Issue 3 | Fall 2010 | your student fee
letter from the editor 2 MEDUSA 2
Medusa Magazine, now in its third issue, reflects an evolution of ideas. We’ve added a few new things like writer bios (page 29) and made an effort to include even more diverse perspectives — two suggestions brought up in our roundtable discussion in early November. The biographies are intended to help readers understand each writer’s identity to put their words in context. And so, without further ado, we present The Art Issue. We chose an abstract theme rather than tackling a more tangible one, because it allowed us to think across identity categories like race, class, and gender. Works of art like tattoos and piercings personalize our own bodies (page 6). Just off from campus, Point of Contact Gallery offers a local space for international art (page 25). And across the United States, Guerilla Girls continue to fight for women’s representation in art — less nude women, more female artists (page 18). Art is everywhere. Lastly, just in time for those pre-holiday deals, we’ve got a conscious gift guide (page 30) — a collaborative effort from Medusa staffers — to help you shop for that proud feminist in your life, even if it’s you.
THE FACES OF FEMINISM 4-5 by Jennifer Osias
MORE THAN SKIN DEEP 6 by Kristin Hunt
TOO HOT TO HANDLE: THE BRA-BURNING MYTH 7 by Kayla Chagnon
OH, BABY...CARROTS 8-9 by Kathleen Corlett
ONE FEMINIST’S THEOLOGY: DEAN TIFFANY STEINWERT 10-13 by Jaime Bellemare
WHEN BETSY MET DANYA 14-17 by Katrina Koerting
GUERRILLA WARFARE 18-21 by Kelina Imamura
NO LAUGHING MATTER 22 by Caitlin Dewey
OUROBOROS 23-24 by Jeffrey Michael Geiringer
POINT OF CONTACT 25-26 by Melia Robinson
IT GETS BETTER 27 by Savanna Kemp
CLITORIS: KEEP IT COMING 28 by Dr. XX
WRITER BIOS 29 by Contributors
WRAP IT UP: MEDUSA STYLE 30-31 by The Medusa Staff
editor-in-chief Hannah Warren
Marissa Bholan Kelina Imamura Sammy Lifson
design editor Nancy Szarkowski
photo editor Elina Berzins
public relations director Mary Cappabianca
fact checkers Erin Carhart Katherine Smith
designers Kate Ahrendtsen Elina Berzins Kelina Imamura Malinda Masing Elizabeth McClain Lucia Procaccio
cover art Kate Kuzel
faculty advisor Brad Gorham
special thanks Chancellor Nancy Cantor 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 2010 by their respective creators and may not be reproduced without their consent. fall 2010 MEDUSA spring 2012 3
the faces of
feminism by JENNIFER OSIAS
Youyou Wang “I wanted to be a housewife for a short time,” says Youyou Wang, a junior international relations major from China. After Mao Zedong’s revolution in the 20th century, the Chinese people were taught to be equal and to strive for the same things, she explains. However, because of the country’s rapid development, a sense of inequality arose when everyone strove for maximum efficiency. In some cases, this meant that employers hired men rather than women to avoid maternity leave. Company owners thought a constant change in workers would slow down the company’s growth and speed. However, China turned to educating both men and women to pursue whatever the individual wanted outside of traditional roles. “I can explore the world, and I don’t have to spend my whole life in a small house,” Wang says. “If I choose to be a housewife, it is because I want to be — not because of anyone else.” 4 MEDUSA fall 2010 4 spring 2012
Aksoy Yazici Esen Aksoy Yazici Esen, a Ph.D. candidate from Turkey, describes her country as a clash of cultures: Eastern Turkey is very traditional, while Western Turkey is more modern, she says. In Eastern Turkey, women do not express their opinions, have virtually no rights, and remain subordinate in society. But in Western Turkey, people are more educated, so women have more rights, she explains. At her home university in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and capital, women now outnumber men in the math department — something the U.S. has yet to accomplish, she says. As a young girl, Esen grew up in Eastern Turkey, but her parents were both teachers so she was encouraged to reach her full academic potential and stay optimistic. “As more people are educated, women will get the rights and recognition that they deserve,” she says.
Francisco Patino “Equal rights are something that should be pursued vigorously,” says Francisco Patino, a graduate student, as he discusses the barriers women face in his native Mexico. Government officials try to skirt the existing equal representation laws. “What officials will do is let women run in elections, but once they win, [the officials] make the women step down and their replacements, usually husbands, will fill in; essentially it is their husbands who are running,” he says. With the economy’s current state, it’s hard to convince people to let women work for equal wages when men cannot find stable jobs. Traditional thinking dictates that women should work in the house, he adds. Despite all of this, Patino believes “a society that values a man and woman equally will have more growth and stability. Making it acceptable to mistreat anyone because of who or what they are is unacceptable. We have to acknowledge there are differences, but that should not be a basis for discrimination.” J fall 2010
More than Skin Deep by KRISTIN HUNT
photo by ELINA BERZINS
ameron Shegonee likes piercings. Silver studs and rings dot his nose, eyebrow, and ears. The senior sociology and music histories and cultures major has been visiting the piercing parlor for 11 years. He’s not embarrassed by his body art, but that wasn’t always true. Shegonee didn’t complete his set of pierced ears for eight years. He wasn’t afraid of pain or infections. He waited because of a little stereotype: the “gay ear.” For decades, pop culture has portrayed body art enthusiasts as delinquents, ruffians, and stoners — a notion passed from the privileged who held a negative view of body modification. Yet a curiously specific set of stereotypes also exists. Girl with a lower back tattoo? You mean that hussy with a tramp stamp. Guy with his right ear pierced? Obviously gay. Girl with an eyebrow or lip ring? Lesbo. DJ Rose, co-owner of Halo Tattoo, views these labels as a “media slander campaign” outside the body art industry. No one “magically becomes something if they get some sort of tattoo,” Rose says.
