Issue 7 | Fall 2011 | your student fee
MEDUSA LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
his semester, I’ve had numerous blessings to count. I have a rocking photo and design staff, and they’ve worked their tails off shooting our studio feature of women’s teams on campus (pg. 10). They even managed to recruit guest photographer Lindsay Carey; you’ll find her beautiful but haunting photo essay of adolescent pageant girls on pg. 28. We have the privilege of featuring Vanessa Johnson’s work among students of color in the Syracuse area (pg. 21) and you’ll also find a new sexcapade from Dr. XX on page 31. Medusa continues to build her presence on campus – mark your 2012 calendars for our collaborative showing of “Misrepresentation” (a new film exploring how mainstream media contribute to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in the U.S.) with Students Advocating Sexual Safety and Empowerment on January 31. I wish you all a very happy end of the semester, and a joyous holiday break.
“Women are fighting. We’re kicking and screaming and shouting. Women have been part of this revolution from the very beginning. And women are demanding that whoever wins these elections, whoever gets the parliamentary majority, recognizes that women are integral to this process. ...This revolution will not succeed without us.” –Egyptian-American feminist journalist Mona Eltahawy
illustration by Alicia Zyburt
MEDUSA THE FACES OF FEMINISM 4-5
editor-in-chief Hannah Warren
by Laura Cohen
SMOOTH RUNNINGS 6-7
NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS 8-9
associate editors Christina Levin Stephanie Shaw
by Lauren Stefaniak and Samantha Saunion
by Malinda Masing
ONE FOR ALL, ALL FOR ONE 10-15 by Anthony Reyes, Medusa Staff
CHICKS AND POLITICS 16-17 by Luke Lanciano
BEACON OF SAFETY 18-20 by Mia Wiskow
AFRICA BOUND 21-23 by Zoë Mintz
B*TCH 24 by Maryann Akinboyewa
LAYING DOWN THE LAW 25-27 by Jennifer Osias
PAGEANT GIRLS 28-29 CLARITY
by Medusa Staff and Stephanie Breed
THE MAKEUP OF MAKEUP 30 by Daisy Becerra
AIMING TO PLEASE 31 by Dr. XX
VISIT OUR BLOG AT MEDUSAMAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM
Emmery Brakke Erin Carhart
assistant design editors Elizabeth McClain Alicia Zyburt
Billie Driscoll Stephanie Chan Sakina Kader
Nicole Roberts Malinda Masing Mary Beth Wagner
photo featuring Stephanie Gushlaw photographed by Isa Alcantara
faculty advisor Brad Gorham 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 2011 by their respective creators and may not be reproduced without their consent. fall 2011
the faces of fem by Laura Cohen illustration by Gregory Babcock
Duane Ford Duane Ford, a freshman studying earth science and secondary education, serves as a School of Education Assembly Representative in Student Association. “I identify as feminist because I believe everyone has potential to do something great, and gender should not limit opportunities available to you or have an impact your goals,” he said. Ford believes feminism is about equal opportunity for both men and women and hopes to use it in his future profession as a teacher and role model. He feels it is important for teachers to show they treat all students equally, regardless of their gender. “Teachers have a lot more jobs than just explaining criteria and curriculum,” he said. “They are psychologists in their own aspect. How you handle conflict within a class impacts the students.” He hopes students will pick up on the way he acts in his classroom and can make an impact on the way they act inside and 4
outside of the classroom. Ford feels that men may not understand feminism because they do not deal with the issues that women deal with on a day-to-day basis; however, attempting to understand is an improvement. “When you learn more about a certain topic, you become more sensitive to it,” said Ford. “If more men understood feminism, they would understand their own gender roles better and break barriers on both sides. Feminism can help men in understanding both women and themselves.”
Amy Snider, a senior studying history and political science, serves as the chief of staff in the Student Association, as well an Arts & Sciences assembly Representative. Snider rescribed herself as a “die-hard feminist.” Feminism is part of her political belief system and refuses to accept the idea that women are inferior to men solely because of their sex. “Part of [feminism] is believing that men and women are equal on all levels,” she said. “Feminist ideology is against both economic inequality and a society that insists upon women acting a certain way. There is no requirement in how you should dress, how you should act, or how you should think just because you are a woman.” She believes that everyone should be whoever they want to be without their sex determining how one should act.
