Do You See Yourself?

Although praise has continued for the handful of transgender individuals on TV and the growing number of roles for black women, the fact is that the media and the TV/film industry does not equally represent the diversity of our society, and this must change! But what should be done and how can we get involved?

Media literacy, according to the Media Literacy Project, “is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media,” which they focus on while embracing “a media justice framework . . . . [that] takes into account history, culture, privilege, and power.” While critical thinking skills are hopefully developed through education in schools, evaluating messages and advocating for an increased presence of diversity are feminist goals that continue beyond the classroom.

Some feminists believe media literacy is an essential part of the feminist movement, with many websites and social media groups such as The Women’s Room, The F Word, The Everyday Sexism Project, and Everyday Feminism working to raise awareness and create positive change through this type of online feminism. The Barnard Center for Research on Women and Valenti Martin Media defines online feminism as “the largest innovation in feminism in the last 50 years that harnesses the power of online media platforms to discuss, uplift, and activate gender equality and social justice.” For more information: http://www.valentimartin.com/projects/

Some even argue that online feminism is the fourth wave, as used in the following article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/10/fourth-wave-feminism-rebel-women

Regardless of how you feel about third or fourth wave terminology, social media and other outlets can assist the feminist movement. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, for example, has commissioned various research studies that raise awareness for gender representation disparities in TV/film. Based on the idea, “if she can see it, she can be it,” this organization works to increase visibility for women and girls while decreasing damaging stereotyping. For a powerful infographic based on recent findings, please check out the following: http://seejane.org/symposiums-on-gender-in-media/gender-bias-without-borders/

gender-bias-without-borders-infographic (1)

The Representation Project also builds on this task through hashtags like #NOTBUYINGIT that encourages people to call out sexism in the media, including objectification in advertising and sexist treatment toward female celebrities and politicians. Along with these connections to mainstream audiences, the organization’s films emphasize the damage of gender stereotyping and how to challenge it: Miss Representation (female/women focus) and The Mask You Live In (male/men focus). These types of educational resources and credible data (such as “Women of Color and the Top 500 Films”) are helpful both inside and outside the classroom: http://therepresentationproject.org/?attachment_id=14499

Although these initiatives may not be perfect, especially due to their emphasis on the male/female binary, providing efforts toward media literacy to mainstream viewers can create a wide-reaching online feminism that promotes diversity in TV, film, and other media. So many individuals do not see themselves in the media that surrounds us all, and that needs to change. Therefore, whether you like, tweet, or browse, I hope you consider participating in the online initiatives that call out the disparities and gaps and continue to encourage the growing representation of diversity.

by Sarah C

The Voices of Indigenous Feminisms

Feminists all around the world have much to gain from the voices of indigenous feminists not only when it comes to gender equality and equity but also when it comes to understanding and working toward sovereignty and decolonization. Western feminism, so often associated with middle-class white women, continues to need to listen and learn from women around the world in order to create truly beneficial feminism(s). In my own path to learn, I want to share with you the women and writings that have inspired me lately.

Wilma Mankiller was a recent candidate for the Women on 20s campaign (womenon20s.org), which was a feminist effort to increase visibility and appreciation for feminist activists. However, I was disappointed that many of the candidates were white feminists, and that I didn’t know much about some of the potential winners. Although I voted to replace Andrew Jackson (responsible for the Trail of Tears) with Wilma Mankiller (a women’s rights activist and first female chief for the Cherokee people), I didn’t know all of the inspiring details of her life. Did you know that she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Talk about an impressive role model! So I’m reading her autobiography, which includes her knowledge of tribal government and leadership as well as personal experiences.
Indigenous Feminist 1

As an educator, her efforts toward helping education and health-care for her nation are inspiring. And as a feminist, I find her civil rights struggles haunting and motivational. Soon, I hope to also read her book: Every Day is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women.

