We need to change the dress code, not what girls wear.

By: Laura Yac 

While being in school, a very common phrase that young girls/teenagers are scared to hear is,  “Are you aware of the school’s dress code?” This is a short phrase that can bring so much shame and embarrassment to these individuals in a place where they are meant to feel safe. Young girls are described as a distraction because of what they choose to wear. At such a young age, girls are being sexualized and that only causes long term harm. Establishing these ideas in young girls only leads them to grow to be ashamed of what they choose to wear due to the feedback that they may receive. It’s crazy to think we have been taught to believe that showing your knees or too much shoulder is an issue to our education.  One might ask; how does wearing a tank top have anything to do with test scores?

I hope that with time there is change brought to this now socially acceptable way to embarrass young girls covered by being a dress code violation. I believe that young girls should be allowed to wear what they see fit without being considered a distraction to others. Because being honest, how distracting can a person’s collar bone be? Until change is made district if not nationwide, we are left with seeing young girls filled with guilt for how they choose to dress.

Want to learn more on this issue affecting young girls? Click here or here.

 

Blocking Someone Doesn’t Mean It’s Over – Part III

By Brianna Green

I ended the second part of this trilogy by saying, “The second thing that really bothers me is the entitlement this man felt that led him to show up to my apartment, my space, and demand my time and attention — especially after I had made it clear that I did not want him there. Why do some people feel like they have the right to break someone’s boundaries and invade their space?”  

 One explanation for someone (a man, specifically) feeling this entitlement to other people’s space, time, or bodies, is the socialization of boys. 

The way boys see themselves fitting into society can give them the feeling that they have an inherent right to certain things without needing to do anything to earn it. SaferResources says, “In the Western world, many men are taught from birth they have an inherent right to power… little boys see these lessons play out in the books they read and the movies they watch and the media constantly feeding into their subconscious.”  

SaferResources gives examples of male entitlement which includes: 

  • “Having an attitude of superiority, of being better and smarter than one’s partner and other women in general; 
  • Insisting on [unearned] respect or treatment entitled to as a man; 
  • Dismissing the opinions, ideas, and feedback of others; 
  • Acting above criticism; 
  • Possessing a strong need to be right and to win; and 
  • Expecting sex from their spouse as a duty or a demand.” 

Male entitlement is an issue that can be harmful to many people. Look at my story as an example: because this guy felt entitled enough to come to my place, I feel more anxious and like I have to be hyper vigilant at night now.  

When someone feels they deserve something inherently, being denied that thing can make them angry or even violent. The World Health Organization lists “ideologies of male sexual entitlement” as a factor “specifically associated with sexual violence perpetration.” Definitely check out this article to learn more about entitlement leading to violence against women.  

To avoid leaving you on a sad note, one thing we can do to combat this issue, according to SaferResources, is “take responsibility for behavior that we know is harmful to others. If you see others acting in destructive ways, point this out. Never collude with disrespectful behavior.” 

Blocking Someone Doesn’t Mean It’s Over – Part II

By Brianna Green

If you caught the first part of this post in October, you’ll remember that one morning at 10 a.m. I blocked the number of a guy I had been seeing. Unfortunately, blocking him didn’t stop him from coming to my apartment later that night.  

It was around 9:30 p.m. and I was wearing an oversized t-shirt, working on homework before heading off to bed. I heard a few knocks at my back door and froze for a minute. There’s no way it’s him, I thought to myself naively.  But it was. I opened the door and let him inside. We talked and, at first, it sounded like he still wanted to get back together. I was confused, I was shaken, and I didn’t understand what was going on. I had texted some friends to tell them that he was at my apartment, and thankfully one of them showed up with their boyfriend. I talked to her outside for a few minutes, and she brought me back down to Earth. The situation was fucked up.  

I told her I was okay and they reluctantly left. After I went back inside, I told him again that we should go separate ways, and things immediately went south. He started getting mean, saying that I was “cruel,” that I “should never be in a relationship,” and that I “have issues.” This was exactly what I feared would happen if I broke up with him in person. After the parade of insults, he claimed that he was happy he came to my apartment that night and he finally left.  

