Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Social Justice Event #2: UnSlut

On October 29th, I attended a viewing of the documentary Unslut which showed the stories of six girls whose lives were drastically affected by slut-shaming.  It was a very eye opening experience on how much power being labeled a slut has on a girl’s reputation and self-esteem.  One of the stories told in the documentary was about a girl named Rehtaeh.  One night Rehtaeh and a friend went to a party with a bunch of guys where she got really drunk.  A bunch of the guys decided to take advantage of her inebriation and took her upstairs to a bedroom where they proceeded to rape her and even took a picture of them having sex with her.  Later on, the picture ended up making its way around her school and that’s all it took for her reputation to change.  Everyone turned on her and started harassing her, calling her a slut and she only had one friend left to stand by her side.  In the end, the constant harassment became too much for Rehtaeh, and she ended up committing suicide.

This is an all too common problem!  People (especially kids in high school) throw around the word slut like it’s nothing to girls who are said to be sexually active or dress provocatively.  They never think that it could have such a drastic effect on a girl like it did with Rehtaeh.  This automatically made me think of the video Tough Guise that we watched because in all of the stories the girl’s problems were caused because the guy went to his friends and bragged or showed a picture of the girl naked and that’s where the girls get their slut status.  The guys want to be seen as manly by their peers by showing off who they slept with, with no regard to how it could affect the girl.

It also reminds me of the class where we talked about sex positivity because we need to change how our society views women who have sex.  Our society believes that only guys should want to have sex and any woman who wants sex is considered a slut or a whore.  Then in cases where a woman is raped, like in the documentary, this kind of thinking leads the woman believe that it the assault was her fault even though she was a victim.  This shows how powerful a single word can be and we need to work on ending the use of it.

This is the trailer for the video.  Please watch it and if you ever get the chance, watch the full documentary.  It is eye opening and can be life changing.

Fear of Feminism by Lisa Hogeland

Hyperlinks: Why Don't More People Call Themselves Feminists

In Lisa Hogeland’s piece, “Fear of Feminism: Why young women get the willies” she talks about some of the many reasons why so many young women are afraid to consider themselves feminists.  One of the biggest reasons is because so many people believe feminists are just angry lesbians that hate men, therefore if they call themselves feminists they are afraid that this stereotype will be placed on them too.  In this way, homophobia is what keeps so many from calling themselves feminists, so Hogeland tells us that, “Feminism requires that we confront that homophobia constantly.” 

Another reason many young women avoid the word feminist is in order to protect their romantic lives.  Hogeland says that “young women may believe that a feminist identity puts them out of the pool for many men, limits the options of who they might become with a partner, how they might decide to live.  They may not be wrong either: how many young men feminists or feminist sympathizers do you know?”  This is a legitimate point.  In the article that I posted above (“Why Don’t More People Call Themselves Feminists” by Jill Filipovic), it says that according to a poll in 2013 only 18% of men called themselves feminists compared to 38% of women.  That’s a ratio of less than 2:1, so you can imagine how difficult it would be for a female feminist to find a partner that wouldn’t be scared off by the title.

Also, in the article, Filipovic talks about what some celebrities say about feminism. “Taylor Swift isn’t a feminist because she doesn’t “think about things as guys versus girls”; Lady Gaga isn’t one because she “loves men”;… Shailene Woodley also “loves men” and believes in “sisterhood more than feminism.”  These are some celebrities that younger girls look up to, and they are giving them a bad definition of what a feminist really is. 
This is a pretty cool video from BuzzFeed that shows why feminism isn't a bad word.  Afterwards, I read some of the comments and saw how a lot of people were bashing the video continuing to say how feminists just hate men and they want women to have more power than men.  We need to get more people educated in what it really means to be a feminist because society is only giving feminism a bad name.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Social Justice Event #1: Bisexual Awareness Day

On October 7th, I attended an event that celebrated Bisexual Awareness Day held by H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Promote Equality).  For the event they got guest speakers who openly identify or have identified in the past as bisexual.  They talked about their experiences being openly bi and the issues of how people see bisexuality.  The biggest issue they talked about facing was how people would say that bisexual people  People would tell them that one day they would figure which gender they are attracted to.  This part reminded me of “La conciencia de la mestizo: Towards a New Consciousness” by Gloria Anzaldua where she was talking about when a biracial person is with someone that is the same as one of their races, they have to act like that race.  It is the same with bisexuals, when they hang out with gay people they are generally expected to be gay or if they are with a straight crowd they are expected to be straight.  Society has difficulty understanding that there is a middle ground and they think that you have to be one or the other.
are just confused.