As a literature major, I have been captivated by literary works from authors such as Leslie Marmon Silko (Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit: Essays on Native American Life Today) and Louise Erdrich (Tracks). I’m also interested in books, lectures, and articles, so I can learn more about feminism from multiple perspectives. One book on my list is Joyce Green’s Making Space for Indigenous Feminism. Additionally, I enjoyed reading about a 2010 lecture from Dr. Jennifer Nez Denetdale, “Claiming the ‘F’ Word: Native Women, Feminisms, and Visions of Sovereignty”:

http://www.firstpeoplesnewdirections.org/blog/?p=511#more-511

Indigenous Feminist 2Academic articles and books are valuable, but so are news and magazine articles, especially for quick reading and learning. Celeste Liddle’s 2014 article, “Intersectionality and Indigenous Feminism: An Aboriginal Woman’s Perspective,” was a great way for me to connect what I have learned about in Women and Gender Studies classes (like the Combahee River Collective Statement) to individual terms (“fair skin privilege”), experiences different from my own, and people I did not know about (Kelly Briggs & Aileen Morton-Robinson). For the full article: http://postcolonialist.com/civil-discourse/intersectionality-indigenous-feminism-aboriginal-womans-perspective/

Definitions of third-wave feminism may be difficult to come by because it represents so many different things; however, it most importantly embraces the realistic multiplicity of people’s lives in order to analyze identity intersections and how they relate to gender issues. This is important because people are more than just their gender, and other factors also impact their oppression, including race, sexual orientation, and religion.

I believe in the efforts of third-wave feminism and support the reality that all voices can be vital to the feminist movement. If you’re a white, middle-class feminist like me it is important to avoid acting like a “white savior” or overshadowing important voices, but we can all help lift up these voices regardless of our demographic information by remembering these steps:

 

  1. Continue to educate yourself

You can do this in formal ways by taking Women and Gender Studies classes on campus and through smaller, more informal ways such as liking and sharing articles like the following from everydayfeminism.com: http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/01/feminism-now/

  1. Be aware of your privilege and how it impacts your understanding of the world

Truly embracing intersectionality means that we need to value the rights of others just as much as our own, leading to the importance of “checking the privilege” we may have as feminists. For an informal “quiz” about privilege, visit: http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/how-privileged-are-you#.tp09O26Kbr

  1. Listen and respect the thoughts and experiences of others

We live in a patriarchal system that ignores and devalues people who are considered “other,” but being a feminist means we need to listen to these “other” voices in order to change this oppressive system for all those who are negatively impacted. That means learning other points of view, being aware of your place of privilege within this system, and listening to others to find out how we can change the system together. Stepping back from positions of power and listening more than talking are valuable ways to let other voices in. Supporting activist efforts that you didn’t know were important can also be beneficial. Listening shows you care and are willing to stand up for those around you; now is the time for all of us to listen to indigenous feminist voices.

Celebrating Community Commitment

As the end of the school year draws to a close, I want to take a moment to celebrate the important events that you may have been involved in: Women’s Equality Day, Womyn of Color Network Retreat, Violence Leaves an Empty Chair at the Table, Walk a Mile in Their Shoes, Women’s Leadership Retreat, the Vagina Monologues, Standing Up to Katie Pavlich and Rape Culture, the Gender Monologues, various activities for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and much more.

1

So what have these events (and others that weren’t listed) accomplished? Through the help of participating organizations like ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support) and various groups on campus like Trio-lota and SAGE (Society for the Advancement of Gender Equity), we have worked to raise awareness of important issues in our community, demonstrated our passion for gender equity, and shown support for survivors around us. These, among other great reasons, should make you proud of what you have been a part of!

2

I also hope that your experiences or what you have heard/read about inspires you to do more acts of volunteering and activism next year! Participating not only feels rewarding as you see the impact it has on others, but it is also personally empowering. Large crowd events like the Vagina Monologues and Take Back the Night reminds us that we are not alone in our beliefs and support for gender equity. We are instead part of a community that supports one another and comes together to create meaningful change. Smaller events like wearing purple is also important because it acts as a personal sign of support that can lead to powerful, healing conversations. Showing support through small and large events and being an active volunteer also provides an opportunity for networking that can lead to additional empowering experiences and partnerships. You are not alone, your voice and actions are important, and with your help change can happen.

