FEM UCLAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s feminist newsmagazine since 1973
Table of Contents
12. Stand-up & Stand Out Confessions of a stand-up comedienne 13. Revenge of the Funny Women Proving that humor isn’t only for men 14. Female Writers, Female Characters Looking beyond the “men” in entertainment 15. “Shackled, Beaten, Abused” Is PETA causing more harm than good?
Fixtures 03. Editor’s Note & Picks 04. Top 10 List: Feminist Spoken Word Artists 05. Event: Feminist Leadership Conference Profile: Rachel Finkelstein 06. Q & A: Hugo Schwyzer 08. News & Abortion Rights 09. Fashion: Gendered Clothing 10. Film: The Bechdel Test 11. TV: Knope is No Joke 16. Music: Sexy and They Know It? Ode to: Kate Bush 17. Dorm Life: Bonding in yhe Bathroom
Her Body or His Toy?
18. Active: Yoga Women
2 | Fem
19. World: Women in Rwanda 20. Confessions of a Hopeless Romantic: Waiting for Mr. Darcy 21. Poetry 22. Past Fem/Together 24. Back Page: The Trouble with Stereotypes Liberated Cooking: Popovers
WRITERS Emily Clark Kerry Esrey Danielle Germain Gina Guglielmana Yamuna Haroutunian Carolina Huezo Megan Lent Raquel Livson Lauren McQuade Gelsey Mehl Kelly Minta Natalie Muscatello Jewel Pereyra Rachel Sanoff Connie Shen Sahar Shiralian Dominique Silva Angela Tu Curtis Wu COPY EDITORS Barbara Bensoussan Tiffany Chow Kelsey Sharpe DESIGNERS Tiffany Chow Raquel Livson Lauren McQuade Gelsey Mehl Jewel Pereyra ILLUSTRATORS Raquel Livson Yvette Young WEB CONTRIBUTORS Sergio Arguello Miriam Espinoza Monique Sowinski MEDIA DIRECTOR Arvli Ward MEDIA ADVISOR Amy Emmert SPECIAL THANKS TO: Our families, friends, readers and everyone who has supported Fem since 1973. Feminists unite!
MANAGING EDITOR Nora Daly
Welcome to the Fall 2011 issue of Fem –– you have absolutely no idea how excited I am that you are currently holding this in your hand. This issue has been a labor of love from all of us here at the magazine, and all the hours we’ve spent perfecting it are now completely and totally worth it. This year, rather than focusing on a specific theme per issue, we’re looking to answer two questions: What does it mean to be a feminist today? And, why does feminism still matter? The amazing thing about feminism is the diversity of voices, thoughts and dreams represented by the movement. We each have our own stories and our own reasons for being feminist, and it’s important to share these experiences because they broaden our collective understanding of what it means to attain success. We need to make sure that our movement encompasses everyone involved, and we cannot do that unless we talk to each other and we make a point of hearing what our fellow feminists have to say. I’m proud of what we’ve put together here –– this issue contains some amazing stories from a diverse array of people. From comediennes to professors to authors to students, there are a plethora of different voices on our pages. But there an innumerable amount of perspectives that aren’t here. And that’s where I ask that you help us. Please, add your voice to ours and join us in whatever capacity you can; whether it be by passing on this magazine to a friend, commenting on our Melissa van Gelder website, joining us on a feminist outing or applying for staff in the winter. Editor in Chief Let’s change the world together. firstname.lastname@example.org Feminists unite! Looking for a good distraction? Check out feminist videos on YouTube. Amy Poehler’s webseries,“Smart Girls at the Party,” consists of interviews with young girls about their hobbies and endeavors. My favorites include “Rachel the Engineer” and “Ruby the Feminist.” Sarah Haskins’ old segment on Current TV, “Target Women” makes fun of the ways the media markets to women. Make sure to watch “Wedding Shows,” “Number Two” and “Chick Flicks.” If you’d rather read a book from the past, check out the always wonderful “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. Famous for the line “context is all,” it tells the story of a dystopian society in which women are kept as concubines for the sole purpose of reproduction. Whether or not you had to read it for class, it’s definitely worth at least an evening of your time.
EDITOR IN CHIEF Melissa van Gelder
If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to check out “Miss Representation,” a documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newson about the role of the media on women. Not only does it include some great lines from strong female role models like Rachel Maddow and Geena Davis, but it also includes interviews with some smart high schoolers who will give you hope that feminism is here to stay. Ever heard of Ani DiFranco? She’s a singer and songwriter with 20 albums, a Grammy and a label called Righteous Babe. Best known for her political leanings, her songs focus on everything from gender rights and homophobia to poverty and war. I definitely recommend checking out “Not a Pretty Girl” and “32 Flavors.” She plans to release a new album,“Which Side Are You On?” in January.
Fem has a website! Check us out online at www.femmagazine.com for a daily dose of feminism. Weekly blogs include: Pop Fem (pop culture through a feminist lens), The Fitness Files (interviews with instructors at the Wooden Center), Gendertainment (an in-depth feminist analysis of tv characters), This Week’s News (feminist news you might have missed) and What To Do This Weekend (ideas on what to do in the Los Angeles area). We’re also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/femnewsmag) and Twitter (@FemNewsmag). Fem is published and copyrighted by the ASUCLA Communications Board which supports the University of California’s policy on non-discrimination. The student media reserves the right to reject or modify advertising portraying disability, age, sex or sexual orientation. It is the expectation of the Communications Board that the student media will exercise the right fairly and with sensitivity. Any person believing that any
advertising in the student media violates the Board’s policy on non-discrimination should communicate her or his complaints in writing to the management of Fem. All columns, cartoons and letters represent the opinion of the author. Fem is UCLA’s feminist newsmagazine, dedicated to promoting human rights, gender diversity, feminism and the issues surrounding gender and sexuality.
Fem Newsmagazine 118 Kerckhoff Hall 308 Wilson Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90024 (310)206-6168 email@example.com www.femmagazine.com Copyright 2011 UCLA Communications Board.
Fem is published with support from Campus Progress, a division of the Center for American Progress. Online at CampusProgress.org. Campus Progress funds, trains, and mentors students running a diverse and growing group of progressive campus media organizations. For more, visit CampusProgress.org/JournalismNetwork.
Fem | 3
spoken word artists ] [ feminist by Nora Daly
1.Staceyann Chin 5.Suheir Hammad Staceyann grew up in Jamaica in the 1970s, then moved to New York to pursue poetry. In Jamaica, she grew up without a mother or father; in 2009, she wrote a memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, about this experience. As her poetic style and personal identity developed, she dubbed herself an “out poet,“ meaning she is an openly lesbian poet. She has performed around the world, from Denmark to the United States, and has written several off-Broadway plays. Her poetry and writing address themes of homosexuality, love, sexual assault, social limitations and changing the world.
Suheir is a PalestinianAmerican who discusses the struggles of immigrants, cultural stereotypes of women, peace and the sexism women face in society and religion. She has written 4 books and appeared in more than 15 publications.
6. Laura Zuniga 7. Sarah Kay 8.
Liza Jessie Peterson
Liza combines music and beat poetry in her spoken work. She has also written a memoir,“Down the Rabbit Hole,” as well as eight plays, which earned her a 2003 New York Foundation for the Arts grant. Her work explores patriotism, sexism, juvenile delinquency and cultural fetishism.
Laura founded Oklahoma Young Writers, an organization that encourages youth through spoken word, and was nominated for State Poet Laureate of Oklahoma. She explores themes of social and self awareness, and much of her work revolves around the idea that “the personal is political.”
Sarah discusses revolution and gender, racism, discrimination, and female exploitation. In 2011, Michelle Obama invited her to perform at the White House for Women’s History Month. Sarah is known for her impassoned and controversial work. Her poem “Your Revolution” was banned by the Federal Communications Commission, so she sued for censorship and won, overturning the ruling.
4 | Fem
Andrea is a poet and activist, who worked extensively to repeal California’s Poposition 8. She explores alternative sexuality and gender expression in her own life, and in her work, she focuses on gender inequalities, race relations, alternative sexualities, and queer politics. In 2008, Gibson won the Women’s World Poetry Slam, and she extensively tours the U.S., appearing on both television and stage.
Sonya’s poems discuss HIV/AIDS, problems facing women and adolescents, abortion rights, and social injustice. She engages with these issues personally, working as a peer educator at Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive. In 2004, Renee performed at the March for Women’s Lives Rally in Washington, D.C.
Sarah began performing at age 14, and in 2004 she performed at the United Nations in the World Youth Report. Currently, Kay performs around the country and directs Project V.O.I.C.E. (Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression), which promotes the use of poetry as an outlet for emotion and tool for self-exploration. Her poems concern family life, motherhood, growing up and multiracialism.
9. Shira Erlichman 10. Rachel McKibbens
Rachel was the 2009 Women of the World poetry slam winner. She currently teaches poetry and creative writing at universities, high schools, and housing projects, focusing particularly on at-risk youth. She writes about the responsibilities of motherhood, heartbreak and support systems.
Shira, inspired by Ani DiFranco, writes and produces her own music and poetry on a self-created label, Make Records. Her poetry and music deal with expectations of women, escaping heteronormativity and creating your own future.
Activists meet to talk about issues facing student leaders
Cross-Campus Feminism by Angela Tu
“Show me what a feminist looks like, this is what a feminist looks like!”The enthusiastic chant of national campus organizers filled the room on an early Saturday morning. Excited students sat patiently, anticipating what they were about to learn in the next two days at the Western Regional Feminist Campus Leadership Conference. The conference, which was organized by the Feminist Majority Foundation, brought together student leaders and women’s rights activists from as far as Washington state to the campus of Cal State Northridge, to discuss issues such as voting, reproductive justice, sexual violence, education access and much more. Myra Duran Because the 2012 election is only a year Feminist Majority away, voting and student leadership were the main focuses of the conference. “Every aspect of a woman’s life, whether it is reproductive health care, educational opportunity, or the global framework for women, has to do with who we elect to put in office and Congress and even on our local and state government,” said Myra Duran, a national campus organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation.“They (political candidates)
have the voice and the power, and we as students must be active at the voting box to elect people who reflect our political ideology, reflect our concerns, and reflect us as human beings.” Camila Chavez, executive director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, agreed with this.“You don’t have to vote for corrupt politicians,” said Chavez at the second plenary.“But you can vote for parks or schools or any policies that impact you.” The conference also focused on intersectionality, and elaborated on the importance of building alliances with other social justice movements. Breakout session topics ranged from reproductive rights to the DREAM Act to LGBT rights.“We need people to participate in the Foundation full spectrum of feminist issues like education access and the DREAM Act,” said Duran at the closing plenary. “Because in the end, we are all fighting for justice and humanity.” One session, called “Intersections of Oppression in Communities of Color and Reproductive Justice,” dealt specifically with intersectionality.“We have to look at all aspects that intersect in everyone’s life,” said Nourbese Flint, a program manager for the Black
We need people to participate in the full spectrum of feminist issues ... Because in the end, we are all fighting for justice and humanity.
Artist. Student. M o t h e r. Feminist.
National campus organizers from the Feminist Majority Foundation spoke at the Western Regional Feminist Campus Leadership Conference. Women for Wellness organization and a guest speaker at the session.“You can’t separate yourself and be a Latina, I can’t separate myself as a black woman. We have to look at things holistically to solve health issues and reproductive issues.” In addition, the session argued for the reframing of pro-choice into a more inclusive concept of reproductive justice, which encompasses the right to have a child, to not have a child, and to parent a child. Ultimately, a majority of student feminists felt that the conference was
a positive experience.“I’m glad we came here,” said Brooke Weber, a thirdyear at Northern Arizona University. “These people here are new, exciting, and interested, and that is absolutely wonderful.” Inspired by what she learned, Alex Atienzo, a second-year at Santa Monica College said,“You can’t give up on these issues. You have to keep going. If you stop for one second, you’re going to give those people who are against us a second to attack.” Have you ever attended a feminist conference? Email Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Finkelstein by Melissa van Gelder
Feminism is still alive, but Rachel Finkelstein thinks it might be lacking its former pulse. As an art student at St. Martins in London in 1973, she found herself at the forefront of the women’s rights movement.“At the time, especially around the college, it was the issue of abortion rights,” said Finkelstein, who was born in Israel.“We were defending it and they’re still defending it now in the United States, which is kind of sad.” At the time, numerous feminist art groups were formed, and she became the co-founder of the first feminist film distribution company in London. A multimedia artist herself, she showed a film about the portrayal of women in the media,“Men Made Images,” at the first feminist film festival in Amsterdam. “It was intimate then. We were really radical, exploring our body ... it was a part of this consciousness-raising issue,” remembered Finkelstein.“I have the still
images of the group of us sitting around naked talking about our bodies and how we have to learn to come to terms with who we are and accept who we are and not compare ourselves to all those images in the media.” Today, she misses the atmosphere of the movement in the ‘70s.“The pulse, that’s what I’m missing,” admitted Finkelstein. After taking a break from art to raise her daughter, she’s rediscovering that pulse by taking classes through the Senior Scholars Program at UCLA, in which those over 50 can audit undergraduate classes. She’s also getting active in the feminist movement again by participating in Suzanne Lacey’s recreation of the “Myths of Rape” performance, originally directed by Leslie Labowitz in 1977. “It’s an illusion of going back to those times when people were working
together and not just trying to build up their images,” said Finkelstein.“There were 14 of us and it was more about the issues. That’s what I remember from the ‘70s, it was never about individual ego.” Lacey is also recreating parts of her famous art project of 1977,“Three Weeks in May,” in which she exposed the number of rapes in Los Angeles by publicly posting a large map of the city and asking women to mark every incident of sexual assault on the map. “Three Weeks in January: End Rape in Los Angeles” will run from January 12 through February 1 and the map will be posted at the LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. “Women still have to organize and have the unity between themselves,” said Finkelstein.“The strength is in numbers.” To learn more about Suzanne Lacey’s project, go to www.femmagazine.com/fall2011/profile
Fem | 5
HS: Well, you know, the roles that are most important to me –– and I know this is going to sound like a classic political answer –– are the ones that aren’t up there, which is husband and father. Not just because my daughter and my wife are at the very center of my lives, but because I think it is essential that we have that congruence between our public and our private lives. When I go home and I’m spending time with my daughter and with my wife doing whatever it is that we’re doing, it’s not as if it’s a separate compartment from my other work. This is my just-as-work lived out in private. This is my feminism in private. How I behave when I’m out in public is the same thing being manifested to everybody else. So you know, I write, I speak, I teach. I’m privileged to do all of those and I think that they’re all important. To the extent that I’m able to shatter the myths, so much the better. I can’t prioritize them, it’s all in a seamless garment. It’s all together.