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“Does placement make someone’s heart different?” These stereotypes can be especially hurtful because, for many people, body art is self-expression. Abby Thurber, a 2010 SU graduate, got an eyebrow piercing because it fit with her “funkier, edgier” personality. She saw the piercings as an extension of herself, like the brightly-colored clothes she wears. Shegonee got his piercings for similar reasons and didn’t understand his family’s reactions. “I saw it as a way to make myself more me, but they saw it as taking away from me,” he says. Luckily, John Joyce, the piercing artist and owner of Scarab Body Art Studios, thinks the prevalence of these stereotypes is declining. “[Body art is] more visible now,” he says. “If you turn on the TV — MTV, VH1, or whatever — it’s just in the public eye more, so it’s become more acceptable.” Shegonee no longer thinks the “gay ear” stereotype is a big deal. “It’s nice not to be judged from the get-go and to just interact as human beings.” J
THE TRUTH ABOUT
BRA-BURNING by KAYLA CHAGNON
quintessential image of the 1960s feminist movement is one of women throwing their bras into a trashcan and setting them ablaze. People have come to see the idea of braburning as a symbol of the women’s liberation movement. It never happened! If you’re skeptical, here’s a bit of history: a group of feminists who called themselves the New York Radical Women, went to Atlantic City to protest the 1968 Miss America beauty pageant. Unlike most women’s liberation events in the past, this protest garnered national media attention. Photos and video aired on the evening news, and millions of people saw women protest and throw their bras into a trashcan. These women may have wanted to burn their bras and other material things like eyelash curlers, a Playboy magazine, and garter belts, which they threw into their “freedom garbage can.” Since they were unable to obtain a permit, the burning never happened, according to
illustration by CRYSTAL CHOI
Carol Hanish, a member of the New York Radical Women. So how did the idea of bra-burning start? Minnie Bruce Pratt, a women’s and gender studies and writing and rhetoric professor, compares the bra-burning image with the image of burning people with napalm in Vietnam. “People were protesting that burning by burning things like the flag, draft cards,” she says. “If the image [of bra-burning] was perpetuated in the media, it was because that image was out there as an image of protest in a very wide way.” After the image was established, it stuck. Many scholars say that no bras were burned during the protest. Yet popular culture continues to perpetuate the myth: man-hating, bra-burning feminists. This media represetntation is harmful for the feminist image. The dominant concepts are named by those in power, who are not feminists. This depction only oppresses women more by painting them as petty and frivolous. J fall 2010 MEDUSA spring 2012 7
Oh, Baby... Carrots by KATHLEEN CORLETT photographs by ELINA BERZINS
he television flickers on. Ready to flip channels on the commercial break, you hesitate, stopped by the rumbling deep voice of the commentator — a regular Barry White wannabe: “Baby carrots, baby.” The model on screen drapes herself over a silky black background. Her locks of thick, shiny red hair form perfect waves. She slowly raises an orange stub of a carrot to her lips, and the camera zooms to view her flawless eye makeup, shiny lips, and straight white teeth. “Indulge the most tasteful of your taste buds,” a seductive female voice says through your television’s speakers. The view zooms out again to the redhead in her slinky black dress sweeping the tip of the baby carrot up her arm, with an orgasmic smile across her face. Wait. What? Here we go again. Another ad ruled by the “sex sells” principle. But, really, Crispin Porter + Bogusky — the advertising agency credited with campaigns for Burger King, Kraft 8 MEDUSA fall 2010 8 spring 2012
Macaroni and Cheese, and Domino’s — is trying to fight fire with satire. The marketing company plans to shake up the produce aisle and any inhibitions consumers have against its healthy snack choices with its latest endeavor to rebrand baby carrots as a junk food. “They’re crunchy, neon, dip-able, sweet,” says Andy Nathan, the vice president and account director of CP+B. “[By that definition] they’re junk food too, so let’s play by those rules and get people to think about carrots differently.” This particular television commercial mimics “the genre of advertising that has this seductive, romantic, really indulgent type of food,” Nathan says. Think high-end ice cream or creamy chocolate. “When you eat it, you’re taken away and in your dream world.” The multi-platform campaign for carrots, which has caught national attention, roots itself in two cities chosen for their above average carrot
consumption: Syracuse, N.Y., and Cincinnati, Ohio. The client — a “bunch of carrot farmers” led by Bolthouse Farms — rebrands the bite-size veggies through television commercials, iPhone apps, “chic junk food packaging,” and carrots-only vending machines selling three-ounce packs for 50 cents each. Though the campaign is still fresh, “Kids are calling them ‘the cool carrots,’” Nathan says. “Some even believe they taste different.” Syracuse’s FayettevilleManlius High School extended its vending machines’ two-month stint to run into mid-January. While the marketing concept screams innovation, its sexy carrot commercial component seems to be more than problematic. Marjorie Nolan, a registered dietician in New York City, describes the commercial as resembling a “porn video,” the way the actress rubs carrots on her skin in a sexual manner. “Overt sexual innuendo,” says the Barry White imposter after the female announcer urges, “Feel the feeling; you know that feeling.” “How ridiculous is this that we’re advertising like this for our kids to eat vegetables?” Nolan asks. Whether you think it’s a satire or not, the use of “overt sexual innuendo” to sell vegetables is troubling.
