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A note from our staff Everyone has an opinion. We had our fair share of them working on this issue, and you’ll be able to read about a few that made the cut. At first, we got lots of positive feedback on our first issue. We had great summers and arrived back on campus to plenty of valuable suggestions and criticisms. Sorry kids, but you were a bit too late. By then, we’d already planned and assigned articles for issue two. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Our intent is not to alienate anyone. We are limited by the bounds of our own experiences, and our own lives. But we’re working hard to represent diverse opinions. That said, it’s up to you to tell us what you think. Write a letter to the editor. Send us an e-mail. Comment on our Facebook page. Attend our roundtable discussions, which are specifically planned for you to express your opinions. Whatever method you decide to use, make yourself heard, and do it efficiently so we can listen and use your input. ABORTION. We know you have things to say. Now, do us all a favor and share them. We can only benefit from shared dialogue. That’s is what Medusa is all about.


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Rountable Discussion Monday, November 1, 7:00 p.m. 202 Hall of Languages



THE FACES OF FEMINISM 4-5 by Jennie Pikowsky and Luke Lanciano

20,000 Students, One Woman 6 by Medusa Staff

WOOLY WOES 7 by Sammy Lifson

HOW BAD IS HER ROMANCE? 8-9 by Sammy Lifson and Jackie Lillis

WOMEN’S WORK 10-11 by Leah Rocketto

THE CHALLENGES OF CHOICE 12-13 by Sammy Lifson

REAL LIFE. REAL TALK. 14-17 by Elora Tocci and Kelina Imamura

TUNING “IT” OUT 18-21 by Kristin Hunt


ABORTION THROUGH THE YEARS 26-27 by Alexis Finnerty

editor-in-chief Hannah Warren

associate editors

Kelina Imamura Sammy Lifson Leah Rocketto

design editor Nancy Szarkowski

photo editor Elina Berzins

advertising director Lisa Gapinske

public relations directors Mary Cappabianca

faculty advisor Brad Gorham

designers Gayle Garbus Malinda Masing Elizabeth McClain Lucia Procaccio Mary Wagner

cover art Elizabeth Latella

special thanks Chancellor Nancy Cantor Sarah Miraglia


FEEL YOUR BOOBIES 29 by Kelina Imamura

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A DOMINATRIXX 30 by Dr. XX Medusa Magazine is an independent publication devoted to open dialogue and discussion around issues of feminism. The opinions expressed in Medusa Magazine do not represent those of the Medusa editorial staff, its sponsors, the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, or Syracuse University. Submissions, suggestions and opinions are encouraged and may be printed without contacting the writer. Medusa reserves the right to refuse or edit any submissions at the discretion of its editorial staff. All contents of the publication are copyright fall 2010 MEDUSA 2010 by their respective creators and may not be reproduced without their consent.



the faces of


Melissa Perez


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elissa Perez, a junior women’s and gender studies major, didn’t always know she was a feminist. It wasn’t until learning about women’s historical roles that she experienced feminist empowerment. Thus, she finds it difficult to understand what people mean when they say, “Oh, you’re a feminist,” to her. But it is the emphasis on the “oh” that angers Perez. “What does that ‘oh’ mean?” she asks in response to these comments, trying to make sense of some of their assumptions. “I shave my legs, and I sleep with men.” Perez believes all preconceived notions of feminists, like being a crazy, white, radical lesbian, need to be banished from people’s minds. “Me calling myself a feminist isn’t the same as someone else calling themselves a feminist,” Perez says. “We share the same core ideals but there are different variations.”

Perez plans to put this realization into practice after graduating from SU. She wants to become an teacher, and work feminism into her curriculum in hopes of teaching those who make major assumptions. For Perez, feminism is a lifestyle. “Being a feminist is [a label] that I chose myself and one that I embrace whole-heartedly. I’ll take the good and bad with it.”

