What Is Trickle Down Government? Republican Intolerance

Tags

, , , , ,

More than at any other time in my life, in the past year I have asked myself the question: What is big government? And more recently, I have asked: What is trickle down government?

Is it about money?

Is it about taxes? Libraries? Police? Healthcare? Hegemony? Capitalism?

Does it govern my rights? Does it make society better or worse?

The big joke among “Liberals” is that Republicans say they’re not into Big Government or “trickle down government,” but then they try to restrict everyone’s rights. Unfortunately, it’s not a joke.

Over the past two years, one law at a time, Republicans have pushed to change who America is. Anti- women. Anti-gay. Anti-immigrant. Anti-everyone who is not Republican and preferably white and at least middle class, which to them is making up to $250,000 a year.

So wanting to have a country where everyone can eat, where there are libraries, where the police keep the peace, where there is healthcare and education for all, is great- BUT not if it means “big government?”

The Republican agenda has been to pass laws that are against everyone, that promote hate against group after group, and that define who and what is appropriate by radical extreme right wing values. This is causing our nation to be more and more intolerant of difference. That comes out in violence.

We need to be working toward being more tolerant of people, more celebratory of our differences. We need an agenda that works toward this celebration rather than for hate. “Trickle down government” should be something that  makes sense. It should insure the freedom of Americans while keeping us safe and it should keep our society growing together. It should be laws in place to assure us of those things.

Unfortunately, right now, that’s not how the term is being used. It’s a propaganda term, of course, that Republicans seem to be trying to get to be a negative catch phrase. I think they don’t want to say Big government because so many of the laws they have passed over the last few years have been HUGE government- Big Brother in my uterus etc.

Bottom line is the Republican party has put forth and acted on an agenda of hate and fear. Big government is a lie. We are a big nation, mostly governed by fifty individual states. Are we a bunch of United states? Not often.

The Republican party is against government helping people, but they are FOR government making decisions about women’s bodies. They are against same sex couples marrying legally. They are against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) covering Native American and lesbian and transgendered women for injury against them in cases of violent crimes. They are against the children of immigrants getting education when they have grown up here and have no other opportunities or country to go to. They have stepped in and changed laws against unions that affect workers.

If this isn’t BIG government, then I don’t know what is.

And it’s not just BIG, it’s “trickle down” because it affects me and the society I live in. It takes away women’s right to be autonomous and make our own decisions for ourselves. It increases violence against women and in pushing GLBT Americans to be seen as bad by not recognizing them or giving them full rights, encourages hate crimes. This trickle down Republican government sees immigrants as criminals and their children as moochers.

I’ve watched the debates. I don’t know Mitt Romney personally and in some ways, I can see how he might not be a bad guy, but the party he is running for has been progressively over the past two years, taking away rights from women, GLBT Americans, and poor people.

This Big Government the Republicans are pushing promotes hate against more than half of our nation and against much of the world.  I worry this is putting us ALL in danger and I am terrified my rights will be slowly taken away. Please consider that Obama may not be perfect and he actually has not had a good record with immigration issues other than the Dream Act, but overall, the Republican option could leave us all with a more unjust world and greater hatred of each other.

Advertisements

Malala Yousafzai: The 14 year old the Taliban fears

Tags

, , , ,

If you haven’t heard of Malala yet, please listen up because she’s a fourteen year old hero. She is a Pakistani young woman who was intentionally shot and critically wounded last week by the Taliban as she headed home from school in the north-west Swat Valley. She was airlifted to Britain for medical treatment where they removed a bullet from her skull and where she is still recovering.

Malala wrote a blog about girls education being banned by the Taliban and sticking up for the rights of girls and women to have education. The Taliban has threatened to target her again until she is killed. They are doing everything they can to make her look like she was a bad seed and against Pakistan and the Muslim faith. Women in Pakistan and worldwide stand behind Malala, but they are being shut down. Malala and those who support her stand for truth and the rights of women.

Does female education matter? Yes!

When women are educated they are more able to ask questions and to make decisions about their health and fertility. They are more likely to stand up against violence being perpetrated against them and more able to assert their legal rights.

