Spring 2014 uncsiren.com
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org EXECUTIVE EDITORS Morgan Johnson Sarah Pederson
MANAGING EDITORS Wilson Hood Mary Koenig
BLOG EDITOR Mars Earle
DESIGN AND LAYOUT Nan Copeland Lisa Dzera Leah Ford Morgan Johnson Meaghan McFarland
Dr. Michele Berger, Blanche Brown, Diamond Brown, Ash Conrad, Dory DeWeese, Martha Glenn, Tomiko Hackett, Matt Herman, Mike Hoffman, Christi Hurt, Aggie Igboko, Martha Isaacs, Garrett Ivey, India Jenkins, Amanda Kubic, Karishma Lalchandani, Ben Lineberger, Meaghan McFarland Tyler Mofield, Maria Noyola, Temitope Olofintuyi, Grace Peter, Andrea Pino, Caroline Pittman, Rita Phetmixay, Kelli Raker, Cara Schumann, Meredith Shutt, Meghan Sobel, J. Gray Swartzel, Jennifer Waldkirch, Alice Wilder, Lauren Nakao Winn, Dr. Kortney Ziegler
Ariel Li. Heat. 2014. Oil on canvas. As a proud graduating senior this year, Ariel Li is attempting to fulfill all of her most pressing artistic fantasies before entering the real world. Currently, she is interested in manipulating form through transparencies to suggest movement and memory. Heat began as an interpretation of the idiom “in the heat of the moment,” which evolved into an opportunity to explore and express the dichotomy of female sexuality. Her process includes putting her friends through the rigamarole of her amateur directing in absurd scenarios, with archived photo evidence. More of Ariel’s work can be viewed at: alportfoliohome.tumblr.com
UNC Student Congress Campus Y Center for Global Initiatives Carolina Women’s Center Classic Graphics
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Feeling innovative? Want to start a new project that has the potential for social impact? Apply to the Y Fund! Email the Directors of Development if you have any questions concerning the Y Fund application process at campusy. email@example.com
D Dear Reader,
Thank you for picking up the most recent issue of The Siren. What follows is a collection of poems, artwork, and words that we chose in an effort to lift up multiple and diverse perspectives from our campus. These are our stories, and we hope that you find voices within these pages that resonate with you. We aim to spark dialogue that promotes inclusion, awareness, and diversity at our University and beyond. If you find yourself inspired or feel that a valuable perspective is missing, please join your voice with our Siren call—we welcome new members at any time! In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in April, we chose “Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Assault” as our theme for the spring 2014 issue. We hope this issue will not only provide critical analysis but further act as a powerful connection to antiviolence activism and community. In this issue, you will find a calendar of all SAAM events, resources for survivors and allies of survivors, and organizations working to end violence. The issue contains many heavy topics and graphic content, and we encourage our readers to practice self-care while engaging with these perspectives. In our table of contents, you can find a trigger warning guide marking articles that describe multiple forms of violence or contain graphic depictions of violence. As reflected in this issue’s collection of stories, we see the pervasiveness of violence in our ways of life and identities. Violence is perpetrated in multiple cultural spheres—from fashion and media, to literature and music, to the very language we use to build human connection. We see violence enacted on people in the form of police and policies, institutions such as the state and church, and even our own University. We hope to illuminate a culture of violence and to negate its destructive force. We invite you to listen to our anger, hope, and strength. There is pain in these pages, but there is also courage. Know that we are in solidarity with survivors of violence everywhere, and that we encourage our readers to be a part of our healing process. We want to thank all of our contributors for giving their voices here, and we look forward to more collaboration with our supporters in the future. In this issue, we recognize that work is being done to end violence on our campus, but we still have a long way to go. We must build a supportive community, ask the challenging questions, and hold each other accountable. Siren is still a young organization with much growth left to achieve. We hope you’ll consider joining us.
