Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

So classes are going well, its hard to believe ive only been here for 4 days, it feels like forever, im not sure if that is a good thing or bad... One thing that has been strange is the way that pronouns innundate the spanish language and force me to constantly refer to myself as female. I think that maybe a priveledge of the english language is that I can fairly easily avoid pronouns and labels in that way. However the constant pronoun corrections from my teacher put on a different spin. The way that I have thought about my gender while I am here is strangely different then the way that I do in the US. I dont really know how it is, but in some ways I think about it so much less and in someways a million times more. Of course my sexuality is also a completely different story, here I am living with mormon missionaries and so maybe unfairly I do not think coming out would be a good idea around them. Although of course it is always strange that they continue to ask me if I have a boyfriend... in america, most people, except children, know better than to ask that question...
So during the lunch party at the school for the new year one of the other students asked me if it was a good year (he has evidently had a very poor year) and at first I responded yea, it was good.. but then of course I have been thinking since then about the year, I think the first part of the year was good, socially, academically, work wise... all of that, but the past few months have been pretty rough socially, I think that is due to alot of things and stuff also welling up inside me that sooner or later I will have to actually deal with. but I guess that is life...

so here is to a new year, in a new place, I will be bringing it in with the national Guatemalan brand of beer, Cervazo Gallo, literally translated to Rooster Beer...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Host Family and Xela

So on my second day here I had to get from Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango, which is about 5 hours away, so I got a taxi to the bus station and a bus to Quetzaltenango, which is nicknamed Xela, prounounced SHEY la. The bus was long, not much else to say about it, I listened to music on my ipod and watched alot of the scenery. I was most suprised to see developments and gated communities... We stopped once to go to the bathroom and get something to eat, but I was afraid the bus would leave without me and so I only went to the bathroom and didn´t eat, foolish move on my part because by the time I got to Xela I was starving. When we finally did get here, after a breathtaking decent into the valley (just to top all of the incredible views on the way) the bus stopped in the middle of the road and everyone got off and collected thier bags while trying not to get hit by passing (angry) drivers. I was approached by a cab driver and he helped me get my bag and then off we went to zona 1, the area where my host mom lives. When we get there we get a little bit lost as he tries to find the address and when he finally finds the right block there are police. So we go around the block and try to get in on the other side but it is way after the address I have written down, so we go back around the block and proceed on foot... he was extreamly nice for continueing to help me find her. When we get to her house no one is home and we tried calling with his cell phone but no one answers, so he goes down the street and talks to some women who are standing in the door, after he tells me that I can go there. When I get there they tell me (in spanish, which I understood, yay!) that I am welcome to leave my stuff there, and stay there or go into town, etc. I find out that they are another spanish school and they have a large room full of computers. So, I drop my stuff off with them and walk around town. While I am walking I stumble on a park where I spot some stands with food in the distance, this is perfect... I get some food, basically a meal (tacos and coke) for less then 2$ american and then sit in the park to eat. Of course this is where the fun begins, but ill write more about the park another day.

After I eat I go back to the spanish school and they call my host mom, who is home now, she comes by and we go back to her house. She has a nice house, two floors, I meet her daughter, gaby, and she indicates rooms for her son and nephew, but I have yet to see them. My host mom´s name is Ana, btw. After the introduction and tour of the house I finally get to shower, unpack and relax for a bit. Dinner is at 730, and I read until then. When I go down for dinner we sit down with Gaby and her fiance... Ana tells me that the meat is pollo (chicken) but I swear it was actually ham... good thing im not keeping kosher... After dinner I tried to sleep, but the homesickness took over for a bit and so I listened to some good old american Car Talk on my ipod and then finally went to sleep.

This morning I woke up around 7 for breakfast and then a short walk to the school, I met my teacher, he is awesome. Very funny and very expressive. We practiced different forms of past tense, which was good because I suck at tenses. After that I came back home for lunch and then walked around a bit. When I got back to the house Gaby and Ana were watching TV so I sat down to watch with them... They were watching a show that takes place in Miami but is all in spanish... it was a court room type show and I understood some... After that Gaby went to go on the computer and I watched more TV, there are alot of channels that come in in English and have spanish subtitles, so I rotted my brain with MTV... just like at home...

of course now I am starting to feel sick, like a fever, anyone know how to say accetamenaphine in spanish?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hola, estoy en Guatemala

I always forget how overwhelming it can be to be in a place surrounded by a language you only partially understand. Yesterday was my travel day, I don't know when it started because I didn't leave the night before but o well. I left my house for the Newark Airport (which was significantly cheeper then flying out of philly). We were there by 530 for my 830 flight so I had sometime to walk around the airport and overspend on some breakfast. Then I got on my plane to Panama City. For all but about 10 minutes of the flight I slept. In fact, I think I was asleep before the plane took off... Next I had what was supposed to be a 5 hour layover in Panama. I fell asleep for two more hours and then when I woke up noticed that the flight to Guatemala City had been delayed. So what else to do but walk around the duty free shop where 5 cartons of marlboro were being sold for 70$, I thought about buying some lucky strikes too, but who knows, maybe on the way back. So after watching families climb on board a flight to cancun, which was leaving from the same gate as my flight, I finally got to board my plane. This one was smaller then before but there were also over half empty seats. So I spread out and closed my eyes for the bumpy ride into Guatemala city. When I got to Guatemala I had missed my airport escort, or something like that, so I grabbed a taxi which I am sure that I overpaid for, and got to the hotel I am writing to you now from. So after all the problems and delays and planes and taxis my reward was that I got to kick back and relax while eating fresh guava off the tree thing in the courtyard under the stars.

now on to Quetzaltenango...
(where I will be staying for the rest of my two weeks)

Monday, December 15, 2008


for the 13 year old boy:

I am so jealous of you
you turned 13 and all of the sudden you were taller than me
your muscles grew, nice and toned and big
your voice dropped.