Harriet Brown, associate professor of magazine journalism who specializes in writing about food and body image, shrugs her shoulders at the campaign. “Is the reason people don’t eat as many vegetables because they’re not packaged correctly?” she asks. “I really wonder about the efficacy of this, so I’ll be interested to see what happens.” As the mother of an anorexic daughter and member of the Academy of Eating Disorders, Brown is more offended by the campaign’s tendency to promote overeating and mindless snacking—at one point referencing “bingeing better” in a joking manner — even if it is on a “healthier food.” “It’s not the promotion of mindless snacking that I object to; it’s the thoughtless use of words like “bingeing better” to promote carrots,” Brown says. “Bingeing can be a deadly symptom of an eating disorder, and what I object to is the attitude toward eating disorders the campaign embodies — as if bingeing is a joke or no big deal. People die from bulimia, from bingeing and purging. It’s no joke.’” Who knew carrots could be so controversial? J VIEW THE COMMERCIAL AT MEDUSAMAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM.
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One Feministâ€™s Theology Dean Tiffany Steinwert found a connection between her relationship with God and her womenâ€™s studies background. by JAMIE BELLEMARE photography by ANGELA SUTFIN
iffany Steinwert is a feminist, activist and queer ally. She is also the dean of Hendricks Chapel and an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church. For some people these identities may seem conflicting, but for Steinwert, they are intimately connected. From a young age, Steinwert recalls being acutely aware of class and race issues. She focused her energy on issues of justice and equality, but like many young activists, Steinwert reached a point when she felt burnt out. fall 2010 MEDUSA 11 spring 2012 11
It was at this time when a friend invited her to attend a church service. Skeptical of religion, Steinwert went along, emerging from the worship with a new spark to further ignite her journey to justice. Steinwert recalls a story in which Jesus is influenced by a woman who recognizes that compassion knows no human boundaries. “I realized there’s this person named Jesus who had the same thoughts I did,” Steinwert says. Christianity is not opposed to the margins, Steinwert says. In fact, she says that Christianity is really about a deeper sense of hope. It was through this sense of hope that Steinwert continued with her feminist education. “I came to women’s studies through a lens of faith,” she says. Steinwert holds degrees in women’s studies, psychology, and divinity and practical theology. Through ministry and education, Steinwert continues to embody her feminist beliefs. “Feminism is not a label; it’s a way of being,” Steinwert says. Steinwert acknowledges that negative stereotypes surrounding feminism exist. But she uses feminism to make others feel closer to their faith without directly stating, “Here’s a feminist approach to theology!”
One way she approaches this idea is by using inclusive language instead of gendered pronouns to refer to God. Using a similar approach in her personal life, Steinwert uses the word “partner” rather than “husband” to rid herself of the heterosexual privilege associated with marriage. This devotion to inclusion, along with her feminist identity, resulted in a lot of questions during her ordainment. The United Methodist Church supports full civil rights for LGBT people legally outside the walls of the Church. However, the Church does not allow “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” to be ordained. While the ordination process inquired as to whether or not Steinwert could follow both the rules set forth by God and by the Church, Steinwert says she sees these two sets of rules at odds. Steinwert emphasizes the deep commitment to theological diversity within the United Methodist Church and the many Methodist women who have been at the forefront of civil rights movements. With time, Steinwert believes that this will happen once again. At SU, Steinwert is breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ as the first female-identified dean in Hendricks’ 80-year history. She is also leading a communityorganizing project that partners SU
“” Steinwert is breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ as the first female-identified dean in Hendricks’ 80year history.
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Dean Tiffany Steinwert visits People’s Place located in the basement of Hendricks Chapel. She makes interacting with students a top priority.
students with community members in an effort to improve life in Syracuse. With this project, Steinwert’s goal is to help students find concrete ways to create change in the world. “Religion is a very powerful force,” Steinwert says. “It can be used to liberate people, but also to abuse and oppress people.” Steinwert believes this is a boundary that needs to be monitored by all faith traditions. “Not to simply say ‘we’re sorry,’ but to change the way we work in the world,” she says. Steinwert recognizes that bad
experiences with religion happen, especially within the LGBT community, but she believes the media often reiterates negative stereotypes through their sensationalist “Christian vs. gay” depictions. These views, Steinwert says, really only represent the religious right and not the majority of religious people. With the socially conservative perspective that is dominant in some parts of the country, many young people avoid religion. Steinwert hopes that with more inclusive voices like her own, young people can learn to be voices for change, and discover that there is a place for queer feminism in religion. J spring 2012 1313 fall 2010 MEDUSA
WHEN BETSY MET DANYA The story of two women who met after Sept. 11, and how their friendship grew into Women Transcending Boundaries by KATRINA KOERTING photos by KEETA KOALSKA and courtesy of BETSY WIGGINS
hen the planes struck the Twin Towers more than nine years ago, many people were left in a state of confusion and uncertainty, but also desired to help in some way. Betsy Wiggins was one of these people. She remembers standing in the dark at a vigil that night, holding her community members’ hands and echoing the desire to reach out to those affected, but not knowing how. For her, one group that she especially felt for were the Muslim women, who she read after September 11, 2001, were being harassed. Betsy remembers a fellow church member speaking about seeing Muslim women in a mall parking lot and being able to detect their anxiety. The woman 1414MEDUSA spring 2012 fall 2010
wanted to comfort them and show her solidarity, but did not know how to do it. This resonated with Betsy. She wanted to help and admits to her own ignorance to the Muslim faith at the time. After expressing her desire to help to her husband, a retired SU religion professor and a member of an inter-faith group, he pointed Betsy in the direction of Ahmed Kobesi, the imam at a mosque in Syracuse. Kobesi then recommended Danya Wellmon, a former Methodist who reverted to Islam. Betsy still remembers Danya’s courage. “She called me, which was very brave because Muslim women were being mistreated,” Betsy says. After speaking on the phone for several hours, mostly about
At a regular meeting on December 9, 2007, Jeanne Boudreau, Gay Montague, and Terra Harmatuk, illustrate the meeting’s topic: Cultural Creations: Joyful Sharing of Food, Music, Crafts,Dance, and Laughter.