Love and Empowerment, Morgan Johnson and Sarah Pederson Executive Editors firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
If you are interested in submitting to The Siren (print issue or blog) and/or joining our team, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wilson Hood Managing Editor
Mary Koenig Managing Editor
Mars Earle Blog Editor
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Trigger Warning Key: Abuse Addiction Gender-based Violence Harassment Racial Violence Rape / Sexual Assault Stalking State Violence Trauma † Graphic material
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uncsiren.com Story Behind the Cover Letter from the Editors
FEATURES Pretty Hurts Ugly Woman † lll Violence in Literature lll Rape Culture Shock lll “Fierce” in the Context of Blackness Language & Oppression † ll Defining Sexual Assault A Letter on Objectification ll The Elephant in the Room Save Your World ll The Power of Your Story How to Start as a Male Feminist and Ally
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CAMPUS Guest Piece: Kelli Raker Guest Piece: Christi Hurt l Guest Piece: Dr. Michele Berger † ll Creating Safe Spaces in Our Community l “Eggshells” Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UNC
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The Siren is a student-produced publication of UNC-Chapel Hill that promotes feminist perspectives on issues surrounding gender, identity, sexuality and human rights. We provide readers resources for discovering, developing and challenging their self-identities and life philosophies by exposing the daily world to the glaring examination of feminist critique. In this way, we aim to address the challenges of inequalities not only global and national, but particularly within the UNC-CH community.
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tation. Dinah 26 empowerment.
WE DO CONNECT
sources for survivors nal violence and host rograms to spread anding on our campus.
facebook.com/projectdinah twitter.com/projectdinah email@example.com
very ship is fear ce.
ARTS l Sexism on Stage l Tightrope † l Do You Know Carolina? l The Caged Bird
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lll Orange is the New Oppression l “Dear mama, how do you feel?” † ll The State of Violence ll The Line Between † lllll Guest Piece: Dr. K. Ziegler † l Purity Culture
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In Greek mythology, the Sirens were enchanted creatures sporting the head of a woman and the body of a bird. With their irresistible songs, the Sirens lured sea mariners toward land and rocky graves. We learn in “The Odyssey” that the Sirens’ songs, while deadly, were also full of wisdom. Hearing this, the hero Odysseus decided to try his fate by tying himself to the mast of his ship, but not before having his sailors put wax in their ears to protect them. Courage and restraint enabled Odysseus to hear and learn from the Sirens’ songs. He was then empowered to change his destiny. He made it past the islands safely. We at the Siren want to help change our future for the better as well. At first our message, like that of the Sirens, may evoke fear. The terms feminism, women’s rights, gender equality, gay rights and civil rights may cause many people to turn a deaf ear, like Odysseus’ sailors. But if you take the time to read our stories, you’ll find our songs full of wisdom and experience, too. We wish you good reading and hope our songs might inspire you as well.
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The Intersections of Gendered Fashion and Rape Culture By Garrett Ivey I need my black, slim-fit H&M sweatpants more than my Nana needs QVC—if you know Nana, then you know these pants are vital. I wear my H&M sweatpants with confidence. Those pants have been there for me at my highest and lowest points. I call them my “self-care pants.” Unfortunately, there is some higher power with a serious sense of humor. I had worn those sweatpants so much, they became holier than Gary the Pit Preacher. Upon seeing the first hole so clearly formed in quite an embarrassing area, I frantically dropped what I was doing and drove to Crabtree Valley Mall. To my utter despair, H&M no longer sells the pants I had grown to love more than Leslie Knope loves waffles. What was I to do? Wear actual pants? I think not. The minute my best friend stepped foot on the continent from her travels abroad, I said, “Hey! How was the trip? Can you fix my pants?” I went through a brief sorrowful point in my life when I left my pants with a friend miles away and couldn’t find them, so I would do anything I could to keep them in my life forever. Unfortunately, the Girl Scout I enlisted to sew my pants should have stuck to coercing me with cookies because none of her patchwork helped. I hit a wall, and not the one I had hit in high school pulling out of the Krispy Kreme. This wall was metaphorical and deeply saddening. The only other article of clothing I knew that closely resembled my glorious sweatpants was a pair of women’s leggings. Now, I’m not one to care about the opinions of others, but I definitely did not want to put myself on display in tight-fitting nylon. One day while perusing through Forever 21 with my best friend, I discovered “plus sized” leggings. While I will spare you my rant on how stigmas associated with sizing and America’s standards of
