Feminism, Activism, and Finding Where I Fit in it All

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Hannah Abrahamson, Senior

“Is it possible to be a feminist without being an activist?” I asked on the last day of a class that I took through the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department. I meant it as a rhetorical question to point out that I could, in fact, hold feminist beliefs while not engaging in activism. What surprised me was that a few classmates responded quite differently, suggesting that all feminists have a duty to live out their beliefs through activism. My classmates seemed surprised that someone as talkative and opinionated as myself could be uninterested in activism. Did I not want to share my beliefs? Did I not want to hold people accountable for their prejudices? Did I not want to stand with those who were facing discrimination?

The answer to these questions was that, while I am interested in sharing my beliefs and holding people (especially myself) accountable for prejudices, I do not consider it a form of activism. I am not comfortable standing behind a bullhorn or even protesting outside. If I had to mount a protest, it would be, at best, a halfhearted affair. There are countless people on this campus who are both more interested in and better equipped to perform that job than me. So where does that leave a feminist non-activist?

I am far more comfortable living my life in the background, while being engaged behind the scenes. I may not shout out my beliefs, but there is a good chance that I am involved in a workshop that discusses them. I would rather tell a friend that they are being sexist than shout it through a megaphone. While my WGSS classmates said that expressing my beliefs, even if only to a few people, was a variety of activism in and of itself, I see it a bit differently. I see it as living life and hoping that society will continue to progress towards greater equality. And if I happen to talk about the necessity of providing resources and support for survivors of sexual assault or creating more inclusive spaces for trans* individuals, to me it isn’t a form of activism, it’s a conversation.

-Hannah Abrahamson, Women’s Center Staff

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OU Women’s Basketball Team Makes the Big Dance

The Women’s Center would like to extend a special “Congratulations” to the Ohio Women’s basketball team (27-4) for winning its first MAC Tournament championship since 1986 AND advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995!

Photo from The Post

Photo from The Post: Ohio won over Eastern Michigan 60-44 on March 14, 2015.

This is an impressive, incredible accomplishment and we are all so proud of the work put in by each member of the women’s basketball team here at Ohio University. I hope everyone is speaking about and spreading the word about this wonderful feat. Often women’s sports are overlooked, but these Lady Bobcats deserve all the attention in the world! Make sure to watch the game and cheer them on this Saturday!

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Tune in to ESPN on Saturday, March 21 6:30 PM ET to cheer on the Women Bobcats, seeded at 14, as they take on Arizona State, the number 3 seed in their section.            _____________________________________________________________

In Bobcat Solidarity,

Anna Bekavac and the Women’s Center Staff

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An Update on the Young Women Leaders Program

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2015 YWLP Mentors

The Young Women Leaders Program is in it’s 7th week and doing extremely well. As mentors, we have grown and matured along side our mentees and have begun to form new bonds with our middle schoolers. Through our curriculum based groups, we have seen great improvement in not only our mentees but in our own leadership skills. Not to mention we have had a lot of fun learning more about being leaders in our community.

We are also currently beginning the process to recruit for next year. We are really looking forward to not only continuing the program but hopefully expanding it in the future. I greatly look forward to seeing how the rest of the year plays out and how the young women continue to grow. Be on the look out for flyers about applying to be a mentor next year!

-Leah Brown, Cofounder of YWLP and Women’s Center Staff

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You Learn Something New Everyday

In the summer of 2012, my dear grandmother (Nana) asked me to “hang out with” and “entertain” her good friend’s granddaughter, Alessandra, who was visiting Pittsburgh for a few weeks that August. Of course I said yes right away…firstly, I love my Nana, I love new people, and Pittsburgh is a fabulous city to introduce to visitors. My Nana quickly and casually mentioned that Alessandra was from Qatar, but failed to mention that it was a different country in a different continent that I was not familiar with. So here I am thinking this girl was from a rural county in Pennsylvania or something…thank goodness my mom caught this and cleared things up for me a bit the day before I met her.