Where so many young women and men take education for granted, they drop out of school or don’t want to go or don’t take it seriously, it’s hard to imagine a world where the right is taken away. But it’s real.

This is about girls and women being able to live full lives.

Malala stands up for a world of people who are scared by the big bullies who believe women should not have rights. Malala will be safer and stronger, we all will, when anyone who wants women and girls to be second class citizens is stopped.

The situation is extreme in Pakistan but it is going in a similar direction in the rest of the world as well. Women must have equal rights to men, over their bodies, healthcare, equal pay, right to education, and right to their lives.

Stand with Malala. The more who are for her, the sooner women will be given equal rights to education, opportunities, and life.

Suzy Gonzalez: Feminist Artist- The Interview

Tags

, , , , , ,

Suzy Gonzalez, 2012, with one of her paintings “minor-ity”

I met Suzy Gonzalez at the 2012 International Women’s Day celebration in San Antonio, TX this past March 8th. One of her paintings was the image used for the year’s t-shirts, which seemed to be a boost of empowerment and strength for everyone! I got to go to Suzy’s thesis art exhibition at Texas State in San Marcos. That was the point I realized I wanted to interview her about her work. Since then I have gotten to see even more of what she does for feminism and art in the communities she moves in and out of and it’s pretty fabulous. So, check out her website for more of her art and information and enjoy my interview with Suzy Gonzalez:

Liza Wolff-Francis: Can you first speak to who you are and about what kinds of feminist activism you do, which is really grass roots activism, so I want to hear about how that’s all unfolding.

Suzy Gonzalez: Well, I was born in Austin, but I grew up in Houston and then went to Texas State in San Marcos and just moved to San Antonio, so I feel like I’m totally representing Texas. I’m okay with just being from all over Texas, like when people ask where are you from? I’ll answer: Texas (laughs).

Me and a friend of mine, Elle, we met each other in college. We were both really into feminist issues and we both took a women’s studies class together and in October of last year, we decided to start a feminist zine (Yes Ma’am)

We had seen zines around and felt like we could do it. Elle is a biology major and I was an art major, so we come from different places with school but we still have a lot of things we can relate about. We bring different things to the table as far as the zine. We knew some people at the 21st Street Co-op in Austin who did Austin Free Skool. Also someone I went to highschool with has been with that co-op for years. So we decided to do a DIY feminism class. We wanted it to be discussion because I think that’s how these topics need to be, there’s no right or wrong a lot of the times, there’s no answers really, so we need to get some discussion started, you know.

We’ve had a few classes and it’s been going really well and we’ve had a lot of fun. I think teaching is a really great way to learn things as well and I think we’re learning a lot because we have to do a lot of research. We’ve also been doing a book club for a little over a year. Elle started a blog, it’s feministbookclub.org. She would write about different things she read and I would write about different female musicians, that was my contribution.

I first I wanted to go to school to be a journalist to write about music and stuff, but it wasn’t subjective enough. It was this bland kind of writing that you learn how to do in journalism and so with Yes Ma’am, there are no rules and we can say whatever you want and it’s meant to be opinionated. We want everyone to be able to have that freedom, so we take contributions from people. And artwork too, definitely.

Liza: And you just graduated from college, in art?

Suzy: Yeah, studio art and my emphasis was painting. I took seven painting classes. I took a lot and I feel good about it. I’m going to apply to different places for next fall to get a Masters. I’m kind of hoping New York, that’d be cool. I’m in San Antonio for a year and we’ll see what happens after that. I really don’t know yet. I graduated in May.

Liza: That’s so exciting. And that leads to my next question. I’ve seen your art, so I have ideas about how feminism influences you, but want to know: how do you think feminism influences your art?

Suzy: I think with artwork, you can’t just be interested in art. It’s good to have something else. It’s not just technical. It’s not like: I can be a good painter, it really is like: what are you painting and the concept that goes into it that makes you who you are as an artist. It’s not just, “I’m good at blending or I’m a good drawer. You have to have something that is your own. Some artists are into philosophy or different animal rights or border laws. You need to have something else you’re interested in. It helps when you think about: what are other possible things I could have majored in? What else am I interested in? And paint about that because that’s what you like. So, if I’m interested in Women’s Studies, it feels natural that I’m going to paint about that.

