There’s nothing wrong with you, Period.

Although I don’t think adolescence is easy for anyone, I definitely felt like an especially awkward child. Being one of the first girls in my class to get my period did not help. I was 10 years old, it was the 90s and spandex was all the rage. And I can personally tell you that maxi-pads and spandex pants do not go well together. From the very beginning my period felt like a burden. Even in my feminist household where my mother tried to educate me about my body from a young age, I always saw my period as one more thing to feel insecure about. And who’s to blame me when we look at the ways that our society portrays menstruation?

Is it really so bad if the person in the stall next to you hears you open a tampon wrapper?

Is it really so bad if the person in the stall next to you hears you open a tampon wrapper?

Let’s look at this tampon box. What key words do you see? Discreet? Quiet? What this box says to me is that it is imperative that nobody knows that I’m on my period. A quick logical jump would be that I shouldn’t talk about my period. Usually if we’re not supposed to talk about things it’s because they are bad or shameful. Why would we want to shame women for a natural bodily function? Especially one for which we have to thank the whole human race.

This ad comes from adbusting.tumblr.com. The words “Our peritampon ad 2ods are natural, not dirty” were written on the ad. The ad says, “Feel the clean without the shower” and is selling wipes for menstruating women. Why do menstruating women need wipes? How many of us have been told that our periods are not clean? You know what’s not clean? Your mouth. Your mouth is teeming with germs. Menstrual blood on the other hand is quite clean. For centuries society has told women that menstruation makes you “unclean” or “impure” in some way. However, this isn’t based on science, simply a long, long history of shaming women’s bodies.

I like to hope that our next generation of vagina-owning folks could learn to feel comfortable about their periods. You don’t have to love it, but you certainly shouldn’t feel that you need to hide it.

Look how amazing I am! Hell no I don't menstruate! That's for losers!

Look how amazing I am! Hell no I don’t menstruate! That’s for losers!

Whew! I haven’t even gotten to the part where I was going to rant about how wasteful tampons and pads are! There’s so many other alternative menstrual products out there that people just aren’t aware of. Check out some resources here and here to learn about the various products that are on the market.

Want to learn more? You’re in luck! This Wednesday (10/1) is our Red Party: A Menstruation Celebration! We will have crafts (2-4pm), a screening of “Red Moon: Menstruation, Culture, and the Politics of Gender” (4pm) and a raffle for alternative menstrual products as well as some education on the various products out there (5pm). We’ll have some red snacks as well, and I encourage you to wear your favorite red clothes! Stop by anytime!

In solidarity,

Sarah Tucker Jenkins

Program Coordinator for the Women’s Center & LGBT Center

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That Time of the Month Again…

Most of us have a hateful relationship with our period, but this “perk” of womanhood does give us a right to complain and joke about it, which makes it a little better.

These Tumblr posts will make you smile even among your darkest hours of menstruation:

1. If periods were magazines…

I’d like to cancel my subscription to Menstrual Cycle Monthly.

I’m sorry, it appears you’ve taken out a fifty-sixty year subscription. However, we can pause it for nine months as long as you sign a contract that says you’ll take out a subscription to Baby Daily for at least eighteen years.

2. The scientific approach…

Anatomical representation of what having your period feels like:

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3. So sincere…

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4. How Historic…

The_Period_Store

Enjoy this post?  You should join the Ohio University Women’s Center for the RED PARTY: A Menstruation Celebration on Wednesday, October 1st  in Baker 403. Crafts start at 2pm, followed by a  showing of the movie, Red Moon: Menstruation, Culture & the Politics of Gender,  at 4pm, and finally there will be a Product Info & Raffle at 5pm. Come when you can and leave when you need to!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Anna Bekavac

Ohio University Women’s Center Staff

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Emma Watson sheds light on misconceptions of feminism

Emma-Watson--UN-speech-jpgEveryone knows Hollywood has the power to impact others’ opinions. Lately, the women of Hollywood are taking their stances on feminism. From Shailene Woodley who firmly states in an interview that she doesn’t want to be a feminist to Beyoncé who has numerous songs with the underlying theme of the power of feminism, everyone is voicing their opinion. But, the actress that has recently taken the spotlight of supporting feminism is Emma Watson.

Watson recently delivered a powerful speech regarding gender equality to the United Nations. Yes, you read that right, the entire United Nations headquartered in New York City.

Watson was appointed as the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador in the beginning of June. In this position, she will focus on launching the HeForShe Campaign, whose goal is to motivate men to end gender inequality.