Fast forward to dinner with Alessandra…Our “light chat” is her explaining to me how her Spanish mother and American father met in Saudi Arabia, got married and had her in Kuwait, moved and had another son in Egypt, and finally settled in Qatar a few years ago. My head is spinning with excitement and questions and my jaw is dropped. She looks up cheerily and asks about my background. What background!?!? I’ve lived in the same suburb of Pittsburgh my whole life! Before I can answer, she sees a rabbit scurrying outside the living room window and squeals with joy. She’s jealous that I get to see squirrels, chipmunks, and deer every day. I’m thinking about how many times that same rabbit got cursed out by an angry driver, or how many chipmunks have been killed for ruining my neighbor’s garden. Do you know what she told me? In Qatar they have “camel crossing” signs instead of “deer crossing” signs. Can you imagine a camel crossing the sidewalk on College Green!!??

Isn’t it amazing how something so small can spark such open thinking? I left our lunch reconsidering everything, trying to appreciate my surroundings more and also thinking about how much more there is out in the world that I have no idea about. It only takes one small interaction to open your mind!

The Women’s Center has a number of opportunities to open your mind this coming week!

Check out International Women’s Coffee Hour on Wednesday, March 11 from 4-6pm in the Women’s Center.

Next, join us for our weekly Brown Bag Lunch and Learn with Dr. Lorna Jean Edmonds, Vice Provost for Global Affairs and International Studies, as she discusses “OHIO in the Universe: Today’s Global Strategy.”

 

-Anna Bekavac

Ohio University Women’s Center Blog Editor

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The Problem with Patricia Arquette’s Call for Wage Equality

Last night at the Oscars, Patricia Arquette won the Award for Best Supporting Actress. During her speech she said: 

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” shouted a fiery Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Ms. Arquette is absolutely right about the wage gap, women earn, on average, about 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns, and that number decreases even more for women of color. Her call for wage equality is certainly not a problem. However, I have to question the phrase, “we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights.” Although I’m sure it could be interpreted various ways, what this phrase says to me is that Ms. Arquette sees those other oppressed groups, the “everybody else” as having won their equal rights, and that women are the only ones left behind.

Later, during in the press room after her Oscar win, she went on to say:

“It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

Her statement in the press room makes it clear that the “everybody else” she’s talking about are (among others) people of color and the LGBTQIA community, which is problematic on multiple levels. First, when Arquette claims to speak for all women, she is only speaking about white, straight, cis women. Because any other women were fighting for their own rights as part of the “everybody else.” Second, her statement implies that “everybody else” has achieved equal rights, which is absolutely untrue. There is still plenty of oppression to go around for various races, genders and sexualities, abilities, religions, and a number of other marginalized classifications.

Ultimately, the problem with Ms. Arquette’s statement is that it ignores the intersections of these various identities. Her statement does not acknowledge that women are also people of color, disabled, queer, and a long list of other unprivileged identities. The statement also ignores that these social justice movements cannot be separated out from each other, they must be examined together. People do not only inhabit one of their identities at a time, and oppressions overlap in ways that cannot be taken apart. We have to work together to bring about social justice for all marginalized groups. None of us are free until all of us are free.

-Sarah Tucker Jenkins

Women’s Center Program Coordinator

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The Biography of the Awesome and Incredibly Talented Shonda Rhimes

Hollywood is a powerful medium of portraying people in different environments. Yet, reality isn’t accurately portrayed according to the statistics of its representation. In 2013, women represented only thirty percent characters on the top-grossing films, and among that only fifteen percent were lead roles (Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film).

Women are actively breaking through these barriers and trying to accurately portray women in reality. One of the biggest influences in Hollywood is Shonda Rhimes.

TV producer Shonda Rhimes arrives on the red carpet at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner in WashingtonWho is Shonda Rhimes? Well, let me tell you. Shonda Rhimes is a screenwriter, director, and producer for our current favorite primetime shows (like How To Get Away with Murder and Scandal) to our all-time classics like Grey’s Anatomy and The Princess Diaries 2.