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beauty are deeply oppressive, I will say that I loved these leggings. They resembled my sweatpants I had loved so much but were marketed for a completely different audience. I had to think to myself, “What was so bad about wearing these leggings?” I was reminded of the time I was visiting a bible study at UNC and the speaker was discussing religious, heterosexual relationships. The speaker felt compelled to state that if a woman is in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship, she should not wear leggings for fear of enticing her partner too much. Thoughts like these perpetuate sexual assault and harassment. In a woman, “modesty” is desirable, and if a woman does not cover her body, she is seducing her mate and “causing” other men to do horrible things to her. Why is the blame not placed on the man who could not keep his eyes off of the woman and control his sexual urges? Quite frankly, any man who can’t contain himself on the street needs a serious lesson in self-control. We believe we live in a just society in which people get what they deserve and deserve what they get. This is not the case. Encouragement of the “belief in a just world” notion promotes the idea that individuals “cause” their own attacks, undermining victims of rape and sexual assault. Marginalization of survivors makes it more difficult to report an attack or abuse. It makes the victim/survivor feel less comfortable discussing his/ her/hir problems for fear he/she/ze will be judged by society. We can begin to facilitate change through eliminating social stigmas attached to fashion, holding abusers accountable for their actions and eradicating victim-blaming statements. People of all genders should be able to wear what makes them feel comfortable without fear of harassment or accusations of wrongdoing. So, I have to admit—I have tried leggings. I have no shame. I try to be as “Gone With the Wind fabulous” as possible on a daily basis. Fashion has no gender—we project gender onto fashion. I urge everyone to wear what makes them happy, and with this, be understanding of the fashion choices made by our peers. And to settle the debate that has been plaguing our culture, society and campus, I have discovered the answer to the question people are desperate to know—leggings ARE pants. & Garrett Ivey is a sophomore majoring in Psychology and Women’s & Gender Studies. His time at Carolina is spent watching every episode of The Golden Girls and ranting to everyone about the necessity of self-care.
woman By Tyler Mofield
As a young 20-something-year-old woman, street harassment (often referred to as “catcalling”) is a part of my daily life. Whenever I dress up, wear revealing clothing to stay cool during the summer, or wear make-up for aesthetic expression, I open myself up to the possibility of being targeted by men who think that my body and appearance are a public spectacle to be examined and judged. It’s frustrating to deal with unwanted attention whenever I try to look my best for myself in this culture where women are socialized to associate their physical appearance with their self-worth. This may not be true for all women, but for me, clothes and make-up are a form of creative expression that is a part of my self-care. If I’m upset or dealing with something, a floral mini-dress and red lipstick usually make me feel much better… until I’m walking around in Carrboro and a man twice my age yells “HEY BABY!” and I start to feel very vulnerable. This past year, however, I’ve noticed a growing online movement of women who take pride in being/dressing/looking “ugly.” They grow their body hair out, wear “unflattering” clothing, do unexpected and interesting things with their make-up, and actively aim for the aesthetic of “ugliness” in order to destabilize dominant assumptions about what women should look like. It’s rad. I love seeing fat activist women in crop tops that read “FUCK FLATTERING,” women who bleach and dye their eyebrows teal, women who shave parts or all of their heads, and women who wear clashing neon eyeshadows and lipstick. But actively aiming for “ugly” does more than just give women more autonomy over their aesthetic choices, it also works as a sort of protective shield against harassing jerks and unwarranted attention. If you do it right, you won’t even get negative attention because people are terrified of a woman who goes against the grain in such an easily recognizable way. I’ve been experimenting with this “ugly” movement for a few months now, and it’s been a lot of fun. Today I wore cheap sweatpants pulled up to my belly button with an ill-fitting crop top and men’s shoes, effectively looking like a mom in the ‘80s, and I felt powerful in my unattractiveness. My greasy, splotchy green hair, lack of make-up, and unpleasant scowl made me almost invisible to the men I encountered in public—and I loved it. No one told me I was beautiful/hot/sexy or that I had a nice ass, no one stared at me with longing or looked me up and down, and no stranger yelled at me from across the street or from out of a car. The people who did look or stare did so out of confusion or derision, which was delightful because I knew in those moments that I was breaking some fundamental, patriarchal rules. Being politically “ugly” works like a protective blanket that shields you from unwanted attention or advancements from strangers, while giving you more options for selfexpression. It’s awesome. & Tyler Mofield is a senior double majoring in Communications and Women’s & Gender Studies. Tyler is a self-proclaimed eccentric cat lady.
