Page 1


who we are


UHURU, Swahili for Freedom. UHURU, The Freedom Magazine, is written by, about and for those interested in gaining a multicultural, educated, thoughtful perspective of society. With this issue our interpretation of freedom means looking at real happenings around us with a critical eye, and bringing issues of true importance to attention. We aren’t just your typical, everyday magazine. We seek to represent the unique viewpoint. The ideas and cultures often under-represented in the media. So often our society takes freedom - of religion, of peaceful assembly, of speech - for granted. We refuse to. So take a further look inside, and exercise your freedoms: of edification, of social consciousness, of choosing to seek truth or create change.


letter from the editor


the team


A lot of hard work and dedication has gone into this issue, as well as a little heart and soul. Uhuru, which is Swahili for freedom, was chosen as the name of our magazine in 2008 when the first issue was released. Freedom, in our sense, is the ability to share and express what we care about in a way that others can enjoy and, more importantly, understand. We aim to spread knowledge and awareness that our readers can appreciate and that we can be proud of. So read, enjoy and spread the wealth. Molly Bryant













table of contents

fall 2013





A young man’s story


Album review



19 20

Overall well-being



Feminism and Fashion



SHAMPOO V. BAKING SODA What’s better for your hair?

If you’re usually anti-country, I guarantee these eight songs will change your mind.



This is Miss America, not Miss Muslim. #sorrynotsorry.

6 8 12

Business spotlight





Legalization in Iowa


We just want it to be simple



Choose your adventure

Why the sudden popularity, though?


AMES HAS HEART While in Ames, make it your own

America’s hottest pastime



“Is this heaven?”

To enter the real world, or grad school?



Certainly something is out of whack






M-Shop celebrates their 40th anniversary




2014 Winter games; equality for all


Should I Be a Graduate Student or Enter the Real World?

by L A U REN J O H N S E N design & photo A N N I E CL E M E N CY

Many students are deciding whether or not to enter the world of working adults immediately, or put it off a few years by entering into a graduate program. The decision to go to graduate school is dependent on the student’s career aspirations. Some fields require more advanced degrees than others. When deciding whether or not graduate school is the right course of action for you, there are many aspects to consider. First, there are many reasons to attend graduate school. It can maximize earning potential in a future career, increase job responsibility, enhance professional prospects and satisfy intellectual curiosity. Candidates with a master’s or a doctorate can demand more money for their job and are often put in more prestigious positions that pay more. Many graduate programs appoint students with research or teaching assistantships, waiving most, if not all, of the students’ tuition and paying them a stipend as well. This allows for more students to be able to afford a graduate degree if finances are holding them back. There are also a large number of fields that require advanced education. For example, if a student aspires to work in the medical field, they will have to obtain advanced degrees. On the other hand, there are many reasons not to enter the world of advanced education. Many people use graduate school to find their passions and figure out what they want to do with their lives. But, it can be an extraordinarily expensive introspective journey to take. If you find yourself in this boat, drop some cash at your friendly neighborhood bookstore to obtain your very own copy of “What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job Hunters and Career Changers.” Graduate school should not be used as a way to avoid financial or personal responsibilities, nor should it be used to simply avoid ever getting a job. There are some professions where getting a higher degree probably will not help at all. Going into the world of education at the primary or secondary levels with an advanced degree does not help students get their foot in the door. A master’s or doctorate demands a higher paycheck and a better position, making the student less marketable. Education is an extraordinary resource, and a graduate program could potentially help students in their pursuit of a life long career. But, graduate school is difficult and expensive. Students considering going for a master’s or even a doctorate should do some research first. Students should look deeper into the job, and what opportunities there are to move up. If a doctorate or a master’s is vital, go for it, but waiting a few years may be a better option. No matter where a student is in his or her undergraduate career, graduation day is right around the corner. It’s never too early to start thinking about the future, so make sure to take all options into consideration.



Tranquility travels the Atlantic becoming America’s hottest recreational pastime: yoga. This flexibility enhancing art form derives from the gurus of India enticing the American obsession for internationalism. And like many current trends, the melting pot that is America has swallowed up the spiritual tradition of yoga. This practice of uniting one’s soul and the universe crossed the ocean where it became a trend for the elite. Over the past few years, yoga has trickled down to mainstream America. Yoga has provided the American fast paced initial gratification lifestyle, with a way to put life on hold and focus on breathing… literally. Yoga focuses on core strength, balance, flexibility and maintaining

steady calming breathing. Yoga has elevated from a solely female demographic to a tool utilized by professional athletes and business executives to reach peak performance. This is a true testament to America’s ability to assimilate even the oldest of foreign cultures. However, classic eastern yoga is much different than America’s current form of mainstream meditation and flexibility training. The Downward Dog and the Warrior pose that we know is based on physical performance while in its origination was a form of spiritual awareness. The Indian culture uses poses and controlled breathing as a physical way of reaching an internal Zen and religious enlightenment. A tradition that was developed centuries ago, yoga was initiated as a form of meditation and positive thinking to promote overall well being. When it transitioned to the states yoga was adapted into a primitive form of gymnastics keeping flexibility in mind over

meditation. It has expanded as an American cultural phenomenon and now is one of the leading trends in fitness with classes becoming available nationally. Every time an American strikes a Cobra pose with balanced deep breaths, instructor claiming enhanced circulation and muscle toning with hymns from a sitar soothing the atmosphere, the ambiance is a faux creation of an Americanized India. However, this fitness creation is extremely beneficial in an increasingly health conscious county.




With her breakout hit, “Royals,” Ella Yelich-O’Connor, more commonly known as Lorde, has made a name for herself in the music industry. At only age 16, her single, “Royals” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 list, and it’s no surprise. Lorde not only has a very mature voice for her age, but the messages of her songs are wiser than her years. Lorde’s songs in her album Pure Heroine speak about growing up too fast, feeling emptiness in life and how pointless it is to try to live the way pop culture tells us. Her lyrics are complex, a refreshing change from many pop artists generic songs reaching top charts.

Lorde’s unique, sultry voice and the electro-pop sound she has developed really makes her music stand out from other top charted artists. Not only is she bringing depth and raw talent back into pop music, but hopefully will continue to bring this fantastic sound to our ears.

The Magic Lives On... by BAIL EY M C G RAT H design A N N IE C L EM E NCY

The Harry Potter series has influenced the lives of many over the years, giving familiarity to words like “Mudblood,” “Quidditch,” and “Hogwarts.” The series’ last film was released in 2011, but it has been announced that another film series is in the works. J.K. Rowling will be a screenwriter for the first time, working with Warner Brothers on an adaption of her book “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which expands Harry Potter‘s world of wizardry. According to the Los Angeles Times, Rowling said that the film will not be a prequel or sequel to the Harry Potter series and will revolve around the book’s fictional author, Newt Scamander, and his life in New York 70 years before Harry Potter reads his book.




