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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Media Stories

Is your story being told in the media?

Because mine isn’t.

Beware, you’re about to enter a rant…

I want to have children. Probably just one because I plan on having a career, but if I have a daughter I am very worried about the media she will encounter every day. Some may believe that children shows are innocent and safe for little girls to watch, but the statistics are alarming.

From 2006 to 2009 not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in the law, or in politics. 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real-world statistics of women comprising 50% of the workforce.
Even among the top-grossing G-rated family films, girl characters are outnumbered by boys three-to-one.

Female characters continue to show dramatically more skin than their male counterparts, and feature extremely tiny waists and other exaggerated body characteristics.
So I guess I will have to write my own film… while maybe starting a psychology practice and having a child.

My film would be a cartoon, a la Disney Fairytale with way less stereotypes. It would be about a twenty-something starving female student studying to become a research scientist. She would spend much of her time in the library at her prestigious research university that she worked her butt off to attend by receiving Valedictorian status in her high school. She would be a size eight and have frizzy brown hair that she never had time to do. She would wear sweatpants and eat too much fast food. Her name would be Alex. She would graduate with honors and go on to receive her PhD. Her parents would be very proud of her because she is the first woman in their family to go to college. She would be a minority too. Maybe Mexican mixed with some Middle Eastern. There would be some conflict between her father wanting her to settle down (you know, to create some tension) but he would come around when he saw how happy she was. She would maybe meet a couple guys along the way but they would be extremely minor characters. They would all be very nice but she just wouldn’t have time to fit them into her schedule. Then she would move up the ranks in her company until she was offered an opportunity to start a branch in a different country (maybe Tokyo, they do a lot of stuff their). She would jump at the opportunity and carpe diem the shit out of her early thirties. Then she would meet the man of her dreams, Devon. He would sweet and charming. He would let her split the bill on their dates without getting all pouty. He would do half of the chores and love to cook. He would be Japanese. While working Alex would have a child with Devon. Their child would be named Haru. They wouldn’t be married. She would keep working and kicking ass and taking names. Alex would be a great mother instilling a hard work ethics and acceptance for all. She would still have tons of friends that she would go out with. Eventually, they would all return to the States. Alex and Devon would fight sometimes but they would always make up (or leave passive-aggressive notes for each other later on). Haru would grow up biologically as a female but at age six would begin to show signs of presenting her gender as male. I mean this could go on and on. Maybe a series called “Positive Role Models.”

There are so many stories that aren’t being told. A white, heterosexual women in her 30’s struggling with AIDS. A little transgender boy persevering in grade school. Lesbian scientists bringing much needed medicine to sub-Sahara Africa. Women changing history without a man in sight.
The fact is that only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female.

Until more women are making films this problem will never be reconciled. If media producers don’t hear women screaming to be better represented they won’t change. Let’s make our suffrage sisters proud and finish up some of their work. I am a strong believer that if you can’t see something you can’t be something. We need to show young girls that they are more than their recipe book and babysitting skills

Can every women become a superstar writer or director?

Well, probably not. But as a parent one can be careful what they present to their children. As a consumer one can purposely support female writers and producers.

For alternatives and suggestions see:

All statistics taken from

This is also a great sight about the lack of children’s media geared towards strong female characters. Funded by Geena Davis.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Analyzing Ads

Analyzing Ads in the Media 
      In this series of Ralph Lauren “Romance” ads, the man is depicted as strong, aggressive and dominant, while the female is shown as weak, passive and submissive towards the man. This is shown in the first image, in which the man is basically holding up the woman as she appears to be too weak to hold her own weight. In all of these images, the man is either holding up the woman or being the dominant one on top. The man has a strong position, while the woman’s grasp is weak. 
   The woman also appears to be very trusting, open and available as she allows the man to hold her. Her body and face are more turned towards the camera, such as in the second  and third image in which she is looking straight at the camera. In contrast, the man is very closed and shows no real emotion besides anger. In all of the images, his head is down and you can’t actually see inside his eyes. 
     In these images, the woman is sexually passive and submissive, while the man is aggressive and dominant. This is especially shown in the first and the third image. In the third image, the man is over the woman, kissing her and the woman seems to care less and is very passive and submissive. The woman is also sexualized in these photos, while the man is not. The woman has a decent amount of skin showing and in some of the images her dress strap is falling down or her dress is pulled up to expose her legs. This contrast between the man and the woman shows the meta theme that females and males must be separated and seen as radically and profoundly different. 

