CAREERS AND ED Often called the first feminist, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz could well be your guiding spirit heading into this bright new year. Born in 1651 in colonial Mexico, Sor Juana defied societal expectations about women at the time to study herself into becoming one of the smartest people in New Spain. She became a nun rather than marry, and eventually amassed one of the largest libraries in the Americas.
One of Sor Juana's enduring catch phrases was "I don't study to know more, but to ignore less," a prettily humble bon mot from a woman who constantly had to defend her right to learn. Sadly, threats of censure by the church slowed her educational roll — but nonetheless, her unlikely influence on the fight for women's rights is still honored today.
Will you ignore less in the new year? Surely there are fewer obstacles in your way than Sor Juana's. Here are some excellent ways to engage with the world around you in 2014.
FEMINIST BOOK CLUB FOR MEN
So you say you're a boor? For all the menfolk — or anyone, really — boggled by feminism, this monthly book club may be the ticket. Held at Noisebridge, the Mission's tech learning center (check its calendar for amazing, mainly free classes and meetups), the club will start with bell hooks' Feminism is for Everybody and feature conversations about how to be the best ally possible. All gender identities welcome.
Second Wednesdays starting Wed/8, 7pm, free. Noisebridge, 2169 Mission, SF. www.noisebridge.net
BEGINNING STAND-UP COMEDY
The stand-up school with the most working comedians on staff of any similar institution in the country wants to get you in front of an exposed brick wall talking about your boyfriend's crazy roommate.
Wednesdays Jan. 8-Feb. 12, 6pm, $239-279. SF Comedy College, 442 Post, Fifth Fl., SF. www.sfcomedycollege.com
REGGAETON FUSION DANCE
Instructor Tika Morgan explores the hip-hop, dancehall, Cuban salsa, and other influences that create the pounding rhythms of reggaeton.
Wednesdays, 8-9:30pm, $13. Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., SF. www.dancemission.com
LGBT COUNTRY-WESTERN DANCE
Two-step, skiffle, country swing, and waltz your way through these inclusive country-western lessons and dance parties run by community advocates Sundance Association.
Thursdays 5:30pm, Sundays 7pm, $5. Sundance Saloon, 550 Barneveld, SF. www.sundancesaloon.org
CHOW QIGONG BASICS
Learn about qigong, the Chinese chi-balancing practice that involves breathing, other physical movements, and mental exercises. This free class is taught by Effie Chow, a qigong grandmaster who founded her East West Academy of Healing Arts here in 1973, and has served on White House advisory boards concerning alternative medicine.
Fri/10, 7-9pm, free. Polish Club, 3040 22nd St., SF. tinyurl.com/qigongsf
Support your local community college through its battle to retain its accreditation by enrolling in one of its class offerings — there's no charge for non-credit courses (though you may have to buy books and materials). This class examines the hidden and explicit messages sent out through mass media, and helps students pinpoint how these cues affect the decisions that they and other members of society make.
Fridays Fri/10-May 23, 8am-12:50pm, free. City College of San Francisco, 1125 Valencia, SF. www.ccsf.edu