Snider feels feminism is important because women and men are still not considered true equals in society. “Feminism isn’t outdated and we need it now more than ever,” she said. Snider is an advocate of female leaders, and she encourages women in Student Association to run for leadership positions. She is the president of She’s the First, a campus organization that sponsors female education in the developing world Feminism is part of who Snider is, regardless of what profession she goes into. “Wherever my life leads me, I know empowering women is going to be something I strongly advocate for and believe in. It truly affects every part of my life,” Snider said. fall 2011
smooth runnings by Lauren Stefaniak photo by Elina Berzins
n an industry where Veet, Skintimate and Nair dominate the legs and wallets of women in the U.S., an underlying market has been largely ignored: male athletes. Whether for increased speed, quicker healing time for road rash, less pain during massages, or for plain aesthetics—none of which are backed by scientific evidence—runners, bikers, and swimmers alike have turned to the razor to lop off their excess fuzz. One such Cross Country runner is Robert Molke, a junior marketing and public relations double major and selfproclaimed avid leg shaver. Even though it has no effect on his times as a member of the Cross Country team Molke said that shaving his legs has become an integral part of his life. “I do it all the time, probably because all the guys on the team are doing it, and a lot of the professional runners do as well,” he said. “I think it looks cool, too.” But Molke has faced some criticism for his leg shaving—though it’s come from an unlikely crowd. “It’s fine amongst teammates,” Molke said. “However, it’s sort of funny outside the team. Some girls don’t care, but the girls who are against it are really against
it, and I don’t know why. I get a really harsh reaction against it from girls more than any guy I’ve ever met.” This reaction may be linked to socially constructed norms that women may not realize they’re following, Molke suggested. “People associate men not shaving their legs as a ‘macho thing’ and I’m not really sure why it represents that,” he said. “I know a lot of girls who say they would still shave their legs if it wasn’t socially acceptable.” Criticism aside, Molke claims that even if he wasn’t a runner, he’d continue to shave his legs. “If I hadn’t done it before running, I wouldn’t do it because I wouldn’t have thought to or it wasn’t socially accepted,” said Molke. “If I stopped running now, I would continue to do it, though. I think it shows more muscle definition.” As Molke shows, aesthetics sometimes run the gamut when it comes to men shaving their legs. With motives like his breaking down social customs, there may be a new market for the hair removal industry—one that doesn’t prey on the legs of women, but admittedly would shift the compulsive desire to be hair-free from one target to another.
Ladies of the
Revolution: The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipients by Malinda Masing illustration by Natalya Linina
“Where we have seen women leaders, they have been strong, honest and effective. They have all left something behind that they and their people can be proud of.” -Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2011) Resilience and an unwavering desire to spark change earned 73-year-old Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the title of Liberia’s “Iron Lady.” She was jailed once and exiled twice for voicing disdain for the tumultuous regime that controlled Liberia in the 1980s, and her tough (though unsuccessful) campaign for president against Charles Taylor in 1997 helped cement her nickname. Sirleaf, Liberia’s first female president, took office in January 2006. She has since worked to rebuild the internally-conflicted nation, which
has a history of corrupt politics and civil unrest. In addition to encouraging foreign investments and building infrastructure, she focuses on education and female rights. Johnson has a long history specializing in economics and has worked for the World Bank, as well as Citibank in Nairobi. She has also served on human rights advisory boards, such as Women Waging Peace (USA). Internationally, she has been hailed as an exceptional leader and force for change. She is the mother of four sons and the grandmother of 11 children.
“Truly women have a place, truly women have a face and truly the world has not been functioning well without the input, in every sphere, of women.” -Leymah Gbowee (2011) Leymah Gbowee, 39, has gained notoriety for her passionate involvement in the Liberian protest movement and her atypical approaches to protest. Gbowee moved to Liberia’s capital when she was 17 and became involved in human rights issues. She first worked as a trauma counselor for the ex-child soldiers of Charles Taylor’s regime, and later led a women’s peace movement that pressured Taylor to sign the Accra Peace Accord in 2003. Gbowee’s passion is evident in her campaign for peace. She encouraged women to remain abstinent until peace was achieved, and she threatened to disrobe in public if the peace treaty was not passed. It was a different approach, but it bolstered camaraderie between the protesting women and caused a social stir in the male-dominated society. Gbowee now serves on Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is executive director of the Women in Peace and Security Network, which focuses on educating women and promoting political articipation.
