UCLA’s feminist newsmagazine since 1973
Are you a Riot Grrrl? Feminism, punk rock and a bloody tampon. What wasn’t there to love about this ‘90s movement?
Life as a Dying to be Thin
Transsexual Porn Star An Open Letter to Obama
Table of Contents Features
14. Yasmin Lee
Life as a U.S. Navy veteran, transsexual porn star and actress in “Hangover II”
20. Dying to be Thin One woman’s experience with an eating disorder
16. Are you a Riot Grrrl?
How this punk rock movement shaped feminism
22. Dear President Obama
A letter addressing the president’s birth control policies
The cover photo of Bratmobile was taken by Jenn Robbins at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago in 2000.
2 | Fem | Winter 2012
03. Editor’s Note 04. News Briefs & By the Numbers 05. Sound Bites 06. Top 10 UCLA Alumnae 07. World View Driving in Saudi Arabia 08. Events Three Weeks in January The Vagina Monologues 10. Community Feminist Student Groups The Center for the Study of Women Peace Over Violence 15. Pop Culture Gender in Video Games Feminist Films in the Media Lab 19. Ode to Judy Blume’s “Forever” 21. Active Self Defense in the Wooden Center 23. Politics Get to Know the Republicans 24. Columns Confessions of a Romantic Evolution of Heroines in Rom-Coms Liberated Cooking Peanut Sauce & Fried Rice 26. Reviews 27. Crossword Puzzle 28. From the Blog 29. Thoughts “10 Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gendered Violence” 30. Past Fem
Newsmagazine EDITOR IN CHIEF Melissa van Gelder MANAGING EDITOR Nora Daly CONTENT EDITORS Kerry Esrey Gina Guglielmana Gelsey Mehl Connie Shen COPY CHIEF Tiffany Chow BLOG EDITORS Emily Clark Yamuna Haroutunian Sahar Shiralian STAFF WRITERS Carolina Huezo Lauren McQuade Natalie Muscatello Jewel Pereyra Rachel Sanoff Dominique Silva Angela Tu Curtis Wu COPY EDITORS Barbara Bensoussan Kelsey Sharpe ILLUSTRATOR Raquel Livson INTERNS Patricia Delgado Clarice De Veyra Allison Green Valerie Hasson Carla Juarez Kara Kedrick Amanda Ramont Amy Trivers MEDIA DIRECTOR Arvli Ward MEDIA ADVISER Amy Emmert SPECIAL THANKS TO: Our families, friends, readers and everyone who has supported Fem since 1973.
I’m embarrassed to admit that, every year, I’ve approached March’s designation as Women’s History Month with an eye roll. In the past, it’s meant listening to the stories that most of us already know – Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for heresy after leading the French army against the British, Madame Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in science and Cleopatra was the last Pharaoh of Egypt. As such, this “celebration” of women has seemed more like an excuse for society to feel a little better about the fact that every history class ought to be called “Men’s History.” Last month, however, proved to be very different. Somehow, out of seemingly nowhere, I learned about more amazing women than I could have ever imagined existed: • The Mercury 13: This refers to the 13 women who trained to be astronauts as a part of a private program in 1959, at the same time as the seven men (the Mercury Seven) who took part in NASA’s official astronaut program. Though NASA refused to believe that women could take part in such a rigorous training, one of the men who helped create the government’s program believed that women were better suited for space because of their smaller height and weight. Jerrie Cobb (pictured at right) became the first woman to join the program, quickly followed by Myrtle Cagle, Janet Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, Wally Funk, Sarah Gorelick, Janey Hart, Jean Hixson, Rhea Hurrie, Gene Nora, Irene Leverton, Jerri Sloan and Bernice Steadman. Though these women proved that they could pass all of the tests, none of the Mercury 13 ever reached space. Almost 25 years later, in 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to do so. • Claude Cahun (born Lucy Schwob): Cahun was a French artist, photographer and writer who enjoyed playing with gender and sexuality in her work. Cahun (pictured at left) and her partner, Marcel Moore (born Suzanne Malherbe) collaborated on numerous pieces as they became known in the art world for the artists’ salons they held at their home (attracting the likes of Henri Michaux and Sylvia Beach). Cahun and Moore, resistance workers during World War II, were jailed by the Nazis and sentenced to death in 1944. Though they survived the war and were freed by the Allies, Cahun suffered from poor health and died in 1954. Remembered for her work with identity, role reversal and gender bending, Cahun’s name has been mostly forgotten outside of the art world. • Jane Addams: In 1889, Addams founded the Hull House in Chicago – a settlement house that served those in need as it empowered women and men working to improve the opportunities available to working class people. She also fought for suffrage, became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and was named the “most dangerous woman in America” by J. Edgar Hoover. • Shirley Chisholm: The first African American woman elected to Congress, Chisholm (pictured at left) was also the first African American major-party candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. During her time in Congress from 1969 to 1983, she opposed the draft, supported legislation to increase spending in education and healthcare, and worked to improve the conditions of Haitian refugees. • Mildred McAfee: The first female commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, McAfee is best known as the first director of the WAVES (“Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services”), a division of the Navy that started during World War II and consisted only of women. The group came about after Eleanor Roosevelt lobbied Congress into letting women serve. The purpose of sharing these women’s stories is to point out how important it is to continue learning about the amazing women who have helped shape our society. This probably sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget about the women who are so rarely mentioned in history. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich was right when she wrote that “well-behaved women seldom make history.” But even so, those who have done pretty kick ass things get lost as curricula stick to the ‘classic’ men who are assumed to be more important. So even though March is over, let’s all promise to pay better attention to those who deserve recognition. After all, history classes of the future don’t need to consist Melissa van Gelder entirely of men’s history. Instead, they can be our history inclusive of all Editor in Chief genders, sexualities, races, ethnicities and classes.
Fem is published and copyrighted by the ASUCLA Communications Board which supports the University of California’s policy on nondiscrimination. 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 nondiscrimination 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 firstname.lastname@example.org www.femmagazine.com Copyright 2012 ASUCLA 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.
Winter 2012 | Fem | 3
Important stories you might have missed In January, the FBI changed their official definition of rape from “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will” to include the possibility of men as victims. The new definition describes rape as “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” This new definition legally acknowledges that rape affects everyone, and is not solely a “female” issue. For some survivors, this modification makes all the difference. The new definition opens doors for male victims to come forward and make steps toward recovery. Now including all violations regardless of sex, police will be able to provide more accurate statistics of rape and sexual assault to inform the public. Setting an example for change on the national level, protocol should trickle down to the local levels to create more programs for rape prevention.
Jared Benedict/Creative Commons
Compiled by Allison Green.
Over the past decade Wal-Mart has attracted media attention as at least 1.5 million of its female employees have claimed that it discriminates based on sex. The complaints range from women being told that religious doctrine describes them as subordinate, to unequal pay as being justified by the “fact” that men are the ones who need a career. The case ended in June 2011 as the Supreme Court stated that a company must have a “policy of discrimination” rather than an accumulation of statistics pointing to the imbalance in pay and employment opportunities. Nevertheless, in February 2012, news broke that female employees will continue their fight for equal rights as they have started to file with the U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission to begin regional class-action and individual lawsuits. Compiled by Amy Trivers. Kalavinka/Creative Commons
By the Numbers
1 10 in
of voters in the United States are women
year of the first production of “The Vagina Monologues”
number of porn films in which Yasmin Lee has starred
college students will suffer from an eating disorder
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Read more on Page 9
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number of tampons Allison Wolfe has thrown into an audience
of sexual assaults in the United States go unreported
Read more on Page 16
Read more on Page 21
4 | Fem | News
number of tablespoons of peanut butter needed to make peanut sauce
number of rapes reported to the LAPD between Jan. 12 and Feb. 1, 2012
Read more on Page 25
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Sound Bites “I think after 20 years, and it will be 20 years, of being on the high wire of Ameri-
can politics and all of the challenges that come with that, it would be probably a good idea to just find out how tired I am.” - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announcing that she will step down from her post once her term ends in two years (1/26/2012).
“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives ... We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.”
- Statement from the Susan G. Komen Foundation in regard to the outcry over their initial decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood. After protests from thousands of women including U.S. senators, Komen reversed their decision (2/3/12).
“I think it’s really curiouser and curiouser that as we get further into this de-
bate, the Republican leadership of this Congress thinks it’s appropriate to have a hearing on the subject of women’s health and can purposely exclude women from the panel. What else do you need to know about the subject? If you need to know more, tune in, I may, I may at some point be moved to explain biology to my colleagues.” - Nancy Pelosi in response to the Capitol Hill panel on birth control access in which only men were invited to participate. (2/16/12).
“Oh, I’ve got a few words. Starts with a `B’, and it’s not `beautiful.’” - Ross Shimabuku, a San Diego television sports anchor, talking about NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and her speaking out against female athletes being labeled “sexy.” Shimabuku was suspended for a week without pay (2/28/12).
“If I wanted the government in my womb, I'd fuck a senator.” - Sign held by Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre at a pro-choice protest in Tulsa, Okla. The last few months have witnessed a rash of new laws limiting a woman’s right to choose. (2/29/12)
“It’s about owning the word ... I’m taking away any negative connotation for myself. I want
my parking spot to say ‘The Bitch.’ I love it! I’ve never seen a character like this on television before.” - Kristen Ritter talking to Bust magazine about her character and the use of the word “bitch” in the new television show, “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23.” This is one of two new ABC shows that implies the word “bitch” without using the full word in the title. (4/2012)
Quotes | Fem | 5
UCLA alumnae Vinita Gupta Elinor Ostrom 6. 1. In 2009, Ostrom became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for showing that government control of local resources is not necessary for communities to thrive. She illustrated that “common resources can be managed successfully by the people who use them, rather than by governments or private companies” (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences). She was also the first woman to win both the Johan Skytte Prize and the William H. Riker Prize in political science. She graduated from UCLA in 1954 with a B.A. in political science.
Courtesy of Yasmin Lee
Anna Lee Tingle Fisher
Fisher is a NASA astronaut and in 1984 was the first mother to go into space. She won the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the UCLA Medical Professional Achievement Award, and many others. She graduated with a B.S. in chemistry in 1971 and later a M.S. in chemistry in 1987.
Kwan is the most decorated figure skater in the U.S. She won the World Championships five times and the National Championships ten times. Only attended UCLA for one year in 2001.
Asaro is an award-winning author of romantic science fiction novels, focusing on strong female characters and complex scientific concepts. She emphasizes feminism in her work through the acknowledgment of the female gaze and her powerful female characters. She graduated with a B.S. in chemistry in 1978.
Harper is a track and field runner. She placed first in the 2008 Olympics in Bejing for the 100m hurdles. She graduated in 2006 with a B.A in psychology.
Gupta is the first Indian-born businesswoman to take her company, Quick Eagle Networks, public. She is currently on the board of Maitri, a California organization that helps South Asian women facing domestic violence. She graduated in 1974 with a M.S. in electrical engineering.
Snider is the current Co-Chairman/CEO of Dreamworks and the former Chairman of Universal Studios. She oversaw films such as 2011’s “The Help” and 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain.” She graduated in 1985 with a law degree.
Alpern is a noted feminist historian who has written about diverse topics ranging from eating disorders in women to prominent women in business. In 1992, she co-authored “The Challenge of Feminist Biography: Writing the Lives of Modern American Women.” She graduated in 1968 with a M.A. in history.
Austin is an author, businesswoman and lecturer. She co-wrote “The Assertive Woman,” a guide on how to be successful in a male-dominated business world, and was the contributing editor and management columnist for Working Woman magazine. She graduated with B.A. in psychology and, in 1977, a MBA in management.
Agnes de Mille 10.
De Mille was a famous dancer and choreographer, best known for her work on the ballet “Rodeo” and the musical “Oklahoma.”
6 | Fem | Top 10
She graduated in 1926 with a B.A. in English.
The Fight to Drive How women in Saudi Arabia are gaining the right to drive
ow many times have you heard the phrase, “women can’t drive”? Women in Saudi Arabia are actually not allowed to drive, among other restrictions. These laws have become instituted due to several factors. In addition to Sharia (Islamic law,) Saudi Arabia has centuries of traditions that have shaped its culture and ideas. This makes it difficult to discuss women’s rights because these inequalities are so deeply rooted in its history. Sharia (Islamic Law) In order to create laws for use in daily modern society, a council interprets the Qur’an and Sunnah (the practice of the prophet Mohammed). This leaves the Saudi Arabian legal system completely open to a council’s interpretation. Due to the Saudi Arabian council’s interpretation of Sharia, up until last year women were not allowed to vote or enter parliament. Getting a driver’s license, taking a taxi, getting married or traveling without the permission of a male guardian is considered illegal and subject to corporeal punishment. Mahram
by Emily Clark ternative is to either hire a driver or take public transit, but women are not legally allowed to take public transportation, as it is said to encourage khalwa, or ‘gender mixing with non-mahram men.’ However, unlike driving, this goes unenforced. Clothing In addition, women’s clothing is also restricted. The abaya, a long over-garment and niqab, a facecovering fabric, are mandatory parts of a woman’s daily wardrobe. France has banned the burqa, calling it “oppressive.” However, some women say they are proud to wear it, as it allows them to be modest and avoid unwanted male attention. The Islamic idea of hiding awrah, or the parts of the body that must be covered, is done to eliminate the lustful thoughts of men. Critics, however, claim that forcing women to cover themselves dismisses men’s responsibility to control their thoughts and places this burden solely on women. Recent Developments
Saudi Arabia has made strides towards increasing women’s rights, including allowing women to Mahram comes from an idea in the receive a graduate-level education Qur’an about men protecting and If you look at the Saudi and seek jobs. As of 2005, women caring for their female relatives. Al- women, they are highly are no longer officially forced to though some might consider this to educated, they’re marry against their will. “If you be a beautiful idea, the recommendalook at the Saudi women, they are working in a lot of jobs, highly educated, they’re working tion has become a law forcing women to gain permission from their male they’re doing a lot of in a lot of jobs, they’re doing a lot relatives who manage their lives. In things in spite of all the of things, in spite of all the difficulorder to travel, get surgery, marry, be- difficulty. So they don’t ty. So they don’t let the difficulty come educated, or even open a bank stop them,” said Masry. “They unlet the difficulty stop account, women need this permisderstand that they have to struggle them. sion. and that every step they take, they The practice of mahram perpetuates have to maintain it ... and push.” gender inequality, allowing women Ferial Masry In 2010, women were granted the to be passed from father to husband Saudi-born candidate for right to vote and run for city counto son. In addition, if a woman ever Calfornia State Assembly cils (beginning with the 2015 elecwants to get remarried, she needs the tions). permission of her son to do so. AcIn spite of this, Saudi Arabia does cording to Ferial Masry, a Saudi-born 2004 candidate not yet have near the same level of women’s rights as for California State Assembly and high school gov- most other countries. “You do have the changes that ernment instructor commented, “with the mahram, are coming, with small baby steps,” said Dr. Amir it has never stopped women from doing anything Hussain, professor of Theological Studies at Loyola they want to do there [Saudi Arabia]. In some cases, Marymount. “It’s not a huge transition but I don’t the women are stronger than men, and they do what- think you can change that overnight and that recogever they want to.” nition... that you do have to give women in society the same access and opportunities that men do.” Driving “Seven years ago, the government started to send the students out and paid for them [to study]... so Except in rural areas, women are not allowed to after seven or eight years I think Saudi Arabia will drive in Saudi Arabia. An example of punishment be changed 100 percent,” said Khaled, a native of occurred in July 2011, when a woman was sentenced Saudi Arabia studying English at UCLA, who asked to ten whiplashes for unauthorized driving. The al- to be identified by his first name only. “Because the
students will bring other culture and new experience and they will create a country with the new things and good mind.” Despite the many number of issues and limitations facing the women’s rights movements in Saudi Arabia, many critics share Khaled’s optimism and believe that as long as it manages to continue its recent trend of creating laws that close its ancient gender gap, there is definitely a chance for equality to flourish in Saudi Arabia.