      Because of these ideologies, society accepts these masculine and feminine traits as “natural.” This reinforces the status quo and sets expectations for both males and females. This sets the expectation that guys should be aggressive and dominant physically and sexually. They should also show little/no emotion and be closed. Women should be passive and submissive both physically and sexually. Women are expected to  be very emotional, trusting, open and cooperative. Because an ideology is not reality, most people cannot live up to these expectations and don’t live their lives this way, but still feel pressured by society to fit into these little boxes.

-Mallory Holt

My GSEC Experience

My time interning at the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center has been a truly life-changing experience. I could now never go on with my day after hearing derogatory terms used, and say nothing. Every time I hear someone address a group of both males and female as “guys” I clench because I cannot help but think, we are not all guys! Some of us are women and proud to be women and deserve to be addressed as such.

I am so proud to be a part of a student-run organization that is so inclusive towards the entirety of the student body, as well as the community. We put on events that give the under-represented population of Chico community members a chance to celebrate our diversity and never to hide it. The GSEC recently transitioned from its formerly known title as the Women’s Center in order to be more all-inclusive towards the LGBTQ+ community. This has been an immensely successful extension to the work that we do. 

As an intern at this organization I have learned to embrace and celebrate all people’s minds, bodies, sexualities, strengths and differences. Each person experiences such diverse walks of life and to have a safe-haven on campus such as the GSEC is a remarkable tool and a huge step in unifying the student-body. I would highly recommend to any student that is considering an internship here at the GSEC to absolutely go for it and expect that your life will never be the same; for the better. 

- Written by Rae Seifert

Spencer's Hates Women (At Least Their T-Shirts Do)

Since I am not as socially inclined as others and never get on Facebook, I would have missed the link that Mallory (a Women’s Programs Intern) shared with us on the GSEC Facebook page last week. Fortunately, I have Sarah Sullivan (Women’s Program Coordinator) to help me through life and she told me about the post.

 The post that I will be talking about is a link that takes you to a page titled '20 Examples That Spencer’s Gifts Hates Women’ (Spencer’s is the gag gift store at the Chico Mall and probably in most malls across America). Below the title are 20 different T-shirts with what Spencer’s considers “funny” sayings and pictures, all of which are highly misogynistic. As disturbing as I found every t-shirt, it is worth my time to spread the word to never shop at Spencer’s again (at least not in the T-shirt section). 

In my opinion you will easily realize how offensive these shirts are to 51% of the population by just looking at them, so I will highlight just two shirts here that I have the biggest problem with and find the most offensive (you can find the link at the bottom of this post or on the GSEC Facebook page). 

Disclaimer: Since males are the models for every shirt on this page, I am going to assume the target audience is men. I understand that women can buy and wear these shirts, which I also condone, but I am going to assume men are the primary consumers.  

Shirt #19: The word TEAMWORK is at the top, near the neck of the shirt. Below TEAMWORK is a woman on all fours with a man having sex with her from behind while another man is standing in front of her who she is performing oral sex on. 

When I see this picture under the word TEAMWORK, I think of gang rape. What if a man was wearing this shirt in public and a woman saw it who had been raped at some point in her life? It has the potential to stir up horrible flashbacks and emotions in that woman, all so this guy can get a couple laughs from his buddies for wearing this shirt. This is a perfect example of the rape culture that we live in and how it persists so fluidly in mainstream culture.

Shirt #6: There are two pictures side by side horizontally. The first picture is of a man and a woman taking a shot and it says THE FIRST SHOT IS ON ME. The second picture is of the previous woman giving the man a blowjob and above the picture it says THE SECOND IS ON YOU. 

