So, You Want to Be Legendary?

By Morgan Clark

June is Pride month and there are many ways to celebrate. Go to the pride parade. learn about historic figures for the LGBTQ+ community. or watch an incredible competition show called Legendary. That’s what I did. Legendary spotlights the ballroom culture and educates those who do not know about the ballroom scene. Luckily, I have some knowledge about the ballroom from another great show for the LGBTQ+ community, Pose. The ballroom was created in the 1970s as a safe-haven for brown and black queers. Houses showcase their fashion sense and talents to win titles and trophies. On the show, ten houses compete for the title, Legendary House,” and win a $100,000 cash prize. Each week the judges and contestants participate in a theme. The first judge is Law Roach. If you have not heard of him, he is a designer for celebrities such as Céline Dion and Zendaya, who paved a way for himself with some of the most iconic looks from this decade. The next judge is Megan Thee Stallion, a raptress who has encouraged women to embrace their sexuality and bodies, coining the term “Hot Girl Summer.” Following Megan Thee Stallion, is Jameela Jamil, a British actress, and activist. She is known for her role on The Good Place and making a space on her Instagram account that allows others to post about their weight and normalize it. The last judge is the iconic Leiomy Maldonado, who has been in the ballroom scene since the age of 15, and gained the name, the “Wonder Woman of Vogue.” Leiomy became an icon in the ballroom community as an international voguing star who has since transitioned to model and actress. Even the emcee, Dashaun Wesley, is considered a world-renowned dancer and icon in the ballroom community. He even competed on MTV alongside Leiomy on America’s Best Dance Crew.

Besides the outstanding judges, the houses are incredible with each of them showcasing their talents. But what makes them incredible are the stories behind each house that show viewers they are a family and that there is more to the ballroom scene than the voguing. There is family and community. Legendary has shown how important the ballroom scene is to the LGTBQ+ community and why it should be on a platform.

 

 

How Plants Helped My Mental Health

By Morgan Clark

Recently, I became a full-blown plant mom, something that I am very proud of. My plants helped me stay sane during those long days of quarantine. I live by myself, unless you include my rambunctious puppy, Xena. For the most part, I enjoy having a place to myself. Not worrying if my music is too loud or asking myself how I can be considerate of the other person. To balance my time by myself, I usually step out to hang with friends, which enables me to power up my social battery. This could not be done since March of last year due to Covid, and, unconsciously, I developed a new hobby.

First, I bought one plant to liven up my house, Then I bought another one. And now I have 20 plus plants. There was a time when the employees where I bought my plants knew my face from the many times I visited there. Some would say I have an addiction, but I did notice something important. When I take care of my plants, I feel better. It is like I am taking care of myself, and I feel lighter each time I water and clip my babies. Days when I wanted to stay in bed (and there were many during quarantine), I got up to open the blinds for my plants. Which somehow put a battery in my back to start my day. When I feel lonely, stressed, or down, I go to my “green room” and tend to my plants. It calms my nerves and gives me something else to focus on. Nothing is more exciting than seeing a new bulb from one of your plants. My plants are a reflection of my mental health.

I grew up with plants in the house, because my daddy had many plants. At a young age, I did not understand why he cared for them so much, but I now realize that plants support one’s mental health. And, I am not the only one. I have friends who have realized this too. We now share a bond based on what plants are easy to care for and what plants are harder to grow. Whenever I can, I recommend for people to bring plants into their house, even if it a cactus. It can be a challenge at first, but nothing is more rewarding than having plants…trust me.

 

 

End of Year Reflections: Morgan Clark

By Morgan Clark

We made it! Another semester in a pandemic and…whew I am tired! I will admit this semester was kinder to my mental health mainly because of the weather. Dealing with school along with a pandemic in the winter is NOT healthy. But luckily the sun is shining and flowers are blooming. This semester at the Women’s Center we had many events. I started this semester with Welcome Week. I was able to create social media posts, introducing our staff to the masses. My next event that I thoroughly enjoyed was Afro Femme. A social media campaign to inform our followers about Black feminists/womanists. Doing this event allowed me to gain knowledge of women I knew little to nothing about, which made me want to learn more on their theories on feminism. March was Women’s History Month and we did a lot. One my favorite events was Every Body is Beautiful Week.  I think this was an important topic to speak on especially with the pandemic, many people’s bodies have changed and that’s okay. The last event that I enjoyed was the Intersexions and Identity webinar. I consider myself an ally to the LGBTQ community, and this webinar was a place where I able to listen. Not only to listen but learn how to be a better ally. The webinar also addressed the Latinx community, which allowed me to learned about the history of the word “Latinx” and the issues that some have with it.