Terms and Definitions Sharia: Islamic Law implemented in legal society Qur’an: The central religious text of Islam Sunnah: The practice of the prophet Mohammed Mahram: Male relatives who are close enough kin to be in society with Muslim women (with whom marriage would be incest) Khalwa: Contact between Muslim woman and non-mahram men Abaya: A long sheet-like covering for women Niqab: A covering for a woman’s face Burqa: A long, losse body-covering, including head-covering Awrah: Areas of the body considered forbidden from everyday sight
World | Fem | 7
#RapeEndsHere Three Weeks in January’s event looks at the narratives of rape
ictim. Survivor. Accuser. Think about the words used to talk about those who experience sexual assault. Think about the news reporter who stands outside the hospital, telling the audience that “The victim is ok.” Think about which cases even make it to the 7 o’clock news report. On Jan. 27, 2012, I was invited to live tweet a conversation taking place on the 27th floor of City Hall, in the Tom Bradley Tower. Entitled “Storying Violence: A Cross-Disciplinary Conversation at the Top of City Hall,” it was a part of LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)’s “Three Weeks in January: End Rape in Los Angeles” – a public art performance by artist Suzanne Lacy. The conversation, meant to focus on the narratives of rape and the ways in which they are shaped by society, included civic and cultural leaders from Los Angeles: Gail Abarbanel from the Rape Treatment Center, Deputy Mayor Aileen Adams, Chief Charles Beck from the Los Angeles Police Department, Jodie Evans of Code Pink, writer and director Julie Hebert, Dr. Jackson Katz, Professor Rose Monteiro and Dr. Francesca Polletta. The discussion was moderated by veteran journalist Ana Garcia, an investigative reporter for NBC4 Los Angeles. Lacy opened the event by talking about the importance of social media in today’s society and the way it is transforming how information is transmitted from one generation to the next. We bloggers and tweeters were invited to the event because our coverage would show how information could be relayed
by Melissa van Gelder in different ways. And we were asked to end our tweets with #RapeEndsHere in order to both help the outside world follow our conversation and raise awareness about the campaign. Lacy then introduced the main themes of the conversation. “What’s wrong with the stories told of rape?” she asked. “How do we change those stories in order to change consciousness?” The panelists began by emphasizing the need to look at sexual assault as a societal issue. It is not just about the people who commit these crimes but the ways in which society creates a space in which rape can occur. Garcia responded by mentioning that television journalism rarely covers rape unless it can sensationalized. “What’s the twist? What’s interesting about it?” These are the questions she said reporters ask themselves as they approach a story about sexual assault. She also admitted that even though she was a huge part of this event, she still could not get NBC to cover the panel in their nightly news report. Many of the other panelists focused on the ways in which rape is portrayed in pop culture and asked how Hollywood can ensure that the story is not only told from a male point of view when the majority of those controlling television and film are men. Only seven percent of directors in Hollywood are women, and the number has not improved much over the years, regardless of Kathryn Bigelow’s historic Academy Award win in 2010. As the conversation continued, Katz brought up
the fact that there are male victims of rape and they are not discussed nearly as much as female victims. He argued that it was problematic that there were only two men at a panel about the narratives of sexual assault. And the other panelists agreed that in order for there to be progress, men need to be just as much a part of the conversation as women. Monteiro brought attention to the fact that just because a victim does not look like she has been harmed does not mean that she has not been and stated that there needs to be a serious conversation about the long-term effects of rape. “This trauma is life long and affects every aspect of the survivor’s life,” added Monteiro. Ultimately, the panelists agreed that the answer lies in prevention and changing the discussion to make sure that the victim is never implied to be at fault. “We have to focus more on prevention. There are too few voices,” commented Adams. And the panelists argued that everyone needs to be held accountable to make sure that these necessary changes actually occur. This involves speaking up when someone makes a comment that normalizes sexual assault, such as when one jokes about rape. The consensus in the room was that the vast majority of people know that rape is wrong, but they feel like it is acceptable when they hear others talk about it as though it is no big deal. Garcia, for her part, promised to never again claim that the victim is “ok.”
Melissa van Gelder/Fem
As part of Three Weeks in January, the Los Angeles Rape Map stood outside the downtown LAPD headquarters from Jan. 12 through Feb. 1. Each day, the map was marked with the word “RAPE” at the coordinates of the prior day’s police reports. At the end of the three weeks, there were 55 marks.
8 | Fem | Event
Talking Vaginas Eve Ensler’s iconic play comes back to UCLA by Gelsey Mehl
your vagina got dressed, what would it wear? Purple velvet pajamas. Armani only. An electrical shock device to keep unwanted strangers away.
your vagina could talk, what would it say, in two words? Feed me. Whoah, Mama. Where’s Brian?
does a vagina smell like?
Strawberry-kiwi tea. Damp moss. Paloma Picasso.
CLA students had the chance add their answers to these questions when “The Vagina Monologues” returned to campus this March in an effort to increase awareness and discussion of women’s sexuality and violence against women. Originally performed in 1996, the play by Eve Ensler is a series of monologues, some funny, some dramatic, all connected to the vagina. Productions are often organized in campaigns known as V-Day that have become increasingly popular on college campuses. These events, as described on the V-Day website, aim to raise money and awareness to “end violence against women and girls.” In its sixteen years of performance, the play has consistently seen accusations of vulgarity and criticism of its frank sexuality. On college campuses, attempts to organize V-Day campaigns have spawned protests and even campus-wide bans, often from conservative religious organizations. One such organization is the Cardinal Newman Society, which describes the production as a “sexually explicit and offensive play that favorably describes lesbian activity, group masturbation and the reduction of sexuality to selfish pleasure.” As part of its mission to revise Catholicism on college campuses, the society actively tries to shut down V-Day events at schools around the country. Although “The Vagina Monologues” has faced no direct opposition on UCLA’s campus, for first-year public health graduate student Echo Zen, producer of the show, V-Day is more necessary than ever in light of continuing inequality. When combatting organizations such as the Cardinal Newman Society, Zen said “we have to compensate by being louder and louder.” Zen cites hatred and fear of women’s sexuality in public policy, especially in the past two years, as a clear reason for reinstating “The Vagina Monologues” at UCLA.
Courtesy of Echo Zen
“People say what’s destroying the country is context.” women being hedonistic sluts who have sex without For the actors of “The Vagina Monologues,” perreproduction … I don’t think it’s hyperbole to state forming this content can be what first-year theater that anti-women policy is violence against women.” student Cinnamon Frost described as “nerve-wrackZen, who spent a year making videos for Planned ing.” However, Frost and her fellow actors overcame Parenthood, lists instituting abstinence only policies, the awkwardness of the play through a cast sleepover denying health care to rape survivors and repealing party. By sharing personal stories, the actors made laws about domestic violence as more subtle ways the monologues more relatable and easier to discuss. in which violence against women occurs every day. Frost hoped the audience saw the humor in these “Society blocks out women’s potentially discomforting scenes. voices,” said Zen. “We need V-Day These things aren’t “When we actually perform, we’ll to create a space for those voices.” know what makes the audience untalked about ... The Although students may agree comfortable. But it makes us laugh, with this sentiment, the mere title show puts everything and we hope the audience will laugh of the show can be intimidating in a light where it’s not too.” and off-putting, let alone the actu- uncomfortable. It’s a Still, Frost said, “I’m definitely not al content of the monologues. For inviting my dad.” second-year communications major different way of looking After a year’s gap in what had been and theater minor Kausar Moham- at things. an annual tradition, “The Vagina med, another producer of the show, Monologues” returned to UCLA in the fear of discomfort should not deter Northwest Campus Auditorium on Kausar Mohammed theatergoers. If anything, she hoped March 2 and 3 through a collaboration Student and producer that UCLA students whould come of Bruin Feminists for Equality and Soto learn about the very issues that cial Awareness Network for Activism are found controversial. through Art. The ORL co-programmed event was“These things aren’t talked about. So if you’re un- free to UCLA students with a suggested donation comfortable, good. The ones who are uncomfortable of five dollars. Ninety percent of funds raised went should come see it the most,” she said. “The show to L.A. for Choice, a local organization the supports puts everything in a light where it’s not uncomfort- pro-choice activism, with the remaining 10 percent able. It’s a different ways of looking at things.” going to the V-Day Campaign. That a play discussing pubic hair, moaning, rape, Ultimately, the students behind the production of and masturbation generates controversy is hardly a “The Vagina Monologues” hope it provided a space surprise, but nevertheless, the audience should try to for women’s voices and encouraged rape awareness view the play within the context of art, said Moham- even after the event has ended. In light of a sexual med. assault on campus near what is almost universally “When you put something on stage like that, it known as the “rape trail,” it seems such discussion is puts the audience in position where it’s not about still necessary for the UCLA community. ‘do I support this’ or ‘I can’t believe they just said According to Zen, “We want every day to be Vvagina.’ It’s about it being art. It puts it in different Day, even if we aren’t saying it out loud.”
Event | Fem | 9
Feminism at UCLA Looking to get more involved in the movement? Want to meet students who care about gender equality just as much as you? Here are four groups on campus that might interest you.
Gamma Rho Lambda
by Jewel Pereyra
“I am proud to have this space in the Greek community. We get to redefine images of what it means to be in a sorority. I have learned so much on how to be an ally and we all have our different reasons why we are here.” Meghan Maloney Archivist & LGBT Representative
Courtesy of Gamma Rho Lambda
Gamma Rho Lambda (GRL) is UCLA’s first multi-interest women’s progressive and LGBTQQIAA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally) sorority. GRL was initiated in Spring 2010 by five women who envisioned a supportive and inclusive sisterhood for women and LGBTQQIAA-identified students interested in Greek Life. The sorority emphasizes community leadership, activism and service. “GRL changes you and helps you grow. It is something I look forward to. Through all the blood, sweat, and tears, this organization has supported and enforced my growth as a woman,” said current president Darlene Tran. Consisting of eleven members, GRL’s past events include activism in the Vote for Equality Fair Education Act, volunteer work at the fall Queer Studies Conference and their quarterly Dirty Pudding Cup fundraisers. GRL also holds rush events and social events at the beginning of each quarter. “Not only are we professional and progressive, but we are also very social and a lot of fun together,” said public relations officer Minerva Esquivel. If you are interested in rushing or getting involved with Gamma Rho Lambda, visit www.gammarholambda.org or e-mail them at email@example.com.
Feminist Caucus “Our group of public affair students is interested in the ways in which gender, sex, race and class affect experiences of women and girls. We try to understand the social context of these intersectionalities so we can better provide the appropriate services through our professional practices and understand the ways our systems of knowledge can be improved.” Erin Nakamura Feminist Caucus Founder and Board Member Jewel Pereyra/Fem Newsmagazine
What do you get when you fuse public affairs, social justice and feminism? The Feminist Caucus! Affiliated with the Luskin School of Public Affairs, Feminist Caucus is a non-hierarchical and student-run organization. It is composed of graduate students interested in gender issues pertaining to social welfare, urban planning and public policy. Feminist Caucus aims to create an inclusive academic community, to advocate for social justice for marginalized populations and to contribute to building a politically, socially and economically just world through feminist scholarship. Founded in Spring 2011, the caucus started with peer pedagogy groups in which members would bring feminist theory, literature, policy and law reviews to meetings and discuss how feminist theories could be incorporated into their professional practice. About ten to fifteen graduate students meet once a quarter to discuss upcoming events and ways to connect more with other undergraduate feminist organizations. Their past events include an open-mic night with the Black and Asian Pacific Island caucuses and a “How-to Make-a-Zine” workshop. If you are interested in joining or learning more about UCLA’s Feminist Caucus, contact them at UCLAfeministcaucus@gmail.com.
