November, 2011

Awesome Film Grant Opportunity for Women

We’re happy to pass on some awesome information for aspiring filmmakers: The Sarah Jacobson Film Grant is accepting entries for both a grant, and a film festival. Here’s some of the info from their website, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Sarah Jacobson:

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Consent 101: University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh

What is sexual consent? Where do we draw the line? How do we negotiate consent in our daily lives–in our sexuality, relationships, and the millions of other choices we face in our day to day lives? What is it that makes us say “yes” and what makes us say “no”–and how do we let people know and respect our decisions?

I screened The Line at University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and asked them!

 

Always ask me.

I’m done being hurt. Let me call the shots once.

Crazy and unpredictable (just like me!) ASK!

I will not be your one night stand. Prove to me that you are worth it!

When I trust him and he loves me.

Just because I’m married doesn’t mean I can’t say no! I say it all the time.

It involves open communication and respect.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Line Campaign team is taking the weekend off to spend time with family and friends and eat lots of tofurkey! We hope you enjoy your holiday, as well, and have lots to be thankful for!

If you need to take a break from family and food for a moment, however, you can check out this thought-provoking post over at Feministing about the actual historical background of this holiday:

The purportedly idyllic partnership between the European Pilgrims and New England Indians is actually only about 120 years old. After WWI, the story that we learn in school today became THE story. I believe deeply in the power of re-appropriating racist and sexist traditions, but I do not believe that we can effectively do that if we do not know the history of what we’re re-appropriating.

From Fear to Safety: Confronting Sexual Assault and Harassment on Campuses

Katherine Greenier wrote an article for RH Reality Check on the effects that sexual harassment and assault can have on students, and how students and administration can confront the topic.

Katherine writes,

The statistics are staggering: one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college, and approximately 81 percent of students experienced some form of sexual harassment during their school years.  Sexual violence in schools and on campus is a pressing civil rights issue.  When students suffer sexual assault and harassment, they are deprived of equal and free access to an education.

You can read the whole article on RH Reality Check.

 

Consent 101: University of Wisonsin at La Crosse

What is sexual consent? Where do we draw the line? How do we negotiate consent in our daily lives–in our sexuality, relationships, and the millions of other choices we face in our day to day lives? What is it that makes us say “yes” and what makes us say “no”–and how do we let people know and respect our decisions?

I screened The Line at University of Wisconsin at La Crosse and asked them!

 

It really changes. I have to feel like we are both in it, not just him.

Sex can wait. Masturbate.

Thin, flexible, strong–ask and we’ll explore!

When I wear a cute outfit and a guy looks at my eyes instead of my boobs or my ass.

When I say “No” don’t pressure me to have to say “Yes.”

Let’s explore each other with love and respect.

 

Badass Activist Friday Presents: Samhita Mukhopadhyay

It’s Friday, and we all know what that means! Interviews with your favorite badass feminists and activists. Whether social media queens and kings, creative artists, sex educators, or just kick-ass personalities, these people harness righteous anger, instigate movements and inspire cultural change. We’re here to honor them and their work, but more importantly, to highlight how we can all get up, plug in, and Just Start Doing.

This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing the awesome Samhita Mukhopadhyay, who you all probably know as the executive editor of Feministing. Aside from her writing for Feministing, she has also been published in news outlets such as The Nation, AlterNet and The Guardian UK, among others. Just a couple of months ago, Samhita’s first book, Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining Your Love Life was published, and two days ago Samhita, along with Amanda Marcotte, aired the first episode of their new podcast on CitizenRadio.

So, let’s see what she had to say!

Most of our readers will know you as the current Executive Editor of Feminsiting.com. How did you wind up on Feministing? What has that journey been like for you?

I originally started blogging at Feministing because I had bumped into Jessica Valenti who was an old college friend of mine and she essentially harassed me to join the collective. At the time the only blogging I had done was on Livejournal, so having such a public forum was new to me. I started it as something fun, but I don’t think I ever realized it would take off and land me here!

You’ve just released your first book, Outdated: How Dating is Ruining Your Love Life. Where did the idea for writing a book come from, and for writing this one specifically? How did you get started in the process?

Seal Press had actually contacted me directly because they liked my writing on Feministing and were interested in me writing a book on international feminism. At the time I was getting a MA at San Francisco State in transnational feminist theory, however, I didn’t feel like I was the appropriate person to write a book about international feminism. Instead, I pitched them the idea of writing an intervention to mainstream dating books as my best friend had recently given me a copy of Why Men Love Bitches, and said it was the holy grail of dating. I thought, there has to be something better out there for young women–so I set about to write it. Seal loved the idea and wanted to move forward with the project.