“It is all about justice, and justice can be attained through having the rulers accountable to their people.” -Tawakkul Karman (2011) A mother of three, Tawakkul Karman, 32, has also earned herself the nickname “mother of the revolution” in Yemen. A Yemeni journalist known for her persistent opposition to President Ali Abdulleh Saleh’s repressive, three decadelong regime. She was imprisoned in January 2011 and was released soon after, following a massive outpouring of protestors demonstrating against her arrest. Her years of work organizing and participating in protests have made her an international figure. Karman strongly encourages young people to protest against the Saleh’s regime and believes that they are necessary in changing Yemen. She promotes a more liberal strain of female rights that are sometimes unpopular among extremist members of the group. Her actions have inspired an unprecedented outpouring of Yemeni women to protest in the streets. She founded Women Journalists without Chains in 2005, bringing together issues of freedom of speech and women’s rights. fall 2011
MEDUSA THE FOLD
Above: Carlie Whitmire, Stephanie Gushlaw, Carly Romenesko Right: Flings Joyner Owusu-Agyapong, Ashley Keyes, Serenity Martin, Charma Harris
one BOND OF
photography by Isa Alcantara styling by Elina Berzins
“We’re a big family full of very different people, but it just clicks. Even though it is an individual sport, our team is really great together. “
“We have a strong connection, because all four of us do sprints. [Sprint events] are exciting, just knowing that you have that one shot. You can’t false start. You get one chance.”
n this photo essay, Medusa explores and recognizes females in the SU community, who through their dedication and athleticism, exhibit unity through their number. Despite being on a large team, or organization, members of Track and Field and ROTC depict their strength and dedication through their bond, without solely focusing on their physiques.
SEE MORE PHOTOS AT MEDUSAMAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM
“One advantage is how close I am with the other females in ROTC,” she said, “since there are only a couple of us in a large group of males. We’ve become extremely close.”
by Jennifer Osias illustration by Lucia Procaccio
In the United States
Washington, D.C. — The “Protect Life Act,”
sometimes referred to as the “Let Women Die” bill, passed in the House, October 13, 2011. If the bill passes the Senate, women covered under the Affordable Care Act will no longer be allowed to purchase plans from insurance companies that include preventive services in their plans. Moreover, hospitals will not be required to perform abortions even when they could save the mother’s life. The bill still includes the Hyde Amendment, which allows abortions in cases of rape or incest. President Obama released a statement before the House vote, saying he would veto the bill if it came to his desk. The bill is not expected to pass the Democratcontrolled Senate, however. Government officials announced that starting on Aug. 1, 2012, under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will be required to provide “Women’s Wellness Preventative Services” without charging a co-pay. Some of the services covered include birth control and birth control counseling, annual doctor visits, STI and HIV screening and counseling, breast feeding support, supplies, and
counseling, in addition to domestic abuse screening. Some have projected premiums may increase to help cover these costs, depending on insurance plans. North Carolina —The “Women’s Right to
Know Act,” which stipulates a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions, went into effect Oct. 26, 2011. The day before the law went into effect, a federal judge rescinded a provision that required doctors to show the patients ultrasounds of the fetus, as well as make the patients listen to the fetus’s heartbeat. Wisconsin, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee, Alabama & South Carolina —
Stricter voter identification legislation went into effect in select states across the country, with approval pending in numerous others. Some argue these laws disenfranchise
Around the World many demographics, including the poor, minorities, and women. Researchers at the Brennan Center for Justice point out complications with the new laws, which would require proof of citizenship and photo ID with a legal name. Since most women change their last names because of marriage or divorce, their birth certificates, passports and other forms of citizenship documentation from before their name changes will be invalid. Although these documents can be reissued, the time and the costs associated with that can be burdensome, especially for low-income women who may not be able to take time off from work to undergo the process. For example, the cost of a passport—one of the accepted proofs of citizenship—starts at $140.00. The routine processing takes six weeks. Although these laws are intended to prevent voter fraud, they can also prevent some groups from exercising their legal rights to participate in the electoral process.
China — Chinese officials announced a short-term campaign on, Aug. 16, 2011 aimed at curbing gender-selective abortions. This issue has been a concern for the Chinese government since 2004, when 117 boys were born for every 100 girls. The campaign seeks to punish those who perform procedures to determine the sex of the child for any non-medical reason, in addition to bringing awareness to the growing gender imbalance in China. Saudi Arabia — Women will be allowed to vote and even run for candidacy in the next municipal elections, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced Sept. 25, 2011. Although the next elections are not for another four years, many activists concur this is a critical step forward in a monarchy where women are banned from driving and are subject to male guardianship in virtually all spheres of public life.
