Category: mundane

Responding to “15 Women Say Why They Don’t Need Feminism”

By , July 12, 2014 12:14 am

Someone recently tagged me on Facebook to make me aware of this list on Buzzfeed (tellingly, with the URL ending in “/i-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means.”) The friend tagged me specifically because they disagreed with the list, and figured I would too. They were correct.

So, point by point, a response and refutation. All emphasis (underlines/italics/etc) are from the original post.

1.”I don’t need feminism because I don’t want to politicize my gender.”

That’s a lovely sentiment, but others are going to politicize it for you, whether you like it or not. From the Hobby Lobby ruling, giving your boss additional ability to control your healthcare, to politicians attempting to define “legitimate rape” that your body can “shut down,” to politicians rejecting the idea that you deserve equal pay for an equal job, your gender is going to be politicized. So while it’s a noble idea to want to stay above the fray, it’s also a naive and ultimately harmful one. In a world where the political becomes personal, the personal must be political.

2. I don’t need feminism because I am NOTVictim.

I don’t need the civil rights movement because I’m not a person of color. I don’t need to combat Islamophobia because I’m not a Muslim. There is an inherent selfishness in saying “This issue doesn’t directly impact me, so it’s unimportant.” And – in the vein of “The only moral abortion is my abortion” – it’s easy to forget how issues of feminism might impact you until they do impact you.

Continue reading 'Responding to “15 Women Say Why They Don’t Need Feminism”'»

The psychology of emails

By , July 8, 2014 12:43 pm

A big part of how I book gigs at colleges and universities is through cold-emailing. That is, I find people’s contact info on school websites – emails for student groups, faculty, and professors – and email them info about my workshops and performances.* There’s a general pattern to how these emails go, assuming there’s any sort of response at all:

  1. I send an initial email
  2. They express interest
  3. I email more info
  4. We email back and forth about details and specifics
  5. We schedule a gig and sign a contract

Of course, there’s a big percentage drop-off at each step of the way. I don’t have the exact numbers but I’d ballpark it that, of the ~10,000 emails I’ve sent in the past few years, I’ve received perhaps 50 gigs. (That’s 0.5%, which is still impressively high for cold-calling/emailing. Of course, I’m still in steps 3 and 4 perhaps a hundred different people from that list of 10,000, hoping to move them to step 5.)

Continue reading 'The psychology of emails'»

Its been a while – Trans 100, fundraising updates, and more

By , April 2, 2013 3:19 pm

Why hello there! Been a while since I’ve posted, but that’s mostly for good reasons. Lets go through a few of ’em:

Trans 100

trans100-square-logoThis is one of the more exciting things that has been keeping me busy. Over the last few months, the fabulous Jen Richards (of We Happy Trans) and Toni D’orsay (of This Is How) put together the Trans 100, a list of 100 activist, organizers, educators, and more who are working for the good of the trans community. Oh, and everyone on the list is trans. I am incredibly proud and grateful to have been named to the list, and share the honor with some really amazing powerhouses: Dr Susan Stryker, S. Bear Bergman, Kokumo, Dr Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Janet Mock, Namoli Brennet, CeCe McDonald, and tons more. The event has received quite a bit of positive coverage from GLAAD (or is it now GLAD?) the Huffington Post, the Windy City Times, and elsewhere.

Jen roped me into helping with a bunch of backstage stuff, which was exhausting but also exhilarating and empowering. The event was almost entirely organized and run by trans people, which was a delight in and of itself. But the energy in the space – from the presenters and the audience – was overwhelming and positive. Check out #trans100 on Twitter to see what I mean. I was offstage the entire event, helping direct traffic and get presenters on and off in a timely manner, but I had a perfect view to see the entire evening. It was in the final stretch, the last round of names, when I turned to Jen and said, “This feels really stupid, but I just realized something: Everyone on this list…is alive.”

It seems silly to say that, as one of the taglines for the event was “Celebrate the Living.” But the way we usually hear lists of trans people is at the Trans Day of Remembrance, when we read a list of our dead. To be honoring and celebrating and highlighting people who are still with us, for the awesome work that they’re doing, was overwhelming. I’m honored to have been named to the list, proud to have helped make the event happen, and so charged to move forward. I want to live up to the expectations I hope the Trans 100 is setting, and be able to look back a year from now with no regrets about the work I’ve been doing, or the feeling I could/should have done more.

