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WMC News: Beyoncé, Internalized Misogyny, Comprehensive Sex Ed, Sexual Harassment, & more!

October 12, 2016

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Beyoncé: Feminism in Action

Beyoncé (photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)By Marcie Bianco | October 12, 2016

Adichie vs. Beyoncé?

Not so fast.

Feminists, Beyoncé fans, and dedicated admirers—the virtual collective known as the Beyhive—let out a palpable gasp across the Internet upon reading headlines that quoted Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as saying that Beyoncé’s feminism is not her feminism. In an interview last week with the Dutch publication de Volkskrant, Adichie spoke at length for the first time about her TED Talk, “We Should All Be Feminists,” being sampled by Beyoncé for the icon’s song “***Flawless,” released as part of her visual eponymous album in 2013.

But there is no drama here, no conflict, and no reason for the Beyhive to attack this award-winning author and MacArthur genius grant recipient. In fact, Adichie’s thought-provoking comments generously remind feminists of productive ways to think about the movement. Her comments not only echo the belief that there is no one way to be a feminist—that feminism more appropriately should be understood in the plural, feminisms—they also reorient the focus of feminism back to the critical, fundamental subject: women.

In the de Volkskrant interview, Adichie emphasizes that she respects and admires Beyoncé; it is mainstream media’s fabrication that suggests otherwise. More>>

Image description: Beyoncé (photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

My Fight to End Sexist Harassment in Schools

#DayoftheGirlBy Blythe Drucker | October 11, 2016

In the summer of 2015, I discovered feminism. While I had previously been aware of the fight for gender equality, I had never really educated myself on the movement and its values. Like many others, I was aware of the stigma that clings to the word “feminist” but was not entirely aware of its actual definition. For that reason, I was not exactly jumping at the opportunity to brand myself with the title. But then, I spent ten days at Barnard College’s Young Women’s Leadership institute, and everything changed.

At YWLI, I was surrounded by young women who proudly fought for the feminist cause. At first, I was intimidated by their knowledge and worried that what little I knew about the movement was inadequate, yet that trepidation soon passed as my fellow young feminists, my class on feminist leadership led by an engaging and inspiring professor, and the daily workshops focused on developing young female leaders inspired me and encouraged my enthusiasm for feminism to flourish. More>>

Image description: Girl with sign that reads "I need #DayoftheGirl because..."

 

The Period Problem

Lets tall about period stigma.By Hannah Hildebolt | October 11, 2016

Let’s talk about periods. No, not the punctuation mark — I’m talking about blood. Menstruation. You know what I mean.

It’s a touchy subject, isn’t it? Especially with boys. God, I mean you so much as mention a tampon around most guys and it’s game over. They can barely look you in the eye. Why is that, though? Menstruation is a perfectly natural process. It happens to lots of people, including women, transgender men, and nonbinary people of all shapes and sizes. However, due to the fact that sex and gender have been intertwined throughout history in many different cultures, menstruation is most often associated with women. Combine this association with the systemic degradation and stigmatization of womanhood, and one can see why menstruation has developed a taboo in our culture.

I still remember the first week I had my period. Thankfully, I got it on a Saturday, but navigating school a few days later was an utter horror story. I had to figure out where to awkwardly stuff tampons in my clothing so that I wouldn’t have to bring my bag every time I asked to go to the bathroom during class. I spent the week scrubbing rust-colored stains out of many pairs of underpants and constantly feeling paranoid about “leaking through.” I won’t even go into how bad the cramps were. More>>

Image description: Tampon with caption "Let's talk about period stigma"

 

How I Fought for (and Won) Comprehensive Sex Ed

Students deserve better.By Christina Wang | October 11, 2016

I attend a small private school in Westchester, New York, which is a fairly privileged and wealthy suburb of New York City. Yet despite this privilege, our school’s health curriculum remained outdated, heteronormative, and simply not that applicable or relatable to students. For example, we learned about relationship abuse by watching black-and-white videos that suggested only women could possibly be victims, and spent most of the class learning about physical health and good dietary choices. Although learning about the benefits of exercise is important to young people, spending so much time focusing on, say, the negative effects of cholesterol just wasn’t the critical, useful knowledge we needed to know at that point in our lives.