Beacon of Safety by Mia Wiskow photo by Ann Sullivan
MAIN CAMPUS MAP
s members of the Syracuse University community, it is crucial to be up to date on safety precautions to avoid potentially dangerous situations. We have all heard of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) at SU, which offers many different safety services that are available at students’ fingertips. While the occasional mishap may occur from time to time, it is imperative to be informed about what to do, where to go and who to call. At night, walking in groups is always a good idea, but if you must leave an event alone, there are various shuttles and transportation services available
to take you where you need to go. DPS public information officer Jennifer M. Horvath notes that, “It may take a while--up to 45 minutes or so--for the safety marshal or shuttle to reach your location, although escorts are prioritized – if you are in a potentially unsafe location, the escort will try to get to you as soon as possible.” Main campus and surrounding apartment complex shuttle services are Shuttle 44, Caz and Centro Limo buses, Shuttle-U-Home and Late Night Orange Express, which run throughout the night hours. These services, however, go to specific
MEDUSA FEATURE destinations—they do not go to Manley Field House, South Campus, University Village, or Park Point Apartments. If you need transportation to one of these areas, sign up at the DPS office at Watson Hall or call 315-443-SAFE (7233) for a walking or direct shuttle escort. Transportation is free when you show your student ID. To find out specifics on operation areas, how to sign up or other shuttle conditions, check out the FAQ’s on the DPS website at http:// publicsafety.syr.edu. Officer Horvath says the DPS team “always encourages students to plan ahead, know the bus schedules, and make a plan for getting home safely.” If you do end up alone, go into a building and wait for a shuttle or group of friends. Since most buildings have restricted access based on college enrollment and housing situation, it’s important to know which buildings you can access across campus. DPS offers the Blue Light System for students to use in times of danger or emergency. Various blue lights erected
across campus act as signals for distress. The purpose of the system is to create a path from light to light to alert authorities of a person’s location. When a blue light is pressed, it also directly connects the person with the communications center at DPS, according to the Public Safety website. Since it is dangerous to stay in one place during an emergency situation, the blue lights not only serve as a guide for DPS, but also as a way to keep away from an attacker. See the map below. But the Blue Light System isn’t perfect. Despite the 152 blue light beacons located across main and south campuses, it can be difficult to see other blue light stations when getting from one to another. For example, blue lights near the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, Shaw and Sadler halls, Manley South and various locations on Slocum Heights seem to stand alone across great distances of campus. This precaution serves as a reminder that students shouldn’t just rely on one safety feature—have a backup plan.
SOUTH CAMPUS MAP UNIVERISTY VILLAGE
SKYBARN GOLDSTEIN STUDENT CENTER
EY FIELD HOUSE
BLUE 1/8 LIGHT
TENNITY ICE SKATING PAVILION
by Zoë Mintz photo by Alyssa Stone illustration by Alicia Zyburt
A group of third grade AfricanAmerican boys gather at the Northeast Community Center at 716 Hawley Ave. in Syracuse’s North Side. They are part of the Africa Bound Culture Club, a Say Yes to Education initiative carried out by the community center on Friday evenings. With braided hair, a zebra top, and pink glasses, community outreach director Vanessa Johnson, 54, leads them. “What are your heritages?” Johnson asks the group. The children respond: Puerto Rican, Jamaican, Dominican—one even says, “the South.” “Put your hands on the table,” Johnsons says. They all do. “Look at all those beautiful shades of brown,” she says. “Jamaica—the people who originally inhabited that island did not look like you. You are African. That is where that color comes from. Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic—the same goes for you. You all have African heritage.” Johnson was addressing a problem
she cares deeply about in the North Side community: the violent racial clashes that exist between the local African-Americans and African refugees. She focuses her efforts on educating African-American children about African culture to promote acceptance and tolerance, she said. “You’re taking people from one war zone and placing them in another war zone,” she said. “A couple years ago at Edward Smith School, black kids threw Clorox on Sudanese kids—on the school bus—because they were ‘too dark.’” Johnson knows what it’s like to be bullied at school based on racial stereotypes. She grew up in Camillus, a predominantly white Syracuse suburb in the 1960s. There were 800 students in her high school graduating class, but only seven black students in the entire school. She experienced racial bullying throughout her childhood. In fourth grade, classmates would spit on her. In high school, kids would call her a nigger. “The teachers didn’t do anything to stop fall 2011
