Where Are All the Poster Children?

September 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I went to the annual poster sale so I could make my side of the room a little bit crazier. I was delighted to find posters of R2D2, E.T., and (woot!) Rosie the Riveter. However…

While flipping through the posters, I noticed some pretty interesting trends. Did you know that every female college student is crazy for either Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, the occasional ironic Britney Spears, or Marilyn Monroe? You do now. I have nothing against these ladies. They are all wildly talented, beautiful, influential women. But come on people, give us some more credit than that!! I would love for the poster sale to offer a few more diverse (in terms of color, personality, age and occupation) options than the double threat white chicks. How about some Michelle Obamas, some Ella Fitzgeralds, some Joni Mitchells (she is a white lady double threat as well, I’m just a little bitter that I couldn’t secure a Joni poster), some Jhumpa Lahiris, some J.K. Rowlings (please please please!!!), or Gloria Steinems… anyone!?! Because women have influence beyond the silver screen (and I mean silver… I’m not sure exactly why girls are supposed to be obsessed with black and whites, but not even Dorothy was in technicolor!).

You might have noticed I mentioned Rosie The Riveter in my purchases… yep. That’s true. There was ONE Rosie poster. Maybe this means that all the feminists snagged the rest of the supply before I got there, but I still think it points to a lack of diversity. Of course, I am entirely ignoring the fact that college women can break the trends of their demographic and go for the aqua teen hunger force or the Bob Marley, but I say with some confidence that we are not the target audience for these posters.

So please, college poster sale, keep us feminists in mind next time you stock up? I like to show my true colors all over the wall, and it’s hard when I have only black and white movie stars to choose from.

Just for Funsies…

September 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

HAPPY 200th POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was going to save this one for Miranda but I’m in the library right now and thought I’d take a little study break.

Hi everyone! My new obsession at Grinnell is becoming a peer counselor at the Sexual Health Information Center. I’ve been working really hard on my application, so I figured I might share it with you all. That way if I don’t get it (ewwwww) I will have SOMETHING to show for it:

(I’m not posting the questions, but most of them you can figure out.)

1.As a result of having experienced several badly-executed sexual health classes in high school, I am familiar with examples of how not to approach sexual health education For instance, the classes I attended have all been centered on heterosexual issues, usually skirting the topic of gay sex entirely. Classes were entirely fact based, with homework assignments requiring students only to fill in the blank with one or two word answers. The lack of discussion was counter-productive. My goal, should I become a peer counselor, would be to foster as much open discussion as possible. Students can be educated about sexual health only when they’re asked to think about the issues and consider them in personal terms. I think this is in line with Grinnell’s approach to education (both academic and social) in general.

Although I have never participated in a program as a counselor or peer educator I have some experience communicating ideas of sexual health education reform through my contributions to the blog Women’s Glib (http://www.womensglib.wordpress.com). This experience has proven quite useful in forcing to me to think about how best to communicate about sexual topics.

The blog, started by my good friend, has become quite successful in a short time. It has received attention from feminist authors (such as Jessica Valenti, and the bloggers for “Feministe”) The blog was also recently featured in Mother Jones magazine. Connections to these resources could be extremely beneficial to SHIC.

2.I am interested in becoming a peer counselor because I have become interested in exploring the field of public health as a career. I firmly believe that health and medicine are important social issues, and that everyone should have access to information on these subjects. My interest is partly due to an eye-opening experience this summer, attending an amazingly successful sexual health class which took a very different approach than classes I had attended previously. Student participation made all the difference. When teenagers opened up to each other the fear and the stigma of “the sex talk” disappeared. We even got to a point, as a class, when we were debating heavy ethical issues passionately and quite comfortably. I think that peer counseling helps create a much more laid back atmosphere in an otherwise notoriously uncomfortable (though it mustn’t be) situation.

Before I found out about SHIC, I had been planning my own sexual health education club for Grinnell. It was my intention to partner with a local hospital and high school and have Grinnell college students teach sexual health classes to teenagers in the community. When I heard about SHIC, it seemed like an obvious choice for me. I would love to gain experience as a peer counselor, helping students at Grinnell first and then to taking my knowledge to the community. Perhaps at some point later on SHIC can expand to the community level.

Another project I would like to pursue is to create an SHIC blog, with as much sexual health information on it as possible, as well as discussions about health education reform, etc. This could be in conjunction with Women’s Glib, or stand on its own. The internet is too good of a resource to neglect, and SHIC could probably benefit from utilizing it if it has not already.

(Skipping 3 because it’s about my schedule. Boring.)