Rhimes first began writing at Dartmouth where she enrolled in the Writing for Screen and Television program. From the beginning, Rhimes focused on centering women in her writing. Her first screenplay was “Human Seeking Same,” which was about an older black woman and dealing with love in her lie.

Shonda Rhimes’ first successes were one the big screen. She landed the screenwriter title for Britney Spears’ “Crossroads” movie, then Anne Hathaway’s “Princess Diaries 2,” which both targeted young teen audiences about growing up being a teenage girl.

greys__140512161825Rhimes’ hard work and new ideas for Hollywood has been awarded through many awards and recognition. According to Biography.com, she is the first African-American woman to to create and executive-produce a Top 10 network series. Rhimes was also crowned forty third on TIME’s list of 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2007. According to her interview with Time, Shondra is able to, “create an assemblage of worldly foibles and aspirations. She understands that every dream is valuable and every identity deserves inspection through the looking glass of television…Shonda allows for more people than ever before to see themselves and feel as though the world sees them too.”

MV5BMTQyMzE2NDY0MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDYyMTE5MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_What’s evident in Rhimes’ writing and success is the inclusion of everyone. She writes stories of all identities to be amplified to viewers across America. In Grey’s Anatomy, Chandra Wilson plays head chief surgeon of a hospital, the sexually identity of Connor Walsh in How To Get Away with Murder is an identity that he owns openly while becoming a successful lawyer, and Viola Davis’ character on How to Get Away with Murder has both a powerful and emotional impact on television as she takes her wig and makeup off while on screen. Rhimes knows how to write an awesome plot while adding the identities of everyone in America–an equation that most Hollywood screenwriters seem to not grasp well.

-Rachel Rogala

Ohio University Women’s Center Volunteer

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Honoring the Overlooked: Ida B. Wells

2.1 Caitlin Tamony Black History Month bbc.co_.uk_

Important figures of Black History Month

It’s February in America, and all across the country, school children are celebrating Black History Month—often the one time during the academic school year that children will hear the names Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Dr. King, Malcolm X, and the other commonly discussed Black History Month figures. While I believe that black history is in fact American history and should not be reduced to a single month, as if it is something that we can check off of our calendars, (after all, America, often deemed the greatest country in the world, rose to such prominence through slave labor, Jim Crow laws, and racially motivated public policy—I am a staunch advocate for mandatory African American Studies classes in public schools, but that constitutes its own blog post) it is none the less important that we remember some key figures who are not often talked about in K-12 schools or are overshadowed by male civil rights “mega stars.” In particular, I am talking about Ida B. Wells.

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Gruesome reality of segregation in the South.

Born a slave in Mississippi, Wells went on to attend Fisk University and became a journalist documenting life in the Jim Crow South. More than just writing, however, Wells opened the eyes and minds of millions by demonstrating what segregation was actually like in the American South. Segregation was not just eating a separate lunch counters and using separate toilets when in public—segregation was lynching, murder, and flat out terrorism. Despite numerous death threats to her and her abolitionist husband Ferdinand Barnett, Wells continued to write and publish her work in local as well as national newspapers in gruesome detail the realities of lynching and the public spectacle that it often became in the south. Wells held the south accountable by publishing the names of individuals who attended these public lynching’s, the mishandlings and lack of due process afforded to African Americans, and the police involvement.

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells

Wells was one of the early pioneers of women in journalism, and demonstrates the power of the media—Civil Rights leaders of the next generation used her methodology when staging protests and marches. Furthermore, Wells’ work caught the attention of lawmakers and in 1918 she helped draft the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill with Republican Senator Leonidas Dyer. While the bill never passed—thanks to the Southern Democrats continuous filibuster—Wells continued to work in this field and went on to help establish the NAACP with W.E.B. Du Bois (who, shocker, refused to place her name on the official list of founders because she was a woman). It is important to remember the women that contributed, and continue to contribute, to the history of this country, both in civil rights and otherwise. American History is often taught as white, male, and heterosexual and it is up to our generation as future teachers and leaders to ensure that this trend continues no more.

-Kyle Serrott, Specialized Studies major in “Law, Gender, and Race in America”

Ohio University Women’s Center Staff

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