Personally I enjoy going to the bars, getting some drinks, dancing, and having a great time. If a guy buys me a shot, does that mean I owe him a sexual favor? Absolutely not. All that means is that I got a free shot.
Men can drink as much as they want, it is socially acceptable and they will not be hassled while out at the bars. But if a woman is drunk she automatically becomes a target and an object of sexual fulfillment.

After looking at the T-shirts for a third time, I got even madder and wanted to channel my inner Harriet the Spy and do some real investigative work. Track down the company who printed these shirts, and then the designers who so cleverly thought them up and drew the pictures. But then what would I do once I found out who designed them? Write them a mean email? Probably wouldn’t be that effective in the bigger scheme of things. So writing a hate filled blog will have to suffice.

-Written by Mia Kirk

Misdiagnoses Because of Health Samples

Right now I am taking a psychology of women class and we just discussed a chapter on physical and mental health issues for women. We discussed how research around 1995 used white male samples to generalize statistics to women and people of color. 

This was a problem all over the board and it even extended to issues as serious as heart disease. There has been a large tendency in the research community to use the white male as the norm, and as discussed in my class, this approach to research was based on the “complications” associated with including women in the studies because of their monthly hormone variations. 

One example of this that we discussed would be the symptoms of a heart attack: women and men have completely different symptoms. Men will feel chest pain and feel as if their left arm has gone numb, whereas women will get bad back pain and feel nauseous. 

However doctors, who were mostly male at the time, would commonly misdiagnose women who came in with these pains and feelings of sickness as histrionic or having the symptoms all in their heads, because of the sexist views that they had toward them. This misdiagnosis led to many women dying from heart attacks that could have been prevented. 

It is therefore important for doctors and researchers to include not only white men, but women and people of color in their studies in order to obtain the correct data for each group of people and perform correct diagnoses.

- Written by Michelle Anderson

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Spots on the Gender Spectrum

The Gender Bending Ball, held on Sunday, Dec. 3, was a night I will never forget. It was the first time the GSEC put on a dance like that, and it definitely won’t be the last. We used this event as a fundraiser to help the GSEC continue its services to students and community members.
In our society, gender is always put into two boxes, male and female. It is what we have always known, and removing this binary system would be like stepping onto the moon, something hard to imagine. Even I, while identifying as an ally and an activist, find it hard to remove certain language from my daily life. Have you ever taken a few seconds to realize what you were actually talking about with your friends?

“Hey guys, what’s up?” - Addressing a group of women.

“That girl over there is wearing the same shirt as me.” - Is she 20 or 12?

“He asked me a question.” - How do you know if that person wants to be called “he?”

“Is that a man or woman?” - Uh, how is that any of your business?

It is hard to break a person’s harmful dialogue used on a day to day basis, but it is a part of the AS Gender and Sexuality Equity Center’s mission statement to spread this awareness. Being a part of this internship has allowed me to be more inclusive and understanding of the people around me. Every day I work on not conforming to society and assuming people belong in only two categories, every day I try to eliminate the word “guys” from my vocabulary when addressing a group and every day I contribute my time and energy into the events GSEC puts on. 
I joined this campus organization to be more informed and share what I learn with others. I wanted to become an activist so I did. I have always supported the rights and justice for women and the LGBTQ community and now I am putting my words into action. The Gender Bending Ball was just another step I had to take to become more knowledgeable on the issue of the binary system. For weeks I helped other interns and staff spread the word about this awesome event, and it was all worth it. 
This event created a safe place where everyone could come and bend their gender and enjoy the night with others who supported the same cause. We all celebrated the fact that people can express gender in many ways and accepted all who showed. With music, food and amazing drag queen performances I danced the night away with my fellow interns, staff and our guests.  
Even though the event is over, we are still selling raffle tickets for $1! The drawing will take place on December 10th and we will call you to let you know if you won! Possible prizes include: haircuts, one piercing of your choice, Satin hands set by Mary Kay, 30 minute Swedish massage, $10 Beach Hut Deli gift card, 25 Bear bucks and 2 free meals, $10 T Bar gift card, and much more! If you would like to buy one please come down to our office in BMU 005 right next to common grounds! 

