Thursday, November 19, 2009

Art Show by a Fellow Young Feminist of Lesley University!

Mia Bloombecker, one of our fantastic student workers at the Women's Center, will have the opening of her art show tomorrow night!

I was born and raised in Santa Cruz,
California. I'm inspired by traveling, and this
photo exhibit showcases a variety of locations.
There are photos from my hometown, as well as
Cambridge, New York, Scotland and Germany. They
show some of my favorite subjects: nature,
architecture and decay. I find the effect of
time on buildings fascinating, and it is
present in many of the photographs. I'm excited
for the opportunity to share my photos with the
Lesley community.

Check out Mia's work! And come see the show :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bridging the Gap Between Second and Third Wave Feminists

Theological Opportunities Program is a local feminist organization in Cambridge.

Cheryl from TOP just wrote a blog post about bridging the gap between second and third wave feminists. Check it out!


Monday, November 9, 2009

The Sad Disparities Of Media Coverage on Missing Women

There was a great post on Sociological Images this past week on the sexualization of young women reported missing. This got me thinking about an issue that really bugs me: the coverage of missing women in the media, and the victim-blaming that goes along with it.

Last month, a young woman named Morgan Harrington went missing after attending a rock concert. On Nancy Grace's show, Harrington was referred to as a "co-ed beauty" in the headline. Check out these headlines, running under the screen: "Cops trace co-ed beauty's last hour;" "20 year old co-ed beauty vanishes at rock concert;" "missing co-ed beauty last seen on bridge."
(For the record: when I got my car this past summer, it came with three free months of satellite radio. When I would drive the 45-minute commute to my internship, I would usually listen to talk radio like NPR. Sometimes, I'd switch the channels around to see what else the satellite radio offered, and Nancy Grace's CNN show would come on. I found it very tabloid-y and sensational, so I'm not surprised at the way she treated Harrington's disappearance).

While it is great that CNN is covering the case of this young woman, which will hopefully assist in finding her, it is troubling that instead of referring to her by name, she is objectified as a "co-ed beauty." In fact, it seems as though every time the media breathlessly covers the case of a missing woman, the victim is a young, attractive white woman.

Quick, name the first few missing persons cases that you can think of! I came up with Natalee Holloway, JonBenet Ramsey, Laci Peterson, and Chandra Levy . The disappearance and murder of these young women is certainly tragic. But why do we never hear about the disappearance of women of color, or women who are not attractive members of the middle or upper class? If the women I mentioned need media coverage so their families and the police can help find them, then why do women of color not need this media coverage as well?

Think of the developing case of Anthony Sowell. This man was a convicted rapist, and police recently found 11 decomposing bodies of African-American women in his house. Family members of some of the women tried to file missing person's reports, but the police refused to file them. Some of the victims were involved in drugs and prostitution, and the police mocked their family members, saying things like, "She'll be back when the drugs dry up." Because the missing women in the Sowell case were poor, African-American, and in some cases involved in drugs, they did not elicit the "sympathy" from the general public as a young, attractive, middle-class white woman would.
However, the women in the Sowell case deserved to be respected by the police and the media just as much as Natalee Holloway or Laci Peterson. It is disheartening and despicable that the local authorities did not take the family member's requests for missing person's reports seriously. If they had followed up on these reports, perhaps they would have caught Sowell sooner, and not as many women have been killed.

Another aspect of this issue is the rampant victim-blaming that occurs. I remember a few years ago, when Natalee Holloway went missing during her senior class trip. I can recall news stations, radio stations, and newspaper editorials chastising her for going out on the town and drinking. I heard people at my job say things like, "Well she was dressed like a slut and getting drunk with a bunch of guys. She got what was coming to her." Many people also blamed her parents for allowing her to go on the trip.

One hears things like this a lot when a young woman goes missing. People jump to blame the victim, instead of even discussing the perpetrator. It's as though as young women, we should all just assume that if we wear a short skirt, have a drink, go on a date, or dance at a bar, someone is going to kidnap and murder us, and if we do not take the "proper" precautions, whatever happens is our fault.

Hopefully, some good will come out of the Sowell case: authorities will be pressured to actually do their jobs, and take all missing persons cases seriously, and the media will pay attention to the victims of Sowell's crimes regardless of socioeconomic status or race


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Health Care Reform Update

I'm sure that all of us had been waiting with bated breath to see what would happen with the House of Representative's healthcare bill this weekend...