I am so jealous of you,
because I will never be tall like you
and I have to work a million times harder to make my muscles grow like that
and my voice may never stop sounding like this...

you live to easily in your world
and I wonder if it is something I want to pass into
but at the same time, I am still jealous

Thursday, December 11, 2008



yay for systems for locating neutral bathrooms...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kids - Gender - Interactions

9 year old female youth from a program I work with, the week before we had an extended discussion on sex, gender, and non-gender normativity.

youth: so _____ is a boy right?
me: yes
youth: so then why does she talk like a girl?
me: *no idea what to say to that* there are somethings you just can’t change

that reminded me of another half written blog entry from the summer, so I thought I would post that up too…

4 year old female, enthusiastic, has been in my class tuesday and thursday for the past 6 weeks. has been taught my name almost every week and continues to call me teacher. always wants to do everything right then. has trouble waiting her turn. would much rather run my class than be in it. wears a plain black bathing suit with bedazzled heart in the center of her chest. Hair braided with colorful barrettes at the end of the braids that fall out every other class, so I put them in my pocket for safe keeping and am constantly finding them days later.

x- “teacher? why do you wear shorts?”

x- “teacher? why don’t you have paint on your nails?”
me- “why do I have to have painted nails?”
x- “because that is what you are supposed to do”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Impacting Girls Influencing Life: an almost finished documentary

SO, I am putting the final touches on the piece tonight!
It is so far screening in two places-

Tomorrow Night (Dec. 5th) and Saturday Night (Dec. 6th)-
Social Justice Art Gallery
The Tavern in Prescott (Hampshire College)
Amherst, MA

Friday Dec. 26th - Most definately after friday night Hanukka services:
Mishkan Shalom
4101 Freeland Ave
Philadelphia PA 19128

thats one in each of the places I live, and hopefully more to come... let me know if you know of, or can think of any good venues for a screening!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rest Stops and Bathrooms

Public bathrooms are always hard, but I think for some reason when I am traveling it is harder. Now my family is used to finding the unisex/family bathrooms because of my brother, who is 15 and has disabilities, and therefore cannot go to the bathroom on his own. So what I know is that they are hard to find, sparse and often hidden. The one place where these bathrooms at least seems to be visible is rest stops on the highway. However, there are problems...

Going into female bathrooms makes me uncomfortable, going into male bathrooms makes me downright scared. So I attempted to find the "manager" for the key. However, the info table was shut down for the night, and the woman at the gift shop looked at me in confusement and horror when I asked for the manager/key to the unisex bathroom. She said that there was no manager, and had no idea who i could ask for more help. So, its back to the ladies bathroom, and extended confused looks from people in there.

Monday, November 24, 2008

the solution

so I talked a few entries back about what I am going for here, and I would like to include a section at the end of my piece about how to deconstruct media imagery on a daily personal basis, so that you can deal with it within your own world...

how do you deal with media imagery? How do you deconstruct the media on a personal level? What helps you get through every day?

leave comments! or IM/Email/call me...


You see that girl with the long blonde hair in the picture? She’s really pretty huh? Yea, she is, that’s me? Do you believe it? I don’t.
When you look at that picture you see a pretty girl with her pretty boyfriend, a happy all American couple. But look through the smile on her face; see the heart that beats within, she is not happy. She wonders why she has to wear that dress while he gets to where the suit and tie. She goes back to the days of her 5 year old self when she dreamed of playing like the boys, and being like the boys and even of being, a boy. She wants so hard to not be that girl that girl in the picture, long blonde hair, green eyes, boyfriend, crisp suit, toned muscles, blonde hair, blue eyes. They are the perfect couple, they are beautiful, and they are what everyone wants to be, except her.
She doesn’t want the long blonde hair, she wants short hair, but if she cuts it off they will know, she is afraid of them. They cannot know, she must be that little girl because god-forbid she tells them that she is no fucking little girl. She tries so hard to be happy, boyfriend after boyfriend, hairstyles come and go but nothing fits. People look at her and they see the girl in the picture but that is not who she is. She is that girl with the short hair who you have to do a double take to tell if she’s a boy or a girl. She’s the one who says that you only need to know what’s in her pants if she is letting you in them. She finally got the courage to chop off all her hair, but she is scared, they accepted her short hair and called her a butch, but they still asked when she was going to go back to that long blonde hair. She tries to tell them that long blonde hair is not her, it makes her look good but it makes her feel like someone has taken a knife and dug it through her skin and between her ribs and pierced it through her heart. But with strong hands he pulls it out of his skin and rebuilds his broken heart. He puts the pieces back together, and tells himself that one-day it will be ok. He wonders what to do now, he’s no body’s butch, and he wants to be that dyke with the tits but who is still packing in her pants. He wonders what it would be like to have the parts he wants, to reach down there and feel that thing that he yearns for. But at the same time she loves her life, she loves her self and the breasts that feel heavy on her chest, she loves them. And then, in and instant, she wants them to go, she wants to bind them away, pull them so tight that they absolve into nothingness. But tomorrow he will wear them out, in that tank top that slides down so low, and he will love them, his breasts. He doesn’t understand why these lines get drawn why he can’t be both, why he will one day have to explain to his cousins why he is so different.
He loved that girl with the long blonde hair, she loved herself back then and yet, she wanted to tear herself out of her life and cry and scream and hope that tomorrow she would wake up and be in a different body. She wants to wake up and have every thing be ok, but the problem is she doesn’t know what ok is anymore. She doesn’t know what is up and down, all she knows is that today is a day, and she has a life, and she will go on living this life, not knowing what tomorrow will bring or how he will feel, but tomorrow, like today, will just be, another day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