Schwyzer: we asked, he answered by Connie Shen
Reformed addict, believer of God, father, and feminist only begin to describe the man that is Hugo Schwyzer. As a professor, published writer, speaker, and unlikely representative, Schwyzer shatters nearly every stereotype about the feminist identity, picks up the pieces, and throws them in your face. In early November, I sat down with Schwyzer at Novel Cafe in Pasadena and talked to him about his work and journey as a feminist.
FEM: You often speak quite openly about your unconventional path to becoming the feminist you are today. Can you tell me about some of your most significant ups, downs, and turn-arounds that led you here?
FEM: If it is isn’t obvious enough, would you consider yourself a feminist? Hugo Schwyzer: I absolutely would. FEM: Have you always been a feminist? HS: Well, I was raised to believe that I should be a feminist, but I think the best way to talk about it is to talk about it like being on a journey. Feminism is something you experience and go through as a process rather than as a single moment where you ascend to something. I’ve always ascented to the idea that men and women are equal, I was raised by a feminist mom, but when you grow up as a young man and you’re socialized by your peers with some very traditional ideas about gender then it’s possible to believe intellectually, at least, in men’s and women’s equality. At the same time, while you believe at the political level, you’re not practicing on the person level. I think the classical ways that people fall down on this is in their families and in their romantic relationships. And sometimes in other areas as well, like in the workplace. You believe in equality, yet you find yourself dating somebody and falling into incredibly traditional patterns and wondering why this outer set of beliefs isn’t coming into your intimate life. FEM: That’s very true. Can you talk to me about your life pre-gender-myth-shattering days? HS: I’ve always been in academia. I’ve never held a real job. All my life I’ve always been around school. I’ve had a few summer jobs, but I went straight from undergrad to grad school and then teaching at Pasadena City College. The only other jobs I’ve had –– the jobs I have now –– are in writing, as a journalist and a commentator and now as a creative director for these advocacy group. But before I came to feminism, well –– in teaching I’ve been teaching it for as long as I’ve been teaching, but outside of teaching, I think on a personal level, the journey’s been a very challenging one to match my language and my life. This is a challenge for any feminist. I think especially for male feminists, but really any feminist. To get that congruence. FEM: Speaking about matching your language to your life, I know you talk a lot about Christianity and faith on your blog and in some of your lectures. How does
6 | Fem
your identity as a Christian intersect with your identity as a feminist? HS: Well, I want to be really clear that feminism certainly doesn’t require Christianity to be practiced well. Many of my dearest friends and role models are athiests. I have other friends that belong to other religious traditions and probably the majority of them belong to none at all. I’m not trying to say that they are somehow inextricably linked. At the same time, for me, my faith informs my feminism; shapes my feminism. It helps me with a world view in which I see sexism as one of the most obvious, if not the most obvious, manifestations of sin in the world. Sin is not a word that I use outside of its spiritual context because it’s such a loaded word. And sin is not so much about what we do as private individuals. It’s about systems. Patriarchy is sin. The idea that corporations are persons is sinful. The idea that women are not capable of doing what men are capable of doing and therefore should be blocked from certain fields; that is sinful. Now, that is not something that I’m about to say to my classes unless it happens to be in a Christian context because you shouldn’t be dragging spirituality into those places. But on the level of personal conviction, this raises for me, and just for me, the work that I do to a high moral level. Doesn’t make me better than any other feminist who isn’t particularly religious. FEM: The heading on your website reads "Hugo Schwyzer: Author, Speaker, Professor Shattering Gender Myths." Which of these roles, if any, comes first for you?
HS: You know, it’s always a tricky thing, and I made a decision several years ago that I reconsider on almost a weekly basis, which was the decision to bring my private life into my work, not for the sake of narcissistic self-examination, but a.) because I thought that others might be able to learn from my stories and b.) because I didn’t want to represent myself as something that I was not and c.) because I didn’t want to be constantly reminded of certain things. Because my past had been so spectacular that if I had tried to put any skeletons in the closet, they would eventually all come out. So the solution was to bring them all out, talk about them, and hope that once we were done talking about them we could move on. The short hand is, I was, for many years, an addict and an addict to virtually everything that one could be addicted to starting with, most spectacularly, with alcohol and drugs and certainly with sex and relationships and probably throw in an eating disorder and virtually everything but gambling. Gambling is probably the only addiction I missed. I never wanted to go to Vegas for long. So there was a lot of spectacularly inappropriate behavior. What people seemed to be most attracted to because I am feminist was spectacularly inappropriate sexual behavior (like) boundary violations with students. I was divorced three times and other destructive relationships along the way. A lot of that driven also by the alcohol and the drug addiction. Everything started to fall out, all at once. And I did have sort of the classic neardeath experience, classic conversion experience, for Christians, sort of the “Fall on the Road to Damascus” moment where I realized that if I continued down that path I was going to be dead and be dead very soon or in jail. And what’s been going on in the thirteen and a half years since that moment has been an on-going process of transformation and growth and mends making to the extent that they can never be made. And also a place of peace around the fact that I did what I did and I’ve done the best that I can to make those amends and some people are never going to be able to get passed it. They will say, you know,“Hugo, you were a drug addict.” I mentioned in a blog post once that I did cocaine with my students in my office. I had sex with my students in my office. For some people that’s going to be a print on their brain and they’re not going to walk away from it. At some point what I want to
say to them is if you can’t get passed that, that’s okay, but I’m not going to sort of hide that and wait for the moment to come. Fortunately, my career as a speaker and a writer has continued to grow, but I’m not going to wait for that moment when somebody comes out of the wood work to say,“Let me tell you about him.” The only thing that isn’t known about these events is the names involved. Now, if somebody wanted to come out and out themselves, that’s up to them. I don’t know why they would want to do that, but for goodness sakes, that’s up to them. It’s a way for me to say,“It happened, it’s over, we can change. We can transform.” That’s a Christian message. That’s a human message. And also, it’s a challenge to people.“Can you deal with it?”And if you can’t, that’s okay. Some people are never going to get over it. Fine. I’ve got other things to do. FEM: Do you think it’s important to have people who’ve had very different histories come out, such as yourself, come out and say “Look, this is me” and then represent the feminist identity within their own framework? HS: Absolutely. People recognize that there are many paths to this. I have to tell you about a semester when I had a porn star in my class. This was not just an actress, but a genuine star, Julia Tavella, she’s outted herself. She’s out of the business now, but in the 90’s she was a major star, but she was already coming back to the college and getting her education and she took my "Women in History" class. And in that same class there was a young woman named Beth. And they were the two best students in the class. Beth was an evangelical Christian, but very open to feminism on some levels. She was a virgin and engaged to be married and had been open about the fact that she had never even kissed a man on the mouth. Obviously Julia Ann was a porn star. They found each other incredibly fascinating. And everybody else did too. One day, having gotten their permission and asking them,“Are you sure? Are you sure? Are you sure” they didn’t have a debate, but they shared about feminism in their lives. And of course almost every one else in the class found themselves somewhere between them. No one was a porn star, but most of them believed it was okay to kiss a guy before marriage. So, they’re listening to these two bright, articulate people –– Julia Ann was 28, 29, Beth was probably 22 –– and seeing that they’re both
feminists. It was an electrifying moment. They dropped their persons into that. There are feminists on porn sets. There are feminists in evangelical seminaries who are practicing abstinence, not out of shame, but out of a quiet fidelity to something that is deeply personal. And I think we need to reiterate that over and over again. We need to share those stories and that diversity. Absolutely. FEM: I know that you are currently writing for quite a few publications; how do you find the time? HS: Well, caffeine is a great neighbor of time. I think maintaining a strong spiritual connection is very important. Being grounded in my marriage and in my family, I’m very fortunate; I’m very privileged. In a state where not everyone can marry the person that they love, I am very blessed to be married to the person that I love, to have a child, to have a home to come home to. I don’t take those blessings for granted. That is the battery that powers my life, my faith, my family. But there is also a strong sense of urgency. One of the things that happens when you’re an alcohol and a drug addict is that you waste a lot of time. I got a Ph.D. in my twenties, but in terms of doing what it was that I was called to do, I didn’t do it. I’m middle-aged now; I’m forty-four. I have a very strong sense of urgency: it’s gotta get done, it’s gotta get done now. And not for the sake of my career necessarily, but for the sake of what I believe. So that urgency and that battery power and caffeine. FEM: A lot of people feel like feminist work is done. What are your thoughts on that? HS: I think they’re confusing a few superficial achievements with the completion of the work. For example, as I’ve said many times, what we’ve done is expanded the number of opportunities in women’s lives, substantially. Particularly, of course, for white, middle and upper class women, but, in some ways, for women across the board. The problem is because we haven’t changed how we see women in our own lives, those opportunities are turned into crushing obligations. Now, girls are still expected to be people pleasers to their families, to their boyfriends, to their husbands, but they’re also expected to get MBAs. You know have that problem in many families, traditionally
in immigrant families, where the female is expected to fulfill all those traditional roles: cook, clean, be physically attractive, while also taking on traditionally male roles like becoming self sufficient, getting an education so that you don’t have to rely on a man, while simultaneously being beautiful so you can attract a man. That mixed message is overwhelming for your women, and that’s why so many young women are struggling with that burden of anxiety and perfectionism. So we’ve created more opportunities, but we’ve turned them into these obligations that are crushing. At the same time, those opportunities are still primarily for the middle class. They have not filtered down to all women in this country and there is an active and concerted attempt to roll back women’s rights around areas of reproductive rights, around areas of equal pay and maybe even on the most basic level women are not physically safe. Women are more likely to be sexually assaulted on campus than men are. That’s feminist work. FEM: Can you talk to me about some of the projects you’re currently working on? HS: I am the cofounder of The Perfectly Unperfect Project and also the co-director of the Healthy is the New Skinny Initiative. Healthy is the New Skinny is actually not a non-profit. We do do some sales in marketing. Perfectly Unperfected is a 501(c). That’s the main distinction. The Perfectly Unperfected reaches out to high school students and college students. We are currently negotiating to come to UCLA to bring a presentation which is a mixture of a panel who are experts from the field. Myself, somebody who has spoken and written a lot about this for many years and also an eating disorder specialist and a number of people who work in the modeling industry. We have several people who used to model in what is called “straight size,” size zero to size four, which you think of as the ideal size, who are now plus size models and have found what it’s like to have genuinely healthy lives and stay in the system. And our message is from the people in the industry, to the people who consume our images. We want to show them that ways in which the very business in which we work lies to them. To read the rest of the interview with Hugo Schwyzer, go to www.femmagazine.com/fall2011/qa
Fem | 7
Women Recognized for Creating Global Change
Three activists from African and Arab nations were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in gender equality and advocacy for peace and democracy. The three three recipients were President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, peace activist Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, and pro-democracy campaigner Takkol Karman of Yemen. “I think Liberia can be a model, and I think we can show that a country can virtually self-destruct as we have, but come up from the ashes of terror and destruction and become a success story,” said President Sirleaf. A Harvard economics graduate, President Sirleaf is modern-Africa’s first woman elected president and has had success in alleviating Liberian debt and reframing Liberian’s brutal international image. Also working in Liberia, Gbowee, head of the Women for Peace movement, has worked extensively in women’s suffrage and mobilization . In Yemen, Karmen heads the group Women Journalists Without Chains and was a huge vocal opponent of Ali Abdullah Saleh, President of the Republic of Yemen. Organizing protests and rallies in the streets in Yemen for reform and anti-corruption, she is often named the “Mother of the Revolution.”
Jon Styer/Eastern Mennonite University
Leymah Gbowee, recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, speaks at Eastern Mennonite University on Oct. 14, 2011. An award that predominantly recognizes men, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honored women’s rights activism around the world, sending an important message: women’s rights have not been forgotten and women are continuing to fight for gender equality, peace, and democracy, even in terrorstricken or war-torn nations.
Complied by Jewel Pereyra with reports from the New York Times.