10 | Fem | Community
The Clothesline Project “Just look at the numbers. 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in college, 1 in 5 men in their lifetime. If those numbers make you mad or frustrated or upset, there’s your reason to join Clothesline.” Monique Sowinsky President, Clothesline Project
Courtesy of Monique Sowinski
The Clothesline Project is a student-led group of allies and survivors of sexual violence who focus on raising awareness and campaigning against gender violence on college campuses and the greater Los Angeles community. During mid-May, trees near Schoenberg Hall are strewn with rainbows of colorfully painted t-shirts. The annual Clothesline Project event is a three-day silent protest during which sexual assault survivors decorate t-shirts to raise awareness about the stark numbers of sexual assaults that have affected UCLA students. “The t-shirts are a creative way for survivors to express themselves,” said Monique Sowinsky, former Fem intern and current president of the Clothesline Project. Clothesline’s collection also includes t-shirts made by survivors from the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center and YWCA in Long Beach. Founded twelve years ago, Clothesline retains eight members and welcomes students who are enthusiastic and passionate about social justice for sexual violence. In their weekly meetings, they foster discussions regarding sexual consent and publicize community events that aim to thwart the high numbers of assault in Los Angeles. Look out for this year’s Clothesline and their annual “Take Back the Night” event during spring quarter. Want to get involved with the Clothesline Project? Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bruin Feminists for Equality “Our organization advocates for the marginalized groups and seek social justice to end oppression. We are a welcoming and allinclusive group that creates a safe space for everyone to come to voice their concerns. We address many gendered issues important to the campus community, and more recently have been working on an anti-rape campaign.” Wendy Liu Board Member Courtesy of Bruin Feminists
If you are looking for a place on campus to talk about all things feminist, look no further than Bruin Feminists for Equality. Every week, this group meets to discuss a wide array of feminist issues ranging from gendered violence to the representation of gender in the media. According to Wendy Liu, a current board member and fourth-year women’s studies student, the Bruin Feminists pride themselves on their history of being nonhierarchical. She insisted that everyone gets to play the role that they want as the feminists learn from each other and work to become a bigger presence on campus. They also do a lot of work in the community, ranging from informing the public about the misleading nature of the photographs some antichoice groups post around campus to working with LA for Choice, an organization that works with abortion clinics to protect clients from protestors. Past events include organizing this year’s “The Vagina Monologues” and screening “Miss Representation.” If you are interested in joining or learning more about Bruin Feminists for Equality, contact them at UCLAbrufem@gmail.com.
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Center for the Study of Women Research unit offers opportunities to study women, gender and sexuality
idden down a dark hallway in the Public Affairs building, through a door to seemingly nowhere, lies the university’s epicenter of research on gender and sexuality. The Center for the Study of Women (CSW), an on-campus organized research unit, has no curricular function as it exists to foster an intellectual community amongst students, faculty and researchers at UCLA and beyond. History and Research Mission Areas Established in 1984 by five professors at UCLA, CSW was the University of California’s first organized research unit (ORU) to focus on gender and sexuality. Originally connected to the Women’s Studies Program, the two split so that Women’s Studies could become a department (made official in 2008) and CSW could turn its focus to research only. The center serves the entire campus and works with students and faculty members regardless of their home department. “We are in touch with and engaged with faculty doing research that has to do with women, gender and sexuality in south campus, all the professional schools and the college,” said Kathleen McHugh, the center’s director. “We have a very broad reach.” By engaging with scholars across the campus, CSW brings them together and helps them bridge their research and findings. McHugh pointed out that with such a large campus, it is easy for those who would benefit from communication about their projects to never actually meet each other. By focusing on their mission areas of women, gender and sexuality rather than the departments of those involved, the center is able to close these gaps and create new opportunities for all those involved. Support for Faculty The center supports faculty members by offering three different levels of grant money. The junior faculty research development grants help those who are pre-tenure and might be working to gain attention and resources on campus. By providing that early support, CSW can help younger faculty members network and gain publicity among the intellectual community. The faculty research seed grants are designed to help the development of new projects searching for funding, while the faculty research completion grants provide financial aid to those who are nearing the end of their research and might be published in CSW publications. Past funded faculty projects include “Investigating Tibetan Women’s Pregnancy Care Preferences in Rural China: A Collaborative Pilot Study to Promote Safe Motherhood” and “She’s One of Our Own: Incorporating Black and Latina Lesbians into U.S. Women’s History.” Opportunities for Graduate Students Committed to supporting graduate students, CSW offers numerous awards, grants and fellowships to those pursuing higher degrees at UCLA. In addition, the center organizes a number of professionalization
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by Melissa van Gelder workshops designed to help graduate students succeed after graduation. These include workshops on crafting effective CVs and engaging in successful interviews. Meanwhile, one of the cornerstones of the CSW is the annual graduate student research conference, ‘Thinking Gender.’ At the 22nd annual conference on Feb. 3, 2012, 84 participants came from around the world to present their research in what Julie Childers, CSW’s assistant director, called a “comfortable” setting. “It’s terrifying to present your work for the very first time,” said Childers. “So the moderators are very understanding.” Research at this year’s conference covered everything from social networking and technology to the conditions of women and mothers in jails. Because CSW is aimed at graduate students, the center also does its best to help them connect with speakers brought to campus through ‘brown bag lunches’ and other networking opportunities. And these possibilities can make the university more appealing to those making a decision about where to further their education. Dayo Spencer-Walters, a graduate student in the School of Public Health, said she knew she wanted to do research related to gender and her knowledge of CSW led her to come to UCLA. She worked at the center throughout her time as a student, and she presented at 2011’s ‘Thinking Gender’ conference on her research entitled “Intersections of Domestic Violence and Food Insecurity in California.” Annie Fehrenbacher, also a graduate student from the School of Public Health, presented at this year’s conference with her research titled “The Evolution of a Gendered Politics of Trauma: Challenging the Depiction of Rape as ‘A Fate Worse than Death.” She expressed gratitude for the CSW and the support it provides for those pursuing topics related to gender and feminism. Though she never worked for the center, she did receive grant money to attend conferences around the country that she said would have otherwise been impossible to attend. Resources for Undergraduate Students Though the center’s focus is on faculty members and graduate students, Childers said that CSW would like to reach as many undergraduate students as possible. There are three annual awards for undergraduate students offered through the research unit, including the ‘Renaissance Award,’ given to a woman who has returned to college after a prolonged absence due to family or career obligations, and the ‘Constance Coiner Award,’ given to an upper-division student who is dedicated to working-class and feminist issues. Travel grants are also available to those hoping to attend or present at conferences related to the centers mission areas. In addition, CSW employs many undergraduate students, most of whom receive workstudy. Speakers and the Local Community In order to further its goal of engaging an intellectual community, CSW offers numerous free speaker and
Courtesy of CSW
Every year, the Center for the Study of Women invites graduate students from around the world to present at the ‘Thinking Gender’ conference.
film events throughout the year. On May 15, Kathryn Stockton, author of “The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century,” will speak from 4 to 6 pm in Royce 314. Past speakers include Gayatri Spivak, known for her work on global and postcolonial feminism, and Patricia Hill Collins, author of “Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment.” Most events are free and open to the public, and the video recordings of many of them become available online. CSW is also committed to forging relationships with those outside of the university, and is currently working with the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives to process and digitize their collections. The center brokered a relationship between the archives and the UCLA Library System, and the complete archives will ultimately be available online and at Special Collections in the Young Research Library. The main five collections are already available for the community to enjoy. Ultimately, CSW prides itself on creating a space in which the intellectual community can engage in discussions about women, gender and sexuality. And McHugh insisted that it is important such a center exist because it has the unique ability to encourage research on these topics across departments, disciplines and communities.
Learn more about the Center for the Study of Women and sign up to receive a weekly email with information about upcoming events online at www.csw.ucla.edu.
Peace Over Violence A Los Angeles organization works to help those affected by violence
ntervention. Prevention. Education. Advocacy. The services offered by the Los Angeles agency Peace Over Violence (POV) are changing lives for the better every day. Patti Giggans, the agency’s executive director, calls Peace Over Violence “a highly developed sexual assault, domestic violence and youth violence prevention center.” Giggans, who started a women’s karate school in the late 1970s, first joined POV as a self-defense instructor. She said that she applies the same simple motto to self-defense and to life in general. “Empower your spirit,” she shared. “Spirit first, techniques second.” While Giggans values spirit above all else, it takes a special technique to oversee POV’s dynamic services and projects. Peace Over Violence has its headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, but its reach extends far beyond the office. The organization is in hospitals, police stations and courtrooms. Staff members accompany rape survivors to receive treatment, identify suspects and seek justice. “Nobody should have to go through the trauma of sexual or domestic violence alone,” Giggans said. POV is in high schools, offering teen dating violence prevention curricula and organizing anti-violence clubs. It is also in legislation; the agency initiated the “Sexual Assault Victim’s DNA Bill of Rights,” which states that every rape survivor has a right to know the status of her or his rape kit (the evidence that has been taken from her or his body and clothing). The bill arose after the 2002 rape kit backlog scandal, when it was discovered that rape kits all across the country had been untested and discarded. Now, under the bill, survivors have the right to know, at all times, the whereabouts and results of their rape kits. “Peace Over Violence is not the average agency,” said Peggie Reyna, the project director of their deaf, disabled and elder services. Reyna, who started the agency’s deaf services program in 1989, was emphatic about the need to offer such services. “I said (to) Patti (Giggans), ‘I understand you don’t have funding for deaf services. But if you hire me you’ll get funding’... And that’s how deaf services started,” shared Reyna. Her tenacity did not stop there. One day, when she was ordering business cards, Reyna added the words “and disabled” to their information. “When (the cards) came Patti said, ‘We have a new program?’ So I said that if we made it formal we could get some funding for disability services too,” said Reyna. “We became deaf and disabled services.” Laura Ripplinger works alongside Reyna as the program coordinator of deaf, disabled and elder services. A former interpreter, Ripplinger said she came to POV because her heart is with the survivors. “Being an interpreter and working for so many years in that field, I constantly saw where survivors weren’t able to get the help they needed,” said Ripplinger. “I
by Kerry Esrey really didn’t want to see them get re-victimized because they weren’t able to communicate.” For Ripplinger, POV is about “the look in somebody’s eyes when you see that first glimmer of hope that they never had ... Just to know that there is somebody here for them, that they can be heard and understood and (guided) through whatever it is they need to do.” Founded in 1971, Peace Over Violence recently celebrated its fortieth year of providing that “first glimmer of hope” to survivors of violence. POV, formerly known as the Los Angeles Commission Against the Abuse of Women, has expanded and evolved since its establishment by feminist founders.
“We were founded by feminists. We’re proud of that. And (proud) that we have feminists at our organization – all different kinds of feminists – there’s no one feminist anymore!” explained Giggans. “We utilize and respect the feminist perspective, but we have added other perspectives … no (single) perspective answers all of the questions about violence.”
Learn more about Peace Over Violence at www.peaceoverviolence.org. The organization offers both volunteer opportunities and internships for those interested in helping their cause.
Courtesy of Peace Over Violence
Peace Over Violence, a Los Angeles-based organization that counsels rape survivors and accompanies them throughout the process from the hospital to the courtroom, has worked to ensure that all rape survivors are able to track their rape kits.
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Yasmin Lee U.S. Navy veteran Transsexual porn star “The Hangover II” actress
by Nora Daly
asmin Lee was dangling in midair, dressed from After only seven years working head to fin in mermaid apparel, wiggling around try- in porn, Lee has appeared in 86 ing to look like she was swimming upstream, when films. her pornography shoot was cancelled. Despite the Porn is “really about pushing shoot’s failure, it still left it’s mark – harness burns all your limits,” explained Lee. As her over her midsection. Though she had been working popularity has grown, she has also as a BDSM transsexual porn actress for a while, these encountered some of society’s limits. were her first burn marks. “I was actually the first transsexual As a child, Yasmin Lee moved around refugee to be released in Japan, and there camps in war-torn Cambodia with her family. At a were so many restrictions. There are young age, the United States sponsored her and her dominant and submissive roles, and family to come to America. They were so grateful to I’m more of a dominant … but they the U.S. government that by the time she reached weren’t allowed to show the guy being fifth grade, she and several of her brothers were de- submissive.” termined to pay back the country for its help. “We feel For her work in transsexual porn, Lee has like everybody should contribute to the country some twice been nominated for the Adult Video way or somehow,” said Lee. Although she does not News, the “Oscars of porn,” Transsexual believe in war, Lee enlisted in the U.S. Navy when Performer of the Year award. She is also the she turned 18. first transsexual woman to be nominated While in the Navy, Lee struggled with her sexual for AVN’s Breakout Star into mainstream. identity. “Back then, I said I was gay, because I didn’t Lee found mainstream fame for her role know what my sexuality was, I just knew I was at- as a succubus, a female demon who has tracted to men.” With Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell still in sex with sleeping men, in the 2011 film place, Lee kept her sexuality under wraps, but some- “Red Ice.” Her role in this film caught the how another recruit found out and started verbally attention of the casting director for “The abusing her. “He called me all kinds of derogatory Hangover Part II,” who got in touch with names, and instead of just sitting there and taking it her and asked her to audition. “I realized I decided to challenge him on it.” She reported him, they were flying people in from all over the but he was never punished and Lee refused to retract world to audition … so I didn’t really think I her statements, so she was allowed to leave with an was gonna get it,” reminisced Lee. Ultimately, honorable discharge. Lee found out she landed the role of Kimmy, a Only 19 years old but with a much better under- Thai “ladyboy” who has sex with Stu (played by standing of who she was and who Ed Helms). Although she wanted to be, Lee moved to Los the actual sex scene was Angeles. She found work as a drag not shown, she did show performer and a makeup artist for full-frontal nudity during The Pussycat Dolls, living as a man the film. Lee made film hisduring the day and a woman at night. tory by being the first transOnce she turned 21, Lee decided to sexual woman to show fullmake the full transition, so she left frontal nudity in theater. her job to avoid further harassment. Lee started work on the Now living as a transsexual womset soon after being cast and an, Lee started working in porn, first it was such an open and as an assistant then later as a casting welcoming environment director. She was catapulted into the that it felt like home. “I went spotlight and onto film one day when in there being professional a woman she had cast for a scene and expecting the same never showed up, so Lee stepped in from them, and they all and acted the part. When she found were. They were the sweetthat this experience was both excit- Yasmin Lee est, all the actors I was hanging and paid the bills, Lee pursued a Actress and porn star ing out with. I was hanging career in porn. Although she is a sole out with everybody, and contractor, meaning she can work they were sweet and openfor any studio she wants, Lee is frequently found at minded and nice,” she said. TS Seduction, which, according to its website, is “the Many transsexual activists have criticized the film premiere bondage sex destination where straight men for Lee’s role as a Thai sex worker, accusing the film experience hot tgirls and TS cock for the first time.” of portraying transsexuals in an unflattering light.