Continue reading 'Its been a while – Trans 100, fundraising updates, and more'»

Slacking, and fear of moving forward

By , January 2, 2013 3:48 pm

The past few weeks have not been filled with productivity. As I joked to a friend, if I’d known I was going to be this bad at responding to emails during the holiday I would have put up an “I’ll be back after New Years” auto-responder. Even today – my day for renewed productivity – saw me hit the snooze button from 10AM to 10:45, before finally turning my alarm off entirely and sleeping until almost 2PM. (In my defense, I had a really difficult time getting to sleep last night, but I’m still not proud of my four hour snooze fest.)

I’ve been trying to pin down the source of my laziness. The more I think about it, the more it feels like fear: Fear of failing, fear of being unable to continue this artistic and professional momentum, fear of success, fear of surgery (about which I’ll write more in another post), fear of dating, fear of not dating and being alone (about which I’ll write more in another post), fear, fear, fear. I know enough about myself to have realized that I go through these cycles of productivity and laziness (one could more generously call it productivity and personal renewal) so I’m not too worried. At the same time, I’ve missed some deadlines recently, been slow to respond to emails, generally not acted in the professional manner I’d like to.

I don’t know why those fears keep creeping up. I know from experience that good things happen when I get off my ass and work. I don’t know why I still worry that I’m going to put in all this energy and get nothing in return; it flies in the face of personal experience, especially over the last few years. But putting myself out there remains scary, and I still sometimes feel like I’m faking any success I might have. To use a concrete example, on New Years Eve someone I was chatting with asked me what I do. I replied, “I’m an artist and educator – I tour to theater festivals and colleges conducting educational workshops and performing solo pieces focusing on gender and sexuality.” That’s entirely true, but it felt fake and show-off-y when I said it.

Hopefully doing The Work will help lessen my my worries and hangups around it. I am excited about what the future brings, but also scared at its uncertainty. My hope is to enter 2013 thinking more about the former than the latter, and stepping up my artistic and productive game.

Here’s hoping!

Chicago – Things I’ve Never Done

By , November 19, 2012 1:45 pm

I was talking with a friend recently about how fun it can be to play tourist in a big city, even if you’ve lived there your whole life. Thinking about Chicago in that way made me realize there are tons of awesome things I’ve never done, and a bunch more I did as a child but want to do again as an adult. So, with that in mind, I drew up these lists:

Chicago Things I’ve Never Done (and want to)

  • Been to observation deck at the top of the Hancock (I’ve only done the Sears Tower)
  • Visit the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (and the butterfly room in particular)
  • Attend a poetry slam at the Green Mill
  • Go on a behind-the-scens tour of a Chicago theatre and/or the Cultural Center
  • See a show at the Chicago Theater
  • See something at the Aragon or the Riviera
  • Go to the Illinois Railway Museum (because I’m secretly a six year old boy)
  • Go to the Holocaust Museum in Skokie

Chicago Things I Did As A Child (and want to do again as an adult)

  • Go on an architectural boat tour
  • Go to the Botanic Gardens
  • Go to Brookfield Zoo
  • Go to a concert at Ravinia

Chicago Things I’ve Never Done (and don’t want to)

  • Go to a Cubs game
  • Eat a Chicago hot dog

What about you? What would you add to this list?

An appropriate link: Nate Silver explains why Chicago is better than New York City

I voted. Shut up.

By , November 2, 2012 4:02 pm

This afternoon I went downtown to reregister with my new address, and to vote. It took about an hour, start to finish, which – for the length of the line and number of people there – wasn’t too bad. I voted for Green candidates wherever I could, against judges wherever I could, against restricting teacher pension, and for a campaign finance reform amendment. Quite honestly, the only vote I cast which I expect to be on the winning team will be for Schakowsky, who I love.

I wanted to say that I voted for two reasons: First, to reiterate my positions and my tepid support for Obama. Second, and more importantly, to talk about the vitriol which appeared when I said I might not vote. Because if there’s one thing that convinces someone to change their argument, it’s to accuse them of being lazy, undemocratic, ungrateful, and whiney.

My comments policy is pretty clear: My blog is a dictatorship. I get to decide what appears here and what doesn’t. Sometimes, my posts have prompted awesome discussion. That’s been especially true where people are polite and respectful. Sometimes, like with this post, I disable comments entirely to stand on my soapbox and talk about whatever the hell I want.

Erica, who had the only sensible comment on my previous post, talked me down from my ledge. As I ultimately told her, I don’t feel great about voting. I don’t feel like my voice will particularly be heard, or that my vote has made a huge impact. But I would have felt worse not voting.