Hey, you got your bluegrass in my techno! by GW EN D O LYN CAM P I O N design AN N IE C L EME NCY

Country music has always been a huge part of the culture here at Iowa State, but recently the music industry has been pushing the boundaries of the genre so much farther and integrating it in a whole new way. Using the beats and sounds of other genres like hip-hop and dance music and meshing them with good ole country twang is becoming a musical melting pot of unique sounds that appeal to original country

music lovers as well as more mainstream listeners. I’m not talking jamming rap verses in between the lyrics of a country song a la Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s bizarre sounding Accidental Racist. I’m talking songs that match the spirit of country music together with other genres to create something utterly new and captivating. If you’ve been listening to country your whole life, check out this playlist for a new twist on an old favorite.



If you’re usually anti-country I guarantee these eight songs will change your mind. Over and Over – Nelly feat. Tim McGraw

This is arguably the first really high-profile mash-up of country and R&B that our generation heard. A beautiful, melancholic mix, this is the song that started it all.

Hey Brother – Avicii

You’ve likely already heard the popular ‘Wake Me Up’ from Avicii’s album, and this track takes that ‘hick-hop’ infusion one step further, featuring the vocals of Dan Tyminski, a bluegrass composer and vocalist.

Two-Step – Laura Bell Bundy, Colt Ford

It’s like a country ‘Teach Me How to Dougie” two-steppin’ dance anthem. The undeniably catchy track sounds like Miranda Lambert’s country twang meets Britney Spears’ sass and sex appeal.

People C’Mon – Delta Spirit

An alternative country hit, this song takes crashing cymbals and grating vocals and infuses them with southern charm for a country song you can truly rock out to.

Dusty Men – Saule feat. Charlie Winston

French music meets country meets electronic beats. May sound crazy, but it’s worth a listen. Check out Charlie Winston’s collection of bluegrass beats while you’re at it, you won’t regret it.

4x4 – Miley Cyrus

Miley proves that even with her controversial new look and sound, she can still knock out a great country song (if you haven’t heard her Backyard Sessions cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”, you need to Youtube it right now). This song hits hard with a boot stomping beat and features rap verses from both Miley and hick-hop veteran Nelly.

1994 – Jason Aldean

A sleek follow-up to “Dirt Road Anthem”, 1994 is Aldean reconciling the work of his idol, country legend Joe Diffie with his modern influencers. In one verse Aldean belts “I’m gonna put a little third rock in your hip hop,” saying that he just might be the missing link between Diffie and Ludacris.

Goin’ Down - Gangstagrass

Self-described as low down dirty honky-tonk with block rockin beats, Gangstagrass is rap verses layered with bluegrass. The generally sparse percussion in bluegrass music makes it the perfect choice to mash-up with heavy hip-hop beats. This is the kind of music that pleases even those who claim not to like either genre. If you only listen to one song- let it be this one.



When searching through recipes and diet plans under “Food & Drink” or “Health & Fitness” sections, today’s Pinterest users will find countless pins of new and flavorful vegan recipes and meal plans. Pinterest is not the only medium illustrating the rise in veganism in today’s culture. Vegan restaurants, cookbooks, and magazines are finding their place in consumer’s lives. Politicians, celebrities, and athletes are enthusiastic about embracing the vegan diet, from Former President Clinton, to Mike Tyson, to Alicia Silverstone.

Vegans are vegetarians (non-meat eaters), but they also do not eat or use any products that are by-products of other animals, for example, “eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products,” according to The Vegetarian Resource Group. According to Google Trends, the search for the word “vegan” has increased considerably over the past several years, reaching the peak of most searches for the term in March 2013. The Vegetarian Resource Group also performed a study in 2012, finding that the population of people who consider themselves vegans more than doubled from 2009 to 2012. Why the sudden popularity, though? Vegans maintain their diets for many reasons, ranging from ethics to a simple desire to embrace a lighter and more natural diet. In recent years, animal rights organizations have been increasingly gaining both publicity and larger followings. Because of this, not only are their views about the humane treatment and protection of animals gaining hype, but also their views about “dieting” in a way that is healthy for both humans and animals, which is essentially the staple of a vegan lifestyle. And with “healthy living” becoming a major component of people’s everyday lives, it is no wonder that the benefits of a vegan diet are gaining prominence in the world’s cultural news.

Even at Iowa State, veganism is finding its way into students’ lives. Sammy Lang, a junior in English Education and Geology, has been a vegan for 5 months now. After pondering the question of why she started being vegan, she responded, “Mostly because one of my friends is a vegan and they did it for reasons regarding not hurting animals…They’ve been vegan for four years, and they said they felt better right away after starting it, but it was hard at first. So I started it. I was training for a 6k (the Springville Extreme Quarry Run) at the time, that helped.” When sharing her own experiences as a vegan so far, she admitted to not being a true vegan and “cheating” every once in a while. But let’s be honest, cutting all meat and any animal by-product out of one’s diet and lifestyle is no easy feat. Another difficulty that accompanies the diet is the stigma that surrounds the term. Some vegans are labeled as “hippies” or “left-wing extremists.” Sammy Lang even admits that the toughest part is constantly “explaining, as an Iowan, why I don’t eat cows anymore. Because people don’t like to hear that I don’t eat Iowa beef.” Now, don’t let this discourage you if you are considering becoming a vegan. When asked whether she would recommend trying the diet, she said, “I’m not one of those vegans who goes around knocking kabobs out of people’s hands, but if someone were interested, I would tell them to make sure that they are doing it for the right reasons because it is hard and you need to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients. Specifically, I would tell them why I do it because it makes me feel better, healthier, and more energized.” Ultimately, this diet sounds like a fun trend to jump on and could be a fulfilling and energizing boost to one’s life.

If you’d like to give veganism a try, here is a delicious recipe to get you started, courtesy of Ingredients Sauce 3 garlic cloves 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (what is this?) 1/3 cup pine nuts 4 cups basil leaves 1/2 small lemon, juiced 1/3 cup olive oil Salt and pepper Toppings 1 tablespoon pine nuts Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in thirds 1/4 purple onion, thinly sliced 10 kalamata olives Other 2 large pizza bases (30cm diameter) Fresh basil leaves to garnish Drizzle of olive oil to garnish Steps 1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees celsius and oil or add baking paper to pizza trays. 2. In a food processor, add all sauce ingredients and process until the sauce is smooth. 3. Distribute sauce over two pizza bases until covered evenly. 4. Scatter purple onion over the pizza. Follow with cherry tomatoes, olives and pine nuts. 5. Cook in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the pizzas are browning around the edges. 6. Let cool for 2 minutes before slicing. 7. Serve with fresh basil leaves and olive oil if needed.