Affordable Care Act Provides Necessary Services for Women Last August, the United States made it a little easier to be a woman. The Department of Health and Human Services introduced new guidelines to President Barack Obama’s controversial Affordable Care Act that include special provisions for women’s health. Before August, the law already included the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which provides healthcare to those who have been denied by insurance companies because of pre-existing conditions. These can include being the victim of domestic violence, having previously had a c-section, and being treated for HIV. The law also allows children to stay on their parents’ plan until they are 26 years old, and eliminates the co-pay for certain preventative services such as blood pressure, diabetes and cholestrol tests, cancer screenings and routine vaccinations. The additional guidelines mean that insured women will no longer have to pay extra for many vital preventative services, including wellwoman visits, breastfeeding support, screenings and counseling for domestic violence, HPV testing and HIV screenings. They also specify that starting in August 2012, women will no longer
Nearly 40 years after the landmark case Roe v. Wade was decided, abortion remains a dynamic and polarizing issue in the United States. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 162 provisions related to reproductive health were enacted in the first half of 2011 alone, a record-breaking 49 percent of which are aimed at restricting access to abortion services. The past few months have also witnessed a series of votes and court rulings related to the effort to limit the reproductive rights of women. The following timeline will bring you up to date on the increasingly vulnerable state of abortion rights in our country. On September 29, a federal judge refused to block a Kansas law barring insurance companies from offering abortion coverage in general health plans with the exception of pregnancies that threaten a woman’s life. The ACLU contested the law, arguing that it was aimed at imposing a burden on abortion seekers. The judge denied the request on the grounds that the ACLU failed to provide evidence that the law constituted an obstacle to obtaining abortions.
On October 13, the Protect Life Act, which bars the use of federal funding for health plans that cover abortion services, passed the House with 251 in favor and 170 against. While existing laws already prevented the use of taxpayer dollars to finance abortions, the bill adds a restriction that has led critics to dub it the “Let Women Die Act.” Hospitals that receive federal funds and do not have emergency abortion services are no longer required to transfer patients in need of these services to facilities that offer them. However, the Democratic control of the Senate makes it unlikely that this act will become law.
On October 25, a federal judge blocked part of a new North Carolina abortion law that required medical workers to perform an ultrasound at least four hours before a scheduled procedure and to offer to describe the image to the patient. The patient would also be offered the opportunity to listen to the fetal heartbeat. The remaining restrictions imposed by the law remain in effect: women are subject to a 24-hour waiting period and are given access to information about the risk of abortion and alternatives to the procedure.
Compiled by Natalie Muscatello with reports from CBS, the Associated Press and the New York Times.
8 | Fem
have to pay for contraception. Though women’s rights and health activists have lauded the changes, some conservative groups are not as pleased. According to Jacqueline Sun, a national campus organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation, the opposition to the law lies in the fact that it has not received enough press.“People don’t have any idea how it affects them,” she said.“We need more literacy for what’s provided for young people. We need a resource where it’s easy to talk about and interpret the law without being confused.” For Sun, the law is crucial because it will allow women to use birth control without worrying about cost.”Students are having to decide whether they’ll pay for one thing or birth control,” she said. Whether these provisions get the chance to go in to effect will depend on the actions of Congress and any shift of majority in the Senate could signal the demise of the law.“If we don’t support people who are fighting to protect our access, it could be repealed,” Sun explained.“This is why young people need to vote.”
By Melissa van Gelder
Planned Parenthood volunteers advocate for healthcare reform in Columbus, OH. On November 8, Mississippi residents voted down a ballot measure that would have extended the definition of ‘personhood’ to include fertilized human eggs and thus grant the eggs the same rights as people. As a result, the measure would have outlawed abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. It would also have prohibited the use of any contraception that prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg. Despite the its failure in Mississippi, Personhood USA is currently trying to get the same measure on the 2012 ballots in Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada and California.
What are products telling young girls? by Rachel Sanoff
Shelves stocked with stuffed animals surround a rack of underwear at Justice, a girls’ clothing store in Westside Pavilion. Hanging on the rack are pink training bras, as small as size 28, with removable pads and shaped cups. According to the sizing chart in the store, these size 28 bras are meant to fit girls as young as 7 and 8 years old. Girls’ clothing has appeared in the press recently due to concerns about the sexualization of young girls and the perpetuation of gender stereotypes. Last March, Abercrombie & Fitch began selling padded push-up bikinis through their children’s clothing line, Abercrombie Kids. The bikinis were marketed towards girls as young as 7 years old, resulting in college professors, parents, and news stations expressing outrage on television and the internet. Abercrombie Kids, in an attempt to quell the public, released a statement on their official Facebook page that it was perhaps more appropriate “for girls age 12 and older.” “That’s terrible,” said Dominique Mayden, a second-year behavioral sciences student.“It sends the wrong signal to the younger crowd. It sends the wrong signals to males, too.” Popular stores in malls across the country have not only been criticized for girls’ clothing that may promote sexualization, but also for selling girls’ clothing that incorporates degrading stereotypes into their designs. This past August, JCPenney stopped selling a girls’ t-shirt after numerous outcries of sexism made their way across the media. The shirt in question, which the JCPenney website stated was intended for girls ages 7 to 16, was emblazoned with the message “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”
“I think if you asked the designers, they’d say it’s just ironic or it’s just a joke,” said Sabah Uddin, a Women’s Studies Ph.D. candidate writing her dissertation on South Asian Muslim women in Britain.“But I think, at some level, it’s a way of trying to invade little girls’ minds, and sort of keep them in place.” As angry as the JCPenney shirt made many people, and as successful as the store was at taking it off the racks, not everyone feels that banning the sale of such clothing is necessary.“At that age, parents should set certain foundations for their kids,” said Suzie, a fourth-year MIMG student who asked that her last name not be released.“I would never let my kid wear that. I hope they wouldn’t want to. But kids have ideas of what they want and a personality, and they aren’t going to suddenly want those shirts just because they’re there, so I don’t think they should be banned.” This viewpoint raises the question of whether parents or society are responsible for influencing the way young girls dress, and the effect clothing may have on their socialization.“I don’t think you can take one away from the other. The social issue exists, and parents are part of that social system, and they internalize those messages, and pass (them) onto their daughters without them realizing it,” said Uddin, who has taught a course on the politics of women’s fashion.“I don’t think they are consciously thinking that they sexualize their daughters, but there’s this belief that in order to be successful, they have to be very pretty and dress a certain way, and parents are instilling that in their daughters very young.” The emphasis on sexualization and beauty in the marketing of clothes to
Australians protest the proposed arrival of a children’s beauty pageant. The rise in popularity of young beauty queens has raised questions about the oversexualization of the contestants.
The description next to this shirt on JCPenney’s website read. “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that’s just as cute and sassy as she is.” JCPenney stopped selling the shirt after an outpour of complaints. pre-pubescent girls is disturbing to in a time when they are doing really some, especially considering that it is well for themselves… There’s a lot of now 2011 and many like to think society ambiguity about women’s roles in our has moved past period in history, said gender stereotypes Uddin. Their roles are not that claim as defined as they were women’s looks as in, for example, the ‘50s. their only value. Back then, we knew what “Women weren’t women were supposed allowed to have to be doing, but now we certain jobs or do have women excelling in this or that, and politics. … Some women Sabah Uddin with shirts like work; some stay at home. that JCPenney one, Women’s studies, Ph.D. candidate If we were to try to define it’s like now we’re women’s roles at this saying that was point, we just wouldn’t ok. History is going to repeat itself,” said be able to. Our clothes may be reflecting Mayden. this battle to figure out who we are and Uddin also stressed the roles that what we’re supposed to be.” history and the successes of the feminist While the fashion industry may movement have in the emergence of be attempting to stall society’s changing this clothing.“Why is this the time gender roles, the outrage sparked by the period when this stuff is coming out? offending articles of clothing (and the Some people think it shows that since sometimes successful removal of them women are doing well, the clothing is from store shelves) makes it seem that a meant to subvert their accomplishments. more progressive society might be both The socialization is very specific and a desired and possible. conscious move on manufacturers and How do you feel about the clothing sold to young designers to sort of infantilize women girls? Email Rachel at email@example.com
It’s a way of trying to invade little girls’ minds and sort of keep them in place.
Fem | 9
Silencing the Lady: The (In)Visibility of Women in Movies by Curtis Wu
Half of all movies fail the Bechdel test. Narrow it down to the top 50 movies of any given year, and the proportion of failures spikes to 75 percent. That’s like taking a class in south campus with no curve. As intimidating as it may sound, the criteria required to pass this quaint little test is surprisingly simple. A movie just has to: 1. Include at least two named women. 2. Have those two women talk with one another. 3. Have them talk about anything other than a man. Coined in Alison Bechdel’s 1985 comic,“Dykes to Watch Out For,” the Bechdel test doesn’t gauge how good or how feminist a film is, but whether or not women exist in any capacity independent from men. The test is thus an indicator – a kind of litmus test – for the presence of women in movies. To better illustrate this, consider the following short lists of movies:
Films That Fail the Bechdel Test
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 Sorry if any childhoods were ruined, but the film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s epic conclusion fails to portray any conversations between women. Though Mrs. Weasley screaming at Bellatrix,“Don’t touch my daughter, you bitch!” followed by blasting her to smithereens may immediately come to mind, this instance (as well as the others) is a mere one-liner. No exchange actually happens. Inception Considering Christopher Nolan’s male-centric cinematic history, it is surprising that two women – Mal and Ariadne – actually converse. They discuss love, however, and Mal is obviously talking about her lover, Cobb. Furthermore, one can argue that Mal is a projection of Cobb’s subconscious, without agency, and is therefore merely an extension of a man. The Lord of the Rings The entire trilogy fails the Bechdel test. Although fierce, admirable women are portrayed significantly in the movie, they never speak with one another. The Hurt Locker An interesting case, because although directed by a woman ––– which is already extremely rare in Hollywood –– the film is still male-centric. The only women portrayed to any significant degree are the wives of the characters, defined by their relationship to men, and who never speak with one another. Run Lola Run Unlike the notorious Tomb Raider, Lola is one of the strongest, most wellrounded women protagonists to ever be critically acclaimed. And though she never talks with another woman, it serves as a reminder that the Bechdel test must be situated within context.“Run Lola Run” depicts a woman with welldeveloped characterization that defies negative cinematic stereotypes; in many ways, it can be considered a “feminist-friendly” film.
All these popular movies (including “Avatar” and “Wanted”) fail the Bechdel test.
Films That Pass the Bechdel Test
Black Swan The two competing ballerinas, Nina and Lily, consistently speak to one another about becoming the White Swan – the iconic role in the show. They even discuss a lesbian fantasy that Nina experiences one night. Though a man becomes intertwined in the plot,“Black Swan” is a gem for highlighting women whose stories revolve around their art and profession. Friends with Benefits Though the film barely passes the test with a few miscellaneous conversations, it does highlight the existence of a woman’s sexuality as its own end, which few movies recognize positively. Sucker Punch This is a misogynistic film that can easily run as a candidate for the antichrist of feminism, and yet it just as easily satisfies all three criteria of the Bechdel test. The women “find freedom” by stripping in front of an audience in a prison, and are completely sexualized. But they do talk with one another about escaping, which counts as a topic other than a man. Toy Story 3 This recent classic barely passes the Bechdel test. The qualifying scene is Molly and her mother discussing the donation of her Barbie. Molly’s mother is unnamed, but considering that the entire premise of Toy Story is child-centric, kids justifiably call their parents “Mom” or “Dad.” In this way, the film barely meets the first criterion. The Twilight Saga, Eclipse Like “Sucker Punch,” the film is a coincidental pass. When Bella isn’t obsessing over Edward or Jacob, she is arguing her reasons for wanting to become a vampire to Rosalie or discussing college with her mother. But this doesn’t render the film any more feminist. Conversely, failing the test doesn’t render it any less. Passing merely reaffirms the visibility of the women in the movie.
Though context is important in applying the Bechdel test, one cannot wholly dismiss the general statistics. Half of all commercial movies fail the Bechdel test, which wouldn’t be as problematic if the passing half disproportionately represented women over men. But that is not the case. According to FemaleTalk.com, a political forum and safe space for women, 78 percent of movie dialogue is spoken by a man, whereas in the remaining 22 percent of dialogue, 95 percent of it is spoken by a woman to a man. If men can talk to each other about saving the world, infiltrating someone’s dreams, or even about this morning’s hangover, why can’t women? It is exceedingly ironic that even a majority of ‘chick flicks,’ movies designated for women, fail the Bechdel test. It scathingly implies that women lack any independent existence outside of their immediate relations with men. This underscores not just the systemic devaluing of women’s stories, but also stories with women in them. The flip side to this is the incredible worth and reverence placed on men’s stories and men’s lives. With this in mind, go talk to a friend, a neighbor, an acquaintance, or a random stranger on the street. How many movies can they name that contain at least two named women? Do they talk with one another, and do they discuss something other than a man?
