It’s On Us – National Fall Week of Action

I came across the activities of a new student activist group, which may be of interest to the readers of Re/Visionist. It’s On Us is not the first student undertaking to combat sexual violence on campus but is part of a legacy of women’s rights activism at colleges and universities. I will cover past SLC campus advocacy and education on the topic in the near future.

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Today marks the beginning of the It’s On Us Fall Week of Action, which is happening across the country. It’s On Us began in September 2014 as a project of the White House to “help put an end to sexual assault on college campuses.” As President Barack Obama noted in a speech, about 20 percent of college student women experience sexual assault, with few getting justice.

Since then, representatives from colleges and universities across the country have been working to bring the message of It’s On Us to their campuses.

SLC junior Emma Heisler-Murray told me she got involved because sexual assault has “been a clear issue on the campus.” (Students may remember two particular Campus Safety Alerts that have been sent out by the college administration in the last few months. These alerts disclosed reports of sexual assault.)

Heisler-Murray invites the campus community to participate in events during this Fall Week of Action because “anyone can benefit from it.” Tonight, the It’s On Us campus organization has planned a screening of the film The Hunting Ground at Titsworth Lecture Hall, starting at 7:00 PM.

The major event of the week, says Heisler-Murray, is the “Still Not Asking for It” protest on Thursday. You can find the full calendar here.

For more information: you can visit the It’s On Us page on GryphonLink or by emailing Emma at emurray [at] gm [dot] slc [dot] edu.

Thoughts on The People’s Climate March

By Erin Hagen

It’s 11:30 on a Sunday. I’m staring into some man’s back, a triangular sweat splotch just inches from my nose. The air is sticky, and I tilt my head upwards to find a breeze. Quick heartbeats thump in my ears, beginning to drown out the thrum of conversation.

“You okay buddy?” My friend, Taylor, brings me out of my dizziness.

“Yeah, just hot.” I say.

“Is this your first march?” a woman asks. Her grey hair is bright against the mass of earth tone clothing.

“It’s definitely the biggest.”

“We’ll probably be here another hour before we even get into the march. I’ve been in the movement for many years,” she smiles proudly, and moves ahead into the crowd.

We stand for another forty minutes, and I start to feel a feint soreness in my knees. I imagine the stiff masses of legs around me, creating a rhythm of throbbing pain as we await the chance to march through midtown.

Later I would hear that there were upwards of 310,000 bodies feeling that same discomfort during The People’s Climate March. The veritable legion of activists (some fresh-faced and some veteran) closed down over fifty Manhattan blocks, and stood in solidarity with those marching in 166 other countries.

Early in the march, we came upon orange letters spread across a chain-link fence that read: “Unite the Struggle.”

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This was where The People’s Climate March diverged from other climate justice activism I’d been involved in. A call to unite the struggle signaled a recognition of the interconnectedness of racism, poverty, misogyny, homophobia, and all the other forms of injustice, which contribute to the destruction of our world. The multiplicity of persons and organizations marching on Sunday painted a much more complex climate justice movement than that of any issue-oriented demonstration in which I’d participated. This is not to say that the activists who tree-sit to prevent mountains being blown up in West Virginia, or risk arrest to physically shut down the Alberta Tar Sands are not invaluable. It is instead to acknowledge that the creation of a unified movement, in which all activists have a stake in each others’ work, is imperative to change our world. The People’s Climate March was a endeavor in unified activism.

And it is an endeavor because even as we may agree that climate change threatens our world, building coalition will always be a challenge.

My friends and I made the choice to vary our pace, and be a part of many organizations that, for one day, had found coalition. We walked behind the vegans, holding signs that questioned the integrity of meat-eating environmentalists. We danced next to the Hare Krishna group. We walked alongside the march to get a sense of its magnitude, and in the distance I could faintly hear, “¡La gente unido, jamás será vencido!” Later, we found the “friendly” fusion scientists, ready to take questions about their work. And after four hours of walking, we caught the end of The Raging Grannies’ song, “Corporations Run the World!”

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I started to feel the rhythmic aching again as I lay down to sleep that night. My legs were motionless, but there was a ghostly sensation that I was still walking among the hundreds of thousands; angry, driven, united.

*Erin Hagen is in her second year in the Women’s History Program at Sarah Lawrence College. She plans to teach History in a public high school before going back for a Doctorate in Education. In her spare time, she likes to read feminist sci-fi and coming of age novels, or go for a run with a friend.

Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: Inclusive Populism, Domestic Violence Awareness, & Hyde Turns 35

To quote Rinku Sen’s headline on Colorlines today, there is “people power exploding around us.” It’s a good time to be a feminist, for the tools we use to understand power relations and structures in the world are coming in very handy as we predict and influence the direction of the #Occupy Wall Street movement. Indeed, everything–racial justice, gender and sexual justice–is related to our economic reality here in the US.

  • Here is Sen’s piece, which reminds us why inclusivity of interests strengthens, not divides, populist movements:

…[A]ddressing other systems of oppression, and the people those systems affect, isn’t about elevating one group’s suffering over that of white men. It’s about understanding how the mechanisms of control actually operate. When we understand, we can craft solutions that truly help everybody. Building movements that include groups that explicitly address the racial, gender and sexual dimensions of our economic system is key to that process.

  • Racialicious publishes An Open Letter from Two White Men, affirming that OWS must recognize that the oppression white men are feeling in this economic recession is a condition people of color have lived with for centuries:

This unintended marginalization is occurring daily at #OWS. We know this may be hard for some people to understand. Of course, who could expect us to understand what it is like to be reminded of your skin color every time you leave your home? Who could expect white people to understand that the spaces we feel so comfortable in may feel exclusive or even hostile to people of color? After all, we are never told; we are not forced to learn that our skin color is related to our social status; and we are not taught black and brown history, so many of us do not know how we got here–and cannot imagine it any other way.

  • October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Check out the Domestic Violence Awareness Project’s website for lots of resources and information. You can also sign the petition to support education in your community at the Love Is Not Abuse coalition. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE [7233]) is available to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in all 50 states & Puerto Rico.
  • Jezebel reports that British marathoner Paula Radcliffe’s world record will no longer be considered as such because she ran alongside male pace setters. Whaaa?
  • The Hyde Amendment turns 35 years old this week. RH Reality Check has a couple of great articles about where we stand. The anti-choice movement is not backing down, and so neither should we. As one writer/activist puts it:

False claims that abortion is linked to breast cancer and causes women to suffer from post-abortion syndrome are intended to show that the anti-abortion movement cares as much about women as it does about fetuses. However, the theme of contempt and distrust for women, so clearly articulated during the original debate on the Hyde Amendment, recurs.  A recent attempt by Republicans to restrict government funding of abortion to cases of “forced” rape echoes the earlier debate where opponents claimed that “any woman who wants an abortion under Medicaid could go in and say” she has been raped, in order to get Medicaid to pay for her abortion.

  • This piece was written pre-SlutWalk NYC, but it does an excellent job of exploring the complexities of the SlutWalk marches/movement. Yet another example of how inclusivity promotes strength.

What have you been reading this week?

Don’t forget to check out October re/visionist, The Legal Issue, below!

The Scavenger: Addressing racism and classism in animal rights activism

via Racialicious.

We’ve heard a lot about sexism in the animal rights movement, particulary in regard to PETA advertisements.  Stephanie Lai wrote a great piece for The Scavenger which takes a closer look at racism and classism in animal rights activism.

Historically, in Western animal rights activism, it’s been considered a very white, middle-class movement. There’s an assumption of a certain level of education, and of physical ability.

People who don’t fall in to this image have felt unwelcome or alienated from animal rights because of this. A failure to take into account intersections can also be very disempowering for the marginalised group/s.

Traditionally it has been ‘How do we get X minority group to come to us?’ which ignores the reality that often these groups are already part of animal rights activsm, or doing their own thing, and the mainstream just hasn’t noticed them.

Or the approaches taken have ignored the reality of what’s going on, and so have squandered an opportunity to get a certain group on board.

A lot of intersectionality issues have been ignored or dismissed by western animal rights activists because “We don’t have time for that” or “It’s not about the animals.” The term I use for that is ‘single issue vegan,’ and it’s not a nice term.

Being single issue is giving preference to a political party based on their animal rights promises and ignoring their history of environmental and racial issues, never mind their history of breaking promises.

Being single issue is buying the cheap cotton jumper from some shop, without considering its environmental impact and their abuse of labour and sweatshop laws.

Being single issue is choosing something vegan with no consideration for whether it’s heavily processed and packaged, and what that means.

The reason why I talk about intersectionality in animal rights is because I have often felt alienated from it.

I am bisexual and ethnically Chinese, and I grew up economically not that well-off (though I am now a middle-class hipster).

I come to animal rights from environmentalism.