Written by Adriana Curiel

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gender Bending Ball

This Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 is the AS GSEC's Gender Bending Ball!

California State University Chico’s Associated Students Gender and Sexuality Equity Center is proud to present the Gender Bending Ball at the Chico Women’s Club on Sunday, December 2nd, from 6-9 pm. The Gender Bending Ball will consist of drag performances, music, dancing, and lots of fun! Tickets are only $5, and pre-sale purchases, on sale in BMU 005, include an at-the-event treat! Dress up and bend your gender in a safe place, and support the GSEC and our mission!

This amazing fundraising event is a tim
e for people of all gender expressions to come together and perform their gender in a non-judgmental environment. Usually wear shorts? Try jeans. Present yourself more masculine? Tone it down for a night. Or come as your beautiful self. The Gender and Sexuality Equity Center challenges the idea that gender is a binary system, instead we accept and celebrate the many different expressions along the gender spectrum.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Congratulations Mia for being intern of the week! Mia is a returning intern at the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center and she has greatly contributed to the success of our organization. Mia has been working diligently on outreach and was heavily involved in the planning process for Take Back the Night. She is an outstanding addition to the GSEC team and we are honored to be working with such an inspired individual. Thank you Mia for all of your hard work. We are impressed with your dedication and enjoy working with you. Keep up the activism Mia and congratulations again

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nicole Munoz  is a second year at Chico State, her major is Communication Studies and thinking about double majoring in Women's Studies. Nicole is an intern in the Women's program, and she was our wonderful intern for the week of November 2. She had been contacting radio stations and news stations to get coverage for our Take Back the Night event November 8th, and was very successful at it too which is amazing! Her dedication for promoting human rights is an inspiration and she is truly a valued member of the GSEC.  THANK YOU Nicole for all your great work!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Congratulations Elise for being an amazing intern you absolutely deserve to be the intern of the week! You have been an outstanding addition to the A.S. Gender and Sexuality Equity Center team and we are honored to be working along side you to promote awareness about LGBTQ+ and Women’s issues. Elise is very passionate about human rights; through hard work and perseverance you have identified yourself as a dedicated ally for all marginalized groups. Since joining the GSEC Elise has realized the importance of being an activist and is willing to stand up for the rights of others. She helped plan Queer week, is involved with Spark, has diligently organized the GSEC’s extensive library, and is currently working on a new event, Gender Bending Ball. Elise, we encourage all of your commitment to the GSEC and we are excited to see what else you can contribute to this program.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Intern(s) of the Week!

Kory Masen is a sophomore at Chico State and an intern in the LGBTQ program. He was our intern of the week for October 15 but was also the blog intern who was doing the intern of the week post so somehow he didn't receive the credit she deserves! Kory is an activist who has already served on a panel during the GSEC's Queer Week, is helping to plan the Gender Bending Ball and was a vocal part of our Pride March. He has no problem being himself and standing up for what he believes in, and is a valuable part of the GSEC staff.
Michelle Anderson is a junior at Chico State and an intern in the Women's program and our intern of the week for October 22. She's always available to help out around the office and took photos during our Pride March during Queer Week. She has most recently been working on a PowerPoint for Take Back the Night, which will be on November 8. Her dedication and motivation allows her to lend a hand with any office task at hand, which includes her helping clean and organize the closet, going over legacies and always showing up on time!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blood Sourced

I'm a proud member of the Greek system as well as an intern at the Gender & Sexuality Equity Center. To me, both organizations define who I am and what I believe in and I've never had a hard time balancing the two (except for a bit of time management within the last week, since Queer Week and Greek Week coincided).

They don't often directly overlap, but they did this week when I went to give blood during the blood drive as a part of Greek Week. One of the questions on the paper says something along the lines of: if you're a man, have you had sex with another man (even once) since 1977? 