Liza: How did you get interested in Women’s Studies and feminism? How did you find it?

Suzy: Yeah, that’s hard. I guess the last few years. The first paintings I had done, that related to it, I’ve only done three, but I want to go back to that series. It’s taking different feminist rallies and protests over time, like going back to the 20’s, and all these different eras, like the waves (of feminism) and finding images of women doing things, like holding signs, and marching for things like ‘Right to Vote’ or ‘We should be able to have abortions’ and replacing the women with men, so these men are holding these signs and it’s just like a weird juxtaposition and I think it makes you think about how men never had to do this stuff or fight for these things the way that women had to. You’d never see a man holding a sign wanting to vote, or at least like a white man. I think we also have to think about intersectionalities.

Those were the first ones I was doing and I strayed to more anatomical stuff and after that I was like, how can I combine these? And then I was really interested in anatomy. Sometimes, I think: How can I put all these things I’m interested in and put them all in one painting? That was advice I had from a painting teacher one time. And it was like, I can’t put that many things in there, but maybe like a couple. I found ways to sort of combine my interests.

I don’t know how it sprouted, but my friend Elle was starting to blog and we would have different conversations, like after school and it grew. We became interested together. It’s easier when you have someone to discuss with. A lot of time you feel like people don’t know much about it and you’re like the teacher role, but when you’re in it at the same level as someone else, like learning together, teaching together, it helps.  The friendship was really helpful in coming to see, ‘Oh yeah, I guess we’re feminists.’ It’s something you felt your whole life, but you never identified as that, but there was a point that I was like, ‘Yeah! Let’s do this!’ Like, excited about it. Like, let’s do something about this. It’s like you find something to fight for.

Liza: Do you have anything to say as far as your art- how has feminism come out in your paintings? Like, do you want to maybe mention a couple themes.

Suzy: I guess I could talk about my thesis work. I titled it “Objects of Desire” and I was looking at the way it has become popular to refer to human beings, it seems like mostly women, using language of animalization and objectification, words like “hooters” or heaadlights for breasts, for example.

And how it comes off as humorous, so it’s like okay, but I think it’s hard for people to look beyond that humor and see the seriousness behind it- that these words make it a lot easier for you to look at people as objects when they’re slang terms of body parts of people. It’s sad that they’ve been used so much it’s like acceptable and it’s not. You know PC terms, how those come to be. These are offensive terms, but no one’s looking at them in that way. They shouldn’t be correct. They shouldn’t be okay. The hard part is getting people to see that. You aren’t being respectful to people, you know, but they don’t see it like that necessarily. Just because it doesn’t offend someone, doesn’t mean it’s okay to see women as objects. In a way, that’s what’s happening.

Also how language was generally created by men, so there are so many terms where you see men as the default, like mankind. That always comes first. There was this one article we read for book club- about the language of the egg and the sperm and how in most text books since whenever the sperm is always this dominant charging for the egg and the egg is submissive and is waiting there for the sperm, like damsel in distress kind of thing, when in actuality, the egg is covered in this mucus that the sperm can’t escape once it sticks to it. It’s like this mutual thing. That’s the way it should be, when it’s really been turned into this feminine- masculine language just to describe biology. Reading those text books and learning about that, I think whether people realize it or not, it gets into their heads about how they should see men and women and the sexes over all. I think the way language has evolved, I think we need to do something about it.

Liza: Agreed. Ok, so this is my last question: How do you hope your art influences people? How do you hope they receive it? Or do you hope they receive it in a certain way?

Suzy: I think whether or not their reaction is good or bad, I think as long as there is some kind of reaction, that’s a good thing. I try to think positively. The thing with the object language- with that series is that I’m trying to use humor to reel people in. I can’t control their brains, but it would be nice if they could think about it a little more and see that underlying seriousness.