Did you have any surprises while writing the book? Any interesting encounters, or anything that you learned about yourself? How did you balance writing the book with your other work, and also with having a life outside of work?

Well, my good friend Courtney Martin said to me once, “we write the books we need to read,” and I think that was really true for me in writing this book. I realized all the ways dating was ruining MY love life and it was this weird moment of having to put my money where my mouth was and truly assess my intimate relationships–which was not an easy process, but I think is fairly apparent in the book. In terms of managing time, I had a really really hard time with it–half way through the process I realized that I probably have ADD–something I had never been diagnosed with before and that forced me to rearrange my life so I could have the space and time to write the book. It was not easy and I was on speaking tour at the same time. If I were to do it again, I would want to find some way to have writing the book be one of the only things on my plate.

In the book, you talk about the ways in which dating is presented in popular media and in self-help books, specifically those aimed at women, and the ways in which those myths are anything from ridiculous to damaging. Which of those myths do you find most pervasive? And how can we combat them?

One of the most pervasive myths in dating books is that female independence ruins romance and that women should act less threatening and downplay their successes because if they don’t they are going to die alone or with their cat. This has instilled a certain amount of fear amongst women when it comes to dating, that if they get more successful they will never find love. Demographic shifts have changed the way that relationships play out–that is a fact–but we can either lament the loss of traditional relationship structures or we can embrace a new world where women have a plethora of options. As far as I’m concerned there is no “going back,” so I would rather embrace life as an independent and satisfied woman than waiting around or pining for some guy that won’t accept me for who I am anyway. How do we combat these myths? By not feeding into the hype.

If you could give our readers one piece of useful dating advice, what would it be?

Spend some time getting centered and figuring out what you want in a relationship. We get so caught up in what other people want for us or what we should want that we often forget that we have needs and desires. And the best way to take time to figure out what you want is to spend some time single, something many people are afraid to do.

 

Thanks for your time and your great answers!

 

On Rape Culture, Co-Opting, and #OccupyingEverything

Two weeks ago, a young woman at #OccupyWallStreet was raped in her tent. He was out on bail from another rape–and had been accused of assaulting another woman in the park.

Her rape was not the first. Another woman was raped in her tent at #OccupyCleveland–and was accused of being a spy from the government to make #OccupyWallStreet look unsafe. One woman was sexually assaulted and went to the police, only to be promptly dismissed with, “That’s what you get for sleeping away from home.” Needless to say, he did not pursue her assault.

In response to the rape at #OccupyWallStreet–which of course, is the one that is getting any press whatsoever–several women at Occupy Wall Street have united with Code Pink to make a women’s only “safe space” tent–a place where women can sleep without fear or risk of male intrusion and sexual assault.

Although the tent is durable and strong–a militaristic greenish gray, decorated with slogans like “we are strong women” and “strong women occupying wall street,” to me, it is an upsetting symbol of the feminine presence at #OccupyWallStreet. It is a crisis response–something that had to be erected because of the harsh realization that Liberty Plaza, a place that is supposed to be a beautiful symbol of the world that we wish to occupy (a world that is not only free of capitalism and corporate greed, but free of the systems of patriarchy, violence, racism, and discrimination that our current economic system institutionalizes) is not a safe space. Though the well meaning white people in the movement have claimed–and been criticized–for purporting that the movement is free from the race, gender, and class lines that once divided us, it has been made clear that these have not only shaped our pasts, but severely occupy our present.

The reality is, women are raped. This woman was raped, and she wasn’t the first and she will not be the last. The reality is, we are not in a social place where we can occupy a space equally without being preoccupied by concern for our safety.

The tent was erected the week following the rape. Though many people were supportive of the tent, and applauded the women who built it, plenty undermined its significance. In the park, some men grumbled that women claim that sexual assault is rape and overreacted to the situation. On the Internet, many commented articles about the safe space and the sexual assault problem with asinine comments like, “rapists are in the ninety-nine percent too.”

Here is the thing.

#OccupyWallStreet is a movement for economic justice. Unlike an ordinary protest–something where we have a protest permit, signs, and stand with megaphones on a street corner or in a public square for two hours–we have vowed to literally occupy the space until substantial change occurs in our system. There are no permits, as there is no respect for the traditional order that has governed and broken our system. Instead, there is a new system–something that has been built upon consensus, and now–due to the sheer size of the movement–is experiencing its own trials and evolution in political organization. At the root of this new system–no matter what the internal strife in operations–is the desire to model a society based on what we want to live in.

In this society, I don’t want to have to sleep in a tent away from everyone–a glaring symbol of my inequality and vulnerability. I don’t want to be segregated by my gender, because my gender is occupied by a certain set of issues and concerns.

As long as we are imagining idealism, and fearlessly advancing radical ideas, shouldn’t we be discussing a world without sexual violence? It is a necessary temporary fix to have a women’s only “safe space” in Liberty Plaza–but activism, and discussions around rape culture, rape accountability, and sexual violence should continue and be an integral part of a radical liberation movement. Ending the fight against sexual violence with a women’s only safe space effectively bails out rape culture–due to our broken justice system, and our propensity to easy fixes rather than discussions around systemic change, rape and sexual violence is not only ignored, but effectively enabled.

We need the same discussions around systemic roots, accountability, and collective justice surrounding sexual violence that we are building around corporate greed and financial terrorism (not to mention complete and utter disillusionment with our justice system). As long as we are exercising the radical imagination to reclaim our political, economic, and social system from the forces that have constricted and bound us in an eternal cycle of inequality, why claim ourselves a culture without sexual violence and educate and organize around #OccupyRapeCulture?

Consent 101: Answers from The Line Campaign

What is sexual consent? Where do we draw the line? How do we negotiate consent in our daily lives–in our sexuality, relationships, and the millions of other choices we face in our day to day lives? What is it that makes us say “yes” and what makes us say “no”–and how do we let people know and respect our decisions?

I’ve travelled across the country with The Line and The Line Campaign, asking thousands of students how they negotiate their line. We’re amazed at the diversity, the humor, the insight and the individuality of all the answers.  We decided to round up a few of our favorites – that you wrote – and will continue to curate a weekly round up by school!

I am a whole, not a hole.

I am a sexual being, not a sexual object.

When it starts becoming more about your power and control over my body than our mutual want to explore our sexuality equally.

Consent in my head is not consent in my bed. Ask!!!

I’m the boss of it. No means no. Yes means yes!

When I walk down the aisle.

No social conservatives.

Assume nothing. Let’s talk!

Badass Activist Friday Presents: Anna Lekas Miller

It’s Friday, and we all know what that means! Interviews with your favorite badass feminists and activists. Whether social media queens and kings, creative artists, sex educators, or just kick-ass personalities, these people harness righteous anger, instigate movements and inspire cultural change. We’re here to honor them and their work, but more importantly, to highlight how we can all get up, plug in, and Just Start Doing.

For this week’s interview, we looked a little closer to home, as we have a kick-ass intern here at The Line Campaign, who agreed to talk to us about Occupy Wall Street, and her involvement in the movement. Anna Lekas Miller is a student and activist based in New York. She previously interned at The Nation, and we are lucky to have her with us now!

Please introduce yourself to us! Who are you, what’s your activism, and how did you end up with us at the Line Campaign?

Hi! I’m Anna Lekas Miller–after growing up in a politically
left-leaning family in the Bay Area, I moved to New York for school
and through my questionably healthy co-dependence on political
activism and protesting wound up becoming an independent political
journalist, among many other things. I found The Line Campaign through
the wonderful online feminist world and reached out!

You’ve been getting really involved in Occupy Wall Street. Can you sum up the origins of the movement for us and give us some idea of how this all started?

#OccupyWallStreet began with a call and a hashtag from Adbusters–a
radical publication in Canada–to do just that–#OccupyWallStreet and
demand an overthrow of corporate power and financial terrorism,
starting September 17. I didn’t really believe that it was going to
happen, but the idea fascinated me all the same–could my country be
finally waking up and understanding how enslaved we are by our broken
financial system and the myth of the American dream? I tormented
friends (and random people in cafés and bars–apologies to all those
adversely affected) with hushed radical talk that entire week,
bursting with energy and telling everyone that it needed to be huge.
The day of, I didn’t really believe it was going to happen–but then I
saw a tweet from Tunisia wishing Americans luck from #SidiBouzid and
knew it was real!

So I went to #OccupyWallStreet at 11 in the morning–back then it was
just Wall Street, and it had already been blocked off by the NYPD.
Eventually, around 1,000 people turned out, we were trying to figure
out a game plan since Wall Street had already been closed…and after
a short march, we found Zuccotti Park. That night, we learned that the
park was privately owned and we would be allowed to stay. That is how
a drab concrete square with a few straggly trees and a bizarre red
structure became the cradle of the revolution.