I was surprised, not only because this is incredibly discriminatory but because this summer the Red Cross experienced the biggest blood shortage in 15 years. Shortages translate to the cancellation of elective procedures but also postponing serious procedures like liver transplants because they require so much blood, according to

There are usually shortages in the summer because people are on vacation, and this summer especially with power lines down and the extreme heat blood drives had to be canceled and people stayed inside. But it has spread to fall and even in September abcnews reported shortages among the Red Cross and America's Blood Centers, which make up almost all U.S. blood banks.

Blood Source is the biggest blood bank in California and follows the laws of the FDA as well as the European Union because U.S. plasma is processed overseas. FDA laws ban any gay men who have had sex with another man while EU defers those who engage in "high risk" sexual behavior. EU has also recently stated that a gay man can donate blood if he hasn't had sex in the past 12 months. 

I can understand where the ban comes from, since during the 70s and 80s there was the first big spread of AIDS and people didn't know what it was or how it was transmitted. It was assumed that only gay males had the disease because it was wiping out their population.

What I don't get is why it's still carried over, 30-ish years later.

Students who have gotten tattoos or studied abroad in certain places are turned down for one year. Heterosexual people who have had protected sex with multiple partners are okay to give blood (but then, what student who hasn't been practicing safe sex will admit it to a stranger in a blood donation line). And here's the kicker: those who have recently had heterosexual sex with an HIV-positive partner will be deferred for one year.

So, if someone goes to donate blood and says that they recently had sex with an HIV-positive partner they will be turned down. BUT if they come back 12 months later and have not since had sex with an HIV-positive partner they can donate.

The idea behind this rule is that the testing for HIV has become so efficient they are able to test the blood quickly and accurately. The new test is a sensitive nucleic acid test which was introduced in 1999 which will detect HIV infections that occurred as recently as 12 days before the test, according to a Washington Post article. So then why can't these tests be done to blood from gay men?

Laws from EU that have requirements for blood collected say they don't want blood from anyone who partakes in "sexually risky" behavior. That's very open to interpretation. To me that means having unprotected sex even once and not getting tested, but to another person that might mean new partners weekly.

Blood banks trust people to use their best judgment, but when they're allowing sex workers over gay men to donate blood that isn't being safe, it's being discriminatory.

What would it take for a gay man to be able to donate blood, bringing a recent negative resulted HIV test?

These laws need to be defined and changed, and even one step in the right direction (though it may still be in need of work and disciminatory) is a good one.  

Written by Stephanie Geske

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Intern of the Week!

Congratulations Adriana for being a fantastic intern. Your hard work as an outstanding activist is why you are the intern of the week. Everyone is impressed by your dedication to the GSEC and your silent protest reminded us all why we belong to this organization. Adriana’s favorite thing about activism is taking action; she likes getting involved by being a presence on campus and in the community. You are an incredible addition to the GSEC team and we are honored to be working with you. Congrats again on being intern of the week! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Queer Week 2012

As most of you know, Monday(Oct. 8th) is the first day of queer week. (yaaaay!) The GSEC, along with other organizations on campus, have put together a fun week with workshops, events, and a pride march for which every student and community member is invited. The main objective of queer week is to come together as a community and demonstrate that we are here, that we are not afraid to be ourselves, and to show support for those fighting for our civil rights!

Why do YOU celebrate Queer Week?

"I celebrate to reclaim the pride that many Americans did not get the chance to experience, for my ancestors that were socially stigmatized during their lifetime and were never safe to express their sexuality. I celebrate for those who still deal with oppression, I celebrate your right to be who you decide to be, and I celebrate my individuality." - Marlen Acosta

"I celebrate queer week because I feel like every minority, no matter what separates them, should be able to express themselves in any way fit; for the LGBTQ community, it provides a week of celebration, where we too have the right to be ourselves and express our love, and to show those still in fear of coming out that there is a community here for them!" - Joseph Gilmore

" I celebrate because I am an ally and it is important to me that members of the LGBTQ+ community feel safe and accepted." -Nicole Munoz

If you want to help others feel empowered to be themselves, celebrate and promote equality, and have fun while learning about the community, then COME ON DOWN to our events this week! Educate yourself about issues concerning the LGBTQ+ community and hear personal testimonies that will surely cause an impact on how you perceive gender and sexuality.

