Joke of the day

Q: How many semi-naked PETA protesters does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Zero. Semi-naked PETA protesters have never changed anything.

Sorry PETA, but objectifying women to encourage vegetarianism doesn’t exactly work.

via Feministing.


Gay Lovin’

Seriously. Prepare to be mentally owned. For anyone and everyone that opposes gay love, marriage, sodomy, or anything “controversial” having to do with free love I challenge you to logically prove that homosexuals have a hidden agenda, are “evil,” or want to do anything other than protect themselves and others while promoting love. For fucks sake when I saw this website my palm hit my head so hard it was red for hours :

These people honestly believe that homosexual rights activists are plotting together and threatening natural/”god” given family values. Logically justify your hatred of the private love of others – I guarantee that no one will ever be able to. The private, non-harmful activities of others should never be regulated by the government nor should they be jeopardized by someone else’s values. How can you (yes you, Peter LaBarbera) justify bashing hate crime laws – laws that have helped this country evolve ? I challenge you to justify the hatred of love.

“Tips for Women” Facebook Group and the Issue of Self Defense

I’ve been thinking a lot about rape lately, primarily because of the recent UW *timely warning* email (Incidentally, I sat by a frat boy in Odegaard a few days ago who was apparently around that girl the night of the alleged assault, but that is for another post). Most recently, I just received an invitation from an acquaintance to a facebook group called “tips for all women… please join… and pass on.” This group is relevant to a few feminist issues, including rape prevention, and the pros and cons of self defense. To summarize its contents, this group consists of several tips for women on how to avoid murder, kidnapping, rape, robbery, etc. For example, “ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot,” and if this advice isn’t enough, and you are attacked, just remember this “tip from Tae Kwon Do : The elbow is the strongest point on your body.If you are close enough to use it, do!”

Before I go into why I find this group so problematic, I should start by acknowledging that this group is definitely not like…the worst thing ever. If this group successfuly lives up to its goal of preventing women from being raped, sweet.

But that last statement brings me to why this group annoys me: there is no mention anywhere of preventing attempts at rape, nor is there any mention of men being responsible for not raping people. Just like the recent email from UW, this group puts all the responsiblity of rape prevention on women’s shoulders. Furthermore, this group ignores the fact that the majority of sexual abuse occurs at the hands of people the rape survivors know. People reading this website would have no idea that they are much more likely to be raped by an acquaintance, friend, family member, partner, etc., than by a random creeper lurking in a deserted stairwell.

While this site may do some short term good, imagine how much bigger and more valuable an impact would be possible if parents, educators, and facebook-group-makers spent the 5-10 minutes it takes to read this site educating women about acquaintance rape and men about the value of using an enthusiastic “yes!” as the definition of consent rather than just the absence of a “no!”

Besides the fact that these tips are not relevant to most cases of rape because they fixate on stranger rape, another issue with these tips is that they encourage violence (the tae kwon do thing comes to mind). Self defense classes are still pretty controversial, judging by a recent live chat conversation on Feministing between Jaclyn Friedman and Miriam Perez (from 3:42-3:53), and for good reason. On the plus side, as Jaclyn points out, self defense classes can be empowering for women, and they can help prevent rape in some cases. On the other hand, though, self defense “uses violence,” and is too individualistic, according to Miriam, and it reinforces tired stereotypes of women as gatekeepers who have to constantly fight off men. At this point, someone could point out that we shouldn’t have to choose between funding/promoting self defense classes and working to dismantle the culture that permits rape, but because time and funding are limited, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to debate which rape prevention strategy is more valuable. I tend to agree with Miriam, but what do other people think? And what about this group and the UW warning email in general-should they be applauded at all for trying to prevent rape in their own way, or are they just doing more harm than good?

UWPD response to Sexual Assault is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

Via my friend Kaitlee, who is also a UW Student:

“Hello everyone. Today I opened my uw email account and found yet ANOTHER “timely warning” from the UWPD. This time, however, we have received notice of a sexual assault. After their typical description of the crime, the UWPD listed the following as preventative measures:

– Avoid confrontations whenever possible.
– Remove yourself from potentially dangerous situations as soon as possible.
– Avoid consuming alcohol as it will reduce your ability to perceive and react
to dangerous situations
– Call 911 when you believe a confrontation is escalating.

I found this to be an outrageously irresponsible and ineffective response to this situation. I thus decided to hit the reply button. I said:

How about a preventative measure teaching men not to assault women? why is it
the victim’s responsibility to avoid assault? women as well as men should be
free to behave however they feel comfortable. while preventative measures are
good ideas, it is the culture of misogyny that needs to be addressed, and I
would like to see UWPD implement some kind of program that could at least teach
the men (and women) of our university about the importance of respecting the
rights of others. that’s the great thing about a university — we have our own
little culture that we can mold independent of the greater culture. please
consider these thoughts, and I am absolutely certain that there are more than
enough individuals on campus who would be more than willing to help in this kind
of project (myself included), even if it was volunteer work (or perhaps we could
get fieldwork/independent study credit).

sincerely concerned,
kaitlee v.

perhaps not the most eloquent or even most thought-out response, but an important response nonetheless. I invite all of you to do the same. While all assault is awful and I hate the vast numbers of emails we get about them, sexual assault, to me, no matter who the victim(s) is/are or who the perpetrator(s) is/are, should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

so, please, open up your uw email, find that email, and reply with your concerns! I know many of you were/are surely as deeply disappointed as I am.”

I want to add that I’m also pretty upset that they didn’t disclose which fraternity this happened at – don’t we have the right to know that sort of thing, so we know where not to go in the future?


Update on the UW Vagina Monologues + Shameless Plugging

Just an update on Autumn’s earlier post.

The Vagina Monologues will be taking place at the University of Washington on February 12th, 13th, and 14th starting at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students, $6 for faculty and staff, and $7 for the general public. The show is being produced by VOX: Voices For Planned Parenthood, The Women’s Action Commission (WAC), and ASUW. Net proceeds to this year’s show will be going to Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA), a local non-profit organization which focuses on providing safe spaces for victims of sexual and domestic violence and giving them the opportunity to become organizers and activists.

Now here comes the shameless plugging:
As some readers may know, I am the co-coordinator (or co-chair, however you want to phrase it) of the UW VOX:Voices For Planned Parenthood. We work to to promote safe sex and freedom of choice on the UW campus as well as help organize events like The Vagina Monologues and Planned Parenthood’s Lobby Day (Join us on Feb. 23!). Our meetings are every Wednesday from 5-6 p.m. in Loew 102. Come stop by!

Obama’s News

Just  a warning: this post is not necessarily directly related to feminism, but is something that I think all Americans should be aware of.

One of the reasons that I love President Obama is that he makes an effort to ensure that the American people know what is going on in Washington, DC. My formative years were spent under a regime which endeavored to keep as much information as possible away from the American public, and I find it a refreshing change to actually know what is going on in the government. I greatly appreciate the fact that my president is willing to publish his opinion in the newspaper and make his words and thought process clear to the citizens he governs. That being said, it is also a brilliant piece of rhetoric and serves not only to express his views but to consolidate the support of the American people for him. Which I also admire greatly. It takes great skill to gain the love of the people in a nation as large as ours, but Obama has done it.

If you want to read Obama’s op-ed in the Washington Post concerning the stimulus package, you can find it here.