November 30, 2009 § Leave a comment
ESPN’s Outside The Lines has an interesting and angering profile of Mackenzie McCollum, a Texas high school student and volleyball player who faced discrimination from her coach and school administration. (I’m not allowed to embed the video, but I highly recommend clicking through to watch it. And I apologize, I have not been able to locate a transcript of the video.)
Mackenzie found out she was pregnant, and still wanted to participate on the volleyball team. The administration of Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth, Texas told her family it was their strict policy to obtain a written doctor’s note to clear pregnant students to play. (They never provided physical evidence of that policy to Mackenzie’s family, though.) Her physician sent in a note, which they rejected, and a second one, which they deemed acceptable.
When Mackenzie returned for her first game, she found out that her coach had “outed” her to the rest of the team, making her fodder for school-wide stares, gossip, and judgment.
Despite the horrible treatment she’s faced, Mackenzie seems like a badass girl who’s not taking discrimination laying down. Her mother, Barbara Horton, has filed formal complaints with the United States Department of Education in reference to Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in school sports communities on the basis of sex or gender.
Keep up the good work, Mackenzie!
November 13, 2009 § 1 Comment
We talk a lot about sex here at Women’s Glib, and also about sex education: how many students don’t get it at all, and how if they do, it’s generally shitty (though we have had some positive experiences). Scarleteen is a website that provides, as phrased in their byline, “sex ed for the real world,” and they’re damn good at it. I’ve visited the site many times for my own sexual queries.
Scarleteen consistently and accurately answers real teens’ questions about sex and sexuality. And they don’t just write about the easy, fact-based stuff (HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy prevention, menstrual cycles) — they are boldly confronting socially uncomfortable issues of consent, masturbation, queer sexualities, body image, rape and sexual abuse. The site is directed by Heather Corinna, whose essay in Yes Means Yes, an “immodest proposal” of a young woman’s first sexual encounter that’s brimming with desire and enthusiasm as opposed to shame, brought me to joyful tears.
It’s a badass site, and it needs your help.
You might not know is that Scarleteen is the highest ranked online young adult sexuality resource but also the least funded and that the youth who need us most are also the least able to donate. You might not know that we have done all we have with a budget lower than the median annual household income in the U.S. You might not know we have provided the services we have to millions without any federal, state or local funding and that we are fully independent media which depends on public support to survive and grow.
You also might not know Scarleteen is primarily funded by people who care deeply about teens having this kind of vital and valuable service; individuals like you who want better for young people than what they get in schools, on the street or from initiatives whose aim is to intentionally use fearmongering, bias and misinformation about sexuality to try to scare or intimidate young people into serving their own personal, political or religious agendas.
I highly encourage you to donate if you can.
October 5, 2009 § 3 Comments
Many reasons why we love Staceyann Chin:
A Feminist Or A Womanist
If Only Out of Vanity
All Oppression Is Connected
September 28, 2009 § Leave a comment
DISCLAIMER: I love Sutton Foster!!
Please check out what our favorite leading lady on Broadway has to say about gay marriage, AND what she’s going to do about it.
PS- Sorry I couldn’t figure out how to post the clip directly.
September 9, 2009 § 2 Comments
As Miranda posted earlier this summer, I packed up and went to college this fall. This is my third full day on campus, actually.
Last night, my school’s entire class of 2013 had the privilege of seeing Katie Kessler speak on the topic of sexual assault and violence. Katie is a well-known and highly effective speaker. She was raped by a date on the tenth day of her freshman year at William and Mary. The police department in VA wouldn’t give her a trial because they didn’t want to spend the money on a case that they probably wouldn’t win (Katie’s attacker had a very wealthy judge for a father), so she was merely granted a 7 hour campus trial. Her attacker was found guilty at that trial, but was allowed to stay in the college. The rapist’s girlfriend (whom he beat without reprimand) made a petition against Katie’s continued place at the school; 2,000 students (of William and Mary’s 5,000) signed it. She was voted Most Dangerous Man on the campus. “Katie is a Slut Whore Bitch” was posted on the library walls. Her parents chastised her for having a boy in her room in the first place. They have never even seen her speak. Katie was given no rape kit when she went to the school’s health services, just sleeping pills and the directive to “sleep it off.”