One visual image that I think about a lot is the image of shattered mirrors, so with this post I am including 3 video elements, two made by me and one by the talented Lucas Carpenter, and I encourage you to watch them in the order I have posted them...

In the media women (and everyone for that matter, but especially women because they are so overtly sexualized) are broken down into their parts, we are focused on a woman's hands, or eyes, or mouth, all of these parts, in addition to only portraying part of a woman (which is a problem in itself), also carry a sexualized weight. Watch the clips, the first two will likely be in the doc and the song from the third will be there so let me know what you think about all of this...
comments are good for something...

Monday, November 17, 2008

What are we going for here?

So the clip I am posting along with this entry brings up a really good point about what exactly we are going for with this whole documentary, mass media resistance thing. In advertisements I feel like the actual way that women are portrayed physically, specifically when we are talking about an image of a woman having sex, or being overtly sexual with a man is not as much a problem as is how much control they have over the situation. This entire concept brings up alot of classic debates about sex, exposure, children, agency. Should a woman with full power be allowed to sell her body for sex? yes, why not? The problem however with sex work becomes when it is controlled by men who exploit and traffic women. Many "advocates" for children would also argue that sex work is something to protect the children from, but how much should/can we protect children? and is that our right when they are other peoples kids? what about our own children?

So when I first cut out this clip I did so for a few reasons...

For one, I feel, and still do that this image perpetuates a heteronormative ideal on whoever sees it. Secondly, I think that this image implies that sex is necessary and imparts the message on readers that they need to have sex with their partner. Not that I think sex after a date is a bad thing, but I do think that images that imply that it is necessary are problematic.
So in the end we are left with the question of what exactly am I going for here, with this documentary... project. I don't want to go on some loony save the children rant across the country joined by christian fundamentalists who use my clips to encourage abstinence only in schools. I am a big proponent of telling the children the truth, I think that it is crucial to allow all people to access information. So I guess in a sense that is what the point of all of this is, to give people the tools to analyze and deconstruct this information, because right now not only children, but adults too are being fed these lies about the human body, and beauty...

Impacting Girls, Influencing Life; The Portrayal of Women by the Media-
There are certain images established by the media of what a woman is and should be. These images have had a profound effect at some point on all of us. This documentary attempts to examine those images, expose the effect, and deconstruct the power of the media.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Production Update

So just another update on everything that is going on in the orb of my video production. So basically I am done shooting, with only one or 2 more interviews I want, and if I can find any kids to interview using them definitely. SO I am editing, a TON, as you may or may not have been able to guess from the clips I have been posting. More clips to come. In addition I am trying to incorporate work of other artists along the same lines, I am working on bringing in some art and photography, in addition I am using some of the music of Lee G ( and Lucas Carpenter ( I have also finally managed to secure some old barbie dolls to use for a cool sequence so keep your eyes open for that!...
In other aspects of my life I am also editing a short for Steven Emmanuel aka Queer Kid of Color (, so keep your eyes out for that.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Celebration Dance

I was talking to a friend about a dance, a celebration dance. It is a means of expression of joy, there is no proper way to dance this dance, but rather there is just movement. The drum beats for the dancer and the dancer dances for the drum. And that is what that night was. It was a celebration dance.
ABC news declared Obama the projected winner of the 2008 presidential election and the room exploded. People ran from all sides, champagne was opened, beers were drunk, things were smoked, and then everyone ran outside and there was a celebration. People ran from their houses to the lawn and there they danced, fireworks exploded above our heads, hugs and kisses and screams surrounded us.
We all know that Obama will not bring the radical revolutionary change we wish for, but we do celebrate. We celebrate a black man’s rise into the highest position our country has to offer, we celebrate the defeat of John McCain and Sarah Palin, we celebrate the end of the Bush regime, and we celebrate a little bit of hope, a little bit of faith, and we nod our heads and say “yes we can”.
I think that when we feel like we have won it is important to remember that blind faith is dangerous, and that as President (elect) Barack Obama said last night “This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change”. So we go into the coming months and years with caution. More hope then normal, more faith in the American people then perhaps they have always deserved, but we go into those months nonetheless.
Change will not come easy, and now it is time to dig in your heals and hold Obama to the promises he has made. It is time to take to the streets and be accountable for the actions of our country. I urge you not to just sit back and accept victory, but to see it as a challenge. Every citizen of a nation is responsible for the acts committed in their nations name. We must be mindful of this and we must fight to get the change we seek out of Obama, but I know that it is a fight we can win.
And hey, if all else fails, Michelle for 2012?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Presidential Elections