Although he left voluntarily, over the next week I felt incredibly anxious at night. I had to check that all the doors and windows were shut and locked at least twice before going to bed. I was hyper vigilant walking from my door to the building door. I was constantly questioning myself: What did I do wrong? Was this all my fault? 

Obviously, several things bother me about this encounter. First, my reaction: I was scared and I was playing it down. My instinct was to worry that I was being dramatic by telling people the story and taking a mental health day off from work and school after it happened. However, this is an unhealthy perspective; it’s not my (or your) fault if someone else decides to be a dangerous person. And it is not overdramatic to be considerate of your safety and mental health. 

The second thing that really bothers me is the entitlement this man felt that led him to show up to my apartment, my space, and demand my time and attention — especially after I had made it clear that I did not want him there. Why do some people feel like they have the right to break someone’s boundaries and invade their space? This is unfortunately often a gender-equity issue. Keep an eye out for the last part of this series, where I will discuss this phenomenon.  

Sexism in the Queer Community: Some Factors

By Ace Garrett

Last week, Sierra enlightened us to the limited representation for queer women and foc people on screen. Today we are going to dive into the what factors influence the perception of queer women and foc people. We do not see well-rounded representation of queer foc relationships in the media (let alone frequently), so what gives?

Note: Claims in this post not hyperlinked to a source come from my reading of the book Becoming Cliterate by psychology professor and human sexuality expert Dr. Laurie Mintz. I highly recommend it to everybody.

First of all, patriarchal control has majorly influenced the porn industry and sex on screen: for decade, the idea has proliferated that sex without a dick involved is not sex. Why do you think it is common for an entire sexual encounter to consist of a hand job or blow job, while going down on a woman is “only foreplay” leading up to the main event? This societal norm is harmful for all of us with vulvas, and it means that sex between two female people is discredited. It is difficult for queer female relationships to be respected when queer female sexuality is completely misunderstood. 

Secondly, queer women actually are represented on screen—as sexual objects. If you can think of “queer women” on screen, how often are these women just making out, doing whatever the male director considers lesbian sex, or doing either of those in the company of one or more men? Queer women and foc people are mostly represented in media so far as they are a tool for male enticement and enjoyment. Even most “lesbian” porn is made through the male gaze and with the intention of pleasing men. This quote from The Atlantic suggests an explanation: “men are most aroused by visual cues that emphasize youth and downplay drama and emotional complexity. Lesbian porn, therefore, works for straight men by ‘doubling up’ those visual stimuli, Ogas told me. The only thing better than one nubile, personality-free woman is two of them.” This phenomenon somehow manages to hypersexualize queer women and foc people while tying that sexualization to men. 

The resulting perspectives of queer women and foc people are that their relationships are mostly sexual, but only “for fun”—they don’t have real sex. Quite the oxymoron. People more often than not fail to see relationships between women and foc people as strong and complex romantic bonds like other partnerships, which in turn, narrows the representation of our relationships in media. As I hope we will explore in future posts, these factors also result in other sexism-driven difficulties for queer women and foc people. 

Brief Analysis of Chapter VI of A Vindication of the Rights of Women

By Emma Gilham

Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women, written in 1791, questions societal norms placed on women in that time from a philosophical perspective. Chapter VI “The Effect Which an Early Association of Ideas Has on Character” focuses on the concept that women would never be able to experience true love and intimacy unless they were educated equally as men. She claims, as things were, that women had false ideas of what love would be as they couldn’t connect on an intellectual level with their potential partner, hence chasing charming but undesirable “rakes”. Wollstonecraft asks, “And how can they [men] expect women, who are only taught to observe behavior, and acquire manners rather than morals, to despise what they have been all their lives laboring to attain?” (126). In the 18th century, young, middle-class, white women’s education consisted mostly of learning manners, politeness and creating a demure, inoffensive persona. Therefore, that aspect of a partner was inherently valued more heavily Wollstonecraft argues. In the end, this hindered the ability of these women to experience real love and adequately navigate suitors. She laments, “…women are captivated by easy manners; a gentlemen-like man seldom fails to please them and their thirsty ears eagerly drink the insinuating nothings of politeness…” (127).