For a list of events visit us on FB as AS GSEC. HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

Written by Marlen Acosta

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Intern of the Week!

Our intern of the week is Deanna Jarquin, who is one of the interns for our intern coordinator, Lauren. Deanna has been dedicated to the PR and planning for our upcoming event, Queer Week. She's been passing out fliers, papering local businesses, posing constantly on her Facebook page and inviting all her friends to the GSEC events. She's organized, good at delegating and managing office tasks and her positive attitude makes her a pleasure to work with. Deanna will definitely be an asset to the GSEC for the rest of her time here!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Anti-Hate Speech

My first stint in activism led me to tears.

Well not tears, but I choked up, my eyes got watery and like I always do I pulled myself together.

Crying is a huge deal to me, because somewhere along the lines of growing up I decided that being strong enough not to cry was a superpower, an asset.

So having this kind of reaction made me, understandable, surprised.

I was out putting up fliers for Queer Week with a fellow intern when we got the call that the man who preaches and yells at students (there's really no way to dress up the word "bigot") was back on campus. So we left the fliers and went back to the office where the staff were making posters that said "this is hate speech." And then a staff member (or two) asked me, "are you sure you're okay with this?"

Now, I'm someone who believes in action, and I'd like to think I stand up for what I believe in. But to be perfectly honest, this guy scares me. He screams, he's hateful, he's completely unlike the religion I grew up with and what I believe in (that God loves you, each and every one of you), and he makes me afraid to walk past him on campus, in case he yells that I'm a prostitute or a whore because my skirt is too short.

But then that pissed me off, because I shouldn't be scared to walk through my campus, or that someone exercising "free speech" will attack me.

So I went out there with a sign and stood with fellow GSEC interns, facing the crowd and not him, and stayed silent.

The first few minutes I felt a rush of emotions, just like I was told I would. I was scared, because I don't like loud noises and he was very, very loud; I was anxious, because this was a new experience; I was excited, because finally my desire to be an "in action" activist was coming into play.

And by the time the adrenaline wore off and I was standing there in the middle of a crowd of people, I was almost in tears. (Too many emotions at once does that to me, have you seen the Kristen Bell sloth video?)

A lot of people reacted to our silent protest. A few guys remarked that that was what everyone should be doing; a few people came up to me and asked what I was doing and where I was from; and almost everyone who read my sign smiled in support or solidarity.

Some things are going to be scary or make you nervous, especially when doing them for the first time. But keeping yourself sheltered because of fear will only hold you back.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Meet our Intenr of the Week!  Liz is an amazing addition to our center this semester.  Her cheerful and friendly attitude puts a smile on everyone's face.  Liz has demonstrated her agency by bringing her personal activist passions to light through opportunities the GSEC has for interns.  Some ways she has done this is by co-hosting a radio show, writing for our blog, and contributing to planning for our upcoming Queer Week! We are excited for Liz to show her photography skills in upcoming GSEC events. Thank you for being so awesome Liz, we are excited to see what else is in store from you this semester!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Intern Of The Week

Kory Masen is a sophomore at Chico State and an intern in the LGBTQ program. He was our intern of the week for October 15 but was also the blog intern who was doing the intern of the week post so somehow he didn't receive the credit she deserves! Kory is an activist who has already served on a panel during the GSEC's Queer Week, is helping to plan the Gender Bending Ball and was a vocal part of our Pride March. He has no problem being himself and standing up for what he believes in, and is a valuable part of the GSEC staff.

Michelle Anderson is a junior at Chico State and an intern in the Women's program and our intern of the week for October 22. She's always available to help out around the office and took photos during our Pride March during Queer Week. She has most recently been working on a PowerPoint for Take Back the Night, which will be on November 8. Her dedication and motivation allows her to lend a hand with any office task at hand, which includes her helping clean and organize the closet, going over legacies and always showing up on time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I grew up fascinated by eating disorders.