There are dominant and submissive roles, and I’m more of a dominant ... but they weren’t allowed to show the guy being submissive.
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Courtesy of Yasmin Lee
Yasmin Lee has starred in such films as “Transsexual Babysitters 1,” “Big Ass She-Male Roadtrip 11,” “Bitch Got Balls,” “Buddy Woods,” “She-Male Email,” ”Lady Boy Adventures,” “She-Male Strokers,” “Tight Tranny Ass 11” and “Transsexual Gangbangers 14.”
Nonetheless, Lee believes her role was beneficial. “Any exposure at all is a platform for conversation. [The film] definitely brought a lot of light to the transsexual community, not the 100 percent positive light that we all hope for in an Oprah interview, but it reached millions and millions of people that now either know about transsexuals or questions what’s going on and ask,” said Lee. “That’s the platform you want to create to educate people.”
It only takes one look at the female characters from “Dragon Age Origins,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Dead or Alive Volleyball,” “Tomb Raider,” “Soul Calibur IV” and “Tekken 6” to understand just how women are being represented to all those who play video games, whether daily or rarely.
The ‘But’ in Butt Women, sex and video games
hat Iron Man does in a suit of mass destruction, Lara Croft pulls off in short-shorts. The Tomb Raider can put saving the world multiple times under her belt, which literally comprises a fourth of her total outfit. And she shows as much ass as she kicks. But what’s the problem with looking a little sexy? From Damsel to Danger The world of video games has come a long way since Princess Peach, whose only calling in life seems to be getting kidnapped. For our heroine-protagonist, Lara Croft, is no damsel-in-distress; she is a gunslinging archaeologist who chases dangerous relics and beats up bad guys. Someone can play the game feeling powerful and empowered – within the body of a woman. It can be a refreshing experience, especially for women who see themselves as being represented on-screen. “You could say it’s about identification,” shared Lisa Yamasaki, a doctoral student in Social Sciences and Comparative Education. “I gravitate toward characters I can relate with. They resonate with me.” Lara Croft hit the scene fifteen years ago. Today, video games have seen the rise of countless other heroines. There is only one problem: they all look the same. Briefly pretend their heads did not exist, and neck-down they share the same hypersexualized template. Kicking Ass and Showing It “Women are like sex objects in video games,” commented Adeline Ducker, a Design Media Arts graduate and resident of UCLA’s Game Lab. “I was going through a ‘how to’ book for drawing comic book characters, and I noticed men’s bodies could be drawn in different ways. But for women, even aliens, it was always the same big breasts and curvy hips. Apparently that was all you needed to be a female
by Curtis Wu superhero!” Is Nonviolence Non-gaming? Gamers are quick to voice both concern and incredulity with such portrayals. Not only are the Is it possible for one to envision video games women’s body proportions often unrealistic in video without violence and hypersexualized women? The games, but they are also emphasized further through three have a consistent track record, and have gone clothing as sexy as it is mind-boggling. hand-in-hand like an unholy trinity. “The armor is useless!” exclaimed Ducker. “Men “Sometimes a female character’s sexuality is a part are completely covered in gear, but how is a metallic of her personality,” explained Ducker. “It adds to her bra supposed to protect you in battle?” characterization when done well … And the violence? There is no inherent issue with being “sexy,” but In an action game, it’s exciting. It’s a way of raising it does become jarring when the stakes – as in, you don’t want this to the sex appeal is empty fan happen to the character you care about.” service. Game designers When she’s in pain Though many successful games have are suspect when they and agony and she’s sidelined sexualized violence, drawing consistently give women the a discreet line of what is acceptable is same impractical “metallic moaning and groandifficult. lingerie” for battle attire. “Well, unless you’re playing Tetris…” ing, it’s very sexualSuch sexualization becomes laughed Yamasaki. “Games will have especially problematic when ized ... it exposes her violence, or elicit violent reactions when situated in its original context you play them. You need to keep that in a sense and makes balance. There is a term in media for of violence. “You see the new Lara Croft it okay for her to be a that – it is ‘contested terrain,’ which in the E3 – that’s the Electronic means you’ve got both good and bad. Entertainment Expo – victim of violence. You finally have women as adventurers preview, and she actually is and main characters, which is more or more anatomically correct,” less a positive representation given that said Yamasaki, in reference to Lisa Yamasaki x, y, and z are problematic. We have these the latest Tomb Raider games Ph.D. candidate same flaws within ourselves, so how we in development. “But when can expect something that’s a product of you see her in the gameplay, when she’s in pain and ourselves to be perfect?” agony and she’s moaning and groaning, it’s very sexualized. It does something funny – it exposes her, Indeed, a stance of prohibition still remains in a sense, and it makes it okay for her to be a victim questionable, if not tantamount, to censorship. of violence.” “When we outlaw something, you just get A cursory glance on YouTube for demo videos of the underground movements recreating that violence,” 2011 ‘Tomb Raider’ gives this comment, rated highest said Yamasaki. “You have to be careful with how we by users: “close your eyes from 4:05 onwards and it say ‘you should not.’ As a person, you make a choice sounds like you’re listening to Lara Croft’s porn clip to play certain kinds of games and talk to the younger with good background music.” generations about it. You want to be critical.”
Pop Culture | Fem | 15
Are You a Women, punk rock and the movement BOY POISON!
BOY POISON! BOY POISON! She was singing, face beet red, veins popping out of her neck. She screeched again, “BOY POISON!” With great intensity, the front woman kept yelling those words. Allison Wolfe stood there in the doorway of the music venue, awestruck as she thought to herself, “This is amazing.” Mostly frightened and terrified of this girl on stage, she couldn’t resist the amount of power she had over the room. Who was this girl and why could she not look away? Wolfe had noticed this girl around town all summer, though their exchanges mostly consisted of glares on the bus around her hometown of Olympia, Wash. “She had a shaved head and was so intense I was terrified of her,” recalled Wolfe. “I was more smiley whiley, cutsie wootsie so I’m sure I annoyed the hell out of her.” They finally met when Wolfe managed to get her name on the guest list and gain free admittance to a show through the guy she was seeing. When she got there, she was confronted at the door with the familiar glare as the girl with the shaved head scoffed, “We’ve got bills to pay!” The girl was Kathleen Hanna. Wolfe wouldn’t find out until years later when the two women were friends that the animosity came from the fact that they were both seeing the same guy and only Hanna knew about it. When Wolfe returned to Olympia after college, she worried about her direction as she wondered around aimlessly trying to figure out who exactly she was. Meeting Hanna that summer changed everything as the two women, among countless others, would begin a new feminist movement. Combining remnants of the past with their punk rock mindset, they created an extension of third-wave feminism known as Riot Grrrl. Need for Riot Grrrl In the late 1970s and early 1980s, years before the Riot Grrrl movement got its name, there was a revolution brewing within the punk scene. Female punk bands like the Slits, the Raincoats and Chalk Circle paved the
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by Lauren way for their future feminist counterparts as they dealt with a mainly male music scene. Sharon Cheslow of Chalk Circle spoke out and encouraged other women to reclaim the scene for themselves. “For anybody out there, if you’re interested in what we’ve been saying, get up there and do something yourself!” said Cheslow in a 1982 interview with her band. “Write a fanzine, form a band, just do something! It’s the only way things are ever gonna change.” These words resonated with women like Wolfe, who took the message to heart as they created their new scene in the 1990’s. The Beginnings of Bratmobile
Courtesy of Allison Wolfe
Zines were a crucial component of the Riot Grrrl movement, as they created a space in which riot grrrls could share their feminist message amongst themselves as well as the rest of the world.
When Wolfe was a teenager, she wanted what so many kids out of high school want: to get the hell away from her home town. She attended college the guitar and drums, Wolfe assumed in Eugene at the University of Oregon the role of front woman. in 1989 and felt as though she didn’t fit Sticking with the name Bratmobile, into the “hippie town” quite as well as the two of them had a month to get she had hoped. One night, in the hallready for their first show. “We were way of her dorm, Wolfe came across a full of shit!” joked Wolfe. “We played female student yelling at her boyfriend and I just had no idea, are these songs? on the phone. Does this suck?” When Wolfe introduced herself, The pressure was on but their first she and the woman, Molly Neuman, show in Olympia on Feb. 14, 1991 was found that their personalities were a huge success, “We played and it complimentary and they became fast was fucking awesome,” remembered friends. They talked Wolfe. “It was just inabout feminism and Write a fanzine, form credible and things just formed a fanzine a band, just do some- started rolling from called “Girl Germs.” there.” Bratmobile had They also came up thing! It’s the only way the support of friends in with the name of their things are ever gonna the scene like Hanna’s would-be band and change. band, Bikini Kill, and told people about it as even the likes of Kurt if it already existed. Cobain, who showed up Though Wolfe had Sharon Cheslow just as they finished their written some poems Feminist musician and last song. that would eventu- activist By the end of the show, ally become BratmoBratmobile had an ofbile lyrics, it was not until a friend of fer to record. “As soon as we finished theirs asked them to open a show that Patrick Maley came up and asked if they actually picked up instruments. he could record us that weekend,” reThe women were clueless about writcalled Wolfe. ing songs and sought guidance from During spring break of that same a local punk rock friend, who advised year, she and Neuman went to Washthem to listen to the Ramones for inington D.C. to follow Beat Happening spiration. and Nation of Ulysses on tour. There “I remember something in me was they acquired their third band memlike, don’t listen to the Ramones beber, Erin Smith, on guitar. With the cause then you’ll just sound like evband complete, Bratmobile quickly beeryone else ... or a boy band or somecame the face of the Northwest femithing,” remembered Wolfe. “It’s funny. nist punk mentality. To this day I still don’t own a Ramones record.” With Neuman playing both
Bratmobile vs. Bikini Kill When the women of the Riot Grrrl movement met up, the understood the rarity of their opportunity to make music with other women. Not only did they play together and support each other, but they also talked about feminist issues. This group provided a safe space to talk about personal experiences with abuse, rape, sexism, racism and classicism. “It was really an intense time,” said Wolfe. “And it was really awesome because when you’re in your early 20’s, you’re really excited about everything and think you can change the world.” At the time, she and her friends had no idea how integral they would be to the evolution of feminism. “It was a really perfect place because there were so many girls, the girls were so much cooler than the guys, and they were doing so much more.” Other girl bands in the scene wrote politically charged lyrics that covered a wide range of intensely personal feminist issues. “There always was this feminist element to what we were doing and a lot of that was thanks to Kathleen Hanna,” explained Wolfe. “She was super politicized really early on and was really outspoken about these issues.” Hanna, and later Wolfe, worked for a rape crisis center in Olympia and was forever changed by the stories of these women. As the lead singer of Bikini Kill, a political Riot Grrrl band, Hanna infused their stories
Riot Grrrl? that changed feminist music forever McQuade feminist at the same time,” explained into song lyrics while getting a whole Wolfe. “We wanted something more community involved in the growing updated where we could use our own movement. language. You don’t have to be highly Wolfe never felt comfortable singing educated to know when something is politically charged lyrics and turned wrong... You’re being disgusting to us her focus to a different aspect of femiso why can’t we say ‘fuck you’?” nism and womanhood. She felt that Riot Grrrl was made the official name she had something important to say of the movement in the wake of the that was directed more toward build1991 Washington DC riots. Just days ing up her fellow woman, “I’m more before Wolfe arrived in DC, Jen Smith into confronting with a sense of husent her a letter that said, “...maybe we mor,” she explained. “I like to deal need a little girl riot too.” Tobi Vail of with issues more like women’s selfBikini Kill had changed the spelling esteem and how we deal with our own of ‘girl’ in her long-time fanzine talkinternalization of sexism... but I think ing about angry grrrls and there was there’s room for all types.” The focus something about the name that stuck. of other bands was to be overtly politi‘Girl riot’ merged with ‘grrrl’ and the cal with their lyrics, like Bikini Kill, but movement was ofBratmobile chose to sing ficially named ‘Riot about women’s personal empowerment. “A lack We wanted something Grrrl.’ Bikini Kill had already been using of self-esteem inhibits more updated where what we can become as we could use our own terms like Revolution Girl Style Now, but women,” said Wolfe. language. You don’t Riot Grrrl seemed to Definition of Riot Grrrl have to be highly edu- encompass the entire movement in a way cated to know when that went along with Founded in the beginsomething is wrong. their specific objecning of the third-wave tives. In the summer feminist movement, Riot of 1991 they held the Grrrl was an attempt to Allison Wolfe first official Riot Grrrl bridge the gap between Frontwoman for Bratmobile meeting at the Posiacademic feminism and a tive Force house in Washington DC. new set of third-wave feminist ideals. It was the first time all of the Olympia According to Wolfe, it was meant to and DC girls got together as a sort of reach those who were could not idenmeet and greet. tify with the stuffiness of second-wave feminism. “A lot of us were in academTampon, Bloody Tampon ic feminism but there was something about it that didn’t quite speak to us. According to Wolfe, the sexism that We were more punk rock and antiplagued the punk scene prevented establishment, more DIY, and wanted women from feeling safe. At shows, to make our punk rock worlds more
Many fans, like the two unidentified women above, became involved in the movement and identified as “riot grrrls.” This image was taken at a gay rights march in Washington D.C. on April 25, 1993.
they were expected to stand in the back and take up as little space as possible while the men typically shoved their way to the front. Positive Force, an activist organization based out of DC, planned an outdoor show near the Capitol building for the summer of ‘92 with Bikini Kill and Fugazi performing. When Bikini Kill called for riot grrrls to the front, the mood of the crowd changed. “It wasn’t that the guys needed or wanted to be in front but being told they couldn’t be somewhere was going to flip them out,” explained Wolfe. Standing on the side of the stage, she watched as they became increasingly agitated and women suf-
fered the consequences. “Why should this not be a safe space for women? Fuck it!” Wolfe remembered asking herself. She then took out her tampon and threw it at the men, hoping it would land in their mouths. “I imagined them singing along to ‘Reclamation’ and it landing in their mouth,” said Wolfe. Her aim was off and it instead looked like she threw the soiled tampon at her long-time friend and singer of Fugazi, Ian MacKaye. “Every time I see Ian I tell him my side of the story over and over again and he’s like ‘yeah whatever Allison!’” see Riot Grrrl on page 27
Album art courtesy of Allison Wolfe
During the heyday of Riot Grrrl, Bratmobile recorded one studio album, one EP and one live album. After breaking up in 1994, the band got back together in 1999 to create two more studio albums and go on tour with Sleater-Kinney. The women have since gone their separate ways, though they each remain active in the music scene as well as in the feminist movement.
