family reunion is both a triumph and a reminder that this could be the last time she sees these people.  She pushed back her titanium rod implant so that she could see Harry Potter 7: Part 2 last summer, because her doctors weren't sure she'd live to see it released on DVD.  (My sisters and I went with her; all of us dressed in costume.)  In addition to family support and outstanding care from her doctors and nurses, the Harry Potter fandom is helping her get through this. "If a bunch of teenagers can face down a murderous Dark wizard, I can face cancer."  I got my first tattoo on Harry Potter's birthday; my next will be the Hogwarts seal somewhere on the left side of my body, with her initials, date of birth, date of death, and the inscription "Death is but the next great adventure."

In October I had the opportunity to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  As I walked with these brave, strong, frequently scarred women, I saw beauty and determination shining on every face.  One day we'll beat cancer.  One day we won't need The Susan G. Komen Foundation.  But until that day, we'll keep doing the work. 

Ladies, know your bodies.  Know your heartbeat, your breath, your breasts, your skin, your aches and pains, your menstrual cycle.  Know your mind.  The loss of one fangirl is a loss for all fangirls, and one is too many. 

(the choice of the Susan G. Komen Foundation was made prior to their decision to stop funding cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood. The Foundation's decision saddens and disappoints me.)
01 February 2012 @ 06:34 pm

Greetings everyone! As part of a new aspect of 14valentines this year, we're starting rec posts where we can recommend media that is women-centric and women-positive. Please feel free to comment and add your recs for media that you find remarkable for its presentation of women, attention to women's issues, or for its creation by women!

Recs for this particular post should be limited to...


Is there a band/performer that you think fucking OWNS the female experience, good and bad? What songs do you go to when you really need to hear something that reflects you as a woman? Is there a genre that you think defines feminism and empowerment? Comment and rec it!
01 February 2012 @ 06:32 pm

Greetings everyone! As part of a new aspect of 14valentines this year, we're starting rec posts where we can recommend media that is women-centric and women-positive. Please feel free to comment and add your recs for media that you find remarkable for its presentation of women, attention to women's issues, or for its creation by women!

Recs for this particular post should be limited to...


Does the characterization/portrayals of women in a certain television show fill you with joy and overwhelming hope for the state of women in media? Are you absolutely in love with the work of a female producer/director? Is there a movie that you feel speaks intelligently and meaningfully to women? Comment and rec it!
01 February 2012 @ 06:27 pm

Greetings everyone! As part of a new aspect of 14valentines this year, we're starting rec posts where we can recommend media that is women-centric and women-positive. Please feel free to comment and add your recs for media that you find remarkable for its presentation of women, attention to women's issues, or for its creation by women!

Recs for this particular post should be limited to...

Books/Print Media!

Is there an amazingly positive female-centric book you think everyone should read? Do you think that everything by a kick ass woman author should be read? Is there a women's studies/social justice/women's issues text that blows your mind and you think would change someone's world? Comment and rec it!
01 February 2012 @ 04:18 pm
(Sorry for the late opening, everybody! I just moved across the country and my Internet situation hasn't been ideal. Tomorrow's essay should go off without a hitch.)

When I was ten or eleven, the puberty fairy showed up and beat me with sticks.  Between grades four and five I grew four inches, gained fifteen pounds, and went from a flat chested tomboy who never attracted attention for anything but her brains to someone who outgrew her training bras in six months and was suddenly being vocally noticed by boys (and creepy older men) and ridiculed by girls.  The resulting awkwardness set the stage for the next ten years or so of my life.   Shopping for dressy clothes was a nightmare.  I attempted to manage and combine the expectations of designers, my mother and teachers, and myself with what the department store clerks said was available in my size.  I felt humiliated when I broke down in tears in dressing rooms because nothing fit right or looked good on my 5'3" plus size frame.  After my high school speech and debate career was over, I gave up.  I was never going to look good in these clothes, I decided, so why bother?  I tried to disguise all of my awkwardness with a uniform of jeans and t-shirts so that I could hide all the things I hated about my body. 

Strangely enough, what helped me work through some of my body issues (besides therapy and remission for my depression) was TLC's What Not to Wear.  The message that when clothes fit poorly it's a problem with the (inconsistently sized and labeled) clothing, not with you, was something I desperately needed to integrate into my worldview.  Stacy and Clinton's sincere insistence that every woman deserves to feel beautiful and can feel beautiful is helpful for me to keep in mind when I brave the mall to try on new clothes--something which is still emotional for me.  In addition to my favorite fashionistas, Margaret Cho's I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight helped me overcome a lot of my negative self perception.  Her comedy is always hilariously insightful and frequently groundbreaking, but her writing is emotionally powerful as well as uproariously funny.  She tackles our "crazy eyes" with honesty, compassion, and the gallows humor of a body wars veteran. 

