Was everyone else’s week really intense, filled with emotion, frustration, exhaustion, friendship and love? I feel completely wiped out by all of it, mostly in good ways. Perhaps it is the final descent of fall weather, or the settling into the autumn calendar of school or work, or the feeling of waiting for the round-up of cold-air holidays. Regardless, I hope that your week ending and week beginning come with renewal and fortitude. Sending positive vibes your way.
Ending Rape Illiteracy – Jessica Valenti at The Nation
Hands down the best article of the week: intelligently written with calm insight but passionate drive into what the broader culture is doing wrong when talking about women’s bodies, women’s rights, and sex. YES. Read the entire article at the link above.
…”To too many people, “rape” and “rape victim” are not accurate descriptors but political shorthand—the product of an overblown, politically correct interpretation of sex. As Tennessee Senator Douglas Henry said in 2008, “Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse.”
If you’re married, you’ve contractually agreed to be available for sex whether or not you want to. If you’re a woman of color, you must be a liar. If you don’t have as much money as your attacker, you’re just looking for a payday. If you’re in college, you shouldn’t want to ruin your poor young rapist’s life. If you’re a sex worker, it wasn’t rape it was just “theft of services.” If you said yes at first but changed your mind, tough luck. If you’ve had sex before, you must say yes to everyone. If you were drinking you should have known better. If you were wearing a short skirt what did you expect?
The definition of who is a rape victim has been whittled down by racism, misogyny, classism and the pervasive wink-wink-nudge-nudge belief that all women really want to be forced anyway. The assumption is that women are, by default, desirous of sex unless they explicitly state otherwise. And women don’t just have to prove that we said no, but that we screamed it…
What feminists should do in response to bad policy and legislation has been clear cut—and successful. When the GOP tried to pass an anti-abortion measure last year that would redefine rape only as an assault that was “forcible,” feminists groups immediately took action. Thanks to national organizations, online activism and a clever Twitter campaign, the language was taken out of the bill. Feminists also won a campaign to push the FBI to change their outdated definition of rape, language dating from 1929 that said sexual assault was “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.”
But how we change the culture is a hurdle we haven’t properly tackled. Feminism’s major cultural successes around rape have occurred on a micro level—taking on individual television shows or products. And, for the most part, our cultural work has been reactionary—we’re constantly on the defensive, whether it’s trying to fight back against victim-blaming headlines or offensive rape jokes.
This is work is important, but what’s crucial is that we make a shift from targeting pieces of the culture in a reactive way to proactively changing the broader culture in a more lasting way. We need to spend less time worrying about ultraconservative misogynists and extremist politicians and focus on shifting the way we all think about sexual assault and consent. We need to think and act much, much bigger…”
I Was a Welfare Mother – Larkin Warren at The New York Times
From September, but super important to continue thinking about.
“…I was not an exception in that little Section 8 neighborhood. Among those welfare moms were future teachers, nurses, scientists, business owners, health and safety advocates. We never believed we were “victims” or felt “entitled”; if anything, we felt determined. Wouldn’t any decent person throw a rope to a drowning person? Wouldn’t any drowning person take it?
Judge-and-punish-the-poor is not a demonstration of American values. It is, simply, mean. My parents saved me and then — on the dole, in the classroom or crying deep in the night, in love with a little boy who needed everything I could give him — I learned to save myself. I do not apologize. I was not ashamed then; I am not ashamed now. I was, and will always be, profoundly grateful…”
Rethink Breast Cancer presents: Your Man Reminder
The men clearly enjoying themselves (including the dancing at the end) in this video are the best part. It would have been great if they also used the video to encourage all with breast tissue and muscle, including penis-owners, to do a little TLC as well.
Ohio Students Warn Against Being a Racist Fool this Halloween – Jorge Rivas at Colorlines
“Controversy surrounding racially offensive Halloween costumes and theme parties have become a routine part of the holiday on college campuses. But a group of college students in Ohio has taken it upon themselves to school their schoolmates on racist Halloween costumes.
Ohio University’s student group “Students Teaching About Racism in Society” (STARS) new “Were a culture, not a costume” Halloween campaign has a simple message: “You wear the costume for one night. I wear the stigma for life.”
The ads are distributed throughout the Ohio University campus before Halloween and serve as a public service announcement for students in an effort to keep them from imitating another culture or worse, dress up in blackface.
STARS took on this poster campaign in response to the offensive Halloween costumes we see every year on campus and nationwide,” Laura Hyde, a spokesperson for STARS told Colorlines.com. “STARS strives to promote awareness, dialogue and understanding about racism as well as all other forms of oppression and how they manifest themselves in our society today. We believe these posters are one way in which to promote these types of dialogues.”
We hope that these posters are able to give voice to the many who find these posters offensive as well as encourage others to think twice about the nature of the costumes they choose to wear.
Former STARS president Sarah Williams explained to Colorlines.com last year that the idea for the campaign came after she snapped a picture of a fellow student in blackface at a 2010 Halloween party. This is STARS’ second annual ‘We’re a culture, not a costume’ campaign.”