Luke Lanciano


’m a feminist. And I’m a guy — but that part really doesn’t matter. I believe, with the obvious exception of certain organs, people are about the same biologically. It is their growth, experiences, and upbringing that define their abilities. I find gender roles to be anachronistic, essentialist, and a betrayal of our innate equality as human beings. Some say women are inferior to men. Religious zealots point to Genesis, when Eve ate the apple of knowledge in Paradise, as proof that women are evil. But why do we base our social system on a Bronze Age, myth-inspired text like the Bible? In contrast, when Lot’s wife, against the commands of her supposed “betters”, looks back at the horrific destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and betrays her innate humanity, God decides to turn her into a pillar of salt. God, to me, sounds like a pig. Since when is thirsting for knowledge or

caring about humans a crime worthy of punishment? All human life originates inside a woman’s body but patriarchy reigns supreme. I dream of a day when sexuality isn’t taboo, when jokes about women’s rights are relegated to the trash heap of history, and I can take a fascinating women’s and gender studies class without getting weird looks from everyone. Maybe when pigs fly or, more likely, when men are willing to let go of gender privilege and fairly compete for everything with the marginalized and already accomplished other half of the human race. g

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20,000 Students One Woman

Our founders sat down with Chancellor Nancy Cantor to hear her opinions on feminism and Medusa. The chancellor has a background in women’s studies (in case you weren’t aware). She shared a few of her feminist thoughts with us.

photo courtesy of THE CHANCELLOR’S OFFICE

Q: How do you think our magazine can try to appeal to a wide variety of readers? A: I think that’s an important tension to just put out there. There’s an expertise in feminist theory and that’s going to be a different lens than for people who are living it but not necessarily thinking about it deliberately. Personally, I think the more you can put out there a kind of landscape of thought with all kinds of different perspectives, the better. That way, people can see themselves in it and say, “Oh, yeah that does happen to me,” or “Oh yeah, I think that’s really great.” This is a platform for dialogue.


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Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered as the top female authority figure at Syracuse? A: Women leaders, especially in higher education, are expected to be very nurturing… The expectation is that I’m going to sort of be a kind of mothering figure. And it’s not that I don’t want to be, because I love being a mother, too. But it’s an interesting juxtaposition of what is viewed as the appropriate or required role. I’m pretty passionate about what I do and what I believe and my values. And I think that can often get used against you as a woman leader, if you’re seen as too passionate or emotional. I’ve been in contexts with a male colleague who’s just as passionate and articulate about [his] views and values as I am, and instead that’s seen as leadership. Q: Do you think magazines like Medusa are necessary? A: It’s really helpful to have conversations. The magazine is a conversation about gender, place, identity, interaction, stigma, schemas and the things that people live with and that can be death by a thousand cuts if you don’t put it on the table. g

Woolly Woes by SAMMY LIFSON


ou’ve all heard the stereotype: Feminists are man-hating, hairy-legged, bra-burning bitches. These days, feminists spend a lot of time dispelling that stigma. But here’s the thing: I have those hairy legs, and I’m tired of being the image we are trying to dispel. I get it — I know why this stereotypical picture of feminism isn’t exactly helping women embrace the “F-word.” I don’t hate men. And let’s leave the infamous and misinformed bra-burning myth for another article. But what’s so wrong with refusing to shave? First of all, hair grows. No matter how much time, effort, and money we spend getting rid of it. Just because I would rather use the money I’d spend on razors to buy feminist magazines and devote shaving time to reading feminist blogs shouldn’t mean I’m giving feminists a bad rep. In fact, it should be the opposite. I want to love myself! And that means loving everything about myself. My beautiful, womanly body happens to have little hairs all over it (and yours probably does too!). I’m tired of feeling like those hairs don’t belong. I shouldn’t feel like I’m “mannish” just because I leave my biologically female

body the way it is. I shouldn’t feel like I’m hurting the image of feminism by questioning this practice. Being hairy shouldn’t be a radical act, nor should it be the image of feminism we are trying to quell. It shouldn’t be a thing at all. Feminists: Stop using me as an example of what feminism is not. Everyone: Get it out of your head that your hair is gross and ugly, and stop using your hard-earned money and time to run a blade against your skin a few times a week. Being yourself, believe it or not, means being hairy. g

photo illustration by ELINA BERZINS fall 2010


Rah, rah, ah ah ah. Roma rom ma ma. Gaga oh la la. Rah, rah, ah ah ah. Roma rom ma ma. Gaga oh la la. Rah, rah, ah ah ah. Roma rom ma ma. Gaga oh la la. Rah, rah, ah ah ah. Roma rom ma ma. Gaga oh la la. Rah, rah, ah ah ah. Roma rom ma ma. Gaga oh la la. Rah, rah, ah ah ah. Roma rom ma ma. Gaga oh la la. Rah, rah, ah ah ah. Roma rom ma ma. Gaga oh la la. Rah, rah, ah ah ah. Roma How bad rom ma ma. Gagaisohher la la. Rah, rah, ah ah ah. Roma rom ma ma.romance? Gaga oh la la. Rah, rah, ah ah ah. Roma rom ma ma. Gaga oh la la. by SAMMY LIFSON and JACKIE LILLIS illustration by ELIZABETH McCLAIN