"Fascinated" sounds like a horrible descriptive word, I know, but it's true - they enthralled me. I was captivated by the skeletal women I saw on LiveJournal pro-ana (pro-anorexia) communities. How committed they were to this goal and each other, telling other girls to "stay strong," the discipline. It never occurred to me through the computer screen these girls had a serious problem, could die from this disease.

This is the perfect example of glamorizing the illness that has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, according to National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders are ever treated for their illness. In the US, up to 24 million men and women are currently suffering from eating disorders.

I'm not sure when my viewpoint on them shifted. I had always flirted with the idea of it - had crash dieted to 400 calories a day, had plastered by bedroom walls with model cut outs from Seventeen. And then one day it was almost like a click in my mind, a little ping! of information that said: this is wrong.

Now I'm immediately turned off when I come across sites that feature "thinspo." Livejournal, which has lost most of its popularity, still has pro-ana communities. "Suspending pro-anorexia communities will not make anyone suffering from the disorder become healthy again. Allowing them to exist, however, has several benefits. It reassures those who join them that they are not alone in the way they feel about their bodies. It increases the chance that the friends and loved ones of the individuals in the community will discover their disorders and assist them in seeking professional help."

While I can see that there may be the few people who make friends that encourage them to seek help, it's also a way for them to share secrets with each other. I shouldn't know that you can drink a ton of water before a weigh in to fluctuate your weigh, or stick rocks in your underwear. Pro-ana groups are also a trigger for men and women recovering from eating disorder's.

Some sites are actively working against them, like Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram.

Facebook staff seek out and delete pro-ana groups because it violates their terms of promoting self-harm, Tumblr shuts down blogs that "actively promote or glorify self harm," Pinterest changed their terms of service in 2012 to ban pro-ana content and Instagram said it would disable accounts with pro-ana hashtags on images. (It should be noted that Tumblr and Pinterest have been largely unsuccessful in regulating pro-ana communities, photos and blogs.)

It's easy to shift blame for the "thin trend" onto one person, like Kate Moss, who has long been a target for her controversial lifestyle and drug abuse. She began modeling at 14 and popularized the "heroin chic" look of the 90s in the Calvin Klein underwear campaign that made her famous. Her unique look was a complete turn from models like Cindy Crawford and in 2009 in an interview with Womens Wear Daily she was quoted saying, "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels," which has become a mantra of the pro-ana community.

Moss and other celebrities with a similar body type (like Keira Knightely, Nicole Richie) have long insisted that they don't suffer from an eating disorder. And body acceptance means you have to love the body you're in, whether you're a size 0 or size 10, and comes down to learning to be healthy and loving yourself.

What's important to remember is eating disorders don't teach a healthy and happy life - if there's anything I've learned from my adolescent years stalking the "thinspiration" and pro-ana boards it's that being thin doesn't automatically mean you're going to be happy, and often times an eating disorder can mask a deeper emotional problem.

I'm not going to lie, I still suffer with body image issues, but improving yourself in beneficial ways is how to start down the right path to accepting yourself. 

For more information read and watch:
Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson
Wasted - Marya Hornbacker
The Best Little Girl in the World - Steven Levenkron (also a TV movie, I think)
Hunger Point: A Novel - Jillian Medoff (also a TV movie with Christina Hendricks)
Thin, a documentary 

Written by Stephanie Geske

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Homophobia in Hip-Hop

I grew up blasting hip-hop through headphones, locked away where my parents couldn't hear the curse words and where I'd silently memorize the lyrics I barely understood. 

Hip-hop is a unique brand of music, as much about the sound as the image of the artist behind it. Male rappers try and be "harder" than each other, rapping about the women and money they have and posing their music videos with huge cars and diamond necklaces.

PBS article on their documentary called "Beyond Beats & Rhythm" says that the greatest insult you can give a man in American culture is to "degrade his manhood."