MEDUSA THE FOLD it,” she recalled. Despite her treatment at school, Johnson was raised by a family that had a history of persistently defying the expectations of what black Americans should be in society. “Growing up, I was surrounded by independent women with strong personalities,” she said. Throughout her childhood, Johnson would hear stories about her grandmother—a college graduate in Texas—who talked back to storeowners who wouldn’t let her try on clothes in the dressing room. Johnson’s father’s family helped hide young black men in the floorboards when the KKK came to take them away. But her mother is her biggest role model. “She taught me to be independent,” Johnson said. She recalls how her mother refused to divide household chores by gender between her three siblings. “There were no girl chores or boy chores. We all learned how to sew, mow the lawn and cook.” Education was important. Both her parents were college graduates who emphasized the power knowledge can bring. “I was told to get my education no matter what was going on at school,” Johnson said. One of Johnson’s earliest memories is of sitting on her father’s lap with the local newspaper before them, with him reading the articles to her. “We talked about everything,” she said. “My parents didn’t try to hide anything from us.” Outside of her family, Girl Scouting became Johnson’s passion throughout her teenage years. “Scouting made me feel that there was nothing girls couldn’t do,” she says. “I could build a latrine, pitch a tent, and portage a canoe. I loved those wood-girl experiences.” This sense of gender equality in scouting did not translate into her school life, however. 22
“My mom taught me that life was a series of doors down a long corridor,” she said. “There were doors you didn’t want to open, like drugs, but there were doors that were opportunities.” Rather than turning to anger and hate at her classmates and society, Johnson
THERE WERE NO GIRL CHORES OR BOY CHORES. WE ALL LEARNED HOW TO SEW, MOW THE LAWN AND COOK. decided to turn her experience as one of the only black students in a white suburban school into a mission “to lay the way for the next set of black kids,” she said. Her struggle might teach others acceptance, she hoped. This mission became a lifelong career as well as a personal goal. Johnson has worked at social service agencies that advocate for marginalized populations. She has worked at family shelters, mental hospitals, teen pregnancy prevention programs and community centers—helping the abused, the homeless, the mentally disabled and the financially disadvantaged. Today, she is also a griot (a West African storyteller) at the Matilda Joslyn Gage house—a place dedicated to one of the most instrumental and often discounted early feminists. Johnson tells
history through song, reenacting stories of the Underground Railroad and the civil rights movement. “One of the figures I love extremely is Ida B. Wells,” says Johnson, referring to an AfricanAmerican leader in the early civil rights movement who refused to march in back of the parade during the 1913 suffrage march in Washington, D.C. “Blacks were asked to march in the back, so as not to ‘offend’ the Southern men who they were asking for the right to vote,” explained Johnson. Wells refused to comply and pushed her way to the front, walking alongside white supporters. Johnson exhibits a similar boldness in her work. “My awareness of who I am came out of growing up in a place where being black was not accepted. Instead of bringing me down, it made me more defiant,” she said. “I was the one with the Afro, fan of Angela Davis and the Black Panthers.” Before college she saw herself as black first, woman second. “I didn’t see white women’s issues as my own,” she said. But through her career in social service work has changed her perspective. “I believe the strongest way to make change is through coalition. I do think that we’re not going to change poverty for women, or poverty for our children, without coalitions,” Johnson said. “I do see a coalition of women that crosses color, that crosses socio-economic levels, as the only way for those changes to be made.” Johnson lives by her own example. In 1989, Johnson started Africa Bound —a program that takes children between the ages of 12-18 to Ghana. She began the program after one African-American boy
told her that he would never be able to visit Africa because he was poor. “He was an 11-year-old boy that never saw himself moving out of the station of life that his parents were in,” she said. “Without even thinking, I promised to take him to Africa.” “My community work came out of me wanting to share black history with both African-American and white kids,” Johnson continued. “I want them to know that they are part of the history, too, and we cannot deal with racism separately.” Gina Leano was one participant who went on an Africa Bound trip in 2006, when she was 16 years old. A sibling of 10 who has never left the country, Leano was intimidated. To boot, she was the only white participant on the trip. “You know on forms there’s sometimes a category for ethnicity and you have to check a box?” Asked Leano, who hails from Houston. “I remember Vanessa asking me whether I was going to let myself be defined by that box, if I was going to let myself be in charge of how that box would impact my life.” Leano now lives outside that box. In college, she studied abroad in Peru and China, and she is passionate about learning new languages. “I think the trip gave her permission to try new things in life,” Johnson said. Regardless of the participants’ backgrounds, the Africa Bound program profoundly affects everyone who goes. Johnson described it is that many children ask her if they can stay in Africa. They find it freeing to be in a place without racial stigma. “Racism is pervasive in everything we do,” Johnson said. “It is so woven in our society. So, to take them to Ghana, a place where race isn’t an issue—where it’s more about culture than color—I hope they can gain some perspective on life back here.” fall 2011