10 | Fem
Knope is No Joke by Lauren McQuade
Monday morning in Pawnee, Indiana means only one thing for Leslie Knope: opportunity. While most people grumble to themselves about the start of a new week, Leslie looks fondly at her framed picture of Hillary Clinton and wonders what positive change she can bring to the fine people of her hometown. Knope is the optimistic and slightly too eager leader of the Parks Department in Pawnee, where a history of genocide against Native Americans is pretty much their town’s only distinguishing factor. Knope is a self-proclaimed feminist in a time when this “F-word” is not thrown around very often. Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) is our shining beacon of hope on prime time television with the comedy show “Parks and Recreation.” Finally, feminism has a place on network television! And by the way, it’s funny. Sure, we still have Liz Lemon, who has been representing the “F-word” since “30 Rock’s” debut in 2006, but if I hear another joke about being a lesbian I might actually throw my chunky black loafers out the window this time along with every cardigan I own.“Lemon, Lesbian Frankenstein wants her shoes back,” jokes her boss, Jack Donaghy, played by the ever-entertaining Alec Baldwin. Liz Lemon does represent a feminist on a critically adored television show, yes, but her character always gets narrowed into the “typical feminist” category. Most of the time I think that if it weren’t for the humor on the show, I would just be really depressed watching it. Her subordinates, both male and female, are buffoons and the men in the office don’t show her respect, instead they constantly make fun of her “frumpy” appearance. Let us not forget that this is Tina Fey who is considered to be a
Tina Fey plays Liz Lemon on “30 Rock.”
conventionally attractive woman by most people’s standards. Why, then, is it productive to represent her as a forever single, career-obsessed woman? Ok. I admit, I’ve been a little too harsh on Liz Lemon. She is a legitimate representation of feminism on television and we’ve put a lot of pressure on her to be our token feminist. The relationship between Liz Lemon and her boss is strangely heart-warming, considering his constant digs at Lemon and outright bigotry. So maybe there is a smidge of tact when it comes to the humor on “30 Rock” since it is written by Tina Fey herself. Observe: “Jack: Are you familiar with the GE tri-vection oven? Liz: I don’t cook very much. Jack: Sure… I gotcha. New York, third-wave feminist, college-educated, single and pretending to be happy about it, over-scheduled, undersexed, you buy any magazine that says “healthy body image” on the cover, and every two years you take up knitting for [pause]… a week. Pete: That is dead on! Liz: What, are you going to guess my weight now? Jack: You don’t want me to do that.”
This scene was featured in the pilot episode officially introducing Liz Lemon to the show. Jack’s observations of Liz throughout the series are common generalizations made toward women who represent feminism and resist the pressures of patriarchy.“30 Rock” creates comedy out of disempowering situations and uses patriarchal hegemony as a jumping off point to inspire women to take the high road and accept it, rather than by confronting chauvinism headon. “30 Rock” is problematic because while I understand the comedic value in making fun of stereotypical views of feminism, it’s tired. I know all of the stereotypes and I can make fun of a feminist better than anyone. I want a funny, smart, together woman to look up to who doesn’t have to point out what is funny about being a feminist but turns our focus to building up our fellow woman. Leslie Knope does this.“Parks and Recreation” is a hilarious show that just so happens to have a feminist main character. I don’t want to watch a feminist character constantly being ripped down in order to prove a point; I want positivity that is also clever and makes me laugh out loud. Leslie Knope picks up the slack for Liz Lemon. The two characters are often
compared because they are similar: thirty-something, single, focused on their career, feminists, etc. Feminists of all sorts want and need to see feminists represented in all aspects of their lives. Television is America’s favorite pastime (sorry, baseball) and women want to watch someone relatable who cares about the same things that they care about and has to deal with the same crap they do. And not only do women want to see a part of themselves represented on television, but they also want a guiding force for where to go from here with more than just a cheap laugh. Leslie’s dream has always been to hold a position in government, and her personal heroes are all women in politics as her framed desk portraits of Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright suggest. She models herself after these women and embodies second-wave feminism like they do. Leslie is less interested in defining herself as simply a feminist and instead gains the respect and admiration of her male colleagues as a human being. Her biggest and most important message continues to be her advocacy for the advancement of all women. It is impossible not to like Leslie Knope, despite her sometimes airhead moments, because she is a woman who we can see ourselves being friends with. She values female relationships so much that she started celebrating “Galentine’s Day,” where every February 13th she puts on an overly elaborate display of affection for the women in her life. In a culture perpetuated by pitting women against each other, this is a refreshing and inspiring notion: to focus instead on building up our fellow woman. And it’s not because she is completely inept with men. Leslie is a smart and confident woman who is good at so many things including, most notably, her job. She is unapologetic about her beliefs and acknowledges her strengths almost to a fault.“Guys love it when you can show them you’re better than they are at something they love,” she says in one episode. She is idealistic and highly valued by her boss and co-workers who don’t just abuse her constantly (I’m looking at you, Lemon). But rather than pit the two against each other, because I don’t think that is what Leslie Knope would want, I would simply like to call attention to the fact that these two TV characters are all we have to compare. Both shows have struggled to stay on the air despite the numerous Emmys and critical praise because they are mostly popular among only a small
Amy Poehler plays Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation.” group of people. When it comes down to it, these are two of the smartest shows on television with two of the best possible representations of feminism, but we can do better.
CAMPUS PERSPECTIVE Why do you prefer Leslie Knope as your feminist role-model of choice? “She strikes a good balance between being empowered and being vaguely aware of the bleakness of being a women sometimes. From what I’ve seen, Liz Lemon, while hilarious and likable and fairly empowered, she’s a bit too self-depreciating for my liking.” - Chelsea Jones Fourth-year History major Does one character demonstrate feminism better than the other? “I think Liz Lemon could certainly be considered a feminist. I’m sure the same can be said for Leslie Knope. You don’t have to be vegan or rocking Birkenstock’s (though those two things are awesome) to be considered a feminist. The characters they play are women in positions of power. That is something you don’t see too often on TV these days. These ladies know what’s going on!” - Evan Neubauer Fourth-year American Literature and Culture major Are you a fan of Leslie Knope and Liz Lemon? Email Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fem | 11
Confessions of a stand-up comedienne
by Kelly Minta
Women in comedy have always stood out. As a aren’t asking for advice from strong female comics,” performer, I would like to think that stand-up comedy, said Kristy Mangel, editor of underground comedy in the poignancy of writing and precision of timing, magazine, ReCom. In my personal experience in is the great equalizer, but it is not. I would also like performing stand-up in Chicago, there are women who to think that in the challenge of overcoming gender support other women and there are women who tear stereotypes, comediennes would find camaraderie in down other women. In a scene where the percentage each other, yet often there is some disparity among us. of participating women is small, the opportunities are I performed stand-up comedy while living in lacking as well. The struggle can make people do and Chicago, and ended up thinking a great deal about say ugly things, and it can make women disregard the feminism as a result. While not rare for women to fellowship that can and should be had among us. perform, it is still a typically male-dominated genre of “I make an effort to make all of my lady comedy and one that places the performer under an relationships genuine,” said award-winning immense amount of scrutiny. Without the company comedienne Beth Stelling.“But I also get a good of fellow comics, I’m not sure that most of us would sense of who to trust and who to get close to.” In the continue performing. As a new performer, I dealt comedy world, wit and humor matter just as much as with not only criticism, but also reluctance on the part character and respect. Yet, sadly, women are often the of male comics to befriend me (unless, of course, they culprits of bad-mouthing and rumor-hashing. Men wanted to date me). So I was grateful for the friendship can turn on each other as well, but women seem to I found in other female performers. They understood have a knack for undermining one another. While this what it meant to prove oneself comedically in a world is certainly not the case for all, or even most women where being labeled a slut is as easy as having drinks in comedy, it is enough of an issue that our guard is with one male comic too many. While women are not up while cultivating relationships with our female necessarily ostracized, we are often placed in a league contemporaries. of our own and must first demonstrate that we can be The subjectivity of funniness is what gets a comic the best in the realm of female comics before being booked on a show, yet there is often an attitude that allowed on more prestigious stages. women on these shows are filling a slot. The rejoining In stand-up comedy, as in every other artistic form response from comediennes is that we don’t need in which the audience sees its creator, the outcome charity and certainly don’t want to see other women of the joke is based first on audience impression, and getting ahead through this aid. “Diversity is nice. It then on the merit of the work. For women working helps me. But it doesn’t help me when that attitude in the field, the first impression weighs that much gets unfunny women booked on the show,” said more heavily as audiences decide whether or not the Stelling. The lack of opportunity leads us to distrust comedienne is worth taking seriously. This whole the breaks we do get, and it undermines our sense of process is based on her appearance worth as comediennes when we feel and assertiveness. From there the Diversity is nice. It helps we are part of a system that places comic must keep the attention of us first based on gender, second on me. But it doesn’t help the audience and decide whether to comedy. indulge gender stereotypes to make me when that attitude While the art of comedy is in a point, or to disqualify gender from writing and performing, the challenge gets unfunny women the equation. This is not to say is in overcoming prejudice and gender booked on the show. that all jokes fall into one of two stereotypes that hold both women and gendered or genderless categories, men back.“Audiences are harder on but in most showcases there is one women, you’re up there representing Beth Stelling woman performing for every five all women as a female performer, Award-winning comedienne or six men who are in the lineup. whether you want to be or not,” said Very often a woman will be brought Mangel. This tends to be true as there to the stage as “the female portion are fewer women on shows, leaving of the show” for the evening. From then on, that less room for error. performer has two choices: she can either respond to It is as easy to judge one woman in a show the chauvinism using gender-based humor, or she can lineup harshly as it is to accept some unfunny men try denying the idea that gender plays a role in comedy. as exceptions to the rule. “There are plenty of guys The experience in stand-up comedy is different for who are just mediocre comics, but because they are in all women, but the resounding constant is that they the majority you don’t notice their mistakes as often are in the minority and have been for decades. There as you notice women’s” said blogger and Chicago is a tendency for women to turn to their male peers for comedy supporter Julia Olson. Yet, my personal guidance in the comedy scene and sometimes to turn feelings regarding this dichotomy have kept me from on other females who are regarded as competition.“I performing on a regular basis in Los Angeles; I judge think that women are resenting each other when they myself just as rigorously as any audience member who
12 | Fem
Kelly performs her stand-up routine at Stanley’s Kitchen and Tap in Chicago in February 2011. believes women are inferior comedically. It’s just that easy to fall prey to what you have been told about yourself based on your gender for your entire life; that women aren’t funny, and if they are it is an unsexy and unladylike apparition that is far from the norm. Yet, the reality is that most comediennes are funny and feminine. Women have the same capacity as men to be comedic and not in any gender-specific way. When the best aren’t offered as many opportunities to perform regardless of gender, then the curve is lessened and the bar is lowered. However, if we want these opportunities to become more available for women, we first have to support one another and create new forums. It isn’t men who hold women back when they don’t book them on shows; it is women who hold each other back when they don’t look at one another as comediennes first and women second. Have you noticed the lack of women in stand-up comedy? Email Kelly at email@example.com
Revenge of the Funny Women Female comedians are proving that humor isn’t only for men By Megan Lent The improv club is a comic institution: a place to watch funny people perform pre-written sketches and on-the-spot improvised scenes. It’s also traditionally a gender-imbalanced one. Now, things are finally changing. With the incredible popularity of the Kristen Wiig blockbuster “Bridesmaids” and Tina Fey’s book “Bossypants,” it is clear that the perception of female comedians is evolving. Ashley Opstad, artistic director of the Improv Space on Gayley and a member of the almost allfemale comedy troupe Token Boy, said that she has “found it challenging to find strong female comedians who don’t use their sex as a crutch … many female improvisers rely too heavily on being a ditzy character, or an overtly sexy character, to get a reaction out of the audience rather than ground their improv in solid storytelling techniques.” However, Opstad and a growing number of female improvisers are creating comedy that is not gender-specific. Yannan Shi, producer of UCLA’s Lapu, the Coyote that Cares Theatre Company, said that the more women in improv, the smaller the gender stereotypes become. And a recent show at The Groundlings theatre company featured both men and women playing silly teens, Christian camp moderators, socially awkward commercial actors and annoyed Courtesy of Token Boy therapists. Token Boy is an improv troupe of six female comediens who get together with one male comedien (who they call the “poor Katie Willert is a writer and comedian who stars sap”) every Thursday night at the Improv Space in Westwood. in two different popular web series at Cracked.com (“After Hours,” with Dan O’Brien, Soren Bowie, and a lack of opportunity; women should not feel the need jokes, single-women-are-sad jokes and blatant racial Michael Swaim; and “The Katie Willert Experience”). to fight for one “girl” spot in an improv troupe. There’s stereotypes. She is one of a small –– but growing –– number of plenty of room to collaborate and support each other. “It looks great that Cummings has both the people who work at Cracked and who don’t have “A great representation of the opposite of that was producer and lead titles (in “Whitney”), but I’m not y-chromosomes, and she is notable for not tailoring quite sure how she got them,” said Jacki Schklar, editor her humor in a way that would be expected of a female Amy Poehler at the Emmys, getting all the Best Actress in a Comedy nominees to hold hands,” she said.“And of the websites Comedy Rants and Funny not Slutty.“I comedian.“I’m of the mind that you just be who you they gave Melissa McCarthy a tiara when she won. It have not been able to get through more than a minute are. Like, I just happen to have boobs and a vagina. doesn’t have to be a competition.” of any of her show clips.” Schklar also feels that female Even if I was a dude, I’d have the Mindy Kaling is another one of comedy can be “a little smarter and a little deeper” than same humor,”Willert said. I’m of the mind that you these female comedians who doesn’t other humor on the web and out of the mouths of She concedes that there are just be who you are. Like actively compete with other funny teenaged boys. times when her femalehood gets ladies. As an actor on “The Office,” she Funny not Slutty is made by, and for, women called out –– but not by her coI just happen to have portrays ditzy customer service rep while Rants is co-ed. Schklar does not workers.“When the first episode boobs and a vagina. Even Kelly Kapoor; as a writer and director believeComedy that one gender is innately funnier; she has, (of “After Hours”) came out, I had on the same show, though, she is however, recognized that it helps female comedians shorter hair, a different style, and the if I was a dude, I’d have the force behind a great deal of the to have a special place where people like “Vanity Fair” comments on those videos were that the same humor. show’s awkward humor, having written contributing editor Christopher Hitchens don’t exist. I was shrill, a hag … now, my look such famous scenes as Michael Scott In 2007, Hitchens wrote the inflammatory article “Why has changed. For the last episodes, Katie Willert burning his foot on a George Foreman Women Aren’t Funny,” opining that the “fairer sex” is about 95 percent of the comments Writer and comedienne grill, and Jim and Pam’s wedding. too sweet and slow to understand comedy were about my tits. I wasn’t trying Kaling got her start acting in a play But, for a growing number of people, it’s no longer to be sexy or something –– I just called “Matt and Ben,” in which she and her best friend a secret that comedy is not gender-specific. The happened to have a chest,” she said, noting that there played Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, respectively, after Opstads, Willerts and Schklars of the world – as well as is a slut-shaming/rape-shaming environment on the the screenplay for “Good Will Hunting” falls from the the Poehlers and Kalings and Feys – are funny, funny internet, which posits that if a woman looks sexy, then heavens into their Boston apartment. She’s a different people. They also just so happen to be female. she must expect –– or even want –– sexual attention. kind of female comedian than, say, Whitney Cummings Willert also stressed the need for camaraderie whose two fall shows –– “Whitney” and “2 Broke Girls” among women in any sector, but especially in a world Megan has previously written for multiple sites including Comedy –– base most of their humor in rape jokes, vagina where cutthroat behavior is so prevalent that it implies Rants and Funny not Slutty. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fem | 13
Female Writers, Female Characters: Looking beyond the “men” in entertainment by Yamuna Haroutunian
Love interest. Second fiddle. Bitch. If there’s a female character then she probably falls into one of those three categories. Male characters in film, television and literature have a wide range of personalities, but women are generally limited to stereotypes. “I wonder if American audiences aren’t open to a female protagonist who is not that fucking nice,” said Sarah Fain, a producer and television writer for shows including “Vampire Diaries,” “Dollhouse,” “The Shield,” and “Angel.” When there are non-stereotypical female characters, they often don’t receive the respect a similar male character would. What if “The Dark Knight” starred Batwoman instead of Batman? Viewers might have a hard time appreciating the character’s standoffish personality if a woman played the lead. As Fain explained,“It’s a lot harder to write a complex female character without her getting leveled with the bitch charge.” Networks aren’t very receptive to shows dominated by women, either. Fain and her writing partner Elizabeth Craft are working with Fox to create a female-driven series called “American Beauties” that revolves around a makeup company. Fox complained that the show lacked an entry point for male viewers and suggested some changes. “The network was concerned about the lack of a male point of view, so we created a new character to make it more man-friendly,” Fain said. Luckily, the move worked out creatively.“It’s fascinating to have a male character in a female world,” she admitted. Frequently, movies and television cater to male viewers at the expense of female viewers. Men predominate in all forms of writing, even the more historically female-friendly medium of literature. Of the 48 works of fiction the New York Times named in their “Notable Books of 2010,” women had written only 18. This may indicate that readers are more than accustomed to the male perspective — they expect it. If J.K. Rowling had written “Hermione
J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series, used initials to reach a wider audience.