Watson’s speech centered on the misconceptions of feminism. She explains how in her childhood she experienced double standards first-handed throughout school, and sees it today as well.

In her speech, her boldness and matter-of-fact opinion on feminism shed light on the problems of gender inequality. She points out how people disregard feminism, thinking it is not a solution but a problem. Watson states, “I decided that I was a feminist. This seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently, I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men, unattractive even.”

For me, what stuck out the most in Watson’s speech was the fact that she challenged the men to make a difference. Watson states, “Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too…we don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are.” Watson effectively makes the point that gender equality is only achievable if both genders work together.

I don’t think I can wrap up a blog post anymore eloquently than Watson herself. But, I can quote her. I can hope myself and others are inspired by the strength and power in her voice. Watson’s parting words to the crowd were, “In my nervousness for this speech and my moment of doubt, I told myself firmly: If not me, who? If not now, when? I invite you to step forward, to be seen and ask yourself: If not me, who? If not now, when?”

-Rachel Rogala

Ohio University Women’s Center Volunteer

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Sorry, I’m Not Sorry

I apologize. I apologize when I want to ask a difficult question. I apologize when I ask a “quick” question. I apologize for talking too much. I apologize for not saying something when I should have. I apologize for taking my time. I apologize for being too quick. I apologize for something I did three years ago. Sometimes I apologize when I feel that I am apologizing too much. Why? I’m sorry, I don’t know.

When I was around ten years old I was particularly bad about apologizing all the time. I said, “I’m sorry” almost to the extent of it becoming a verbal tick. I remember my dad getting annoyed at constantly hearing a barrage of apologies and telling me “saying sorry doesn’t mean anything when you say it that much.” I, of course, quickly apologized. While my constant need to say sorry lightened up over time, I still find myself apologizing far more than I need to and certainly more than I want to.

In my experience as a twenty-first century woman, society has indirectly taught me that I need to apologize. I feel that I need to say sorry if I raise my voice, if I am wearing clothes that do not match the occasion, or if I ask an impertinent question. I have noticed this particular behavior is not unique to my own circumstances; many of my female friends and acquaintances also over-apologize. I recognize that by over-apologizing I am unintentionally undermining my own thoughts and actions. While some things are certainly worth apologizing for, I have decided that I will no longer apologize for my personality and what I want to do.

Recently, I have promised myself that I will not be sorry for asking my professor a question about lecture, for feeling a certain way, or for not having an answer. Although society often suggests I should, I will not apologize for who I am or who I am not. I have resolved to only say that I am sorry when I mean it, not simply because I am accustomed to putting the words into a sentence as one would put the letter “x” in a formula.

And if I sound “bossy” as a result, so be it. I’m not sorry.

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Hannah Abrahamson

Ohio University Women’s Center Staff

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Barbie: Simple or Complex?

Since 1959, Barbie dolls have been a favorite toy in the homes of many. She has grown and changed with the times, always representing the most up-to-date fashions and trends, but also representing many different movements, organizations and career paths.

1971 Malibu Barbie

1971 Malibu Barbie

Under the “History” section, the Barbie website claims that in 1972, ” Title IX of the Education Amendment [was] passed, prohibiting sex discrimination in education, athletics, drama, band or other extracurricular student activities, giving girls equal rights to be in any class and on any field. Meanwhile, Barbie had already proven her athleticism by participating in numerous sports such as Tennis and Ice Skating.”

Barbie continued to encourage empowerment in the 80’s. The Barbie website states: “Shattering the ‘plastic ceiling’, Day to Night Barbie became a briefcase-carrying power executive-by-day and couture-inspired, ultra sophisticate by night.”

By the 90s, Barbie was running for president! This was to represent “The Year of Women” in Politics, which was 1992.

Moving into the 2000s, Barbie was still a huge advocate for girl power. In 2004, she broke up with long-time boyfriend Ken and proved her independence.

barbie1992

1992 Presidential Barbie

Even with her countless “accomplishments,” Barbie has received much hatred throughout her time on store shelves and in houses all over because of her appearance.  She has unrealistic proportions, a perfect complexion, and gorgeous blond hair, and we don’t all look like that. It has been thought that Barbie’s stunning good looks are discouraging for little girls, leading to confidence issues.

Artist Kari Gunter-Seymour expresses, “By not having dolls that are realistically structured to represent the actual norm, the message being sent is that normal  looking people are not acceptable.”

Ruth Handler, creator of the Barbie doll, says: “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”

What are your views on Barbie and what she represents or does not represent?