I think a lot of people can look at a funny painting and say “Ha ha,” I get it and then move on. So the hard part for any artist is, how can I keep them there a little longer? I think the average time that someone looks at a painting in a museum is supposed to be like 7 seconds, so it’s like…

Sit there, read the statement. I guess it depends on how into the artwork they are. I definitely don’t want to just paint a pretty picture. I want someone to walk away thinking something they hadn’t thought about before and in a way try and change their mind about things. I know it’s a hard thing to do, but images are really powerful. Television captures people every day. I think we’re getting farther away from text, so imagery can be really strong.

Liza: I definitely think art can be world changing. And it has been. It’s always that “Life imitates art, art imitates life.” What comes first? I think your art definitely pushes people to be thinking about the content. So, here we are headed toward the end, what else would you like to say about what you’re doing or thinking.

Suzy: Something else that I want to be doing is: The nude in art has been used since art began, (laughs), at least the Renaissance times, finding the perfect body type, sculpting it, painting it, learning what the figure looks like. Oftentimes it’s a nude figure and it’s a female figure, and she’s in a suggestive kind of pose. That still is happening and I’m not seeing how people aren’t bored with it. Something I really want to do is critique it and do something new with it. I think it’s hard to talk about without painting the nude, but I want to talk about that without painting figures anymore. I like figure painting a lot, but I’m willing to get rid of it if I can critique it. That’s what I was trying to do. I’ve been working with a lot of collaging objects. Objects that pertain to gender roles or objects that we’re supposed to be associated with as women, as men, or as children and sort of combining those into a silhouette, like some other kind of way to use the figure, instead of sexualizing it. I’m definitely interested in critiquing art history.

Liza: Wow! Those are amazing ways of seeing it. Thank you for that and for the interview!

Suzy: Thank you.

International Day of the GIRL

Tags

, , , , , ,

Today is International Day of the Girl! It’s the first one of them and there are thoughts out there, you might even be thinking them, like: We have an “International Day” for everything. Boss day. Dog day. Ice cream Day. Where does it end?

And shouldn’t we remember, protect, educate, support, and empower girls every day?
My vote would be YES- but we don’t.

School Girls Unite, an organization of students and young women leaders determined to advance the UN Millennium Development Goals related to gender equality and universal basic education, and other human rights issues, campaigned in the U.S. for this day.

“The Day of the Girl is about highlighting, celebrating, discussing, and advancing girls lives and opportunities across the globe and about challenging and changing gender stereotypes, discrimination, and opportunity.” October 11 has been officially claimed as the International Day of the Girl and they say it’s not just a day but a movement. 

This First day of the Girl, there is a focus on Girls education, the eradication of child marriages and looking at the ways inequality hurts girls worldwide. There is a fight to keep girls uneducated and subservient and this is part of the battle against that. It affects girls in every realm. On average, girls who are educated get married later, have fewer children, and are at less risk of getting HIV.

Just recently the Taliban shot and took responsibility for the shooting of a 14-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, who attends school and wrote online about the value of educating girls. They sought her out and gunned her down, not just to shut her up, but to silence others who see what happens when you speak out. Horrifying!

Girls who can are fighting back. Day of the Girl is to support them, to remember them, to raise awareness about the value of girls education and rights.

International Day of the Girl is to counter gender based violence and discrimination. We must do this every day, but we also need a reminder in our societies to do it. This can be that reminder, one driving force, one glimmer of support and hope.

Girls and Women moving forward. The world pushes forward with them. Happy International Day of the Girl!

To Save Children, We Must Remember Women

Tags

, , , , ,

For Mother’s Day, the organization, Save the Children, published its 13th annual State of the World’s Mothers report. I heard about the report, read a couple of articles on it at the time, but then picked up a copy at BlogHer in August, thought it was fascinating all over again, and then promptly forgot about it until I found it again last night.

“The focus is on the 171 million children globally who do not have the opportunity to reach their full potential due to the physical and mental effects of poor nutrition in the earliest months of life.”

171 million? That is SOOOOOO many children. And SOOOOO devastatingly sad!

Right now there is a big push by radical right wing politicians in the U.S. to take away a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. But there are 171 million children who, because of extreme poverty, are not getting their needs met.

Who is fighting so adamantly to have those 171 million children taken care of?