14 | Fem
Granger and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” would it be as widely read? After all, there’s a reason why Rowling chose to write her name the way she did. Rowling explained in a recent interview with Oprah that her editor feared that boys wouldn’t want to read a novel written by a woman. Rowling has been able to become such a successful woman in part because she downplayed her identity as a woman. For Rowling, de-gendering her name and writing a male protagonist was a financial decision — it gave her wider appeal. “A large part of what makes male protagonists successful is that they sell better,” said Paula Massingill, the president of the UCLA Writer’s Den. While women are used to reading about men, she continued, men and boys have trouble relating to female protagonists because they don’t read about women as often. As a result, female writers have to be more versatile than their male counterparts to interest a larger readership.“(Women writers) don’t identify with only women characters,” said Margaret Stohl, co-author Courtesy of Margaret Stohl of Beautiful Creatures, the #1 teen book of 2009 as Stohl and her writing partner, Kami Garcia, selected by Amazon editors. decided to write a male protagonist as a way Though both she and her writing partner Kami to separate themselves from the story. Garcia are women, they decided to feature a male protagonist as a way to remove themselves from the story.“When you’re a woman writing a man you can Non-white female characters must fit into an even really invent,” Stohl said. tighter box. While white female characters have a Unlike Fain, Stohl has not been pressured to write restricted range of acceptable personalities, women of a male character. Instead, she received criticism for color sometimes have only one.“If you write a Latina writing her male protagonist the way she did — as character, she has to be spicy,” said Jessica Salamanca, a a boy who falls in love.“People don’t expect a boy senior member of Writer’s Den. obsessing over a girl,” said Stohl. That doesn’t mean readers are satisfied with A male character driven by love is surprising, yet today’s female characters. Stohl’s fans certainly are readers expect female protagonists to be romantic not.“They’re tired of whiny female characters that are heroines. In the category of “women’s literature” (or the powerless and in love,” she said of her readers. more minimizing “chick lit”), readers expect the female They’re not the only ones. Taylor started WriteGirl protagonist to rebel against the confines of her dreary because she feels that young female writers are getting single life, find a man and end her story when she wins the wrong messages from the women characters his love. they see. Teenage girls of today are Romance is very What does it say when bombarded with pervasive, negative romance defines a class of narrowly about women ... images of women, she said, and literature specifically made for they don’t even understand that it’s It’s based on the idea that happening. women? Women’s literature is not as female-driven as its Taylor aims to keep media at bay at you’re not ok unless you name suggests. In fact, this WriteGirl workshops, where magazines have a man that makes genre designation does more to are banned.“We are very selective about reinforce the dominance of male you whole. what we put in front of girls,” she said. characters than to oppose it. In the absence of harmful images, Taylor “Romance is very narrowly hopes her girls will be more encouraged Keren Taylor about women,” said Keren to write bold, realistic female characters. Founder of WriteGirl Taylor, founder of WriteGirl, a Are empowered female protagonists Los Angeles-based organization coming into style any time soon? Female that provides mentoring for teenage girl writers.“It’s writers were a small minority until about 40 years ago, based on the idea that you’re not ok unless you have a but it will take more time yet to break the conventions man that makes you whole.” of a historical disregard for the female perspective. Female characters rarely are allowed to be the With fain, Stohl and Taylor leading the charge, don’t driving force of their own stories. Even women in be surprised if the next wand-bearing hero is a girl traditionally masculine roles fall into stereotypes. with bushy hair. As Fain joked, the female cop often loses her gun. Women are in diverse roles more and more frequently, As a high school student, Yamuna used to work with WriteGirl. but they’re still predictable and one-dimensional. Email her at email@example.com
“Shackled, Beaten, Abused” Is PETA causing more harm than good? by Danielle Germain As one of the country’s most influential nonprofit organizations, PETA prides itself on crusading against animal cruelty. The pro-animal group is infamous for its involvement with protests against meat products, campaigns against animal testing and objections to anything that harms animals for profit. No one can deny that PETA knows how to garner attention. And considering they have ads with Pamela Anderson marked like a piece of meat, Alicia Silverstone completely nude, and players from the Lingerie Football League, PETA has a lot of highprofile celebrities to help their cause. But at what point does it become dehumanizing and insensitive to create ads that objectify women just to promote their agenda of animal rights? According to Laurel Brewer, President of the Bruins for Animals student group on campus,“The ways they garner attention are unorthodox. In this society it’s kind of necessary in order to get people’s attention. It’s unfortunate, but the female body and sex sells.” Brewer’s explanation does seem to be true — degrading women is the most profitable form of marketing and advertisements continue to circulate sexualized pictures of the female body. “One cannot liberate animals and exploit another group at the same time,” said Carol Adams, a social activist and author of “The Sexual Politics of Meat.” Adams rejects PETA’s ad campaigns; however, she does identify with their message and believes that by avoiding the consumption of animal products people can end violence against animals. “PETA’s just using the mechanisms of society to work to their advantage,” defended Brewer.“Of course it’s not ideal and I don’t support the degradation of women in any way, but I guess they feel it’s necessary and it seems to be working because they are the most influential animal rights group in the world.”
PETA activists wear bodypaint to protest the fur trade in Helsinki, Finland.
Arturo de Albornoz/Flickr
PETA activists packed themselves as meat in 2006 to protest the killing of animals for human consumption. But what is PETA influencing? When asked about PETA, Patty Bellasalma, a UCLA alumna and president of the California Chapter of the National Organization of Women, agreed with Adams that blatantly sexualizing women in the name of animal rights sends the public a mixed message. “What is your definition of animal rights?” asked Bellasalma of PETA.“You’re basically saying that you embrace hierarchy and want to put animals above certain human beings, most certainly women as a category because I don’t see you ever objectifying men in your ads.” However, according to Brewer, PETA’s use of scantily clad women in their ads is their way of counteracting the ever-popular sexy-woman-eatingmeat ads by using the same method. But what does this teach young, impressionable women when they see PETA glamorizing the objectification of women by portraying naked women in lettuce cups, chains, or nothing at all? “PETA acknowledges animals’ inability to be free every time they inscribe this patriarchal model of oppression on women, (so) using women to represent that animals need to be free ultimately defeats animals’ freedom,” suggested Adams. By having models act out the cruelties endured by animals, animals are still unrepresented. PETA’s use of sexualized pictures of women negates their efforts to end animal cruelty because they are trying to free one oppressed group by oppressing another. In her research, Adams has found parallels between cruelty toward animals and violence against women, suggesting that female animals and women are exploited because of their reproductive abilities. By ignoring this parallel, society maintains the humancentered perspective that continues to oppress both groups. “There’s a little bit of a dominance hierarchy in the idea that human beings are of a higher order of animals, therefore we should not eat them because we have the gift of knowledge,” argued Bellasalma.“So as a
caretaker we have to be better than them. And actually better than the animals that we say we respect.” Although both women agreed that feminism and veganism naturally align at some level, Bellasalma explained that by choosing to focus only on animal rights, PETA and other animal activists mistakenly neglect other social issues: poverty, lack of education, and women’s rights. She questioned how some feminist-vegans can identify a chicken egg as an animal, but not an embryo as a person, considering only one of those is fertilized . Unlike Adams, who views veganism and animal rights as a way to enrich feminist discourse, Bellasalma believes that other issues should take precedence. “Of all the things that are going on in the whole entire world, you have to be pretty damn high up on the hierarchy chain in all of those categories to think animal rights is where you need to be,” she said.“You’re not really for animal rights in a continuum of human rights if you don’t give a shit about human rights.” According to Bellasalma, humans can be of more service to animals if their needs are met first. Once every person has food, shelter and health insurance, then the focus can shift to animals. Despite the difference of opinions, Brewer, Adams, and Bellasalma do agree that PETA’s use of women to gain publicity is the wrong way to go. PETA embraces social dominance every time they run an ad where the female body is on display to be gawked at. In doing so, their actions are not only sexist, but also hypocritical. Having celebrities who don’t subscribe to PETA’s philosophy pose in ads makes it seem like PETA is more concerned with being accepted by the dominant mainstream culture than they are with ending animal cruelty. Showcasing the female body in a sexually explicit manner to symbolize the oppression of animals doesn’t show that PETA is a respectable organization; it shows that they are acute cultural analyzers. But, like Brewer said,“Sex sells.” Do you think PETA is objectifying and degrading women? Email Danielle at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fem | 15
Sexy and They Know It?
Bruins weigh in on popular music videos by Dominique Silva
YouTube, Vevo, MTV, VH1 and iPods are just a few of the many media portals that allow us to listen to our favorite artist or watch our favorite videos. Sit anywhere on campus and you will find students with headphones plugged in to some electronic device that is stimulating their ears and eyes. Music videos provide us with mini movies that connect to the songs we already love, but is that always a good thing? Juliet Williams, associate professor in the Department of Women’s Studies, has brought media and pop culture into her Women’s Studies 10 class numerous times, and connected them to a vast number of topics. She understands the entertainment value pop culture possesses, but makes sure to remind her students to look a little deeper. Williams believes that we always need to be aware of what the media is showcasing. “I think that bringing a critical perspective to your everyday life is completely transformational,”Williams said.“Even if that is all you do, even if you don’t deliberately take actions like going to marches or writing for a feminist magazine, if all you do is at 11 at night when you are sitting next to your girlfriends, or whomever it is, and you’re watching that video and you point out something about the male gaze or about racialization, that is going to change the world.” Artists like Britney Spears, Rihanna and LMFAO are on iTunes’ list of the top 10 most purchased videos, so it seems like a good time to ask what UCLA students have to say. Every Bruin should get a chance to change the world, one music video critique at a time.