We often talk about voting for the lesser of two evils. This year, voting itself felt like the lesser of two evils.

In which I consider not voting

By , October 31, 2012 11:55 am

Election day in the United States is less than a week away. Nate Silver, of the fabulous 538 blog, pegs President Obama at a 77% chance of winning the election, and the democrats at a 90% chance of retaining majority in the Senate, but that doesn’t mean Democrats can afford to be complacent. Those numbers are based on looking at multiple polls conducted by different firms, and change every day. Just about four years ago, I stood in Grant Park on election night, with hundreds of thousands of others, to watch Obama deliver his victory speech. From a post I wrote at 3AM, November 5, 2008:

His [Obama’s] ability to go through history and call out moments without being overbearing was poetry.  (He mentioned the New Deal, a “generation’s greatness,” a “preacher from Alabama who took us to the mountain top,” and more.) His refrains of (of course) “Yes we can,” and the call-and-response effect on the audience. Talking about building bridges and forging alliances and working together.

Just incredible.

It made me glad to have donated money and made almost 100 phone calls over the past week. (And even better that the two states I called the most, Indiana and Colorado, both went for Obama.) That I have a Obama bumper sticker on my car, and a button on my jacket. I feel really hokey and more than a little silly saying it, but it made me proud to be an American.

This year, I question whether or not I’m going to vote at all.

What a difference four years makes.

Continue reading 'In which I consider not voting'»

The Thang Blog – Now ad-free

By , October 16, 2012 3:47 pm

For the last few years, I’ve hosted ads on this site through the BlogHer network. I’ve been happy with them, and would recommend looking into them for any bloggers interested in ads on their own blogs. At the same time, over the last few years, I’ve moved this blog away from simply talking about my own life and random nonsense, and turned it into an extension of my professional career as an artist and educator. And I talk about my own life and random nonsense. As such, I’ve decided to remove ads from The Thang Blog.

I was never totally sold on hosting ads, as I discussed a while back when I recommended an ad-blocker. Seriously, go download one. They’re amazing. I can barely use a browser without one. Likewise, I have some longer-term goals of rolling The Thang Blog into That wouldn’t involve any topical or functional changes, but the firewall between the two sites has been growing smaller and smaller each year. It seems like the time to remove it entirely. The ads should be down, but let me know if you see any vestigial HTML traces.

This also seems like a good time to remind people they can buy my book, as well as donate to me directly.

A Guide to Bike Safety in Chicago (and everywhere else)

By , April 2, 2012 12:30 pm

Originally posted at In Our Words, crossposted with permission.

It’s that time of year: When the weather in Chicago fluctuates madly–80 degrees one day and 40 degrees the next. Shorts and tank tops are quickly pulled out from that box under the bed and worn to the beach, only to be put away when it snows twenty-four hours later. It’s also the time when most people decide to pull their bike out of storage or the garage or that street sign where it has been locked since October. (For those of you who have been biking all winter, I salute you. This piece still may have some tips for you, though.)

A few weeks ago, I rode my bike for the first time this year. I’m one of those obnoxious bikers who always wears a helmet, and bothers her friends to do the same, uses hand-signals while turning, and doesn’t blow through stop signs without first slowing way down to check for traffic and pedestrians. I’ve also been doored (when a driver opens their door into the bike lane, hitting a biker), flipped off my bike, skidded out when an asshole in a sedan turned without signaling, and generally been knocked about. Yet I still hop on my bike regularly, for transportation and exercise, and feel safe doing so. Let’s talk about what’s keeping me safe: three rules that apply to everyone, anywhere, and a fourth that’s slightly more Chicago-specific. Continue reading 'A Guide to Bike Safety in Chicago (and everywhere else)'»

This American Lies: An NPR Fan’s Reaction to the Mike Daisey Controversy

By , March 30, 2012 12:43 am

This post was originally featured on In Our Words, and is reposted with permission.

I love This American Life (TAL). I love it as an NPR fan, I love it as a Chicagoan, I love it as a storyteller and strong believer in the power of the spoken word. That’s my bias, and I don’t apologize for it. But it means I’ve been following the TAL retraction of their Mike Daisey piece with particular attentiveness. Briefly, TAL did a show consisting of an excerpt of Mike Daisey’s one-man show, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” In it, Daisey discussed his trip to China, interviews with workers, and how utterly horrible the conditions were for Chinese workers. It was an extremely emotional and blunt piece about the unseen price of American electronics.

Oh, and a lot of it wasn’t true.

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