Who is standing up and saying that no one in this world, no adult, no child, no one should go hungry? Few really do.

There must be a responsibility within us all to care for the people who are here.

The 2011 report said this: “Conditions for mothers and their children in the bottom countries are grim. On average, 1 woman in 30 will die from pregnancy-related causes. one child in 6 dies before his or her fifth birthday, and 1 child in 3 suffers from malnutrition. Nearly 50 percent of the population lacks access to safe water and only 4 girls for every 5 boys are enrolled in primary school.” Not much has changed in a year. The 2012 report shows what continues to be shown- that things must change. This is not “survival of the fittest,” it is a social problem that can be changed. Maybe not overnight, but more quickly.

When comparing Norway and Afganistan, the gap in availability of maternal and child health services is large.

In the introduction of Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mother’s Report, they write:

“Every year, our State of the World’s Mothers report reminds us of the inextricable link between the well-being of mothers and their children. More than 90 years of experience on the ground have shown us that when mothers have health care, education and economic opportunity, both they and their children have the best chance to survive and thrive.”

Right now, poor women in America are faring better than in nations considered to be developing nations, but still, women in America are at risk and we see in other countries the dangers women face from lack of resources, rights, education, and healthcare.

The United States ranked 25th this year for Best Places to be a mother and 31st in 2011– and “in the industrialized world, the United States has the least favorable environment for mothers who want to breastfeed.” For Best Places to be a Mother, Norway was 1st, the U.K. was 10th. Afganistan was 164th and last was Niger at 165th. The places ranking highest performed well on all indicators for mother’s and children’s health.

There is most definitely a link between a mother’s health and children’s health.

First, as a society here in the U.S. and as a global society, we must take care of women. This is not just women who may or will have children. It is all women. If we do not take care of women, I don’t believe we value children or anyone other than ourselves. It must be important to us to care for all people.

Second, taking care of our people makes us stronger, happier, and less likely to need to spend money on healthcare because we are sick. What if we start from a place of strength, a wellness plan, a push for health rather than a groan when we have to pay for the illnesses of our people? If we were to emphasize health and really work to care for everyone, healthcare would cost less, but healthcare is a business that profits right now when people are sick. Should it be like that?

The report says: “Children benefit when mothers live longer, healthier lives.” Yes they do. Of course they do. But we all do. We all benefit because who will physically care for children when their mothers die? Who will emotionally care for children when their mothers die?

The number of children a woman has, the spacing of the births as well as the conditions under which she gives birth and her own nutritional and health status affect her life expectancy as well as maternal mortality.

Birth control allows for women’s freedom in many areas, but also in the area of health. It allows women to decide whether they want children or not and to space out their children in a way that will most benefit her, her health, her partner, the family, the child.

A woman is in charge of her life and health and knows when she cannot have a child, if she gets pregnant, this may result in her deciding whether or not to have an abortion. It is an option and always will be, even if it were to be overturned. To prevent more maternal deaths and work to take care of the people here on this planet, we must keep it a safe option that women can access. It must be an option for women’s health. For women, for mothers, for children, and for babies.

Women’s health must be a priority and wasn’t even addressed in the presidential debates. Worldwide and in the United States, women’s health must be a priority. There are people, my aunt included, who believe the U.S. has a wonderful healthcare system. Others see the flaws and understand how poorly the system works for women and families overall.

We’re up to 25th in the world from 31st last year in 2011, but we still have a long way to go. Let’s not be stopped by politics from taking care of women and of our entire population, let’s demand it be better.

 

 

 

 

Up For Debate? What About the Women?

Tags

, , , , ,

After watching the debates last night, I have to say, now I’m nervous. Romney has been saying such absurd things, like not caring about 47% of the nation, that I haven’t been as concerned as I was when watching the debates. I honestly didn’t think he had a chance. Sadly, now I’m not sure. And still issues directly affecting women’s rights were MIA.

To put it front and center, Jim Lehrer as moderator was a complete failure. He was unable to keep time, keep the debaters on point, or to keep Romney from answering whatever when he wanted to. A tweet I loved was: Most boring drinking game ever- drink when Lehrer speaks.