Feature Story | Fem | 17
Films & Feminism A look at different movies available in the media lab by Connie Shen, Kerry Esrey, Carla Juarez & Melissa van Gelder Feminism and film have long since gone hand-in-hand. From “Killing Us Softly” to “Ladybird Ladybird,” film has served as a way for feminists to share their message as they investigate inqualities and change minds. Luckily for UCLA students, the Instructional Media Lab in Powell Library has a vast selection of feminist films that are available for viwing in the lab for free. Here are a few films you might want to check out:
Say My Name gives an intimate view into the past and present lives of female rappers: some celebrated, others still
struggling to make it in the rapping world. The film, shot in Brooklyn, Detroit, Los Angeles and London, reveals the humble- and tough- beginnings of the women whose talent for “spitting rhymes” granted them a tool to tell their personal stories. Struggling to prove themselves lyricists, rather than vixens or sex symbols, the women in “Say My Name” speak of how difficult it is for women to gain respect in the hip-hop world. Even in the case of “big-name” female rappers, they claim that the name is still usually bigger than the record sales. Filled with highly impressive free-style rapping, heartbreaking background stories and enlightening tales of success, “Say My Name,” entertains as it stirs sentiment; it reveals both the passion and pain poured into rap music.
Mickey Mouse Monopoly takes a critical look at the stories told to us from a very early age and how these stories
transmit particular ideas of race and gender under the guise of innocence and fancy. Although universally applauded by parents and kids alike as wholesome fun, Disney’s world view of spectacle and fiction proves misleading. Taking opinions from cultural critics, child psychologists, college students, and children, the documentary offers a wide range of opinions about Disney’s pervasive media power in forming cultural images that are not reflective of society but, rather, stereotypical. Also, the documentary takes a look at the commercialization of Disney’s values through children’s toys, theme parks, resorts, DVDs and more. It is important we continue to question how the expanding outlets of media create different world views and standards on gender, race and class. Having access to films such as these creates a space where discussion on prevalent media images can be reinterpreted, helping us analyze the ways media constantly and subconsciously socializes us.
Barbie Nation explores the history of the iconic plastic doll as it takes viewers on what it calls “the unauthorized
tour” of Barbie dolls and their fans. Ruth Handler, the creator of the doll, talks about how she meant for Barbie to be a doll that every girl could relate to (compared to the infant dolls that dominated the market). Named after Handler’s daughter, Barbara, the doll first appeared in 1959 and has since appeared in all sorts of clothes and occupations, though her controversial and anatomically-impossible figure has stayed largely the same. “Barbie Nation” takes the viewer to Barbie conventions across the nation as fans show off their impressive collections and gush about the significant role these dolls have played in their lives. Considering the continued relevance of Barbie in American society (including the recent introduction of a Barbie running for president, a collaboration with the White House meant to encourage girls to dream of running the nation), viewers might be interested in learning more about what Barbie has meant throughout her more than 50 years of existence.
18 | Fem | Pop Culture
The Power of Judy Blume
How the iconic author changed her readers’ lives
n fourth grade, my mom gave me my first Judy Blume novel, “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.“ She had read it as a young girl and wanted to pass opportunity on to me. Any age after ten can be extremely awkward and Blume was there to tell me that it was okay to grow up and feel different. The book meant so much to me that I ended up handing it to my younger cousin, with the hope that it would help her deal with the awkwardness as well. In eighth grade, my private Catholic middle school introduced a new reading program and there were multiple pages of books to choose from. As I pored over the list, I saw the beloved Judy Blume and at that point it did not even matter which one of her novels made the list, I was going to read it. The novel was “Forever.” I went out and bought it that day, and finished it less than two days later. I was shocked, confused and completely impressed all at the same time. Shocked because I had never read a book about sex before. Confused because I wasn’t even sure that I should be reading about
by Dominique Silva such things. And impressed because it had made the list in a conservative environment. Our sex education consisted of simple biology, nothing more than that. In comparison, Blume gave me two teenagers with responsibilities, with love, with intense passion and with heartbreak. I had no idea sex was so complex and yet totally natural. 180 pages over 48 hours taught me more than the last three years of sex education ever did. The book almost felt like gold in my hands. I was holding the answers to all the questions my peers and I didn’t know we should be asking. Naturally, word got out. As I passed the book to my friends, some boys found out and would not stop talking about the sex. As they fought over who got to read it next, the school’s officials found out and called me to their office. Apparently, rumor had it that I was passing around porn. Even though the book had been on a school-approved reading list that week, they told me that it did not belong in the hands of 13-year-olds because it contained con-
tent that was too explicit. The vice principal, a nun who scoured the halls on a scooter, ultimately took the book away. I have not seen it since. It was years later, while walking around a bookstore, that I remembered the story behind the novel that changed my life. Or, at least, my views on sex. It created a lens through which I could view life, love and sex without the moral restrictions my school tried to impose. Those years spent in private Catholic school made it hard for me to separate myself from the conservative views that were forced on me. But “Forever” created a space for me to develop my own thoughts on what it means to be in love today. About what I find acceptable and pleasurable. Novels have a way of allowing you to escape from your reality, even if only for a short moment. ”Forever” gave me the opportunity to escape the conservative views that surrounded my life, and turn pages in to different opinions, thoughts and experiences. So thank you, Judy Blume. If it weren’t for you, I might have never
Judy Blume wrote about everything from teen sex and pregnancy to divorce and bullying. figured out what sex could really mean on my own terms.
Not A Love Story: A Film About Pornography is an exploration of various aspects of pornography and the sex
industry. Prompted by concerns of her eight-year-old daughter’s response to the wide display of “tits and ass” that has permeated popular media, director Bonnie Klein delves into the world of Hustler magazine, peep shows, strip clubs, and sex stores to understand the trappings of the pornographic world. The film follows both Klein and a stripper named Linda Lee Tracey who, at first, does not believe that the sex industry is particularly detrimental to women. As Klein and Tracey interview various experts and participants, both women find themselves shifting their understandings of the sex industry. They talk to people who work within the industry, those who have left it, critics, and those who simply take part as an audience member, garnering responses and insights that test traditional and unconventional attitudes towards pornography. Klein seeks to understand the ways in which pornography makes its viewers feel about themselves and how it changes relations between men and women. The film is set in the early 1980’s, but the topics are still relevant to today’s feminist conversation about pornography. Klein’s film seems meant to provoke discussion, rather than deliver a specific message and Klein accomplishes that task wonderfully. The film does, however, contain some explicit content and nudity, which some might find rather interesting to watch while in the Instructional Media Lab.
Other feminist films available in the Instructional Media Lab include: • Bold and Beautiful: Black Women’s Hair • Cover Girl Culture • Dreamworlds 3 • I Was a Teenage Feminist
• My Feminism • Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships • Wrestling with Manhood • Tough Guise
• Beyond Good and Evil: Children, Media and Violent Time • bell hooks: Cultural Criticism and Transformation • Codes of Gender
• Killing Us Softly • Pornography and Everyday Life • Advertising and the End of the World • Manufacturing Consent
Pop Culture | Fem | 19
Dying to be Thin One woman’s experience with an eating disorder
y heart was pounding as I looked down at my assessment. “Diana presents with a classic anorexic personality structure (people pleasing, goal oriented, perfectionistic) and has recently recognized the role anxiety has played throughout her life. Diana reports increased struggles with body image and self-esteem around the time she began college at UCLA, which resulted in increased isolation. Diana has identified fears around transitioning to adulthood and meeting expectations that she feels go along with such a transition.” Please let this all be a dream, I thought. “Primary Diagnosis: ANOREXIA NERVOSA” No, it’s a nightmare. The jig was up. I’d been caught. I was in rehab and my dirty little secret, compulsive self-starvation, was being wrested away from me against my will. Though I didn’t think I needed treatment, my list of rationales for my dangerous relationship with food (this isn’t anorexia, I’m not skinny enough to have an eating disorder, I’m just very active and healthy, plenty of girls naturally look like this, diets are normal...) was long and wholly unconvincing to the staff at my recovery center. Even my cheery, nonstop smile could fool no one into thinking I was fine. By the time my parents coerced me into checking myself into treatment, I had whittled my zaftig figure down to a startlingly bony one. My size zero frame was so skeletal that even lying on my plush mattress was extremely uncomfortable, and that’s to say nothing of the hair loss, amenorrhea, listlessness, depression, crankiness and virtual inability to walk for more than 15 minutes without needing to take a nap. As much as I protested my need for treatment, my body was begging for help. I began flirting with an eating disorder early in college, relentlessly criticizing my body and trying crash diets that never worked. In the meantime, I was going at turbo speed through my education, and found myself graduating with Latin honors in three years while simultaneously having maintained jobs, internships and friendships along the way. My anxiety around my future, however, was crippling, and the nonstop stress of classes and work did nothing to nurture my relationship with my body. Before I knew it, I was running several miles every day and living off of fruit and raw vegetables. The weight flew off. People are quick to blame the media for the prevalence of eating disorders. That’s definitely a part of it, but I can’t find the moral indignation to blame anything outside of myself. Kate Moss certainly didn’t storm my apartment and glue my mouth shut. My neuroses, insecurities and amorphous sense of selfloathing were tucked deep in me long before I decided I would be unhappy if I resembled anything heavier than a 14-year-old runway model. Anorexia is about food and bodies, yes, but those things are only tools to express the turbulent sadness and fear I felt but couldn’t articulate. The bodies of skinny starlets didn’t trick me into obsessing over my weight; they simply taught me how to scream my own pain without ever uttering a word.
20 | Fem | Health
A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders found that 5-10 percent of anorexics die within 10 years of contracting the disease; 18-20 percent of anorexics will die after 20 years and only 30-40 percent ever fully recover. Before I became sick, I had a misconception that anorexia was a glamorous disease or an extreme diet that vapid, shallow people got caught up in. But that’s far from the truth. It turns out eating disorder victims are endlessly selfless, sensitive and kind. The women I’ve met in treatment have shown me compassion and thoughtfulness like I’ve never known. When I mentioned to them in group therapy one morning that I’d be eating macaroni for dinner, nearly every woman texted me that evening to offer words of support. Shallow is the last word I would use to describe them. I’m still in treatment, though I only have to go for therapy three times a week. I don’t need a “bathroom buddy” anymore and I don’t need to be supervised by a therapist at all six of my daily meals. But I do still follow a meal plan that tells me down to the single serving of protein how much I need to eat. I still think I looked good at my lowest weight. And I still restrict how much I eat, in little ways but frighteningly often. Recovery isn’t a linear path upward. Every day I wonder if I will heal. The current research on eating disorders says that full recovery is possible. I’ve met numerous women who vehemently claim to have beaten their disorders. Yet it remains hard for me to imagine. I know now what I need to eat. I know that I don’t want to die from anorexia. I
Raquel Livson/ Fem Newsmagazine
by Diana Bizjak
know that the anxiety around food does lessen. And I know that there are many people who love me despite the shape of my body. But will I ever learn to accept my size? Can I ever look at myself naked or step on a scale and not feel the urge to stop eating? I don’t have the answers, but I do know that life with an eating disorder isn’t life at all. All I can do now is take it one meal at a time, one bite at a time. Every moment is a chance to try to love myself and I won’t stop fighting for that.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out. An eating disorder is a lifethreatening illness that needs professional intervention. National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Nationaleatingdisorders.org Information and referral helpline: 800-931-2237 UCLA Eating Disorders Program Eatingdisorders.ucla.edu Information helpline: 310-206-3954 Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) Eatingdisordersanonymous.org
This Class Could Save Your Life The Wooden Center offers free self defense classes to UCLA students and faculty
wenty students shift anxiously as they take a breath and prepare to be choked. Their partners tighten their arms around their necks and pull, waiting to feel the tap letting them know that their partner cannot take it any more and is ready to breath again. This exercise is a part of Bruin Self Defense, a free program designed to teach UCLA students and Recreation members the basic self defense techniques that could save their lives should they be in a dangerous situation. By teaching students what it is liked to be chocked, instructors also teach them what to do if they ever find themselves in that position. “People need to know that life isn’t like the movies,” said Ashley Castro, an assistant instructor of the UCLA Martial Arts Leadership Team. According to her and the other class instructors, many people believe the common misconception that no matter how many cases they hear about, it will not happen to them. Though hopefully true, that sort of thinking will not help matters should a precarious situation arise. “It is important to actually go through the physical motions of how to protect yourself,” stated Dong-Je Lee, a fourth-year earth science studies student and a student assistant to the Martial Arts program. In the classes, Paul McCarthy, the Instructional Programs Coordinator responsible for managing and developing all martial arts classes at the Wooden Center, stresses to students that in a moment of panic, no one knows how he or she will react. The purpose of these classes is to teach participants proper and effective ways to protect themselves. Meanwhile, the repetition of these classes each week helps make the motions more instinctive so that if one is faced with an unknown attackers, the moves will be automatic. The Bruin Self Defense Program began during Win-
Raquel Livson/ Fem Newsmagazine
by Gina Guglielmana
ter quarter and, though the Martial Arts program had offered self defense classes in the past, marked the first time a free class has been offered on a regular basis. Though McCarthy was initially unsure of how many people would come, the first class had over 55 attendees and the sessions continue to be very popular amongst students of all genders. “My hope is that someone can take just one piece of our class and one-day save their own life, ” shared McCarthy. “The more people we help the better.” Tami Bi, a fourth-year sociology and Asian American studies student, said that she decided to attend the classes after repeatedly seeing friends status’ on Facebook and hearing about attacks on college campuses. She wanted to learn different ways to be aware of her surroundings. At the classes, instructors strive to teach participants both the physical motions and mental alertness for everyday situations. This includes things like being aware of every exit in a room, and sitting facing the entrance of a building, so that one can always see who is entering and exiting. After participating in a Wednesday class, students shared that not only did they learn something, but they also had fun while doing it. “I had a lot of fun, and it went by quickly,” said Stephanie Gordon, a forth-year nursing student. “I think I am more scared after the class, realizing my little ability … I will definitely be back.”
