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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

Monday, September 10, 2012

Self Acceptance

Self acceptance is two words that are very difficult to come in terms with regardless of your sexuality.
It is a subject near and dear to my heart, because I have been a victim of the struggle that comes along with achieving self acceptance. Unfortunately society plays a big role in this delicate subject, and to most of us it’s the determining factor in achieving the beauty of being ourselves.
I believe in the LGBTQ community it is a bit more challenging to reach this goal, because our uniqueness is seen as negative in the eyes of society. A lot of us have to go though very challenging hoops to get to our main goal of self acceptance. Others don’t get there in their life because of the “norm,” family values, fear and lack of support.
Being an intern at the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center, I want to be the support, focus and advocate for the beauty of being one’s self. I would like for us as an amazing group, to bring people in and encourage them to see through the binoculars of self acceptance and have them experience a fraction of the incredibly amazing feeling of being them.
“That feeling” is like the most addictive drug, in my opinion, once you experience how it feels to be you, you won’t have it any other way.
Written by Elizabeth R. Uribe