October 11, 2009 § 6 Comments
Did you know that the makers of Kellogg cereals (we’re talking about the original makers here), were super anti-masturbation and actively campaigned against it? The first Kellogg cereals were actually designed specifically to be super bland because J. H. Kellogg thought that a bland breakfast would decrease sexual arousal throughout the day (huh?). Kellogg and his buddy Graham (of Graham crackers, yes) wrote lots of books on the evils of masturbation, even suggesting that carbolic acid be placed on the clitoris to keep girls from touching themselves.
I never liked those Kellogg cereals anyway….
Source: Abnormal Psychology, Hansell and Damour.
October 7, 2009 § 2 Comments
I just got back from an amazing self-defense course, which was organized by my awesome WPC (Women’s Peer Counselor). Each unit (like 60 kids) at my college has a WPC, a Minority Peer Counselor, and a straight-up Residence Counselor. Aholla.
Anyway, I wanted to share the 8 myths about rape that I learned at this self-defense thing. They are very cool. They are verbatim from the packet, because I can’t phrase them better.
1. It can’t happen to me.
2. Women are powerless against rape.
3. Women secretly want to be raped.
4. Only young, attractive women get raped.
5. Only women with bad reputations are raped.
6. Only women who wear sexy, revealing clothing are raped.
7. Only women who are out alone at night get raped.
8. Rapists are sex maniacs- perverts- with overactive sex drives.
“Rape can happen to anyone…Rapists choose victims…not because of the way they are dressed, how they look or what job they hold. Rape is not a crime of sex– it is a crime of violence and control…Why would any person–male or female– want secretly to be raped, humiliated, beaten or possibly killed? That doesn’t make sense. Don’t let anyone tell you it does.”
SUCK IT victim blamers. Yeah.
September 25, 2009 § 2 Comments
In this first semester, I am taking a class entitled Abnormal Psychology, which is all about the philosophy, diagnoses, and treatments that surround the field of mental health. It’s been really baller so far, and my love for the class only increased when my professor lectured this week on the psychopathological effects of sexism on both men and women!!!
Overall, the sexist gender norms that men and women are expected to emulate have been correlated with post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, attention deficit disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder across both genders. All us feminists know that sexism hurts everybody, but I just think it’s so interesting and enlightening to see that stupid stereotypes actually have the power to make us psychopathological. That means that some of us are altered on literally a biological level by all the oppressive bullshit out there.
My professor (who happens to be a man, makes this even cooler) also lectured on the five stages of feminism as a means by which individuals can avoid and overcome sexism-linked psychopathology. Seriously cool. Here they are:
1. Passive acceptance of gender roles.
2. Questioning of gender roles — anger at self and others for allowing sexism and inequality.
3. Reaching out to a network for connectedness — “sisterhood.”
4. Synthesis stage — own sense of identity is solidified and and the individual can make decisions about sexism by themselves on a case to case basis.
Those stuck in stage two are most likely to suffer from phobias, a feeling of alienation, depression, and anxiety.
Those who make it to stages four and five are least likely to suffer from those ailments, and are at lower risk for developing an eating disorder.
You think feminists are crazy? Think again.
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!
July 22, 2009 § 2 Comments
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Provincetown, a small beachside town in Cape Cod, MA that has a really bustling queer scene. Though I wasn’t there during their annual celebration, Carnivale, I have been to P-Town in the past during that festive week. Individuals flaunt deliciously glamorous drag costumes, men walk around naked promoting various community theater ventures, tourists can be seen hugging the huge Y-shaped statues that read ‘Discriminate’ down the side. My gut reaction to Carnivale has always been a positive one; I think it’s great that individuals who might normally feel like outsiders have a safe space to show that they love who they are. Expression and pride are wonderful things that I wholeheartedly support. But something about celebrations like Carnivale — Earth Day, the Gay Pride Parade, Black History Month, Women’s History Month — always give me pause. I just can’t get over the feeling that when we designate something as a a celebration of difference or our ideals, we actually end up creating a vacuum that ignores some of the bigger complexities at hand. I think that the celebratory weeks, days, and months that spot our calendars can actually work to stunt dialogue; we devote a certain chunk of time to an issue and then feel okay about ignoring it for the other 364 days, 51 weeks, or 11 months. This is not to say that I think we should do away with any of those aforementioned celebrations. I just don’t really know why we can’t make the celebration permanent. Why isn’t every day an affirmation of the importance of women, transgendered individuals, immigrants, homosexuals, our earth?
One of my biggest confusions pertaining to Carnivale is the very common practice of posing for photographs with individuals dressed in drag. When I was younger, I loved finding the most outrageous looking drag queens, sidling up to them, and getting a ‘hilarious’ snapshot. And now I look at these pictures and sort of cringe, without even knowing why. The strangers in these pictures totally agreed to be in them; indeed, they were standing in the middle of the street precisely to be noticed, photographed, and talked about. And that’s obviously a personal decision that I respect entirely. Maybe it just complicates my idea of pride — pride in the genders, races, religions, and isms we all align ourselves with. I am proud of being a woman! I am actively trying to create a world for myself that includes a lot of consideration for the condition of my sisters, my femininity. Should I put on my most womanly (?) outfit and head to the streets to pose with strangers? Should I vamp up my feminism in March to correspond with Women’s History Month? I genuinely don’t know the answers to these questions. What are your thoughts?
May 31, 2009 § 2 Comments
UPDATE: There will be a vigil in honor of Dr. Tiller TONIGHT, May 1st, at 6pm in Union Square. I hope some of you can make it.
I just got word (via an email from NARAL Pro-Choice America) that a Kansas doctor, Dr. George Tiller, was killed for his “commitment to providing abortion services and other reproductive health care services to women and their families.” Apparently, Dr. Tiller had been violently harassed in the past by anti-abortion protestors, but he never stopped using his resources, time, and education to help those around him. Here’s NARAL’s apt and eloquent expression of grief and vision for the future:
“Dr. Tiller’s murder will send a chill down the spines of the brave and courageous providers and other professionals who are part of reproductive-health centers that serve women across this country. We want them to know that they have our support as they move forward in providing these essential services in the aftermath of the shocking news from Wichita.
We understand that the investigation is ongoing and that law-enforcement officials have detained a suspect. If it proves to be an act of anti-abortion violence, as we suspect it is, then the full weight of the law must be used to send a clear message that these types of attacks will be prosecuted fully and swiftly.”
Here is another example of the terrible ‘weighing of lives’ that goes on within anti-abortion groups and minds. The life of a fetus is sacred, but Dr. Tiller’s wasn’t? It’s wrong to kill…unless you’re exterminating someone who threatens your system of beliefs? The sheer hypocrisy makes me mad, and the malicious intent underlying that hypocrisy makes me scared.
May 8, 2009 § Leave a comment
Exciting news! President Obama has just submitted a budget proposal that includes ABSOLUTELY NO FUNDING for the slut-shaming, ‘purity’-loving, factually inaccurate abstinence-only sexual education programs that plague this country.
But now the tricky part comes: the budget needs to make its way through Congress without getting attacked by whack amendments and caveats that might enable abstinence-only programs. Tell your representatives (via email- yay green petitioning!) that you support our president’s budget JUST THE WAY IT IS.
And happy Friday! It’s nice to be posting again.