Fall Break – Safe Travels

A reminder to have safe travels for this upcoming break! Remember to relax, but also to start preparing for the next few stressful weeks left in the semester.

pic

Mothers always get the work on Thanksgiving Day
They peel and chop roast and bake as the day sips away
But having all your loved ones sitting at your table
Makes it all worthwhile so you will do it as long as you are able
So as the day closes and the family fade away
Sit and put your feet up and enjoy THANKSGIVING DAY

By Margmax

We can’t wait to see you back soon at the Sloss House after break!

- Glyn Powell

‘Tis the Season

As the holiday season begins, so does the gift giving. But what is a feminist to do in the world of “girly” pink and dolls with unrealistic bodies or overpriced products made “just for women”? And how can we handle shopping the “boys” aisle or searching for “manly” gifts?

Books such as Redefining Girly, The Princess Problem, and Cinderella Ate My Daughter give great advice to feminists raising girls, including insight into the balance between allowing girls to choose what is popular and discussing healthy alternatives. Other gender-neutral parenting books are also helpful, but what about for those of us who are aunts and friends of parents with young children rather than parents ourselves?

When giving gifts for the children in your life (whether they are a part of your family or friend circle), remember there are options out there for you. I don’t have the money to buy GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine or the GoldieBlox Zipline Action Figure for all the nieces on my list, so I like the variety of prices and gift options from AAUW: http://www.aauw.org/2012/12/12/holiday-gift-guide-for-girls/

Separated into age ranges for 2-5, 5-10, 11-13, and 13 and up, the gift ideas include books, toys, and programs. These gender-neutral items encourage involvement in science, technology, math, music and political fields, and some even educate about health, body image, and civil rights. Other great options to explore include A Mighty Girl, A Closet of Her Own, Go!Go!Sports Girls and Everyday Feminism’s list:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2012/12/75-holiday-gifts-for-young-feminists/

This list represents a range of books, toys, and sets that reflect multiculturalism, positive body image and ableism, gender neutrality and diversity, different family lifestyles, and safety for young people of various ages. This is far from an exhaustive list of available options, but these sites can be a great place to start.

Gift giving can also be a challenge for the adults on your list, especially when trying to avoid traditional gifts. Just like gifts for children, there is no one size fits all idea or solution. One gift I’m buying is The Guy’s Guide to Feminism by Michael Kaufman and Michael Kimmel, which may open the door to great conversations about the importance of gender equity and equality.

Another favorite of mine is a Fair Trade site: http://www.tenthousandvillages.com. I enjoy buying something unique that helps support and empower entrepreneurs around the world, especially when I can do so at a local store. Other organizations, such as the non-profit One Woman Project, include feminist gifts with global donations: http://www.onewomanproject.org/#!feminist-christmas-gift-guide/c6hl What local organizations or stores do you enjoy buying from?

While no quick and easy solutions for gender binaries exist, ‘tis the season to be merry and appreciate diversity. Have a safe and happy holiday season, and I hope these ideas help spark your feminist-friendly gift list!

Last call for Auditions

tvm

This week there has been auditions for The Vagina Monologues.

The Vagina Monologues is a performance of many women’s experiences. All inspirational stories of the heart, mind, and feminine identity.

TVM is performed during V-Day week. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence groups. A global movement to end violence against women. TVM is our main fundraiser for V-Day and quite fun!

Join us and our mission for V-Day by auditioning at the Sloss House: Monday, November 17th at 5pm-7pm

For more information on V-Day and how you can help go to http://www.vday.org

The Physical and Mental Safety You Deserve

As an advocate for feminism, the elimination of oppression across -isms (sexism, racism, classism, etc.), I believe we can work together as individuals and as a collective to help those who identify as women feel safe.

However, advocating for physical and mental safety should never be misconstrued as supporting victim blaming. It is not your fault if you feel unsafe, and it is not your fault if you are a survivor of sexism/harassment, sexual assault, and/or rape. The fact that our nation, our campuses, and even our homes are not always safe for us is unacceptable. I support efforts being put forth to help eliminate issues such as domestic abuse, including http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/programs/education-awareness/no-more, and sexual assault prevention, such as http://www.whitehouse.gov/1is2many. But while we should continue to support these important efforts, it is also important to make sure we are safe in the current world we live in.

