June, 2012

Noorjahan Akbar: Badass Activist Friday!

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.

Todays Badass is Noorjahan Akbar. Noorjahan is a sophomore at Dickinson college. She was born in Afghaniston and is currently attending college in the US on a scholarship. She is one of the recipients of the 2012Women of Distinction Award and in 2011, she co-founded Women for Change, an organization working for gender equality in Afghanistan.

Without further ado, here she is!

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On Staying Silent

With Jerry Sandusky on trial right now (which The Line covered just a few days ago), there has been a lot of talk lately about the importance, as well as the difficulty, of speaking up and reporting sexual abuse. What was most shocking about this case was the number of people who stood by idly, who allowed abuse to happen by failing to step in and speak up. For many, many victims of sexual assault, it is difficult to speak up. Often, victims are children who might not understand what happened, might not know who to talk to (or what to say), who might have been bullied into silence. Adult victims face their own set of issues: reporting often means discussing your whole sexual history, it often means being shamed by your community and not being believed, it means re-telling the events to police officers, counselors, jurors. For many of us, it just makes more sense to remain silent.

These conversations, when they happen, always hit very close to home for me.

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Jerry Sandusky on Trial

***  Trigger warning for discussion of rape.

Back in January, The Line discussed the Penn State scandal in a blog post about rape culture:

It is the worst fear of every person, a trusting figure who has contributed countless hours and monetary donations to create a safe space for foster children, turns out to be a child molester. Jerry Sandusky, former assistant coach of the Pennsylvania State University football team was charged with 40 counts of sex crimes involving eight boys, occurring between 1994 and 2009. This would of course be awful enough on its own, however we then discovered that head coach Joe Paterno had knowledge of Sandusky raping a 10 year old boy on the Penn State premises via graduate assistant Mike McQueary, and Paterno did not report to the police.”

On Monday June 11, 2012, Sandusky’s trail began. He face 51 charges (previously 52, but one charge has been dropped) of sexual crimes against children. The trial, which is taking is Bellefonte, Pa., is expected to last three weeks.

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Introducing: New Intern and Blogger Jackie

Well, hey there, readers!

My name’s Jacqueline Cosse, but most everyone I know calls me Jackie. I’m currently a rising junior at Amherst College studying Psychology and Japanese, and this summer I’m interning for (where else) The Line Campaign, in addition to being a new blogger!

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If You Are Offended By The Word Vagina, Then You Don’t Get To Legislate Them

Most of us are familiar with the three ring circus that has become the Republican attempt to take down reproductive healthcare, but now, in a grand display of “ew, she has cooties”, it has reached a new low. During a debate on the Michigan state House floor over a bill that intends to ban abortion after twenty weeks, as well as put new restrictions on abortion providers, Rep. Lisa Brown, one of the few women representatives allowed to speak (colleague Rep. Barb Byrum was not allowed to speak after she introduced an amendment to the abortion regulations bill banning men from getting a vasectomy unless the sterilization procedure was necessary to save a man’s life, as reported by NPR) was effectively barred from the House after using the word “vagina”.

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Darnell L. Moore: Badass Activist Friday

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.

Today’s Badass is Darnell L Moore. Darnell is a writer and activist currently located in Brooklyn, New York. He is a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU and a co-coordinator of the Queer Newark Oral History Project.

Without further ado, let’s hear his answers!

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Help the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict

As a consultant for the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders I work with organizations advocating globally to involve more women in peace building and post-conflict reconstruction. In addition to this work our network seeks to educate women about United Nations resolution 1820 adopted in 2008 recognizing sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war. In all of these efforts we build on the work being done at the grassroots to push local legislation and build capacity. With this type of advocacy in mind, on May 6th the Nobel Women’s Initiative launched the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict to demand urgent and bold political leadership on this issue including a call for justice for all including effective prosecution of those guilty of perpetrating violence.

During the first week of the campaign Jaclyn Friedman blogged at the American Prospect about the campaign including an interview with Liz Bernstein the founding Director of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. In describing how individuals can approach such a daunting task as stopping rape Bernstein spoke of how she approached her work as the former Coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) explaining the power individuals hold to in holding politicians accountable and ultimately making change:

Because at the end of the day they’re all elected officials, they’re accountable to us, and we have to tell them what we want them to do. And how we do that, whether it’s a letter or a tweet or whatever, for some it’s organizing a demonstration in one of their halls of power or introducing motion in the parliament or at negotiations with the UN or whatever it is, it all adds up to the power of so many people telling them that it’s not acceptable and they want them to do take political action to make it stop. Now.

After the first week 2,500 members from over 126 countries have already signed the pledge to stop rape including actress Charlize Theron and the UNSG Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallstrom. To participate in the campaign send your tweets to @StopRapeCmpgn using the hashtag #IPLEDGE and post your #IPLEDGE tweets to the campaign’s Facebook wall.

 

What’s the Deal on Feminism and Pornography

In advertising, it is common knowledge that sex sells. Whether the product is a car, makeup, alcohol or clothing, it’s usually a woman’s body being used to sell it—sociologist Erving Goffman was one of the first to analyze and discuss in detail the prevalence of gender in advertising and how the use of gender perpetuated stereotypes of women as weak, dependent, and sensual. But what happens when sex itself is the product? If, as Goffman said, images of women in advertising promote “ritualization of subordination,” then what does pornography promote?

This question—or perhaps ‘debate’ is a more fitting term—was raised in the late 70s and early 80s, as second-wave feminism was progressing. On one side were the ‘sex-positive’ feminists, like Gayle Rubin, who supported pornography as a recognition and celebration of female sexual pleasure. On the other were feminists like Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin who saw pornography as part of the larger picture of male sexual dominance, responsible for the oppression of women, and thought it should therefore be outlawed.

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All Posts from June, 2012