For me, clothes and make-up are a form of creative expression that is a part of my selfcare.
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Women ViolenceAgainstin literature
By Amanda Kubic
From Ovid’s poetic classic The Metamorphoses to E.L. James’ bestselling 50 Shades of Grey series, men’s violence against women has been and continues to be a prevalent theme in literature. Writers throughout the centuries have created male characters who use physical, sexual, and psychological violence against women as a means to act out their aggression and assert their masculinity, to enact revenge on other men who have emasculated them or harmed them, as means to express internalized misogyny, or as a way to “put women in their place” as submissive, second-class citizens. Many of the classic myths of ancient Greece and Rome that Ovid weaves together in The Metamorphoses involve men raping and sexually abusing women. In one myth, a woman, Philomela, is abducted, raped, and has her tongue cut out by her sister’s husband, Tereus. Tereus then holds Philomela captive in an abandoned cottage in the woods, locked away to be his sex slave. The story of Echo and Narcissus begins with a man, Cephisus, raping and nearly drowning Narcissus’s mother. The god of the underworld, Hades, abducts his young wife Persephone and forces her into a loveless marriage. Rape, abuse, and sexual coercion are present in an overwhelming number of the myths recounted in The Metamorphoses, as women are used as objects through which men seek to satisfy their sexual desires and prove their virility, dominance, and masculine power. In The Poem of El Cid, a 15th-century piece considered to be a national epic of Spain, the protagonist El Cid’s two daughters are brutally beaten with horse whips and spurs, raped, robbed, abandoned in the woods, and left for dead by their newlywed husbands, the Infantes of Carrion. The Infantes view the brutalization of El Cid’s daughters as an act of revenge against the Cid for a perceived slight to their honor. They thought the Cid and his men had made them look weak and foolish in an earlier battle, and so, by beating the Cid’s daughters as they would animals, the Infantes simultaneously try to reclaim their besmirched honor and insult the honor of El Cid and his family. This trend of men’s violence against women in literature has continued into more recent works, such as the novels in the popular teen Twilight series. In her book Seduced by Twilight: The Allure and Contradictory Messages of the Popular Saga, Natalie Wilson writes that the main male protagonist of the series, Edward Cullen, “is routinely shown to be arrogant, harshly sarcastic, and domineering…he drives
like a lunatic, routinely orders Bella [his female love interest] around, rolls his eyes at her, physically grabs/restrains her, enjoys making her jealous, and regularly makes his condescension apparent.” Edward both physically and psychologically abuses Bella as he “sabotages her car, follows/watches her without her permission, and even marks her with his scent” while constantly criticizing and belittling her, Wilson writes. Edward’s jealous, controlling, and often violent behavior indicates that he not only thinks of Bella as an inferior object in need of protection and worthy of condescension, but he also sees her as his property. And yet, as Wilson writes, we are supposed to see Edward as the “perfect boyfriend…an uber-masculine god” (94). E.L. James’ popular 50 Shades series appears to pick up where Twilight left off—with Christian Grey, a physically and psychologically abusive male protagonist who manipulates and abuses his female love interest, Anastasia Steele. In her article “What’s Wrong with 50 Shades of Grey,” writer Rachel Pomerance quotes Amy Bonomi, chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University, saying that “‘The book is a glaring glamorization of violence against women’…[Christian Grey] controls his young conquest, Anastasia Steele, through stalking, intimidation, isolation and humiliation. In response, Steele ‘begins to manage her behavior to keep peace in the relationship, which is something we see in abused women… Over time, she loses her identity and becomes disempowered and entrapped.’” Much like Bella in Twilight, Anastasia internalizes her oppression and accepts her role as a passive love object, forced into a position subordinate to the abusive man she is ultimately supposed to adore. It is often said that literature is a reflection of life. What then does it say that in all of these works, men’s violence against women is such a common and even accepted phenomenon? Is literature simply reflecting the historically patriarchal, sexist social structures that have long defined the way of life in so many cultures? As sociologist Suzanne Pharr says in her essay “Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism,” “Violence against women is directly related to the condition of women in a society that refuses [women] equal pay, equal access to resources, and equal status with males. From this condition comes men’s confirmation of their sense of ownership of women, power over women and assumed right to control women for their own means. Men physically and emotionally abuse women because they can, and because they live in a world that gives them permission.” Thus, if we hope to put an end to men’s violence against women, we as a society—and as individuals—must stop the perpetuation of patriarchy, sexism, sexist images, stereotypes, gender roles, and power differentials, the systems through which men are explicitly and implicitly given permission to perpetrate violence against women. We can start with our literature. & Amanda Kubic is a sophomore double majoring in Comparative Literature and Classical Civilization and minoring in Social & Economic Justice.