Being aware of the resources at your disposal can assist in your physical and mental safety. As students, staying up late to do projects on campus is often a norm, and it is not always possible to find a friend to work with you. Scheduling a safety escort (http://www.parking.iastate.edu/escort) anytime from 6 pm to 6 am during class times can help make you feel safe getting to and from school and University (and Greek) buildings.

Mental safety concerns may also be present in our classrooms. The concept of the trigger warning is common within feminist circles, and the growing requests for them have sparked a debate featured in The New York Times. Bailey Loverin defines trigger warnings as “a way of identifying what may cause someone who recently experienced trauma or has post-traumatic stress disorder to relieve their trauma. They are the equivalent of content warnings on CDs, video games, movies or the nightly news, and are especially useful in classes where traumatic content is unexpected.” For more information: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/19/restraint-of-expression-on-college-campuses/trigger-warnings-encourage-free-thought-and-debate

These trigger warnings could be a message of awareness in a syllabus or a written or verbal warning before the individual video or article of concern. They allow survivors of various circumstances and events to prepare or address their concerns when dealing with in-class content (a situation they therefore can not control) that may trigger an emotional response. These warnings are not intended to impede classes that center around discussions of debatable topics or prevent the inclusion of challenging out-of-class literature and materials, and they certainly should not lead to the victim blaming that occurs in Jennifer Medina’s article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/us/warning-the-literary-canon-could-make-students-squirm.html?_r=0

Trigger warnings are not a form of censorship because they are not calling for the elimination of potentially useful but challenging content. Instead, they act like movie ratings, with the understanding that most students will not have a strong reaction to the material but that some may be personally affected. Trigger warnings do not eliminate or negate important conversations regarding the challenging material or encourage people (even those who may find it personally challenging) to avoid it. Instead, the inclusion of trigger warnings provides a respect for the mental safety of students who have experiences outside of the classroom that are not their fault. Rather than making them feel additionally unwarranted trauma, let us show our awareness and concern for their experiences by providing them these trigger warnings.

For more information: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/19/restraint-of-expression-on-college-campuses/politics-speeches-or-trigger-warnings-do-not-stifle-thought

Your physical and mental safety matters, and as an advocate of feminism, I support an increase of awareness and utilization of the resources you need. The Margaret Sloss Women’s Center is an excellent on-campus resource that can connect you with many additional resources (http://www.dso.iastate.edu/wc/support) and the staff are open to hearing more about what concerns you as an individual. Working together we can make the changes needed for our individual and collective safety.

Open Again

Welcome Back! After a few months away, returning and new students alike are trickling into the Sloss house. As students are becoming more accustomed to their classes they discover the little hideaway where they are able to drink a cup of coffee, take a nap, or study in between classes. And we love having all of you back!

 

coffee_smile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Announcements:

This coming week we will be having our Open House and hope to see you all there. It is Thursday, September 25 and will be held from 10:30-1:30.

Another opportunity which we are excited to host is the Womyn of Colour Network. We have a retreat with many takers set up for the 26th -27th of September, the retreat is to network and to make friends; be sure to be on the lookout for other events in the Womyn of Colour Network if you’re interested.

Until we update again I leave you with a poem:

Autumn

BY GRACE PALEY

1

What is sometimes called a

tongue of flame

or an arm extended burning

is only the long

red and orange branch of

a green maple

in early September   reaching

into the greenest field

out of the green woods   at the

edge of which the birch trees

appear a little tattered   tired

of sustaining delicacy

all through the hot summer   re-

minding everyone (in

our family) of a Russian

song   a story

by Chekhov   or my father

 