On a scale that is at the same time smaller and more global, Operation Beautiful is a grassroots campaign by everyday women to help remind us that we are beautiful, beloved, and strong, no matter what we might think when we first look in the mirror.  
21 December 2011 @ 03:33 pm

Hi all! As bunnymcfoo announced earlier, I'm officially a mod for the comm starting this year, and I get to do something fun as my first public act of modliness. :)

As we gear up for 14valentines 2012, we thought it would be useful to have a prompt post to help inspire participants. This is especially exciting and helpful for this year, as the new comm rules focus on female-centric fannish contributions.

As well, this year we'd really love to see some folks provide Music Mixes featuring female artists, because who doesn't love a whole mix of talented women with something to say that we can relate to? Only people who hate fun, that's who!

So dive on in and list prompts for something you'd like to see! Please make sure your prompt is female-centric in nature, and be sure to remember that you can offer prompts for more than just fic. Is there a themed Music Mix you'd love someone to make? Prompt for it! Do you wish someone would make a feminist icon set? Prompt! Are you desperate to see a picspam celebrating awesome women? Prompt!

To make it easier for participants to browse, please use the following format for the comment's SUBJECT:

ETA: Of course LJ would make changes to the comment page. Grumble grumble. Subject Lines are still present, just do not view the page in style=mine format.

Format for PromptsCollapse )

You can use the body of the comment to talk about specifics of your prompt. Keep in mind, these are just examples. You're limited only by your imagination and what want you want to see!

Please note that this post is for prompts only! When 14valentines starts up, we'll put up a comment fic post for people to use if they so choose.
21 December 2011 @ 12:02 pm

Hello out there in 14valentines land!

I sincerely hope your December Holiday Season is going swimmingly and that y'all are feeling festive. This is, obviously, bunnymcfoo here, with some super exciting 14valentines news!

First and foremost, please join me in welcoming idyll and arsenicjade as they come on board the moderating team! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have them as mods for 14 Valentines 2012. They're amazing women and have been active and enthusiastic 14 Valentines participants for several years now and I know they're going to move smoothly into their new roles.

Second, we're looking at some slight shifts in a few policies around here. There's going to be a fully updated FAQ, but for now the biggie is this: As 14valentines is focused on women, so too should your submissions be focused on women. This doesn't mean that you can't include men! But if there are people in your contributions, the main focus should be on women.

Third, we are once again looking for volunteers to write essays and do round-ups for 2012. The shift here is that this year, we're hoping to have essays that focus more on the personal rather than the statistical.

Essay Subjects for 14 Valentines 2012Collapse )

If you are interested in writing an essay or helping with the round-ups, please comment here. Final drafts of the essays will be due on January 15th, 2012.

Fourth and finally, there are some shifts in how 14 Valentines is running this year. Participants will no longer have to sign up before February 1st! If someone finds us halfway through the season this year, they're welcome to jump in and have fun. There will also be some new ways to play this year. We're going to have rec posts for music, movies, books, and fic. Also, we're going to have an anonymous meme syle comment prompt-and-fic-athon, and the next post in this community will be a prompt post for all kinds of 14valentines contributions. Have you always wanted to see more people post personal stories, wallpapers of your favorite female characters, recipes, or rec lists of any style? Let us know on that post! Always blanking on ideas for what to do this year? Go browse the prompts!

As always, we love to hear from you. If there's anything you want to let us know that you think would improve 14valentines, please comment or email us at
15 February 2011 @ 09:51 am
The Wolf's Choice by katherine_tag  [Fairy Tales (The Firebird); PG; The wolf knew many secrets, having lived a very long time, and one of those secrets was where the Firebird was being kept captive. He did not consider this secret to be particularly important until he met a prince.]
Verdant Powert by arsenicjade  [Bandom; G]

Heartbeat Like an 808 drum by lady_writes  [Acrylic and Fabric Paint on MDF]

Linus by prairiedaun  [Knit; a ribbed striped Noro scarf]

Women in Music Mix - Part Two by nylara  [female singer-songwriters]
Vids recs for Lost Women by tassosss  DW link [Supernatural, Stargate Atlantis, Merlin, Criminal Minds; 9 vid recs]
14 February 2011 @ 06:04 pm

I wasn't expecting to write this essay, and when I sat down to do so all I could think about was that when I was a little girl, I wanted to be an actress. No, scratch that. I wanted to be a star, with my name in lights. I wanted to be a different person every night and to have people love every single one of them.

I loved it. I loved being on stage, I loved the spotlight and the compliments in equal measure.

Before I wanted to be a movie star, I wanted to be a writer. I filled endless notebooks with carefully chaptered stories about girls and their (enormous) families. I wrote about magic and mysteries. When I came back to wanting to be a writer in junior high, I filled still more notebooks with character sketches, world building, ideas about girls saving the world and falling in love. I wanted to let all of those universes inside of me out to play.

I loved it. I loved the thrill of creation, of seeing new worlds and people come to life.