September 11th, they realized they had only begun to talk. They decided to meet at Betsy’s house for coffee. Betsy recalls Danya, dressed in a hijab, sitting in her car and looking at Betsy’s house before entering. After speaking for hours, they knew other women would want to join the conversation and so they met again — this time as a group of 20, each bearing food. The group grew to 40, then kept growing as the weeks went on. All of the women shared the same goals: to help people, to care for their families, and to be good people.
Women Transcending Boundaries was born. The name for the group came from the idea that they were all women who were rising above boundaries, in particular, Sept. 11. From that tragedy, the organization focused on promoting human kindness. Education and service emerged, offering some light to a normally perceived dark event. The current listserv is over 600 women, Betsy says. The youngest is Danya’s 8-year-old granddaughter, and the average age is about 50. WTB is made up of numerous faiths, fall 2010
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including Christianity, Judaism, Wicca, Islam, Buddhism, Native American, Baha’i, Agnostic, and Atheism. From the beginning, the group wanted to go beyond its meetings and do community service. “We wanted to do something, not just sit around drinking tea and eating crumpets,” Betsy says. The group’s first service project involved Ibtida, an organization that establishes schools in Pakistan to educate women and children in math and provide them literacy. A member of the group’s family had created a school and was running it out of their garage in rural Pakistan. The school would give the family food in exchange for the children attending classes. Women Transcending Boundaries raised money for the project with an international dinner and helped construct a school building. The international dinners became an annual event. At these dinners, Women Transcending Boundaries raised money for local projects in addition to their previous international projects. “We decided educating children
would help break the cycle of ignorance and violence that caused September 11,” Betsy says. “The children were very poor and didn’t have much access to education, jobs or food. This makes them susceptible to people that would take advantage of them.” The school also teaches women how to sew and other skills so they could sell their goods and generate their own income. Some of the other projects the group supports are the Stephen B. Lewis Foundation. One of its goals is to assist grandmothers in Africa who take care of their grandchildren whose parents have died from HIV-AIDS. Another project is Women for Women International, a group that provides micro-financing to women in famine and war-torn countries. “The fortitude of these women is just magnificent,” Betsy says. Many of the women are refugees who have learned several languages from living in many refugee camps. WTB also does things in Syracuse for women and refugees, such as book clubs, sewing classes, a community
Jeanette Powell (left) holds a meeting with Jennifer Roberts Crittenden (center), and Saro Kumar (right). Each woman represents a different faith: Judaism, Catholicism, and Hinduism. photo by KEETA KOALSKA
garden, and it has supported local organizations like Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP), which helps relatives that take care of children whose parents are unable to help them. Before the group decides on a project, the entire 17-member council — 15 rotating members, plus Danya and Betsy — must unanimously agree on the project. If one member dislikes it, the project doesn’t happen. In September, Women Transcending Boundaries held its first Acts of Kindness Weekend (A-OK!), where about 100 groups of different ages and backgrounds came together to help the community with service projects. Some of the work involved ideas or projects that community members had started but had not been able to execute without help. “We have to help our own organizations,” Betsy says. “We have to give of ourselves. No one is going to ride up on a white horse and save our community.” The group sees the benefits in service projects in the community, especially with people that are different, to reduce ignorance. “When you break bread with someone and work with someone, they’re no longer the ‘other,’” Betsy says. “There’s no longer that fear or ignorance. It all just melts away.” In addition to the service projects, Women Transcending Boundaries holds monthly meetings at the Jowonio School, where they began meeting in 2002. Speakers discuss a wide variety of topics from their personal perspectives at the meetings. (Minutes from the meetings
can be found online at www.wtb.org.) They are able to speak candidly, which Betsy credits to not allowing men to join. At the meeting in October, the topic was “The Power of Chanting,” and styles of mourning in different cultures, a familiar topic to many because of their particular faith traditions. A Wiccan woman led the group in a melodic wail that culminated with the women crying and supporting each other. “These women are my sisters,” Betsy says. Throughout the group’s history there have been deaths, marriages and divorces. “Anything life has to offer, WTB has gone through it.” When Betsy had surgery, the group was there for her, helping with the cooking and other things. This year, the group will celebrate its 10th anniversary. In the future, Betsy says the group plans to respond to the community’s needs which are hard to predict. She says they are constantly changing and evolving as a group. Some advice she gives to women is to work for things they are passionate about and see where it goes. Also, if something bothers them, to talk to someone about it. “This group had started as ‘Betsy’s group’ but it’s not mine; it steers itself,” Betsy says. “Somehow I had touched a nerve when I called Danya. When you find yourself troubled by something, do something positive because it’s troubling you for a reason.” J DISCOVER MORE ABOUT WTB AT MEDUSAMAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM.