3

We may be done with events for the school year, but remember that the Sloss House will still be open over the summer. Consider coming in to show your support for the “Who Needs Feminism?” campaign or just enjoying our comfortable space on campus. For more information, please visit: http://www.dso.iastate.edu/wc/who-needs-feminism.

5

And to keep you connected all summer long, you can continue to enjoy the blog and keep up with the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center through Facebook, Foursquare, and twitter (https://twitter.com/isuwomenscenter). Thank you to everyone who participated in making this a great school year for the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center and have a wonderful summer!

Picking Your Battle Part 2

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people . . . with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Environmental justice, like my last post about social justice, can relate to feminist efforts. Ecofeminism combines feminist philosophies to these types of ecological or environmental justice concerns. As feminism already focuses on gender equity and other identity intersections, these and other beliefs are continued in ecofeminism.

One way that I have been involved in ecofeminism is by participating in an education effort through Global Population Speak Out: https://populationspeakout.org. Their book, Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot, focuses on providing “seeds of change: spreading awareness, promoting discussion, and inspiring action” to combat global environmental challenges. This book provides a voice for a variety of animals, plant life, and people through pictures, linked together by a simple, yet powerful narrative. Although humans have developed in many ways, this book reminds us of what we have also lost or ignored along the way. It teaches readers that there is an ever-widening gap between those with access to money and resources and those who don’t, which will worsen as overpopulation continues. And because humanity is just a part of the planet, the book also makes readers think about how we can focus not only on helping each other but the animals and environment around us as well.

Because ecological problems are often more detrimental to women’s lives, and because overpopulation often results from a lack of resources for women, this book directly relates to my ecofeminism concerns. For example, Musimbi Kanyoro describes in her foreword: “rapid population growth is a fundamental driver of individual as well as societal problems that deny dignity, especially to women who bear the burden of reproduction and caretaking of communities.” Population growth then relates to global concerns about opportunities, resources, and sustainability that could result in irreparable damage to the planet. Just as feminism faces the challenge of patriarchy, capitalism (consumerism) and colonialism create challenges for feminists and the environment. The pictures in this book depict the stark reality facing people and the environment in a very clear and frighteningly, realistic manner.

So how can we make a difference as individuals? You can start by teaching others what you learn from Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot and/or other books like it. (I have made two copies available for those interested at the Women’s Center.) You can also learn from indigenous populations who stress reciprocity over consumerism (http://www.pachamama.org/blog/reciprocity-in-an-internconnected-world). The everyday choices that make your life more sustainable and environmentally friendly are very important. For examples and tips, feel free to check out the following links: https://www.regenerative.com/sustainable-living; http://www.ecochallenge.org; http://sustainablelivingassociation.org/workshops/. Through your own awareness and action, you can inspire others and create meaningful conversations that lead toward change. The difference starts with you, on Earth Day (April 22nd) and every day.

Picking Your Battle

Social justice, according to the National Association of Social Workers, “is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities.” Feminists focus their efforts on issues of gender equity, which include many different goals such as defeating rape culture. While these efforts include a great deal of work, this process can provide positive results.

In my Environmental Literature course we discussed how every generation has a tipping point, it is just a matter of what can be done and when. Although the media and society as a whole often make us feel like isolated and powerless individuals, you are not just one person. But it does start with you and what you personally believe in. Learning about historical feminist efforts and current intellectual or academic work is important, but for change to occur, this must pair with activism. Although each small event may not seem impactful, by doing something, you are making small changes that can make a large change a possibility. When you pick an issue and give it time and energy, you are working toward a change. And by connecting with other people who feel the same way, we can work to fix systemic issues together.

When ISU invites speakers like Katie Pavlich to campus (Tuesday, March 10) you have some options. You could support her conservative view that hook-up culture and lack of firearms is to blame for sexual violence, rather than believing that sexual assault and rape statistics through the CDC (facts at a glance) and UN (fact sheet, brochure) are accurate and that rape culture is a systemic problem we must fix as a society. Or, if possible, you can join students from organizations on campus to wear purple as a sign of respect toward those who are victims of violence and participate in the question/answer portion of the event. The aim of this type of protest is the exercise of respectful freedom of speech, thus making a statement that will raise awareness of this important issue.