They also talked about the issue when it comes to current partners.  If a male was previously dating a female but then after breaking up, started dating a male people would start asking, “Oh so you’re gay now”. Or if it were the other way around people would say, “So, are you straight now?”  It is as if bisexual people jump between gay and straight depending on whom they are currently with but that is far from the truth.  Then there was also the issue where people say that bisexuals are “just greedy” because they want both men and women.  It’s not that they are greedy, no one can control whom they find attractive and just because straight people are only attracted to half the population doesn’t mean the bisexual people are greedy for liking more.

The female speakers also talked about how difficult it is to be a bisexual female in our society.  Just like in “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” by Adrienne Rich, they talked about how society always automatically assumes that women should naturally be straight.  So if it is so difficult for men to understand that a woman can be a lesbian, how can they understand her being bisexual?  They also talked about how the only way many men can accept a bisexual woman is through fetishizing and porn.

It was a very interesting event and it was nice to hear the stories of how different people have dealt with being openly bisexual.

Here is a video that talks a bit more about bisexuality and the issues that bisexual people face in day to day life.

"Combatting Intentional Bigotry and Inadvertently Racist Acts" by Fletcher Blanchard and "The Role of Allies as Agents of Change" by Andrea Ayvazian

In this weeks reading, “Combatting Intentional Bigotry and Inadvertently Racist Acts”, Fletcher Blanchard talks about racism, specifically on college campuses.  He talks about how, for a lot of white people, college is their first experience with people of color.  Unfortunately, that also means that those same people have never seen the impact racism can have and so the racist things people around them say or do can easily influence them.  Blanchard tells us about an experiment that was done on college campuses where they would ask people about their thoughts on racism.  Typically they would only stop one person but sometimes they would stop two, on regular person and another person that was in on the experiment.  It was found that when the person involved with the experiment talked negatively about racism the other person was more likely to talk negatively about it.  But, conversely, when the person involved condoned racism the other person was more likely to condone it.

So, Blanchard says that the best way to fight racism, whether it is blatant or inadvertent, is to be an ally.  Speak up against racism when you hear it because “each of us can influence each other by criticizing the willful bigotry of the mean spirited few and gently guiding the well intentioned efforts of the inexperienced many.”  This is also what Andrea Ayvazian talks about in “Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression: The Role of Allies as Agents of Change”.  She tells us “an ally is a member of a dominant group in our society who works to dismantle any form of oppression from which she or he receives the benefit”.  Allies can be very important people in the fight for change because while the people being oppressed may not be listened to, the allies can be their voice.  They can also be important as role models.  Most kids don’t grow up with a “white anti-racist (or civil rights worker, or someone who fights racism)” to look up to.  Allies can be the ones that kids can look up to and teach them about any of the –isms in our world and how to fight it.

Some of you may have noticed how I kept saying "Allies can be..." because in my experience in the LGBT+ community allies aren't always so helpful.  In this video, I feel that tip number 3 is the most important, she say "Speak Up, Not Over".  Especially on the internet, I have seen many people who have called themselves allies but were basically just doing it to look like a good person.  They would make such a big deal about how great of an ally they were, etc. but then would never actually talk about any of the issues faced in the community.  It even got to a point where the acronym was updated to LGBTQIA and a lot of the allies were so excited that they got included into the acronym because they were so important.  Except, that A that was added was for asexuals, not for allies, but many ignored that fact and continued saying it was for them.  I know, obviously, that not all allies are like this and it could just be a few making a bad name for the many but I felt that it was important to mention.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sex War by Ann Ferguson

In reading this article this week I was a little confused, not in the I didn’t understand what I was reading sort of way, just in another way.  Ferguson tells us about the two vastly different sides of feminist ideals on sexuality; we have radical feminists and then we have libertarian feminists.  Radical feminists are the ones who believe that women should not partake or enjoy over sexual things like porn or promiscuous sex because they say that sex is a tool men use to keep women submissive.  Then you have the libertarian feminists who believe it is fine for women to partake and enjoy these things as long as it’s consensual because they say that women need to take back their sexuality.

Then Ferguson breaks down the ideals within these two groups.  She shows us that there are holes in the ideals of both sides, which is understandable because what ideologies don’t have a few holes.  So the part that confused me was I was reading this whole article expecting her to give us an idea for a middle ground of these two.  So if anyone got something deeper that I may have missed, please let me know.