When I was a little girl, I drew all the time. My mother sill has shoeboxes full of 3x5 notecards that each sport a carefully drawn girl that I'd dreamed up. I would draw the same girls over and over, in different dresses or poses, sometimes with their extraordinarily fat cats or dogs with floppy ears. In high school, I discovered a talent and love for both watercolor and pointillism - I had a real eye for shadows and translucent washes of light.

I loved it. I loved the way that I could take a sheet of white paper and fill it with color, making my world more vivid with every passing second.

How many little girls have dreams like I did, do you think? Dreams of art, music, dance, drama. How may little girls want to grow up to write books? How many of them ultimately are shot down and forced to give up on their dreams?

I had no idea where I was going with this thread until I ran across a startling statistic in my psychology text book. It stated that in 1997, nearly 77% of all people accessing the internet were male. However, in 2001 studies started projecting that women would begin to access the web in far greater numbers - one study projected 60% of all internet users would be women - by the year 2005.

This text book went on to note that the Web has provided women with places where alternate visions of what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a girl can flourish. It talks about web comics written by women, about online activism with women steering the ship, it mentions that women form bonds with other women in this brave new world.

I write notes in my text book - the one on this page reads, in bright read ink, "Gee, ya think?!"

Beyond providing women with a place to thrive and grow in their relationships with other women, the internet provides us with a place to say "fuck the haters" and engage in artistic dreams that we might otherwise never achieve. It lets us write endless numbers of stories, post boggling amounts of artwork in a wide variety of mediums, upload vids cut together of music and images we find inspiring.

I realized - this, this is what 14 Valentines is about for me. It's a celebration of women connecting with women, of fledgling activism, of sharing our art, and of appreciating the works of other women. It's about us and how we make our own fun, to quote one of our favorite fictional women.

I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty awesome convergence of ideas.

It's kind of a tradition around here to link to the VDay website during 14 Valentines, and today seems a really appropriate time to do that. After all, VDay is a social (and social justice) movement that grew out of the Vagina Monologues - an artistic celebration of womanhood. There will be thousands of VDay celebrations around the world today, thousands of women celebrating themselves and their sisters. I'm deeply proud to have been one of them, and I'm deeply grateful to all of you who have celebrated with me.

Here's to you, and here's to 14valentines. Thank you for participating. ♥
14 February 2011 @ 01:59 am
Just Words on a Paget by arsenicjade  [Buffy the Vampire Slayer;Faith Lehane and Dawn Summers; G]

We Don't Know Anything by lady_writes  [Acrylic on Masonite]

Cupcake! by prairiedaun  [Knit; a Baby Surprise Jacket in variegated sock yarn]

Women in Music Mix - Part One by nylara  [female singer-songwriters]

Lessons from Pippi Longstocking by tassosss  DW link [Pippi Longstocking; Mini-Essay]

Compiler's note: Because of time zone issues, I'll double check today's post in the morning for any offerings that I missed.
13 February 2011 @ 10:02 am

Discussing education and its importance for women's rights means thinking about it in several ways: the personal, the historical, the political, and what might be the most crucial one, that is, its ability to change the world.

First, the personal: as difficult as school can be for a girl who starts first grade already knowing how to read and who believes in fairies but hates gym class, school is also where I kept finding new pieces of myself that were so crucial to the overall puzzle. My hippie middle school in the US had me editing the school yearbook, learning Photoshop by myself, and writing long reports on Romanticism. High school brought me a teacher who kept throwing challenges at me, knowing I'd meet them. College was--college meant learning just how good I could be at a language that didn’t start out being mine.

But the personal can't be considered without the historical aspect. The first Swedish high school allowed to graduate female students opened in 1874. Before 1893, female students were not allowed to enrol at the American college I attended. A little more than 100 years ago, I would be very far from where I am today. I owe everyone who worked for reform a great debt of gratitude for my life, for who I am and what I get to do, and I can't ever forget it.

Now, let me make something very clear. I don't mean that we should be grateful for getting to go to school: education ought to be a right, not a privilege. But I can look at history and be glad that all those women and men worked to give us all a different world to live in, even as I am profoundly aware that we're not done yet.

The report New Lessons: The Power of Educating Adolescent Girls focuses on the fact that educating adolescent girls has a profound transformative power: graduating from secondary school statistically often means the ability to get a job, a later marriage, fewer children, and an easier time remaining healthy. In short, it's life-changing. In poor countries, less than 50% of girls finish primary school, much less go on to secondary school. The authors of the report make the point that every girl has a right to access to education; every girl has a right to that transformative power of education.

This means that initiatives beyond primary school need to be funded. This means long-term planning is an absolute necessity. This means, also, that the road to changing the world, well, you can see it, right? Statistically, educating adolescent girls give them and their eventual families a possible way out of poverty. Look, there it is. Ending global poverty sounds like an impossible dream, but there it is.

The Coalition for Adolescent Girls collects research, information for educators, and relevant links to initiatives one can support (like The Girl Effect and others). They're UN-founded and pretty awesome (the report I discuss above is from there too). Go see what you can do to help.