"It’s calling your manhood into question," said Jelani Cobb, an American author who participated in the PBS documentary. "It’s calling your sexuality into question, it’s saying that if you are not this you must therefore be gay, you must be a gay, you must be a faggot, you know, you must be a bitch nigga.”

An Advocate article charted the timeline of homophobia, with its first point being 1982 with Grandmaster Flash's release of "The Message" that included the lyrics "fag-hag" and "your manhood is took and you're a maytag, spend[ing] the next two years as a undercover fag." 

In 1986 The Beastie Boys tried to title their first album "Don't be a Faggot," and in 1988 Will Smith rapped, "all the homeboys that got AIDS be quiet / all the girls out there that don't like guys be quiet."
(A few of those people later apologized and showed support for the LGBTQ community - The Beastie Boys apologized in 1999  "to the entire gay and lesbian community for the shitty and ignorant things we said on our first record" and Will Smith recently came out in support of gay marriage.)

When I was old enough to realize what certain words and yes, the music videos, meant, I was torn. On one hand the songs and beats were catchy, and did the fact that I didn't really believe the things I'd repeat along with the radio in the car make it okay for me to listen to it? 

That's been the main question for new hip-hop artists like Tyler the Creator, the main face/ leader/ creator of the group Odd Future.On his latest album, Goblin, he used the word "faggot" 213 times according to NME, a music weekly. 

A bit of background: the reason I wanted to research this umbrella topic further is because of a Huffington Post article by Brother Ali where he talks about Tyler the Creator. He reflects on his life as a musician, and how a decade or two ago he used the same words because he was too ignorant (his own words) to realize how incorrect he was.

"I wasn't talking directly about gay people, at least I didn't think I was," he wrote. "I was referring to weak rappers, or the neighbor I ended up scrapping with when I tried to talk to him about putting hands on his girlfriend. What I was too ignorant, and probably too careless, to understand was that using that word was co-signing the narrative that being gay means a person is weak and doesn't deserve respect. That's what insecure young dudes do when we don't feel complete as men. We place so-called traditional manhood on a pedestal and look down on any bitches or faggots that dare to claim equal access to respect."

"I’m not homophobic," Tyler said in an NME interview. "I just think ‘faggot’ hits and hurts people. It hits. And ‘gay’ just means you’re stupid. I don’t know, we don’t think about it, we’re just kids. We don’t think about that shit. But I don’t hate gay people. I don’t want anyone to think I’m homophobic."

What hit me most about that quote is: we don't think about it, we're just kids. Tyler is 20, my age, and the age of many other college students who are fighting for gay rights.

And what's even more incredulous is Syd the Kyd, a member of Odd Future, is openly lesbian, (and comes off as an almost feminist in her NME article with the tag line: "Syd the Kyd Could be Hip-Hop's Next Lesbian Icon") and insists that Tyler's words aren't offensive when you realize the context they're being used in. 

"A lot of people take things out of context, and you’ve got to understand that there is a difference between saying, ‘Hey, you faggot’ and 'Hey, faggot,'" Syd said. "When Tyler says 'faggot,' he's not referring to gays, he's referring to lame people. And in our vocabulary, that's what the word 'faggot' means."

Frank Ocean, another Odd Future member, recently came out on his Tumblr blog, saying the first time he fell in love was at 19 with another man. Tyler was quick to show his support on Twitter, saying: "My Big Brother Finally Fucking Did That. Proud Of That Nigga Cause I Know That Shit Is Difficult Or Whatever."

So if Tyler isn't homophobic and is openly showing support for gay hip-hop artists, is he trying to desensitize the word "faggot?" Is he attempting to change the meaning of it, the way "queer" was used negatively and reclaimed by the LGBTQ community?

To me, words are so powerful that it doesn't matter if Tyler isn't speaking directly to people who are gay, his anti-gay slurs are something that'll be passed on to his fans as something that's "okay."

"[Homophobic language has] the power to fuel intolerance and hostility," GLAAD’s Kimberley McLeod told "It’s an irresponsible message for him to send to his young fans."

Written by Stephanie Geske