What Do Feminism and the Environment Have in Common?

2015 Cherry Blossoms By Connor Rogers-Wartinger

OU Cherry Blossoms 2015, Connor Rogers-Wartinger

The grass is green, the cherry blossoms are blooming, and the robins are calling from the hickory and walnut trees on college green. Athens flourishes during spring and we honor the resources and sheer magnificence of nature on Earth Day and on Athens Beautification day, this Sunday. To that end, we should take time to honor the female environmentalists who strove to remind us that we must not be antagonists to the earth that provides for us. Rachel Carson was a writer, scientist and ecologist most famous for her 1962 book, Silent Spring. Silent Spring questions the practices of agricultural scientists and the government’s use of synthetic chemical pesticides after World War II. Fifty-three years later, these issues have become

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

even more alarming. Rachel Carson is important to the feminist community and the Appalachian community alike. She grew up in Pennsylvania, now a central hub for resource extraction. Sixty-four percent of Pennsylvania gas wells are to be drilled in forested land, including state forests and natural areas. I have to wonder how Carson would respond to resource extraction, and my intuition tell me she would be on the front-lines of the anti-fracking movement.

Wangari Maathai is another female environmentalist that we should keep in our minds this week. Maathai is the founder of the Green Belt Movement, a mission developed to form cooperation among women in growing seedlings and planting trees to bind soil, storing rainwater, and providing food and firewood (Greenbeltmovement.org).

Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai

Maathai developed the Green Belt Movement in response to rural Kenyan women reporting that their streams were drying up, their food supply was less secure, and they “had to walk further and further to get firewood for fuel and fencing.” The women in the Green Belt Movement have planted 51 million trees since 1977.

It is important to do small environmental practices like recycling, using less water, turning the lights off, planting trees, picking up garbage, avoiding plastic water bottles, and eating local, but it is even more important to fight against poor environmental practices by huge corporations and even the U.S. government. We have to ask questions about why the streams are drying up, why the water supplies are polluted, and why the forest is being deforested–especially living in Appalachia. Carson said that humankind is a part of nature and a war against nature is a war against ourselves. This Sunday, recognize the beauty of Athens County and make a promise to defend it from harm.

Hope to work with you at Athens Beautification Day!

Madeleine Toerne, Women’s Center Staff

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Join the Movement to #ask4more

April 14, 2015 marks National Equal Pay Day. This day reminds us of the unjust wages women are receiving each year…in 2012, women earned 77 cents for every dollar men received! At the current rate, equal pay won’t be realized for another 50 YEARS.

The Levo League has started the campaign #ask4more to bring this injustice to light and move to close the wage gap. They have enlisted several well-known women, including comedian Sarah Silverman to spread the word and encourage women to #ask4more :

Sarah Silverman’s personal story is here:

Follow the links and watch more women talk about their experiences in the work place and get advice from very successful women. Be inspired to #ask4more because you deserve it!

Have a  wonderful weekend!

Anna Bekavac, Womens’ Center Staff

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Who stays home with the kids?

Before the advent of the second wave of feminism (in the 1960s and 70s), women were pushed to choose between motherhood and a professional career. The second wave of feminism sought to change by arguing that women, like men, are entitled to be devoted e4b74c590479a3ccdbeec5a6ed73e9ceparents as well as professionals in their chosen career field. While this idea is widely accepted in theory in contemporary American society, the practical framework that would allow for workplace and parenting equality is not firmly established. Although 70 percent of American children are raised in households in which both parents work, the parental leave policies that are set in place are limited, at best.

What does this mean for contemporary American families? For many families, this means that new mothers take (often unpaid) time off from work, reduce their hours to part-time indefinitely, or leave their job. Their male partners, on the other hand, often take on more work hours in order to make up the difference in paycheck. While this may allow the family to remain economically afloat during an emotionally and financially turbulent period, this division of household labor is not necessarily satisfying for those involved.

Sweden has implemented a solution that allows families more options regarding division of labor. Out of the 480 paid days off per child, 60 are allocated specifically to the father, and the family is able to divide the remaining days in whatever way they deem fit. This gives both parents an opportunity to rest, bond with their child, and return to the workforce, if they so choose. By offering both new parents family leave, Sweden has allowed new families to figure out how to raise their children without having to give up their careers. In essence, Swedish families are able to have their cake and eat it too. Perhaps, in the upcoming years, the United States will reach a point in which American families can do the same.

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-Co-authored by Hannah Abrahamson and Emily Burns,

Ohio University Women’s Center Staff

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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

YWLP%20mentors%202014

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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