I think the Women’s Center did a good job adjusting to the pandemic. I have to admit it was a bit hard putting events together for social media when it was previously an in-person event, but we did it. I think this semester we tried to find ways to gain more engagements on social media, besides likes. It was frustrating at times when there was little to no engagement but I had to remind myself that it is a pandemic. This is still a challenge for the Women’s Center now but I do believe that once the campus opens up this will change.

For me this semester was about learning and creating for and from the Women’s Center. I have gained knowledge from our forums, social media events, and from myself. I think that the Women’s Center fits well with my social ideologies and my work personality. Working here has shown me what I do want in a career and what I don’t want. I am appreciative of the Women’s Center and look forward to work with them this summer.

Stealthing

By Morgan Clark

It was recently in the news that California might be the first state to declare stealthing as illegal. A bill was introduced by Cristina Garcia in Febraury to make stealthing an act of sexual battery, allowing victims to take legal actions if needed. Stealthing is the act of removing one’s condom without consent during intercourse. When I learned about this bill, I was happy and upset at the same time. I’m happy because we are moving in the right step to acknowledge that this is an act of sexual assault and those who are victims should be able to take legal actions. I’m upset because there is a chance that this bill will not be pass. Also, there are 49 states that have not recognized stealthing as an act of sexual assault which allows assaulters to continue this act with little to no consequences.

There are also those who do not see this as violation, but more of a misunderstanding. This is not true. As a victim of stealthing, I know this. If you make it clear that you want to use protection during intercourse and the other person chose otherwise is violating. It takes away your agency of your body. It also puts you in risk of unwanted pregnancy and STI. So why do they do this?  According to gynecologist Dr. Sumayya Ebrahim and their research in 2019, they believe their victim’s body is their possession. They also stated it feels better without protection, to spread their seed and the thrill of degradation. Yet, many people believe that stealthing is the “grey area” of sex, which in my opinion does not exist. Even if someone were able to convince me there was a grey area (doubt it), stealthing would not fall in that category! I hope the officials in California pass the bill so they can be an example for the other 49 states.

Sources: https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/why-stealthing-is-a-violation-of-consent/12639172

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-02-08/california-bill-classify-non-consensual-condom-removal-sexual-battery

Women’s History Month: Sojourner Truth

By Morgan Clark

Sojourner Truth is known for her work as an abolitionist and her work in the Civil War that caught the attention of President Abraham Lincoln. Born Isabella Baumfree in 1797, she was born into slavery in New York and was sold to her first slave master at the age of 9. He was known to beat and abuse his slaves regularly. At the age of 13, she was sold again to her second slave master. Around 1815, Isabella was forced to marry a slave and bore five children, after being forced apart from the man she loved.

In 1827 she ran away to freedom, after her master did not honor his promise to free her and the other slaves. She ended up in New Paltz, New York, with her newborn daughter. There, she was taken in by the Wagenens, who eventually paid for her freedom for $20. Isabella then sued her previous slave master for illegally selling her son, Peter. She was the first black woman to sue a white man and win. In 1829, she moved her family to New York City,  where she became a Christian and became heavily involved in the Church. She worked closely with two preachers. In 1843 she renamed herself Sojourner Truth because she believed it was her religious obligation to go out and speak the truth. The year after she joined a Massachusetts abolitionist group, where she metFredrick Douglas who had a great influence on her career as an abolitionist.

In 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Right Convention Sojourner Truth gave her famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” which addressed the intersection of being a woman and black in that time period. During the convention, she met women’s activists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Lady Stanton.

During the Civil War, Sojourner Truth was an advocate for young men to join the Union. She was able to organize supplies for the young men. Because of her work, she was invited to the White House and recruited to be involved with the Freedmen’s Bureau. She was able to find jobs for freed slaves. During this time, she tried to lobby against segregation and fought to give land to freed slaves. Sojourner Truth was a woman ahead of her time, speaking of intersectionality before it was a term and knowing that segregation was wrong. She died at her home on November 26, 1883. Her tombstone stating, “Is God Dead?” refers to a question she asked her colleague Fredrick Douglas to remind him to stay faithful.

Women’s History Month: Dr. Mabel Ping Hua-Lee

By Morgan Clark

When we think of women’s suffrage leaders we usually think of Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and maybe Ida B. Wells. But no one speaks about Dr. Mabel Ping Hua-Lee, who had the same amount of influence in the movement. Born in Hong Kong, Mabel Lee and her family moved to America in 1905 after she won a scholarship that provided her and her family visas. They settled in Chinatown in New York City where she attended Erasmus Hall Academy in Brooklyn.