Gunter-Seymour reflects her opinion in her exhibit “Barbie Falls on Hard Times,” hosted by the Ohio University Women’s Center from September 13 to October 10. Come check out this amazing work during the opening reception today, Friday, September 19, from 4-6pm.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Anna Bekavac

Ohio University Women’s Center

 

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Meet the new “Editor in Chief”

Hello, readers!

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     I’m Anna, a new member of the Women’s Center Staff, and I will be working on the blog this year. Last year I blogged for Thread Magazine here at OU and enjoyed it thoroughly. I am very excited to take on this role, as blogging and blog “surfing” are my first priorities after my homework is done (before my homework is done).

Strawberry Banana smoothies are my favorite and my dimples are ridiculous

Strawberry Banana smoothies are my favorite and my dimples are ridiculous (but they only show when I laugh) (which is all the time).

Of course, my first passion is music. I’m from Pittsburgh, PA, a city where the arts are incredibly alive, accessible, and inspiring. I am so fortunate to have grown up seeing performance after performance at the countless venues in the city, and to have my fascination for live productions, and especially for music, grow and lead me to where I am currently…as a music therapy student at Ohio University. Enough about my musically enriched past.

I’m a member of the wonderful Margaret Boyd Scholars Program, which was founded by our very own Susanne Dietzel, Patricia McSteen, and Tanya Barnett. The Margaret Boyd Scholars Program seeks to inspire and encourage undergraduate women to become engaged, confident and connected leaders at Ohio University and beyond. Check it out.

We are planning on publishing at least 2 posts each week on many different topics. Let me know if there are any specific things you would like to read or write about. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Anna Bekavac

Ohio University Women’s Center Staff

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“Barbie Falls on Hard Times” exhibit set to “Bring Her Bad Self Back” to the Ohio University Womens Center

"Barbie Falls on Hard Times #20" An average American woman is 5’4″ tall weighing 140 pounds; the average American model is 5’11” weighing 117 pounds!

What happens when females look at their bodies and compare themselves to the pretty, successful girls and women on TV or the high fashion beauty dolls our culture encourages them to play with? Girls end up feeling inadequate. Girls end up feeling like there is something wrong with them.

September 13 – October 10, 2014, the Ohio University Women’s Center will host the exhibit “Barbie Falls on Hard Times, The Sequel.” This exhibit marks the second presentation for the “Barbie Falls on Hard Times” photo essay at the Womens Center, and will feature images created after the close of the first exhibition in 2012 – a continuation of a series of environmental portraits by artist photographer Kari Gunter-Seymour.

Artists and photographer Kari Gunter-Seymour holds her piece "Barbie Falls on Hard Times #5," one of 33 pieces Gunter-Seymour has created for her photographic essay portraying the famous glamor doll in chaotic and frenzied situations, visually creating the understanding that glamor doll “beauty” need not be the gauge by which women judge themselves, their bodies and their life situations.

Artists and photographer Kari Gunter-Seymour holds her piece “Barbie Falls on Hard Times #5,” one of 33 pieces Gunter-Seymour has created for her photographic essay portraying the famous glamor doll in chaotic and frenzied situations, visually creating the understanding that glamor doll “beauty” need not be the gauge by which women judge themselves, their bodies and their life situations.

Gunter-Seymour’s art focuses on body image and self esteem issues as it examines what the famous Mattel® doll’s life would be like if she were challenged with real life issues that women of all ages face – like cleaning the bathroom or getting stood up on the wedding day.

“By not having normal weight people, with ordinary complexions, hair and teeth as roll models, on TV or in the movies – by not having dolls that are realistically structured to represent the actual norm – the message being sent is that normal looking people or people on the heavier side are not acceptable,” Gunter-Seymour offers.

September 19, 2014, 4pm-6pm, plan to attend an opening reception at the Women’s Center, Fourth Floor, Baker University Center, Ohio University, Athens Campus.

“I think the message I am sending out directly addresses important women’s issues,” Gunter-Seymour says. “By ‘spoofing’ on Barbie, I am saying love yourself and love your body – even the most ‘perfect’ iconic woman can fall on hard times.”

Gunter-Seymour presents her work in large format black and white, rather than full color, creating tension and accentuating the use of light and shadow. “I am looking forward to getting together with everyone at the opening reception to join in what I hope will be some animated conversations concerning how we as women, here in Appalachia look at and feel about our bodies, and share ideas about working to change the impact of our national culture.” she adds.

The Ohio University Women’s Center is located on the Fourth Floor, Baker University Center. For more information call 740-593-9625 or go to http://www.ohio.edu/womenscenter.

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