4.Confidentiality is obviously of the utmost importance for an organization like SHIC. Without the promise of confidentiality, no one would come for help. Confidentiality is the basis of trust and respect between counselors and students, values which SHIC could not exist without. I see confidentiality as somewhat black and white. Anything that is said in the SHIC stays in the SHIC. Obviously, I will adhere to any SHIC or Grinnell College rules about reporting violence or any other kind of sexual misconduct, but ultimately I believe that as adults, we are all entitled to make our own decisions.

5.I think I am a strong candidate for a peer counselor position because I am a very open and talkative person. I would imagine that my primary role as a counselor is to listen and assess, but I think I can make people very comfortable with talking about whatever they need to discuss. I welcome new people quite well, and really love to discuss sexual health. This, I think, shows in most of my conversations on the topic. I think my biggest weakness is the fact that I wouldn’t ever want to give people advice or information that they don’t want to hear. This is obviously something I would have to do, and I’m fully prepared to deal with that. With time it may get easier, but it can be pretty heart breaking sometimes to be the bearer of bad news. My only method of compensating for this is to grit my teeth and deal with it in as sensitive a manner as possible. This weakness should really only affect my comfort level, not whomever I am counseling.

6.I think the hardest counseling session would be with someone who is unwilling to make their own decisions, and unwilling to divulge important information. A counseling session should, in my opinion, be a dialogue. When it is one sided it is impossible to tell how effective a counselor you are. A counselor’s job is not to make decisions for their peers, but to talk things through, listen, and aid the student being counseled in his or her decision making. I would assume that that as a counselor, my primary goal would be to aid my peer in the whatever way he or she needs, within reason. If that means, talking about stuff other than sexual health to break the ice a little, or listening to them vent about their relationships, so be it. I would also try to stimulate the conversation by asking the student to come in with a list of possible solutions, or questions he or she might have to get things moving.

7.I think that the most important thing to learn about sexual health is that it should in no way be a taboo topic! Obviously all the facts about STIs and birth control methods etc. should be available. However, I think discussing the societal aspects of sexual health is equally important. Lastly, I think it is absolutely necessary to convey the idea that sex is fun, and you are supposed to feel good when engaging in any sort of sexual behavior. Sex should not be a commodity under any circumstances. These values are absolutely necessary to pass on to anyone who is willing to listen.

Sociological Mindfulness and Why We Should ALL Be Feminists

September 5, 2009 § 2 Comments

I came across this passage in my sociology reading, and think that it sums up PERFECTLY why no one should be afraid to call themselves feminists. It also provides a great justification (not that I need one) for contributing to this blog.

I am a feminist through and through, but sometimes I feel like I don’t do enough to show it. As a new college student (I swear to god I will stop telling you all this in like, a month) I am definitely going to get more involved in some social action groups, but if that fails for some reason, I will always have this quote:

Sociological mindfulness also reminds us that we can change a small part of the social word single-handedly. If we treat others with more respect and compassion, if we refuse to participate in re-creating inequalities even in little ways, if we raise questions about official representations of reality, if we refuse to work in destructive industries, then we are making change. We do not have to join a group or organize a protest to make these kinds of changes. We can make them on our own, by deciding to live differently.

Perhaps our modest efforts will reverberate with others and inspire them to live differently. Or perhaps no one will notice, or they will notice but think we are strange. And so you might think, “If no one is going to notice that I am a superior moral being, then what is the point? Why bother to be different and risk ridicule?” That is one way to look at it. Being sociologically mindful, however, suggests a different thought: “I cannot be sure that anything I do will change things for the bettter, yet I can be sure that if I do not at least try, then I will fail to do what I think is right and will be contributing to keeping things the same. Therefore I will opt to do what is right, whether much or little comes of it.”

In the end, sociological mindfulness must be about more than studying how the social world works. It must also do more than inspire curiosity, care, and hope — although these we cannot do without. If it is to be worth practicing, sociological mindfulness must help us change ourselves and our ways of doing things together so that we can live more peacefully and productively with others, without exploitation, disrespect, and inequality. Sociological mindfulness is a way to see where we are and what needs to be done. It is a path to heartful membership in a conversation that ought to have no end.

– Michael Schwalbe, Finding Out How the Social World Works

Um… does anyone else think that is SO beautiful? I obviously do, enough to take the time to type the whole damn thing!

Am I a Spanish Barbie?

September 3, 2009 § 4 Comments

Hola feministas (I have no idea if that’s a real world, but it seems fairly appropriate).