e just want it to be simple. Locally grown, processed, organic, genetically modified. Conventional, commercial, chemical. Expensive, unorthodox, nutritious. Misleading. Trends toward healthy eating are apparent, as Americans are becoming increasingly aware of what they consume. As a result, the market for organic, vegetarian, and health-food options in grocery stores and restaurants has notably expanded. Mainstream veganism and gluten-free diets have erupted, two movements cited by the Values Institute at DGWB, a social science research group, as top consumer health trends of 2013. But are the movements that we’re literally “buying into” necessary to wholesome, healthy eating? And are the media and food companies doing us a service by promoting them? By 2050, we will need to provide food for a global population close to ten billion people. To do so, we must further our understanding of food distribution methods, and be able to produce in the next forty years as much food as has been created from the very first farmer until today. What we eat and how it gets to us has recently come to attention, but we must focus on aspects of food production that truly matter if we are to be ethical in our eating. At the forefront of the organic food movement sits the ever more popular and notoriously expensive Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods is also an outspoken advocate for the purchase of locally grown, raised and produced food items, a concept which has gained greater public attention in past several years. “Locavore,” or a person whose diet consists mostly or only of locally grown or produced food, was the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year for 2007. Today, the Whole Foods website reads: “There are endless reasons to eat from your local ecosystemlowering your carbon footprint via food transit, supporting your local agricultural economy, enjoying fresher and more nutrient rich foods and of course- the flavor of freshly picked, locally grown, raised and produced foods.” Parts of this statement are deceiving. While attempts to lower one’s carbon footprint are admirable and supporting the local economy is important to many, there is no evidence that local food items are more “nutrient rich” than transported food.

“There’s not a clear line between what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad.’ And I see a lot of students who think there is,” said Dr. Ruth MacDonald on food choice. Professor and Chair of the Iowa State Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Dr. MacDonald has published more than forty manuscripts and eighty abstracts that have been presented nationally and internationally. If I just eat organic food, I’ll be avoiding all bad food. Non-organic food is full of harmful chemicals. According to Dr. MacDonald, there’s simply no data that supports the theory that non-organic food is bad. “There are rules; our food is regulated. And the simple idea that one has to buy organic to avoid all kinds of bad stuff is just not accurate,” she said. “People are always searching for something to make them feel better. You know, that’s fine, I think organic farming is great and people should have that choice, but I think it should be clear that conventionally grown foods are just as safe and just as nutritious. If you can afford it that’s your choice, but I want that to be very clear, that you don’t have to buy organic to provide health for your family.”

Along with non-organic, Whole Foods is also a public critic of genetically modified food (GMOs) and part of a growing movement calling for creation of U.S. law requiring labeling of genetically modified foods in stores. Genetically modified basically means that a species’ DNA has been altered with a gene from a different species for purposes ranging from building crops’ resistance to disease, to endowing food with more nutrients, to allowing crops to thrive in drought and resist pests. Leading scientific organizations have concluded there are no intrinsic risks in GMO food; however, many people are still spooked by or hostile to the idea of food with altered genetics. Recent website blog posts by Whole Foods Market include: “Celebrate Non-GMO Month with TWO Weekend Sales,” “11 Basic Ways to Shop If You’re


Avoiding GMOs,” and “Dr. Oz Applauds Whole Foods Market on GMO Labeling.” Whole Foods is one of the first companies in the U.S. to commit to full GMO transparency, or labeling of every genetically modified product in its stores, which it intends to make a reality by 2018. Those who oppose GMO labeling worry that putting a label on genetically modified products would cause unnecessary fear and avoidance of GMO food items by consumers. Americans have eaten genetically modified foods such as corn, soybeans, cottonseed oil, canola oil and sugar for more than a decade. The National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization have recently issued statements that existing GMOs are as safe as other crops. Still, public acceptance is lacking and thus research is tentative at best. As recent trends glorifying organic and unaffected food grow, particularly in the United States, people are more apt to believe returning to unmodified food is the only way to go. At current population growth rates, this is just not possible. “I think that as educated people, students should understand what the actual implications are relative to our food system. They should be very clear-minded in regards to what information is available and recognize there is a lot of information pointing towards lack of negative health effects to people. I think there is a lot of misinformation on the web, and students should look at that with a clear eye: what is reality and what’s factual, versus what is being spun as misinformation,” Dr. MacDonald advised, speaking directly to the next generation of consumers. She cited international development as a primary reason that the ability of GMO to enhance crops’ nutritional value and resistance to drought, pests and disease should be tapped into. “Technology through genetic modification is going to be more and more important as we deal with the complex issues with our food supply. We are constantly being exposed to different climate issues and changes in temperature and water access, which will affect our ability to grow food.”



This is Miss America, not Miss Muslim. #sorrynotsorry.

by B AI L E Y M C GR AT H design ANN I E CL E M E N CY

“The liberal Miss America judges won’t say this - but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values. #missamerica.” These are just a few of the types of tweets that filled the Twitter feed after Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, was crowned Miss America 2014. She is the first Indian American to be chosen. Many people were infuriated, saying Davuluri did not represent “American values”. Others made racist comments, were outraged a “Muslim” won and were angry an Arab was crowned so close to the 9/11 anniversary. Some even went as far as calling Davuluri a terrorist. Fortunately, many more viewers were not clouded by this mindset. People come to the United States in search of freedom and acceptance. This crowning was just another stepping-stone in America’s movement toward equality. The word “American” is not limited to people of a certain race, culture or religion. The first settlers of America were “foreigners” to the land, and today our country is full of people whose ancestors came from all over the world. This is a country of multiculturalism filled with a myriad of ethnic backgrounds, religions, languages and practices. Davuluri demonstrated this idea of multiculturalism; she practices Hindu and even brought an aspect of her culture to stage at the Miss America Pageant with a Bollywood dance performance. Although Davuluri is not what some would call a “stereotypical American,” she is an excellent representation of America and its values today and for the future.

business spotlight


Tucked among the charming storefronts of Main Street in Ames, Worldly Goods takes customers on a tour through South America, Africa and Asia in a single visit. WORLDLY GOODS by EM M A A LT H EI DE design A N N IE C L EM E N CY The shop, founded in 1987 by Ames residents Holly and Larry Burkhalter, sells Fair Trade goods made by artisans from around the world. Products range from apparel to home décor to coffee, each bearing a description of where it was made. In total, the store sells goods from more than forty countries. Andrea Gronau, manager of Worldly Goods, explained what it means for an item to be considered Fair Trade. “The artisan is paid a living wage within their country, has safe working conditions, and there is no child labor. It’s a fair agreement between the artisan and the buyer,” Gronau said. The shop buys goods through Fair Trade vendors, who act as an intermediary between Worldly Goods and artisans.