In the beginning of Wollstonecraft’s work, the reader may assume most of her points are outdated, as education systems have drastically changed and been standardized. Yet, her observations are still applicable to issues many of us encounter when seeking a relationship today. Consistently, people are charmed by someone only to later realize this person is not who they had thought. Are these simply mistakes that anyone would make or are womxn still conditioned to value surface level traits more in a partner? This chapter brings up many feminist ideological and philosophical questions. I recognize that Wollstonecraft’s work is probably the furthest thing from intersectional. However, it is important to ponder how the societal norms and constructs we grow up in influence our preferences in a partner, views on romanticism, or even our ability to love. For instance, many of the movies I watched as a child revolved around a marriage or a romantic relationship. Did this give me the impression that romantic love is more important or valuable than familial or platonic? We may never know, but asking these questions can help us better understand the things we do and the people we choose.

 

Works Cited

                    Reed, Ross. The Liberating Art of Philosophy: An Introduction. Cognella, Inc., 2020

Looking Deeper at Our Phenomenal Feminist: Betty Dodson

By Morgan Clark

When you hear the phrase “sex-positive” do you ever think of who coined the phrase? I know I haven’t. Not until one of my team members sent me her pick for our social media campaign Phenomenal Feminist Friday. Betty Dodson was a pioneer of her time, a feminist who was a sexologist that taught women (and men) the worth of self-pleasure, as well as to embrace sex as something that is natural and healing.

Betty first started as an artist at the Art Students League of New York. There, Dodson was making erotic paintings and freelancing as an illustrator for lingerie ads. She then married an advertising executive but was soon divorced because she did not believe they were sexually compatible. At that time her artwork was not doing well in the industry. That’s when she began hosting workshops for women where she showed and told them how to please oneself.

BodySex was the name of the workshops she hosted. In these workshops’ women learned that vaginas came in different sizes, shapes and colors. Dodson believed that teaching women about their bodies, and how to navigate them, was her form of activism. Dodson said “If women could learn to pleasure themselves properly, they could end their sexual dependence on men, which would make everybody happy.”(New York Times, 2020). During this time Betty was vilified by conservative feminists. When teaching a class in Syracuse she was greeted with hissing after showing big displays of the vagina. But she continued to teach women about their bodies for several years.

In 1987 she published “Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving” which eventually became a best seller and was translated into 25 different languages. In this book she speaks about masturbation and how women should learn to view it. That it is a way to love oneself and a possible a way to heal oneself. She also writes in the book about techniques for masturbation using the instructions that she usually used in her workshops. Betty passed on Halloween this year but her works still continue to empower and educate women. BodySex will continue to be hosted several times a year via Zoom by Betty’s work partner Carlin.

Reading about Betty I know that she was very important during those times. To be that sexually liberated and free at those times took courage. I know that women were not as open about sex back in the day. Not knowing about orgasm and even about their own vaginas. I am glad that Betty was able to teach women that it’s okay to learn your own body. I think me and Betty would agree that self-pleasure should not be shameful but embraced, everyone should know what pleases them, even and especially sexually.

Goodbye to a Feminist Icon: Betty Dodson

By Brianna Green

On October 31st of this year, we lost an amazing woman and feminist icon. Her website, with business partner Carlin Ross says Dodson was an, “artist, author, and PhD sexologist (who) has been one of the principal voices for women’s sexual pleasure and health for over four decades.” She’s received rewards from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
(SSSS) and Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR). Playboy even named her in the top 100 most important people in sex along with Cosmopolitan who named her in the top 10 sexual revolutionaries.