In my life I have only really known 2 presidents. I was born under the first Bush, and raised under Clinton and the GWB. I don't remember much about Clinton as president. I do remember being gathered in the auditorium of my elementary school in 4th grade and listening to the principal explain to us that the president of the United States had done a bad thing, and now they might not let him be president any more.
In 6th grade we read magazine interviews with Bush and Gore and picked our candidates based on the fact that Gore liked strawberry yogurt too. I was still in elementary school (it was a k-6) and as the oldest grade we got to perform a mock debate for the entire school. I was assigned to argue GWB's economic policies. ironic, huh? We didn't find out who won the election until December, and I remember exactly where I was when I found out that he would be our president. My soon to be middle school principal told me, at 6 am, while we were on our 6th grade camping trip. I almost cried.
In 2004 I was in 10th grade and taking AP gov and politics. This time I picked my candidate for more sound reasons, as in, he was not GWB. Our class often erupted in debates about all sorts of issues surrounding the election, I wrote an essay about why the electoral college should be abolished and wrote responses to the debates. Our teacher had life-size cut outs of Bush and Kerry. On election day we had off from school and I spent the day campaigning for the Kerry campaign.
Now, in 2008 I finally get to vote. And the election is exciting, first off, there will be no Bush on the ticket, and second the dems may actually have a shot at taking the white house. Now, in 2008 I am in college, I watch the debates in my on campus apartment, while trying to get my schoolwork done and trying not to think about the failing economy and the debt me and my parents are acquiring so that I can attend the second most expensive school in the country. And I am at a loss. I watch the debates and I am excited by the prospect of Obama in the white house, but my heart is not in it. I sent in the form and my absentee ballot should arrive any day now, and then, I will have to decide, who do I vote for. I can guarantee you it will not be McCain. But I have to decide, to vote with my heart, or to vote with my head. If I follow my heart then I know that niether of the major party candidates support what I support, or care about the things that I care about. And I will cast my vote for Cynthia McKinney, because atleast when she speaks her words resonate in my head, and I find my self agreeing, not just saying, well at least its better then McCain. And yet, everything/everyone else tells me to vote with my head. Pennsylvania is a swing state, and I keep hearing not to split the democratic vote. At the same time, i remember myself when I was young, as I watched the elections, and I think, what will I tell my children when they are 11, and 15, and 19. I want to be able to be proud of my vote, the one freedom I still have. I want to say that I cast a vote for something I believed in.
I probably won't know who I am voting for until my ballot comes in the mail... but hopefully it is a choice I will be able to make....

they say that each citizen of a nation is responsible for that nations actions... how do I vote responsibly?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Straight Hair

By the time I was in the 7th grade I had started to straighten my hair. I went to a Jewish Day school and despite the fact that most of us had naturally curly hair everyone showed up to school everyday with perfectly straightened hair. It started out slowly at first, only straightening it for special events (bar/bat mitzvahs) and using my curling iron to do so (I bought the curling iron to make ringlets which never worked either) and then soon I bought my first flat iron. Currently I still keep my 4th and 5th flat irons, but I have not turned them on in months. Up until last spring I straightened my hair as often as necessary to make sure that it was always straight (except for the period of time it was too short to straighten, about 6 months senior year). And then one day, just as spring was starting to come in I went to my room to straighten my hair, and I turned on my iron and I started to do it and I was sweating, and hot and didn’t think it was worth all the effort and so I grabbed my clippers and chopped off the remainder of my hair. I liked my hair when it was so short that it looked straight. It made me feel like I could be one of those boys on the side of an American Eagle bag, the ones who are topless on a beach somewhere and all black and white and muscle. He was the perfect little blonde straight white boy, the boy that all the girls swooned after growing up. I wanted to be him. And for a little while I was proud of myself for looking like him, I could put on a wife beater and if I stood the right way with my boobs out of sight I almost looked like that. But in the end… my hair grew, and it didn’t grow straight, it grew back into its curls. And I reached the point with my hair where I would straighten it, so that I would be hot, like the girls or boys from the magazines, but my straigteners sit out in a basket in my bathroom untouched. And my hair grows curly and poofs up from my head and I like it. It is comfortable, it looks like me… No more pulling at my hair every night with every straightening product available at CVS. I guess at some point we all have to embrace the people we are, learn to walk down the street without make up, with out a front and just be ourselves. That is something that I still struggle to do (not the make up, but walking without a front) but I think that my hair has always been a big symbol for me. I started to dye it because people assumed things when they looked at my blonde hair, and then I stripped it back to the blonde, so that I could be hot, and I repeated the process twice in 2 years. I chopped off my hair so that people would stop looking at me and assume things because I have long hair, things about my gender or sexuality. And I guess in some ways these things are still a front, they still hide who I really am because it is still all about the way I am perceived by others. But some would say that it is the other who constructs our sense of self. What ever it is all I know is that for right now, I’m giving the straigtener a rest and dealing with my natural hair, after all, I think it looks pretty cute…

