Election Day!

We’ve all been inundated with election talk over the past few days/months/eternity (and I think we can all agree it’s starting to feel that way), so I apologize. BUT if you can, please do exercise your right to vote!

If you’re still undecided, or require other information about the voting process, visit http://www.vote411.org for election information brought to you by the League of Women Voters. Happy voting!

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A Conversation with Alice Walker

If you’re looking for a way to productively procrastinate on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, be sure to check out Democracy Now’s news hour from this past Friday, 9/28. Host Amy Goodman speaks with Alice Walker, on the 30th anniversary of her Pulitzer Prize winning book, “The Color Purple”.

Be sure to listen to the end of the show where Walker reads her new poem, “Democratic Womanism”, a beautifully written piece that provides an alternative perspective to the upcoming presidential election.

Read well, listen well. 🙂

Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen, and Women’s Health in America

For those of you who haven’t been following women’s health news lately, the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, an organization dedicated to fighting breast cancer, recently caused huge amounts of controversy by withdrawing funding for Planned Parenthood. In the past, Komen has given money to Planned Parenthood for the purpose of providing cancer screenings to women who might not otherwise be able to access this essential service. This shocking action was met with outrage, and the Komen Foundation quickly reversed its decision. Additionally, Karen Handel (a Komen Foundation official who has been criticised for her role in the initial decision) has resigned.
The strength of the public’s reaction to Komen’s decision was inspiring- clearly, people care about preventing and treating cancer. And, to their credit, the Komen Foundation was willing to admit and correct their mistake. However, the whole incident is representative of a disturbing trend in the United States. Access to basic health care for women is now a controversial topic, rather than a universal goal. Planned Parenthood has long been a target of criticism due to their reputation as an abortion-provider (abortions, in fact, account for only roughly three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services). Recently, though, debate on personhood amendments in state legislatures and the fight over insurance coverage for birth control have drawn women’s health issues into the spotlight, and not in an especially positive way. We may have won the Susan G. Komen Foundation fight, but even so, it’s important to remember to continue speaking out for women’s basic rights to health care.

Creating an AIDS-free generation is now official US policy!

Yesterday, Secretary Clinton delivered a speech in which she outlined a vision for an AIDS-free generation. (You can also check out a video clip here). This is huge news, and I hope that the administration will make more similar announcements.

If you hope for the same, visit treatAIDSendAIDS.org and sign the petition urging President Obama to scale up HIV treatment funding. If we put more people on treatment sooner rather than later, we can end AIDS  within 30 years!

Fighting Rape Culture

I know I can fight rape culture by…

I absolutely love this.  We all can play a role in fighting rape culture and here is a great starting list to think about what we can do to be a part of the anti-violence movement.

I will help fight rape culture by calling people out when they use the term “non-consensual sex.”  There is no such thing as non-consensual sex.  Sex without consent is rape, and rape isn’t sex–it is an act of violence and a crime.  Let’s call it what it is.

What can you do to help fight rape culture?

On intersectionality and toxic body culture…AND…detrimental assumptions.

Alright kiddos, this article right here is a must read. No really. It is. Trust me.

In a guest post for Feministing, Sayantani DasGupta touches on some pretty key issues that arise for women who work to promote intersectionality while simultaneously discussing the detrimental effects of body through the broader social lens of race, class, gender, and sexuality.

The following is an excerpt that truly penetrates and has got my mind churning (it’s either this or the caffeine and I’m thinking it’s a little of both). While several of her points are spot on and important to the advancement of the discourse around gendered, racialized and commodified bodies, there was one part that really stuck out to me.  DasGupta claims:

Although I knew I was to speak with a powerhouse panel of women on globalization and medicalization, and I also knew Courtney’s commitment to diversity and a feminist intersectionality (thinking about gender oppression in the context of race, class, sexuality, etc., see here), my first thought on entering the room was “this issue isn’t relevant to me.” It was a strange, visceral reaction that wasn’t about who was present in the room, but how (I assumed) the argument was being framed.

For me, this is such an honest confession of what women like myself, who identify with several marginalized identity groups, often carry and hold onto. This assumption that we are going to be excluded, to put it bluntly, is one that I find hard to shake off.

I have been conditioned to think this way not only to validate my inherent skepticism of the level inclusion in whichever setting I find myself in, but to protect myself from utter disappointment and subsequent resentment. In essence, yes, holding onto these assumptions that people won’t understand, be inclusive, representative, or flamboyantly anti-racist, anti-homophobic, etc. is simply a defense mechanism I have developed over the years.  Frankly, I would not be at all surprised if this is the case for other marginalized individuals.

What I’m learning is that time and time again I have felt the need to prepare myself for this exclusion, subtle as it may be, and it’s really…wearing…me…down.

While I am in no way, shape, or form ready to offer any advice for how to come to terms with this, I am realizing that mindfulness is key. Yes, these assumptions are in direct opposition with the very way that I have been challenged to see the world (through the kaleidoscopic lens of intersectionality), but I want to catch myself here and just accept their existence.  I want to be aware and keep it there. I want to harness the blame and judgement that I feel building.  It’s not about who is causing “x” reaction– it’s about the fact that this reaction to activate these assumptions even occurs.  What does this say about the society that we live in? The feminist movement  today? The experiences of minorities in any given category? The experiences of individuals who work to promote intersectionality?

Clearly, I am still struggling with this issue of feeling unrecognized. But my time at Barnard has taught me to own my voice, to SPEAK because I can, and to speak and so that we can. And while issues such as these not-so-productive internalized assumptions come up, I’m learning to continue fighting a not-so-quiet battle to accept these realities (hence this pretty tangential post).

Le sigh…I have much to learn and while this has definitely added another layer to my path of self-cultivation and understanding, I am appreciative that I have been challenged and similarly, that I have been supported through this journey.*

So uh, in summary… can we get Sayantani DasGupta to speak at Barnard? No really… like right nao.

*Please note that this post might just be a “HOLY CRAP I’M GRADUATING IN 6 WEEKS” type rant. #$$&$**$%!!

The Dirty (Not-so?) Secret of the Literary World

So I loved Maddie’s post (see “Wikipedia, and ladies” below) on the lack of women contributing to Wikipedia (it’s true- The Sopranos is better than Sex and the City) but I’m not sure what kind of a spin we can put on this depressing information. Except that it’s entirely presented as pie charts, which I always enjoy…

Bottom line: apparently it’s not just Wikipedia– women aren’t writing anywhere!