B!+©# B!+©# B!+©# B!+©#
SAY WHAT? by Maryann Akinboyewa
BITCH. It’s an explicit word often used to refer to women. It’s used against men to illustrate weakness or effeminate behavior. It’s a word used to either assert oneself or to express endearment between women. One entry in the Oxford English Dictionary defines bitch as a “lewd or sensual woman,” a term “not now in decent use; but formerly common in literature.” It also defines it as “the female of the dog, fox, wolf, and occasionally other beasts.” Yet traditionally speaking, the term hasn’t been used colloquially in a positive manner. In fact, when asked, several Syracuse University women spoke out against the use of the word. Sophomore biology major Kristen Reeves explained, “Bitch is something that is very condescending, very disrespectful, it’s meant to put women down. There is no positive output of that word.” But ask Professor Gwendolyn Pough, a women’s and gender studies associate professor, and she will proudly own the title of the “bitch.” “I remember when I was an undergrad,” began Pough. “I was in an African American studies class and I am arguing with this guy and of course, I’m not going to shut up and he says, ‘Oh, you’re such a bitch.’ I was like, ‘Did you call me a bitch?’ And he says, “Yes, I called you a bitch.” I said, ‘Thank you.’” Pough’s story highlights the struggle many women face when they assert themselves or command respect. Oftentimes, women remain limited to two choices: keep quiet, or be the “bitch” with an opinion. 24
For some students, it didn’t matter what was being said nearly as much as who was saying it. Many SU women argued that between women, ‘bitch’ was a term of endearment used to express the close bond between female friends. However, when a man uses the term against a woman, it is viewed as derogatory. Sophomore communications and rhetoric studies major Aqiyla Kumar-Moody explained, “If a girl says ‘Oh hey, that’s my bitch’ or ‘You’re a bitch,’ it’s a joke, but as soon as a guy disrespects a girl in that way, it’s ‘Oh, he’s being disrespectful.’” Freshman Elaina Powless agreed. “I consider myself a bitch but I don’t want people, especially guys, calling me a bitch,” Powless said. “I find it offensive.” When asked about the reclamation of the word ‘bitch,’ several students remained skeptical. Senior psychology major Toni Green said, “I feel like there is no way of reclaiming it because it just has such a strong tie to being degrading.” The term bitch may never be reclaimed by women. Still, one must ask: Can a woman consider herself a feminist, yet use a term commonly reserved to demean women? Professor Gwendolyn Pough offers, “Definitely. The whole thing about feminism is that it is about choice,” she said. “It’s about being able to name oneself. It’s about being able to choose one’s desires [and] go after one’s desires. It’s about choice.”
by Luke Lanciano illustration by Sabrina Hardof
In these early primary contests, you can almost smell the pandering. For the first time, a female Republican—Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann—is holding her own among the good ol’ boys of the Grand Old Party, which is certainly progress. For us feminists, one of the central political issues is finding a candidate that will support women’s rights, whether by rallying for equal pay legislation, greater maternal/reproductive health care opportunities, or even just the ambition to dismantle another so-called “glass ceiling” in the political arena. Here’s a brief overview of some interesting campaign issues to monitor throughout the year.
Over the course of two televised GOP debates this September, an interesting disagreement arose between candidates Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann over a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, a well-tested method of preventing some forms of cervical cancer. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas issued an executive order in February 2007 mandating the vaccinations of teenage Texan girls, an order that was overturned by a veto-proof majority in the Texas State Legislature in May of that year. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, a hero to social conservatives who took in 23 teenage girls as a foster parent during the 1990s, lambasted Perry for forcing girls to take a “dangerous” drug. She contended it was in violation of their rights, and went so far as to say the HPV vaccine can cause mental retardation, a claim the American Academy of Pediatrics dismissed as holding “absolutely no scientific validity.” Bachmann has since backtracked, likely because many health professionals and experts in the field—including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—happen to disagree with her hyperbole. Even the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage/adoption and stem cell research, said it supports universal access to the HPV vaccine but opposes making it compulsory, as Perry had wanted.