Bruin Self Defense is offered every Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:00 pm in Yates Gymnasium in the Wooden Center. Register online up to a week in advance at myrecreation.ucla.edu.
SEXUAL ASSAULT STATISTICS 1 sexual assault every 152 seconds There are about 231,000 victims of sexual assault every year 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police 80% of victims are under the age of 30
RESOURCES AT UCLA CSO offers free walking escorts on and around campus between dusk and 1 a.m. Call (310)784-WALK. CSO also offers a free evening van between campus and the apartments (both North and South of Wilshire). The can runs Monday through Thursday from 6:00-11:00 p.m. In an emergency, it is best to contact UCPD at (310)825-1491.
Active | Fem | 21
An Open Letter to President Obama D
ear President Barack Obama,
You and I need to talk. In the interest of transparency, let me first tell you a few things about myself. I am a 21-year-old female college student and a pro-choice feminist. The first ballot I ever cast as a hopeful and inspired 18-yearold had a hole punched next to your name under the title “President.” So what has made me so angry? How about your support for Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius’ decision to keep Plan B from becoming over-the-counter? Do you remember that? Because every woman and girl who has ever lived in fear of rape, failed contraception or unplanned pregnancy does. Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, is currently available without prescription for women age 17 and older, but your administration’s decision now prevents girls younger than 17 from possessing that same bodily autonomy. Plan B is a pill that, if taken within 72 hours of having sex without protection, may prevent pregnancy. It is not an abortion pill because it stops the egg from ever being fertilized. If a woman or girl is raped, she can take Plan B and drastically lower her risk of pregnancy. Furthermore, if a woman or girl has consensual sex with a male partner, but the condom breaks, she can take Plan B to protect herself from a pregnancy she is not required to carry. And I find it problematic that I have to describe the worst-case scenarios just to defend Plan B. Even if a woman simply neglects to use protection in the heat of the moment, she deserves to have access to Plan B. It’s her body, not your administration’s. Obviously, Mr. President, the just arguments of your constituents do not matter much to you. However, one would think that the FDA’s arguments do. They do not. In fact, your administration is the first in US history to go against an FDA decision regarding medication. The FDA stated that they “carefully considered whether younger females were able to understand how to use Plan B ... (It was) determined that the product was safe and effective in adolescent females (and) that (they) understood the product was not for routine use.” So, when Sebelius refused the FDA’s recommendation, you supported her with the statement: “As the father of two daughters, I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine... I think most parents would feel the same way.” Just to make sure I understand your paternalism cor-
22 | Fem | Politics
rectly, Mr. President, you are saying that if girls as young as 10 and 13 (the ages of your daughters, the sources of your fatherly wisdom) are in need of Plan B, they require parental consent to obtain it? Do you realize what must have happened to a 10- or 13-yearold girl if she needs to take Plan B? Do you think every 10 or 13-year-old girl will be able to approach her parents and explain why she needs Plan B? Do you understand that a 10- or 13-year-old girl’s own father could be the reason why she needs Plan B? Maybe you feel that you’re the type of father who could have this kind of conversation with his daughters, which is good for you. However, you are not our father; you are our president. More importantly, neither fathers nor presidents nor mothers nor anyone reserves the right to dictate what our female bodies should be used for, regardless of age. While the safety of Plan B should render its availability absolute to all ages, I find it both disturbing and infantilizing that, in a decision affecting women as old as 16, you and your administration saw it as acceptable to use elementary school-aged children as the sole defense for your argument. Perhaps this decision was made to avoid mentioning the (ridiculous) idea that allowing teenagers to access Plan B leads them to promiscuity ¬– since they are not already engaging in sexual intercourse thanks to the other available forms of birth control. Nonetheless, since you claim to be a pro-choice politician, I will humor you. Let us pretend that your decision truly is about the pill’s apparent dangers and is not another attempt to control female sexuality and reproduction. You defended Sebelius by saying that “The reason Kathleen made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old go into a drugstore, should be able – alongside bubble gum or batteries – be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect.” Yes, if Plan B is ingested improperly, one may experience nausea and vomiting. On the other hand, it is acceptable for Tylenol and Advil to be available to 10-year-olds shopping for bubble gum because if they ingest those improperly, they only risk liver failure, coma and death. So, thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for saving young girls from those pesky side effects so that they can possibly be forced to bear a child instead. Please listen to the FDA and reverse this decision, or do not call yourself a pro-choice president. Shame on you and your administration, Rachel Sanoff
Pete Souza/White House
Since taking office in 2009, President Obama and his administration have made some questionable decisions regarding women’s health care.
DECISIONS OBAMA HAS MADE THAT CONCERN WOMEN - Upon inauguration, Obama appointed Hillary Clinton, Hilda Solis, Kathleen Sebelius and Janet Napolitanoto his Cabinet. He appointed these four women, compared to the nine men he appointed. - On Jan. 23, 2009, Obama ended the Mexico City Policy, which had blocked funds to international groups providing counseling and abortions. - On Jan. 29, 2009, Obama signed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, requiring equal pay regardless of gender or race. - On March 11, 2009, Obama created the White House Council on Women and Girls, which evaluates past, present, and pending legislation for its impact on women and girls. - On May 26, 2009, Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. She is the third woman and first Hispanic to serve on the court. - On July 13, 2009, Obama nominated Dr. Regina Benjamin, who supports access to abortions, for U.S. Surgeon General. - On Oct. 28, 2009, Obama signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act expanding the definition of hatecrimes to include crimes committed because of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. It also mandated that the FBI track statistics of gender-based hate crimes. - On Dec. 22, 2010, Obama signed the repeal to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing military servicemembers to be openly gay for the first time. - On Dec. 19, 2011, Obama issued an executive order “instituting a national action plan on women, peace, and security.”
Get to Know the Republicans
We break down what they’re saying now by Yamuna Haroutunian
As we near the end of the Republican primaries, the number of candidates has dwindled and Mitt Romney seems poised to be the GOP’s top pick. Regardless of the fact that most of these men are no longer running for president (at least in 2012), it does not change the reality that millions of people value their opinions. Which means that what they say and how they feel about women’s rights matters. So take a look at what they represent:
Mitt Romney supported abortion rights as Massachusetts’ governor, but said in Iowa that he “changed (his) mind.” However, he opposes a federal ban on abortion because he believes it is a states’ right. Likewise, Romney supported Planned Parenthood in the past, but recently wrote an opinion piece for USA Today suggesting cuts to federal spending, including de-funding the organization. His advisor Robert Bork was quoted in Newsweek claiming that Romney does not believe the Equal Protection Clause should apply to women because “(Women) aren’t discriminated against any more.”
In South Carolina, Rick Santorum stated his support for a federal ban on abortion even in cases of rape or incest. He then claimed that doctors who perform abortion should face criminal charges. He argues that sex outside of marriage should not be socially acceptable, and does not believe federal funds should go to Planned Parenthood.
Like Santorum, Newt Gingrich has used the Declaration of Independence to justify a federal abortion ban. He has said that he would introduce legislation to de-fund Planned Parenthood completely if elected president. He justifies anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion positions with morality arguments, despite being accused of adultery.
In South Carolina, Ron Paul argued against funding hospitals because he was worried the money might fund abortions, which he opposes even in cases of rape and incest. He has stated many times that he does not believe medical care is a right, and has voted repeatedly to de-fund Planned Parenthood. He first explained in his 1987 book, and recently reaffirmed, his disbelief that victims of sexual harassment should be protected by the federal government.
WHO SAID IT?
Can you guess which candidates said the following quotes?
“Because people are insulted by C. “If upper body strength rude behavior, I don’t think we should make a federal case about [sexual harassment]. I don’t think we need federal laws to deal with that. People should deal with that at home.”
matters, men win. They are both biologically stronger and they don’t get pregnant. Pregnancy is a period of male domination in traditional society.”
“To put (rape victims) through another trauma of an abortion, I think is too much to ask.”
a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion ... I will only appoint judges who adhere to the Constitution and the laws as they are written, not as they want them to be written.”
“I will advocate for and support
A. Romne y
Politics | Fem | 23
Confessions of a Hopeless Romantic The evolution of heroines in romantic comedies
by Sahar Shiralian
s a self-professed hopeless romantic, I must confess that I am a “chick flick” junkie who thrives on romantic comedies. Not surprisingly, I have been called a “hypocritical feminist” for my need to indulge in the dubious cinematic escapism that romantic comedies offer to female viewers. But don’t be so rash in judging rom-coms — they can also function as platforms for feminist messages. In the last ten years the romantic comedy genre has experienced some ups and downs, but has ultimately shown a remarkable evolution and featured a variety of heroines. “Bridget Jones’s Diary” features a timeless and feminist heroine. Since its theatrical debut in 2001, the character has become a pop culture icon. The image of Bridget (Renee Zellweger) towering collection of self-help and dating books and her obsessive quest to lose fifteen pounds both seem anti-feminist at first glance. But I have to argue that being a little insecure is what makes Bridget so genuine and universal – no woman is free from moments of self-doubt. Bridget does not have the perfect figure, the perfect career or the perfect love life. Ultimately, this character is feminist-friendly because she reminds us that imperfection can be beautiful. The film effectively shatters the pressure to be perfect when Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) tells Bridget “I like you just the way you are.” I love Bridget because she plays the everywoman and finds love despite being flawed.
Unfortunately, romantic comedies seemed to regress in 2003 with the embarrassing “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.” In the film, Andie (Kate Hudson) is working on an article that will expose what a woman shouldn’t do if she wants to keep a man and maintain a relationship. In essence, an article on female performance. She is bent on driving boyfriend Ben (Matthew McConaughey) away by doing “everything a girl does wrong in relationships.” Unlike Bridget Jones’s message of changing for yourself, Andie advocates changing yourself to be more attractive to your partner. Her performance conveys the harsh message that a woman must alter herself in order to find and keep a man. Andie maintains the rom-com ideals of impossible perfection that are imposed on impressionable viewers. Six years later, rom-coms were still urging women to transform themselves into flawless Barbies. “The Ugly Truth,” released in 2009, is the film most emblematic of unrealistic societal expectations and female performance. Abby (Katherine Heigl) is the protégé of perhaps the most chauvinistic, disgusting romantic comedy leading man ever: Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler). He presents Abby with “the ugly truth” that “no one falls in love with a personality at first sight.” Based on this advice, Abby changes herself and practices the personality of a “naughty librarian” – a type that Mike states turns men on. This
film is truly ugly because it preserves gender roles to a frightening degree. Mike may try to pigeon-hole Abby into the character of a male fantasy, but Abby is already a stereotype. Abby is romantically challenged because of her established career; she is a shrewish, desexualized harpy for no reason other than that she is a successful producer. Eventually I came across the refreshingly flawed Jamie in “Friends with Benefits.” Fortunately, the rom-com heroine of 2011 has evolved into a character who not only balances strength and vulnerability like Bridget Jones, but is also a progressive feminist figure who blurs gender binaries. Jamie loves sex, initiates a commitment-free sexual relationship and even instructs her partner in what she likes in the bedroom. She curses, burps and acknowledges the fact that “she has issues.” By refusing to be obsessed with her image or play prim and proper, Jamie neither abides by the firm gender rules that are set in “The Ugly Truth,” nor changes herself to find true love. I have seen countless romantic comedies that not only portray unrealistic representations of love, but also feature regressive, anti-feminist female protagonists. Romantic comedies may not be the first place to look for a feminist message and gender equality, but characters like Jamie and Bridget prove that the genre may not be entirely hopeless.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
The Ugly Truth
Friends with Benefits
Bridget is charming in the role of an “Everywoman” whose ingenuity makes her not only relatable, but extremely desirable.
Andie may have the perfect job and life, but is an anti-feminist figure who preaches female performance in order to “keep men.”
Abby is a caricature of the “romantically challenged” career woman who follows the advice of a sexist chauvinist.
Jamie blurs gender boundaries, reconciles romance and feminism, and is not afraid to show her flaws.
