February 5, 2010 § Leave a Comment
DON’T throw out your student MetroCards that expired today! The NYC Student Union (a badass bunch, if you’re unfamiliar with their work) is organizing a creative protest of the deplorable proposal to cut student MetroCard funding.
This Monday, we are getting new student MetroCards from our schools. This gives us students a chance to use our old metrocards to make a statement to the State and to the MTA.
Use a permanent marker to write your own message to the MTA and the State about them cutting student MetroCards. Whether it is about you, a friend, or a family member, make sure to let them know how losing student MetroCards will impact your life. The NYC Student Union is organizing to collect either in or in front of your school. We are then going to use them as written testimonies at a public hearing this March. This is our chance to give a voice to students like us who are going to be heavily affected by this. However, please keep these messages clean, polite, and serious. This IS NOT meant to be an attack on the MTA. If we can get enough MetroCards, we can give the city a short look at how badly these budget cuts will hurt students and their families, and we can really make a difference.
Join their Facebook Group for more details.
For some inspiration, here’s me with my MetroCard statement…
And my little sister, who’s in sixth grade…
Intersectionality Saturdays: Why, oh why must high school students be deprived of life-changing literature?
January 30, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Here’s why (although the reasoning is truly flawed):
Only two days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, only two days after President Obama spoke of Auschwitz before the SOTU, the South strikes again. With what? This time, a Virginia school system has banned the latest version of The Diary of Anne Frank – a young girl’s account of Nazi Germany up to her death – from being taught. And their reasoning just really tops this all of: homosexuality and sexually explicit content.
The diary documents the daily life of a Jewish girl in Amsterdam during World War II. Frank started writing on her 13th birthday, shortly before her family went into hiding in an annex of an office building. The version of the diary in question includes passages previously excluded from the widely read original edition, first published in Dutch in 1947. That book was arranged by her father, the only survivor in her immediate family. Some of the extra passages detail her emerging sexual desires; others include unflattering descriptions of her mother and other people living together.
Anne Frank was a young girl with a tragic life, a life that she documented. I do not know if Anne Frank intended to write for a worldwide audience. I do not know if she even wanted her writing shared. I also do not know if Anne Frank thought that she, along with 11 million others, would die before their time. At least the life of Anne Frank lived on through her written words.
Emerging sexual desires are actually normal for a teenage girl to experience. This was perhaps the one normalcy Anne Frank experienced during her time in hiding. And treating them as inappropriate furthers a taboo on discussing sex, especially in the schools, where students are beginning to have sex or have unanswered questions concerning it. As for “homosexual content,” how dare a school ban a book on that premise? How dare a school make sure that the only books students read are heteronormative? How dare a school do such a thing when there are bound to be homosexual students around who are wondering why a book which only hints at sexuality would be regarded as taboo? This is blatant homophobia and license for it to continue within a legislated school system.
This young girl has changed the hearts and thoughts of millions who have read her, many of whom have been assigned her diary as school assignments. The Diary of Anne Frank is tragic and accessible and it is not meant to be cut short because her life was cut short enough.
This is cross-posted from from the rib?.
January 8, 2010 § Leave a Comment
January 6, 2010 § 12 Comments
I turned eighteen today. I can now vote, buy cigarettes, porn, sex toys, and lottery tickets, and join the military. (Still can’t drink, though.)
I can now get an abortion or purchase emergency contraception anywhere in this country without my parents’ notification or consent. And GOSH, am I glad I couldn’t do either of those things yesterday!!! I was just a child then. That one day, the one magical day where I transformed from a naive and agency-deprived baby girl into a strong, full-grown woman really made a difference.
What changes when you turn eighteen? Something in your brain clicks, and then you can be absolutely sure you’ll make the right reproductive health decisions for yourself? Bullshit.
Teenage women have the right to make decisions about their own fucking bodies. We don’t take these decisions lightly, and we don’t make these difficult choices just for funsies — we go behind our parents’ backs when our lives depend on doing so.