But Katie graduated from William and Mary. She got the school to put artwork over the slander about her in the library (it’s still there, actually). She staked out a Board meeting and popped out of the bushes to introduce herself to the Trustees. She made the committee that voted her Most Dangerous Man change the name of the contest to Most Dangerous Person. And now she jets all over the country to speak to students and government officials about her story, and is founder of the organization Take Back the Night.
Katie’s story was vivid and heartbreaking. And it really effectively communicated the complexities and nuances of acquaintance rape. But I also loved how she reminded us that her story isn’t what is necessarily important. She asked us to remember that 1 in 4 women experience sexual assault within their lifetimes. And 1 in 8 men. She asked us to look at the immensity of the issue, but also at the extreme luck that we all enjoy as young people in a college setting. And how transformative we can be within our own communities, if we actively choose to protect ourselves and our friends, listen to survivors, and watch for violence. She managed to make the point that prevention and support are necessarily both individual and community efforts. My favorite part, though, was when Katie admitted that as a white, attractive, blonde woman, she speaks from a very privileged podium. As a Christian, daughter of an FBI agent, and defiled virgin, she said, “my resume was perfect.” Women of color and transpeople do not enjoy the press she does. A victimized prostitute would not be able to speak at the Pentagon as she has.
I was happy that the kids in my class were so respective of Katie and so engaged in her story, especially after hearing a nightmarish story from a new friend who attended the Hotchkiss school, where Katie spoke last year. One boy there asked her what she expected when she invited the boy back to her room. Another asked how her sex life had been affected by the ordeal, a question which she simply refused to answer. At a single-sex boy’s high school in VA, one student said “Well look at you Katie, I would have raped you too.” I go to a liberal school, a safe school, an awesome school. There are about 3,000 women in our undergraduate program. And statistically, one in four of them will be sexually assaulted. That is 750 people that I now share a home with. That is disheartening.
But I heard something when I left those lectures that made me hopeful. As we streamed out of the talk, I heard scores of people committing to protecting one another. Mind you, we’ve known each other for three days. I heard young men and young women soaking up her message and appreciating it. One of my new friends said that he would punch anyone in the face if he observed any aggressive behaviors.
I am so happy that I got to listen to Katie. But I am even happier for the reminder that there is a whole world to listen to- my world at Brown, my world at home, my world at large. Our world at large!
September 5, 2009 § 1 Comment
The musical theatre geek in me would like to extend warm congratulations to Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel, who had their first child this week. Walker Diggs was born on September 2nd (sidenote: Walker was the name my parents had in mind for me if I was a boy!).
I do not extend warm anything to the person who commented on the article, “Black women should be more supportive of their men so they don’t have to go to White women,” nor to whomever was responsible for the death threats sent to the couple in 2004 because their marriage is interracial.
Post-racial, my ass.
July 31, 2009 § 2 Comments
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.
June 21, 2009 § Leave a comment
Via Cara, the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate. June 19th was her 64th birthday, and she spent it in prison. Her supporters have launched an online campaign to garner attention and respect for this brave leader by calling for submissions of 64-word messages. From the site:
Aung San Suu Kyi…symbolises the struggle of Burma’s people to be free. She has been detained for over 13 years by the Burmese regime for campaigning for human rights and democracy in Burma.
She is currently facing trial in Burma. She was on arrested on May 14th and is now being held in Insein Prison, a prison notorious for its terrible conditions and horrific treatment of prisoners. Aung San Suu Kyi is being tried for breaking the terms of her house arrest, which forbids visitors, after an American man, John Yettaw, swam across Inya Lake and refused to leave her house. Her trial began on 18th May.
Aung San Suu Kyi has committed no crime, she is the victim of crime, yet is currently facing a sentence of 3-5 years. The United Nations has ruled that Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention is illegal under international law, and also under Burmese law. The United Nations Security Council has also told the dictatorship that they must release Aung San Suu Kyi.
Political prisoners in Burma are routinely subjected to torture and often denied medical treatment. There are serious concerns for Aung San Suu Kyi’s health in these conditions, particularly as she has recently been seriously ill.
Here are my 64 words:
I believe that freedom, peace, siblinghood, and love are the most beautiful things our human race can create together. Do not let any government convince you otherwise. Aung San Suu Kyi, you are an inspiration to all of us on this earth who believe in justice. We thank you for your incredible strength. I hope you have no more birthdays in this cruel imprisonment.