You may miss out on some chances to speak out against such problematic beliefs because you have prior commitments, in which case you can continue to seek out future opportunities to make a difference. Consider joining the women’s studies program and their honorary organization tri lota or the gender equity club, SAGE. Other clubs and organizations may be represented at fairs during the school year as well. The Women’s Center has events throughout the school year, and the Catt Center brings in frequent speakers that may be of positive interest. Remember you are not alone in your beliefs, and there are those at ISU who support your feminist efforts.

Beyond ISU, there are numerous small ways to be involved. Your involvement could include anything from seeking out and supporting feminist projects on Kickstarter, signing petitions on Change.org or through Takepart.com, sharing your knowledge through social media outlets, participating in campus events, or joining Eve Ensler’s One Billion Rising: http://www.onebillionrising.org/my-revolution/. It doesn’t matter how old you are, your gender, or your area of study; taking part starts with your commitment to help, your involvement in an event, your efforts to raise awareness, your everyday choices that support your beliefs. Progress continues with you, and you can start today.

Learning to Love Yourself

Valentine’s Day approaches with advertisements for chocolate, flowers, cards, and other items—focusing on monetary gifts primarily for significant others. But whether you have a partner or are single, the greatest love you can cherish is yourself.

Our society tends to focus on caring for others and being humble, yet also spouts advice like: if you can’t love you, how can someone else? While these sentiments are well intentioned and important, loving yourself is about happiness and well-being rather than ego and is often a challenging process.

You may be familiar with various advertising campaigns that promote healthy body image, like the most recent This Girl Can video “I Jiggle Therefore I Am” from the UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN7lt0CYwHg

Personally, I enjoy how this campaign celebrates women having fun and being healthy while appreciating their diversity over promoting weight loss or shame. Other hashtag movements and projects are also promoting this type of body love.

Photographer Jade Beall’s #LoveTheMirror campaign features individuals who are working toward self-love and acceptance, which can inspire others to also love themselves. For more on her project, explore the link below: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/09/lovethemirror-body-image-jes-bak r_n_6438108.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046&fb_ref=Default&fb_source=message

Some people use mantras or specific statements, while others work their own mental game. There is no one right or wrong way to remind yourself that you are smart, capable, and beautiful, or as we learned from The Help: “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.”

As I work toward being happy and healthy, I started to notice different articles and resources that I had previously always ignored. In Everyday Feminism’s article, “3 Things to Remember When You Can’t Stop Being Hard on Yourself,” I was struck by the reminder to think “so what?” when I’m stressed out or rehashing the day’s events needlessly. Accepting that things happen and being able to treat the past as the past is no easy feat, but using such moments as an opportunity for self-compassion rather than guilt and shame made me hopeful. See more about the article here: http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/10/let-yourself-off-the-hook/?utm_content=bufferc826b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Evaluating these types of self-help articles is very important, but I also enjoy hearing first person accounts to see how certain strategies work for actual individuals. Many voices say great things, and I encourage you to seek out the ones that are most useful and meaningful to you. And, of course, share the loves with others!

One article that was recently recommended to me (from http://tinybuddha.com/blog/21-tips-to-release-self-neglect-and-love-yourself-in-action/) discusses family and culture influences and multiple steps to help shift toward a happier self-perception. I enjoyed how she acknowledged that the tips are part of an on-going process and included various physical and mental activities that could be beneficial for different people. Each individual may have a spiritual or religious belief that can also help guide them, but she also makes sure to stress the importance of seeking professional treatment as needed. As great as family and friends can be, an extra hand might be the support you need!

So in this month of “love,” don’t forget to share a little for yourself. Instead of looking at yourself in the mirror and saying “good enough,” focus on what is beautiful and what you’re going to accomplish or have accomplished in that day. And if you’re like me, you may enjoy a little you time with some wine, chocolate, and a bubble bath for no other reason than “because I deserve it.”

Resolving in the New Year

Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions, sometimes based on personal appearance or professional goals. And while improving our health and happiness are always important (although I emphasize health—not trying to fit into narrow concepts of beauty), what if we also made resolutions to help those around us?