Last year, our school’s “All Genders and Sexualities Allied” club (our take on a Gay-Straight Alliance, nicknamed AGSA) decided to finally address the student body’s growing number of complaints regarding the state of our school’s health curriculum. The club hosted an hour-long seminar in our school’s chapel, during which students led discussions amongst their peers about what they liked and didn’t like about our school’s health curriculum.

Students came in masses, furiously scribbling down their thoughts about the curriculum onto giant whiteboards. Kids from all different friend groups surrounded their respective whiteboards, wringing their hands as they explained to their peers the importance of learning about contraception, not carbs, in health class. More>>

Image description: Chalkboard with words "Sex Education"

 

Overcoming Internalized Misogyny

Credit: YouTubeBy Kayleigh Bolingbroke | October 10, 2016

“Wow, they’re beautiful,” I thought to myself at nine years old as I watched yet another music video by yet another girl group for the hundredth time. I admired these women, in all their scantily clad glory. I aspired to emulate their confidence, physical beauty, and the senses of entitlement and pride they seemed to feel about their own bodies. These pop sensations were my idols.

But at the age of thirteen, watching the same videos conjured words like “slut” and “tease” instead. I watched the women featured in Sugababes’ “Push the Button” gyrate their bodies over men like strippers, and deemed their movements vulgar. I pondered why these men, who were presented as so strong and influential, lusted after girls who made themselves so available, who were so promiscuous, who acted so… sleazily.

At school, we applied these same attitudes towards women in the media to young women in our own lives. We would gossip about the girl next to us — “She’s such a slut” — or the blameless girl passing in the corridor — “She looks like a whore in that skirt.” We didn’t comprehend how we were feeding into the stereotypes that society had already planted on us. Our mindsets had clearly been intensely influenced to internalize misogyny, had been altered by society over such a seemingly trivial period of time. More>>

Image description: Screenshot from Sugababes' "Push the Button" music video (Credit: YouTube)

 

Public Women Are Not Public Property

Kim Kardashian West -- one of the celebrities assaultedBy Frances Nguyen | October 7, 2016

Ukrainian social media personality Vitalii Sediuk is having a hard time with the definition of “assault.” Rather, the self-described “prankster”— who is responsible for assaulting both Gigi Hadid outside a Milan fashion show on September 22nd and Kim Kardashian West a week later in Paris—regarded both incidents as public protests. Apparently, he opposes Hadid’s inclusion in high fashion and Kardashian West’s alleged butt implants. As he captioned his now-infamous Instagram photo of the attack on Kardashian West, “I encourage her and the rest of Kardashian clan to popularize natural beauty among teenage girls who follow and defend them blindly.”

Though Sediuk is entitled to his opinions (and entitled they are), his actions in both instances did not respectfully express these beliefs. They were neither social commentary nor performance art. These actions weren’t pranks, as he has defensively claimed. They were assaults. He violated those women and their right to their own bodies and personal sense of safety; we must not assign any further pageantry to his actions.

In both well-documented instances, what’s most alarming is this man’s assertion of his opinions through physical, unwanted bodily contact. He wanted attention, he needed a platform, and he used these women’s bodies as a vehicle to amplify his own celebrity. Consent is at best an afterthought here. More>>

Image description: Kim Kardashian West-- one of the celebrities assaulted. 

This week WMC SheSource features experts on the release and fall out of a tape featuring Donald J. Trump discussing sexual assault, Hurricane Matthew’s destruction of Haiti and the UN’s emergency appeal for aid, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 ending production amidst dangerous malfunctions, the continuing protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline after federal courts rejected an injunction against the pipeline, and International Day of the Girl.

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