The store is staffed mainly by volunteers, and operates as a not-for-profit organization. In addition to selling goods from around the world, members of the staff will travel to Ecuador in January to visit artisans of Minga, a Fair Trade import group.Since the shop is a non-profit, there is no sales tax, and the broad assortment of products almost certainly includes a gift for a person who’s impossible to shop for. “People love the option and the choice, and they like it because of the colorful items we have. But then when they hear the story that we’re Fair Trade, and that the people are being uplifted by their purchase, that makes it even better,” Gronau said.

“No buyer’s remorse.”


“Can I tell you something?” Alex sat next to me in my car, his bright blue eyes glazed with tears. “Of course,” I replied. Sensing how nervous he was, I knew what he was going to tell me before the words could even reached his lips. “I’m gay.” “Alex,” I said. “I know.” I am sitting with Alex on his living room sofa; his parents faced us in adjacent chairs. The setup is confrontational, intimidating. The void between our seats fogged with anticipation and awkwardness. It had been three months since Alex had come out to me. My response that day in the car had been honest; I did know he was gay. Alex is a guy who calls everyone “honey,” who spends over half an hour on his hair every morning and wears his shirts tighter than most girls do. Stereotypes aside, Alex’s sexuality was never really in question for me, so why had be been so nervous to tell me he is gay? I am in Alex’s house, holding his hand while he comes out to his parents. When he had asked me to come, I thought he was being over-dramatic. I had heard those “coming out” horror stories about kids being kicked out of their homes and cut off from their families, of stereotypes searing holes in friendships and discrimination destroying self-confidence. But I knew that couldn’t happen to Alex. It wouldn’t. “Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you.” However, as he said those words, I realized my mistake. This confession was merely the cornerstone, the starting place for constructing a more exposed, more vulnerable Alex. He wasn’t afraid of his friends’ reactions or even his parents’, but all the other parents, politicians and preachers out there who would protest his “choice” of sexuality. Just because I accepted Alex for who he is, did not mean the rest of this world would. “I’m gay.” As he repeated those words, I flashed back to that day in the car. The day when I thought Alex was ridiculous for being scared to tell me. But now, I understand that he wasn’t being ridiculous; he was just lucky to be telling the right people. “Alex,” his mother answered. “I know.”




by M O L LY B RYANT design M I T CH H I R N

Since seventh grade health class, we have all been taught the importance of personal hygiene, eating healthy and an overall good sense of well-being. No one, however, teaches us how to ignore mainstream media telling us that if we wear certain makeup we’ll be beautiful or if we eat less we’ll look better in and out of our clothes.

While some pro-ana advocates feel the disease is an issue to be discussed with others to help one another through it, many look at it as a lifestyle choice to be respected by their loved ones and the medical community. However, anorexia is considered a serious mental illness and research suggests it has the highest mortality of any psychological disorder.

From this uncertainty grew eating disorders and from those disorders grew the pro-ana movement. Pro-ana, short for pro-anorexia, is an online blogosphere for women and young girls suffering from anorexia who visit these sites in order to receive positive words and feedback for their self-destructive behavior. The cyber community is a place where bloggers can provide tips and tricks for their loyal readers, encouraging them not to eat and instead to work out excessively to achieve or maintain dangerously thin figures.

With the use of thinspiration, which are images or video montages of slim women who may be anything from naturally slim to emaciated with visibly protruding bones, women are giving other women advice on how to hide the disorder from family and friends and how to reduce the side effects of anorexia, as well as posting their own measurements and even posting pictures of incredibly thin women with the ever-present thigh gap for the extra boost of encouragement.

Recently a new fad has surfaced called fitspiration. New blogs of women who have overcome obesity by eating healthy and exercising are surfacing each day. Sounds like the perfect solution, right? Fitspiration emerged from thinspiration as a new approach to lose unwanted pounds without the unhealthy starvation of binging tactics. While this seems like a better approach, will it really help the pro-ana community stray away from the dangerous habits it promotes?

The results are complicated. While yes, it may help some women and girls get ahold of their inner demons and turn them into healthier lifestyles, it is also just another community telling young women that the way they are isn’t good enough and they need to change their bodies to be happier with themselves. Society as a whole has a nasty habit of making women and girls feel as though they aren’t good enough just being themselves. We are constantly bombarded by advertisements and celebrities telling us what we should and shouldn’t do to make the “best version of ourselves.” We need to start encouraging self-appreciation and not self-loathing. The mental and physical repercussions from these ads and consequential eating disorders last a lifetime. If this trend continues, that may not be too much longer for some of their victims.



I’ve never really considered myself a feminist. I mean sure, I’m all for equal rights, fixing the pay gap and a woman’s right to choose, but I was hardly out there burning my bra. If I’m really honest I never even gave feminism much thought; I was far too busy poring over fashion magazines, idolizing models and shopping at Sephora—hardly the actions of a die-hard feminist. That is until my freshman year at Iowa State, when I decided to turn my obsession with the fashion industry into a career and picked up a major in apparel merchandising. I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, the sorority girl jokes, the Mrs. Degree jokes about apparel majors, because clearly anyone studying fashion can’t possibly be looking for anything more than an easy ride and a husband. It was offensive, and at first I chalked it up to clichéd Midwestern values, like expecting girls to get married and have babies right out of college. But it turns out this isn’t a Midwestern stereotype- it’s nationwide. Annie Tomlin, beauty editor for Refinery 29, the largest independent fashion and style website in the U.S., recently wrote an article questioning whether becoming a beauty editor made her a bad feminist. She touches on the stereotype that beauty editors and others who write about “soft” women’s topics are stupid. Often times, outsiders looking in expect the position to be nothing but trying on makeup and getting massages, when in reality the focus of her job is writing and editing. Even a successful, respected editor and dedicated feminist, who helped code when it was starting out, can’t escape the stereotypes of women in fashion. It goes both ways. Just as those in the fashion industry are expected to be vapid husband hunters, those in traditionally intellectual and male-dominated industries are expected not to show any interest in fashion, beauty or traditional female interests. Just look at Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, who was shamed for appearing in Vogue in a tight blue dress that took the focus away from her as a CEO and focused on her as a woman. Time Magazine questioned whether it was feminist for a powerful woman to pose for a fashion magazine. Was it feminist for a CEO to care about how she looks?