That said, Mitt Romney bulldozed the questions and Obama took his time answering, which made Romney look stronger, even though some of what he was saying was untrue. I actually wasn’t particularly impressed with either one of them this round. But I think undecided voters will probably think Romney did better because of his “take charge” attitude.

They talked about the economy and taxes- kind of. And about healthcare- kind of. Romney said his plan covers pre-existing conditions, when it has been stated pretty clearly that it will not.

But what about issues directly affecting women’s rights?

If women are such a big part of the vote this year, when do they talk about the Violence Against Women Act? When do they address a woman’s right to choose whether or not she has an abortion? When do they talk about birth control? When do they address equal pay for equal work? When do they address breast feeding, maternity leave, and the right to say the word vagina on the state senate floor when it’s having legislation passed about it? When do they address the fact that the more women are objectified, the more violence goes up against them?

Seems like we’ve seen where each party stands in the past few months, but I’d like to hear it from the mouths of the candidates how things are going to go down. There’s a lot to cover in just a little time. Will they address the women or will all that stuff just play out when whoever wins is in office?

Debate it out- What about the women?

There’s a lot to cover

Pabst Blue Ribbon Uses Rosie To Sell Out Women!

Tags

, , , , , ,

Pabst Blue Ribbon Art billboard on 1-35 in Austin, Texas

Rosie the Riveter drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. There are so many things wrong with this I just have to post about it. I don’t often drive up and down I-35 here in Austin because it’s a congested highway and there are alternate routes I prefer, but the past weekend the Austin International Poetry Festival has been going on and I have driven by this billboard numerous times to access events about town.

Every time I see it, it annoys me. Why?

It takes Rosie the Riveter, who was originally used as government propaganda to “get the girls into the war effort” until the troops came home back in WWII and uses her for selling beer. It takes Rosie who has been used more recently as a feminist icon and reduces the issue of women’s equality to beer drinking.

Women of color and working class women had always worked, but even there, the division of labor and difference in pay between men and women was noticeable. Rosie was a fictional character, created to promote the idea that women would be loyal, patriotic workers who could do men’s work until those men came home from the war.

Many of the women who took those jobs were already in the workforce, but moved to these higher paying factory jobs. Patriotism encouraged women, but ultimately the pay and experience were the ultimate influences. This movement into the labor force was something that never went back to how it had been. Sure, when the war was over, many women went back to being homemakers and society pushed that. Many others were moved back into their lower paying jobs, but still the world was different because of women having been in those jobs. Essentially Rosie pushed women into the workforce in a different way, one that proved women’s ability and worth, paving the way for equal pay and labor duties.

Rosie has been used by feminists over the years as a symbol for equality. Her image represents the hope and possibility for equal pay in the workplace, something that still is not happening in our world today. It represents the need for a woman’s right to work in the same jobs as men if they wish to do so. Women still are not able to do certain jobs in the military and in other realms societally deemed fit only for men, regardless of ability.

Rosie represents women having equal rights, women being equally represented in government, and women being able to participate fully in society in equal standing with men. This equality inevitably leads to the eradication of gender based violence.

So to have Rosie the Riveter on a Pabst Blue Ribbon billboard is insulting to an entire movement- it works perfectly reducing the fight for women’s equality to the right to drink beer. And bad beer, but that’s beside the point.

This is not art, it is misogyny. I’m sure Austin isn’t the only place this billboard is up and it’s not the only offensive billboard I’ve ever seen, it’s just one I have to pass in the middle of my city. Stop trying to reframe the issue of women’s equality as trivial. Take it down Pabst!

A Newer Women’s Resource Center- Check Out UC Denver

Tags

, , , , , , ,

The Women’s Resource Center at the University of Colorado at Denver is about a year old, but going strong. Women’s resource centers are foundations of support and empowerment to students of all genders around the country! At a time when women’s rights are in jeopardy and women are at greater risk of violence because of it, women’s resource centers like the one in Denver are beacons for all of us living under patriarchy.