Self-portrait Back to the Leather Womb
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by J Gray Swartzel (background photo)
RAPE culture shock By Alice Wilder Originally published on SPARKsummit and republished here with their permission I thought the toughest adjustment when it came to starting college would be the workload, or self-discipline, or missing my friends and family. I was prepared for those challenges. What I didn’t expect was the anxiety that comes with wedging my fingernail into the groove of my pocket knife while walking home alone late at night. Or looking over my shoulder on dark streets, to make sure that the guy who was just behind me isn’t following too closely. Or getting my things and moving to another floor of the library after a guy sitting in a corner with a blank computer screen is staring at me every time I glance over. Or that sense of vulnerability when I’m in a study room at 1 A.M. and I’m the only girl in the room. Every day isn’t like this. There are nights when I walk home from the library only thinking about my awaiting bed, not about defending myself. Not every day is like this. There are nights when I’m so into my studying that I don’t notice that I’m the only girl in the room. But there are enough days filled with what I guess I’d call “rape culture fatigue” that I feel the need to talk about it. I went to a small magnet arts high school where the most hypermasculine guys were dance majors. The guys at Carolina display a different kind of masculinity. They sit outside their frat houses and stare at girls as they walk by. Guys yell things too crude to repost here at my friends and I at night. If I raise my hand half as many times as a guy in class, I’ll learn that he talked about how “intense” I am to the rest of the class. Rape feels like it’s everywhere here. I’m sure it’s everywhere at most universities. I know that it is not just Carolina, but there are still days when it is everywhere for me. It’s in every bathroom stall, on the flier that says “have you or someone you know experienced sexual assault?” and all I can do is mentally list all the people I know who are sexual assault survivors. It’s a long list. Rape is in the hall as I walk from the bathroom to my dorm room, past a flyer for a public talk in bright red letters: “RAPE: Is It Different At College?” One moment I’m thinking about what I’ll make for dinner and suddenly my mind is swirling, because yes, of course it is different at college. At college, students joke about assaults on campus-wide Facebook groups and treat assault as an opportunity for debate rather than a traumatic event. It’s hard not to feel anxious knowing that rapists walk the same streets as me, eat in the same dining hall, check out the same books.
Most rapes go unreported, and the ones that are reported rarely result in a conviction. I’d like to tell myself that it’s all irrational—after all, I know that the typical rapist isn’t some guy jumping out of the bushes: it’s a guy dancing next to you at a party or a mutual friend. But that doesn’t mean that I stop feeling afraid outside at night. It just means I must also be on my guard at a party on a Friday night. I have to feel afraid while showering in my dorm, because earlier this year a guy was caught leering at a girl in the shower. Then some students mocked her on social media. There are days when I want to go to the Dean’s office and ask where I can feel safe here. Not in the shower, at the library, on the sidewalk or at a party. When can I go a day without thinking about rape? About my friends who are survivors and about the strangers whose stories I know? I want to walk freely at night without fear. I want to walk down the street without guys harassing me. I want the university to do everything in their power to make sure that no rapists are on this campus. I want guys to stop saying that they aren’t “all like that” and instead stand with the feminist organizations that are working toward a solution. I’m so glad to see the amazing work that UNC’s Sexual Assault Task Force has done so far. I know that there are complaints about the work being slow, but I see that as taking the issues seriously enough to not make quick or rash decisions. I don’t want to discredit the work that is being done—it’s incredible and important. Still, the overall climate needs to change. I’ve asked so many of my feminist friends on campus how to cope with this and no one has an answer beyond “you get used to it.” I need for this university, and every university held accountable by Title IX, to have an answer for us. & Alice Wilder is a first-year Women’s & Gender Studies major. She is a feminist troublemaker for SPARK Movement, Girls for a Change and North Carolina Student Power Union. Glitter, Beyoncé, and cuddling are central to her feminist praxis.
