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Sunday, May 12, 2013

I attended all three of the Is Tolerance Enough? Workshop Series that was implemented this semester by Kory Acosta and I think it was a great addition to the events that the GSEC already puts on. They were very informative and a great safe space to come and learn or ask questions. For those of you who did not get a chance to attend I just wanted to give a summary about each of the workshops.

The first Is Tolerance Enough? Workshop #1 was on February 28th and I really enjoyed it. This workshop focused on the difference between sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. It was titled beyond the binary because it focused on all these topics but in terms of them on the spectrum. Sex was defined as the biological characteristics that define men and women, so genitals and chromosomes, whereas gender was the physical presentation of one’s internal self as well as their outward performance of their internal self.  Sexuality on the other hand, is who one is romantically or sexually attracted to. They discussed stereotypical gender roles such as females being passive and emotional or males being assertive and aggressive. The binary refers to the recognition of only men and women whereas the spectrum recognizes that there are many other identities that can fall somewhere in-between. They talked about the difference between cisgender and trans individuals; cisgender being that your biological characteristics (genitals and chromosomes) match up with how you perceive your gender identity and trans individuals are assigned a certain sex at birth based on their genitals but feel as though it does not match their gender identity.

The second Is Tolerance Enough? Workshop #2 was on April 11th and the purpose of the workshop was to discuss terminology and appropriate language though everyday examples and to learn to be conscious of what and how we are talking to and about others. There was a little overview of the first workshop and then we got in to talking about how asking about relationships or assuming pronouns of individuals can discredit their identity, because if you assume someone identifies as male and they don’t or assume that someone is gay and they aren’t, it can make that personal feel invalidated about who they are, especially if it is an everyday occurrence. We also watched an amazing video which I absolutely loved about using the phrase ‘”that’s so gay” in a negative way and why using language like that is not okay and can really offend people; the speaker in the video did an amazing job of explaining it. Then there were different scenarios projected on the screen about situations in which people said things that offended another person and there was group discussion on why it was offensive and how it could have been done differently. They also talked about problematic terms, such as transgenders and sex change, whereas preferred ways to refer to those would be transgender people or in transition. They also talked about cisgender priviledge, and how that appears in many areas of life, whether individuals realize it or not. An example of this can be as simple as having a bathroom to go in and one that you feel comfortable with and identify with, whereas trans* individuals don’t have that luxury and one of the most dangerous places for them is actually bathrooms because they can get harassed, beaten up, and even murdered.

The third and final Is Tolerance Enough? Workshop #3 was on May 9th and this workshop was a panel that consisted of four individuals who identified differently along the spectrum of sexuality and gender. One individual identified as a gay man, another individual was a transman, the other individual identified as a queer woman, and the last individual was a transman who identified as a queer/gay. They all talked a little bit about themselves and their coming our stories or when they realized their identities and the impact of that experience. They also discussed the binary and how they fit into it or don’t and the pressures that society puts on people to conform to those binaries. They discussed privilege and how that has influenced them in different ways. They even touched on the topic of the very stereotypical representation of gays in the media. It was a very interesting panel and I think that hearing people’s personal stories or perspectives is a great opportunity to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and learn about their experiences. One of the interesting points of the panel was when they talked about how when transitioning, transmen gain privilege (especially if they are white) whereas transwomen actually sacrifice and give up their privilege.

By Michelle Anderson

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why We Need Feminism

We need feminism because women are still considered the weaker sex. We need feminism because violence against women is still prevalent and real. Because rape is real and it happens here. Because women oppress and shame other women. We need feminism because when a female politician speaks, her appearance is critiqued instead of her opinions. Because women are underrepresented. Because women are objectified. We need feminism because our voices are quieter, but just as powerful. We need feminism because women’s dresses and skirts are not provocative. Because shaving our legs or armpits is not an obligation. Because our views of beauty have been distorted and twisted to fit patriarchal standards. Because women are evaluated in relation to men. We need feminism because being a women is not degrading. Because makeup, dresses, or heels do not define femininity.
I need feminism because my future involves a career and pets instead of a home and children. Because I was told I wasn’t supposed to work on cars. Because some of my male friends think it’s okay to shame women based on how they look. Because my opinions matter just as much. I need feminism because I didn’t have a strong female role model growing up. I need feminism because I wasted too much time being uneducated.
We need feminism because women are not timid, powerless, unhelpful. We, as a world, need feminism because equality is necessary.

