Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Getting Dressed

Our only hope for the redemption of woman from the thralldom of dress lies in the belief that her hitherto limited sphere of activities has been so insufficient for her intellectual occupations that she has been forced to expend her thoughts in decorating her person, instead of enlarging her mind. ~Mercy B. Jackson

Every time I put on a pair of high heels, part of me begins to feel guilty. This morning was no exception. Is a feminist woman allowed to look like the prototypical American woman? Would a real feminist woman wear heels? Can a feminist woman wear make-up if she chooses? What about shaving her armpits? Letting her hair grow long? Wearing the color pink?

These and other questions plague me every time I find myself wearing a dress. Am I a walking contradiction? I am an advocate for equality, yet I love wearing the very things that distinguish women from men (and, some would argue, the very things that further enforce a male-female dichotomy). How can I rightly acknowledge my fondness for fashion while striving to be a progressive, enlightened feminist? Is wearing “feminine” clothing undermining all the things I work and pray for? Perhaps Mercy B. Jackson is right; maybe instead of expanding my mind, I’m wasting it on decorating my body. Let’s hope there is another side to this argument…

There is a fine line between art and decoration. Some things should be both. And some things should remain one or the other. As a feminist, my choices in clothing, shoes, and jewelry should be artistic in purpose- not decorative. That is, clothing ought to be chosen with “deliberate thought to aesthetic, and, on a deeper level, with the desire to communicate something” (Beth Peterson). Whatever we wish to communicate, the thought and intention given to our choices in apparel allow us to take power in how we present ourselves. Rather than dressing to serve a decorative purpose, we use dress as one small way to express our intentions and ourselves.

What is appropriate dress for a feminist? Every feminist woman must choose for herself. The way I see it, a feminist who deliberately avoids “feminine” fashions is equivalent to a feminist indicating that only those dressed in “masculine” clothing can be trusted and worthy of respect. By dressing in “feminine” clothing yet demanding equal treatment and respect, we teach the world to treat all women like human beings, no matter how they look.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


While I seem to recall promising myself that my blog would not turn into a place for me to rant angrily about the unjust treatment of women the world over, something has recently hit very close to home and has caused me great anger. Hoss Gifford, a so-called industry professional, gave a highly offensive, inappropriate presentation at a professional Flashbelt conference in the Twin Cities last week. You can read the city pages blog for the full story.

I am disgusted, angered, and, quite frankly, pissed off at Gifford for his inappropriate presentation, pissed off at Flashbelt for their acceptance of Gifford's weak apology, and pissed off that I was not in attendance at the conference; I promise you, had I been at the conference, things would have turned out differently- especially for Gifford.

I encourage you to join the conversations already out there and to speak out against Gifford

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Dock Café

Recipient of this year’s Minnesota Monthly Reader Award for Best Outdoor Dining and Best View, the Dock Café easily lands a spot on my top ten. Located in quaint Stillwater, MN, this jewel of an eatery sits right on the water, affording the guest breathtaking views of the St. Croix river and surrounding bluffs.

A short while ago, I spent all day on a solo vacation in Stillwater. Looking for a place to lunch, I tried to get seated two other restaurants before stopping at the Dock Café. These first two restaurants (which shall remain nameless) were both clearly befuddled and bemused by the thought of a young lady wanting to dine alone. Tired of waiting to be approached by the ineffective hosts of these establishments, I walked over to the Dock, where my unescorted presence was given a hearty welcome.

My partner in romance and I made a trip to the Dock again last night. We were by far the youngest couple in attendance that evening. (I’ve learned that being the youngest person in a restaurant isn’t a rare occurrence when you acquire a taste for finer fare).  Despite the age discrepancy, we felt every bit as welcome as the older diners.

While my friend enjoyed a seared tuna sandwich with Cal-Asian dressing and sprouts, I relished an open-face salmon sandwich with red peppers and cucumber-dill cream cheese on ciabatta. (So eager to dive into our dishes, we completely forgot to capture a photo of our food for you to enjoy.) For desert, we had a rich flourless chocolate torte drizzled with homemade raspberry sauce. 

While the torte was average at best (I’ve been the lucky consumer of many a flourless chocolate torte, giving me quite a discerning taste for these cakes), the raspberry sauce was absolutely the best I’ve ever had. Perfectly tart and not too sweet, this sauce made the dessert.