Everyone was so preoccupied with the photo of Mayer, that few even bothered to read the accompanying article, which focused on her success as a CEO and mentions her style choices only twice in seven pages—it is a fashion magazine after all. Newsflash—Marissa Mayer is a woman, and she wears clothes, sometimes the kind of clothes that appear in fashion magazines. The more that women are in the working world, the less we are going to be able to pretend that fashion doesn’t affect every other industry out there. Think about it, your

professors drill conservative and professional dress rules into your heads for interviews and internships. Whether you like it or not, how you dress directly affects how you are perceived, especially how women are perceived. There was entire mediafueled controversy over Hillary Clinton showing a tiny bit of cleavage. Women are allowed to vote, be CEOS, politicians, scientists and beauty editors, yet they are still subject to so much scrutiny over what they wear. It’s time to redefine fashion and feminism’s relationship. MerriamWebster defines feminism

It’s time for a new wave of feminists.

as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” So, why shouldn’t women have equal rights in being able to wear whatever they want? Shouldn’t Marissa Mayer be able to wear a formfitting dress without losing her ability to be a powerful CEO? Shouldn’t Hillary Clinton be able to wear a V-neck without harsh media backlash? Shouldn’t women be able to dress womanly and care about how they look without losing their ability to compete with men? Expecting women to dress exactly like men in order to be successful is not equal. Expecting women who work in the fashion industry to be stupid is not equal. Equal rights do not mean the same experience. They mean that women should be able to demonstrate their gender identity through stylistic choices, just like men and still be successful, just like men.

The fashion industry is just that—an industry. It’s a business that requires the same smarts as any other. We need to redefine what feminism is and change what we consider to be equal. Leandra Medine, new author and creator of the widely read Man Repeller blog, is a proponent of a new kind of feminism. According to her site, man repelling is “outfitting oneself in a sartorially offensive mode that may result in repelling members of the opposite sex.” She goes on to list repelling garments like harem pants, shoulder pads, overalls and clogs, just to name a few. Medine is doing a great job bringing something new to the conversation, but the idea that women should dress to please only themselves should not be a novel one. This doesn’t necessarily mean wearing lime green drop crotch pants to a business meeting. There’s still a level of professionalism and propriety that must be maintained in certain circumstances, but Medine has the right idea. It’s time for a new wave of feminists. Women who wear what they want, whether it be a skin-tight Gucci dress, workout shorts and a t-shirt or a menswear inspired suit, without being judged for it. Women who work in fashion, yet still have an important voice in politics, culture, art and science with out being ignored or shoved aside for being soft or unintelligent. Women and men who agree that it’s actually antifeminist to shame women for wearing a certain type of clothing. Fashion is a form of expression. It should be acceptable to use it to express whatever type of femininity a woman wants. So, ladies work hard. Dress for yourself. Prove that you cannot be judged solely off your sartorial choices. Prove that you can be a smart beauty editor. Prove that you can help run a country and still occasionally wear a V-neck. It might be an uphill battle, but that does not mean you can’t fight it in heels if you want to.

Shampoo vs. Baking Soda Is baking soda really better for your hair? by K AT IE T IT US design LU LAWRENCE

The epic battle of shampoo vs. baking soda is one that is filling the pretty little heads of students throughout campus. The real question this poses is whether baking soda is really better for your hair or if it is equal or lesser than shampoo. It is said that washing your hair with baking soda and then using a vinegar rinse is “better” for your hair than shampoo because it lets your scalp get to a balanced PH level; therefore, your scalp will produce less oil. Shampoo on the other hand, a product I have trusted for years, is said to have chemicals that are too harsh on our hair. To use the baking soda as shampoo, you must first dampen your hair, put the baking soda in, dampen the baking soda, and rinse very thoroughly. After this step, vinegar can act as a conditioner and the smells are said to counteract one another. Until your hair gets used to this process, however, your hair will go through a transition phase where it will either become dry or oily until eventually balancing out. Once the product has balanced your hairs’ PH, it will take longer to get oily, resulting in fewer washes per week. Shampooing, now referred to by baking soda users as “pooing,” has been a trusted product for my hair for as long as I can remember. I have noticed that each brand of shampoo affects my hair in different ways. When I go to the store I am reading the labels for which shampoo will leave my hair the healthiest. I have settled on Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. No harsh chemicals here. After strenuous amounts of research, I found articles that were supportive of both arguments.

Whether using shampoo or using baking soda on your hair, it all depends on your scalp to determine which is better for each person. In some cases the PH level of your hair will never balance out with baking soda, or, as in my case, it will just take too long because your hair is too thick to get all of the baking soda out. Shampoo for me is the winner in this ongoing battle. You just have to find one that works the best and damage my hair the least. To you baking soda users, I wish you the best of luck. And to you shampooers, I salute you.

She Rachet Certainly something about that seems out of whack. by Cass M aher design Sara D iemer

By now, Miley Cyrus’s explicit performance at the VMA’s is old news. But what is becoming ever more prevalent is the embodiment of “Ratchet Culture” in mainstream media. For those of you unfamiliar with Ratchet culture, the reliable ol’ Urban Dictionary defines Ratchet as, “a person, usually a woman, or activity, who is out of hand, out of control, generally whack in some way… or just generally disliked,” but it can also mean cool or awesome. The word yields a variety of connotations and thus its nomenclature

is slightly ambiguous. This ambiguity leaves the subculture somewhat of a mystery to many but overall, one described as “ratchet,” is generally out of control. This “out of control” nature has become the new persona of Miley Cyrus and other pop singers wanting to break free from previous perceptions or notions about their personal and public lives. The origins of ratchet culture stem from Northern Louisiana, made popular by artists such as Lil’ Boosie and Hurricane Chris creating a dance move called ratchet. What started as a dance craze spiraled into an attitude bent on pushing the boundaries of social norms and morals and challenging what has become acceptable in mainstream media. This new attitude percolated from rap and hip-hop figures into the masses and amongst people we see everyday: the girl who comes to class hung-over, or the one who loudly describes her wild Tuesday night so everyone can over hear. What’s most significant about this standpoint is not that it has gained prevalence among society, but that it is becoming more widely accepted. Were people

shocked by Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance and her “We Can’t Stop Video”? Yes. But was anybody really surprised? When people look at Miley’s performance and say that it is shocking and abhorrent it’s not necessarily due to the nature of it being an embodiment of ratchet. Perhaps the most disturbing feature of Miley’s VMA performance was not her turbulent twerking, but her complete disregard for how her performance was being portrayed by many: as a minstrelsy, caricaturing African American women and using them as mere props on stage. Her deluded view of the rich culture of African American music can be boiled down to one mere sentence. When asked by her songwriters what she wanted stylistically Miley said, “I want urban, I just want something that just feels Black.” Certainly something about that seems out of whack. But Miley Cyrus is not the only figure in mainstream media bringing up ratchet culture. Beyoncé recently posted a tweet of herself wearing large hoop earrings sporting the word…you guessed it…ratchet. There are even rumors of Lady Gaga and Beyoncé teaming up on a new song called “Ratchet.” The word definitely seems to be taking over and only time will tell how far this “movement” will go but for now, poster child Miley Cyrus leads the way. Whether or not Cyrus really embodies the new waved “Ratchet Culture” or is merely counterfeiting, it is nevertheless true that as long as songs like “We Can’t Stop” gain prevalence, ratchet culture is here to stay.


“Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.” b y Lauren J O H NS E N d esig n Sara D iemer p h oto s A N N IE C L E M E NCY

Born and raised in a southern suburb of the Twin Cities, I belong in the Midwest. No matter where I may go, a piece of my heart will forever remain here. What we lack in elevation changes, we make up for in heart. Most people are nice here, and genuinely care about the livelihood of others. Now, more than ever, people are flocking inward, leaving the large, expensive coastal or southern cities in favor of the Midwest.

Some people think the state of Iowa is entirely consumed by corn, and that the only way to live is near the ocean. To some, New York City is the cultural center of the universe, and anywhere else is just not worth their time. However, the Midwest is the place to be: from friendly people, to a growing cultural identity, to the beautiful scenery. Whether you are heading to higher education, or the workforce, I say you consider staying in the Midwest, and I am going to tell you why. Economically speaking, the Midwest is generally more affordable than other areas of the U.S. Depending on exactly where you are looking, renting or buying property is generally a fraction of the cost of the big cities on the coast. Getting more for your money, however, is just one perk of living in the Midwest. As college students, undergraduate careers generally last 4-6 years. As the end of college comes nearer, deciding what you want to do and where you want to end up is something on everyone’s mind. I am here to make the case for the Midwest. First, the people. “Minnesota Nice” is used to describe the stereotypical behavior of the kind-hearted people of Minnesota, but the term can easily apply to anyone from the Midwest. It’s comforting to live in an area where strangers greet one another, and people genuinely look out for each other. Second, the scenery. The Midwest is more than just rows and rows of corn and soybeans. From the bluffs of Northeast Iowa to the north shore of Lake Superior, the great plains of the Dakotas, to pristine Lake Michigan. This list could go on and on. Third, the culture. The upper Midwest is home to a large population of Scandinavian people, among others. I personally have spent many a day at the Nordic Festival in Iowa, and my family always visits Ingebretsens Scandinavian store in South Minneapolis every Christmas. The Scandinavian population is just


one of many cultural groups found in the Midwest. I also love the big cities of the Midwest like Chicago, Minneapolis and even Des Moines. These cities are all becoming cultural epicenters. Broadway touring companies almost always make stops in these cities as they travel the country. And I find that theaters in the Midwest are much more affordable – many offering cheap rush tickets. The larger cities are also dotted with cultural museums, art exhibits, and much more. These places showcase international and local talents alike. Not to mention the thousands of coffee shops, pubs, and bars all over the Midwest; each full of the next great American artists, poets, and musicians.

What we lack in elevation changes, we make up for in heart. The United States as a whole is without a doubt a beer drinking nation, and the Midwest shares in this passion. A recent trend across the entirety of the United States is the purchase of products made locally. The Midwest is a growing center for microbrewing, or craft brewing. Microbrewing is the small scale production of beer. These breweries are much smaller than corporate brewing companies like Anheuser-Busch,

Miller Brewing Company or Coors Brewing company, and are independently owned and operated, often only selling their product to local bars and liquor stores. Many microbreweries also have their own tap house, where patrons can sample and purchase products. Many taphouses in Minneapolis, for example, encourage patrons to bring in take-out from neighboring restaurants, and provide places to sit and games to play. There is also a growing number of brewpubs in the Midwest. A brewpub is a restaurant that brews its own beer. Olde Main Brewing Company and Restaurant here in Ames is just one of the many brewpubs popping up all over the Midwest, while simultaneously being quickly integrated into mainstream culture. As populations increase in the Midwest, more people are frequenting locally owned taphouses, brewpubs, and restaurants selling microbrews. I think these places have better food, beer, and atmosphere, and their business success indicates that I am not alone. These places add color and fun to the Midwest, and I think are yet another reason to stay right here at home. The people, the scenery, and the culture are what keep me in the Midwest. I suggest you do some digging to see what you can find. I may live elsewhere temporarily, but my heart always has and always will be, in my little suburban home just south of the Twin Cities.

Ames has Heart by BRIANA HAGUEWOOD design LU LAWRENCE It’s Ames, right? Pretty much the definition of a college town. Let’s be honest, Ames is Iowa State. Cyclone flags waving from front porches, thousands of alumni at football tailgates, children decked out in ISU crewnecks and face tattoos running around at the VEISHEA parade. The people here are as nice as they come. Campus isn’t ranked one of the most beautiful, nor Ames a top place to live, for nothing. But what’s more, this place has character. You do not need a car to expand your Ames horizons, to find a new little refuge for a pick-me-up. Simply take a stroll down Lincoln Way.

Tucked across the street from the Memorial Union, find Lorry’s Coffee. Here, along with a hot cup of joe you’re pretty much guaranteed a cheery “how are ya today?” from Lorry himself. The warm atmosphere is unbeatable, particularly on a snowy day when you can cozy up at the front window booth with a chai latte. Just a few blocks farther, duck into Café Beaudelaire, affectionately referred to as “Café B” by those who frequent it. Opened in 1990, this hole-in-the-wall Brazilian bar and restaurant is well worth your curiosity. A tiny room with big personality, Café B will draw you in, particularly for its delectable gyros.

After a workout at State Gym or trip to the health center, find West Street Deli down the road. “A chill atmosphere with amazing food,” as Lauren Meis, an Iowa State junior employed at the deli, describes it. “The wide diversity of people who come in is awesome.” Perhaps you’re a small town guy or gal; maybe you’re planning to get out, take on the world. I’m just proposing that, wherever you’re headed from here, while in Ames, make it your own. Find those little places that make this “city” what it is.

“While in Ames, make it your own.” UHURU MAGAZINE // FALL 2013 // 29


If you are one of my friends, or acquaintances, or a complete stranger who I spoke to once for 30 seconds, you probably know I studied abroad in London last semester. Anyone who glanced in the general direction of my desk wouldn’t be able to miss the Tube map, Duchess of Cambridge postcard, book of Winston Churchill quotes and numerous other elements of my shrine to the UK. Like a lot of students who have studied abroad, I miss the place I temporarily called home, and still find myself readjusting to the country that has been my home for twenty years. Students who are unaccustomed to their home country after living elsewhere for an extended period of time are experiencing what is commonly called “reverse culture shock.” It is a concept addressed in any study abroad orientation session or handbook, but the reality can be difficult to prepare for.

Everyone experiences reverse culture shock in their own way, but there are some common emotions I was relieved to learn other people also felt upon returning home. The thrill of telling stories about that time my friends and I met Rupert Grint’s body double at a bar, or discovered one of Florence’s secret bakeries, was met by more glazed looks than I had expected from my friends at home. After their initial, “How was London?” question, the conversation would quickly circle back to what was happening at that moment, in America.

Maxwell McClelland, junior in supply chain management and international business, spent a semester in Newcastle, Australia and also experienced this lack of interest from friends. “When I came back to America, I always just wanted to tell all my friends every story, and everything started out with, ‘when I was in Australia…’ They got really tired of it, and I think they were sick of it after a week,” McClelland said. Disenchantment with their home country may also plague students returning from overseas. Kathryn Moorhead, junior in food science, found some aspects of life in Seville, Spain more appealing than in America.

