Meet Natalie, Our Designated Driver for Social Justice! Also. Also! Answer Her Questions!

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photo-251Hi! Mooo mooo! I’m Natalie and I will be writing about …

about …

about …

(This is sort of how it goes in my head) …

… about politics and LGBT rights and feminism and women’s rights and social justice and social norms and categories. I suspect I’ll write about things that irk me, things that excite me, things that make me go “what the what?!”, things that challenge me, make me uncomfortable in my own skin, things that are pleasurable and exciting.

For example: some things I am thinking about right now:

1. Queering Gender – Why can my boss (a straight, white man) wear a tie and a button down shirt to work (and receive compliments on his outfit) and I, a woman not fond of labels , can not … because … it’s apparently “not lady-like, professional, or welcoming.” What the what?!”

2. The United Nations and UN processes – particularly around the financial crisis, the outcome of the G20 meetings, aid flows and how they support (or, usually, undermine) gender and sexual equality.

3. The LGBT legislation on marriage that is on several states’ agendas in the US of A right now: Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa … IOWA!

4. Categories – their purpose, their contours, their ability to push people out, bring people in …

5. My fingers … why do I keep picking them? Jesus Cristo! They are disgusting!

83842480I am super excited to contribute to such an amazing publication with such amazing readers and such an incredibly talented team. For now I’d like to share with you a compelling interview I recently conducted with myself.


Interview: Natalie-on-Natalie

Q: So dear Natalie, what are you doing right now?71559926

A: Eating my 17th piece of Irish Soda bread (damn you A;ex!) and looking out my window into the alley and appreciating that it is 6:30pm and still light out.

Q: How are you feeling?

A: Personally? Professionally? Hmm … Blergh all around, for sure. I’ve had a fierce cold for what feels like three years. That’s sort of tainting my outlook on life right now. I feel majorly defeated.

Q: What are you reading?

A: At the moment, a piece from the OECD Development Assistance Committee on indicators to measure whether gender equality is being incorporated into development policy. I’m having a very hard time understanding it. I also just began reading a book I borrowed from Riese entitled The Whole Story and Other Stories by Ali Smith which she borrowed from Carlytron. It all comes back around, go team.

Q: What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

A: Hands down, my Carmex. Chapstick really. I go insane without chapstick.

Also Office Space.

Q: Office Space? Can you elaborate?
A: I have a really hard time sleeping at night; I have found some relief though from three movies: Office Space, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Best in Show. office_spaceI have also taken to watching episodes of 30 Rock. In college, where I really began this ritual, I started falling asleep to Kissing Jessica Stein. I love that movie. Hmmmm…I need to start rotating it in. At the moment I am watching 30 Rock.

Q: Do you own a swingline?
A: I do! It’s magenta and I love it!

Q: Why are you working on autostraddle?
A: Because I love Riese — and I love what Autostraddle is trying do — and I believe deeply in equality and love, just like Autostraddle does.

Q: What makes you qualified to write about LGBT issues from a feminist perspective?
A: Eeeeks, I have to work on the self-confidence thing; I worry often that I am not qualified—or rather that my voice doesn’t (and shouldn’t) matter. There are people out there who know this much better than I do and whom are much more eloquent and I struggle to speak when I think of all the others who could speak much, much more intelligently and beautifully on these issues. But, that said….sigh. I have some formal training and some life training and some analytical skills and I think these combined give me legitimacy.

Q: If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
A: I would stop procrastinating and I would learn how to create a workplan! Also, I would stop ripping my cuticles off.

Q: Natalie, did u happen to buy a new humidifier yesterday?
A: Yes! It’s wonderful. And streamlined.

Q: What is your least favorite daily activity?
A: Bathing/personal hygiene. It’s so repetitive and time consuming. I do it but I don’t like it!

Q: What would you buy right now if you had some money?
A: Three things: a fantastic printer, a massage and my perfume Hanae Mori (I ran out three weeks ago and have since been stealing Riese’s perfume).


What I am doing right now:

1) Found this publisher while doing some research for work work; they seem very sassy and are dedicated to the politics of radical social change. Titles include Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning, and The Revolution Will Not be Funded.

2) I am reading a lot of jibber jabber on the financial crisis; it’s hurting my head. Most of the world has been in a financial and economic crisis for quite some time: why is it only labeled as such when developed countries are significantly impacted. hmmmm?