2

What is sometimes called a

tongue of flame

or an arm extended   burning

is only the long

red and orange branch of

a green maple

in early September   reaching

into the greenest field

out of the green woods   at the

edge of which the birch trees

appear a little tattered   tired

of sustaining delicacy

all through the hot summer   re-

minding everyone (in

our family) of a Russian

song   a story by

Chekhov or my father on

his own lawn   standing

beside his own wood in

the United States of

America   saying (in Russian)

this birch is a lovely

tree   but among the others

somehow superficial

 

 

Take Charge of Your Feminist Education

While your feminist experience and education may lead you in many different directions, I would like to thank you for making this step here whether it’s your first or one of many. Caring and sharing the views of gender equity and equality can be challenging, but you are not alone. Come see what the fun is all about…

Now that you’ve become acquainted with the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center (MSWC), I encourage you to check out the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics on campus. Both Centers have programs, events, and activities that place gender equity in the forefront! Additionally, Catt Hall offers leadership certificates, internships and scholarships: http://cattcenter.las.iastate.edu/leadership/

If, like me, you want to make a difference through social media, Sarah Granger has some awesome advice. While I haven’t been able to read her book, The Digital Mystique: How the Culture of Connectivity Can Empower Your Life-Online and Off, yet, I can share a recent article she published through Ms. Magazine: http://msmagazine.com/blog/2014/09/15/5-steps-to-social-change-through-digital-engagement/

One of Sarah Granger’s tips included identifying key voices. One of the most important voices to me is Eve Ensler. Being a part of One Billion Rising is a great way to be involved in feminist activism: http://www.onebillionrising.org

Sign up and see what is happening around the world as well as what events you can participate in close to home!

Interested in what else is going on around the world? Become informed! When I signed up for free newsletters through social media I was introduced to issues around the world including issues of violence,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/14/nigeria-girls-kidnapped-5-months_n_5791622.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046&ir=Women

education and women’s health,

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/09/09/menstrupedia-destroying-taboos-and-improving-health-india

and politics.

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2014/09/15/swedens-feminist-party-nearly-gets-into-parliament-and-pharrell-helps/

When sharing what matters to you, great conversations can start and minds can be gradually opened, so give it a shot!

Along with being able to impact others around you, the resources you can find along the way can also benefit you.

Looking to be successful as you graduate and enter the workplace? I just learned about a whole host of useful tips and strategies through a website: http://leanin.org/graduates/

Based on the books Lean In and Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, you can start or join a circle for peer support or just enjoy the free website resources.

Do you have something to share? Please let us at the MSWC know about it so we can pass it along, or let me know at smchase@iastate.edu. May your feminist education take you in many fun, wonderful directions!

Welcome to the MSWC and the Value of Feminism

I’ve talked about definitions of feminism and what it can mean to different people in earlier blogs, but with the start of the new school year I thought it would be important to bring up the value of feminism and how it relates to the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center (MSWC).

So how does feminism impact us at ISU? Feminism is valuable as colleges try to make their campuses safer. The Margaret Sloss Women’s Center and many organizations around campus promote feminist issues, and programs like Women & Gender Studies allow students to academically explore issues (I’m currently enjoying a minor in this program as well volunteering with the MSWC.).

First, because feminism is valuable you should learn about it, but it shouldn’t feel like a chore. There are many cool websites to check out when learning what is awesome about feminism, as well as what is NOT true about feminism:

http://mic.com/articles/96292/let-s-debunk-the-10-myths-about-feminism-everyone-can-t-seem-to-stop-telling

As with anything, make sure you’re informed before making a decision or dismissing something.

If you’re interested, tell us why you’re a feminist and why feminism is important to you! A simple, fun way for you (and friends/roommates) to be involved is the ISU “Who Needs Feminism” campaign: http://www.dso.iastate.edu/wc/who-needs-feminism

Next, find different ways to become involved and celebrate, whether it’s an anytime event like the “Who Needs Feminism” campaign or a specific date like Women’s Equality Day.