After reading this article I realized that I am definitely a libertarian feminist.  Women deserve to take back their sexuality from men and be able to use it however they see and which ever way gives them most pleasure (obviously excluding the forbidden practices that Ferguson mentioned, like incest and sexual relations between adults and children).  But, if a woman wants to enjoy porn, go for it.  If she enjoys being promiscuous, that’s fine.  One thing I agree with Ferguson on is, “feminists should be free to choose between basic and risky practices without fear of moral condemnation from other feminists.

We talked about Nicki Minaj's Anaconda video in one of my other classes, and we talked about how this is a perfect representation of sex positive feminism.  Throughout the video Nicki and all the other girls are showing off their bodies (especially their butts) but the entire time they are in control of their bodies.  This is seen clearest at the end when Nicki is dancing around Drake.  At one point he goes to touch her butt, and she just slaps it away and then walks off.  She's showing that its alright for the guys to look at her body but she still also has control over when they can look and even touch it.

Just wondering what you guys think of that?

Monday, November 9, 2015

"Tough Guise 2", and "What Are Little Boys Made Of?" by Michael Kimmel

In today’s society some people blame feminism for the weakening and feminization of men.  We heard that a lot in the video “Tough Guise 2”, especially in the part where Rush Limbaugh and the other on air reporters are telling their largely male audience that “those femi-nazis” are to blame for undermining maleness in our society.  Kimmel also mentions it when he says, “Because of feminism, they say, America has been so focused on girls that we’ve forgotten about the boys.”  This is absolutely absurd, and it definitely does more harm to society than good.

When men here messages like this in the media it makes some of them overcompensate by being violent just to prove that they are still masculine.  It’s seen in mass shootings where the shooter justifies what he did by saying he was made fun of and picked on and even in the sexual violence against women.  In the video they talk about the Steubenville, Ohio case where two football players raped a girl a girl who was drunk and unconscious.  I have to say the footage of them talking about raping the girl was absolutely appalling and it was very difficult to watch, but it shows just how far some guys will go just to show their friends how manly they are.

But, these messages aren’t always leading guys to hurt other people; it can lead to them hurting themselves.  Kimmel says in his piece, “boys are four to five times more likely to kill themselves than girls…” and in the video they talk about how almost two-thirds of all gun deaths are do to male suicides.  This is because boys are taught that they aren’t supposed to be emotional and they need to keep all their emotions to themselves, which can lead to depression, mental illness or physical outbursts.

This is why men need feminism too.  Kimmel says, “Feminism encourages men - and their sons – to be more emotionally open and expressive, to develop empathetic skills, and to channel emotional outbursts away from violence.  And feminism demands the kinds of societal changes that make this growth possible.”  Boys and men need to learn that it is all right to be emotionally open and that doing so doesn’t make you a girl, no matter what the media tells them.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

This reading was really interesting to me because I can relate to so much of what Orenstein says, especially in chapter 3 “Pinked”.  Working in retail, especially with the Christmas season coming up, I have spent a lot of my time recently working with toys and seeing this split between girls toys and boys toys.  On one side of the section we have girls toys, with Barbie’s, baby dolls, and arts and crafts, and on the other side we have boy toys, such as Lego’s, action figures, and cars and trucks.  Never do the two mix.

In the girls section you see all the boxes are some mixture of pink, purple, light blue, and any other “soft” colors.  Whereas, all of the boxes in the boys section are a mixture of darker blues, black, red, and more “hard” colors.  You can tell right away who they are marketing to just by looking at the packaging.

The thing that gets me the most upset though, is how companies actively try to keep boys toys and girl toys separate.  One of the biggest offenders that I see is Lego.  For years there has only been one type of Lego (granted they had tried many times to “appeal” to girls) and girls were typically told that they shouldn’t use them because bricks are for boys, even though I know many girls who liked Legos growing up.  But now Lego has come out with new sets just for girls, like Friends and Elves.  Where the boys sets are all about action and adventure, all the girls sets are about cooking and taking care of animals.  And to make sure that the two types of sets never mix they make the color pallets completely different, just like the outside packaging, and even the mini figures are built completely different.

This is a phenomenal video about the difference between regular Lego's for boys and Lego's attempt to reach out to girls.  She even talks about how this segregation relates to Orenstein's writing in Cinderella Ate My Daughter.  I know it is a little long but if you have the time, check it out.

Final Thoughts
It is kind of astonishing just how far companies go to keep girls toys and boys toys separate, and how they justify it by saying, "Girls are born liking these things," when that is far from the case.  Why can't we just let toys be toys and let kids play with whatever they want whether it's a boy playing with dolls or girls playing with regular Legos?