Anyway: the financial crisis and its impact on women globally, development, aid … there is a commission at the UN– check it … they are examining how to make the global financial and economic system more equitable and accountable — what type of reforms would lead to a more just system? They came up with some sassy recommendations; not perfect by any means, but a significant step in the right direction. Read more here.

gyno visit3) I was reading “Construction of the Female Body in Gynecology” post today on feministing, about “a tangential topic that [the author] thinks is sometimes overlooked in LGBT studies: lesbians’ experience with sexual and reproductive health care services and it struck me as an excellent topic for an autostraddle post. Theorizing and unpacking the relationship between the medical community, bodies and sexuality makes me so hot! I could talk about this with y’all endlessly …

… but, for this first piece, I will simmer down and focus, grasshoppers: let us look at the relationship lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women have with the gynecologist and with sexual and reproductive care overall. I suspect treatment varies around the country, and consequently so do queer girl’s comfort levels with the doc.  Riese & I have talked about it just briefly and we’re already energized by how deeply the personal is political.

I know, we just met and I’m asking you about your sexual organs! See, isn’t this already fun? Let’s get all the tough stuff out of the way.

What have your experiences been around sexual and reproductive health care? Do you feel it’s relavent to you? What are your feelings and thoughts and experiences with regard to the big G to the Y to the NO!? Write me in the comments form! You can comment anonymously — it doesn’t actually verify your email address so you can make one up. You can also just contact me via the contact form. Do you get regular checkups? If you’re gay or bi, do you feel you don’t need to go, do you feel marginalized by the gyno or have you found an open-minded saint? Any experiences you want to share would be awesome!

I would love, love, love to hear from you all.  I will incorporate them into my first post (anonymously, of course!)

Natalie has major problems sleeping and a lot of thoughts and feelings. Natalie enjoys cereal with berries, the elliptical machine, coffee, sleeping during the day, walking, books and critical thinking. She also enjoys people – boys girls and everyone in between. If she were an animal, she’d be a dolphin squirrel hybrid. Originally from Ohio, Natalie currently lives in NYC with Riese, who she met while getting her BA in Gender, Race and Ethnicity Studies from U-Mich. She went on to get an M.S. in Philosophy at the London School of Economics and currently is a consultant for AWID-the Association for Women’s Rights in Development. She wants to do good, she wants to birth dogs, she wants so many things.

Natalie has written 7 articles for us.

41 Comments

  1. pLEASE don’t rip your cuticles off… OW, that hurts me, even. I’m looking forward to more of your perspectives. I like the culture jammer approach. (just thought I’d throw that in.) best, B.

    • dear B,
      thanks for the note! every day i wake up and think ‘today is the day i am going to stop picking my fingers…today is it!’ and then the day unfolds and its usually unbearable…and so i pick. but i do try really hard. and one day i am convinced i will stop!

      i too like the culture-jammer approach: always questioning underlying structures, norms etc. it’s fun!

      take good care,
      natalie

  2. i also have a horrible habit of picking at my cuticles. i’ve been doing it for as long as i can remember and can’t seem to quit.

    gyno…for some reason i’m more comfortable with a man? which is weird…i guess. but i still feel like it’s important to go, and haven’t told him. he still gets weird when he asks if i’m sexually active and i say yes and he offers birth control and i decline and then he gets all flustered and he’s like ‘well are you trying to get pregnant?’ maybe i should explain…

    • it’s true–it’s impossible to quit. something about it feels sooo good, though, you know? it’s calming in its methodicalness. i don’t know if that makes sense, but i suspect you get what i am saying.

      thanks for your note on the gyno! i will incorporate it in my story:)

      it bothers me when my gyno (a gal) asks me about pregnancy…it’s really pervasive this obsession with reproduction.

      • i know exactly what you mean. it seems like such a calming, good idea at the time, and then you later look at your fingers and you’re like ‘gahh! what am i doing!’
        vicious cycle.

        thats the one thing that peeves me about the gyno, that it seems like the whole emphasis on you being there is to prepare for reproduction, or to prepare you against it. i don’t like that aspect. i wish they could just check out my lady parts and make sure everythings running smoothly without trying to find out if i’m planning to bring a child into the world at 20. Ummm hello?

  3. Natalie! So excited to see that you’ll be writing about these topics. 🙂

    I was wondering if you have an e-mail account set-up that is devoted to your articles, as I definitely want to respond with information about my experiences with sexual and reproductive health care. Didn’t want to respond in the comments section because… well, my response is going to be a book. lol

    Thanks!! Looking forward to more from you!

    • Hi! Yay! thank you:) i will try to write about whatever it is that the readers want to read.

      Yes, on the contact page, you can pick me me me. On the pull down menu, select “natalie”: all the messages come directly to me (and are private).