I’m sitting in the library doing my listening homework for my intro to Spanish class, all the while having little feminist daydreams. What’s currently on my mind are the ridiculous gender roles portrayed in language learning audio supplements. There is always a man and a woman having a charming conversation. The man has a deep, rich voice, while the woman’s is light and dainty. I’m kind of afraid that, in listening to these obnoxiously stereotypical gendered voices, I will adopt one myself, and inevitably become a Spanish Barbie doll.

I think the reason most tapes get away with this is because they typically have one person reading for each gender. Obviously, you aren’t going to get a whole lot of variety out of that. It just saddens me that there is one more part of my education that pushes traditional gender roles in a discreet (and therefore harder to call out) way. Luckily, women’s glib is the perfect forum for calling out seemingly insignificant shit.

Adios!

Grinnell Fun Facts

August 23, 2009 § 2 Comments

Since I haven’t been doing anything remotely intellectual for orientation, this is going to be a baby post. Here are some funny facts I learned about Grinnell campus:

  1. Formerly the section of campus where only women lived, South campus has some pretty hysterical architectural differences from all of the other sections. For example, the loggias (covered walkways) are not open air like the all the others on campus. They have beautiful glass windows. Know why? Because women should never have to walk in the cold Iowa winters. Haha, guess what. No one should have to do that. Ever.
  2. All of the kitchens on South campus come equipped with ironing boards. For us womenfolk to do the ironing.
  3. Just learned this one, it may be my favorite so far: the Loose dorm (holla!) was notoriously the hall for “loose women” because the window locks are the easiest to break for late night collegiate trysts.

I found those details pretty amusing when I first heard them, I really hope you enjoyed!

Packing Delirium

August 6, 2009 § 9 Comments

Right now I am undergoing the laborious (and ridiculously exciting!!!) task of packing up my belongings to take to my first year of college. I’ve noticed that, like many young women my age, I have a lot of fucking clothing. Not just clothing. I just have a lot of stuff. When comparing packing notes with my future classmate who happens to be a guy, I learned that he is packing way less stuff than me.

While this opening could go in many directions, I’ll probably choose the least rational, least evocative and least coherent one because I am that tired of packing. Here goes:

I’m sure many of you feminists are familiar with the theory about the implications of female and male standards of beauty- females are encouraged to be thin, to disappear, while males are encouraged to take up as much space as possible. This is how society wants us. In my packing, I cannot help but wonder- is the reverse true for material goods? Are women supposed to take up as much space as possible with our belongings? Are we making up for society’s pull for us to be nothing by having as much stuff as possible?

My packing delirium leads me to believe that a lot of the reason women tend to have more clothes, accessories, etc. is a tie to domesticity. Perhaps society wants us to take up a lot of room, not with our bodies, but with our stuff at home. Maybe we are bound with more strength to our homes because of all of these belongings. Do our clothes mark our territory? Do men often ‘travel light’ because, according to our culture, they should not be tied down to one town, and certainly not to one household?

Obviously it would be a stretch to draw very many conclusions like these without researching properly, and even then it probably wouldn’t make much sense. I just thought I’d let you in to see my packing-induced crazy talk.

So You Think You Can Dance With Whomever You Want?

August 3, 2009 § 1 Comment

WRONG!

Miranda kindly sent me this Bust article via Facebook, which reminded me of something I was thinking about posting a while back.

Like the Bust blogger, I must explain my opinions of the show before I post. I LOVE SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. The show is pure entertainment. I love being exposed to great dances every week (albeit usually choreographed to less great music). I particularly love how the show doesn’t encourage unhealthy competition. The dancers all genuinely seem to enjoy being around each other, and are not manipulated in to saying nasty things about each other. With that being said, I had a BIG problem with one of the audition episodes earlier this season.

During the auditions back in June, So You Think You Can Dance saw its first ever male ballroom dancing partnership. Here is what happened, according to “TV Squad”:

Misha and Mitch are same-sex ballroom dancers. Mitch had a female partner, but it didn’t work out. Mitch is straight and Misha is gay. It’s like the odd couple, except with sequence. It’s funny because the two have strong lines and good legwork. Nigel just had this look on his face (we know how he feels about gays). In one move they messed up a lift and land on the floor. Nigel has no clue what to say and compares it to Blades of Glory. He thinks that they alienate audiences. He thought that they were strong. Mary was confused because they were both male and female in dances. The lead/follow was strong, but the technique needed help. Sonya sees a lot of female qualities but is confused with classical form. The two are sent off to choreography.