The good news is that it passed. The bad news, for feminists, women, and families across the nation, is that it passed with the Stupak Amendment attached to it.

A number of anti-choice Democrats threatened to veto the bill if abortion could be subsidized in any manner by the federal government.
Here's the language from the Stupak Amendment:
The amendment will prohibit federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions.

So, if a woman who is utilizing the public option for her healthcare wants an abortion, she will have to pay hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket for it. Here's the kicker: if she receives credits from the federal government to help her pay for other healthcare, she cannot purchase a plan that would cover abortion. She would again, have to pay out-of-pocket for it.

The Stupak Amendment was lobbied heavily by the Roman Catholic Church. Now, I do not mean to disrespect anyone's religion, but the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church are celibate males: men who have never had sex in their lives, have never had wives or partners, and have never had a family. What do they know about a woman's right to choose? Why should I, as a young woman of no particular religious persuasion, have my reproductive choices made by men whose religion I do not follow, and who will never have to even worry about fathering or raising a child, or having an abortion?

Do these people not understand that abortion is a legal medical procedure? Let's imagine that I was part of a religion that did not believe in, say, chemotherapy for lung cancer. What if I told a lung cancer patient, "Too bad you have lung cancer! You chose to smoke cigarettes! Now, you must pay the consequences! I don't want my tax dollars going towards your legal medical treatment, because I don't believe in it!" What if a senator or U.S. representative tried to write something like that into healthcare reform? Would that be acceptable? Of course not.

If you disagree with the passage of the Stupak Amendment, it is time to become politically active. (Actually, it's always good to be politically active! Contact your representatives with the issues you have with their votes and actions in Congress. They are there for you! Hold them accountable!)
If you don't already know who your representative is, check here. (All you need to do is type in your zip code). Once you do that, check here to see if he or she voted "yea" on the Stupak Amendment. (Note: all the Republicans in the House voted yes. 64 Democrats voted yes). If you disagree with your Rep's vote, call his or her office or write a letter! If you agree with your Rep's vote, send him or her a letter of support for standing up for women's health and safety. (That's what I just did! Thanks, Rep. Tim Bishop!)

Also, check out this post on Feministing. At the bottom, Ann gives some tips on what to do next: send a check to Planned Parenthood in Bart Stupak's name, help a pro-choice woman run for office, and work on overturning the Hyde Amendment.

So, is there any good news to come out of this healthcare bill? Of course there is! Again, Ann at Feministing has written a great post on the good things that have come out of the bill. There's a lot of really positive stuff for LGBTQ people, the House bill expands Medicaid, and it funds comprehensive sex ed programs.

See: the glass is half-full!

Don't get too excited yet, however. The Senate now has to vote on their bill, and then the Senate and House bills need to be somehow combined into one. From what I've read of the Senate bill, it's a lot less progressive than the not-very-progressive House bill. So, continue reading your newspapers and blogs, and make sure to keep up on this very important topic!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

November is Love Your Body Month!

This month, it's all about loving your body! No matter what age, weight, clothing size, hair color, eye color, or shoe size you have, take time out to appreciate yourself for who you are!


Friday, November 6, 2009

So much information, so little time!

Wow! Long time, no write.

It's midterm time here at Lesley, and everyone's been crazy, including myself. Every day when I read various blogs/newspapers, there's so much I want to share, but not enough time to get everything done, let alone write a zillion blog posts.

So check these links out:

Great article about abortion in the Philippines. (via The New York Times). This article really showcases the intricacies of abortion policy. Married women who cannot afford more children are mutilating themselves and trying to miscarry in order to terminate their unwanted pregnancies. If they're unsuccessful, they are forced to give birth to and raise children that they cannot afford and do not want. A bad situation for everyone involved! 70% of the population cannot afford birth control and pregnancy prevention. Of course, the vehemently anti-choice Catholic church opposes all birth control and abortion access. One male official even says, “Contrary to what many are saying, that policy was meant to protect women, to protect their wombs from those who want to take away life." So, a male who will never be in the position of taking birth control, being pregnant, or terminating an unwanted pregnancy wants to "protect" the poor little women from their own choices about their own bodies. Typical. Funny how anti-choicers have the same backwards and discriminatory policies all around the world, not just here in America!