24 | Fem | Columns
Family memories: peanut sauce & fried rice
hether we’re in our home kitchen, a cottage in Oregon or a hotel room in New Mexico, my dad, my brother and I love to eat good food. What counts as “good” has certainly changed over the years, but what hasn’t changed is our love for food that does more than just satisfy our hunger – good food needs to create a memory as well. One that we can look back on with pride as we remember not only what we ate but the context in which we ate it. Which is why I’d like to dedicate this edition of Liberated Cooking to the many meals my family and I have shared over the years. Read the memories at your own risk: * Two people cannot eat a whole Thanksgiving turkey by themselves: Sadly, it’s just not possible. At least my dad and I couldn’t. But when we found ourselves alone on the holiday dedicated to gorging, we couldn’t risk not getting the chance to fill our faces with too much food. So we went all out, with everything from the bird to the mashed potatoes to the homemade cranberry sauce. And wow, was it good. Certainly a meal to remember – to this day, the wishbone remains in our kitchen as a constant reminder. If you ever find yourself with very few people on Thanksgiving (or even by yourself), make the meal anyway. It’s totally worth it. * Will’s Bacon Shack: When my brother was 10 years old, he decided that he loved to cook bacon. Already a staple in our weekend breakfasts, my younger brother turned frying bacon into an art form or, at the very least, a very cute and scrumptious dream. Every time the cured meat came out of the fridge, he
would take over the cooking duties and demand that all orders go through him. We got to choose the level of crispiness – the “Dad” got you a lightly fried slice, the “Will” resulted in a very fried slice, and the “Melissa” was somewhere in between – and if we were ever unsatisfied with our bacon, he would happily make us more. For a while, the plan to open ‘Will’s Bacon Shack,’ a restaurant dedicated to the greatest breakfast food ever (cooked to order, of course). Though that plan was shelved, bacon is still his forte and I still order a “Melissa” every time it’s made. * A crab will fight for its life: This statement might not surprise you, but when we cooked live crab for the first time I was shocked by how active the crustacean was during its final minutes. While on a trip to a small coastal town in Oregon, my dad and I decided to do something we deemed crazy and cook our own crab. Armed with instructions and a stick of butter, we left the store excited about the delicious meal to come. We quickly found out that the pincers were incredibly sharp and the crab knew how to fight off its impending death. If you ever cook your own crab – which I highly recommend since it tastes absolutely fantastic – make sure to have a set of long tongs nearby. * Fried rice is worth fighting over: Up until a year ago, fried rice was rarely mentioned in our house. We ordered it every once in a while when we got Chinese take-out, but we never thought much about it. That is, until my dad got to experimenting one day and found homemade fried rice to be the easiest and most delicious meal ever. So much
Kara Kedrick/ Fem Newsmagazine
by Melissa van Gelder
so that we once made three batches in one week and still fought over who got to eat the leftovers. It’s also a surprisingly good travel food. Which means that thinking about fried rice makes me think of at least half a dozen road trips, including one to the city where they discovered Pluto. Is it wrong that I’m still sad it’s no longer considered a planet? * Peanut sauce makes everyone happy: Never underestimate the power of a true cooking staple. Years ago, I discovered that it’s actually really easy to make a quick and delicious peanut sauce. As long as you can find a market with a well-stocked Asian food section,
PEANUT SAUCE (serves 3-4)
FRIED RICE (serves 3-4)
2 tablespoons canola oil 2 tablespoons red curry paste 1 can (6 oz) coconut milk 10 tablespoons chunky peanut butter 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 3 tablespoons sugar pinch of salt (to taste) sambal oleke (to taste)
1 cup rice 2 cups water conola oil (or bacon fat, if available) 2 cups diced ham 1 cup frozen peas 2 cups diced carrots 3 eggs
In a small pot, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add red curry paste and heat until you can smell it (about 3 min.). Add coconut milk and allow it to simmer for a couple minutes. Mix in the peanut butter, rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Simmer over medium heat for about ten minutes (it should appear smooth when finished). Add the sambal oleke for some heat (be careful – only a couple teaspoons will make the sauce very spicy). Serve over rice with chicken and stir-fried vegetables.
you can make a dish that not only goes beyond your wildest expectations but also makes your family incredibly happy. Which means that thinking about this recipe and the many times I’ve made it just makes me smile. Liberated cooking is about cooking what you want because you want to, not because someone tells you to. It’s also about creating an environment in which cooking is fun and the kitchen becomes a place of memories rather than expectations. So try these recipes with people you care about and make your own memories. It will make the meal all the better, I promise.
Cook rice in water (you can use either a rice cooker or use a pot on the stove top). In a small pan, scramble the eggs. In a large pan, heat up a couple tablespoons of canola oil. Add ham, peas and carrots and fry for about 5 minutes (until the vegetables are hot to the touch and the ham is looking browned). Add scrambled eggs and rice to the large pan and fry for another 5 to 10 minutes. Add salt to taste and serve right away (leftovers will keep in the fridge for about a week).
Columns | Fem | 25
Reviews by Amanda Ramont
“Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein,” (Penguin Press, 2011) a probing biography by Julie Salamon, reveals a multitude of personal trials experienced by beloved playwright Wendy Wasserstein. Wasserstein’s life has always been something of an enigma to the public, despite her consistently happy-go-lucky persona. Published in August 2011, Salamon’s touching biography provides an in-depth look at an incredibly inspiring woman. This insight into fascinating, previously unknown information is compiled from personal letters and interviews with Wasserstein’s family and friends. Salamon’s account of Wasserstein’s life does not provide vivid descriptions of any of her work. However, her detailed accounts of the playwright life reveal that her work directly paralleled her real experiences and relationships. Salamon highlights autobiographical
26 | Fem | Reviews
“The Purity Myth: The Virginity Movement’s War Against Women” (Media Education Foundation, 2011) is an important film for anyone who supports women’s rights. Jessica Valenti, founder of Feministing.com, narrates this follow-up to her 2009 book “The Purity Myth,” which provides scathing views of the conservative movement’s preoccupation with virginity. Valenti provides evidence of charismatic provirginity speakers who preach fear-induced, abstinence-only sex education, utilizing techniques that include feeding students with false and absurd information, such as linking a woman’s sterility with her sexual activity. Supporters of the virginity movement use methods of slut-shaming, which is a tactic that aims to make women and girls feel guilty about acknowledging
their sexuality. One example used in the film is the idea that rape should only ever be called “rape” when the victim, or “accuser,” is a virgin. This belief emphasizes the idea that if a woman has previously had sex, she was clearly asking for it at the time of the rape. The film vividly displays the ways in which society covets the idea of the “perfect virgin,” which is exemplified through pop culture clips featuring Britney Spears and Taylor Swift. The perfect virgin is thin, Caucasian, pretty and sexy in a way that is not overtly sexual. She needs to appeal to men’s fantasies, while keeping a distinct air of chastity. The perfect virgin does not include women who identify as LGBT, or stray from societal norms in any way.
aspects of Wasserstein’s plays, letting the audience know which characters are modeled her own life experiences. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Wasserstein graduated from Mount Holyoke College and the Yale School of Drama, where she befriended Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver and Christopher Durang. Wasserstein was an ardent political activist and played a pivotal role during the Women’s Liberation Movement. Her first production titled “Uncommon Women and Others” provided semi-autobiographical accounts of her time at Mount Holyoke. Her subsequent plays included, “The Heidi Chronicles,” which made her the first female playwright to win the Tony Award for best play, and won her the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for drama, “An American Daughter,” “The Sisters Rosensweig,” “Isn’t It Romantic” and “Third.” The plays raise issues of familial expectations, cultural identity
struggles, ambition, romance, relationships between sisters, insecurity, illness, strength and ultimately, holding on to feminist ideals in a rapidly changing world. Wasserstein’s own mother raised her to believe that she was fat, not particularly pretty and essentially worthless if she did not have a husband and children; so despite her success, she dealt with crippling self-doubt. However, she never let her insecurities affect how others saw her. Before dying at age 55 in 2006 to lymphoma, she gave birth to her first and only daughter at age 48. She also established a program through the Theatre Development Fund called “Open Doors” to bring underprivileged New York public high school students to the theater. Wasserstein found her own voice through the theater, which she used to speak to a generation of women.
“Californication” (Showtime) is an incredibly entertaining, albeit flawed, program that one initially might find offensive. David Duchovny’s portrayal of Hank Moody, a writer plagued with harrowing self-loathing, is easy to dismiss as a womanizing bastard lacking a moral compass. After uprooting himself from New York City with his teenage daughter, Becca, and former flame, Karen, Hank finds himself disturbed by LA’s superficiality. He gets caught in an escapist whirlwind of self-medication and sexual escapades with almost any woman whom crosses his path.
Despite Hank’s obvious commitment and self-control issues, he is a fan of all women. He is the archetypal lothario with a heart of gold. He loves all sizes, shapes, colors and creeds, and worships the female form in all of its natural glory. He clearly detests Hollywood’s impossible beauty standards and appreciates women who are comfortable in their own skin. If a woman has a strong personality and can think for herself, she is even sexier in his eyes. Most female characters represented on the show are fiercely independent and driven. Hank encourages his precocious
Valenti emphasizes that the truly absurd part of this virginity movement is that a young woman’s worth is essentially reduced to the status of her sex life. Valenti shows footage of “purity balls,” where young girls dress in white and pledge their virginities to their fathers. As children grow up, boys are taught that honor and integrity are what matters, whereas girls are raised in society learning that purity and innocence are qualities that will lead to their success and happiness. Ultimately, the goal here is to revert back to traditional societal gender roles, where women are kept in subordinate positions. A preview version of “The Purity Myth” can be viewed at online at www.mediaed.org.
“Wendy and the Lost Boys” can be bought online.
daughter to pursue music and academics, and takes pride in the fact that she is an independent individual. “Californication” certainly features gratuitous sex scenes, but women are rarely belittled or demeaned. Instead, they are portrayed as powerful, complex, multi-faceted human beings who just so happen to embrace their sexuality. “Californication” seasons 1 through 4 can be purchased online and at most major department stores.
Crossword Puzzle Down 1. Current Secretary of Health and Human Services 2. Organization that helps those affected by violence 3. Once threw a tampon at a group of men 4. Easy to make recipe that involves ham, peas and carrots 7. Artist behind Three Weeks in January 8. Name of popular video game 9. Country in which women are not allowed to drive Country in which women are not allowed to drive 11. 2009 film starring Katherine Heigl 14. Large corporation currently sued by a number of women 16. Spoke at the Center for the Study of Women in January 18. Book by Judy Blume about teenage sex
Across 5. Country in which Yasmin Lee was raised 6. Popular actress who studied at UCLA 10. Eating disorder that affects thousands of college students 12. Allison Wolfe’s Riot Grrl band 13. Film about women and hiphop 15. Event during which young girls pledge their virginities to their fathers 17. Showtime program starring David Duchevny 19. Playwright who wrote “The Vagina Monologues” 20. Republican candidate who does not think the Equal Protection Clause should apply to women
continued from page 17 The End of Bratmobile Once Nirvana became popular, the press in the Pacific Northwest grew and the riot grrrls began to receive unwanted media attention. “I know that when we were involved at the time we felt like we were changing the world, but it was our small little world,” noted Wolfe. “Most of us didn’t know how to harness it in a positive direction.” Some refused to comment or do interviews and those who did were not happy about how they were portrayed. While the riot grrrls were used to making their own zines and reading book, none of them paid attention to the mainstream media. “To us, that stuff was just garbage and propaganda,” said Wolfe. “It was weird to have the institutions we were against come in and cover us.” Most riot grrrls distrusted the media’s motives and those
who did do interviews felt as though the press made them look ridiculous. “It was dismissive and made us and feminism look like a passing fad,” remembered Wolfe. Those who were not in bands felt damaged by the media and got no financial gain from the attention. This created a tension within the community that the movement would not ever fully recover from and the dismantling of the Riot Grrrl was swift. According to Wolfe, riot grrrls stopped trusting each other and the bands could not longer agree as to how to proceed. “It was competitive bullshit because we are taught there is not enough room for everyone,” said Wolfe. By 1996, the movement that so many held dear lost its momentum. Riot Grrrl Lives On Though Riot Grrrl in its truest form was left in the 1990s, the movement had an effect on the feminist move-
ment of today. “Not a lot of girl bands are overtly feminist these days I think because Riot Grrrl broke down a lot of those barriers,” said Shelina Brown, a musicology PhD candidate at UCLA as well as the guitar player and drummer in Wolfe’s current band, Cool Moms. In this post-Riot Grrrl world, “we have the luxury of not always having to openly fight for feminism because they already have done that for us... They totally opened so many doors like expressing a lot of things that hadn’t been expressed before by bringing feminism to a younger audience and making it real.” As far as Cool Moms is concerned, it’s more about the music than the feminist message, even though the members of the band are clearly feminist. Max Albeck, a UCLA alumnus, and his band Neonates also draw influence from the Riot Grrrl movement. “With Riot Grrrl, I feel like it’s an isolated music scene,” said Albeck. “Stylistically it’s confined to ‘90s music which is kind of problematic because you can say you’re
into Riot Grrrl but people can also imply they are into older bands that influenced Riot Grrrl.” Almost two decades after the start of Riot Grrrl, there are still activists and fans who proudly describe themselves as “riot grrrls.” In 2010, Sara Marcus wrote a book highlighting the movement entitled “Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution.” And there are concerts in Los Angeles dedicated to the women who made punk rock feminist. For Wolfe, Riot Grrrl will always be about working for the underdog and fighting for people’s rights. She knew she wanted to find a way to fight the system, and music was her way of doing this. “It was something I could really believe in,” said Wolfe. “It spoke to me.” And in accomplishing her own goal, she and her fellow riot grrrls were able to inspire other feminists and shape the the dialogue surrounding gender inequality.
Crossword Puzzle | Fem | 27
From the Blog In case you have not heard, Fem has a blog. Online at www.femmagazine.com, we bring a daily dose of feminism as we cover everything from politics to pop culture. We also have our own podcast, FemCast, that goes up every Tuesday. And if that’s not enough feminism for you, we’re on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FemNewsmag) and Twitter (@FemNewsmag). So make sure to check us out online and see what our writers have to say.
The Guy’s Girl by Connie Shen I often hear women using the term “The Guy’s Girl” as an all-encompassing descriptor of who they are as an individual. This frustrates me. If you enter “Guy’s Girl” into your handy dandy Google search engine, you’re likely to find various blogs and magazine articles revealing tips on how to be a “Guy’s Girl” and still maintain your “Girl’s Girl” identity. What does that even mean? First off, we shouldn’t be boiling ourselves down to one word, let alone describing ourselves in reference to someone else. This includes you too, gentlemen. You are more than just “The Nice Guy” or “The Bad Boy.” You are a complex and layered being with interests that spread all across the gender spectrum. At least I hope you are.
The Komen Controversy: Definitely Political by Yamuna Haroutunian I will not be wearing a pink ribbon this October. Nor will I collect any pink yogurt lids, buy any pink wristbands or eat any chicken that comes in a pink bucket. (I’m a vegetarian, but that’s not the point.) I no longer trust Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
What is “The Guy’s Girl?”