All of these things intersect for me, because what it means is that I deviate from the “norm” within animal rights. In animal rights, and also within veganism, terms that are frequently used, as they are in many movements, are things like ‘normal,’ and ‘exotic,’ and I’m usually positioned outside of these terms.

This has always been really alienating for me, because things that I think of as normal or everyday are actually considered odd, especially within vegan circles.

BI just wanted to flag this, because this is what intersectionality is about in animal rights: it’s about making sure that we’re not excluding, ignoring or dismissing people. And it can be about harnessing potential.

Read Stephanie Lai’s full post at TheScavenger.net.

Self-prefacing

by Quin 

I am a white, lower-to-middle class, heterosexual, male graduate student engaged in the study of history and gender. I use these terms of social location self-consciously because I believe they matter in at least two specific ways: first, because they are terms through which I am socially perceived; second because they offer some clue of where I stand viz. a viz. material, cultural, and symbolic resources in this world. Beyond these generalities, I want to offer a bit of accounting — both for myself, and others — of how I got to where I am.

I write about women’s liberation movements specifically and radical political movements in general. I discovered feminism late in my college years. It was not through an intellectual text or a course on women’s studies, a protest, a rally, or an injustice perpetuated against my body  — it was through music. The undeniably feminist lyrics of Ani DiFranco’s early songs, along with her skilled guitar playing, struck me, for reasons that I was unsure of at the time. After all, I hadn’t grown up within a family that had an explicitly feminist consciousness; I had no feminist friends who self-identified with or advocated feminism. In fact, at the time I had very few female friends at all. In hindsight, it was DiFranco’s honesty that I found compelling. Hearing lyrics such as “We don’t look like pages from a magazine but that’s alright / oh baby that’s alright” (“Imperfectly”) or “It seems like everyone’s an actor or an actor’s best friend / I wonder what was wrong to begin with that we should have to pretend” (“Anticipate”) pierced through a veil of conformity I had been measuring my own self-worth against for years. Continue reading

Can this Movement get more fans than Facebook?

by Mallory Knodel

Organizing for the second United States Social Forum (USSF) is increasing in intensity as the forum – to be held at Cobo Hall and Hart Plaza in Detroit, June 22 – 26, 2010 – approaches. Deep debate broke out among its organizers over the political paradox of corporate social networking and its role in progressive organizing.  Should there be a link to corporate, social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook on the USSF website’s homepage?

The USSF is a grassroots movement in the tradition of the World Social Forum (WSF) and was conceived in the throes of the international anti-globalization movement of the late 1990s. The first WSF gathering was held in Brazil in 2001 and quickly became an activist’s utopia: maintaining open space for democratic convergence to address global crisis in the face of late-stage capitalism. Its slogan “Another World is Possible” highlighted the social forum movement’s emphasis on creating alternatives to capitalism. The history of the WSF and other forum events are not without controversy. The most common criticism aimed at dominant NGOs (non-governmental organizations) involving accusations that non-profit participation precludes a fully democratic process. The WSF model spread across the globe taking on many local and thematic forms and gathering hundreds of thousands of participants each year to address issues of human rights, poverty, land reform, identity politics, and alternative systems of resource sharing and collaboration. Many activists still maintain that the social forum is not so much a movement as it is a place of convergence, a completely free and unrestricted open space. As the open space model has developed, it has incorporated examples of “open virtual space,” such as the “Expanded Format” of the Belem WSF in 2009, where self-organized activities were held via video/audio conferencing and internet chat. Continue reading

Interview: Daniela Capistrano of POC Zine Project

by Kate Wadkins

Photo courtesy of Bashira Webb.

Say what you will about Twitter, but it brought Daniela Capistrano and I together. Daniela is a powerhouse working with media and culture in New York, while also being an activist, teacher, and the founder of POC Zine Project. As fellow RE/VISIONIST staffer Nydia Swaby and I began coordinating the non-profit tablers for this year’s Sarah Lawrence College Women’s History Conference, “The Message is in the Music,” we fell in love with POC Zine Project’s mission and invited them to join us. Daniela found some time to chat with me online so we could find out more about the project and her own experiences with activism and work.

RE/VISIONIST: Who are you and what do you do?

Daniela Capistrano: I’m Daniela Capistrano and I am a freelance multimedia producer currently gigging at MTV Tr3s as a Senior Producer and at Uncensored Interview as a shooter/producer/editor. I also crew on short films, music videos and other stuff. Continue reading