“Sexy and I Know It” LMFAO
“We Found Love” Rihanna
“Criminal” Britney Spears
106,169,000+ views on YouTube
39,024,000+ views on YouTube
2,723,000+ views on YouTube
“This video is so funny, but it makes me a little uncomfortable. You know, it really makes a difference whether guys or girls take their clothes off. Men really have the option of taking their clothes off, calling themselves sexy, and still not have it be sexualized. No part of this was sexy of course, but I guess that’s the irony they were going for.”
“Even though I saw a lot of violence towards women, drug use and anger in this video, I enjoyed it. I think it revealed deep, true emotions that are a part of everyone’s life. I felt like I could empathize with Rihanna. Her bad decisions seemed like something everyone could relate to. She just appeared, well, human. She had flaws, but also had times of happiness.”
Marilyn Gonzalez Third-year, Women’s studies major
Sarah Emick Third-year, English major
“(The video) reinforces that idea that it’s okay for girls to fall in love with the bad boy: no check book, no life and he can potentially beat you. She’s just saying that it is okay because they are hopelessly attractive, and you can’t get away from them. I don’t know, I have never been okay with that message.” Lourdes Gonzalez Third-year, Women’s studies major
Ode to Kate Bush by Carolina Huezo
Kate Bush. An idiosyncratic singer-songwriter hailing from the U.K., Kate Bush is truly an artist that cannot be duplicated. She’s charmingly weird, enthralling, and provocative with her music. I first came across Kate Bush about a year ago when my brother introduced me to the song “Wuthering Heights” via YouTube. We watched the original video by Bush to compare it to some metal covers of the song, and at first, I was a little confused. I fell in love with the song, but I’d never seen dancing so strange and so unrestricted at the same time. Her red dress immediately focused the attention on her, and the dramatic way she would use her eyes while she danced was unusual but captivating. After that, I went on to explore more of what Bush has to offer as an artist. I’ve been a big fan and admirer of her work ever since. Her debut album,“The Kick Inside,” continues to be my favorite of hers. It’s a brilliant array of melodies, composition, and content fully composed and written by Bush. It flows so beautifully and so smoothly that it’s hard to believe she wrote and composed some songs when she as young as 13. The album was released when Bush was 19 in 1978 and was a big success in the U.K. The lead single, the one and only “Wuthering Heights” was the first song to reach #1 on U.K. music charts that was both written and performed by a woman. It also helped put the classic novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Brönte on the bestsellers list during that time. All of that at the age of 19! Spanning through the rest of her music through the
16 | Fem
years, she’s continued to have a lot of firsts after her debut (her album Never for Ever was the first album by a female artist to enter at #1 on U.K charts) and has also managed to remain an artist who’s impossible to copy. Bush is known for writing the lyrics to her songs herself, as well as deciding the direction her music takes. In short, she truly owns her music. And with her artistic visions, she’s challenged not only her listeners, with her albums, but society at large as well, with the singles she’s decided to release. Her controversial “Army Dreamers,” for example, questions war and the military from a grieving mother’s perspective in the structure of a waltz. And more than the content she chooses to play with, ranging from literature to important social issues of her time to fables with taboo elements, no one sounds quite like Bush. The way she chooses to use her voice, with a nice steady vibrato or shrieking in her higher range, and the eclectic instrumentation throughout her repertoire is uniquely hers and artistically smart. She doesn’t follow popular music trends. She’s unconventional and innovative with her art, taking chances to do something very different instead. With Kate Bush, it’s really all about the music. She’s only done one concert tour during her whole career, preferring to stay in one place to focus on her music. She’s also shied away from doing too many interviews. She’s never exploited her body or sexuality to sell her music and actually criticized her label when it did just that. However, she doesn’t hide that part of herself,
and instead celebrates human sexuality in her album “The Sensual World.” She’s a conscientious artist who’s aware of her position in the media and uses it to her advantage to raise awareness about causes close to her heart. She also uses it to fight against the categories the media wants to put her in as a female recording artist. A Kate Bush song is not just another pop song playing on the radio. It’s a piece of art that’s been thoughtfully put together with something to say. Sometimes it sounds beautiful on the first listen, and other times it challenges you as listener by exposing you to something that sounds so strange and unusual, you’re not sure if you’ll ever like it. She’s the kind of artist that goes beyond mere entertainment and compels active thought. It’s no surprise that she’s been an inspiration and had an influence on various artists from Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation to Outkast’s Big Boi to current headlining and fellow U.K. artist Florence + the Machine, who’s cited her influence, apparent in the band’s ethereal style. She’s nothing short of a legend, even though she’s still relatively underrated. You never know what quite to expect from her, except that it’s going to be something deep, artistic, and with a statement. Something that will make an impact somehow, that will leave an impression. And that is why I love Kate Bush. Do you love Kate Bush too? What do you love most about her? Email Carolina at email@example.com
And she’s right — everybody is nice. It’s incredible that of all the places I could be having interesting conversations with complete strangers, I’m having them in the bathroom while washing my face and spitting into the sink. We have people from around the world, with different backgrounds and lives, and habits and interests all coming together to one place to brush their teeth. It’s a community in a bathroom, within this community of college. This female bonding ritual is special, something that I can’t properly explain to my friends living back home. Just like how every single girl you know has made multiple trips to the bathroom just to accompany a friend, but can’t really explain why. “I remember, this weekend, a guy in a mask was just hiding in the elevators!” said Anjaya, an undeclared first-year student.“He wasn’t scary or anything, it was just really funny that he was standing so still. I really have no clue what he was doing there.” Completely unprompted, this community bathroom invites conversation. With sinks in front of us everybody is so comfortable and conﬁdent that we’ll ask strangers if they had a good night, wish them good luck on their midterms, tell them to be safe when they go out, and even compliment their outﬁts.
by Raquel Livson
At approximately 10:30 every Thursday night, I begin getting ready for bed. I change out of my day clothes into incredibly comfortable, but slightly embarrassing pajamas. With my toothpaste and toothbrush in hand, I’m able to cross over from my dorm room to the ﬂoor bathroom in fewer than ﬁve steps. But this doesn’t necessarily save me time because every evening I stay far longer in the bathroom than I expect. From as far back into my youth as I can remember, girls have traveled in groups to use the restroom, regardless of who actually had to use the toilets. It’s normal, to walk in just because your best friend needs to. The bathrooms here are similar, there’s rarely just one person. Over the very few weeks that I’ve lived here, I’ve grown to expect a number of excited, chatty girls getting ready to head out for the night while I’m already brushing my teeth. And it’s not just Thursdays — it’s every night. Instead of awkward silence between washing hands and drying them off, we talk. Many of my ﬂoormates are also freshmen, but we didn’t magically become friends on move-in day. “I mean, it was awkward at ﬁrst,” said Stephanie, a ﬁrst-year biology student.“Then it turned out to be so cool because everybodyʼs just so nice.”
Bonding in the Bathroom
A residence ﬂoor is one of the few places where it’s acceptable to talk to strangers. On the street, in a restaurant, even in high school people don’t tend to do that.“In any other context, it’d be totally weird, right?” said Franny Barnes, my ﬂoor RA. And think about it — residence halls are known for being more social, even though they aren’t much different than plazas and suites. They all have a community lounge, roommates, laundry rooms and trash chutes. But what do halls have that the others lack? One room withﬁve toilets, showers and a urinal. “We have a community bathroom.
We have that constant movement,” said Barnes.“You just end up running into and mixing it up with so many more people than you would otherwise … Bathrooms are the defining difference.” Let’s face it. Who doesn’t like to bond? Especially me, a shy freshman who knew none of the 900 other people living in the same building as me. It’s comforting that a place like this exists, even if it’s a bathroom. Who knew that walking those ﬁve measly steps would make this much of a difference in the quality of my college life? Have you been hanging out in the bathroom? Email Raquel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Her Body or His Toy? by Gina Guglielmana
We liked the same movies, enjoyed the same music, and shared each other’s clothes, but there was one thing that separated us – the dance floor. Shortly after arriving in the United States and settling into their dorm rooms at UCLA, my roommates decided to spend a night out on the “American” dance floor. When they returned, they were mortified, confused and left with a number of unanswered questions. One of my roommates, Laura Hazell, is a third-year, foreign exchange student from London.“I love to dance, but what you guys do here is not dancing—it’s tasteless,” said Hazell. She shared that she was very uncomfortable the first time she went out dancing. She felt that women were not only being objectified, but that they were also objectifying themselves.“The worst is when a girl’s hands are on the floor and her butt is in the air,” Hazell expressed. My other roommate, Gianna Lengyel, experienced the same culture shock.“In order to dance in America and fit in, you have to shake your ass,” said Lengyel, a third-
year foreign exchange student from Austria.“Hip-hop has a sex bounce and everyone follows it when they are dancing, if you consider it dancing.” Hazell and Lengyel are not the only ones on campus who feel that women are being objectified on the dance floor. Marco Tosato, a second-year graduate student from Padova, Italy, said that he does not consider “bump-and-grind” a style of dancing.“It is closer to porn,” said Tosato. He thought that “bumpand-grind” made girls appear easy on the dance floor.“For guys though, it’s better,” he said. Cesare Candeo, a fourth-year exchange student from Milan, Italy, agreed with Marco.“Bump-and-grind is pretty much an orgy,” said Candeo. Nikos Gkolemis, a first-year graduate student from Greece, felt that American men do what they want when they go out dancing.“If you grabbed a girl’s ass in Greece, she would probably turn around and slap you,” shared Nikos. Felix W., who asked that his last name not be released, is a forth-year
exchange student from Berlin.“Bumpand-grind is just an immature way of dealing with sexuality,” expressed Felix. “Women become objects and guys are comfortable with it.” Surprisingly, the same type of dancing,“bump-and-grind,” which was voted as a style of dancing by over 70 percent of our Facebook voters, does not evoke the same emotions out of American students. Jason S., a first-year Nikos Gkolemis who asked that his last name not First-year graduate be released, feels very strongly that this style of dancing is not degrading or objectifying to women.“She is in control –– it is the only form of dancing that women lead. Girls are in no way victimized,” said Jason. Brad Rankell, a third-year student, understood how some people may find this style of
dancing uncomfortable, but he does not see it that way.“Women initiate the dance. A guy can’t do it alone, so it’s their choice,” said Rankell. Nicole Lascurain, also a third-year student, reports that she frequently bumps and grinds on the dance floor because she enjoys it, and that overall, nobody dances alone at a club.“It is all in good fun,” Lascurain shared. A few weeks after her initial interview, Hazell felt a little differently.“As I become increasingly absorbed into American culture, I find myself less shocked by ‘bumpstudent and-grind,’ and even participating in it, said Hazell.“I am still aware, however, of the negative way in which it facilitates the treatment of women – there are certainly limits to this dance style for me.” Do you think that dancing can be degrading? Email Gina at email@example.com
If you a grabbed a girl’s ass in Greece she would probably turn around and slap you.
Fem | 17
Yoga Women by Kerry Esrey
Courtesy of Lindsey Pluimer
Lindsey Pluimer, a yoga instructor and UCLA alumna, is the founder of the “With My Own Two Hands Foundation,” a foundation that, through the efforts of local yoga and sports communities, brings aid to orphans in Africa. Check out the movement at http://www.withmyown2hands.org/ A breath. A philosophy. A meditation. An exercise. The word “yoga” is perhaps as flexible as the stretchy pants worn by millions of yogis today. Once an ancient and male-dominated meditation, yoga has evolved into a modern and female-dominated exercise. Why does yoga attract so many women today? The answer hinges on how “yoga” is defined. Jessa Farquhar, an art history doctoral student, is currently working on a yoga exhibition for the Smithsonian.“What is yoga? This is something that scholars continue to grapple with because it has such an amorphous history and it has meant so many things over time,” said Farquhar. Yoga’s “amorphous history,” includes its origin in India around the 6th century, its later integration into Buddhist tradition, the spread of the yogic philosophy to the West in the late 19th century, and the evolution of yoga into an exercise and a health practice. Historically, yoga has transcended a fifteen-century period, continental divide, and religious affiliation. Yoga also transcends gender; it is a practice that offers physical and emotional benefits to both sexes. While both men and women do yoga today, why is it that so many more women than men participate in the practice? Farquhar suggested that this discrepancy deals with our perception of ideal body types. She noted that
18 | Fem
the western ideal male body type is that of the classical muscular athlete, an ideal accomplished by cardio and weightlifting exercises, and not necessarily by yoga.“As a result, yoga probably gets feminized, because it is more concerned with stretching,” Farquhar said. Brenda Johnson, a yoga instructor at the Wooden Center, defines yoga in terms of its emotional elements. An artist, Johnson started doing yoga after 9/11, at a time when artistic financing was hard to come by. Discovering a new outlet of selfexpression in yoga, Johnson fell in love with the practice. Johnson offers, “Before yoga I already had happiness, but (through yoga) I found a way to not lose it … Yoga is a blue print Lindsey Pluimer for a happy life. It’s a Yoga instructor road map for a happy life. You can follow the paths for a more sustained joy.” Johnson continues to speak of emotional connectedness in explaining why women are so attracted to yoga. For men, she says, it often takes a physical injury to realize,“Oh right, I have to take care of this castle I’m living in.”Whereas in women,“Our physical cycle is very
much a part of us, and we learn about pain and about mood swings. We are emotionally aware (of our bodies). And yoga makes us feel better.”According to her, women are, from a biological standpoint, more compelled to be in tune with their bodies than are men. In today’s world, with so much media attention on the ideal female body type, there is increasing incentive for women to emotionally connect with their bodies in order to maintain their mental health. A recent documentary entitled “Yogawomen” hones in on how women of all ages, sizes, backgrounds, and experiences have turned to yoga to maintain inner peace. The “Yogawomen” trailer voices the concern that,“In daily life, we are being pulled out of ourselves all the time. There’s so much cultural brainwashing and indoctrination now about what it means to be a woman.” The documentary focuses on how, through yoga, all types of women can find a center more powerful than the pressures of society. Lindsey Pluimer, an instructor at Beyond Hot Yoga in Laguna Niguel,
Yoga is a good way to release that tension and that stress ... You don’t have to play all these roles and have all these expectations.