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“Fierce” in the Context of Blackness By Morgan Johnson Race is very much an issue for our “conscious” generation despite our apparent openness to interracial dating, marriage, and friendship. As easy as it is to identify racism as KKK hoods and burning crosses, things are never that simple. If anything, it is harder to identify today’s racism, which often comes in the form of microaggressions concealed with a smile. Although the dictionary definition of racism is “hating someone for their race,” the racism that affects most people is a mixture of prejudice and power. Anything that adds to the oppressive force of that power is racist. So which oppressive forces are responsible for making women of color, particularly black women’s bodies, public spaces? How are phrases like “every gay man has a fierce black woman in him” harmful and problematic? Why are “fierce” women of color more likely to experience sexual crimes? Black women are raped more often than white women because our “fierceness” is linked to ideas of sexual promiscuity—rapists believe we “want it more.” Racism is a multifaceted beast— smaller actions that perpetuate white privilege and patriarchy eventually lead to and excuse overt acts of violence against people of color. When we are raped, the police believe us less often than white women because our “fierceness” makes them think we could have fought back if we really wanted to. When we are beaten by our partners, the same applies. When we argue with people, we are immediately seen as aggressive. If we raise our voices or get angry, it isn’t because you’ve done something stupid, it’s because we are black and we are female and our innate “fierceness” makes us unreasonable and unworthy of being listened to. When we lose our children to violence, when we have to survive on food stamps and benefits, even when we go to prison, it’s all “okay” because black women are the fiercest of the fierce and we can handle anything that’s thrown at us. The “fierce black woman”
can be as caustic of a stereotype and archetype as the “Mammy,” a stereotype that hearkens back to the era of slavery in the U.S. South, when black women were coerced into serving as a nurse for white children and families. When you call black women “fierce,” you are dehumanizing us and reducing us to a stereotype that has dangerous consequences; we become not only less than human, but also less than woman. Qualifiers that accompany “blackness” are harmful and add to a narrative that leads to my life being a little bit harder, a little bit more unsafe. Flippant statements about my “fierceness” mean I am not allowed to be vulnerable, or even anything that is not angrily snapping my fingers whilst twerking on demand in an internet meme or viral video. I am not that, I cannot be that, and suggesting that women with skin like mine are necessarily that is racist—and if you can’t see that, well, then I think you’re racist, too. Most racism I see is as simple as someone who has yet to acknowledge the harm that casual words and phrases can cause in perpetuating the oppression of non-white people. Black women as “fierce,” Asian women as submissive, Native women as sexually available, Latina women as promiscuous—casually using or referring to these stereotypes causes real harm to communities of women of color, and acknowledging this is the first step in helping to end the injustice we face. & Morgan Johnson is a junior and the editor for the Siren. She is majoring in Journalism & Mass Communication and minoring in Art History.