By Megan Brantley

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What I want my words to do to you...

            I want my words to inspire you to think...and think hard about your actions, your                         words, your thoughts, your perceptions.
            I want you to hear the anger in my inflections, the frustration in my pauses, see                         the sense of hopelessness and loneliness on my face, and ask yourself,                         “What             can I do?” or better yet, “What am I doing?”
            I want you to find your place in the fight, on the side of the solution.
            I want an ally.
            I want a fellow soldier to fight behind me on the front lines...only alongside when                         we are both ready.
            This is what I want my words to do to you.

            I want my words to anger you.
            To infuriate.
            I want to see your face snarl, your jaw clench, your brow tense.
            I want you to feel my pain, and to find your own.
            I want my words to force you into reality, unseat apathy, and replace it with             activism.
            I want you to feel like a human being, in every sense of the term.
                        Connected to the earth and to others
            Realizing that the anger, frustration, fear, and pain that runs through my veins                         ought to be the same that runs through yours.
            I want you to be so angry you won’t know where to start or which way to go.
            I want you to feel something.
            This is what I want my words to do to you.

By Nicole McAllister

Thursday, May 2, 2013

            Jeannette Rankin was an amazing woman who accomplished extraordinary things in her lifetime. Not only was she the first woman in congress, she was a suffragist and one of the few elected to congress. During her time in office she was the only one to vote against both World Wars. She knew she had a huge obligation to uphold to the women of her country and her country.  She was the first woman in congress, though she knew she would not be the last.
            Rankin was born in Missoula, Montana in 1880 to a rancher and school teacher. She graduated from University of Montana in 1902, and then went to Colombia University School of Social Work in New York. She moved to Washington where she was a social worker before attending the University of Washington. It was in Washington where she joined the women’s movement and became a lobbyist for the National American Women Suffrage Association. In 1914 both her organizational and speaking skills aided in Montana women gaining the right to vote.
            In 1916, Rankin decided to run for the House of Representatives. She had some significant factors that played to her advantage. First, she had a good reputation as a suffragist and her brother was politically connected and financed her whole campaign. Also, the novelty of a woman running for congress helped her secure a GOP nomination for an At-Large seat to represent Montana. She ran as a progressive and her platform focused on the creation of a congressional women suffrage amendment and work on social welfare issues. She came in second, securing her seat for Montana. As the first woman in congress, Rankin was on the frontlines of the national women’s suffrage fight. In the fall of 1917, she aided in the creation of a Committee on Woman Suffrage, and was appointed to it. In January 1918 the special committee reported out a constitutional amendment on women’s suffrage. Rankin was the first to open a House Floor debate on a constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage.  She opened it by saying, “How shall we answer the challenge, gentlemen?” she asked. “How shall we explain to them the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted to make the world safe for democracy refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?” The resolution narrowly passed the House, but died in the Senate. 
            Prior to the 1918 election, the Montana state legislature passed legislation replacing the state’s two At-Large seats with two separate districts. This put Rankin in a tough position because she would have to run against a Democratic incumbent in an overwhelmingly Democratic district. She was not re-elected to congress. During her time away from congress Rankin became the leading lobbyist and speaker for the National Council for the Prevention of War. The coming of the Second World War brought Rankin back to run for congress, in 1940. Rankin was re-elected to the house for a second term with 54 percent of the votes. After leaving congress in 1943 she continued on with her activist work to stop war. Her favorite place to travel was India because of her fascination with Mohandas K. Gandhi and his nonviolent protest tactics. She passed away on May 18, 1973 in Carmel, California. At the time leading up to her death she was thinking about running for congress again to protest the Vietnam War. She was a woman with extraordinary influence and a drive that paved the path for women to enter into the political arena.

 By Kirsten Foster