Monday, September 29, 2008


ok, so i know that schools can get a little ridiculous when it comes to stereotyping and gender conformity and dress codes and the like... I just stumbled across this article about an 8th grader, Matt Alsup, who was told to wash the make up off his face when he decided to wear make up to school (black eyeliner and lipstick)... When the school called his mother she offered that she could buy him some pick lipstick (if that would be less "distracting") and was told that because he was a male, and that it is socially un-acceptable for males to wear make up, he would not be allowed to wear any make-up to school.
even more shocking (at least to me) was that when I voted in the online poll about whether boys should be allowed to wear make up to school (why the hell should they not be) I was in the 25% minority with 75% of those who answered the poll saying that the too believe a male wearing make up to school was inappropriate---
When i searched his name to find out more information I also found a number of problematic and downright asshole responses:
this forum seems to blame Matt and his mother calling her absent and saying that because he doesn't "pull it off" he should not be allowed to wear make up like that to school..

Here is a link to a full article with a video:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Treatment for Impacting Girls, Influencing Life


Everyday young girls and adolescents are bombarded, and targeted by almost every form of mainstream media. The media tells them how to look, act, and dress. These images have instilled American cultural norms that are impossible to reach and led girls to go to extraordinary ends to meet these impossible standards. As a society a new image of girls, teens, women and gender must be created.

Impacting Girls, Influencing Lives is a 20 minute expository/reflective documentary about the way women are portrayed in the media and the effect that this portrayal has on young girls growing up. The story will be told in 3 parts, the first is a section to establish the way that women are portrayed in the media focusing on how the media creates the images of: taller, whiter, skinnier, and blonder. The evidence in this section will be provided mostly through media clips as well as the pictures that each of the interview subjects have drawn about women in the media. The second is a section, about the impact that this has on young girls, this will consist mostly of interviews supplemented by b-roll. These interviews will depict personal experiences reflecting on the influence of media in the lives of children. The third and final part will attempt to deconstruct the media images and empower people to move beyond media imagery.

Style and Structure:
The main story telling of the piece will be through interviews conducted with people of varying ages, genders, races and sexualities. The interviews will be conducted in an interactive format that will reflect elements shown throughout the piece, in the form of repetitive activities, such as images drawn during every interview.

Length and Shooting Format:
I am aiming for a length between 20 and 30 minutes and I will be shooting in digital video. This format will give me great flexibility to incorporate various forms of media, imagery and multiple layers of video in post-production. In addition, the length of the piece will allow me to go into depth with my subject without boring my audience.

Voice and Point of View:
The piece will be a mostly reflective video, but it will capture many elements of an expository piece, as I explore the way that these images effected me growing up as a girl, my presence as the video maker will be present throughout the piece however, I will not use direct voice over. My biggest goal is to utilize different forms of media throughout the process of the creation of this film, and to have these different mediums shine through in the final product. For instance, the final piece will show the drawings I have collected from every interview. These different elements will come together in the end to form a empowering and thought provoking piece.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


When we talk about the movement of same sex sexuality I think it is important to distinguish between what I see as two movements. To many the vocabulary may be used interchangeably but in my mind the idea of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) is monumentally different from queer.
The LGBT movement is a movement that embraces the idea of immutability; the concept that out characteristics are either genetically ingrained or environmentally ingrained from such a young age that they are unchangeable. If our characteristics (mostly specifically sex and sexuality) are biologically inevitable then we should not be punished by discrimination. This theory sits well in a world of definite, a world of homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality and transgender. These dichotomies provide comfort, either you are or you aren’t, it is easy to comprehend in one word answers to simple questions. And while these terms may not always fall on conservative ears with comfort they fall easier than others because they still abide by many familiar societal constructs. The LGBT movement to me is one of assimilation, of proving that we are no different, just as capable as parents, teachers, and look, we even reflect your heteronormative standards in our butch femme relationships.
Queer to me is a radical term, not just in the sense of reclamation, but also in the way that queer defies immutability and reaches beyond societal constructs of how we should be. Queer reflects fluidity and a world without rules to abide by. The term queer is not connected to specific acts the way that gay and lesbian tend to be, in fact many straight people I know seem to have queered sexualities. Queer is about deviance from the sexual norms, and experimentation. I am queer, my sex, my sexuality, my body, my life, and for now I get to stay that way.
I guess life is all about picking your battles and in the more conservative world it is more important for me to pick a battle for LGBT rights, no Q, because at least those battles will be seen and legitimized. But is it worth it to give up my queer culture? Why should I betray myself to make you more comfortable sitting in a room with me? Does my queerness only exist because I live in a community where I can embrace it? Will I reverse when I go back to the world of LGBT?

Monday, September 15, 2008


OK Kids,
So if you don't remember one of the things that I am doing with this blog is updating yall on the movie that I am creating this semester while I'm at school. SO I am back at school and getting into the swing of things with Joe, my mentor for the mentored independent study that this video is a part of. With his insights I have created a treatment, script, shot list and timeline for my project.

I will post these things bit by bit as I refine and recreate them for all yall out there.


Monday, August 25, 2008


So today I interviewed Sophie. Sophie is a very bright 11 year old about to enter 6th grade. I sat down with her for almost an hour at her house and this is basically what we did...