Where should the line be drawn between parental rights and public health concerns?
It’s no mystery the opposition to abortion is a key plank in any social conservative’s platform. In primary season, it is a downright scramble for conservatives to prove how much they disapprove of abortions, with five candidates—Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry—signing the Susan B. Anthony List, a pledge to oppose all pro-abortion legislation. Texas Representative Ron Paul, before entering politics, was a gynecologist, and within his practice was morally opposed to abortion. Personally, if I ever needed to see a gynecologist (which would require a bit of surgery first) I probably wouldn’t want Ron Paul peeking under my petticoats and explaining his moral qualms about abortion. The three main non-signers of the pledge are Herman Cain, who has since voiced his unequivocal opposition to abortion; Jon Huntsman, who has said that while he is staunchly pro-life he refuses to sign any pledge that would constrain him as president; and Mitt Romney, who was pro-choice as Governor of Massachusetts, but now considers himself pro-life. Most feminists consider themselves pro-choice, which means abortion should be legal, accessible, safe and up to the prospective mother. That’s my view, but there are those who disagree, arguing that life begins at conception, a fetus is no different than a human being and it should be respected as such. CHECK OUT MORE CONTENT MEDUSAMAGAZINE.BLOGSPOT.COM
With all the hilarity from watching the Republican primaries unfold, many lose sight of other candidates, namely the incumbent, Barack Obama. He’s a prochoice candidate, and while he’s never had to take a stand on the HPV debate, I would imagine he’d be in favor of greater access, at the very least. His tenure in office has been pretty fruitful for women’s rights (given he’s signed equal pay legislation), his healthcare reform package will now require insurance companies to provide full coverage for birth control, and he’s appointed women to key positions. These positions include two females in the Supreme Court, the secretary of state and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Combine that with greater focus on strengthening laws to prevent and end domestic abuse both domestically and abroad, and he seems like a pretty solid candidate for women to rally for. If you’re of a slightly more liberal persuasion, you might also be interested to hear about Jill Stein, who’s running for the Green Party’s nomination. She’s got the credentials of Obama and an even stronger focus on economic and social justice, including support for a living wage, substantially more maternal benefits for expectant and new mothers, and a broad commitment to a more just society. As a Green Party candidate, you’ll never see her in any presidential debate. Due to our two-party electoral system, she likely won’t win any states in 2012, but in case you wanted to support a strong woman for office and can’t stomach Bachmann’s social conservatism—Jill Stein is your gal.
Q: What is the project about? A: This whole project is wondering what the cost of raising these girls in this kind of atmosphere is. What is going to happen to them, psychologically? These girls had an understanding of beauty ideals well beyond their years, and they had these ideas about how to present themselves in sexy ways. Q: How did you get the idea for the project? A: I was raised in Santa Fe, California. The atmosphere was completely abnormal and extremely materialistic. When I was five, everyone’s moms were having plastic surgery. The subculture of beauty pageants is a parallel of the excessive importance of being attractive in the community I grew up in. I feel like these girls suffer a complete loss of innocence that I can also relate to. 28
Q: When and where were the photographs taken? A: I’m pretty sure that the photos you’re using were taken at a beauty pageant in Pennsylvania, and also beauty pageants in Massachusetts. Q: Who are the girls and what is the background on them? A: I met them through photographing beauty pageants. Q: How do you think your project reflects the sexualization of young girls? Did you see any effects of sexualization on the girls? A: Half of my project was documentary, and the other half of the project, I went into the homes of these girls. I decided to do very formal portraits of them in their bedrooms.
Lindsay Carey is a senior photography major at The Art Institute of Boston. To contact her to see more of her work, email her at lcarey3@aiboston. edu . Check out the Medusa blog for additional color photographs in the series.
I chose to not tell them what to wear, then they got in front of the camera—I did not tell them how to pose. Whatever pose they gave me, I captured and documented that. The expressions that these girls gave me, without any direction whatsoever, are these very sultry, seductive stares. There’s so much awareness when a camera is pointed at them,about what they need to be attractive in front of a camera. Q: Why do you think that is? Is it because they’re used to being in front of cameras? A: I feel like without beauty pageants, there is enough exaggerated focus in America on superficial beauty in our culture. When I take these portraits, there is a heavy, unseen presence of their mothers. In this industry, it’s clearly about your physical looks. And that’s
like, an adult beauty ideal. These kind of ideas are being expressed by these little girls, which is learned through this world of glitz and glamor that their mothers put them into. Q: What other type of work do you do? A: I’m a portrait photographer in general. I do freelance work as well, but for school, like for art projects. I’ve also done documentaries on drag queens and stuff like that, and the transformation of man to woman. This was my first beauty pageant project. Q: What was the most eye-opening aspect about this project? A: It just astounds me to see how much American beauty ideals are affecting girls this young.