eyond the meat bikinis and Kermit couture, Lady Gaga is just another pop star. She’s bleach blonde, rail thin, and usually pantsless. In her video for “Bad Romance,” she’s digitally altered to look even thinner. Just like most female celebrities, it seems Gaga’s power is derived from her body and the gaze it invites. These depictions don’t deviate at all from the status quo, in terms of acceptable female appearances. Her value lies in her sexiness. Gaga isn’t

concert as a platform to voice her opposition to the law. “The nature of the Monster Ball [tour] is to actively protest prejudice and injustice,” she said in front of a packed Arizona crowd. “I want you to reject…any law that ever made you feel like you don’t belong.” Lady Gaga passionately preaches self-empowerment and selfsatisfaction. She recently spoke out against “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and is a strong advocate for LGBT rights.

I want you to reject...any law that ever made you feel like you don’t belong. doing anything revolutionary or subversive when it comes to existing beauty norms and ideas about female sexuality. But don’t toss out your cigarette sunglasses just yet! Even if her image doesn’t function to upend conventional beauty norms, it’s hard to deny that Gaga uses her fame to enact positive change. She knows how much influence she has and takes advantage of it to fight for causes she finds important. This past summer, some artists chose to protest the new Arizona law targeting immigrants by canceling all scheduled performances in the state. Instead of following this plan, Gaga chose to perform and used her

Throughout the Monster Ball Tour, she announced, “When you leave tonight, don’t leave loving me more. Leave loving yourself more, goddammit!” If Gaga wants fans to love themselves for who they are, how can we rationalize the beauty norms she upholds and the oppressive standards she implicitly endorses? In her viral video denouncing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” she explains she is “here to be a voice for my generation.” But is her occasional exploitation of beauty norms the only factor that has given her this influence? Maybe adhering to oppressive ideals is the only way for women to gain Gaga-esque power — and if it is, can we really blame her? g fall 2010



Women’s WORK Although more males take on “female” jobs, the stereotyping still exists. by LEAH ROCKETTO photos by ELINA BERZINS


hen Steven Korona walks on to be a doctor,” Nicholson, a firstinto a patient’s room, year student at SUNY Upstate, says. he braces himself for a question he “It’s as if nursing’s not enough because knows is coming. you’re a guy.” “Are you my doctor?” Nicholson adds these comments are The second-year student at State also insulting to women, who are rarely University of New York Upstate asked about becoming doctors.“It’s Medical shakes his head and answers like they are saying there is something in a sweet tone, “Nope. I’m your nurse.” better than nursing, but not for them.” For Korona, and fellow nurses These stereotypical questions exist Brandon Crandall and Alex in other industries, too. Many assume Nicholson, this is a question they Tom Sweeny and Sean MacMaster, hear on a regular basis. More men are entering female-dominated work forces, especially health care and education. These men aren’t admired for seeking challenging careers. Instead, they are often teased for taking on “girly” jobs. Korona, Crandall, and Nicholson are constantly Tom Sweeny is one of the only male teachers at asked about furthering their Van Duyn Elementary School. education and becoming doctors. Crandall, a first-year student the only male teachers at Van Duyn at SUNY Upstate, is frequently asked Elementary School in Syracuse, N.Y., by patients about becoming a doctor, are pursing administration roles, a which he says he would never want to more “masculine” education job. do. “Teaching was always my end goal,” “Even doctors assume you’re going Sweeny, who teaches third grade, says. 10 MEDUSA