It feels good to be eighteen — but I can’t say I feel any stronger or wiser than I did 24 hours ago.
January 5, 2010 § 2 Comments
I wrote last week about the Metro Transit Authority’s truly frightening proposal to cut funding for student MetroCards.
As I said before, this is an extreme act of classism and environmental racism that threatens to make each kid’s human right to education even less attainable than it already is for many children.
The proposal would also eliminate 2 subway lines and 21 bus routes, cut service on many other bus and subway lines, and phase out the Access-A-Ride program, a vital resource for many New Yorkers with disabilities.
Sign this online petition, sponsored by the New York City Council, to demand that the MTA continue to fund these important programs and implement a more transparent budget process.
January 4, 2010 § Leave a Comment
When Sex is Normal, Normal People Will Have Sex, by the ever-awesome Jaclyn Friedman — one of my most passionate feminist crushes.
Think about tattoos. It used to be that a tattoo meant that you were low-class and possibly dangerous. Part of a fringe element. Nowadays, over 35% of Americans age 18-40 have at least one tattoo. You can’t write off people because they have a tattoo anymore — there are just too many people involved. It’s too normal.
What if public acknowledgments of sexuality became like tattoos? What if, due to Facebook and Twitter and blogs and all the other ways we have to communicate with each other online, and the number of young people posting personal things about themselves through these media — what if it became normal for there to be some publicly available information about a person’s current or former sex life? What if too many people were in that situation for it to mean anything about your authority, or anything about your character at all? What if kids knew, via Google or whatever comes after Google, that their teachers — heck, their parents — are or have been sexual beings, and that there’s nothing wrong with that? What if the web made sexuality normal?
This is an issue I think about a lot. I’ve skirted the topic of my own sexuality here on Women’s Glib, for many reasons. Though I don’t print my last name or my school, many of my friends and acquaintances — people who know me already — read this blog, and anyone who is friends with me on Facebook knows I’m the author of many posts here. I don’t want just anyone knowing details that might shame me in another context.
And part of it is exactly what Jaclyn describes — I don’t want to limit my professional opportunities now or later in life. Talking explicitly and personally about sex, unfortunately, is unprofessional.
December 14, 2009 § 13 Comments
I am one of 550,000 NYC students who currently has a free or discounted MetroCard for bus and subway access.
But this may change in the next few years. Because of budget troubles, the MTA is considering a plan that would force schoolkids to pay half fares next year, and full fares by 2011.
THIS SHIT IS FUCKED UP.
This would be a financial blow to my family, but truthfully, we would have it the easiest by far. We’re privileged; we have money for MetroCards. Many, many families don’t.
If the MTA cuts free student MetroCards, low-income kids will drop out of the “public” school system because they can’t afford the ride. This is not difficult to understand.
“It’s stupid,” said Brittney Rojas, 13, as she walked down Bushwick Ave., in Brooklyn, with her three sisters. “If you live far away it means you can’t afford to go to school.”
“Some kids just won’t go to school,” her sister Chelsea, 12, chimed in. “Or some might have to walk outside in the winter and get sick.”
…”It would be a catastrophe,” said Nateria Cannon, 17, an 11th-grader at Manhattan Village Academy who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “I think it’s crazy. Parents are losing their jobs and the fare went up. They would have to work overtime.”
Kids understand this intuitively. You’d think the city would, too.
I suppose I don’t need to mention the implicit environmental racism that’s also present in this plan: students who live in affluent neighborhoods that have great public schools don’t need a MetroCard to get to class. It’s the underprivileged students, who often live far from good schools (or, because of calculated zoning efforts, live just outside of a district with good schools), who rely on the subsidized rides.
December 3, 2009 § 3 Comments
Supported by the Boston Public Health Commission, a panel of teenagers released a nutritional label-style list of popular songs with “unhealthy relationship ingredients.”
The “Sound Relationships Nutrition Label” was developed by 14 teens after they attended a seven-week commission-sponsored institute on healthy relationship promotion and teen dating violence prevention. During the seven-week program, teens were also taught to evaluate music based on themes of power, control, equality and gender roles.
