This is where thoughts become things.

Hi, I'm Daniela. Welcome to my personal lair on the Internet. This is where I write about storytelling, activism, technology and pop culture. Sometimes I post videos. I update my lair when the mood strikes me. Follow me on Twitter for daily updates (@dcap).

Tag : gender

On My Radar: Skateistan “We Build Ramps, Not Bombs”

Skateistan is Afghanistan’s first dedicated skateboarding school. This rocks more than I have the writing ability to describe.


Luckily, I found this FRANK mag interview with skateboarding pro Louisa Menke that explains her participation in the school and related documentary (I’m so excited about the film!!).

Skateistan is special because women’s rights are severely restricted in Afghanistan; keep in mind that the Taliban do not even want women attending school.

You can watch the piece on Skateistan right here.

Skateistan classes for boys and girls began in January of 2010. International volunteers include:

* Sophie Friedel, from Germany – professional mountain boarder
* US citizen Richard Mendez – will be assisting Skateistan for one month (instruct male students and keep the park’s equipment in order)

After her first skate session with the Skateistan students at the brand new park, the 25 year old Sophie said: “I didn’t expect them to be so good already. I’m really looking forward to helping them improving their skate and other skills throughout the next six months.”

The school is free for students and they are also working with handicapped and visually-challenged Afghans.

More About Skateistan
Skateistan is Afghanistan’s (and the world’s) first co-educational skateboarding school. The school engages growing numbers of urban and internally-displaced youth in Afghanistan through skateboarding, and provides them with new opportunities in cross-cultural interaction, education, and personal empowerment programs. The students are selected from all of Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. They will develop skills in skateboarding, skateboarding instruction, healthy habits, civic responsibility, information technology, the arts, and languages.

The students themselves decide what they want to learn; we connect them with teachers who will enable them to develop the skills that they consider important. Since Skateistan has been active in Kabul, we’ve seen that Afghan youth of all ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds love to skateboard. Skateistan brings them together, equipping young men and women to lead their communities toward social change and development. – via

Here are some details about the upcoming Skateistan doc:

Skateistan — To Live and Skate in Kabul, Kai Sehr (7 mins) Documentary Preview

Skateistan from Paranoid US on Vimeo.

Inspired by Skateistan, Afghanistan’s first skateboarding school, this emotional feature-length documentary is a journey deep into the lives of Afghanistan’s urban youth. It chronicles the efforts of a grass-roots organization to build the first skate hall in Kabul, follows the first international crew of pro skaters on their visit to Afghanistan and tells a tale of the irrepressible hope found within a nation’s children.

I can’t find the release date for the Skateistan doc anywhere so fan Skateistan on Facebook and stay informed!!!

Brain Leaks: Fear & Femininity

related post: Girl Antagonists In Cinema

I’ve noticed that a lot of my favorite films, books, videos and works of art have to do with a fear of the mystical/”unknown” aspects of femininity.

Frequently, the content creator is preoccupied with his/her discomfort around femininity and is outright with it or tries to disguise it with symbolism.

One of my guilty-pleasure bands, The Horrors, have several (cool) videos that show women as objects of fear or loathing. (ex: Sheena Is A Parasite)

I recently stumbled onto this video on Vimeo called “КУБИКИ” that is visually striking. I can’t understand what is being said but it keeps cutting to a feminine face and a doll who is rapidly undressed in stop-motion, covered in in a tar-like substance and then burned.

“КУБИКИ” from cuccumberass on Vimeo.

The first time I thought about femininity in a “scary way” was when I saw the episode of “DuckTales” called “Home Sweet Homer” about a Siren-like creature. The gang is sailing and Scrooge McDuck becomes enchanted by three women in the distance who are singing “Pennies, nickles, quarters, dimes — Come to us, while there’s still time!” He almost ends up being killed. Seeing these feminine figures suddenly become a gross monster was something that really struck me. The realization that femininity could be constructed as a guise to distract for hidden purposes was both disturbing and kind of empowering.