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So if these men are OK with working in fields dominated by women, why isn’t society? In MacMaster’s opinion, it is because most “feminine” fields, specifically nursing and teaching, stereotypically require a “nurturing” aspect. “Men,” he says, “have a thing that makes them seem un-nurturing.” There is a perceived difference in

asked for female nurse. Korona also remembers when a professor discriminated against him because of his gender. “While we were in our labor rotation [in the maternity ward], I was given a completely different schedule,” Korona explains. He wasn’t allowed in rooms that his female classmates could enter. Many people outside the medical field say these stereotypically female jobs are easy. “To anyone who says that, I say ‘Just come in and try to do my job for a day,’” Sweeny says, with a laugh. Despite discrimination, men continue to move into feminine fields. According to a September 1 article on ABC. Brandon Crandall is a first-year com, predominantly female nursing student at SUNY Upstate. jobs “tend to be located in nurturing between men and women. more stable places of employment.” Consider the different ways moms and The increase in job opportunities dads supposedly raise children. Moms also adds to their appeal. According are usually the comforters, while dads to the United States Department of are the disciplinarians. Labor, between 2008 and 2018, the Of course, these differences in majority of new jobs will be created in ability and emotional disposition healthcare (26 percent) or education result from socialization. Women are (12 percent). With few other openings, stereotypically emotional, and men are men might have to turn to these “girly” rational. These socialized differences occupations in order to make a living. don’t mean men and women can’t be In 10 years, more men may be successful at the same job. It does, tending to patients or teaching however, define who is deemed suitable children. Seeing past gender stereotypes for different occupations. will make it easier for both men and Both Korona and Nicholson women to do their jobs better. g remember instances when patients fall 2010


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Choice of



ro-choicers frame abortion as a choice women should have. The understanding is that when abortion is safe and legal, women are able to choose what is best for them. The dichotomy is often polarized as being between “choice” and “life.” If you’re pro-life, you’re anti-choice. Pro-lifers would say that pro-choice equals pro-death. All of this rhetoric misses a crucial point: Most women in the U.S. don’t have much choice. Even with the good fortune of comprehensive sex education and the ability to obtain birth control or condoms, despite their prohibitively high costs, there is a risk of an unplanned pregnancy. illustration by SARAH HUDKINS and MARY LUKE 12 MEDUSA fall 2010

Most women in the U.S. don’t live near an abortion clinic. According to a 2005 Guttmacher Institute study, 87 percent of counties lack an abortion provider. This means women seeking an abortion may have to hop on the bus or take off from work to go to the nearest clinic. Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics provide crucial and necessary services to women, but only to women who can access them. Some women lack the money for transportation or are unable to take off from work, and by the time they procure the funds for their abortion, it can be too late to legally terminate the pregnancy. Meanwhile, 34 states require counseling before an abortion, and 25 of those states require a waiting period between counseling and the procedure. Not only does a woman have to take off from work and find transportation to a clinic, she may even need to stay overnight or make two trips. Furthermore, 18 states regulate the provision of an ultrasound. According to National Public Radio, Michigan already requires doctors to conduct an ultrasound, and stronger laws are being proposed. In Oklahoma, a proposed law would require the doctor to present the ultrasound image and describe the image to the patient. In 2009, USA Today reported a law proposed in Indiana that would require women to listen to the fetal heartbeat.

Proponents of these laws say they relate to informed consent, and those who oppose them say that the laws are patronizing and infringe upon a woman’s privacy. Either way, they serve as obstacles in the way of women who wish to terminate their pregnancies. Full bodily autonomy and so-called “choice” sound really great, but that rhetoric is not the reality for many women in the U.S. We can debate prochoice versus pro-life forever, but it won’t change the fact that “choice” isn’t an option for many in this country. If we want to fully trust women to be their own independent people, and if we aim for true universal choice in this country, we need to completely uproot the social structures and institutions that take “choice” away from a large population of women in the U.S. In the meantime, we should change the rhetoric to better acknowledge that not everyone has the choice and privilege that some women possess. g

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photos co

urtesy of





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SEX. No one talked about it. There was the awkward sit-down we had with parents to talk about “the birds and the bees” and “being safe.” Some parents succeeded in conveying the impossible topic to a pre-pubescent teenager. According to a 2004 Center for Disease Control and Prevention report, 86 percent of female and 83 percent of male teens report having received formal instruction on how to say “no” to sex before turning 18 years old. About two-thirds of teens receive this instruction before entering the hormone battleground known as high school. New York state, Texas and Florida receive the most federal abstinence funding, but Central New York teens continue to get pregnant.

about how having a baby would change their lives, inability to afford a baby now, and feeling insufficiently mature to raise a child. National and local organizations offer a variety of resources to CNY teens. The Planned Parenthood on East Genesee Street provides abortion services including counseling, in-clinic abortions, and Plan B, the emergency contraceptive pill. The Women’s Health Care Center in East Syracuse and Upstate University Hospital, located two blocks from campus, offer the same services. Real Life. Real Talk., a nationwide campaign run by Planned Parenthood. It strives to help parents and communities become more

Rather than targeting teens themselves, Real Life. Real Talk. wants to give parents the tools to have effective conversations with their kids about sex.