Her incredible work started in the late 60’s after her divorce from husband. Her first book, Liberating Masturbation, was self-published in 1974 and was later republished as Sex for One: The Joy of Self-loving in 1986 (thedailybeast). Although more conservative feminists weren’t on board with her message, this best-selling book has a “simple but powerful message that shame-free masturbation is the foundation of every woman’s sexuality” (thedailybeast). However, Dodson didn’t just write books, she also ran “BodySex” masturbation workshops that taught women how to explore themselves and climax. Although these workshops started in the 1970’s, they got revamped in 2013 because, according to the icon herself, “In the 1970s there was no information for women. With the internet, there is misinformation” (thedailybeast).

I cannot express how important Dodson’s work is in my eyes. In my own blogs I try to spread a similar kind of message she did: de-taboo and normalize female sexuality and pleasure. As sad as it is that we lost such a significant figure, we still have her books (listed below) and videos of her spreading her knowledge and message.

Rest in Peace, Betty Dodson. Thank you for your decades of work and incredible knowledge.

 

Books:

Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving (1978)

Orgasms for Two: The Joy of Partnersex (2002)

My Romantic Love Wars: A Sexual Memoir (2010)

Sex by Design: The Betty Dodson Story (2016)

BodySex Basics (2017)

Witches Get Stuff Done: The Salem Witch Trials

By Brianna Green

Happy Halloween Roos! Thank you for watching the Witches Get Stuff Done video and for coming to the blog for more information about the Salem Witch Trails!

So, what were the Salem Witch Trails? The Salem Witch Trials were, as the name indicates, witch trails that happened from January 1692 until May 1693. Around 150 people (men, women, and children) were accused of being a witch or using witchcraft. Sadly, 19 people, mainly women, were hanged after being convicted of witchcraft. Outside of the 19 hangings, a man was crushed to death because of his refusal to plead guilty or not guilty, and another 4 people died in prison awaiting trial (Brooks).

What started this mess that lead to 24 people dying? Let’s start with the context of the time. This was the late 1600s. Salem was a rural community that was very religion and had very strict gender roles, especially for women (Hasset-Walker). Not only that, but there had been a smallpox outbreak; they had a rivalry with a nearby community; they had fears about Native American attacks; and they were still dealing with after affects from the British war with France that happened in 1689 (Brooks; Hasset-Walker). They had a lot going on and there was already a lot of tension.

In January of 1692, two young girls (9 and 11) were diagnosed with bewitchment after having “fits” where they would have outbursts of screaming and violent contortions (History.com). After their diagnoses, other girls from the community started experiencing similar fits. Now, the first two girls named who they thought were causing their bewitchment. They named Sarah Good, Sarah Osborn, and a slave named Tituba. Tituba did confess to witchcraft and claimed others were involved; this confession made people go into panic and hysteria (Brooks). Although these were the first people accused, the first trail and execution happened in June of 1962 with the accused Bridget Bishop.

What’s interesting is that these women were considered outcasts before their accusations. For example, Bishop had been accused of witchcraft well before the trails even started (Brooks). Tituba was a slave. Osborn was an elderly widow who remarried a farmhand. And Good was a homeless beggar. These women did not fit the traditional mold women in these communities usually had which would include being proper, religious, married mothers who acted like caregivers (Hasset-Walker).

As you already know, the trails officially ended in May of 1693 after 24 people had perished. Over the course of the year, the panic slowly subsided and the court realized that they shouldn’t rely on spectral evidence, which is testimony in regard to visions and dreams, to convict someone. The court system apologized for what happened and provided financial restitution to the deceased family members in 1711 (History.com). Along with that, they pardoned the people accused of witchcraft and restored their names (History.com). Of course, with something horrific like this, the damage stayed with the community. This tragedy also inspired the play “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller in 1953 (History.com).