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GUERRILLA WARFARE The Guerrilla Girls battle the underrepresentation of women in the NYC art scene and across the globe by KELINA
sy of TH ages cour te
e l a e N n a o r t o Z Hurs
Rosalba C a r r ie r a
Geor g Oâ€™Ke ia effe Frid
a Ka hlo
DO W OME TO GE N STILL H T INTO AV THE M E TO BE N A ET. M USEUM KED ?
he Guerrilla Girls rocked New York City’s art world with simple signs posted on the streets and gorilla masks. The group started as a grassroots-gone-global activist task force in 1985 as a way to address the complete failure of the modern art world to represent women as artists, and, in particular, women of color. And during the past 25 years, this mysterious group of masked women has made it its mission to raise awareness and eyebrows. The catalyst was a Museum of Modern Art exhibit called “An International Survey of Painting and Sculpture,” which contained 13 women out of 169 artists — and absolutely no artists of color. Outrage emerged in the form of furry, masked, feminist activism. Using classical art images, poster campaigns, and the group’s signature rubber gorilla masks, these ladies have worked for years to turn the art world on its white, aristocratic head. “We’re a bunch of anonymous females who take the names of dead women artists as pseudonyms and appear
in public wearing gorilla masks,” the Guerrilla Girls say on its official website. “We use humor to convey information, provoke discussion, and show that feminists can be funny. We wear gorilla masks to focus on the issues rather than our personalities. Dubbing ourselves the conscience of culture, we declare ourselves feminist counterparts to the mostly male tradition of anonymous dogooders like Robin Hood, Batman, and the Lone Ranger.” In an excerpt from the group’s first book, Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls, the interviewer speaks with Gertrude Stein, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo — all of whom are alive, despite the namesake’s death years prior — and the one Girl who didn’t like the “dead artist” idea calls herself GG1. The group chose to adopt the names of dead women artists and writers to “reinforce their presence in history.” It also provided a creative way around identifying themselves in interviews. The pseudonyms and gorilla masks add an attention-drawing mysterious quality to this group of radical women.
Like the name suggests, the Guerrilla Girls take an unorthodox approach to the war on art by writing tongue-incheek letters to museum curators and owners to let them know they “forgot” to include works by women, regardless of race or ethnicity. The Guerrilla Girls fight against women’s underrepresentation in works of art — women are currently nudes, victims, slaves or servants — as well as the disproportional representation of female artists. Simultaneously, the Girls use posters to force the museum-going public to pay more attention. One poster takes the form of a letter, written in cursive: Dearest Art Collector, It has come to our attention that your collection, like most, does not contain enough art by women. We know that you feel terrible about this and will rectify the situation immediately. All our love, Guerrilla Girls
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Another reads, “It’s even worse in Europe.” In 1986, only a year into its radical feminist art movement, the Guerrilla Girls printed a report card to show whether the number of women artists had improved in 17 different galleries after a year. Most failed — miserably — by only including one or two women artists throughout the year. If that public outing did not cause enough ruckus, the Guerrilla Girls made a poster that asked, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?” Called a “weenie count,” members entered the Metropolitan Museum of Art and counted the number of naked males and females in the artwork. What they discovered wasn’t unexpected: Women artists made up less than 5 percent of the artists in museum’s modern art sections, yet 85 percent of the nudes on display were female. To get its message out, the Guerrilla Girls plastered the resulting advertisement on New York City buses — a mobile, public declaration that couldn’t be ignored. The war didn’t die with feathered hair, side
ponytails and excessive glitter. The Guerrilla Girls maintain a rigorous schedule of lectures in “full jungle drag,” and continue to author books, stickers, billboards, posters and other projects that keeps the critique alive. The Girls have since expanded its movement beyond the stuffy art galleries of New York City and strive to expose sexism and racism in politics, art, film and culture internationally. And since the projects outside of the U.S. often originate with women of that region, Guerrilla Girls evade the dangerous trap of feminist imperialism. It’s worth mentioning that the target audience is specific — the museumgoing leisure class. Yet the organization’s mission to include art by women of all classes and backgrounds is a productive step in the right direction. On a billboard in Hollywood, Calif. in March 2002, the Guerrilla Girls and Alice Locas, a group of film makers, displayed “The Anatomically Correct Oscar.” The billboard showcases Oscar, the famous Academy Awards statue, in all his whiteness and maleness — similar to who wins at the Academy Awards each year.
Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win for Best Director — in 2009. Obviously, some things haven’t changed. And to prove this, Guerrilla Girls returned to the Met to do a “weenie recount” in 2005 and found that there were even fewer women artists shown, but the number of naked males in the artwork has increased. What started as a campaign against the museums has evolved into a body of work that has traveled the world. More recently, exhibitions of Guerrilla Girls’ work have been organized at stateside museums as well as London’s Tate Modern in London and Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou. Popping up at the Sundance Film Festival, National Mall in Washington, D.C., and numerous college campuses, the Guerrilla Girls are everywhere. And they could be anyone. J Savanna Kemp contributed to this article.