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2014/08/22/5-ways-to-celebrate-womens-equality-day/

The MSWC is always open for those who want a relaxed place to study, grab a cup of tea, or just hang out. But the center also has organized activities that may capture your interest. You can stop by or check out the website: http://www.dso.iastate.edu/wc

Finally, meeting people with shared interests and passions is always fun. I love sharing what I’ve learned regarding various issues, especially feminism. Because I believe feminism really is for everybody and that equality between all genders is important, I believe that sharing these ideas can make a difference. Consider the impact of sharing a simple video of opinions and experiences with the people in your life: http://www.upworthy.com/how-a-terrible-truth-about-tank-tops-convinced-this-guy-to-become-a-feminist?c=ufb1

Together we can do amazing things this year! I hope you’ll stop by the MSWC and check out the fun and inspiring events planned throughout the school year. And I hope you enjoy the links I provided and enjoy passing the knowledge on.

 

 

The Power of Toys: How Feminists Can Change the World

Why can I never find any minion (Despicable Me) or Olaf (Frozen) toys? Is it because stores don’t know where to put something that defies gendering? One of the reasons why I loved the minions is because they performed gender rather than having a solid sex/gender. They could pick and choose based on clothing and behavior, although stereotyped actions always made it obvious. And although a male actor voices Olaf, it could easily have been voiced by a female. The physical snowperson body could be any sex or gender, although the reference to “snowman” provides a choice/option for it. So why does this matter?

Children can be born with a variation of intersex, male, or female sex types but learn gender. Gender is created by society through individuals, the media, school systems, and a variety of other factors. For example, historically men wore heels before women and pink was not originally a “girl” color. For more information about when popular gender stereotypes arrived: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/when-did-girls-start-wearing-pink-1370097/?no-ist

Dominant gender ideologies are spread through the media and individual attempts to “keep up with the Joneses,” often changing depending on culture, location, and time period. While many enjoy the organization of gender in society, helping people “find their place” and form their identity, what if you don’t easily fit into the male or female categories?

Common forms require you to check male or female, with few providing an “other” option, which can also be a demeaning term. Some intersex children are given surgeries after birth, with parents and/or doctors choosing a sex for them that they may or may not feel comfortable with later in life. Transgender, transvestite, tomboys, metrosexual boys, and other “nonconforming” individuals are often ostracized because they cannot and do not want to conform to the restrictive binary of male or female. Even deciding which bathroom to use and finding college housing can be difficult because of the lack of gender-neutral options.

When feminists state they want equality between men and women we should really say we want equality between all genders. I often catch myself referring to “male” and “female” sexes/genders, rendering already marginalized groups invisible. This is a mistake that many of us make, but cannot afford to anymore. Learning to be more careful with language is the first step:

http://genderneutralpronoun.wordpress.com

Feminism needs allies, which appreciation for multiplicity and plurality and intersections with other interest groups can provide. So what can we accomplish together? Stereotypical gendering that perpetuates ideas like boys shouldn’t cook, clean, and play with dolls and girls shouldn’t like tools, science, or dressing up like male superheroes is harmful and restrictive. Children should be able to grow up liking what they want to like, and we as adults should support those decisions whatever they may be.

Although some companies like Goldie Blox have already received some attention, other gender-flexible advertisement and gender-neutral products are largely unknown: http://www.policymic.com/articles/87379/30-photos-that-challenge-the-harmful-stereotypes-toy-companies-sell-you?utm_source=upworthy.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_facebook

Along with pushing for and creating gender-neutral toys, these companies are also creating toys to more accurately reflect the beautiful diversity of children around the world. With initiatives for more diverse race, religion, sex, and gender representation for toys we can teach the younger generations to be more open-minded and free them to pursue the options that are best for them, leading to future progress.

I want to be able to walk down the toy aisle and pick out a unisex toy or pick out a pink and blue outfit for a child. I want to be able to see children in dance and tai kwon do without worrying about whether or not they’re being teased. I want to walk down the street without thinking: Is that a boy or a girl? Because it doesn’t matter whether I can identify someone’s sex, gender, or sexuality. It matters that we are making the world safer for everyone, making it easier for identity formation to take place, and making sex and gender equality a reality. When more people ask for gender-neutral options, possibilities are more likely to be provided and laws protecting individual rights passed. It is up to us to make a difference and support those seeking equality.