The first week was rough as far as media coverage–most of it was that
it looked like Bonaroo, and most outlets (at best) judged it at face
value, rather than taking the time to do proper journalism and talk to
people. The first New York Times article was absolutely awful. Plenty
of other publications took more time to criticize the protestors, even
before attempting to understand them. However, gradually it picked
up–several labor unions formally aligned themselves with the
movement, and many great contemporary thinkers and celebrities voiced
their support and visited the occupation. Soon, the occupation spread
to other parts of the country–#OccupyAmerica, and on October 15th, to
cities throughout the world–#OccupyTogether. It is a global movement
for a truly global restructuring and redistribution of power and
capital.

Where do you see the role of women and feminism in the movement? How would you respond to things like the “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street” Tumblr or the recent incidence of sexual assault?

When #OccupyWallStreet began it had a big problem with a sort of
alienating idealism–though everyone is incredibly well-meaning and
dedicated in theory towards economic justice for all, idealistic
language that purports a movement that is post-racial or post-gender
is frustrating for those of us who have been occupied by the
socio-political identities and dynamics of being female, of color,
queer, or trans. Fortunately, many people have spoken up, and
organized working groups such as the People of Color Occupy Wall
Street working group (which I wrote about at AlterNet) and the Queering Occupy Wall Street working group. Unfortunately, I think that the latest developments–the rape and sexual assault allegations and the women’s only safe space–are a stunning reminder of how long we have to go until we are post-gender and able to equally occupy a space and share a movement. Most of the occupiers have been supportive of the new tent, although many–myself included–are upset that it is needed in the first place. Hopefully it will be an opportunity to discuss very real issues facing women and create allies in the constant battle against gender-based violence.

As far as “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street” is concerned, its
problematic from so many different angles. First and foremost, it is
problematic because it is consumed as harmless media that is “funny”
or dismissed with a “boys will be boys” attitude. If we are fighting
for a world for true equality, where economic justice overlaps with
gender justice, and all people are released from institutions that
constrict their economic futures–whether those forces are corporate
interests, big banks, or patriarchal social structures–we cannot take
these representations lightly. It is not a boys’ club revolution,
where the white boys hop around and play revolutionary while the
pretty girls are their for show and objectification–we are 51% of the
99% and we understand disproportionate economic oppression all too
well. #OccupyWallStreet needs to be a revolutionary space where women
are valued for their contributions to the movement, and listened to
and taken seriously in a way that we are not always–unfortunately–accustomed to. #OccupyWallStreet, if harnessed in the right way, is an opportunity to change this once and for all.

As long as we are on the subject, the way #OccupyWallStreet is being
treated in the mainstream–and even sometimes independent–media is
male (need I say white male?) centric. Many television programs that
have followed, and embraced the movement have disproportionately male
guests–when there are plenty of female journalists and organizers who
have tirelessly made the movement the heart and soul of their recent
work. TIME magazine recently published a particularly asinine blog
with the headline, “Why Aren’t Women Tweeting About Occupy Wall
Street?” This was especially annoying for journalists such as myself
and Allison Kilkenny of The Nation and In These Times–who have been
tweeting the movement since day one, before anyone knew whether or not
it would take off–and several other bad ass female journalists such
as Sarah Jaffe, Tana Ganeva, and Sarah Seltzer of AlterNet who have
written extensively reported, quality content and are all avid
tweeters. Melissa Gira Grant and Susie Cagle are also fantastic
media-makers, writers and tweeters…there are many more!

Where is the movement going? What do you think the goals are, and what would need to happen for you and other protesters to feel like you’ve achieved change?

I have no idea–the movement takes a new direction and provides a new
surprise everyday! I think that in our journey to become an inclusive
movement, something that is fueled by the complete and undiluted power
of the ninety-nine percent in its entirety, we need to focus on how it
can be supported by those who are not necessarily occupying, but have
the same demands of the occupiers. Though the occupations are exciting
public spaces that are instigating a lot of media attention–and more
importantly, networking and dialogue–it is time to organize tactics
so that literally everyone can work together to reorganize a more fair
economy. Let me explain some tactics!

Check out this video to get you started.

Bank Transfers – November 5th was bank transfer day–thousands
organized and closed their accounts at the big banks that crashed the
economy, and moved their money to smaller banks or credit unions. It’s
not too late–November 5th was just the beginning! Check out Lynn
Parramore’s article
to get you started.

Conscientious Consumption – Spending money is what keeps the economy
going, but in our recession many of us have embraced corporations that
promise us low prices–at the expense of unregulated and unfair
labor–while we’ve been hurting. It’s time to divest from corporate
powers–it can be as simple as buying coffee at the neighborhood
coffeeshop instead of Starbucks, or patronizing a local bookstore
instead of Barnes and Nobles.