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clari t y
ghing Mat u a te L EWEY photo by ELI
Noby CAITLIN D Maybe I’m not in on the joke — I have a vagina, after all — but I’m not amused by the misogynistic garbage that passes for humor on BroBible. com. I understand that misspelled jokes about blowjobs and co-eds are hilarious to some misguided portion of the population. But I thought those people wore polos, drank Natty Light, and greeted each other with backslaps. I didn’t think they were, well — women. Blogger Waffs McButter’s “depiction of women at Syracuse University on Brobible.com was spot on,” writes Kaitlyn Monteiro in a recent column for Jerkmagazine.net. “You’re supposed to be ashamed to admit it but I know I wasn’t the only one smirking behind my computer screen.” Agreed on one point: I’m sure somebody else in this big, bro-y world smirked (or fist-bumped) in response to McButter’s inimitable wit. But the hilarity of slut jokes still eludes me. “At least 94% of the females at ‘Cuse hope to die from chocking [sic] on a dick,” McButter writes. “As a recent female graduate of Syracuse, I am laughing hysterically,” answers a commenter. I want to know what’s so funny. In August 2010, scientists from the University of Colorado found that people laugh at jokes that benignly violates some kind of social norm. But BroBible treats women as sex objects, grading them on “hotness” 22 MEDUSA fall 2010 22 spring 2012
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and “willingness to fuck” — a common phenomenon at any bar or frat party. “College Chick Breakdowns: The Girls of Syracuse University” violates no social norms. Instead, it plays into one of the most entrenched and agonizing norms of our time: the objectification of women. Perhaps the LOLs of ladies like Monteiro actually suggest a more optimistic outlook, one that doesn’t see catcalls the same way I do. Or maybe these women are implicit in the general misogyny of BroBible culture, in the same type of self-objectification that Ariel Levy first identified in Female Chauvinist Pigs. Take one alumna, who says she’s glad her sorority ranked in BroBible’s “top three” — as in, top three sororities for hot/slutty girls. Or Monteiro’s smirking agreement that “BJs aren’t just a popular major at Syracuse, but also a major part of sealing the deal on any random Friday night.” It’s easy to draw connections between their remarks and those of Levy’s faulty “lipstick” and “loophole” feminists, who claim empowerment through self-objectification (think stripping, miniskirts, proudly ranking in SU’s third sluttiest sorority) or objectification of other women (think Christie Hefner’s entire career or Monteiro’s broad approval of the BroBible piece). Either way, I’m not laughing. J FIND THE LINK TO BROBIBLE AT MEDUSAMAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM.
Cycles of Violence at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival by JEFF GEIRINGER
illustration courtesy of WIKIPEDIA COMMONS
Note: This article is a commentary and criticism. The depiction of events is based on the experiences of two individuals who were involved on opposite ends of the debates surrounding the Michigan Womyn’s Musical Festival and Camp Trans.
eminism is fragmented and multifaceted. Different groups of feminists have varying views on what it means to be a woman. These differences extend beyond the academic, affecting the worldviews and self-identifications of many feminists. And sometimes, those differences manifest physically, violently, even dangerously. When different factions of feminism commit violence against one another, they unwittingly replicate a cycle of violence that only injures the participants and the broader movements. The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival was established in 1976 to serve as a female-only alternative to the overtly sexist popular music industry. Over time, the festival found itself challenged by the transgender community for its official “womyn-born-womyn” protocol, a practice that implies the festival is intended only for individuals who were born female and who maintain that identity. Transwomen were perceived to be the target of the policy.
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Meanwhile, as a response to an incident in 1991, an organization called Camp Trans coalesced to protest the music festival. And so, every summer a standoff ensues. The two campgrounds face each other, and protests are a regular sight outside their gates. The summer heat beats down, but nothing serious happens. That was the case until last summer. According to an attendee at the 2010 Camp Trans, a confrontation during CT’s annual vigil turned ugly very quickly. A tow truck driver had arrived to tow a car from MWMF. He had left his truck idling near the vigil, and a representative from CT went over and asked him to turn it off. Things escalated, those in attendance started speaking louder. Eventually people from MWMF get involved, and suddenly fragmentation bears an image: a man threatening people with his truck’s towing chain. Accounts of the incident itself vary wildly. What’s clear is that, at some point, the people involved on both sides felt threatened with bodily harm. Later that night, members of CT deliberately storm MWMF in response to the festival’s perceived support of the tow truck driver. In its debate, Camp Trans inadvertently displays the selfdefeating characteristics of identity politics. Different factions within the group want different things, various people are accused of forgetting the 24 MEDUSA fall 2010 24 spring 2012
original cause of the Camp, and feelings are hurt all around. Everything was falling apart. The next night, small groups of people from CT overrun MWMF’s grounds, vandalizing everything and damaging property. The damage was characterized by Lisa, a representative of MWMF, as “not unprecedented, but unprecedented in scale, intent, and damage,” relative to violence from previous years. The wheel turns, frustrations mount, violence is reciprocal. It is important to note that when questioned for this article, Lisa stated that “MWMF is a place for people born as women ... there is no policy saying these people can, these people can’t. There’s no policy but there’s an intention.” This is a decidedly less harsh position than the one that CT’s existence seems to be a response to, which is a state of affairs that presents the ineffectual question: why? Why is it that progressive activists are deadlocked against one another? As we clearly see in the strife within CT itself, the tensions reproduce themselves at different scales, fractallike. Why? What is it that causes incidents like this? Entire progressive communities built for the purpose of dismantling other ones? Ouroboros is an ancient symbol of cyclical processes: a snake consuming its own tail. Until that snake gets its tail out of its mouth, it can hardly speak. J