So, the question becomes: what’s not working? Nearly a third of all teen pregnancies end in abortion, according to a 2010 Guttmacher Institute report. The most common reasons teens give for choosing abortion are concern

comfortable talking about sex and sexuality, says Crystal Collette, manager of the Syracuse branch of Real Life. Real Talk. Rather than targeting teens themselves, Real Life. Real Talk. aims to give parents the tools to have fall 2010


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effective conversations with their kids about sex. The Syracuse campaign, now 18 months old, uses various strategies to reach parents in the area. Through traditional educational programming,

to broaden the scope of their conversations to include topics such as intimacy, dating, and healthy relationships. “The typical reaction from parents is, ‘Wow, sexuality is way broader than I thought,’” Collette says.

It’s about their life circumstances and what role sex plays in that. workshops with parents, and online videos, Real Life. Real Talk. teaches parents how to approach their teens about the taboo topic without the conversation becoming angry or uncomfortable. The campaign teaches parents how to avoid judgment or lectures and how to find teachable moments in everyday experiences. Rather than focusing solely on sex, the campaign encourages parents

One way the local Real Life. Real Talk. campaign tries to connect parents to the issues is by including Syracuse community leaders. Collette says the idea behind the project is that if these leaders can openly and honestly talk about sex, so can parents. Each online video starts with the question: “What do you wish someone had told you about sex?” One features Dan Lowengard, Syracuse City School District superintendent and father of two daughters. “As I look back on it, my wife has done most of the conversations. I, as a father, sometimes have been a little embarrassed and have really shied

away from the topic.” It’s these realities that advance the Real Life. Real Talk. project and make it necessary. “It’s not just about the kids having this information,” Lowengard says. “It’s about their life circumstances and what role sex plays in that.” Real Life. Real Talk. is trying to reach out to families throughout Syracuse and Onondaga County. Collette says the program recently received a Department of Health grant to increase its efforts on the south and west sides of Syracuse. The

campaign has partnered with small neighborhood agencies and churches to create programming which parents and teens can easily access. Ultimately, the Syracuse campaign joins seven other cities where Real Life. Real Talk. works to address the teenpregnancy crisis. Collette says the hope is that when parents and teens communicate effectively about sex, there will be fewer unwanted teen pregnancies and less of a need for abortion services. g fall 2010


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Tuning“it ”



illustration by ELIZABETH McCLAIN

alking heads spit venom over the finer points of abortion. Wars are waged outside clinics. Prochoicers call their opponents sexist religious nuts, while pro-lifers brand the other side as baby killers. Flipping through TV channels and watching the latest films yield no constructive debate or realistic depictions of a woman exercising her right to choose. For the last 10 to 15 years, popular culture has presented little to no discussion of abortion. Comedies like “Juno” and “Knocked Up” briefly toy with the idea before firmly deciding against it. Shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Party of Five” come close to actual depictions, only to throw in a convenient miscarriage at 18 MEDUSA

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the last minute. Some get censored, like controversy-happy “Family Guy.” Many more don’t talk about it at all, like “Glee,” when we could tell that Quinn was “keeping [her] baby,” even without singing a Madonna song. “The way in which the subject is treated in a lot of American popular culture reminds me of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” says Professor Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture. “Roe v. Wade happened and we’ve got people on both sides… it’s as though there’s this tacit agreement of ‘Let’s just not try to bring this up.’” Thompson concedes that the media’s wariness is understandable, given the controversy behind abortion,

but the disparity between fiction and reality in abortion is difficult to ignore. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 846,181 legally induced abortions in 2006. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 22 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion. “People get abortions all the time, but you don’t really see that happening on TV,” says Kathy Calella, a junior English education major. “I don’t think that pop culture really presents abortion accurately.” Junior social work major Jasmine Sales agrees. “I think pop culture definitely addresses the issue, but not in a complete way. Every time fall 2010