recently offered a screening of “Yogawoman” at her studio. Pluimer, a UCLA alumna who played on the women’s basketball team, asserted,“As women we deal with a lot of pressure from society, but even as mothers, as people, we have to handle so much. Yoga is a good way to release that tension and that stress, and just simply be. You don’t have to play all these roles and have all these expectations; just let go.” In the busyness of the modern world, the appeal of “letting go” continues to enhance the popularity of yoga. Yoga surrounds us; from pictures of “celebrity yogis” in magazines to college students who bring their mats to campus, eager to relieve the inevitable tensions of a crazy schedule. While yoga today is a femaledominated practice, the processes of finding a center and connecting with the body are benefits that do not discriminate based on gender. Yoga’s physical and emotional elements can benefit everyone.“I truly believe that the more people on their mats, the better off this world would be,” said Pluimer. “Imagine if people in power stepped onto the mat before they made decisions about war … Just imagine if they were calm before they went in and made important decisions.” Have you experienced the benefits of yoga? Email Kerry at firstname.lastname@example.org
How women in Rwanda redefined their society with peace
Victimized to Victorious On April 6, 1994, Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s airplane was shot down mid-flight, killing him and inciting a gruesome genocide. The Hutus, Rwandan’s racial majority, began murdering and raping the Tutsi community; approximately 800,000 men, women and children were killed. A long history of ethnic tension between these two groups dates back to as early as 1916, when the occupying Belgian forces issued identification cards listing one’s race. The Belgians considered the Tutsis to be a superior race; however, in 1962 when Rwanda achieved independence, the Hutus came to power. Tensions rose, but with the catalysts of the Hutu president’s death, a current civil war and a drought, panic grew to a fever. In 1994, the genocide began. Before the genocide, Rwandan orphanages, taking in other people’s women did not have the right to own children and providing care and support. land and had little political voice. They These women were barely keeping were allowed to vote, but did not have Rwanda running, but they needed help. much political power or representation; One particular group called AVEGA, the only major political female figure a French acronym standing for “The was the Queen Mother. The woman’s Association for the Widows of the role was to tend to the children, Genocide Dry Your Tears,” initially housework and land while the man had one goal.“This is a beautiful earned an income. In short, women organization founded exclusively by were reliant on men.“Pre-genocide, widows, and they stated that their women were largely valued for the purpose of coming together was to men in their lives,” said Dr. Samantha cry together,” recounted Marie Berry, Smith, a UCLA alumna who traveled to a fourth-year doctoral student in Rwanda and wrote Sociology at UCLA and her dissertation on winner of multiple the country. After the prizes for her work on genocide, however, Rwanda.“This was an the status of women organization premised radically improved. on the fact that women needed this support. Life during There was no way they the rampage was could rebuild anything horrific; for one without it.”AVEGA is hundred days, a one of the largest of mass-murder ravaged many similar grassroots the countryside. Dr. Samantha Smith groups that brought Households across UCLA almuna women together the nation were and enabled them to destroyed, and rebuild Rwanda. most were left to be run by widows These women began to be known or children. Men were the main as “Bearers of Peace” because they had perpetrators of these atrocities. While a biological reason to want peace: they there were a few key female instigators, didn’t want to bear their children into a only 2.3 percent of the agents were war-ravaged future. Their courage and women, and almost all of the surviving resilience to create a new and better women and young girls were victims Rwanda brought them to leadership of rape. In contrast, females were positions within the government. the predominant agents of main “Women began to stand up for reconstruction efforts. Immediately themselves, saying we need to stand up following the genocide, men were only for what we need and have our issues 30 percent of the population due to addressed,” said Smith. death, displacement and imprisonment. As these groups branched out, Women had to step into new roles and women began to receive a popular vote, begin earning an income in addition to legitimizing their ascent into politics. their normal jobs of childbearing and housework. They took charge of creating This drew the attention of the Rwandan
Women began standing up for themselves, saying we need to stand up for what we need and have our issues addressed.
Patriotic Front (RPF). Due in part to their demolished infrastructure, the RPF needed personnel and looked to these capable, resourceful and powerful women. These women had rebuilt their whole communities and collectively led the most effective peacekeeping efforts in Rwanda. In 2003, a mandate passed that required at least 30 percent of Parliament to be female in order to represent this massive portion of the population. Berry mentioned an encounter she had while in Rwanda with newly elected parliamentarian Ignacienne, who told her,“I always think about the genocide as being the worst thing in my life, but instead … it was the catalyst for change in the way I was going to live the rest of my days.” These women used the wake of the genocide to rebuild their country and establish a new level of political involvement. Rwanda has come a long way from relegating women to housework. Their parliament is approximately 56 percent women, including the speaker’s chair. After the genocide, Rwanda created local tribunals to deal with property disputes, 30 percent of which are required to be women. In 1999, the Inheritance and Marital Property Law was enacted, allowing women to inherit land from a deceased spouse. In addition, Rwandans now have a new constitution prohibiting gender-based discrimination.“There’s so much hope,” said Smith.“There’s this resilience of the human spirit and a really beautiful genuineness with the people that I met that I just haven’t experienced anywhere else.”
by Emily Clark
This genocide was one of the most horrific acts in the 20th century; however, due to the need for total reconstruction, women have a place in society they never before occupied. “Violence is absolutely, unequivocally bad for women, however it sometimes has a silver lining,” Berry stated. This silver lining is the respect and power women have earned in Rwandan society. “I think Rwanda might break the mold. They might actually end up with a female executive that is a more accurate reflection of the diversity of women in the country,” Berry commented.“I absolutely bet that the next president in Rwanda will be a woman.” With reports from UNICEF, the Center on Law and Globalization, and the United Human Rights Council. Want to learn more about women in Rwanda? Email Emily at email@example.com
RWANDAN GENOCIDE: facts & figures • In 100 days, 800,000 men, women, and children were murdered • Up to ¾ of the Tutsi population was killed • Post-genocide, 30% of the Rwandan population was male
• Women were estimated as 2.3% of the genocide perpetrators • Almost 100% of women and girls who survived the genocide were raped • 56% of the Rwandan Parliament is now female
Fem | 19
Confessions of a Hopeless Romantic
Waiting for Mr. Darcy by Sahar Shiralian
“I will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all. No... not the artful postures of love, not playful and poetical games of love for the amusement of an evening, but love that... overthrows life. Unbiddable, ungovernable - like a riot in the heart, and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture. Love - like there has never been in a play.” -Viola, “Shakespeare in Love” Literature has ruined me. Now that I have opened Pandora’s box by entering the romantic world of Jane Austen, I can never unlearn the pangs of passion and all-consuming love that her literary characters experience. Jane Austen has unfortunately incited my romantic downfall. In the world of modern dating, I refuse to accept anything less than the ideals of courtship and romance that my dear old friend Ms. Austen has taught me. However, I turn 20 this year and unfortunately still have not experienced anything close to what Austen depicts in her novels, or come across anyone who lives up to my literary expectations. I constantly bemoan the fact that I can never find anyone who compares to Mr. Darcy at UCLA. As I long for a real romance of my own, I question whether or not Mr. Darcy is truly worth the wait. Do bookish women with a penchant for Austen unintentionally doom themselves to romantic failure and perpetual unhappiness? My response to the question “Why are you still single?” is simple and embarrassingly cliché: I hope to find a man who will sweep me off my feet. I want a Mr. Darcy who will challenge me to my limits in intellectual banter and make me feel the throbbing pain of passionate love. Many of my friends point out that my love for Jane Austen, obsession with Regency romance, and intention to wait for Mr. Darcy is in fact anti-feminist and incongruous with many of my liberal feminist beliefs. After all, the world of Jane Austen seems to epitomize patriarchal chivalry and financial dependency. But, if I might defend myself and other Austen fans, many forget the strong heroines of her novels — women who exude confidence, have self-respect and persevere to attain what they desire in life and love. As my favorite Austen protagonist Emma famously declares, “I always deserve the best treatment because I never put up with any other.” Thus, an admiration for Austen certainly does not mean you have to relinquish your feminist card!
20 | Fem
I am incredibly inspired by women like Lizzy, the heroine of “Pride and Prejudice,” who fervently refuses to surrender to societal pressures to marry, and in so doing eschews romance. I have numerous girlfriends who tell me that Jane Austen is the cause of my unfulfilled desires, for it has instilled in me unreasonably high expectations. Nevertheless, I find the phrase “high expectations” problematic. Why should In “Pride and Prejudice,” Elizabeth Bennet (played by Keira Knightley) gets her Mr. Darcy a woman sacrifice her dreams and (played by Matthew Macfadyen). ideals for the sake of merely being in phenomena, and their faithfulness to expecting a Prince Charming to arrive a relationship? I firmly believe that Austen’s plots has won the hearts of and sweep them off their feet and make women should be like Lizzy and never many Austenites. And let us not forget them blissfully happy.” settle for less than what they desire in a that English screen actor Colin Firth Yet the hope to actualize an ideal companion. became an international heartthrob courtship and emulate Austen’s Admittedly, I perhaps read a little too largely because of his portrayal of Mr. relationships tends to end in much, and I am aware that the fact that Darcy in the 1995 BBC miniseries of disappointment. Professor Mellor I have a literary crush is slightly insane. “Pride and Prejudice.” also mentioned that “these courtship I’m an obsessed Austenite, an addict I like to call Hollywood’s obsession novels end in marriage, but the reader who constantly needs her literary fix. I with period films and literary classics never sees what happens.”The notion own a vintage edition of the Jane Austen Darcy, Inc. Hollywood producers that Lizzy and Darcy are simply twonovels and religiously partake in cultural certainly exploit the female fascination dimensional characters that only exist events that recreate Regency England. with Jane Austen and on the page is a fact that Austenites such However, it is at such perpetuate the myth as myself must inevitably face. I hate events that I realize Young women still believe in that her Darcy does to be a cynic, but I must convey the fact I am not alone in my fairytales ... women go on indeed exist. Filmic that these romances are in fact the result love for Jane. In fact, expecting a Prince Charming patriarchy capitalizes of an author’s pains to articulate her the love of Jane Austen on portraying the fantasies of perfectly anguished love. I to arrive and sweep them is a unique culture all perfect, male period have learned that there is an element of its own. off their feet and make them film protagonist. Thus, it danger in pursuing these ideals because Lilit Arabyan is a blissfully happy. seems that Jane Austen it may render your love life unbearably fourth-year political unsatisfying. will never go out of science major and a style. Her stories, and Learned ladies and book worms devoted frequenter of Anne K. Mellor especially her romantic everywhere, do not be disheartened. the annual Jane Austen Distinguished English professor literary heroes, have I am not urging anyone to lower her Ball at Powell Library. proved to be timelessly standards because I myself would never “Jane has created a settle for less than what I desire in a desirable, and many women find them culture that you adore and want to extremely compelling. mate. Instead, I ask women who love recreate,” she said.“I have actually Anne K. Mellor is a distinguished these literary heroes to simply readjust created a woman’s circle where we professor of English and women’s their ideals and expectations. Our lives have discussions about the quest for studies at UCLA who specializes in may not exactly mirror the adventures Mr. Darcy … Jane Austen has certainly of Jane Austen’s heroines, but we can eighteenth and nineteenth century raised the bar!” British literature, women’s writing and certainly create our own romances in the Jane Austen also occupies a special feminist theory. She understands the modern world. seat in popular culture. Hollywood everlasting appeal of both Mr. Darcy and I believe that a 21st century churns out countless film adaptations the plot of “Pride and Prejudice.” gentleman who will satisfy all of your of her beloved novels. Even Bollywood romantic ideals is out there somewhere. “Young women still believe in caught Austen fever in 2004 — the film fairytales. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is a He may not exactly be Colin Firth, but “Bride and Prejudice” is set in modern fairytale,” she said. “(It’s a) Cinderella he can be your very own Mr. Darcy. day India and is replete with catchy story with an element of fantasy that bhangra musical numbers. The BBC Are you waiting for your own Mr. Darcy? dramatizations have become pop culture Jane Austen exploits. Women go on Email Sahar at firstname.lastname@example.org
Say Yes by Zora Raskin
Did you know that it is a fact, that if we press our chests together our hearts will start beating at the exact same time? Did you know that Troy Davis was murdered two weeks ago? That he was not alone, but simply the only one who was given the respect of being named. That I had to remind that my radical comrades that we are, still, at war That every 12 seconds a women is beaten in America? Did you know that it is a fact, that if we press our chests together our hearts will start beating at the exact same time? A single day of walking through this world with open eyes is enough to tear apart that strong and diligent muscle we call a heart. Our history is of genocide, the myth of the middle class is crumbling all over our pretty new college diplomas, and the constant presence of the specter of debt has put the ghosts of Christmas past out of business. But it is a fact, that if we press our chests together our hearts will start beating at the exact same time. So in a world where we elected George W. Bush, twice I need the simple beauty of our rhythm. In a world where there are no constants, where our perceptions are constantly being ripped from our eyes like cataracts I need you to fight for us. To say, out loud, that you are not done To say that no matter what the magnetic pull of the north and south polls are doing on that particular day, you are my partner in crime. And to sometimes, press your chest against mine, so that your slow and steady heart can prevent mine from breaking.
