Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: Plan B, Feminist Art, & “Gaslighting”

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Hair Cut Off, 1940.

  • Bitch media does a series on feminism in art: they ask, “How did you discover Feminist Art?” Frida Kahlo (<3) and Judy Chicago get shout-outs! Go and post your own feminist artists of choice.
  • The best thing I’ve read this week: social critic and feminist Yashar Ali published his “Message to Women from a Man: You Aren’t ‘Crazy'” at Huffington Post. He recoins the psychological term “gaslighting,” or manipulative behavior that causes others to think they are crazy when they are not– this, he says, is what men do to women when they tell them, “Calm down,” “Relax,” “You’re overreacting.” Brilliant.
  • A study finds that abstinence-only education does NOT work. In case it wasn’t already obvious, here are some statistics of all the damage done by this unhealthy and unscientific mandate. via Slate.
  • At Jezebel, Hugo Schwyzer explores the stereotype that “sisterhood is easier in the winter.” It is all based, he says, on the “myth of male weakness.”
  • Here’s some warped logic for you: right-wing group “Concerned Women for America” has announced that they do not support abortion access for women in the military who have been raped–because– the abortion will just “distract” from the crime. Huh? Here’s a direct quote from the organization: “Women deserve better than simply being given an abortion as a ‘cure-all.'” Read Amanda Marcotte’s analysis.
  • The newest development in the Occupy movement: Occupy Our Homes. Since December 6th, activists across the country have been focusing their protests on the mortgage crisis and foreclosure. From The Nation:

“To occupy a house owned by Bank of America is to occupy Wall Street,” said Ryan Acuff, who has been working with Take Back The Land in Rochester, NY doing these kinds of actions since Sept 2010. “We are literally occupying Wall Street in our own communities.” The reclamation of foreclosed homes and defense of individuals facing unfair eviction helps make arcane economic issues like deregulation and securitization, local and personal.

Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: Shame-Free Sex, Katie Roiphe (Eye-Roll), and Twilight

  • To paraphrase Rachel Maddow, this is the Best New Thing this week. Maddow introduces us to the OWS “bat signal”:

At no point does she address how not fun and amazing sexual harassment is for people whose intersecting identities make them a target for harassers who want to exploit their lack of institutional power. The workplace Roiphe is commenting on is some fake workplace, in which sexual harassment never goes too far, never impedes anyone’s ability to do their job, and never creates collateral damage for those employees least able to fight back. She does not see fit to address the cost levied against the targets of sexual harassment, who are likely to see their creativity, productivity, and standing within the company deteriorate.

I said, “Considering the fact that my son is hungry, and he’s sick, and the fact that it’s not illegal, I don’t find it inappropriate … And the judge said something to the effect of ‘It’s my court, it’s my decision and I do find it inappropriate.'”

  • Raise your hand if Bella, the protagonist of the Twilight book and movie series, makes your feminist soul writhe in pain! GOOD magazine offers fans of young adult fantasy fiction a list of “what to read instead of Twilight.”

GOOD magazine's awesome "no charts" serve this topic well.

  • But Sarah Blackwood at The Hairpin has another view on the series in her piece “Our Bella, Ourselves.” She argues that Bella’s passivity and the “gothic” depiction of her pregnancy in the series “has the potential to revitalize a number of our larger conversations about feminism, especially those related to sex, pregnancy, desire, and autonomy.” She writes:

Gestation, birth, and motherhood are gothic emotional and physical states in which many of one’s most carefully considered intellectual stances and commitment to autonomy are challenged and often dismantled. Even more importantly, these are topics not much talked about in young adult fiction aimed at teenaged girls, which means that, perhaps in the name of empowerment and feminism, we have omitted a major aspect of women’s lives from the very narratives through which girls come to deepen their understanding of how to live in the world.

  • Here’s your new desktop background: Benneton’s new “UNHATE” campaign. Check it out.
  • Victory for a Roma woman who was forcibly sterilized in Slovakia and has been awarded €43,000 as a result of her human rights appeal. This is a huge step forward for global reproductive justice, as it is the first time Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights has taken up a case of forced sterilization.

Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: The Good & the Ugly of Occupy, Pro-Choice United Nations, & Pinkwashing

  • Occupy Wall Street: Check out this video of Eve Ensler explicitly detailing the ways in which economic inequalities disproportionately affect women. “Why aren’t we supporting nurses? Why aren’t we supporting teachers?…Why isn’t the work [women more often do] the respected work?” YES EVE.
  • We can also take heart from Sarah Seltzer’s excellent piece at The Nation about the instrumental and visible role of women in Zuccotti park. The narratives from women activists show their awareness of the history of “leftist” social movements. If we know our history, let’s hope we can change it:

“One of the things we didn’t want, which has always been the history of the left, is to start splintering among ourselves,” says Husain. “So how do we create a movement that allows us to swim with one another?” She notes that this includes an effort to discourage anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as well as racism, sexism and homophobia.

The solution, for her and others, lies in the essence of Occupy Wall Street: its leaderless, non-hierarchical nature, which allows any participation to have a say in the movement’s direction. The casual observer, unaccustomed to organizations without hierarchy, might mistake leaderlessness for structurelessness. But in fact OWS is governed by a highly structured, constantly evolving series of processes, with checks and balances to make sure no voice or one faction takes over.

Woman in wheelchair trying to escape tear gas at Occupy Oakland, via The Nation

  • Now the ugly. Police’s violent response to Occupy Oakland has sent shivers down the spines of activists around the country. Here’s Joshua Holland at Alternet, who takes the conservative narratives around OWS–that it’s a bunch of dirty anarchists, that there’s violence and chaos, that it’s a reprise of “Lord of the Flies”–and links them to the justification of violent police crowd control tactics like tear-gas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades, as well as mass arrests and destruction of the entire camp. At The Rumpus:

In the meantime, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan released a somewhat insulting statement and is in DC while all this goes on. She is facing a recall and terrible poll numbers. She’s also taking heat for deleting angry posts from her Facebook wall. Will she be the first politician Occupy takes down?

  • The United Nations–yes, that United Nations–has issued a formal report on reproductive health and rights, calling for the decriminalization of abortion around the globe and recommending that states remove all legal barriers to contraception and family planning services and education. RH Reality Check has a series of articles analyzing the implications of this groundbreaking report!
  • Another huge step in sexual and preventative health care in the U.S.: a panel from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has recommends the HPV vaccine to males aged 13 to 2l, linking the symptomless and highly common STI to a number of cancers in men. Doctors tellin’ it like it is:

Dr. S. Michael Marcy, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California and a committee member, said that the money needed to vaccinate 11- and 12-year-old boys would pay for only a few hours of the war in Afghanistan while potentially saving thousands of lives in the United States.

“I’m constantly being told we don’t have the money. Well, we do have the money,” Dr. Marcy said. “We need a new set of priorities, and we if we don’t set those priorities, who will?”

  • At Tiger Beatdown, an excellent critique of the “pinkwashing” of breast cancer–what is awareness? What does that little pink ribbon actually mean? How can we focus the breast cancer activism movement?

Mindy Kaling is a writer for The Office, in which she also plays "Kelly."

  • And for all the rom-com lovers out there, Mindy Kaling of The Office breaks down her love of the genre by listing some of the fantastical/impossible kinds of women that seem to crop up time and time again–from “sassy best friend” to “ethereal weirdo.” Pure gold:

I regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world operates according to different rules than my regular human world. For me, there is no difference between Ripley from “Alien” and any Katherine Heigl character. They are equally implausible. They’re all participating in a similar level of fakey razzle-dazzle, and I enjoy every second of it.

Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: Support Body Positivity and Anti-Bullying Campaigns

I considered putting a really really frustrated title for this week’s smorgasbord, as every single thing in the news this week is infuriating me. See below for some examples. But first, some positivity.

  • Yesterday was NOW’s official and 14th annual Love Your Body Day. There are some amazing posts and stories around the blogosphere in honor of body love and self-acceptance.
  • Now, less positive. The Nation reports on the local budget cuts that have resulted in the decriminalization of domestic violence in Topeka, Kansas, and massive loss of funding for shelters and survivors of DV. Though it’s not surprising to most of us, I’m glad to see a journalist openly drawing tacit connections between the recession and violence. This is NOT where budget cuts should be happening:

80 percent of shelters nationwide reported an increase in domestic violence cases for the third straight year. Three out of four shelters attributed the violence to victims’ financial issues; almost half said that those issues included job loss, and 42 percent cited the loss of a house or car. More than half of shelters also report that domestic abuse is more violent than it was before the crash.