That show was awesome, FTW.

What is it about representations of femininity contrasted with extreme violence that affect us in such a strong way?

Films like The Shining and most recently Shutter Island used images of femininity in the context of aging/death to induce a very uncomfortable or fearful audience reaction.

I could never quite put my finger on exactly why that hallway scene in The Shining was so disturbing to me. Now I think I know why — Aside from the implied fact that they were ghosts who (in their previous life) had been murdered by their father, it was their interaction with the little boy that bothered me so much.

“Hello, Danny. Come and play with us.” They stood side by side, immobile at the end of the hallway. Unlike him, they were not afraid. They didn’t seem to realize they were dead.

We then saw rapid cuts of what Danny sees – the girls lying in the hallway, covered in blood. The scene keep cutting back and forth between their butchered bodies to rapidly encroaching shots of the girls staring straight ahead, not moving a muscle.

“Come and play with us, Danny. Forever, and ever, and ever…”

Danny covered his face in horror. The contrast is too much.

In Shutter Island, there were similar shots — a blood-soaked little girl who can walk around and talk to the protagonist.

Mythical figures such as Sirens, Medusa and the Succubus are constantly reinterpreted in books and movies.

Throughout history, the ruling class in every nation created laws at some point that rid society of “abnormal” women (see Salem Witch Trials) and to justify injustices in the name of protecting femininity (see History of Lynching).

Conflicting ideas about mystical/”unknown” aspects of femininity and our desire to protect/preserve femininity are threads that will continue to be played out in the arts.

In related news, The New School is finally recognizing their Gender Studies Program.

Initially to be based at Lang College, the Gender Studies Program of The New School serves all undergraduate divisions. Lang students minoring in Gender Studies will take six courses, distributed as set forth in this requirement doc. Courses are chosen in consultation with the Director of the Program. Students must submit a plan to the program director for their course of study when they declare the minor.

To celebrate the return, there will be a a two day conference featuring various well known gender studies experts.

“No Longer in Exile: The Legacy and Future of Gender Studies at The New School”

DATE: Friday, March 26th 6 PM -9 PM and all day Saturday, March 27th
LOCATION: Theresa Lang Center – 55. W. 13th St. (NYC)

Just a few of the themes to be addressed include the task of historicizing feminism, including the particular history of Gender Studies at the New School; continuity and rupture across feminist generations; the impact of feminism on research methodologies in the social sciences; gender and design; the relationship between scholarship and activism; dilemmas in the project of institutionalizing Gender Studies; and gendered structural and institutional policies in the New School university.

I am looking forward to listening to information provided by the following panelists (there are more, but these are the ones I am psyched about):

* Susan Faludi, author of Backlash and The Terror Dream
* Bonnie Thornton Dill, Professor and Chair of the Women’s Studies Department and Program and Direction of the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity at the University of Maryland
* Judith Halberstam, Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Gender Studies at USC and author of In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005)
* Valerie Smith, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, Department of English, Princeton Center for African American Studies

Fan Gender Studies at The New School on Facebook to stay updated on conference details and other news.

Quotes: Manohla Dargis On The Gender Glass Ceiling In Hollywood

On why women in Hollywood aren’t faring any better:

Manohla Dargis

“This business is really about clubby relationships. If you buy Variety or go online and look at the deals, you see one guy after another smiling in a baseball cap. It’s all guys making deals with other guys. I had a female studio chief a couple of years ago tell me point blank that she wasn’t hiring a woman to do an action movie because women are good at certain things and not others. If you have women buying that bullshit how can we expect men to be better?” – Manohla Dargis, NY Times film critic, (via Jezebel)

Here is a funny (phone) interview with Manohla Dargis in 2008 (starts at 1:51) about being a “movie killer”:

She’s great, right? For more, read Dargis’ recent article in the New York Times, “Women in the Seats but Not Behind the Camera.”