The teens then developed their list after analyzing songs from Billboard’s “Hot 100″ chart.
…Shaquilla Terry, 15, of Boston, a teen panel member, said it was important for listeners to go beyond the songs’ beats and listen to the lyrics.
The commission says its program aims to teach teens how to evaluate popular media, and help parents talk to teens about healthy relationships. Commission officials also said the label invites consumers to become song lyric nutritionists by helping them identify positive and negative messages about relationships in songs.
“We aren’t telling people what they should or should not be listening to,” Barbara Ferrer, the commission’s executive director, said in a statement. “We are giving them a tool that will help them make an informed choice about what they put in their bodies.”
In addition to the label, the commission also plans to released a lesson plan for teachers.
Jack Perricone, chair of the songwriting department at the Berklee College of Music, said pop songs generally allow listeners to get away from the bad news of the day. But he said pop music, by its very nature, is very repetitive, and sometimes if songs have negative messages, those repetitive messages can get inside teens’ heads.
So which songs made the cut? The top ten unhealthy songs were:
1. Break Up – Mario
2. Blame It – Jamie Foxx
3. Paparazzi – Lady GaGa
4. You’re a Jerk – New Boyz
5. Baby By Me – 50 Cent
6. Best I Ever – Drake
7. One More Pain – Ludacris
8. Be On Your – Flow Rida
9. Hotel Room Service – Pitbull
10. Bad Romance – Lady GaGa
And the top ten healthiest?
1. One Time – Justin Bieber
2. Miss Independent – Ne-Yo
3. Replay – Iyaz
4. Say Hay – Michael Franti
5. Knock You Down – Keri Hilson
6. Only You Can Love Me This Way – Keith Urban
7. Her Diamonds – Rob Thomas
8. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
9. Fallin For You – Colbie Caillat
10. Meet Me Halfway – Black Eye Peas
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 19, 2009 § 1 Comment
This week we celebrated “Love Your Body Week” at Grinnell, hosted by the Feminist Action Coalition. Yay! There were (and still are) a ton of great events including a film screening and discussion, a fat activism workshop, open mic night, Grinnell Monologues (comparable to the Vagina Monologues), queer sex-ed, and my personal favorite, two masturbation workshops! It really was very comforting to see how well-attended these events actually were. I think the week did a lot to dispel the myths of apathetic college students across the country.
I think one of the best things about the week (and, coincidentally, about this blog) is that most of the events weren’t strictly serious, stuffy, or overzealous. Who says learning about your vagina has to be uncomfortable or boring? Basically, congratulations to all the humorous feminists on campus, and all of those who got over their fear of humorous feminists. Let’s keep on dispelling more myths (and yes, I probably will use this term several times. Sorry).
Finally, I really appreciated the atmosphere of communal learning that was pretty apparent in all the workshops I attended. Obviously, most people came from different backgrounds. Some were really familiar with all of the ideas being bandied about, but some, particularly at the very well attended masturbation workshop, had received very little education on such taboo topics. The fact that students who knew more were completely willing to help out those who didn’t was super refreshing. What was more refreshing was the fact that women (who attended the female identified masturbation workshop, I have no idea what went on at the male identified one) were not helping each other out of obligatory sisterhood, but out of actual desire.
I do have one question though. It seems as if I am encountering a barrage of social justice-y causes, open dialogue, and fun terms like “doing gender,” “dispel the myth,” and “social construct” just in the nick of time- before I enter the real world. Why does it have to be that way? What If we taught these terms, habits, and ideals before having them hurriedly shoved in our faces? This has been bothering me a lot lately. Obviously this isn’t going to happen any time soon given the other pressing problems in our educational system, but what is so wrong about introducing the concept of loving your body to grade school students? What if these so-crazy-they-just-might-work ideas had a place in every elementary school curriculum? We would probably live in a much more understanding environment, where no one would need to ask in a college class what “the gender binary system” is.
I am so sorry for the above display of crazy.