      I very much look forward to your book!

      xoxo

  4. My gyno is a lady. I didn’t have to come out to her or answer embarrassing questions regarding birth control because my girlfriend went to her first and told her everything then she went with me to my first appointment and they kind of put 2 and 2 together.

    I’ve been once. It wasn’t the best experience of my life but everything was fine. I know I should go again/regularly, but I’m in a monogamous relationship and have been FOREVER so I don’t really feel like its 100% necessary. Intellectually I know that’s 100% BS and I should go…I just don’t. It’s so much easier to not go.

    • Dear CP,

      sigh. it is so much easier not to go. i totally feel that. it’s really one of the most uncomfortable spaces ever.

      thank you for your story! if you want to elaborate – like, why particularly do you dislike the gyno? how does being in a monogamous relationship impact your view on the necessity of going? – that would be wonderful. email me through the contact form: just pick “natalie.”

      Yay! thanks!

  5. ohh yay! this is like all the stuff i try to talk to my friends about and they indulge me for a little while and then ask me if the dress they’re wearing is too short.

    but really. yay natalie! I’m excited.

    off to try and understand the UN’s financial commission…

    • omg, after you read about the financial commission, perhaps you can explain it to me?! it’s a labyrinth! but, important to understand, i think.

      yay! i, too, am super excited to talk about this stuff and to get readers’ ideas on topics we should discuss. thank you so much for your comment!

      xxoo

  6. Hey,
    Politics, social justice, feminism, etc. are pretty interesting. Nice to have you here. I haven’t been to a gyno (not yet sexually active or 18) but now I feel a bit worried! And I feel your pain. Bathing and personal hygiene are such annoying necessities. Someone needs to invent a way for people to stay clean without all this daily fuss.

    • Hi Amaya,
      So nice to be here! thank you for your comment!

      don’t feel worried—it certainly can be uncomfortable, but it (the gyno) is meant to be a safe space…and I think once you find a doctor with whom you are comfortable (which, of course, can be tricky), you can definitely develop an honest, open relationship.

      bathing is such a necessary evil. i am sitting here right now needing to shower and just can’t bring myself to do it: i keep thinking about the extensive process required afterward. blergh!

      take good care!

      xooxo
      natalie

  7. natalie moooo! why do they call you that? you have amazing eyebrows. we’re both addicted to lip products! do you lose yours often? i lose mine everyday. if we lived together, we’d have to label our chapstick.
    ————-
    i used to go to the gyno on a regular basis, but haven’t been since moving to phx. howevs, that’s all gonna change next week b/c i SO have an appointment! holler! also, my experiences have been normal, i suppose.
    ————-
    i’m glad you’re here! yay! you can’t see me, but i’m clapping w/ excitement! not as i type this, of course. that is impossible.

  8. Hi Green! Soooo nice to have a note from you!
    Thanks for the comments!

    Sooo….i started making animal sounds when i found human words to be insufficient at expressing my emotions…so when i was tired, or baffled, or excited i would moo!

    hollller! let me know how it goes (is that an awk question? yes!)

    also, i hope you feel better:)

    xxoo

  9. Natalie! MOOOOO…..

    What can I say…. about time you shared your insights and intelligence… Cause yes, you are. Very. And funny. So very. I do not pick my cuticles but I do rip my nails. And it is not pretty. Sigh…

    Gyno stories… Yes, my first gynecological experience in this country – being locked into a room and made to put on a robe and wait… while the gyno makes his/her rounds… or something… very weird and intimidating. Not to mention cold. More later….

    • Dearest H,
      Hellloooooo! thank you so much for your incredibly kind and humbling words! i am so, so lucky to be your friend! you are AMAZING!

      i too was locked in a room–literally LOCKED IN! it was so cold. it was awful. jesus.

      let’s get together ASAP when I get back to ny!

      love love love

  10. Feminism and Women’s Rights?? Am I in heaven? I really look forward to hearing what you have to say! Irish Soda bread??? It’s part of my staple diet, I swear, as is potato bread and potatos – you’d never know I was Irish would you? Ha! I’m so stereotypical!

    As for the Gyno; I’ve never been and never wish to go! I don’t even go to the doctor’s! My mum has to go behind my back and make appointments for me and forcibly drag me to the practice! So I’m afraid I’ll be of little use to you in your first post but I will answer whatever you have to ask in future posts!