John Kilpatrick is currently an exchange student from the University of Exeter in England, studying at Iowa State for a full academic year. Kilpatrick said he anticipates confronting stereotypes about America when he returns home. “English people have preconceptions about American people, through media and things like MTV, and just a lot of general TV programs and films. When I come back and say what my experiences are, and what Americans are actually like in my opinion, they might not believe me because they already have their own kind of fixed view in their minds,” Kilpatrick said. Reverse culture shock does diminish over time, but not necessarily in the same way as regular culture shock. It’s impossible to forget the things you’ve experienced while traveling, or undo the changes in your personality and perspective. But things like working as a peer advisor in the study abroad office, keeping in touch with friends from overseas, or tirelessly researching grad schools abroad can be great methods of coping with the transition home.

“The ‘American’ time schedule was really hard to get used to again. I loved having siestas in the middle of the day, and their eating schedule made so much more sense. I loved having a big, late lunch, and then having a lighter dinner before getting tapas in the evening. The people in Seville were also so much friendlier and willing to just chat than people in America. Everything is so much more laid-back and really focused on enjoying life,” Moorhead said.




Well, Harold, Kumar, it looks like we won’t be going to White Castle anytime soon. With public opinion split nearly in half and state legislation adamantly opposed, the bills to reform drug laws for marijuana legalization don’t stand to pass soon. In fact, Iowa has some of the harshest punishments for those found using and distributing marijuana. But with recreational usage of marijuana being legalized in western states such as Colorado and Washington, and medicinal marijuana being legalized along the East Coast in Rhode Island and D.C., it stands to question whether or not the green campaign could then spread to the Midwest. Much of the controversy surrounding marijuana legalization is centered

on people who currently consume marijuana recreationally to obtain a lethargic high. But the medicinal version of cannabis reduces THC, the psychoactive compound, and increases cannabidiol or CBD, which is where the medicinal qualities stem from reducing the occurrence of psychoactive repercussions. Opponents also raise the issue of the inherent dangers of children using marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, children would not be smoking it as there are simple ways to extract oil from the flowering part of the plant, which is then turned into tinctures or tonics that can be applied to food or liquids. Another major question regarding the legalization of marijuana is what it would do for the economy. Since authorizing marijuana

dispensaries in 2010, the state of Colorado has brought in $130 million in tax revenue according to the Denver Post, with an estimated value of the medicinal marijuana industry to be over $600 million. Two bills have been proposed in Iowa by Rep. Bruce Hunter (D- Des Moines) and Sen. Joe Bolkom (D- Iowa City), which could allow for legalization of medicinal marijuana. The bills, House File 22 and Senate File 79, specify that certain “card holders” would be able to use marijuana for “a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces…cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe nausea, [and] seizures including but not limited to those characteristic of

multiple sclerosis.” Multiple Sclerosis is an inflammatory disease in which the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This results in pronounced reflexes, muscle spasms, difficulty moving, difficulties with coordination and balance, problems with speech or swallowing, tiredness, acute and chronic pain and many other painful symptoms.


“ ” appears that these [bills],

or any supporting medical marijuana legalization, will be pushed back as much as possible while Governor Brandstad holds office.”

Many believe that the use of medicinal marijuana could treat most of these symptoms. In 2010, The Iowa Board of Pharmacy unanimously recommended that marijuana in Iowa should be classified as a Schedule II substance. This means that, according to Iowa Legislature, marijuana would be a “substance [that] has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.” Still despite its apparent treatment potential, marijuana use of any kind is regarded as taboo by many. In an interview with Erin Furleigh, the President of the Iowa State Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, when asked about the importance of legalizing medicinal marijuana in Iowa, Furleigh, said, “Our Iowa Board of Pharmacy has voted in favor of medical marijuana, to which our legislature responded by proposing a bill that would retract the Board’s power to classify drugs in our state. This disconnect between health professionals

and our state government is unnerving and should be a concern to all Iowans, yet many are unaware of the situation.” And many are unaware of the situation. Some people believe Iowa to be a strictly conservative state that holds a majority of conservative stances. But in fact, the state that was at the forefront of the rights of gay marriage and the state that voted democratic three out of the last five Presidential elections is actually 64 per cent in favor of legalizing medicinal marijuana according to a Des Moines Register poll. If public opinion is this high then why are we so far from a bill legalizing medicinal marijuana? Well, according to the Des Moines Register, Governor Terry Branstad has said he will veto any hint of marijuana reform regardless of its changing rhetoric. House File 22 and Senate File 79 were two bills proposed in the Iowa Legislature earlier this year. While both made it out of subcommittee, they were not allowed a floor vote meaning they will be tabled until next

year. Unfortunately, it appears that these, or any supporting medical marijuana legalization, will be pushed back as much as possible while Governor Brandstad holds office. So Iowa likely won’t be the first in the Midwest to legalize marijuana. But which state will be? Support is growing in Minnesota as a bipartisan group there plans to pass a bill next year that would allow medicinal marijuana. If our neighbors to the north legalize, they could blaze the trail towards legalization in Iowa.

under its influence. The benefits and repercussions seem to balance out, which is why this is such a heated and difficult decision to make in Iowa. The facts are these: Iowa will not legalize anytime soon, so we have time to weigh our options. But sentiment towards legalization is growing and it is projected that by 2017 we will see many more states making the jump to legalize. This is a change that will occur and will affect our state of Iowa, be it positive or negative.

Despite the many advantages to legalizing, there are repercussions. With strong anti-drug use sentiment within classrooms, it could be confusing for kids to distinguish what is meant by recreational and medicinal use. There is also the fact that marijuana does have psychoactive properties. Many believe marijuana to be a “gateway drug” to many other and stronger drugs. And if marijuana were to be legalized, it would be difficult to regulate aspects of it such as driving while


Maintenance Shop by K EL LY M ADS E N design L U L AW R E N CE



There is something constant about that dimly lit stage backed with stained glass windows. Forty years of acts, musicians, shows, and students add to its ever-growing story. Forty years of passion, frustration, drunkenness, and love soaked into the brick walls, memories changing with each nostalgic visitor. Forty years as a living, breathing entity of Iowa State University. Maybe it feels so very constant because it is constantly changing.