I’ll definitely be going back to the Dock soon to sample their asiago encrusted scallops, key lime pie, and, if I find myself a wad of cash, a gondola ride: The Dock Café and Gondola Romantica have teamed up to offer a special package. For a hefty (but still Feminist-Foodie-reasonable) fee, you can enjoy a five-course meal at the Dock and a one-hour gondola ride on the St. Croix River. See for more info. 

Above: A partially enjoyed flourless chocolate torte. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Taming Men?

As many of you know, I’m in the midst of a summer Collaborative Research project called “The Latino Culture of Honor and Attitudes toward Domestic Abuse.” It’s a work in progress (and will remain “in progress” for the next year). While reading an article related to my research, I came across a bothersome idea: The notion that marriage was created to tame men. This is not a new idea by any standard, but it is no less disturbing each time I come across it in my studies.

Let me make this clear: I am a feminist because I care about men. Not because I hate men, as many may automatically assume. So it’s no surprise that I am concerned by this notion of taming men. As a firm advocate against the inappropriately strong socialization that occurs from the moment a female child is born, I am bothered by fact that this idea of “taming” places the burden of yet another responsibility on women’s shoulders: the supposedly “natural” ability to “tame” men.

What responsibilities am I talking about? The unreasonable notion that women must always serve as morally superior beings. The unfair expectation for women to be the sole protectors of their bodies against men. The expectation that women’s lives should center upon the ultimate goal of being “claimed” by a man.

And add to this the expectation for women to lure men into the trap of marriage and keep them “tame” for years on end. 

This idea not only places an unrealistic responsibility on women, it also belittles the intelligence and capabilities of men. You see, when society expects women to “tame” men, men are socialized to ignore their responsibility to moderate themselves. Next thing you know, a husband cheats on his wife and society looks down upon her for her inability to tame her husband. Or a woman is raped and society attributes the crime to her sex appeal—in other words, her inability to tame the man. Or a woman is beaten and society attributes the crime to her provocations—in other words, her inability to tame the man.

Let’s get our facts straight: There have been no solid studies suggesting that raised levels of testosterone cause greater levels of aggression or sexual interest in humans. It’s time to stop attributing male aggression and promiscuity to unproven scientific notions. It’s time to stop attributing male crimes to women’s irresponsibility. It’s time to move the burden of creating socially responsible men off of women’s shoulders and on to men’s. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Almost-Free Lunches

Flashback to Wednesday: There’s $5.35 in my wallet, and lunch is long overdue. Something quick, something tasty, and something thrifty, yes? Sure, $5.35 will buy you six days’ worth of sodium and fat (not to mention bloat) at your average fast food chain, but much finer fare can be found if you know where to look. Here’s a list of my favorite almost-free St. Paul lunches.

Lunches under $5!

New Asia 474 Lexington Pkwy N St. Paul, MN 55104

Between the hours of 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, you can buy an entire meal for $4.95. This includes an entrée (I recommend chicken with broccoli), white or fried rice, and your choice of soup, cream cheese wontons, or an egg roll. Take care to notice the stuffed animals, bead curtains, and wild horse mural that add to the classic St. Paul Midway atmosphere. Just bear in mind- it’s not the service that keeps me coming back.

Java Train 1341 Pascal St. St. Paul, MN 55108

This adorable, snob-free coffee shop serves up great deals on lunch throughout the week.

With specials like Wednesday’s Turkey Artichoke Panini at only $4.50, you can afford to get that large iced mocha to get you through your afternoon. Or, spend that extra change on an itsy-bitsy ice cream cone for just .75 in flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy. Check out for a full menu including daily specials.

Above: Java Train's Tuesday Lunch Special

Cleveland Wok 767 Cleveland Ave S. St. Paul, MN 55116

Get the area’s best lunch buffet to go. Located in an area a bit more quaint than New Asia, this restaurant draws customers from all walks of life to their 11-3 pm lunch buffet. For $3.99/lb, you can stuff Chinese take-out boxes full of buffet food. Or, for a little over $5, you can dine in and enjoy multiple trips to the buffet. Parking is on-street and scarce, but the walk will be worth it!

Acme Deli 1552 St. Clair Ave. St. Paul, MN 55105

Acme deli lets you customize your sandwich using a clear, foolproof, pencil-and-paper ordering system. Meat sandwiches start at $4.60, veggie sandwiches at $3.90. (Mustard aficionados beware- only yellow is available.) For an extra $1.50, Acme will deliver your sandwich to any location in the St. Paul area. Fast, convenient and delicious. See for the complete menu.