  • Relatedly, Jos at Feministing writes about the police, who, she reminds us, “are not your friend” :

This is a lesson many feminists have been slow to learn. Folks who have grown up with the police serving and protecting them understandably think the police work for them. Folks who’ve grown up being harassed by the police – who’ve seen their family members pulled over for no reason, arrested for being in public space, or totally ignored or even charged when they were a victim of a crime – have a different image. When the cops work for you, it seems like a pretty good idea to trust them to serve and protect. When you’ve been a target of the police, you tend to see a different picture.

  • The award for the sexist crap causing me the most nausea/anger this week: “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street.” It’s exactly what you’re thinking: sexist bros photographing and videotaping women “being protesty” and, without their consent, posting the images on a tumblr. Read Jill at Feministe‘s brilliant and scathing smack-down, and then read Racialicious‘s awesome analysis, too.

The legislation has almost no chance of being brought to the Senate floor, and President Obama is certain to veto it should it ever pass both chambers. The House has brought a few bills aimed at limiting abortion access to the floor since Republicans took control in January.

But it’s getting scary out there.

If you’re at Sarah Lawrence College or in Westchester County, the following annoucements are for you!

Last year, with the Office of Community Partnerships, four Sarah Lawrence undergrad students hosted the First Annual Inter-College Women’s Cafe. We invited students from SLC and students from other colleges in Westchester (Pace, Iona, Westchester Community College, Mercy etc) to attend this event. Upwards of 80 students from all over Westchester came to discuss women’s issues on college campuses in a safe space. Some of the issues discussed during the last Cafe were girl on girl hate, body positivity, sexual assault on college campuses, the economy, the environment, bettering and empowering the Westchester/Yonkers community and many more topics! The event was well received and by popular demand we are hosting the Second Annual Inter- College Women’s Cafe! If you are interested in joining the conversation about women’s issues and meeting our neighbors, please come to the Women’s Cafe this year!
The event will be hosted in the Faculty Dining Hall on Saturday, November 12th from 5pm to 8pm. There will be free pie, cookies, coffee, cheesecake and much more! All are welcome, please feel free to bring your friends!

There is the opportunity for students to be a table facilitator for this event. The responsibilities of a facilitator would be to make sure the conversation is fluid and interesting.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at ewilson@gm.slc.edu.
RSVP by November 2rd to partnerships@sarahlawrence.edu or call 914 395 2573.
Thank you and I hope to see you there!
*********
Please join the new SLC Feminist Collective!

A Weeks is an activism based meeting, creating an open, safe space for women (cis & trans) to talk about any & all issues they face. Meetings will be formatted as open dialogues. Members will be encouraged to share books, films, ideas, or anything they think will benefit the group. Here are some activities/events/topics that the collective will address: – American rape culture – Slut shaming – Body positivity, lookism, and the media – Sexual dynamics on campus at SLC – Female misogyny – Girl on girl hate – Sex Positivity – Acceptance and understanding of trans women – The success and failure of past feminist movements (W.I.T.C.H, riot grrrl, etc.), misconceptions of feminism – Male-identifying feminists as allies: how they can help? – Art history and religion buffs, we want you! Arts and crafts/zine making events to promote DIY fun and help spread the message of the collective!

B Weeks in the Spiritual Space– Will include guided meditation at meetings (to be led by Una Chung) intended to help women center themselves, as people often fall prey to outside influence. This meeting is reserved for female assigned at birth and female identifying people.
We created an anonymous, online help forum where women and men can submit questions, concerns, or anything the feel is relevant to the collective. All of these submissions will be discussed by the women of the collective during meetings, and those discussions will lead us to the answer we will post. All of these submissions will be gathered to be released in the form of a publication the following semester. Please visit slcwomen.tumblr.com and our facebook page SLC Feminist Collective!
A Week Meetings are Wed. 8- 9p.m. upstairs in the Black Squirrel
B Week Meetings are Wed. 8- 9p.m. in the Spiritual Space
-Potential Events are, but are not limited to, Clitfest (Combating Latent Inequality Together), workshops about sex and sexuality, zine making, dominant masculinity, harm reduction, combating the anti-choice movement, etc. We want you to help us shape this group. What are you interested in? Are there any topics you feel comfortable leading a discussion on?
Please, contact the co-chairs Ciaran Rhodes at crhodes@gm.slc.edu, Elizabeth Wilson at ewilson@gm.slc.edu or Emma Harris at eharris@gm.slc.edu and check out our Facebook page: SLC Feminist Collective!