For a show that is supposedly all about embracing new ideas in the dance world, breaking down barriers and accepting people of all backgrounds, these judges were very narrow-minded when it came to gender roles. They managed to throw in some remarks about the dancers’ lines and general technique, but on the whole, could NOT get passed the guy on guy dance action. They all claimed to be thoroughly “confused” by it all, and felt that they could not judge the dancers properly because they strayed so much from conventional ballroom dancing. What a FUCKING STUPID excuse!!!! Alienating America? Like the media doesn’t alienate all the Americans who don’t fit into their cookie cutter gender roles every damn day.

I never really cared for Mary Murphy and her ridiculous pitch and volume, but I have certainly lost a huge amount of respect for the three judges that day, who could just not get over a man ballroom dancing with another man. As far as I’m concerned, dancing is about art. Art doesn’t have to abide by conventional gender roles, in fact, great art is often created by challenging those roles!

I still love SYTYCD, and I do approve of the kick ass lady routines created by Sonya (also, Nigel did mention the ridiculous treatment women get in most dances), but it broke my heart a little to hear these two poor men get shut down immediately because of who they chose to dance with!

No, No, Netflix

August 2, 2009 § 7 Comments

This summer I have been a tiny bit addicted to watching Netflix instantly from my computer. Their eccentric collection has, um, forced me to watch some pretty weird TV. Kindly, Netflix automatically organizes my viewing options into some categories to help me navigate their website. The categories include stuff like “TV sitcoms,” “romance,” “thriller,” “TV show with a strong female lead.”

Wait, what was that last one?

Am I the only one who finds that just a little bit weird? Don’t get me wrong, I love that they suggested shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dead Like Me. Those shows are pretty great, and I think they are great precisely because they have strong, quirky, entertaining females at the center of them. But it seems to me that making an entire Netflix category out of them is just highlighting how odd it is in the movie/TV industries to have such shows. I didn’t see any “TV shows with a strong white male lead.”

Perhaps Netflix is simply reflecting a larger issue, but I can’t help but think that their method of categorization, in some small way, is helping to perpetuate that issue. Then again, perhaps I’m overreacting. Still, it struck me as a little weird, slightly more disconcerting, and entirely blog-worthy.

History of Infant Feeding in the US

July 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

Hi AGAIN! I’m on a roll.

This is a paper I wrote last semester for my US Women’s History class. It’s a little stiff (because I was dying to graduate) but I find the subject matter extremely interesting. Also, I cite my mommy, lactation consultant Bev Solow!

Enjoy!

(Hello Again) and Infinite Props to NY Presbyterian

July 31, 2009 § 2 Comments

Hi everyone!

First of all, let me just say that I’m thrilled to be returning to Women’s Glib after my embarrassingly long vacation. I’ll be better from now on, I swear!

I recently attended a health and sexual education class provided by NY Presbyterian hospital. The class was mandatory for all Summer Youth Employment Program employees, and, needless to say, I was dreading it like no other. I’ve been to so many sex ed classes that skirt around issues, don’t delve into anything that isn’t strictly fact, and seem like their goal is to make people less comfortable, not more informed. Why should this one be any different?

To my surprise, this one was totally different, and here’s why:

The class was taught by a mix of people, some teenagers and some professionals. While, yes, there were some cringe worthy one-liners such as, “um… does anyone um… know what um… the scrotum is?” there were some really great benefits to having this class taught by teens. It was pretty clear that my whole class felt at ease because the environment was less like a class, and more like a conversation. My favorite quote from one of our peer educators was, “You gotta tie of the condom and throw it in the trash, not out the window, would you want a nasty condom falling on your head?” When things got confusing, or some of the facts weren’t straight, there were trained professionals to step in and clear everything up.

Which brings me to my second point… we were taught by people who hadn’t just taking a week long crash course in health education. These people actually worked in the NY Presbyterian clinic. They had, quite literally, seen it all. Nothing that they told us sounded like a text book recitation. This resulted in a much more engaging class, because no one was trying to separate these issues from real life. Since the conversation had that tone, we had surprisingly open debates about ethical issues as well as the symptoms of gonorrhea and how to put on a condom.

My classmates totally opened up. They asked great questions, and others provided great answers. Some told deeply personal stories, and were not afraid to express their views, no matter how controversial they were. At first I was a little nervous when one of my classmates expressed his feelings on abortion. He believed that the decision for a woman to have an abortion should be a “fifty-fifty thing,” and a woman should not have one if her partner is willing to take care of the child himself. I ended up being glad he said it though, because we had a lively debate which would have otherwise never occurred! Young women were exclaiming, “But do you have to carry it for 9 months?” One young man (and this is possibly the highlight of my day) said, “Nah, it’s gotta be ninety-ten.”

We all left the class feeling satisfied, and, most importantly, knowing much more. I am so shocked by this experience that I just wanted to share it with all of you!

There will be more where this came from.

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