DIRT makeup on
by Daisy Becerra Illustration by Alicia Zyburt
What’s in the everyday beauty products sitting on our dressers? The truth is more than just skin deep.
or many people, the practice of applying beauty products, whether a simple application of moisturizer or a defined eye, is a daily routine. However, one must wonder what’s actually in the products applied so freely to the face. The ingredient list on many products resembles a chemistry book and average readers can hardly decipher the terminology. According to No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt, the federal government cannot require companies to reveal safety information about the product. According to the FDA Authority Over Cosmetics’ website, cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA pre-market approval authority, with the exception of color additives. Dr. Joseph Chaiken, a chemistry professor at Syracuse University, has worked with a major cosmetics company and said the industry thoroughly tests products before they hit the market. “The people who are selling it know what [the composition is],” said Dr. Chaiken. “They don’t want to kill off their customer base if all indications show that [it] is safe.” That doesn’t preclude companies from using potentially dangerous ingredients. 30
According to No More Dirty Looks, there are some shampoos and cosmetics that contain coal tar, a carcinogen lab tests showed caused tumors. “It has to be isolated and purified, and I think it helps in some way to mitigate the toxicity,” said Dr. Chaiken. “It’s still toxic... but they’re all the same. [Every product that contains a red dye] and it’s this red [dye]...it’s the same coal tar.” According to No More Dirty Looks, nail polishes, antiperspirants, shampoos and makeup contain ingredients like formaldehyde (used for embalming), fragrance, and nanoparticles. Each contains thousands of chemicals that seep through the skin’s layers. Although side effects of these chemicals have yet to be determined, consumers should remain aware that without the FDA regulating what you put on your skin, it’s up to the cosmetic firms to monitor the safety of their products and ingredients. As long as the ingredients and the finished products are deemed “safe,” the product is properly labeled and the ingredients don’t cause the product to be “adulterated or misbranded” under FDA’s laws, any chemical cocktail is allowed on the shelves. Considering these risks, au naturel is the only safe option.
Aiming to Please Learn to squirt
As a senior, I thought it was appropriate to take some time to reflect on one of DR. XX my crowning achievements at SU. Many underclassmen students set goals for themselves to achieve before graduation, and I was no different. For many, such goals include landing a killer internship, making the Dean’s list, or being elected an officer of their student organization. And while I, too, had several academic achievements to reach, my main goal was a little different. I wanted to squirt. Perhaps stemming from a fascination with porn more than anything else, I had my doubts that squirting was possible—as did my boyfriend. And, truth be told, we both aren’t convinced that gushing sprays spanning an entire room don’t have a little camera magic going on. But as I did some research and found more and more sites depicting ways women could learn to squirt, I became more and more convinced that it might be possible. The path to squirtdom no longer seemed exclusively reserved for the theatrics of pornography. I can’t say my road to squirting wasn’t fun; it certainly was. But it was also frustrating. Granted, it wasn’t as if every waking sexual escapade I had was striving for squirting, but the times the attempt was made were always… dry. Well not dry, but not the gushing—well, you get what I’m saying. It wasn’t until earlier this semester that I finally reached my goal. Neither he nor I had any intention of trying to get me to squirt when it happened; it just did. Some very aggressive stimulation, one absolutely mind-blowing orgasm later, and, well, the evidence was there. After years of research and experimentation, I’d finally achieved what I’d once thought was impossible. Ladies, I realize squirting might not be at the top of everyone’s wish list—but if it is, don’t lose hope. You can do it—though I’d recommend some study on techniques for faster results! And this can be taken into consideration for anything, whether you’re trying to find the G spot or orgasm from oral sex or landing a killer internship or anything else—keep trying! Though, take a lesson from me. Sometimes you can want something so badly, and try so hard to make it happen, you get nowhere. But then, when you least expect it, it comes bursting into your life [pun intended]. As a senior reflecting on goals set for myself, the crowning achievement of squirting (gushing, cumming, etc.) rides high on my list. Who knew so much could be learned from a goal inspired by porn? 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.