Progress is Only the Beginning

If you ever thought you weren’t making a difference, check this out:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/23/kat-lazo-ted-talk-feminism_n_5198384.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046

Kat Lazo describes the positive impact the Internet had on her own life, introducing her to the feminist community around her. Beyond sharing cool messages and videos with friends, you could be reaching beyond by contributing to social media.

I love sharing blogs and articles that have had a special impact on me. After some personal professional experiences with unfriendly gender stereotyping, I found the following video uplifting and empowering:

http://www.upworthy.com/nobody-tells-beyonc-and-her-celebrity-friends-that-theyre-anything-but-bosses

Not only was it great to see powerful, successful women who went through a similar experience, but also the fact they clearly got through it that mattered to me. Like Kat Lazo, it’s great to be reminded of the community out there that is willing to educate and encourage when you need it. By feeling encouraged, I’m inspired to pass on the message to others and help make change possible!

A similar video, ignoring the product placement, had a similar message regarding gender differences in perceptions:

Although I don’t wish to pass on product endorsements, the idea that companies as well as specific celebrities feel the importance and value in these messages (at least as a marketing tool) is encouraging to me. After all, as a part of pop culture, mass media, and consumerism, we as individuals have the ability to affect the world around us. I still have no interest in Pantene or Covergirl products, but I love passing on the positive messages these commercials contain:

How many of us have been told or had “can’t” implied with regards to our potential success? No matter what your sex and/or gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc. we need to accept and share the “can” attitude. No matter what you choose to do in your life, don’t let these assumptions bring you down. They may challenge you, but you can overcome because you are capable and committed. We shouldn’t have to prove our worth or equality to others, but can help others see it in themselves, as well as remind ourselves of our own inner strength and beauty.

Speaking of beauty, although I’ve already written about body image, it’s important to keep it in mind as we prepare for swimsuit weather. Encouragement can take place in a larger sense or movement, but it can also take place in front of the mirror and with your friend/significant other on the beach. Helping people feel comfortable and happy in their own skin can be as valuable as helping them feel encouraged with regard to their actions, thoughts, and personalities.

Now it’s up to us to pay it forward by passing it on! Feel free to share any of these videos as you spread the word and share more positive messages with your community and feminists at large.

Investing in Girls and Women: International Women’s Day & Beyond

Investing in Girls and Women: International Women’s Day & Beyond

Why do we invest so much time, energy, and money into certain efforts? The quickest and easiest response is because it’s worth it. Girls and women around the world are worth investing in, which was a part of this year’s March 8th effort to Inspire Change. However, our efforts aren’t just for International Women’s day. We can invest in one of the world’s greatest resources every day…with a little time and energy of course (money optional). So who’s leading the charge? While a quick Google search will give you plenty of inspiring girls and women, check out this list of women’s rights advocates to watch in 2014: http://www.buzzfeed.com/womenthrive/14-fierce-womensrights-advocates-to-watch-in-201-ivjs

However, you don’t need to be one of these great women to make a difference. What can we do? Malala Yousafzai, an inspiring, young feminist leader, encourages girls and women everywhere to use social media as a positive, educational resource:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womenspolitics/10684908/International-Womens-Day-Malala-Yousafzai-Teens-dont-use-Facebook-to-get-likes-use-it-tohighlight-womens-issues.html

It could be something as simple as a quick post of a picture/link or “liking” a supportive organization like the following.

By reading and sharing pictures and stories we can create a positive, supportive environment that is capable of inspiring change. What would happen if we supported the following movement?

http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/5-reasons-presidentobama-should-speak-out-for-womens-rights-in-saudi-arabia/

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could work to support womenaround the world? No matter what your political affiliations are, what important aspect of feminism do you want to support? For me, I’m personally interested in raising awareness of gender representation in film/media. One of my recent Facebook posts was the following link:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/03/ladies-in-televisionrepresentation/

Although we are all individuals with personal interests in specific areas of feminism, we can come together to further the overall goal of gender equality. Even though we’re all busy coming back from Spring Break, I encourage you to take some time out to share something that matters to you!

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