Helping with charities, for example, doesn’t mean we give up all our fun and free time or donate lots of money. One of my resolutions is to become more involved beyond the holiday season, which includes checking out how I can be a part of a larger initiative or organization. While some charities may not appear to directly link to feminism, many social justice interests assist in issues important to women!

Huff Post Women recently reported on Charity Navigator’s rating of the 11 Best Charities of 2014, which can help point us in the right direction for social causes of interest, including the Equal Justice Initiative and branches of Habit for Humanity and food banks.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/17/best-charities-2014_n_6329792.html?ir=Women&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046

After learning about different charities, check out what local branches may be near you and how you can get involved at your own pace and interest! There are even some organizations associated with campus clubs to make it easier to be involved and socialize with peers.

And of course, when contemplating other life-changing resolutions, check out ideas like the following: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-renee/5-life-changing-new-years-resolutions_b_6385646.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046

But before we can truly recharge and begin our new year, it is important to reflect on what happened in 2014. While many frustrating setbacks occurred and it often appears that people’s needs extend beyond our capability to help, let’s check out some positive moments in feminism from last year.

Along with the awesomeness that is Malala Yousafzai and her Nobel Peace Prize and Emma Watson and her He for She campaign, other strong young feminists have worked tirelessly in 2014 and will continue to rock the world in 2015: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2014/dec/18/year-of-brave-youg-inspirational-feminist-role-models

Besides the prolific feminists (based in the UK) that are mentioned in The Guardian, many feminists have also rocked our world in America and beyond.

Along with these specific feminists, Elizabeth Plank reports on the some of the greatest moments in feminism from last year: http://mic.com/articles/105102/the-39-most-iconic-feminist-moments-of-2014

Reminding us of various feminist responses from pop culture icons as well as political and social media activism, it certainly gives me hope for the impact we can make for 2015!

Along with feminist progress in these arenas, Ms. Magazine reports on expanded gender depictions within advertising:

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2014/12/22/the-10-most-feminist-10-ads-of-2014/

While advertising is clearly aimed at the buying of products, the fact that these companies are beginning to take notice of expanding notions of what it means to be a “girl” or “woman” can hopefully continue into 2015. With their success, not only can that lead to depictions beyond stereotypes and gender binaries, but it will also hopefully lead to more female workers in the making and producing of such work.

While this is certainly an optimistic review of 2014, the hope and confidence these stories provide can energize us to continue our work in 2015. May our resolutions of feminist activism make this year better than ever!

Are Women ‘Ready for Hillary’?

With the 2014 election just passing and the presidential election approaching it is important for women of all ages to take their rights into account when making a decision on the future president of our country.

With Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016 and her potentially being the first woman president, it is also important to know where she stands on hot button issues. Hillary has been focused on her stance in regards to women rights, and plans to make them a priority if she is elected into office, which is a major change from the basis of her last campaign. In regards to women here are some of Hillary’s points that she has made in regards to Women’s Rights:

  • She believes in addressing women in the work place and “the glass ceiling” that effects them
  • She believes in addressing better educational opportunities for women so that they can have the building blocks for successful careers
  • She believes that men and women need to actively work together towards equality and change
  • She believes that issues of paid leave and childcare need to be addressed
  • She believes that in this day and age men shouldn’t still be getting paid more money for doing the same work that women are doing.
  • She has worked towards keeping birth control and other options for women available to them
  • She has worked on campaigns to prevent teen pregnancy, and wishes to continue to raise education levels and reduce teen pregnancy rates
  • She spoke out against the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing some companies to deny women insurance coverage for birth control

Based on some of these key points, do you think that the U.S. is ‘Read for Hillary’? If you are interested in getting involved go to: https://www.readyforhillary.com/home and learn more about her campaign and how you can get involved. Be active in your decision for president, and make the most informed decision you can as a women in 2016.

– Submission by Taylor and Liz, MSWC Volunteer Bloggers –


Information acquired from:

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/219058-hillary-clinton-puts-womens-rights-at-center-of-her-agenda

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/03/07/hillary-clinton-says-equality-for-women-is-the-great-unfinished-business-of-the-21st-century/

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!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 695 other followers

%d bloggers like this: