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Monthly Archives: October 2011

 

 

 

 

http://www.thenation.com/article/163811/taking-legacy-anita-hill

This article, written by Jessica Valenti, discusses the accomplishments and present goals of third wave feminists. She incorporates her own personal input and experiences to provide the reader with deeper insight about Anita Hill and the broader topic of sexual harassment.

She begins the article by establishing a time period based on her own age. This decision expresses an informal style that breaks away from the traditional ‘professional journalist’ style. As a female, Valenti incorporates her own personal emotions, pathos, to draw the reader in. In some ways, she also utilizes ethos because, as a female, she has been affected by sexual harassment and she also explains her discovery of feminism and her decision to engage in the women’s movement.

Valenti goes on to prove that sexual harassment continues to be a major issue in the United States even with seminars provided by corporations. She points out that the media is quick to blame the victim instead of evaluating the more serious problem of sexual assault and rape. She references an article in the Wall Street Journal about a graduate student that had been raped and beaten to death. She also lists another article titled “Listen up, sweetheart, buy the ticket, you take the ride” to show another example of victim-blaming. This use of logos with the two examples is simple and satisfactory in pointing out how the media approaches these cases. Perhaps more examples would have been more effective, but too many could also be overwhelming.

The last two paragraphs express optimism and acknowledge Anita Hill’s courage to speak out. Valenti lists a few organizations that demonstrate how young people have begun to address the issue of sexual harassment. She connects this new generation of the women’s movement with Anita Hill and how cultural progress is slow, but steady. Valenti’s balance between optimism and realism creates a sense of hopeful persistence that resonates. The length of the article was long enough to emphasize her point and yet short enough that it was not too detailed.

However, I believe that more context about the Anita Hill hearings would have strengthened the introduction. I also think that her use of a cuss word in the conclusion was slightly unnecessary and could be considered mildly offensive.

Overall, Valenti efficiently connects Anita Hill’s hearing and the issue of sexual harassment to demonstrate how it continues and how this generation is handling it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah. I said it. He just doesn’t know.

At a campaign event in Sioux City Iowa, Mitt Romney was asked by Beth Schopis if he was opposed to the use of birth control. He answered “I don’t”, which means that he was not opposed to the use of birth control…

However, he told Mike Huckabee that he IS in support of a law created by an anti-abortion group, Personhood USA, which would “redefine life as beginning at the moment of fertilization, effectively outlawing contraceptives like birth control pills.” If the law is passed then miscarriages would be considered murder and common forms of birth control would be “the legal equivalent of a homicide”. Awesome.

Rachel Maddow discussed Romney’s lack of knowledge about how birth control works. Complete with “The Man Cave’s Not-Too-Upsetting Guide to Down-There Parts“. Maddow very blatantly, but politely, explained the purpose of each part of a female’s reproductive system and clearly pointed out that straight women often enjoy spending time with gentleman but don’t want anything popping out of them nine months later.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

Even though Maddow approaches the issue in a humorous way, she communicates the fact that making birth control illegal would have serious (and scary) consequences.

Passage of this legislation would also have scary implications about the control that females have over their bodies. It would imply that the government can control how women behave sexually and restrict what they are and are not allowed to do. I think the whole religious belief that life begins and conception and so birth control/abortion is murder is a means to keep women from having the power to decide what they can and cannot do with their bodies. It’s all about keeping the males in control of females and maintaining this patriarchal society. However, I respect those in support of pro-life and I can understand that removing a developed fetus from a female’s uterus can be seen as the destruction of life. I just do not understand why it should go so far as to prevent the use of contraceptives.

It’s scary how ignorant and unaware people are… ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT WANT TO BE PRESIDENT IN 2012. If Mitt Romney does become president and birth control is made illegal, I am going to seriously consider moving to a different country because I do not think I could tolerate any more.

I always wonder how different the world would be if MALES experienced menstruation and childbirth.

One thing that absolutely makes me extremely upset is rape culture.

I hate it when people misuse the term rape in a sentence is clearly unrelated to rape. I’ve seen way too many facebook statuses that were to the effect of “I raped that test” or “Just got raped by that test”. It is extremely upsetting because it is offensive to anyone that has experienced sexual assault or rape and essentially trivializes a traumatic and devastating experience.

It is also frustrating when people assume that the way people, specifically a girl, dresses means that she’s asking to be raped. Last time, I checked, rape is defined as: “to have sexual intercourse with him/her, esp. by the threat or use of violence against them.” (dictionary.com) And I would almost bet my life that no one wants to ever be forced to engage in sexual intercourse against his or her will. It angers me that people would automatically assume that anyone would welcome that because they are wearing clothes that reveal skin. It is confusing for females because we are told to be ‘feminine’ and dress in such a way that highlights our femininity and what essentially makes us different from males. Because when we dress in such a way that suggest masculinity, it means we’re lesbians! So this presents a difficult situation for females and what it means to dress. This issue of clothing being somehow connected with sexual assault entered the media with the first Slutwalk in Toronto.

Before I begin discussing the Slutwalk movement, I want to mention a court case in Italy. In 1999, a woman was raped and when she went to court, the rapist was found not guilty. Why? BECAUSE APPARENTLY HER JEANS WERE SO TIGHT THAT SHE HAD TO HAVE HELPED THE RAPIST TAKE THEM OFF SO HE COULD RAPE HER. SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?! The more I think about this, the more frustrated I get. It’s just. Unbelievable. (Article here).

Anyway, so the Slutwalks began because the Toronto Police Constable made a comment (here) about how women should ‘avoid dressing like sluts’ to avoid being raped. In response, nearly 3,000 people showed up to raise awareness about slut-shaming, sexual assault, rape and the use of the word “slut”. The power of language influences the meaning associated with words and so a major aim of the Slutwalks is to change the connotation of ‘slut’ so that it describes a female that is in control of her sexual activity.

I hope that these Slutwalks encourage discourse about sexual assault, rape and how men and women can work towards promoting a culture that does not blame or alienate the victim.

I also hope that one day, people of any sexual orientation can walk freely during the day, at night, wearing what ever they choose and living without the fear of being raped or sexually assaulted by a stranger or by someone they know.

An important part of making progress, however, begins with addressing how people interpret the word ‘rape’ and how we approach rape culture.

ALSO: An interesting article about Slutwalks and racism here.

http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/

http://slutwalknyc.com/

http://www.slutwalkchicago.org/

Where do I start?

I have not been paying as much attention as I should be to the upcoming elections, but I do know that Michele Bachmann is the “new” Sarah Palin.

Except worse.

Bachmann has rejected ‘feminism’ and voiced her lack of support towards homosexuality and, of course, believes in the biblical notion that women should be completely submissive to their husbands. I understand, though, that the term feminism has been distorted in the political arena, especially with Sarah Palin labeling herself as a feminist.

It just makes no sense at all to me why Bachmann would not commit herself to changing women’s rights and opportunities. She has made extra effort to target Planned Parenthood and the reproductive rights of women. “If Planned Parenthood is defunded on a federal level, millions of low-income women, many in rural or medically underserved communities, would lose access to basic preventative health services, such as pap smears, breast exams, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and affordable birth control.” (huffingtonpost.com) SERIOUSLY? In addition, she has voted in favor for the banning of abortion and for discontinuing medical training for safe abortions. I don’t understand how she can be so fervent about taking away women’s ability to control their reproductive system or even receive birth control when she HAS her own set of ovaries. It just perpetuates the idea that women have no say when it comes to their reproductive system.

There’s one quote I’d like to address:

”Does that mean that someone’s 13-year-old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back and go home on the school bus? That night, mom and dad are never the wiser.” -Michele Bachmann

WHAT. I cannot even put into words this ridiculousness. For one, abstinence education is a joke. Secondly, I highly highly doubt that any person would take an experience, such as abortion, that lightly. Especially a 13-year-old girl. She must be terrified at the possibility of pregnancy and, in my opinion, if she had been given better access to birth control and better educated about pregnancy and the responsibilities involved with sexual intercourse, then the likelihood of her having to resort to an abortion would have decreased dramatically. It is insulting that Michele Bachmann would even imply that abortion is so… flippant.

Another thing that just blows my mind is her family’s gay therapy clinic. Yes, gay therapy clinic because homosexuality is some sort of disease. Just thinking about all of the people that agree with Bachmann and think that her clinic is ‘helping’ is depressing. The fact that people cannot be proud of their sexuality because of societal pressure is sad and frustrating. Since when has love been a problem? If anything, love is the reason why human beings are still alive today.

As I’m learning more about society, people, the government and life in general through my experiences, I am increasingly afraid. I am afraid that I have been conditioned to accept the status quo and keep my head down because that’s what I’m supposed to do.


 

More often than not, I’m wondering if I’m doing “enough” as a Feminist.

I’ve taken on the position of advertising for the Chapman Feminists and my decision to minor in Women’s Studies are activities that show my interest in feminism. But I think about the women, in past and present, that have brought progress to the women’s movement. Literature is often a powerful medium as seen with published books and DIY zines. Protests have also been effective at raising awareness. Most recently, Slutwalks have gained a lot of attention towards rape culture and sexual violence.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I have not protested nor attempted to write a book about my thoughts on Feminist theory or women’s history. But I don’t simply sit in silence when someone says a sexist joke or misuses the word ‘rape’.

Whenever I think about what more I could do and what I should be doing to raise awareness or contribute to women’s issues, I usually just tell myself that I’m more aware than the majority of my peers in college and that I’m doing what I can do with the options I have.

But that sense of complacency just perpetuates the current system. It’s an endless cycle in my mind.

Yesterday, my Women Studies professor posted this speech from the SCHOOL OF THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO commencement address:

“The Guerrilla Girls’ Guide to Behaving Badly (Which You Have to Do Most of the Time in the World as We Know It)”

1. Be a loser. The world of art and design doesn’t have to be an Olympics where a few win and everyone else is forgotten.

2. Be impatient. Don’t wait for a stamp of approval from the system. Don’t wait around to be asked to dance. Claim your place. Put on your own shows, create your own companies, develop your own projects. To steal a phrase from the Dali Lama, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In other words, Be the artworld you want to take part in.

3. Be crazy. Political art that just points to something and says “this is bad” is like preaching to the choir. Try to change people’s minds about issues. Do it in an outrageous, unforgettable way.

4. Be anonymous. Anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. So join that long line of anonymous masked avengers, like Robin Hood, Batman, and of course, Wonder Woman.

5. Be an outsider. But even if you end up working inside the system, act like an outsider. Look for the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair, then expose it.

6. Lead a double life. Be a split personality. Be two, three, four, five artists in one body, like me.

7. Just do one thing. If it works, do another. If it doesn’t, try it another way. Over time, we promise you it will all add up to something effective and great. Don’t be paralyzed because you can’t do it all right away.

8. Don’t make only FINE art.

9. Sell out. If people start paying attention to you, don’t waste time wondering if you’ve lost your edge. Take your critique right inside the galleries and institutions to a larger audience.

10. Give collectors, curators and museum directors tough love. Make sure that museums cast a wider  net and collect the real story of our culture.

11. Complain, complain, complain. (But be creative about it).

12. Use the F word. Be a feminist. Women’s rights, civil rights, and gay, lesbian and trans rights are the great human rights movements of our time. There’s still a long way to go.

13. Be a great ape. In 1917, Franz Kafka wrote a short story titled A Report to An Academy, in which an ape spoke about what it was like to be taken into captivity by a bunch of educated, intellectual types. The published story ends with the ape tamed and broken by the stultified academics. But in an earlier draft, Kafka tells a different story. The ape ends his report by instructing other apes NOT to allow themselves to be tamed. He says instead: “break the bars of your cages, bite a hole through them, squeeze through an opening…and ask yourself where do YOU want to go?”

This list, which I reduced to its main points, made me realize that I can’t expect from myself or anyone else a huge movement or change. A lot of the change that needs to happen begins with awareness and just noticing the flaws that most choose to ignore because it’s comfortable to stick with the status quo.

And I realize that I can’t just ‘raise awareness’, but I should try my best to inspire others to work towards change. A lot of progress began with ideas and questions that then changed history. I hope I can contribute to the progression of my generation in some way.