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Sarah Haskins is made of yay

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Sarah Haskins is made of yay

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For every mermaid throwing her life away for a prince, there's probably a really randy mermaid making out with Spiderman somewhere in your house.

This quote comes from Sarah Haskins' recent op ed piece which, in discussing Barbie's 50th birthday, goes the novel route of unusually clear-eyed nostalgia (rather than the standard outrage at Barbie's harmful body image, unrealistic proportions, etc). I am in strong support of this piece; my few Barbies (and similarly sized dolls), when I bothered to play with them at all, also had vibrant sex lives (though in retrospect, the underlying assumptions I held about my Michael Jackson doll's sexuality were probably incorrect).

Sarah Haskins, when not editorializing for the Washington Post, does a segment on a show called infoMania, a semi-spoofy, super up-to-date cultural news show on Current TV. As an example of the "news" being carried, one of the segments on last week's episode was about the uproar over the new look of Facebook (yeaaaaah, about that...). As a whole, the show is moderately interesting - if a YouTube show like, say, The Philip DeFranco Show (and man, though I could see disliking him, there is something to be said for getting the news in microbursts served with sarcasm and dimples) had a rich city-slicker cousin, it'd be Infomania - but Sarah's Target: Women really stands out by far.

Target: Women features humorous feminist deconstruction (for lack of a better word*) of American culture, especially advertising. The initial (I think) edition that won her tons of blog love all over the place, and the first one I saw via onebrightroad, was about how yogurt is food for women, but she's taken on a lot of aspects of modern femaleness: birth control - "Birth control is sold as period control. Why? I don't know. I am just a lady, with a simple lady mind;" cleaning - "Now remember, if you're giving your bathtub spout a handjob, it doesn't add to your 'number';" cars - her feigned terror about car safety is pictured in the icon; and jewelry - "...lesson number one of jewelry giving is that it needs to be a spectacle. This dates back to ancient times, when to keep his bride, a caveman needed to show her something awesome, like a dead wooly mammoth; but you can't do that, because you're an insurance adjustor." There's a good year's worth of T:W segments, all of roughly the same high caliber, as well as a few extras, such as the rather odd date she had with Ken.

So, clearly, Sarah Haskins = awesome. However, I wanted more information about the woman herself and found it a little difficult to find. Combing through the top Google hits, you see a lot of blog entries from last year saying, "Look at this awesome video! Who is this woman?" Her Twitter bio reads, "Sarah is a lady from Chicago. She likes jokes, reading and food. She writes and performs for infoMania on Current TV." Her Facebook bio has a bit more detail:

Sarah is a writer and performer for Current's infoMania where, in addition to her role as the "Target Women" correspondent, she is an important member of the office crossword team, the fax machine enthusiast society, and is the creator of the chicken nugget-english muffin-cream cheese and mustard morning sandwich. Don't knock it till you've tried it.

Sarah hails from Chicago, IL where she performed improv and sketch comedy at i.O. Chicago and with the Second City National Touring Company.

It seems like actually participating in Facebook and/or Twitter might be the way to go to keep up with her. In spite of this, however, I am still standing firm so far in my resistance of both sites; I am not sure if I will have a tipping point, and I will be wroth with anyone who finishes off my stance, so I'm glad it's not her, as I don't want to be wroth with someone so rockin'. In any case, some of the info I was able to find on this elusive female person includes this interview from last June and the two pages of this scanned article.

As should probably be clear by now, I am really diggin' on Sarah Haskins. Some of that is just because I put a great value on humor in general; however, in her case, there is the more important layer of the laughing approach to feminism. I struggle with feminism, as part of a broader struggle I face with many kinds of activism; in more than one case, I feel excluded from groups that really should include me. I know what I believe, and I want to reconcile it with these larger groups, and feel that I should be able to, but in many cases there are side issues that I find problematic and that seem to be endemic to the movement, to the point where it's a fight for me just to find anyone to connect with at all. It frustrates the crap out of me, and makes me think that a lot of power that could be brought to bear on solving a lot of the problems that necessitate activism in the first place is instead wasted in meaningless meta friction like what I experience. My feeling is that one of the main culprits is the grinding anger that seems to seethe within so many activists. Anger is a powerful tool, and, to be fair, a natural response to prejudice and entitlement as well as vital to fomenting change - but it's important to make sure that that anger isn't driving away allies along the way. It sure the hell turns me off, and that is the deeper import that I see in these videos: laughter, aimed in the right direction, can be stronger than a whole field of fists raised in rage. So, right on, Sarah... oh yeah, and FUCK PANTYHOSE.

* In this instance I mean, "for lack of a better word," very literally. IS there a better word for this? At the very least, somebody just please tell me if I am using the word deconstruction correctly. It sounds like the right word - to take something apart down to its most basic components and then examine the underlying ideas upon which they are based - but when I went to read up some more on what deconstruction actually means, I found the explanation, even in just the Wikipedia entry, to be written in a particular kind of intelligentsia-ese that I, smarty-pants though I be, find impenetrable. I usually try to use Wikipedia as a springboard to tell me where to do further research, but after I read that article, I knew less than when I started. Frankly, if I'm going to need to read a textbook or twelve just to be able to use a single word conversationally, I will simply replace it in all instances with 'grok' instead - it might be awkward but I can make it work if I try hard enough, which can't be said of comprehending whatever the hell Derrida is trying to say, the fucker.
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