At the age of 15, Mabel Lee was a figure in the New York City suffragist movement. She helped lead a parade for women’s rights, attended by up to ten thousand people. In 1912 she began her studies at Barnard College, an all-women’s school. She began to write essays on feminism for The Chinese Students’ Monthly.  One of her popular essays was “The Meaning of Woman Suffrage” in which she argued that suffrage would lead to a successful democracy. In 1915 Lee was invited to give a speech at the Women’s Political Union. In her speech “The Submerged Hall” she advocated for education for girls and civic participation from women in the Chinese community. The 19th Amendment passed in 1917 allowing women to vote— white women. Mabel Lee and others were not able to vote because of the color of their skin and laws that stopped women of color from voting.

After graduating from Barnard College, Lee pursued her Ph.D. in economics at the Columbia University, becoming the first Chinese woman to do so. After school Dr. Mabel Lee published her research in book form, naming it The Economic History of China. Dr. Mabel Lee became the director of the First Chinese Baptist Church of New York City after the passing of her father. She founded the Chinese Christian Center a little bit after, providing classes for English and health clinics. She dedicated her life to the Chinese Community until her death in 1966.

Angela Davis The Figurehead

By Morgan Clark

If you have looked up or read anything about the Black Panthers, then you have seen her before. Angela Davis has been an activist since she was young. She was born and raised in Brigham, Alabama. Davis knew about racism and discrimination at a young age. Her neighborhood was called “Dynamite Hill” due to the Ku Klux Klan continuously targeting their homes.  She was friends with one of the victims in the 16th Baptist Church Bombing. At the age of 15, Davis moved to New York for high school. She then studied abroad in Germany at the Frankfurt school, a school focusing on social theory and critical thinking. She came back and became active in the Communist Party and the Black Panthers

In 1970, Jonathan Jackson stormed the Marin County Courthouse taking hostages of the judge and three jurors in an attempt to demand the release of the Soledad Brothers, a group of African American inmates who were charged with killing a white prison guard. As a result, both Jackson and the judge were killed. Unfortunately, it was Davis’ shotgun that was used for the invasion. She was soon charged with first degree murder and aggravated kidnapping. She fled to New York but was caught and served 18 months in prison. She gained attention from many famous people such as Aretha Franklin who paid for her bail and the Rolling Stones who wrote a song about her, turning her into a figurehead for political activism. In 1981, she wrote her first book “Women, Race and Class”. She continues to be a champion for activism, being recently interviewed about Breonna Taylor, pointing out that it’s often unacknowledged that black women were also both victims of lynching and also activists working to end lynching.

Davis is currently at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she teaches courses on feminism and  the prison abolition movement. Davis is an inspiration for many women. She has always been a voice against oppression. Her powerful interviews have been included in documentaries. Angela Davis has made a pathway for women all around and will continue to do so.

Reflection Blog Fall 2020

By Morgan Clark

This year has been a difficult year for a lot of students, given the pandemic and all. It has been an especially hard adjustment for me. But I can say that working with the Women’s Center has helped me get through this semester. Joining the team, I was excited to work for this organization because it’s an organization that promoted the same values that I have. This especially showed in our events. One of the first events I was involved in was the social media campaign that took place in August called “Why I Choose to be a Feminist.” We partnered up with the Counseling Center for this event to promote individuals and their passion for feminism. For this event I was able to use and expand some of my creative skills. The next event I took part in was Walk A Mile. Usually, this event is a social event that allows men to strut their stuff around campus in a show of solidarity with victims of sexual assault. With COVID-19 we had to limit that. However, it was still a successful event that got a lot of participants. Right now, I am finishing up our other social media campaign Phenomenal Feminist Friday. For that, I post a feminist, that each of the staff has chosen, on Friday. I will admit I have learned about some women that I did not know prior to this project! Each of these events has taught me something about myself. How I work with others, what kind of workspace I would like to be in, etc. It has even piqued my interest in a career like what I have done here. It has also been nice to plan these events and see how successful they turn out to be. I will be coming back to the Women’s Center next semester, and I hope to bring more of my creative skills into focus when I do! With Black History month coming soon, I do want to focus on Black feminists and how they are contributing to our culture. After that, I want to do the same thing, but with all women, in March. And finally, for April, I want to inform people about sexual assault. I want to let people know that there are many different types of assaults, and provide a resource to those who have been affected by sexual assault. I am looking forward to the Spring semester and the events to come.

See you soon,

Morgan C.