What else would you like to tell us, about Occupy or anything else you are currently involved in?

I think that this movement resonates with Americans in an amazing way.

I used to say that I was born in the wrong era–I wanted to be born in
the ’60s and ’70s, a time when people cared about politics and were
doing something about it even if it involved being an extra body at a
sit-in or protest, their presence was being energized by a greater
cause. I realized, with #OccupyWallStreet that I was born in exactly
the right era–I am lucky enough to part of a unprecedented energetic
political movement that is spending the time to deconstruct and
recognize the myriad of ways that our system is broken, toxic, and
outdated and participate in a democratic process to collectively
change it. I am part of a generation that has chosen to fight back,
rather than remain complacent, and use their bodies, minds, and
actions to challenge and reclaim power in whatever way is possible.
It’s chaotic, disorganized, and there have been serious challenges and
contentions to work through–but it has grown into a beautiful and
powerful movement dedicated to a radical re-imagining of an economy
based on conscientiousness and justice.

It might seem crazy–but really, what else are we going to do?
Everyday, someone asks me and thousands of others in this movement,
“why?” There are dozens of answers to this, but I personally think the
most pertinent answer is, “why the hell not?!”

Lastly, I hope whoever is reading this joins us–whether in body or in
spirit. It’s only going to get bigger!

 

Thank you for your time and your fantastic answers!


Omelas State University

Because it is so good, we are re-posting this article by John Scalzi from Whatever in full:

These things should be simple:

1. When, as an adult, you come come across another adult raping a small child, you should a) do everything in your power to rescue that child from the rapist, b) call the police the moment it is practicable.

2. If your adult son calls you to tell you that he just saw another adult raping a small child, but then left that small child with the rapist, and then asks you what he should do, you should a) tell him to get off the phone with you and call the police immediately, b) call the police yourself and make a report, c) at the appropriate time in the future ask your adult son why the fuck he did not try to save that kid.

3. If your underling comes to you to report that he saw another man, also your underling, raping a small child, but then left that small child with the rapist, you should a) call the police immediately, b) alert your own superiors, c) immediately suspend the alleged rapist underling from his job responsibilities pending a full investigation, d) at the appropriate time in the future ask that first underling why the fuck he did not try to save that kid.

4. When, as the officials of an organization, you are approached by an underling who tells you that one of his people saw another of his people raping a small child at the organization, in organization property, you should a) call the police immediately, b) immediately suspend the alleged rapist from his job responsibilities if the immediate supervisor has not already done so, c) when called to a grand jury to testify on the matter, avoid perjuring yourself. At no time should you decide that the best way to handle the situation is to simply tell the alleged rapist not to bring small children onto organization property anymore.

You know, there’s a part of me who looks at the actions of each of non-raping grown men in the “Pennsylvania State University small-child-allegedly-being-raped-by-a-grown-man-who-is-part-of-the-football-hierarchy” scandal and can understand why those men could rationalize a) not immediately acting in the interests of a small child being raped, b) not immediately going to the police, c) doing only the minimum legal requirements in the situation, d) acting to keep from exposing their organization to a scandal. But here’s the thing: that part of me? The part that understands these actions? That part of me is a fucking coward. And so by their actions — and by their inactions — were these men.

At least one sports columnist has made the point that Joe Paterno, the 40+ year coach of Penn State, who was fired last night (along with the university’s president) by the university’s board of trustees, should be remembered for all the good things he has stood for, and for his generosity and principles, even as this scandal, which brought his downfall, is now inevitably part of his legacy as well. And, well. I suspect that in time, even this horrible event will fade, and Paterno’s legacy, to football and to Penn State, will rise above the tarnishment, especially because it can and will be argued that Paterno did all that was legally required of him, expressed regret and horror, and was not the man who was, after all, performing the acts.

Here’s what I think about that, right now. I’m a science fiction writer, and one of the great stories of science fiction is “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” which was written by Ursula K. LeGuin. The story posits a fantastic utopian city, where everything is beautiful, with one catch: In order for all this comfort and beauty to exist, one child must be kept in filth and misery. Every citizen of Omelas, when they come of age, is told about that one blameless child being put through hell. And they have a choice: Accept that is the price for their perfect lives in Omelas, or walk away from that paradise, into uncertainty and possibly chaos.

At Pennsylvania State University, a grown man found a blameless child being put through hell. Other grown men learned of it. Each of them had to make their choice, and decide, fundamentally, whether the continuation of their utopia — or at very least the illusion of their utopia — was worth the pain and suffering of that one child. Through their actions, and their inactions, we know the choice they made.

 

All Posts from November, 2011