I've considered myself a feminist ever since I first learned what the term meant. For me, it was an intuitive journey in the beginning. It never made sense to me that as a woman, I shouldn't be able to do anything I wanted to do without being limited by my gender.
But the best things happened for me in college when I started really researching feminist thought through books, blogs, vlogs and documentaries. I started with the ol' standards - The Feminine Mystique, (I picked it up at a used bookstore for $4. It was the 25th edition copy with a new forward by Betty Freidan about how things have changed and stayed the same since she wrote the book. Very cool.), The Second Sex, watching the Killing Us Softly videos, taking a Women's Studies class senior year (and learning more about contemporary gender studies) - and then branched out to whatever interested me on the web and in the library. Gender studies has become a real passion for me and there are a few topics that stand out for me as ones I'm particularly passionate about.
When I started looking into feminist blogs, I somehow stumbled across Pigtail Pals. This blog is all about the media's sexualization of girls that starts almost in infancy and how it affects girls down the road. Melissa looks primarily at the way that toys, clothing, movies and advertising affects girls (and now, boys too!). There is a lot of amazing information about the Disney-princess phenomenon and the recent Lego Friends line. She also has her own line of clothing for girls and boys that aims to be non-gender stereotyped. It's nice to know that when I have kids there are resources like this out there.
Through the Lego Friends debate, I found one of my all-time favorite sites. Feminist Frequency really opened my eyes to how women are portrayed in the media and how important media literacy is. Anita's vlogs are wonderful and have changed the way I watch TV and movies forever. She's currently in the process of doing a vlog series on women in video games and has been the target of a great deal of sexist, misogynist and downright disgusting online harassment.
Running parallel to my interest in gender studies has been a growing interest in Judaism. I come from a 100% Catholic family and have been researching Judaism seriously for about 6 months now and considering conversion. Things have really started to get interesting when my two interests intersected. I read a book called Reading Ruth: Contemporary Women Reclaim a Sacred Story - where Jewish women study the text using traditional methods of Jewish study that used to only be done by men. In this way, I'm getting a female (and often feminist) perspective on a Jewish biblical story about two women. Because I loved this book so much, I recently started reading Women's Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbi's on the 54 Torah Portions. This is my first real foray into complete Torah study and I'm thrilled to have found a book written from a female perspective. All of these women are rabbis, a profession relatively new to women in the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Jewish community (Orthodox Jewish women are still not allowed to be rabbis).
After reading Men and Feminism in my Women's Studies class, I found The Good Men Project. This is more of a "thrift store" blog - you sometimes have to sift through some lame articles for a while to find a really good one. It's been really interesting to learn more about what men are doing with contemporary gender studies - how many men are interested in breaking down gender and sexuality barriers. I particularly enjoy reading posts from "daddy bloggers" on their experience parenting.
So there are my top picks from my recent foray into gender studies since graduation. Also, if you want to feel feminist without requiring too much brain power one night - watch some Buffy the Vampire Slayer! You can watch it on Hulu or Netflix, but I will warn you that it's seriously addictive and you might have to subscribe to watch all 7 seasons! Josh Whedon really knows how to write complex, interesting, strong female characters (and good male ones too!) and the series finale is EPIC and has some truly amazing girl power.
I'm always on the lookout for more books, blogs, vlogs, documentaries and TV shows so if anyone is reading this blog, let me know your top picks!