One Hundred…Tampons in Space

By Morgan Clark

I recently saw a TikTok that made me laugh, but was actually kind of disappointing. In this TikTok the creator made fun of NASA for sending one of their female astronauts into space with 100 tampons… for just a single week!! Yup…100 hundred tampons. I could not help but laugh at that. NASA–a company that takes pride in having intelligent scientists and making ground breaking, world changing discoveries–sent this woman with a surplus of tampons for only a week. I had to look further into this.

In 1983 America sent up their first female astronaut, Sally Ride. This was a huge deal because many NASA scientists did not believe women were suited to be astronauts. Prior to Ride, there were requirements that specifically excluded women from becoming astronauts. These requirements included things like: having an engineering degree and graduating from jet pilot programs, which, during that time, the military did not allow women to do. This meant that by default, in order to be an astronaut, you had to be a man. This was challenged in the 1960’s by the Woman in Space Program, a privately funded project founded by two scientists who believed women were a better fit for space because they were able to fit more comfortably in the small, cramped spacecraft. Soon this project was turned into a program that resulted in 13 trained women who passed NASA’s selection test. Unfortunately, the program was abruptly canceled in 1962 which stopped the 13 qualified women from actually becoming astronauts.

It was in 1978 when Sally Ride and five other women were chosen to join NASA’s class of ’78. (After the suspicious shutdown program in 1962). Although Ride and her other female classmates were officially invited by NASA to take part in the program and go to space, they were met with some hesitation from the older astronauts. Being the first time that many of them had female co-workers it’s not all that hard to imagine why the men would be a bit put off. The new girls on the scene made it work though, and those like Sally Ride, pushed right on through to the top.

Ride was deployed to space with four crewmembers in June of 1983 on the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-7. It was during this launch that NASA recommend sending 100 tampons with her for the week-long journey, and it they weren’t joking. When Ride was interviewed after her voyage she was mainly asked about the make-up she took into space with her. “Everybody wanted to know about what kind of makeup I was taking up. They didn’t care about how well-prepared I was to operate the arm or deploy communications satellites.” Sally stated in her 1983 interview with Gloria Steinem. Although Ride faced many obstacles regarding her sex, she went on to become a well-known astronaut. Not only for being the first American woman in space, but also by assisting in the investigations of the Columbia and the Challenger shuttle disasters. She also aided NASA in strategic planning and continued to do so until she retired. After which she became a physics professor and author. Ride passed away in 2012 leaving behind a legacy that is still inspiring young women everywhere.

Looking Deeper at our Phenomenal Feminist: Laverne Cox

 

By Morgan Clark

Laverne Cox caught the public’s eye in her brilliant performance as Sophia Burset in the hit Netflix TV show Orange is the New Black. Cox’s character was a trans woman in prison fighting for the right to receive her hormones medication. For many of us, that character was the first open door into learning about trans women and the obstacles that they face daily. Cox’s role as Sophia was a very important piece of popular culture that allowed people, especially young adults, to become aware of and educated on trans women. But how did Laverne Cox get to Orange is the New Black?

Laverne started as a dancer at Marymount Manhattan College, but soon turned to acting. She started her career doing plays and appearing in small films during her senior year of college. While in college, Laverne started her transition and went from being gender conforming to being more femme, eventually beginning her medical transition and identifying as female. During this time, Cox was performing in drag clubs although she never truly identified as a drag queen.

Orange is the New Black was Cox’s big break, and it was really  big.  Her role earned her 3 Emmy nominations, a first in history for transgender women. Since the beginning of the Netflix show, Cox has gone on to acquire many other firsts. Such as actually winning and Emmy award for a film she executively produced called Laverne Cox presents: The T Word. And finally in 2017 she went on to become the first transgender person to play a transgender series regular on broadcast TV in her new role on CBS’s show Doubt.

But beyond TV and acting, Cox is also known for her advocacy for trans rights; speaking on the issues trans women have faced, particularly trans women of color. Cox works hard to highlight the narrative that Trans Women are systematic pushed into crime, homelessness and sex work. In 2017 Cox spoke against certain actions that the Trump administration had taken to disenfranchise trans women. Cox has also advocated for the HIV/AIDS community, making herself the first spokeswoman for Johnson and Johnson’s Band-Aid Red campaign. In an interview that Cox did with Johnson and Johnson she explains why advocating for the HIV/AIDS community and relief efforts are so important to her: “It’s about all of the friends in my life whom I have lost to HIV/AIDS over the years. It’s about the folks in my life who are currently living with HIV and the stigma they face. It’s about being in that fight, in partnership with them. It’s a tribute to them—and I love actionable things that people can do to make a difference.” Now you can find her actively on social media still speaking out against the injustice trans women face.