What is the media?

lets watch some clips of advertisements of women from magazines

how did the women in those images look?

do you read a lot of magazines?

do you watch a lot of TV?

lets draw a picture of what the way that you think the media makes women look

what did you draw and why did you draw those things?

do you think that those images effect you?

what do you do in your spare time?

do you play any sports?

What school do you go to?

can you show me a magazine that you like?

do you think that other people have problems because of what they see in the media?

do you think that the way women are portrayed in the media is a problem?

you you think its a problem for girls who try to be and look like the people they see on television or in magazines?

what kind of clothes do you like?

where do you buy most of your clothes?

do you look in magazines for tips on what to wear?

do you think at school you or other girls care alot about what they wear?

do you wear makeup?

Lets draw a picture of what you think is beautiful

why do you think certain things are beautiful and other things arn't?

how much TV do you watch everyday?

how much time do you spend on the computer?

what is your favorite movie?

do you think they way that you feel is going to change when you get older?

do you ever try to make yourself the way you see in the media?

Here are the pictures she drew for the drawing parts:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Long Blonde Hair

I hate it when you tell me that I looked so pretty with my long blonde hair
and I hate it when you double check my ID, smile and say, you changed your hair
and I hate that I keep this ID because I feel like it proves that I can fit in, in your world of long blonde hair

the long blonde hair in that picture looked good on me, but it never fit… I tried to deny my long blonde hair by dyeing it, starting at the age of 13. I have had every color hair except orange and silver…
and I never even knew my natural hair color until the past year. And then I finally went to school and thought I could get away from the assumptions made when you have long blonde hair (even though at the time my hair was short, although still blonde). And then on one of the first days of school I talk to someone and they tell me “yea, I used to have long blonde hair too…”

my long blonde hair was a symbol, a symbol of subscribing to the patriarchal structure of beauty that had been handed down to me in the form of seventeen magazine and books on beauty by bobbi brown. It was a mindset of lack of intelligence given in the form of joke books on “dumb blondes” and reinforced whenever I did something and someone called me a dumb blonde. and most of all my long blonde hair was a symbol of a mindset and an attitude that I didn’t agree with. When people looked at me with that long blonde hair they saw a White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP). They saw mainstream American teenager bumming around at malls and never stopping to think about the larger issues in the world… and they see straight, good girl…

and so one day I looked at my self in the mirror and realized that I was none of these things (except white…), and maybe I am a coward and I should have stood up and earned respect with my long blonde hair, but instead I got a pair of scissors and made my hair fit who I am…

and so when you tell me that I was so hot two years ago, what happened. and when you look at my ID and comment, while smirking on my hair cut. and when I remember that I keep that ID in my wallet as a passport into your world… it rips apart a very conscience decision that I made years ago…

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Ish with Katy Perry

possible written article to come..... stay tuned, but for now i just needed to get this up there...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jewish Community

First and foremost it is necessary to understand that to a lot of people, Jews that is, who know my ancestry I would not be considered Jewish. Jewish “blood” is passed down through the mother and my mother was not born a Jew. She converted when I was 8, so when I was born I was not born a Jew. However, within the more liberal Jewish communities I am considered a Jew (reconstructionist, reform). And within more conservative sects I have a lot of legitimacy as a Jew (conservative is also a sect of Judaism). I attended Jewish day school for 5 years (4th-8th) where I received an extensive education in culture, language, tradition and history, although all from a conservative perspective. I had a Bat Mitzvah when I was 12 (traditional age for a female). And prior to my Bat Mitzvah I had a half conversion ceremony. I attended a Jewish camp. I also went to Israel in spring 2007 on an advocacy trip. So while my bloodline does not dictate so my experiences growing up give me a lot of legitimacy as a Jew and the ability to “pass” as such within Jewish a Jewish context.
Passing as a conservative Jew is a strange thing because while I can do it with ease I disagree with so many of the values that are represented within conservative Jewish contexts. I remember when I was doing a project and I interviewed an aging Jewish man. Hearing my name (Hannah, a “nice Jewish name”), put him at ease with me and he started to reveal things that when confronted with someone else he likely would have kept to himself. Jewish culture while it says that you must be nice to the stranger (other, outsider) it also makes it very clear that they are not part of our community. It is that type of inclusivity that while I think has contributed to the sustainability of the Jewish religion is also troubling to say the least. Last week I was reminded of that incident when one of the people at the Shabbat dinner I attended started talking about interfaith marriages and the “silent holocaust”. Because she was comfortable at the table of people she saw as the same as her she revealed this detail. However, sitting at that table was my mother, a non-blood jew, and me, the product of an interfaith marriage. And this is not the first time that I have encountered something like this.
On my trip to Israel in the spring of 2007 we sat down at one point to discuss some of the issues we encountered as “jews in a non jewish world”. One of the issues we discussed was interfaith marriage. So here I was in a group of youth, people who should not be limiting their romantic attachments, and/or thinking about marriage yet and all of them were vehemently opposed to interfaith marriage. As the daughter of a mixed marriage and someone who was dating a gentile at that point hearing these feeling were hard for me to deal with. What is difficult for me now is how do I negotiate my tie to Judaism? For me the religion has always been a base even though my religious affiliations have changed a lot over the years. In addition, it has a community that provides my brother (who has autism) with the support that he needs; in the form of community, open arms and even programming. So as I sit at a table with jews who are saying things that go against my values, but who are people that we need the connection to for the sake of my brother, I have to decide how to react, and in the end I usually decide to keep my mouth shut, after all it is important that my parents and brother find the community they need. However the elitist mindset of most of these people is hard to digest.