This week’s “Komen-tastrophe” first angered me, then elated me and has now confused me. On Friday, it seemed that Komen had decided to continue funding Planned Parenthood after all. Now, it’s not so clear.
Urbandictionary.com defines “The Guy’s Girl” as, “That great girl who can just chill and be ‘one of the guys’. She’s into sports, beer, action flicks and doesn’t give a damn what others think.” The pseudo-definition then goes on to assure, “However, unlike the tomboy, she has her gang of girl mates who she shops with and does girly stuff.”
Their statement announcing the reversal contained two things that were puzzling. First, it did not say that the foundation would continue funding Planned Parenthood, as many people seem to think. All it says is that Planned Parenthood’s current grant is still valid, and that the group would be “eligible” for future grants.
For some women, the identification might be, in part, due to an alleged inability to get along with other women who are all characteristically vicious, catty, dramatic, and stupid. They feel unique because of this. For others, I think they might identify with this persona because they feel alienated by other women. Some might say they just genuinely find that their interests align more closely with those of their male counterparts. I’ve heard an array of definitions, but I think Urban Dictionary captures at least the jist of most variations and makes it sound awesome to be a “Guy’s Girl” at that.
Second, the statement explained that Komen’s revised policy would only exclude funding for groups facing criminal investigation. This criterion leaves Planned Parenthood eligible, but disqualifies Penn State’s cancer research institute—which Komen is also funding.
The Problem with “The Guy’s Girl” My biggest problem with “The Guy’s Girl” is that there is an inherent woman-hating quality that this term bears. The so-called definition assumes that “The Guy’s Girl” is better than other women because she is interested in traditionally male activities. She is tougher than other women because she can “hang.” She is all other women’s cooler sister because she enjoys watching the game and throwing back a couple cold ones with the boys. Being interested in these things and being incredibly cool are two separate entities. You are “that great girl” whether or not you’re into “sports, beer, and action flicks.” My frustration extends to the feeling that the term is detrimental to both men and women. It confines personalities and interests to a gender binary that, in itself, is incredibly restrictive. This kind of language creates ugly inside-the-box ideas of who people are based on the things they’re interested in or not interested in and a few characteristics that might define them at the most basic level. This is both unfair and debasing.
This is all very fishy. Before Friday’s reversal, Komen gave two reasons for cutting Planned Parenthood’s funds. The first was their new policy concerning government investigation. The second was that Planned Parenthood does not perform many mammograms, but instead issues referrals to women who need them—so Komen concluded that they’d do better to fund groups that actually give mammograms and eliminate the intermediary step. Komen’s latest statement addressed the first reason, but not the second. If Komen decides not to continue Planned Parenthood’s grant when it expires next year, the mammogram referral issue would be an easy excuse. Komen officials maintain that none of this week’s actions were politically motivated. Considering that Karen Handel, their vice president who resigned on Tuesday after only 10 months with the organization, is staunchly against Planned Parenthood, that sounds unlikely.
I suspect Komen won’t renew Planned Parenthood’s grant, especially if they think no one will notice. As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pointed out on Thursday, Planned Parenthood has been under sustained attack for the past 18 months, yet this is the first instance of widely-reported outrage by Planned Parenthood supporters. If Komen thinks they can sidestep the angry mobs, Planned Parenthood won’t get funded.
I ask that we make an effort to rid our vocabularies of these terrible descriptors. We’re better than them. Why be a “Guy’s Girl” when you can be a woman who often enjoys the company of her best guy friends while watching a football game and drinking a wide variety of hand-crafted beers?
My original, unpublished blog post on this topic, which I wrote during the elation stage of this weekend, concluded that Komen understands that women’s healthcare is not a political issue. How ironic that the longer this controversy continues, the louder Komen shouts that it isn’t about ideology, and the clearer it becomes that actually, it is.
This post was originally published on Nov. 30, 2011.
This post was originally published on Feb. 8, 2012.
28 | Fem | From the Blog
Thoughts | Fem | 29
Looking at Old Issues Articles from past issues of Fem Abstinence Without Guilt
30 | Fem | Past Fem
before the man started advances. That, when it finally happened, was my turning point. Up to that point, I had received some insight into the male position that made me more sympathetic. Many of the men I had talked to mentioned that women they had met had been well-trained to say “no” so that it meant “yes.” This had made it very difficult for them to recognize a genuine “no.” I also learned about the enormously unfair pressures on the male to “perform” and to “prove himself.” Men seemed to resent being expected to relate sexually to women whom they weren’t emotionally involved with. Now, it seems silly to blame anyone for the way they act; they’re all acting according to how they perceive their needs and wants. I had the right to abstain; I didn’t need to justify my position. Also as long as there was doubt in my mind about whether I’m accepting a sexual relationship out of fear and guilt about abstaining. I won’t be able to enjoy it. In other words, I would not be able to say “yes” until I knew I was capable of saying “no.” I had neither duty to the “male ego,” nor to any abstract ideal about how the young liberated female should behave. Finally, I realized that communication was my responsibility. I wonder how many other women have been in these same sort of battles. I realized not too long ago that I seldom have talked with women about their sexuality and consequently most of my attitudes about this matter are based on the reaction of men. I can’t believe I’m the only un-submissive woman in the world who wants a warm relationship to precede sexual activity. It really helps a lot to believe that I’m not alone, and I thank the Women’s Movement for making me aware of the sisterhood of women. Yet, what I’m just beginning to know is that even if I were the only woman around who is where I am, it is still all right for me to be here, at least as a starting point. It is all right because it is where I am.
This article was written by Kristen Hoffbrook and originally published in April 1974.
creature who could really get off on fondling a limp and unresponsive body. Yet, I always knew that I wasn’t going to be passive to the point of intercourse, nor was he just going to walk away. Therefore the verbal confrontation was inevitable. It would finally occur to the man that something was wrong, and he would ask me what my hang-up was. Nevertheless, in spite of my knowing its inevitability, it was years before I finally got up the courage to initiate the verbal confrontation. There were all those dreaded comments, such as: “What are you afraid of?” (meaning, of course, that the only reason any woman would refuse to have intercourse with that particular male was that she was afraid of sex); Or “Aw, and here I thought you were free.” (meaning that freedom is the ability to throw yourself into any situation someone wants you in, whether you want to be there or not); Or “Are you a lesbian then?” (meaning that he could accept it if I were a lesbian because he’s open-minded and liberated but, he just couldn’t cope with my abstaining altogether). Before the sexual revolution women were considered sinful and perverted if they indulge in or even wanted sexual activity. Now, they are considered neurotic and sick if you don’t. I resent this attitude and further I resent myself for not totally rejecting it as false and inconsequential. It is my self-doubts and uncertainty that really hurts me. Perhaps, more than anything else, I resent the feeling that a man was after me, not for who I was, but because he was horny and I was there. To be sure, there were many men in my life with whom I had happy and meaningful relationships. Yet, nearly always, there was a strong pressure to go along with the way the man wanted it, a set of expectation I was supposed to live up to. Gradually, the resentment appeared in me – alternating in its aim from the particular man I was with to men, in general for being so egotistical, to myself for being so damned confused, and to society for making it so difficult to discuss sexuality. It took me four years to get myself to start talking
In the feminist culture I was living in, it had occurred to me that everything which was once considered “sexually sick” or “neurotically deviant” was now totally acceptable. I approve this progress and I was always around to join the fight against sexually upright bigotry. But it also occurred to me that there was one “abnormality” still scorned by the so-called liberal people as “sexually sick” – abstinence –or its extreme form, virginity. And so I find myself in my mid-twenties, the only “misfit” around. Or am I? I don’t know how my life turned out this way. It certainly wasn’t for lack of opportunity. Nor did I believe that I am frigid – or to use the phrase was dumped on me by so many men – afraid of sex. I expect that I will someday grow to the point that, as one of my friends said, “discover my sexuality.” I will want to have a sexual relationship with someone who also wants me, plunge in freely, and enjoy it without fears or inhibitions. This will happen not only when I find the right person but also when I become more at ease. I know also that if I have a sexual relationship before that point – perhaps just to escape a man’s derisive reaction my abstinence – that it would be a miserable experience. I am normally defiant, assertive, non-submissive and tend to get resentful of any kind of pressure that tries to push me into something. Also, I have always been slow to develop in these matters. I wasn’t the least interested in men (aside from new crushes) until I started college. I didn’t discover masturbation until even later. And, in spite of my being a great daydreamer since early childhood, it wasn’t until recently that I started having sexual fantasies. The whole matter of sexual expectations was dumped on me quite suddenly. When I was a freshman in college, I had two experiences that brought home to me my naivete. In both cases, I was too confused about the situation to come out with a flat “no.” I don’t always act on my resentment over the situation. In both cases, I just become mildly resistant and greatly passive – all the while wondering about this
Bread and Roses
The political history of International Women’s Day struggle for women’s rights, or simply reflected a general turn away from the spirit of the 1960s is unclear. The consequence, however, was that the initial revolutionary fervor lost its grounding. IWD activism has since taken on more subtle forms, differing from country to country. Moreover, the grassroots decline has not been entirely universal. Women from many marginalized countries have utilized the official status of IWD for revolutionary acts. On March 8, 1982, for example, Iranian women removed their veils in honor of IWD and to add their own segment to revolutionary women’s history. In Sudan, women used the day to congregate and march, until their suppression in 1989 by the Islamist government, according to Sondra Hale, professor of anthropology at UCLA. Furthermore, Hale continued, “it is still a very radical day in the former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, and almost any of the countries that had socialist revolutions.” However, the country that began the honorary day cannot boast similar radical observance. “Here in America, it is a very bland day,” commented Hale. “We usually use it for programming of various sorts.” It seems odd that the IWD is met with such popular indifference in the very country that fostered its inception. Sondra Hale cites a general “de-politicization” of social—particularly global—concerns in America, which may help explain the downturn in grassroots IWD events. American culture, then, has become too comfortable relegating major global issues to bureaucracies to bother lobbying: out of sight, out of mind, as it were. Has IWD lost its energy in America then? Have bureaucratic undertakings rendered grassroots activism meaningless? Perhaps, but Babior thinks this misses the point. While she concurs that the United Nations changed the nature of celebration, she also emphasized IWD’s inspirational message meant to transcend any logistic controversies. “While we women have different agendas and will celebrate them differently, the common goal of honoring how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go,” she insists, “is still important.”
This article was written by Suzanne La Barre and originally published in Spring 2004.
recognition. Other countries, however, that had little to no involvement in the formative years of IWD mobilized significantly in the 1960s in response to growing social unrest on a global scale. Japan, for example, suffered dramatically from the effects of World War II. International Women’s Day thus became a forum for women to express their opposition to the Vietnam War. Sharman Babior, a lecturer of anthropology at UCLA who performed fieldwork in Japan, commented on this continuing opposition, now directed at the war in Iraq. “In the wake of such a lack of status, Japanese women come on so strongly, and are majorly committed [to the peace effort]. Their voices are small,” she continued, “but they carry an impact.” Japan was not unique in its dissent. The late 1960s laid claim to social upheaval in nearly every imaginable geographical nook, and women’s groups took their cue to mobilize in what manifested in an IWD revival. This effected wider recognition of International Women’s Day by many grassroots organizations and diplomats alike. In 1975, the United Nations declared an “International Women’s Year,” which they later extended to cover an entire decade. Moreover, they officially recognized International Women’s Day as a holiday to unite women who are “often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic, and political differences, to look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.” U.N. recognition validated International Women’s Day to governments that were previously unaware of its existence. It also bolstered more general insight into global gender issues in an attempt to transcend a history of western bias. Furthermore, despite 1960s mobilization, in reality, International Women’s Day didn’t become truly “global” in its goals until the United Nations interceded. Over the next several years, the U.N. utilized International Women’s Day to disclaim gender inequality and promulgate plans for future action. Undoubtedly, United Nations sponsorship imbued IWD with bureaucratic universalism, an appropriate move to warrant its sweeping title. But it also coincided with a noticeable decline in informal activism. Whether the United Nations overshadowed its unofficial compatriots, revealed a necessary shift in the
“It was one seething, trembling sea of women,” wrote Russian revolutionary Aleksandra Kollontai in her memoir on the first observance of International Women’s Day. That year, in 1911, “Meetings were organized everywhere… in the small towns, even in the villages. Halls were packed so full they had to ask [male] workers to give up their places for women.” A day of celebration for women was a long time coming. Both in Europe and North America socialist organizations had been highly active in rallying for women’s rights. Only three years earlier, in 1908, 15,000 female garment workers in New York marched under the slogan of “bread and roses,” symbols of economic security and a higher standard of living, respectively. Shortly thereafter, the American Socialist Party declared a National Women’s Day to be commemorated each year, the last Sunday of February. The idea spread to Europe, along with hopes of global participation. During a 1910 Socialist Convention in Copenhagen, 17 countries approved instituting an International Women’s Day. The following year, Denmark, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland became the first countries in observance thereof. Huge crowds of women (and men) rallied for the right to vote, work, and live free from discrimination. With the onslaught of World War I, International Women’s Day (IWD) gained further momentum, as Socialists and activists across Europe and North America turned their attention to opposing the war. Amidst increasing social unrest, the women of Petrograde, Russia (now St. Petersburg) celebrated IWD in 1917 by staging a “bread and peace” strike, similar in nature to the New York garment workers’ protest only a decade earlier. The spirit of women proletarians snowballed, sweeping up wage laborers and revolutionaries. Within hours, Petrograde was teeming with mayhem. Four days later, on March 8, the Russian czar abdicated. The February revolution, as it is now known (referring to Russia’s former use of the Julian calendar), was a landmark event in redistributing Russia’s reins of power. Thereafter, March 8 enjoyed national celebration as a Communist holiday, in honor of the “working women.” Today, several governments in the former USSR no longer recognize International Women’s Day, as it was historically associated with Communism. Thus, women’s groups in the former Yugoslavia, for example, have dedicated March 8 to lobbying for official
Past Fem | Fem | 31
Fem's Winter 2012 issue: "Are you a Riot Grrrl?" - "Dying to be Thin" - "Life as a Transsexual Porn Star" - "An Open Letter to Obama"