Feminism | Posted by David G on 01/6/2016
What The Reaction To Sandra Bland’s Case Reveals About White Feminism
Sandra Bland, an African-American woman arrested for failing to use her turn signal, was found dead in her jail cell three days after her arrest in July. On Wednesday, December 23, a Texas grand jury presiding over the case decided not to indict anyone in relation to Bland’s death and protesters — who had previously called for justice in this case — began anew.
Yet a seemingly important group that should presumably also oppose this injustice has seemed to remain quiet: mainstream feminist groups. While activists associated with groups like #BlackLivesMatter have lined the streets, groups focused on gender equality seem to view the issue of police brutality as one related to race and therefore irrelevant. The choice to do so is not just problematic in relation to Sandra …
Feminism | Posted by Elizabeth B on 11/25/2015
Violence Against Women Isn’t “Culture”: My Experience Studying Abroad
During the first week of study abroad, my program offered an informational session about street harassment to the 35 students enrolled (29 of whom are women). The area of the city in which we were studying is renowned for its conservativism. Few street lights illuminate the endless maze of narrow alleys that lead to our homes and there’s virtually no police presence, so the session seemed warranted.
I could talk about the content of this orientation, but I feel it is most important to acknowledge my disappointment with the program’s choice to label what women in Morocco experience as “street harassment.” In actually, this experience is a form of violence against women and should be acknowledged as such. Walking down the street and being unwontedly touched is a …
Feminism, Pop-Culture | Posted by Eliza V on 10/14/2015
Is The Media’s Representation Of Sexual Assault Doing More Harm Than Good?
One show doing it right.
Trigger Warning: Mention of sexual assault.
Out of every 6 American women, at least 1 will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. This horrifying yet all too common experience is depicted in mainstream media: Many popular drama series have story lines involving rape, for example. But the question remains: Is sheer volume of this coverage truly beneficial?
The vast majority of TV shows that depict narratives involving assault seem to do so in order to heighten tension and create scandal. Especially considering it’s statistically inevitable that a significant portion of a show’s viewers will be individuals who have survived assault, the phenomenon should ideally be carefully and purposely portrayed in order to show its severity, not to …
Feminism | Posted by David G on 10/7/2015
‘Til It Happens to You: In Staunch Support of Campus Sexual Assault Survivors
“Til It Happens To You”
The Hunting Ground is an unabashed and damning portrayal of the still crucial and widespread problem of rape culture on college campuses. In fact, an estimated 20 to 25% of women in higher educational institutions may experience attempted or completed rape over the course of their college career according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
But these numbers often obscure what this experience is like on an intimate, human level. The fact is, real women experience this — real women like Lady Gaga. In a 2014 interview with Howard Stern, the performer revealed that she wrote the track “Swine,” which is included on the album ARTPOP, to express the degradation she felt after she was sexually assaulted at 19 years old. When she …
Feminism | Posted by Claire B on 09/16/2015
Consent in the Age of High School Hookup Culture
A few weeks ago, I took my seat in the huge auditorium of my East Coast college preparatory boarding school for Proctor Training. The week-long event involved a series of workshops and lectures that train dormitory proctors how to address issues that may arise in the community over the course of the school year. We reviewed “no-grinding” dance rules, gendered dormitory visitation policies, and health center pamphlets — probably the same policies that have been upheld at countless college preparatory schools across the country for years.
But this time around, there was an elephant in the room: The Owen Labrie trial.
On August 28th, 18-year old St. Paul’s School senior Owen Labrie was found not guilty of felony sexual assault charges, but was convicted of having sex …
Pop-Culture | Posted by Aph Ko on 07/27/2015
Rihanna’s ‘BBHMM’ Video and Our Resistance To Black Women’s Subjectivity
Rihanna performing BBHMM live at the 2015 iHeart Radio Music Awards.
As anyone even mildly interested in pop culture likely knows, Rihanna recently dropped a new music video for her song Bitch Better Have My Money. I found the video itself interesting, but honestly found the critiques of it even more so. Many of these critiques demonstrate that mainstream culture still doesn’t know how to meaningfully engage with black women and the popularity of the work they create. Specifically, it seems that critics of black, female artists try to understand their work through the lens of static theories that reiterate racist tropes, and which produce prescriptive, limiting understandings of their work. We’ve seen this with panic over Beyoncé’s feminism, shock in response to Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda album cover, …
Feminism | Posted by Claire B on 06/16/2015
Are Nigeria’s Steps Towards Eliminating FGM Enough?
In her 2014 TED Talk, Khadija Gbla expresses the cultural friction she felt between two very different definitions of what it means to be “empowered.” Gbla recounts her experience growing up in Sierra Leone, a country where, like in Nigeria, female genital mutilation is a deeply valued cultural practice. Her mother, she recalls, insisted that she undergo the procedure in order to curb promiscuity, increase her marriageability, and more fully realize her womanhood.
Female Genital Mutilation is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. The data on physical and psychological consequences is horrifying. An inter-agency statement issued by the WHO and UNICEF, among others, states that when “seen from a human rights perspective, …
Feminism | Posted by Abby S. on 05/22/2015
The Major Problems With How We Discuss Men and Sexual Assault
“But men get raped, too.”
Trigger Warning: In this post, I will be writing about rape and sexual assault, particularly in the case of female survivors and male aggressors. As a heterosexual, cisgender female, this is the dynamic of sexual assault about which I know the most, but it’s necessary to acknowledge that rape also occurs in ways other than this dynamic.
“But men get raped, too.”
All too often, I hear these five words used as a way to shut down discussions about rape and rape culture. I’ve heard them from men and women alike, and while this statement in and of itself is certainly true, I have a problem with using this fact as a supposed answer to the equally valid reality of rampant violence against women.…