Welcome to R/V October 2011: The Legal Issue

Welcome to the R/V LEGAL ISSUE! We are beyond thrilled with the response and popularity of last month’s POP CULTURE ISSUE—we’ve been linked, quoted, and shared from NYC to Beirut—and readership has grown to numbers that exceeded even our highest hopes! Most importantly, we are having so much fun conceptualizing and creating a dialogue that appeals to a WIDE RANGE OF FEMINISMS and the issues that affect us both historically and everyday.

At RE/VISIONIST, we strive to encompass feminism in its most complex form and appreciate it for what it truly is: multi-faceted, diverse, frequently political, sometimes superficial, often hostile, at-times humorous, and above all, the good fight.  WE [as feminists] are just as variable and diverse as feminism itself and our readers are no exception. Just as there is no single most-important feminist argument, there is no one-way to write about feminism.

This month brings us to the litigious-side of inequality, or rather, institutionalized racism and sexism. Law is arguably the most powerful vehicle for social change—and that can work both ways. Revisiting monumental Civil Rights cases such as Loving v. Virginia, while celebrating New York’s legalization of gay marriage, can make it even harder to comprehend present-day (yet seemingly archaic) legal battles. Even more upsetting is the actuality that gendered and racial inequality exists WITHIN the legal framework—and that a lot of those serving to preserve “justice” are some of the most bigoted-people out there—making it even harder to know whose side the law is really on.

That being said–R/V is proud to feature a law review from co-Editor, Amanda Seybold! We’re also proud to welcome Brianna Leone and Emma Staffaroni to the R/V family as web-editors and columnists–you can see from the weekly links, this month’s articles, and the gorgeous editorial pics why we’re thrilled to have them!

Sexism, like any inequality, has several faces—from Pat Robertson to Britney Spears. Sometimes, it’s as blatant as pay inequity and other times it is so embedded in our understanding of how things are that we don’t even notice. This is why we have to work to cover as many bases as possible; we have to include—not exclude—to keep fighting the good fight.

 

{. . . and it IS the good fight.}

xx

Caroline

The Legal Issue:

{ENJOY!}

Interview with NARAL Pro-Choice New York

The mission of NARAL Pro-Choice New York is to protect safe, legal abortion and expand the full range of reproductive rights for women regardless of age, race or income. To learn more or get involved, please visit www.prochoiceny.org.

Our editors conducted the following interview with David Benzaquen who is the Political & Legislative Action Coordinator for NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

RE/VISIONIST: What is your relationship with New York’s state legislature?  Do you have many strong allies in Albany?

David Benzaquen: NARAL Pro-Choice New York works to support the election of pro-choice candidates and this helps us build and maintain strong relationships with pro-choice officials. Every year during election season, NARAL Pro-Choice New York endorses a slate of candidates who show their unwavering commitment to reproductive rights issues. We are non-partisan and only endorse candidates who are 100% pro-choice, so we are proud to encourage all of our members to support these candidates and their campaigns in any way they can.

R/V: At the federal level, how would you rate the performance of US Senators and Representatives from New York in terms of their level of pro-choice or anti-choice support?

DB: Senators Gillibrand and Schumer are strong pro-choice allies. We thank Senator Gillibrand, in particular, for her recent strong opposition to anti-choice legislation being advanced by Speaker of the House John Boehner. The Congressional delegation from New York is largely pro-choice and includes some tremendous heroes of women’s rights like Representative Jerrold Nadler. Unfortunately there are also several anti-choice members who are even now trying to defund Planned Parenthood and would allow emergency rooms to deny a woman an abortion even if her life was in imminent danger. Continue reading