On January 4th, 1974, the Memorial Union Maintenance shop opened its doors as an up-and-coming jazz and blues nightclub run by the Student Union Board. What was once the building’s literal maintenance room became an intimate setting for local, regional, and national musicians, comedians, and thespians. Dedicated student leadership and attention to detail allowed the M-Shop to take root as a concert venue, flourishing in its first decade. Renowned jazz and blues musicians like Bill Evans, Phil Woods Quartet, Chick Corea, Tower of Power graced Ames, Iowa with their music. Throughout the 1980s, the M-Shop stretched its versatility. Beyond the music scene, it functioned as the home of the Memorial Union Theatre Program, which put on three to four full-production plays a semester; was the site of Friday Afternoon Club social events;

and more academically, it brought students together for news forums and study sessions. The room would routinely transform from a theatre dress rehearsal to a Groucho Marx themed FAC party to a quaint jazz concert. “It was my goal to be sure something was going on at the shop every single day,” said Dan Rice, M-Shop director from 1980 to 1982 and current academic adviser and director of recruiting for the college of liberal arts and science. “That’s what made it so

great. It was constantly full of life.” Today the M-Shop continues to be an open door for up-and-coming musicians, comedians, and students interested in the music and entertainment industry. Serendipitously placed between the crossroads of four major cities, hundreds of musicians stop in Ames and are rewarded by a joyful, collegiate crowd in a rare, fully functioning campus nightclub. In recent years, artists including The Lumineers, Thompson Square, and Andy Grammar added

their name to the ever-expanding and diverse list of M-Shop performers. “As co-directors we want to get every student at ISU through the doors of the M-Shop so they can feel the magic,” said George Potter, current SUB M-Shop co-director and junior in communication studies. “It just takes one show to fall in love with the place.” For forty years, the M-Shop has been under student leadership. Each year, the place is molded by a new set of audience members, committee members, and directors.

It just takes one show to fall in love with the place. In the end, it’s the students who make it the special place it is. It’s the students who give it life, purpose, direction, meaning, and make it a home. “I grew up at the M-Shop. It made me into the man I am today, and for that I am forever grateful,” said Andrew Lopez, former MShop performer and 2012 ISU graduate. Cheers to you, M-Shop; may you continue to shape students’ lives as a timeless, ever-evolving Iowa State University tradition.


Making the


by J AKE H ANR AH AN design AN N I E CL E M E N CY An event that historically centers around the separation of winners, the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi may very well be the first to leave a different legacy; equality for all One of the most enduring scenes of any Olympic Games is the proud exhibition of an abundance of national flags and symbols. However, at the upcoming Games in Sochi, Russia the waving of a particular banner may land its bearer in a Russian prison. On June 30, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that expressly forbade the “discussion and display of propaganda supporting any form of non-traditional marriage.” This law, clearly aimed at the LGBT community, is at the center of a debate concerning the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Under the law, anyone heard expressing support for same sex relationships or displaying pride symbols such as a rainbow flag would be subject to substantial fines of up to 100,000 rubles (around 3000 USD) and 15 days in Russian jail. If the offending party is not a Russian citizen, they would then face deportation following their prison stay. Supposedly a symbol of international peace and cooperation, as well as an opportunity for host countries to display their worldly and progressive values, the Olympics and their governing body, the International Olympic Committee, have had a rather poor streak of choosing host cities for recent games. China, a nation with a government notorious for oppressing its one billion-plus citizens, was allowed to host the Games in Beijing in 2008. During these Games, the free speech and political protests of athletes were restricted in several cases, as was the outlet of media covering the Games. Looking to the future, the IOC has selected Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Tokyo, Japan to host the next two Summer Games. Setting aside Rio’s rampant, drug-fueled crime epidemic, both cities and their respective nations are in the midst of economic turmoil. Now, with the addition of an intolerant Russian society as hosts of the 2014 Winter Games, the symbolism and meaning of the Olympics themselves have been called into serious question.


Focusing more closely on the Sochi Games, the IOC has conducted several investigations into the exact impact the new anti-gay legislation will have on the Olympic athletes. On September 26th, 2013, the IOC released a report stating that it was “satisfied” with the Russian government’s explanation of the law and how it will not apply to athletes at the Games. Their findings, while deemed official, seem to be entirely contrary to the guidelines the IOC itself has written for the meaning of the Games and the rights of the athletes participating. The official Olympic Charter explicitly states, “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind.” This portion of the charter was cited specifically in a swift response by the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group that works to ensure equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Their spokesperson, Chad Griffin, voiced his organization’s displeasure with the IOC’s announcement by saying, “If this law doesn’t violate the IOC’s charter, then the charter is completely meaningless.” He would go on to declare that, “the safety of millions of LGBT Russians and international travelers is at risk, and by all accounts the IOC has completely neglected its responsibility to Olympic athletes, sponsors and fans from around the world.” Unfortunately, this is not the first time politics has entered the arenas previously reserved only for athletes, with past examples not necessarily supporting the human rights-centered ideology proclaimed by the Olympic Charter either. In 1968, at the height of the struggle for racial equality in the United States, the summer Olympics were held in Mexico City. Unfortunately, the most enduring moment of the Games came not during competition, but during a medal ceremony. While on the podium receiving their medals for the 200 meter race, American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who had taken 1st and 3rd respectively, each donned a black glove and raised a single fist into the night air. This act, a salute to the struggle of oppressed blacks under American segregation laws, led to an enormous backlash from the IOC. They immediately rescinded Smith and Carlos’ medals and banned the two from the Olympic Village where the rest of the athletes were staying. When the U.S. delegation refused to accept this punishment, the IOC threatened to disqualify the entire U.S. track and field team from the Games. Under this threat, the US relented and agreed to the disqualifications. While this is certainly not the only time the IOC has limited the personal, political speech of athletes, it is certainly one of the most well-publicized. The lasting legacy of the incident shows that the IOC has historically had a zero tolerance policy for expressions of opinion, and their attitude towards the upcoming Games is no different. While protection from the Russian legal system has been “guaranteed” by the IOC, it still reserves the right to issue their own competition-related punishments for any form of political self-expression. The threat of disqualification looms large for competitors, but many, including Steve Holcomb, an American bobsledder, agree that perhaps the best outlet for their dissention is through the talents that are taking them to Russia in the first place. “It would be so much better to go over there and kick their butt,” said Holcomb. “That, right there, would say so much.” As the clock ticks ever closer to the Opening Ceremonies in Sochi, international pressure will continue to grow. The eyes of the world will fix their gaze firmly on Russia and, with luck, the nation’s stance on equality will be called into question. For the athletes, the Games will represent more than just an athletic competition. Realistically, even the strongest among them do not have the power to elicit change by themselves. Rather, they will arrive in Russia with only their talent to display; skills they will use in support of their nations that do have the power to create change in the world. Sadly, for the spectators and fans attending the Games the threat of imprisonment will almost certainly remain, despite the IOC’s allusions to the contrary. Will the Games of 2014 bring change to a society that is quickly falling behind the rest of the world? Will spectators voicing their personal opinions be punished for speaking their minds? Will the 2014 Games finally thrust the purpose and mission of the Olympics, one of equality and respect for all, back into a global spotlight? Only time will tell.



'The Freedom Magazine' Iowa State University Student Publication

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you