Another great article about the incidence of sex trafficking in teen runaways (via The New York Times). Warning: it made me cry! There is one part where a social worker who works to get teen girls out of prostitution and away from their abusive pimps offers help and gives his card to one sixteen-year old client. She says that she will consider leaving her pimp and prostitution with the social worker's help. Less than three weeks later, her body is found: she was stabbed to death by her pimp. The social worker's business card was still in her pocket. I was reading it in the student center, and couldn't help myself from crying over this incredibly tragic story that happens every day. This article underscores the issue of the effects of child abuse on teens, and how the current system fails them. Teen runaways who are trying to escape a bad home situation often end up in even worse situations: in very dangerous, abusive "relationships" with drug dealers and pimps.

Check out these horrifying, violent ads for women's clothing. (Via copyranter). Although I've seen a lot of violent, misogynist ads, I've never seen one where a woman is portrayed as impaled by a spike with blood staining the stone fence and grass, or pushed down a flight of stairs, her blood tricking down the steps.

Rihanna speaks out about the night where Chris Brown brutally beat her. This was a very moving clip, and Rihanna's story echoes the stories of relationship violence victims around the world. She describes feelings of shame, confusion, embarrassment and loss of privacy. I admire her for speaking out about such a painful experience, in order to help other young girls who are in a situation of relationship violence.

Maine repealed their same-sex marriage law. Ugh! Marriage is a privileged status in this country. There are over 1,000 laws that apply only to married individuals. Not allowing all people, regardless of sexual orientation, to have access is blatant discrimination. For all those who say, "Well, the public should have a right to vote on it:" what if we had allowed the public to vote on civil rights for African-Americans back in the 1800's or the 1960's, hm? Civil rights, including marriage, are not issues that should be up to a vote, they are rights that should be upheld by a court of law. For the record, every single anti-gay-marriage argument I've heard boils down to "Well, the bible says it's wrong."

Really shady story about a Planned Parenthood executive director in Texas who saw an ultrasound of an abortion procedure and magically changed her fundamental beliefs on a woman's right to choose (via Jezebel). As Anna North points out in the second link... um, first of all, having an ultrasound while an actual D&E (dilation & evacuation) abortion procedure is taking place is pretty much impossible. Many abortion procedures are medical abortions, which empties the uterus in a period of a few hours or days. So did Abby Johnson put an ultrasound machine up to a patient's uterus for three days to watch her uterus empty? Johnson also says that PP was "pushing patients to have more abortions to increase revenue," but as Anna North and many commenters point out, this particular PP referred many abortions out to other, unaffiliated clinics. There's also some really shady info in the posts about how Johnson may have given out confidential information to anti-choice group Coalition for Life, and how she got negative performance review ratings right before resigning. Here's the thing: abortions are a very small part of what Planned Parenthood does. They also provide vital health services, such as pap smears, pregnancy services, etc. If you've been working at a women's health clinic for years and have never seen an ultrasound procedure before in your life, you're either not doing your job, or something really fishy is happening in this whole situation.

This week, Massachusetts cut 11% (32% cumulatively) of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) program, which funds nurses who do rape kits for sexual assault victims. They also cut 16% of teen pregnancy prevention funding. Argh!!!

Well, that's all that I can handle for tonight. Hopefully, I can post more this week!

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ever had one of those days?

See Alexander up there? That's what I look (and feel) like right now.

Ever have one of those days?
You know, the kind where everything is going wrong and you hope you're living in a nightmare, so you can wake up?

Tonight was (supposed to be) Third Wave and Community Service Club's Domestic Violence Vigil. I was all ready to go: the Women's Center was set up, programs were printed, I learned how to work the sound and the lighting in Marran Theater, food was ordered... it was ready to go.

And when I woke up, it was raining. Hard. Rain + candlelight vigil & procession = BAD. It's okay, I thought. We can just forget about the candles, I guess.

At about 3:45, right before my two-and-a-half hour class, I got an email that our speaker for the event was unable to attend due to a serious medical emergency. I frantically contacted as many people as I could to help me... and came up with nothing.

During my class, I frantically texted and emailed as many people as I could. (I think my poor Blackberry was about to explode). Whitney, Third Wave's Vice President, and I decided to cancel the event at about 5:30. During my break at class, I tried to email Third Wave and Community Service Club members... but the Lesley email wasn't working (again). I tried to contact the people on the event's facebook page, but the computer I was on dropped the internet.... and I had to go back to class.

I asked Whitney to try and do the facebook contacts... but the power was out on main campus.

Could anything else go wrong?!

We sincerely apologize to anyone who was not aware that the vigil was cancelled, and came anyway. We tried as best as we could to contact as many people as possible. The vigil will be rescheduled at a future date... stay tuned for the new date and time.