Twice by Nora Daly
Pain like this should never be sent twice. I broke more bones than I can count on one hand Those are now just my funny stories My excuse not to climb a fence This will never be a funny story. Twice? What will this become an excuse for? Will I avoid love, sex, intimacy– Citing my distrust? No, because twice I had no love, no sex, no intimacy. I stay silent to the world, yet vocal to individuals To those who have felt the pain, Fear the pain, Or could inflict the pain. These stories are my power I can understand where my sisters are coming from I can help those new to this pain. Perhaps my twice saved another woman from her once.
I Choose Corruption by Michelle Stover Originally published in 2007
I love your morality. It’s unbelievable. And they’ll all think you’re incredible. But, dear, your logic isn’t the least bit acceptable. If morality is prudish, if morality is hypocritical if morality is painful, I’ll choose corruption. You speak to me of integrity, but I am proud of where I stand. You proclaim I’ve hit the bottom, but if I have – in these depths, I find supreme bliss. If worth is comprised of lies, If worth means believing in your guise, If worth means being like you and them, I’ll choose corruption. You say you’re so damn righteous You say I am a slut-bitch-whatever, But you are the one with the mouth that spews hate. You are the one who has slain that woman on the floor So if THAT is the top. I’ll embrace the bottom. So, if you are the godsend, I’ll choose corruption.
Fem | 21
Reliving Feminism Through Old Issues
“The Women’s Liberation Movement affects everybody ... Feminism, an outgrowth of the movement, is a system of political, economic and social equality among all peoples. This calls for a total revolution in society that would replace capitalism, the nuclear family structure, white male dominance, heterosexual-bias, the doctrines of ‘manifest destiny’ put out by religions, and the segregation of people that prevails now based on age. All these familiar injustices are being dealt with as they need to be. Each one is a power structure that feeds off the others making an all-pervasive system that exploits the majority of for the pleasure of a few. Until these structures are destroyed, the total integration of all women, children and men into an equailtarian society is impossible. Together is a source if information and entertainment through which it hopes to persuade people to action.”
So read the introduction to the first issue of Together (the name changed to Fem in the mid-90s), and we believe it still rings true today. This newsmagazine was started in 1973 to raise awareness about the importance of gender rights and the effect they have on everyone. And over the last 38 years, it has covered everything from the nuclear family to Joan Baez to the at-home pap smear (which was never endorsed by the FDA). The amazing part is, the vast majority of these issues are still relevant today. We’re still fighting for abortion rights, we’re still figthing for genderneutral terms, and we’re still fighting for equality. These are issues that refuse to go away, and so it is crucial that we continue to highlight them and make sure they remain a part of the national and international conversation. So please, read what our Fem/Together predecessors had to say and see how much their words still matter. We’re all in this together, and let’s make sure it stays that way.
October 1973: Joan Baez
February 1986: Reproductive Freedom
October 1977: Not For White Middle-Class Women Only
Spring 2003: Postmodern Art Originally published in the first issue of Together, October 1973.
22 | Fem
Her name is Janet. A year ago, when she was a 24-yearold student at UCLA, she was forced into having sex with a 28-year-old man. This was their first and last time. Four weeks later she found out she was pregnant Five weeks from the moment of conceptions, Janet’s father accompanied her in to the Feminist Women’s Health Clinic for an abortion. Anyone who adheres to the misconception that abortion is an easy, painless, convenient decision for any women to make, please continue. When Janet discovered she was pregnant, the influx of feelings –– including exhilaration, anger, illness and fear –– were precluded by pragmatics. She had no money and, as a student, her job prospects were limited. Her birth control had failed. She did not really know or care for the man who had impregnated her and the choice became clear. She wanted an abortion. She chose the Feminist Women’s Health Clinic because she liked the idea that the facility staffed entirely caring, expert women. Janet chose the person closest to her, her father, to accompany her to the clinic. He also gave her the $200 for the abortion, affirming her right to choose and control her own reproductive system. The evening before her scheduled appointment, she and her father went out to dinner. Janet described her fears: “I was angry that I had to get pregnant at a time in my life that was so very inopportune. I was grief-stricken because a part of me was happy and excited and wanted to have the child. Another part of me knew that it would be a mistake. I was angry that I had been forced into having sex, and that although it took two of us to engage in sex, I was the one who had to go through this terrible experience. I was also angry that the church that was supposed so supportive in my time of trouble was not. I felt sad. I was very afraid.” Thankfully, Janet’s father was supportive and gentle. The next morning they left for the clinic, then located in Hollywood. While her father sat in the waiting room, Janet entered another room where a group of six women, like herself, sat waiting for
their own abortions. Seated with the women were counselours, a nurse, and a lab technician –– all women. This caring and patient staff comforted the anxious patients, preparing them for an ordeal none of them would ever wish to repeat, After medical records were filled out, blood samples taken, and a final urine test administered for pregnancy affirmation, the women were offered an optional light sedative which Janet gratefully accepted. She speaks of the wait haltingly. “I was so nervous ... I wanted to be numb for this ... All of us were waiting for our turn to go in.” Finally, it was time for her abortion. In vivid detail, still clear in her memory, Janet recreated the entire process. She described the peaceful blue wallpaper as she walked in. She was accompanied by a counselor who would hold her hand and talk to her through the entire procedure. As she removed her jeans, socks and shoes she said,“you know, there was just nothing I could do, it would be a catastrophe if I had this child.” The counselor comforted her as she instructed Janet to focus on the ceiling, to begin breathing in and out, slowly, as she lay down on the table, and the physician and her assistants entered the room with the aspirating machine. The abortion procedure, known as the vacuum aspiration, or the suction method, began. “The doctor explained that she would palpatate my uterus to see how far along I was. After the palpation she said it had been about seven weeks from the date of my last menstrual period. Janet “Next, she said, ‘I’m going to put a speculum in here and we’re going to wash the walls of your uterus to get rid of any germs.’ After this, she injected a local directly into my cervix which she warned would feel a bit painful. I was still tense despite the tranquilizer. It
hurt. “Then the doctor dilated my cervix, she inserted one of those things, then another, then another until I was dilated enough. I heard the counselor say, ‘Breath in, breath out.’Then she inserted the cannula (the suction tube). “I was squeezing the counselor’s hand so hard. Then she turned on the aspirating machine.” As Janet described this, she winced, recalling,“Then I had the worst menstrual cramps I’ve ever had in my life. They were so bad. Nobody told me it was going to hurt. It does. I was in such pain I couldn’t focus. It lasted about four minutes. They were the longest four minutes of my entire life. Then they turned the machine off.” For Janet, it was not over yet. She asked to see what they had extracted from her uterus. What she saw was a lot of “pink little clumps of tissue, menstrual lining. The pregnancy tissue itself was the size of a pumpkin seed, just a little piece of lest that didn’t even remotely look like a human being. No features, no arms, no legs, just this little
I knew I wanted an abortion for sure. I was pro-choice before my abortion and I still am. It’s so fundamental that women should be able to choose, to control their own reproductive system and their own health.
piece of tissue. It was a relief to see that it doesn’t look like the embryos that the pro-lifers exhibit.” After two days of rest, recovering from acute fatigue at her father’s house, Janet was ready to go home. “I was not a fun, easy, or convenient experience at all. It’s always going to be with me that I had to go through this unpleasant thing. It really hit me about the third day afterward. I was driving to UCLA and I saw a woman pushing a baby carriage. I pulled over to the side of the road and just cried and cried. “I knew I wanted an abortion for sure. I was pro-choice before my abortion, and I still am. It’s so fundamental that women should be able to choose, to control their own reproductive system and their own health. Every right that we’ve fought for — the right to vote, to retain our own wages, to go into the workplace to earn a living — All of these we’ve gained by fighting. Those rights were ours in the first place, but they weren’t ‘given’ to us. All our efforts at being liberated as individuals spring from our right to choose for ourselves.” Abortion is no different. It is neither easy nor convenient. It’s not a simple choice for any woman to choose to have an abortion. It is often traumatic and painful. But it’s a choice. It’s our choice. This article was written by Lisa Rojany and was originally published in the February 1986 issue of Together.
Fem | 23
Stereotypes by Gelsey Mehl We like categories. We like labels. It’s a fact as real as our two earlobes, love of procrastination, and propensity to make mistakes. All you have to do is identify which category the person/action/thing falls under and bam, you know everything there is to know about that person/action/thing. Only two months ago, I had yet to step foot on campus as an official college student. I wasn’t sure what types of girls I’d meet and what type of girl people would think I was. However, based on some generally excepted categories, here are the girls I should have met: The Sorority Girl Who else could entertain us with a description of Pi Delta Sigma Epsilon Nu Eta Theta fraternity’s “Plaid Farmers and Garden Hoes” party? Congratulations if you manage to even hear her account because she’s always out with her Lambda Chi Alpha Beta Phi Omega Tao’s in their matching hot pink tanks. And besides, the next time you run into her she’ll be stumbling along in 7-inch stilettos on a Thursday night.
The Girl Who Does Everything Her schedule rotates between going to class, studying at Powell, leading club meetings, and volunteering at a local public school. She’s only in the dorms when she’s sleeping, and even then, it’s for a carefully scheduled 6.25 hours. Her social life consists of pre-med or prelaw — but let’s be realistic, pre-med and pre-law — fraternity meetings. She somehow manages to maintain a 4.0. And did I mention she’s going to Guatemala, Botswana, and Cambodia this summer to build houses for the disadvantaged?
The Crazy Roommate During zero week, you thought to yourself “at least I got a normal roommate.” But then you can’t find your favorite shirt. The bottled Starbucks disappear from the minifridge. You swear you had more shampoo left in the bottle. You blame everything on your own forgetfulness until she’s banging on the door at 3 a.m. the night before your first midterm. That’s when you realize she’s wearing your shirt, smells vaguely of your shampoo, and is clutching one of your mocha frappuccinos. Oh, and that you’re about to be sexiled.
Illustrations by Raquel Livson
The problem is, I haven’t met any of these girls. I’ve met bits of them in different people, I’ve met hybrids of them, and I’ve also met girls who are nothing like these categories. Because categories are just that: categories. It’s impossible to dilute people down to labels because, in the end, we are more multifaceted than something so silly as a college stereotype. So remember that next time you think of judging someone before you’ve met them or really know anything about them. You know you would want them to do the same for you. Email Gelsey at email@example.com
Popovers by Melissa van Gelder
“Liberated cooking obviously isn’t any different from any other kind. The only thing that varies is the attitude. ... The whole concept of cooking only to satisfy and keep someone else has always turned me off. Sure, it’s fine to make a meal for someone else and give that person pleasure. That gives you pleasure, too. But there’s no reason men can’t cook for women, too. The recipes in this column can certainly be made with equal ease by both sexes.” So wrote Diana G. Cherlowe in 1974 for the inaugural edition of her column. And she’s completely right –– there’s absolutely no reason to not cook just because there’s the notion that women are ‘supposed’ to be the ones in the kitchen. Cooking can be amazing, as long as you’re not doing it because you’ve been told to. In my family, cooking might be the most important thing in the entire world. My mom worked as a professional chef for over a decade before she retired to have me and my brother, and her love for good food has never wavered. Growing up, this meant two things: one, we ate an amazingly superb dinner almost every night. And two, we never got to go to McDonald’s. While we might have complained about the latter, we never had any issues with the
The Trouble with
former. Dinner at our house was always memorable, and the experience started in the kitchen. My mom has always loved to share her passion, and she started teaching me to cook at a very young age. And when I was finally ready to make something all on my own, she brought out a recipe that had a special meaning to both her and her mother –– popovers. As my mom told me that night, popovers were significant because they were also the first thing that my grandmother taught her to cook. And once we made them, I understood why. For one, they are super easy. Just look at the recipe: flour, salt, milk, butter and eggs. All ingredients that almost everyone already has in their kitchen. And two, they are absolutely delicious. They are hollow, fluffy, buttery and totally worth it. You can have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And you can make them savory or sweet –– just add cheese or jam. That said, my grandmother, my mother and I would like to recommend that you just eat them with a dab of butter. Fresh out of the oven, there’s nothing better. And I have three generations ready to vouch for that. So go ahead, try them. We promise you won’t be sorry.
POPOVERS RECIPE 1 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup milk 2 eggs, beaten 1 tablespoon butter, melted Preheat oven to 450o degrees. Grease and flour a muffin tin (recipe should make 12 popovers). In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour and salt). In a smaller bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (milk, eggs and butter). Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients with only a few strokes (the batter should be lumpy). Fill each cup no more than 2/3 full (the popovers will rise). Bake at 450o for 15 minutes, then lower the oven to 350o and bake for another 30 minutes. No matter how tempting it is to peek, make sure to keep the oven door closed. The popovers will be puffy and crispy when done. They’re best when hot, so enjoy them right away! You can eat them with jam or cheese if you wish, but we think they taste best with just butter. Do you have a special recipe in your family? Email Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org