POINT by MELIA ROBINSON
photos by ANGELA SUTFIN
ock, prep, punk, slut, hipster. Black, white, brown. Gay, straight. Conservative, liberal. Mac, PC. Feminist. Labels like these can be useful to give us a sense of identity and community. But one label does not define a person; we are an everchanging, unlimited combination of these roles. One opinionated, strongwilled poet is no exception. The life of Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik is the inspiration for a bilingual publication titled Alejandra. It is the 10th volume in a book series called Point of Contact, the product of an organization by the same name. Pedro Cuperman, professor of Spanish literature, founded Point of Contact in 1975. What began as a literary journal for the verbal and visual arts, has evolved into numerous books, collections of poetry, and an art gallery
on East Genesee Street, which is the current home of Pizarnikâ€™s work. Pizarnik was born in Buenos Aires in 1936 to exiled Eastern European immigrants. She never felt at home in Argentina. People who knew her say that although Spanish was her native language, she spoke it with peculiar enunciation, like a foreigner. Pizarnik used her poetry as a mechanism to cope with intense internal conflicts, including her struggles with language, sexual orientation, life and death, and individual identity. Teresita Paniagua, managing director and curator of Point of Contact Gallery and associate editor of Alejandra says that critics often describe Pizarnikâ€™s work as disturbing and saturated with pain. Still, her work is regarded as a beautifully crafted exploration of the self. Her poetry rejected every cultural fall 2010 MEDUSA 25 spring 2012 25
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norm Pizarnik was forced into, and it features strong female characters. “That’s something people are quick to make her a poster child for,” says Madeleine Stratford, a professor in the Department of Language Studies at Université du Québec and a contributing writer of Alejandra. “For me, feminist writing has an agenda — political or ideological,” Stratford says. Pizarnik’s poetry “didn’t try to make a point.” She wrote for her own wellbeing, writing in her diary as a young woman, “I am to write in little notebooks or die.”
“” It’s international and diverse, and at the same time, it’s extremely personal and intimate.
“I don’t think she’s writing to communicate how she thinks the world should be, or how she thinks anybody else should think,” Paniagua says. “It’s not a journalistic, informative kind of writing. It’s an artistic piece.” When someone critiques Pizarnik’s work with a strictly feminist lens, they limit the number of ways it can be interpreted. Cuperman and Paniagua find that the gallery faces similar stereotypes. Although most of the artwork they display is by women, it is not intentional. They select artists based on how their works reflect the theme of the exhibit.
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“There are many publications and there is room for everyone,” Cuperman says. “We choose according to our certain aesthetic and social criteria.” More often then not, however, female artists seem to fit into the framework Cuperman builds. Three of the four artists featured in the current 35th anniversary exhibit, “La Colección,” are women. The works by the lone male artist show the outline of a woman descending a staircase. Visitors often make another cultural assumption. “It’s Punto de Contacto, but in no way it means we are a Latin American art gallery or a Latin American publication,” Paniagua says. “It’s about contemporary art.” She estimates only half the art on display is by Latin American artists. “It’s not about putting labels and limits [on us],” Paniagua says. “It’s about opening up and expanding. It’s international and diverse, and at the same time, it’s extremely personal and intimate.” Point of Contact refuses to accept any one label — instead embracing multiple roles in the art community. Its fusion of the different social and cultural trends gives it a widespread appeal. Paniagua hopes that the gallery will encourage people to evaluate the complexities of their own identities. “We’re all infinite beings and hopefully the kind of things we present will remind us of that.”J
IT GETS BETTER by SAVANNAH KEMP
By now, most of you are probably familiar with the “It Gets Better” video campaign started by Dan Savage in September as a response to the rush of queer teen suicides — Tyler Clementi was a freshman at Rutgers University, and many of the others were even younger. The idea of “It Gets Better” is that if we provide a sort of LGBT role-model archive, queer youth will know that they aren’t alone. If they stick it out now, things will get better later. During the last few months, the viral videos have become increasingly high profile — one of the latest was a message from President Barack Obama. The word is out: You are not alone! It gets better! Wahoo! Etc.! It’s a really nice idea. But “It Gets Better” isn’t good enough. First of all, it’s a little misleading. It gets better for whom? A quick survey of the videos shows most of them are white, gender-conforming, middleclass people. And many of the recent celebrity-made videos feature straight people telling queers how much better it gets, which fails to inspire a whole lot of confidence since the struggles the two groups face are not the same. But what is most exhausting about the videos, and about the queer and ally community’s response to the suicides, is the call for passive action. I find this frustrating. “Just wait around, it’ll be OK later,” is not helpful. “It’ll be better
illustration by ELIN SANDBERG