Now, what can we learn from this and how can we apply it to today? I would argue that women are still held to high standards today. From the way we look to the way we act. We can’t be fat but also can’t be too skinny. We need to wear makeup but not too much of it. We can’t be too sexual but also cannot be prudes. Working mothers are criticized for using nannies to help raise their children but if they were stay at home mothers, they’d also hear about how they can work and have a family. Although it’s no longer the 1600s, we still need to fight for our rights and our equality. However, we can use terms like “witch” to our advantage and make it liberating and empowering. After all, witches get stuff done.

Sources:

Brooks, Rebecca Beatrice, et al. “History of the Salem Witch Trials.” History of Massachusetts Blog, 28 May 2020, historyofmassachusetts.org/the-salem-witch-trials/.

Hassett-Walker, Connie. “Perspective | What the Salem Witches Can Teach Us about How We Treat Women Today.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1 Apr. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/06/10/what-the-salem-witches-can-teach-us-about-how-we-treat-women-today/

History.com Editors. “Salem Witch Trials.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 4 Nov. 2011, www.history.com/topics/colonial-america/salem-witch-trials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19’s Impact on Women

By Jordan Tunks

COVID-19 is impacting everyone, but it is impacting women in a different way than men. When the shutdown began in March of 2020, things like restaurants, shopping centers, and movie theaters were being shut down one after another. These industries are employed mostly by women causing the unemployment rate of women to increase dramatically. According to Forbes.com, women accounted for 55% of workers that became unemployed in April compared to men at 13%.

When the shutdown first began, childcare was not deemed as an essential service. This left many mothers in a predicament many men were not put in. This created a burden on women to figure out what to do with their children while they went to work, forcing some women to have to take off work and stay at home. This could lead to more problems at work if they were having to call off multiple times in a row. Fortunately, childcare was deemed essential after a month or so into the pandemic so these mothers and childcare workers could resume their schedule.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted women’s mental health more than men. According to Forbes.com, 52% of COVID-related stress has had a negative impact on women compared to 37% of men. This pandemic has been hard on women in multiple ways, from figuring out childcare to losing a job and having to find another source of income. Men did not have as much of a setback as women, especially when it comes to employment. Many male dominated occupations were deemed a necessity, allowing them to continue working though the months of shut down. Men also typically hold higher positions at work, presenting them with the opportunity to work from home, which many women did not get. Due to these situations, women were and are being affected in very different ways than men during this pandemic. Do you feel like Covid-19 disproportionately affected you?

Notice the Pink Tax

By Jordan Tunks

Have you heard of the Pink Tax? The pink tax is a pricing difference between female products and male products. There is not an actual tax added onto these items, but when comparing the female version to the male version, the female version of equal or lesser quality, is more expensive. This happens with items including but not limited to razors, deodorant, skin care products, and clothing.  According to Listen Money Matters, women pay more than men 42% of the time. This equals out to be $1,300 a year in extra cost!

To battle this tax, there have been subscription boxes created to try to fight the unfair price difference. A few examples of these boxes are Harry’s, Billie, and Boxed. These boxes provide quality products for the same price as men’s products. The Boxed subscription sells items in bulk and for a cheaper price than most retail stores, making them a great substitute for shopping in retail stores for personal care items. You can increase the amount that you receive or reduce the quantity if it begins to be too much. Care products aren’t the only thing subject to the Pink tax though.

In 2014, Old Navy was exposed for charging more for plus size women’s clothes than for men’s plus size clothes. Their defense was that women’s clothing has unique fabrics and design elements. Women’s plus size clothing cost anywhere from $10-$15 more where men’s plus size clothing was the same. Regardless of the reason, this can be seen as discrimination to women and we need to keep women aware of these price differences when they are shopping. Today, this price gap has decreased, but it is still a problem.

This has been a problem for decades and will continue to be a problem until we do something about it. To combat this problem, we need to collectively look at the products we are purchasing and compare them to the male product. Check to see if there are any real differences in the product besides the color or size. If these products are the same, buy the male product. Making more women educated about this issue can help reduce the number of women spending more money for the female product when it costs the same as the male. This could make an impact on the manufacture to lead them to lower prices on women’s items.