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the issue comes up, the person always decides against it…it’s a perspective that’s never actually shown.” When abortion actually receives screen time, it seems to exist solely in the past or in foreign films. One of the most recent takes on the subject came from Romania in the form of “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.” The movie tells the story of a girl helping her college roommate obtain an illegal abortion in a communist regime. The movie doesn’t just detail the procedure. It portrays a backdoor abortion without complications and it even shows the aborted fetus. The only Hollywood movie that comes close to this level of daring is 2008’s period piece “Revolutionary Road (which was directed by a Brit, Sam Mendes). It includes a dangerous at-home abortion, but with tragic results. After inducing the abortion with a rubber pump, April Wheeler leaves a pool of blood on her spotless suburban carpet. She dies later in the film, off-screen in a hospital, leaving her husband and friends devastated. British films “The Last King of Scotland,” “Vera Drake,” and “The


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Cider House Rules,” also deal with illegal abortions. Yet movies dealing with the procedure seriously are a rare exception. A few recent TV shows directly addressed the subject. A 2003 “Everwood” episode, as well as a July 2010 episode of “Friday Night Lights,” include teenage girls who choose to get abortions. The girls made the decisions on their own, discussing the issue maturely and openly. After seeing two unwanted pregnancies to term, “Mad Men” also featured an abortion subplot this season. Married office manager Joan Harris visits the abortion clinic by herself, and tells the father (who is not her husband), “We avoided a tragedy.” The ‘80s were a virtual golden era of abortion storylines. Medical drama “St. Elsewhere” frequently explored the topic. Stacy of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” became pregnant and quietly got an abortion over the course of about three scenes. Ricki Lake anchored an intense abortion subplot on “China Beach.” According to Thompson, this decade saw a far greater exploration of the issue than during the ‘90s or today. “Roe v. Wade came out, and at

the same time American popular culture—especially television— was really opening up to content it normally hadn’t dealt with,” Thompson says. “[But] I think after a number of these episodes resulted in advertiser complaints and advertisers pulling out, a lot of [shows] just quit bothering with the subject.” When Roe v. Wade was a new case, movies and television were tackling the issue. “Maude” most famously featured a two-part episode in which the middle-aged main character decided to terminate an unexpected pregnancy. Despite airing in 1972, Thompson describes this show as modern compared to current television. “You watch that and you think, ‘Wow, could you ever imagine them doing this on an episode of ‘Two and Half Men?’ There is no way that would happen,” he says. Abortion would certainly change the tone and direction of current TV shows and movies. Imagine if teens watching “16 and Pregnant” saw girls choosing to avoid motherhood. “Glee” has been praised for its emotional, moving depictions of

teenage relationships. But it would be more relevant if Quinn had seriously considered her options and decided to have an abortion. Mary Alice Carr, vice president of communications for NARAL Pro-Choice New York, believes candidly addressing abortion would change public attitudes. “If it were portrayed more, it would normalize the experience and would open the public dialogue,” Carr says. “When we don’t show abortion as an equal choice along with parenting and adoption, we stigmatize it and push it under the rug.” But unless a major change in abortion laws appears, Thompson doesn’t see a constructive dialogue about abortion happening in the near future. “I do think it’s interesting that this issue is considered one of the most controversial in our domestic politics. It’s surprising how little of this actually does get into our biggest pop culture stories,” he says. “The way in which a lot of people are behaving in real life is not being reflected so much in fictional shows that take place in America. But what else is new?” g

photo from

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Pro-choice & pro-life: Where does

FEMINISM fit in?


fall 2010



or many women, the question of being pro-life and feminist is not actually a question. It isn’t possible. What most people don’t stop to consider, however, are the different emphases women put on their feminisms. How can someone define the ideals and concepts of feminism in a broad way that encompasses each and every woman’s point of view? That’s not possible either. So if feminism has such an ambiguous definition, is it necessary to link the concepts and ideals of feminism to viewpoints on abortion? It seems absurd to suggest a feminist could not have a stance on abortion, since it’s such a female issue. fall 2010


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If women are an

“ oppressed group


they are the only such group to require surgery in order to be equal.