when you’re older,” does not fix the problems that we have right now. Let’s get this straight (ha!): It does, generally, get a little better. But there are still places where it is difficult to be out. Keeping gay kids from killing themselves isn’t going to stop them from dying; Hate crimes happen everywhere. There are still structural and legal inequalities at work. There is still very little representation of queer people in our culture. There is a pervasive heteronorm at work, which is not getting better. Meeting up in groups, making ourselves available to youth, and producing queer-positive viral video campaigns are all great things. But we cannot stop there. We need to launch active anti-hate campaigns — I’m tired of putting the imperative on support for the queer community by the queer community. We need support, but until we stop the cause, we will be supporting forever and never changing anything. Obama spoke out in support of at-risk teens; that’s awesome. Now, I want him to speak out against hate. Against violence. Against “no homo.” Against “that’s so gay.” Against “fag.” Against anti-gay marriage legislation — against the bullying. Until we quit ignoring (or rewarding) homophobia, we’ll always have these problems. It Gets Better? All right. I’ll buy it. But that means now it’s our responsibility: make it better. J fall 2010 MEDUSA 27 spring 2012 27
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I love orgasms more than just about anything in the world except, maybe, multiple orgasms. I don’t understand how any sexually functioning female could not Keep It Coming love it. With 8,000 nerve endings — twice as many as a dick — and compressed into DR. XX a much smaller surface area, the clitoris is truly the peak of sexual enjoyment (pun intended). And yet, there are countless women who just don’t have a strong understanding and appreciation for their glorious clits, and all its wonder. If their partners not doing the job, does that mean enjoyable sex is a lost cause? Absolutely not! Women of SU: You have complete control over what turns you on, what feels good, and how your clitoris works. If your clit know-how is less than stellar, you should take charge of improving it. Great sex is, quite literally, at your fingertips. Masturbation is a taboo topic for most women, and it shouldn’t be if for no other reason than all the great euphemisms. Try polishing your peanut before complaining that your partner isn’t making sex enjoyable for you. If you don’t tiptoe through the two-lips on your own, how in the world will you know what feels good? Female masturbation is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, and embracing your sexuality can only positively affect your love life. DJ your VJ as often as possible to know what’s needed to get you off. As a disclaimer: there is a great deal of enjoyable sex to be had through vaginal penetration, and orgasms aren’t necessary for a good time. Yet, I strongly feel that the clitoris’s single purpose — pleasure — makes its exploration a priority. After you’ve been flicking your bean several times, and start to understand your body, put that knowledge to work. You aren’t doing yourself any favors if you’re learning all about what feels good if you don’t clue in your partner. Don’t be afraid to direct him or her in what to do to make you suppress your screams for fear of waking your roommate. Obviously, your partner has some degree of interest in making you orgasm or at least in helping you enjoy yourself. And if your enjoyment isn’t a significant concern of your lover, don’t waste your time — you need a partner that appreciates your need for sexual fulfillment. OrangeWomen, I’m commanding you to show your clitoris some love. Go to town on your pussy ‘til you’re too exhausted to cum again; try new angles, temperatures, textures, anything that makes you orgasm, or that just feels great. Even if you’re already BFF with your clitoris, there’s always room for experimentation and improvement. Be proud of the immense sexual pleasure you’re able to receive via your clitoris…and let your roommates know to knock first as you celebrate that sexual pleasure. J
Don’t agree? Have something to say?
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E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
JAIME BELLEMARE is a junior broadcast journalism and political science major with minors in women’s and gender studies and LGBT studies. She hopes to one day bring her feminist dialect to Capital Hill and a queer Congress. KAYLA CHAGNON is a graduate student in the Newspaper, Magazine and Online program. She spent the last three years at a woman’s college arguing that feminism was not about hating men. KATHLEEN CORLETT is a senior magazine journalism major with a passion for health journalism. That said, she still enjoys splurging with an occasional cup of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream... and yes, she loves to munch on baby carrots. CAITLIN DEWEY studies magazine journalism, international relations and Spanish. She hopes to move to New York City and become an arts journalist when she graduates this year; barring that, she’d gladly open a cupcake shop. JEFF GEIRINGER is a junior sculpture major. They would like to remind people that ‘they’ can be used as a gender-neutral singular. KRISTIN HUNT is a senior magazine journalism major. She has no athletic abilities whatsoever, but does play a mean game of “Scene It?”. KELINA IMAMURA is about to embark on her real person life outside of Syracuse. Degree in hand, she’s moving to Colorado to teach, drink coffee, climb mountains, and be awesome. SAVANNA KEMP is a senior English and women’s and gender studies double major, and she gets pretty enthusiastic about theater, mandolin, and big old books. She would be cooler if she had antlers. KATRINA KOERTING is a senior dual major in newspaper and political science. She is German and loves soccer, which was great when she went to the World Cup in Germany. JENNIFER OSIAS is a sophomore dual major in international relations and political science. In her overzealous efforts to change the world, she’s often told to “calm down,” to which she replies, “Sweetheart, this is me calm.” MELIA (muh LEE uh) ROBINSON is a sophomore dual major in magazine journalism and information management and technology. Liz Lemon is her role model, Jacob is her god, and Mr. Rogers is her fashion icon. DR. XX is a white (always), straight (usually) undergraduate in a loving, committed relationship filled with lots of consensual sex and bite marks. She enjoys telling women and men to embrace their sexualities and being a question mark wrapped in an enigma.
fall 2010 MEDUSA 29 spring 2012 29 illustration by LUCIA PROCACCIO
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Published on Mar 31, 2012