This is a written interview with Carisa Weaver, Coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center at University of Colorado at Denver. Communicating by email, I sent her a list of questions and she answered them and sent them back. Her answers offer a glimpse into the support centers like UC Denver’s can offer as well as how feminism can be a motivating source of empowerment. Enjoy the read, check out their blog, and visit them or a women’s resource center near you!

*Tell me a little about the Women’s Resource Center at UC Denver.
The Women’s Resource Center has been around for a little under a year and is founded on three pillars of action. Educating faculty and staff, providing programming for the entire community, and one on one intervention. We practice a model of radical inclusion and student leadership development.

*How do women who use the Resource Center see other students’ perceptions of the Center?
I think our center is too new to have a group perception that is applied to the people who use it.  I know the perception of our actual center is that we connect people to resources when they are having trouble meeting their financial demands, and people have fairly large rates of success with that.

*How do you think the presence of the Women’s Resource Center helps the school and the larger Denver community?
I think the WRC’s presence is great for the UCD campus because it provides a safe place for students—of any gender, ethnicity, orientation, whatever—to get help for any kind of problem. We provide resources for a variety of issues, from healthcare to housing to discrimination and more, but maybe more importantly we provide a place for students to come when they need support. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to; sometimes you need more. Either way, we’re here.

*Do you believe there are women who use or might go to the Women’s Resource Center but would not call themselves feminists?
Sure. Lots of women believe in gender equality but still neglect to call themselves feminists because of its widespread negative connotation. I don’t think someone has to identify as a feminist to use our resources—of course not! However, I would like to hope that spending time in the WRC would lead them to reevaluate their opinion of the word “feminist.”

*What are some ways feminism has helped you?
How has feminism NOT helped me? Feminism is such a part of who I am that I can hardly begin to answer this question. Feminism has led me to my best friends, my favorite music and my intended career path. If I didn’t believe in the struggle for women’s rights—and human rights in general—I don’t know who I would be or what I would care about.

*Does examining the system we live under as a patriarchal system help you? How? In what ways?
Thinking about the patriarchal system reminds me on a daily basis to blame the system, not the perpetrator. Calling out individuals isn’t the most effective way of instigating social change—we need to understand the greater system in which this behavior is taught, condoned and encouraged. By analyzing the patriarchal system as the big picture, I am reminded that patriarchy is SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED. That gives me hope because we can inspire social change!

*Do you believe the more women’s rights are taken away, the more violence against women there will be?
I think there are very strong correlations between societies in which women’s rights are limited and rates of violence against women. Anthropological research has found that societies in which gender roles are most fluid have the lowest rates of violence. Michael Kimmel’s book The Gendered Societyis a really great read that touches on this subject—I highly recommend it.

*In this political climate, what do you think your role is as a woman?
I’ve been following access to birth control issues in the news quite closely lately. It’s scary that women are, once again, having to fight for their right to affordable contraceptives. So it’s important for women to stand together on issues like these—so called “women’s issues”—that are being ignored or overlooked by male-centric political system. Letting your representatives know that you support pro-women policies is something that all women should be doing; we can’t expect to have our interests represented in politics if we don’t first make them known!

*How can women support women?
Women can support other women in infinite ways. Most importantly, I would say: don’t hate on other women! Society really sets us up to be our own worst enemies, but we have the power to stop it. Jealous of the new girl in town because she’s super cute? Don’t be! Tell her you like her look and befriend her. Keeping women from standing together is one of the most powerful tools patriarchy has for keeping the status quo. Don’t fall for it! (On this topic, I would invite readers to look into the issue of slut-shaming—particularly this awesome video made by a 13-year old girl who knows what’s up: http://youtu.be/SXH2K7OC37s)

Thank you Carisa and everyone at the University of Colorado at Denver’s Women’s Resource Center! You all are where it’s at! Keep going strong and happy anniversary coming up on October 15th!

How Politics Are Changing The Face of Women’s Rights

Tags

, , , , , ,

Unite Against the War On Women 2012

Everything is political. Then, it’s my right to be myself, my right to my body, my right to be a fully participating member of society. Somehow, none of that seems like it should be political. And yet, I can think of only a very short time in my life when I thought it wasn’t.