“As jews we believe that everyone in our community is just like us, as jews we believe that we are the chosen people and that we are better than everyone else. As jews we think that issues of ethnicity, sexuality, gender, race, class, spirituality, etc are problems for the gentiles, we believe that we are beyond that…”

For someone who accepts this mindset or lives in a very classic jewish community it is easy to live this lifestyle, however as someone who lives on the edge of many of the issues the jewish community ignores, it is hard to digest.

Now this is not to say that all jews/communities are like this. My synogogue (reconstructionist, the hippies of the jews) has always been a welcoming community that seems not to ignore the issues so many others ignore. However, I often feel like the more conservative influences of my childhood overpowered the welcoming atmosphere of my synagogue. And has left me with a distaste for the conservative jewish community.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Language and the Betrayal of Culture

“The Black man who arrives in France changes because to him the country represents the tabernacle; he changes not only because it is from France that he received his knowledge of Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire, but also because France gave him his physicians, his department heads, his innumerable little functionaries – from the sergent-major “fifteen years in the service” to the police-man who was born in Panissieres. There is a kind of magic vault of distance, and the man who is leaving next week for France creates round himself a magic circle in which the words Paris, Marseille, Sorbonne, Pigalle become the keys to the vault. He leaves for the pier, and the amputation of his being diminishes, as the silhouette of his ship grows clearer. In the eyes of those who have come to see him off he can read the evidence of his own mutation, his power. “Good-by bandanna, good-by straw hat…”

So I started reading the book Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon. Im only on the third chapter so I’m sure more writing on this book is yet to come however I wanted to start discussing/processing what I am reading.
The first chapter of the book is about language and the cultural significance of language. Everyone has some degree of experience with this, most of us can tell a southern accent, a British accent, an Australian accent. And people have often encountered the difficulties of that language barriers present, and often discrimination that results.
In the book Fanon discusses the dialects and languages of people in France and the French colonies during the 20th century. Most specifically Fanon discusses the differences in language from the primarily black inhabited colonies to the mainland and the cities, such as Paris. Fanon speaks about an un-ending quest to be white. This quest is shown, among other ways, in those who reform the way they speak so they can avoid the stigma they would otherwise face in French society.
The short movie I have posted below is a satire on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. For those of you who don’t know the plot of Pygmalion it is as such. A rich doctor in 19th century England finds a girl on the street that speaks a very “poor” version of English and he makes a bet with his friend that he can train her to pass in high society over the course of a number of months. The play is often thought of as a commentary on nature vs. nurture. However I want to look on this, and the movie versions that followed (My Fair Lady, Trading Places) as commentary on society. These movies put forth the idea that to succeed you must assimilate into the culture of those in power. This is apparent in Fanons writing as well as in the play. This is not a fact I am not going to attempt to ignore because I see it everywhere. The voices of those on the margins are often squashed not simply because of minority status or alternative lifestyle but also because there exists a great cultural and language divide. It is simple kids from the poor parts of the inner city do not speak the same way that kids from the rich suburbs do. I can see this divide in myself when I reflect on the way that my language changed as I moved out of private middle school in a very upscale, Philadelphia mainline suburb to public high school in the inner ring suburb right outside of west Philadelphia, Upper Darby. Upper Darby High School serves as a midpoint for a lot of things. It is within that school district that the landscape changes from the city to the suburbs and naturally the language of the students reflects that in between status.
So what Fanon seems to talk about is the constant desire on the part of black citizens to “become white” to assimilate to the culture of the ruling class in order to rid themselves of their blackness and therefore be successful. He speaks about a black physician he once knew who joined the army, as a medical officer, in order to be the boss. This man joined the army and refused to go to the colonies or serve in a colonial unit, rather he wanted to be the boss of the white men, to gain their subservience in whatever way he could. This was his way of gaining whiteness. Despite his exemplary behavior ability as a physician he felt that he could never be legitimized within the community.
One of the elements of any culture is the language. Denial of natural language is like a denial of culture and identity. Forcing someone to give up their native toungue is a form of oppression and yet so many cultures also force it on themselves. Fanon talks about more middle and upper class families and nice schools where the language of creol was banned because it was considered uncivilized and improper. Is language the tool of the oppressor? Is language just a way to keep disenfranchised youth from the ghetto? Whether it is mid 20th century France or present day America I think there is something wrong with a society in which people on the margin must conform to the methods of the power in order to succeed, however, I also feel as though this is inevitable in any society and so I struggle with that. I do not like the concept of forcing others to give up their culture in order to be accepted by mine, and yet without allyship and cross cultural understanding (on both parts) how can anything get done?

PS- I think you have to have and be signed into a vimeo account to watch the video, I am working on a solution to embeding so everyone can watch but in the mean time it would totally be worth it to get a vimeo account and watch this (plus a ton of other really sweet vids on vimeo)

Untitled from Hannah Horwitz on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Impacting Girls, Influencing Life: The Portrayal of Women in the Media

So for my next project I am working on a documentary/potential installation about the portrayal of women in the media, this is the continuation and expansion of a topic that I have been working on all year but over the course of the next few months I am going to be going more into depth, with this topic. I have begun to shape an independent study that will reflect a desire to get into more theory based around race and gender. At this point in the process I am looking for advice, reading recommendations, interviews or any kind of discussion around this topic.