    Ps. loving the pink wig – very Britney esque! And that’s a good thing because she’s the bomb! Okay rant over! Good luck and welcome to autostraddle! 🙂

    • dearest emily,
      hello! thank you, thank you for the comment and for your welcome.

      i often feel that i am putting people in hell when i talk about feminism, social justice, women’s rights etc. so…yay! i super excited that you are excited.

      also soda bread is amazing. it most def SHOULD be a staple!

      i wish i could wear the pink wig everyday…but it’s itchy…and it does not stay put. so, you know.

      write me more with thoughts of what you want to see in this column!

      xxoo

      • My friend also has a pink wig very similar to yours and she wears it at any opportunity around the house so you may be surprised how accustomed your head may become to it!

        No no, I’m very much looking forward to hearing what you have to say on Women’s Rights etc. and the more ranty and bitter it is the better! lol! I actually took a Gender module as part of my Law degree last semester, so it’s all good!

        Ps. clipping the wig to your hair should do the trick or just not moving your head at all! 🙂

  11. Hi! Natalie right now you are on the phone and I can hear your whole convo, story of my life.

    My primary complaint with the gyno, back in my heydey of youth as a bisexual, was that I really felt judged or treated as slutty because i had to check off “men” and “women” on that little form that asks you about all the things you’ve done so they can judge you and the nurse can raise her eyebrow at you like “mmm hmmm you probs have SARS in your cervix,” you know that look.

    Obvs your first post is so lovely, just like your outfit and your personality. Yay Nata!!!

    Moo !!!!

    • dearest marie,
      it IS the story of your life. thank you, little peach, for putting up with my rambling!

      yayyy! i am super excited about autostraddle and about my outfit. you can’t see me right now bc i am at the doctor waiting for my appt (he is now almost 1 hour late)….but i look H-O-T.

      i miss you already.

  12. MMmm I loOOve Office Space.

    I do not like doctors in mine tho. My grandmother died from cervical cancer, well, most of the people in my family have some cancer or another. So it’s important to get your junk checked. I just don’t like it. (So, I skip every other year.)

    • office space is a remarkbable film.

      yea, it is important to go. sigh. if you look below at biogal’s amazing comment, you will see that i better gyno world is possible!

  13. Hola!

    What a fantastic column! This is SO exciting! Now, I was just writing a wee thing for my supervisor the other day (I used ‘personal is political’ and genderfuck in it – I haven’t heard a response yet – eek!) and I went off on a tangent about the heternormative development of gynae practices and policies. How if women had been instrumental in the development, we wouldn’t have to be flat on our backs and/or in stirrups, feeling prone, vulnerable and violated. There would be some power given to the woman being examined whereby she had the upper hand. I suggested some sort of tennis umpire’s chair where the woman could be sat normally in a gown and the doctor would have to be disadvantaged by having to step down into a mechanics-style inspection pit beneath to look up and check all was okay via a hole in the seat! I think they used a chair like this to check one of the Popes was not a girl…maybe that one is still kicking around somewhere for me to steal the design and run off to the Patent Office!

    Anyway, I’m glad you and Riese are thinking about these things – it makes me feel less like a weirdo to be writing about it, too!

    Looking forward to the next installment…

    Big Love.

    • dear biogal,
      OMG! this is amazing, absolutely amazing. i am bringing this tennis umpire chair suggestion forth to my gyno. genius.

      also, i am going to start using genderfuck in all my sentences.

      love
      xxoo

    • Hi PoetInPA:
      thank you so much for your kind words! i totally don’t feel that way–so to hear that…it’s like…blush blush!
      do stop by daily!

      xxoo
      natalie

  14. Ohh yay! Hello. 🙂

    I’m quite excited for your section.
    I’m kinda sorta Quaker-ish, I go to a Quaker school.
    (Like Obama’s kids, but a less preppy/exclusive one)
    I’m totally into the social justice aspect of things…
    (Especially if it sheds light on LGBT rights and such.)
    😛 This probably sounds fruity, but we even dedicate a day at school for these sorts of issues, we call it “peace and social justice day.”

    Anywho, can’t wait to hear more!

  15. NAT! this is wunderbar and super-cool all at once…i love that your particular brand of intelligent humor is out on the internet for all to read, be stimulated by and enjoy…:)…am looking forward to more.
    on the whole gyno thing, heteros have pretty daunting experiences as well, i imagine, or maybe i am the only one.
    the less said about it the better but i ask u to imagine a 2o-something virgin (fresh off the boat from india) being forced to go through a pelvic exam because she needed birth control for a hormonal condition. wai? bcos in KS (where my boat had docked) they can only prescribe birth control if u have one of those exams, even though they test is only necessary if u are sexually active. GAR!
    looking forward to reading mooooo’re and seeing u when u get back here!
    love the hot pink wig btw…blog away, sista!
    tangerine_hornet

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