That was before I realized a woman hadn’t ever been president of the United States. When I realized that, I was actually pretty devastated. I felt like the world around me was a lie. Consciously or not, that was when I realized everything was political. It all unfolds from there.

Politics are making women’s bodies the property of the government, the conversation of the people, and at the disposal of this soap opera state of elections and the drama of the extreme right wing and all the people fighting against their restrictive controlling laws.

The fact that the people of our nation never voted a woman into office was as upsetting as the fact that no woman had been president. This does not only say that the people of our nation don’t believe a woman can handle the presidency, it says the people don’t believe the world is ready to deal with a woman in a position of such power. And in fact, the way women continue to be treated, the world probably isn’t ready for it. But if there is ever hope for true equality, it will be a real possibility and a step toward that equality.

And so, here we are and the political continues to change my rights as a person. When women fought for the right to vote and won, that was political. It was politics.

We are living in a time right now when people are so determined for women to be controlled they are making a great case for the rights of fetuses. More than for women’s rights. More than for women’s health. More than for a woman’s right to be an autonomous human being.

I don’t understand how politics has been so twisted to make people believe that the rights of a fetus, that may or may not even make it to full term as a human baby, are more important than a woman’s right to live. It is more important to many people at this point in time that a partially formed fetus have the right to see if it can make it to babydom than a woman has to stay alive when that fetus might kill her.

This horrifies me. As a woman and as a person, it’s absolutely despicable!

People have been throwing around the term “religious freedom,” saying they have the “religious freedom” to put fetuses rights above a woman’s right to her body, around rape, healthcare, and the ending of a pregnancy.

I actually don’t believe this has been such an agenda of churches and religions until recently. Some people have been anti-choice, but more and more people are now because the conversation has shifted. I believe, it’s a political move to push women out of power. Under the guise of “religious freedom” women’s right to their bodies can be stripped away.

It’s a catch-22 and it’s a cycle. It’s decided for women that women can’t make their own choices, leaving women less legally able to make those choices so then everyone says, “See, women can’t make their own choices.”

In the news, I regularly see women being killed, beaten, raped. These are ways to control women. Extreme ways, but ways that have been used forever. Now that those ways are already in place, people who want women to be controlled, can just say we are sluts or hysterical, or that rape can’t get women pregnant, and we quiet down for fear of further “punishment,” humiliation or public shaming.

Even if women aren’t backing down, the conversation of the time is altering the way women are being seen. The politics of the day are shaping the role of women and women’s rights.

Suddenly people are talking about women’s bodies even more in a way that allows women to be objectified and owned. We’ve already been treated that way by the media, but politics are making women’s bodies the property of the government and supposed “religious freedom” is making it a moral, ethical, and spiritual right to control women and our bodies.

If as women, we do not continue to fight for what is ours and for what we deserve as equal citizens of this country, we will be again, little more than property for political fodder.

America’s Gateway To Controlling Women

Tags

, , , , , , ,

It might be a distraction, or maybe a way to trivialize women’s issues, or perhaps even a way to emphasize the importance of women’s beauty, but we talk about women’s bodies, what women wear, what women don’t, women’s weight, and a number of issues  around women’s appearance and that changes whether women are able to be themselves.

My question is this: Does all this talk make people feel like they have the right to have and state their opinions on women’s bodies?

Do people feel more comfortable saying women shouldn’t have the right to have an abortion because of this talk about women’s bodies?

Do people feel more readily able to say women who wear certain clothing were asking to be raped?

If we talk about what Hilary Clinton was wearing and how she looked or about Michelle Obama’s butt, do we discount what these women have done, are doing, and their strength in general?

I would say “YES.”

This fuels the idea that we all can talk about women as if women were objects to be criticized or praised for appearance.

To allow everyone to have opinions about women’s bodies is to open up the path for that to be acceptable behavior. It is the gateway to controlling women, to making decisions about women rather than allowing women to make decisions for themselves.

Grrl Code: Work to change the focus from women’s outfits to who women are, what they have done, what things they enjoys. We are more than how we look. We know that, but we keep getting the message that this is all there is and it changes the focus away from us being participating humans within our society- it changes the focus away from equality.