Below is my final project for Video 1:
There are still a number of rough edges that need to be smoothed out, but while I work on those, check this out!

Quick Blurbs from Old Blog

when attempting to counteract the main stream do you/ should you work from within the mainstream? Or is that just feeding into a culture that will eventually hijack your message and destroy it's meaning? Example: submitting your videos to youtube, is this a good thing or is it just feeding the culture your attempting to destroy?

So I am working on a continuation documentary about women in the media and I wonder who am I, as someone who does not identify as female to work on a documentary about women in the media. On one hand growing up being molded as a female these images effected me and it hits me hard to see my younger cousins being so impacted by them, but on the other hand do I have a right to talk about these issues?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I Never Thought I Would Grow up to be a Woman

I grew up with the privilege of parents who didn’t care. Not didn’t care as in neglect, but didn’t care as in they never told me how to be, or how to dress or how to think about myself. At age 4 I wanted to be the Beast for Halloween, and so my mom made me the costume, and sewed up a beauty costume for my doll and I marched in my preschools Halloween parade as the beast with beauty on my arm. And in the subsequent years I refused to wear dresses, flowers, the color pink, and my mom never cared, we avoided sections of the store, she removed the flowers from hand-me down t-shirts and sewed jumpers and outfits for me to wear to family events so that I did no have to wear a dress. And when I came home crying one day because someone asked me if I was a boy or a girl she simply said boys don’t wear flowers, and she bought me a pair of flowery pants, and I tried it, but then I gave up, or I didn’t care, I forget which.
In the search for an education my parents moved me out of 3rd grade at public school and into 4th grade at a Jewish day school. At first I loved it, but as I grew I could see the atmosphere smothering the independence that had been fostered in me as a child. I wanted to fit in, and so I started wearing dresses, and skirts and I even stole make-up from the local drug store. And I tried, but the skills and desires that are inherent in other girls to put effort in, to be comfortable in a skirt and to want to look pretty never formed in my brain, and so I was awkward, and clumsy and messed up a lot and still I never fit in. And I remember the first time they told me that I was supposed to be a woman, I think that’s when everything changed, in 5th grade when gender mattered and boys and girls started dating, and the girls asked me to be on their basketball team because I was the best girl at basketball.
Every year in elementary school each grade did something appropriate within the scheme of Jewish Education and every year they would have a ceremony to show off a new skill or ability and then each member of the grade received a book. In the younger grades they were significant Jewish texts: prayer books, the 5 books of Moses, etc. But in 5th grade we received, “Women of Valor”, I still have that book, its nametag written out in Hebrew, with pictures of the other books I had received and would receive. It was then that it hit me, I don’t know if it was just 5th grade, or if it was my best friend who started hanging out more and more with the cool girls and less and less with me, or if it was the couples in our class, constantly rotating but never including me, but it was then that I realized that I was supposed to be a woman. I guess it changed my mindset in a way because I started to try; I pored over fashion magazines, bought books on makeup and beauty and how to be perfect. And I tried, I tried SO hard, I would stay up late at night trying to make my hair perfect and practice the art of being a woman. But it never worked.
As I grew I started to acknowledge to myself that I did not fit in as a woman and I chalked it up to immaturity and inability to accept responsibility. But then I continued to grow and I started out high school on a new foot, I would be a woman! I bought the skirts and had the hair and the makeup and I tried to make the friends. And I tried and I tried and the more I tried the more it built up until I bought my first pair of man pants. They are ripped now to the point where I cannot wear them, but I remember them. They were 10$ on sale at Kohl’s, they were dark denim with a hint of green, and I wore them with my men’s “Kiss Me I’m Irish” (I’m not really Irish) sweatshirt and something clicked. It would be a while until most of my wardrobe transformed, in fact it would be until I got out of high school that I would stop feeling the need to wear skirts or dresses when I needed to dress up. It would be until midway through my first year of college that I became comfortable enough to put my breasts away, to stop using them to get the attention that I always craved and until I was comfortable enough to try to shape them around who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to be seen.
Now I don’t bind that often, but I cannot remember the last time I did not wear a sports bra. Women complain that sports bras flatten their chest, and eliminate their cleavage. Now I don’t know what their talking about because even in a sports bra they do not disappear, and if I dare to wear a tank top you’ll see just how much cleavage I still have. But when I’m in a sports bra I can feel my self start to be in that in-between place I want to be. I never thought I would grow up to be a woman, the thought didn’t even cross my mind until 5th grade. But I also never thought I would grow up to be a man. I think of myself now as a 14-year-old boy, because 14-year-old boys are so often caught in that place between adulthood and childhood. And I haven’t met a 14-year-old boy yet who didn’t have some complex built around masculinity. I never deny growing up as a girl, a confused girl but a girl nonetheless. The question is where am I now, who am I now. I know that I am growing up, but I don’t know where it will take me. I know however, where it will not take me, I am not growing up to be a woman, and I am not growing up to be a man. Perhaps I will never know where I am going or when I get there, but hopefully I will be able to find some footing in the in between space that has evaded me so long.