Indeed, there are women who call themselves feminists and oppose abortion. Frederica Matthewes-Green is a former vice president of the organization Feminists for Life. Its belief is that “women are better than abortion.” “It is because I still believe so strongly in the right of a woman to protect her body that I still oppose abortion,” Matthewes-Green explains in Sisterlife, the Feminists for Life newsletter. Feminists for Life also believes that granting women the right to abortion does not prove they are free. In fact, they would say it’s a sign of women’s desperation. According to them, prochoicers target women at their most vulnerable moment, and therefore hinder women’s abilities and freedom. In an essay entitled “Abortion: Women’s Rights and Wrongs,” Matthewes-Green writes, “If women are an oppressed group, they are the only such group to require surgery 24 MEDUSA

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in order to be equal.” For her, even the option to choose is an offense. A true feminist would presumably recognize the fact that abortion goes against everything feminism stands for. Women should not need the option because they would already know never to take that path. Gloria Feldt, the former president of Planned Parenthood, has a different opinion. In her book, “The War On Choice,” Feldt succinctly argues, “Reproductive selfdetermination is the most fundamental civic and human right a woman can have.” All arguments pro-choice feminists have stem from this thought. Pro-choice feminists point out that

taking away choice is degrading to women. Amanda Marcotte, a feminist blogger, writes on rhrealitycheck. org, “There’s nothing feminist about suggesting that women are too stupid to handle basic rights.” This is a common theme for prochoice feminists. It’s fine if you believe abortion is wrong, but you cannot possibly support the best interests of women if you are willing to take away their right to make decisions for themselves. “Any feminism,” she continues in the same post, “that starts with the premise that women aren’t equal to men…is simply not a kind of feminism.” Marcotte directly attacks Feminists for Life,

proclaiming that it is not pro-life but anti-choice. Can you be pro-life and identify as a feminist? Some women think the answer is yes. Other women completely disregard this position, and argue that this belief is a perversion of feminism. All women have different experiences and thus have different beliefs about abortion. Should there be a model that declares what feminism means on this issue? Who gets to decide what feminism is and how that impacts this argument? g

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1967 Colorado becomes the first state to permit abortions in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life.

1967 - 1975 Relaxation of Abortion Regulations

1875 Every state adopts laws banning abortion.

1873 Comstock Act passes, prohibiting access to any literature or drugs related to contraception or abortion.

1821 Connecticut passes America’s first statute outlawing abortion any time after women feel fetal movement.

1821 - 1966 Birth Control Information Suppressed, Abortion Illegal

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fr emicide reproductive erize use the hanger reduce estoring the menses reduce ter 2009 Democratic Rep. Bart Stupack introduces Stupak-Pitts Amendment to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care For America Act, prohibiting federal funds to pay for any abortion coverage.

2009 - Present Abortion as Health Care Controversy

2010 President Obama issues an executive order reaffirming the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting federal funding for abortions.


2003 Former President George W. Bush passes Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, banning partial birth abortion. It is still upheld by the Supreme Court today.


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1991 - 2008 Court Battles Over Abortion Law

1977 Hyde Amendment revision allows states to fund abortion in the cases of rape, incest, or “severe and longlasting”impairment to the mother’s health.

1976 Congress passes Hyde Amendment, prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions.

1976 - 1990 Anti-Abortion Backlash

1973 Roe v. Wade. Supreme Court establishes the woman’s legal right to choose an abortion before “fetal viability.”

1971 Comstock Act is repealed.



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1991 Rust v. Sullivan. Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of withholding federal funding to clinics that provide patients with information or referrals for abortions.

1992 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey reaffirms the woman’s legal right to abortions before “fetal viability,” but allows states to restrict the circumstances under which abortions are performed.

1994 Congress passes the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, forbidding the use of “force, threat of force or physical obstruction” to prevent someone from providing or receiving reproductive health services.

2000 Stenberg v. Carhart. Supreme Court rules Nebraska’s law banning “partial-birth” abortion unconstitutional.

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fall 2010


clari t y


The “Clitter” Trend “Turn your labia into Yay-bia!”



he fad started by Jennifer Love Hewitt’s interview on a late-night talk show has taken the blogosphere by storm. This novelty procedure involves the application of shiny gems to the mons pubis. It elicits a feminist double-take, if anything for the economic implications of another ridiculous “make your vagina better” procedure. The gems don’t actually go on your woman parts. They’re placed above them, though still in an area covered by most undergarments. If you’re considering bedazzling your vajazz, remember that it isn’t cheap. Depending on the type of crystal (genuine Swarovski are popular, and they even come in different colors), the cosmetic procedure can run you in the area of $50. This is after waxing your nether-regions, providing a “blank canvas.” No one mentions how it feels when that hair starts growing back. The look is far from permanent, although if you have the procedure done at a salon it’s often insured for about five days. Still, those little Swarovski bits are going to fall off eventually, and there goes all that cash money, literally down the shower drain. Hewitt said, “I was feeling awful, I had been through a horrible breakup… and I was like, ‘I need something to make myself feel better.’” It’s not a major surgical undertaking, thank goodness, but the fundamental problem here is what women will do, or are expected to do, to “feel better” about their vaginas and themselves. Not only do we have to look like a pre-pubescent girl down there and have our pussies smell like cucumber melon or “rain” to be sexually appealing, but we also have to wear crystals? Plus, it sounds like an age regression, complete with the gems I used to paste on my cell phone. The practice is not advertised to men. Can you imagine? “Beautify your balls!” In the 21st century, the concept of bling may be going a little too far. g


fall 2010

photos courtesy of POSTSECRET.COM

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Write for Medusa! Send an e-mail to to get started.

the fold

As an advocate for women’s equality, female empowerment, and governmentYou don’t have to be a funded prescription birth control to compliment the already funded Viagra, it may come as a surprise that I often take by DR. XX the backseat in the sack. I don’t mind if my partner wants to be on top. I think aggressive foreplay, complete with insults and the occasional use of handcuffs, is pretty damn appealing. Does that make me — or anyone else who enjoys being dominated — less of a strong-minded woman? Of course not. It simply means I know what I want, and I’m not afraid to ask for it. I’ll admit that I take it a bit further than most. I enjoy blindfolds, restraints, and an assortment of other things that would make my mother faint. I realize my sexual fantasies aren’t shared by most, and I’m most likely in the minority when discussing my favorite bedroom activities. My willingness to be treated like a sex object, however, doesn’t make me a sex object. Once the orgasms are over, my reputation hasn’t changed. My value hasn’t diminished in my partner’s eyes. I feel closer to my partner, knowing that our relationship is at a place where I can express my desires, regardless of what they are. I suppose you could argue that taking the submissive role means I’m buying into gender roles suggesting women ought to be docile and compliant. We’re supposed to let a stronger man make the first move, call us first, and so on. I don’t buy into this. I’m not taking any steps backward in the fight for women’s equality by enjoying the feeling of being “protected.” I can damn well put up a fight. If being a feminist means forcing yourself into dominating positions when you don’t want to, then I’ll pass. Forcing women to take a strong role when that’s not who they are is doing the exact thing we’re combating by insisting women don’t take the backseat. In sex, in relationships, and in life, women should act how they want to act; being able to choose either way is the true measure of women’s rights. Don’t get your labia in a bunch if your sexual desires don’t match up to your stances of equality. You shouldn’t think there’s something wrong with you, or there’s something less than feminist about you if you enjoy taking a submissive role in sex. If that’s how you get off, embrace it! By the same token, you women who love dominating the object of your desires, by all means, embrace that as well. The appreciation and acceptance of your sexuality is what’s truly important. As for me, there’s no better appreciation of my freaky side than my legs tied behind my head, a gag that muffles all cries for help, and someone in control to bring on the orgasms. g


Don’t agree? Have something to say? 30 MEDUSA

fall 2010

E-mail us at

Feel boobies. Get objectified. by KELINA IMAMURA

illustration courtesy of The NewHouse Agency


ctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and breast cancer is no joke. I’m glad someone is working to make college students—not just college women— aware of this issue. But, next time, try to limit the sexism when you plaster this campus with flyers prominently featuring a well-endowed woman cupping her breasts for dear life. That’s not what this fight is about. As a nonprofit organization working to create more breast cancer awareness, you should understand that breast cancer is about more than boobs. It’s about health. And most importantly, it’s about people.

Women in the media are too often broken into pieces: nice legs, great butts and mesmerizing racks. So why is this pro-women organization doing the same things and calling it sexy? It’s just another tactic to keep women oppressed. Breaking something up into pieces makes it that much easier to objectify. Knowing how to administer breast self-exams is crucial in the fight against breast cancer. It’s a shame that this campaign doesn’t address that, and instead focuses on watching women touch themselves. It’s not edgy, it’s not clever, and it’s probably not effective. Indeed, it’s the status quo. g fall 2010


the fold


fall 2010

MEDUSA – Issue 2  

"The Abortion Issue" of Medusa Magazine, the feminist magazine at Syracuse University.

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