& Oppression Language By Ben Lineberger
The hetero-patriarchal, white-supremacist, cis-sexist system is harmful. Under this system, women, people of color, and LGBTQ-identified people are oppressed. Patriarchy creates barriers against the forward progression of people who are not white, male, masculine, and cisgendered (meaning that their gender expression matches the sex they were assigned at birth). Of its many negative implications, the worst effect of this system is its complicit condoning of sexual violence against women. Although much attention has been drawn to this issue and it has risen in public consciousness, many people seem not to realize its underlying causes. In order to solve a problem like interpersonal violence, it is important to examine these underlying causes and the reasons that it exists—in this case, a patriarchal system. Why, then, does this system have such strong staying power? It seems so wrong that such an exclusionary, limiting, and dangerous system still exists. When we examine the language of our patriarchal system and the language that we see in the media, we can see patterns and similarities. The words that we use and the environment that they create contribute to the staying power of male dominance, which facilitates a culture of sexual aggression and violence against women. So what parts of our lexicon allow women to be oppressed? Words that create a gender hierarchy and support male aggression contribute majorly to inequity and the discouragement of female autonomy. Common words like “mankind,” “freshman,” and human” are all used quite often in the English language. However, the implications of these words are that men are both the default and the ideal. When words are based on the male gender only, it makes masculinity the norm, excluding women and all things feminine. Using these words sends the message that men are first-class citizens and that the world is structured around them. Such seemingly small actions, or microaggressions, contribute to a larger structure of gender hierarchy that perpetuates entitlement and a sense of men’s power over women. This dominance can and does manifest itself in the form of physical control or coercion. When words that people use every day are male-centric, it becomes easy for men to feel entitled to power over those “below” them. The devaluing of women occurs when feminine adjectives are used as insults, including phrases like “you throw like a girl” or “man up.” This language implies that men are stronger and braver than women, and calling someone a girl or relating them to femininity is insulting. It associates feminine traits and qualities with negativity and places a higher value on the masculine, further enforcing malecentrism. Since words like “human” and “mankind” are relatively old and widely used, some may say they will be difficult to revise. We cannot realistically expect a sudden transformation of equality in the lexicon. However, one way to begin the process of unraveling male dominance in our society and our language is to hold the media accountable for its perpetuation of rigid gender roles and
male privilege. One example of this is that the word “feminism” can carry a negative connotation in much of U.S. society, largely due to the media’s marginalization and misrepresentation of those who challenge heterosexism or sexism. Other than misrepresentations, opposition to “traditional” masculine power is rarely visible in advertising or the media. This perpetuates the illusion that opposition does not exist, and that when it does, it is misguided and destructive. Because this hierarchy has existed for decades, women and feminine people have been conditioned to accept where they are without challenging the status quo. With each gender firmly in place within the hierarchy, in our system inequality has become the norm and power dynamics are hard to change. The status quo also imposes sexual double standards on women. The “virgin/whore dichotomy” polices women’s sexual choices. When women exhibit sexual autonomy and freedom, men have been socialized to read this behavior as an indicator that women can and should be “conquered” and violated sexually. Because sexual power is aligned with masculinity, women or feminine people exhibiting sexual autonomy are shamed, objectified, and dehumanized. Women are not often granted the right to express their identity as sexual beings, which sends the message that a woman is less valuable if she does not meet the “traditional,” restrictive expectations imposed on her gender. When there is a system that places men above women, then it’s easy for dominance to be translated into sexual relationships. Herein lies the issue of control and sexual domination that perpetuates an environment that allows sexual assault. As mindful citizens, we can only ensure that we do not perpetuate this system by participating in it either consciously or unconsciously. Speaking out against sexual violence is a positive way to help, but we must also work to change the structure that enables this violence. This can be done by actively challenging the status quo and by working to achieve equality in all aspects of society. For example, the image of feminism in the media should be modified to portray the feminist movement more accurately. Broadly speaking, feminism is the effort to achieve social, political, and economic equality for all genders. Changing the language that we use is a fundamental way to build a foundation upon which widespread positive change can occur. If people began to use gender non-specific terms that do not carry on a sexist tradition, and began to work to promote awareness of this fault in our lexicon, a change in the oppressive gender culture could be a realistic expectation for the future. &
* F E$ @ A ! % * D @
Ben Lineberger is a first-year majoring in Advertising. He aspires to be the next Miranda Priestly.
F A B D
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DEFINING Sexual Assault in 2 years By Rita Phetmixay
I’m not the type of person to talk about my feelings or enter a state of vulnerability, but I do value the power in sharing one’s story (and even if I were the type of person to be seen as “vulnerable,” I certainly do not think it should necessarily be associated with weakness). A lot of people know me for being a bit silly, happy, bubbly, and extremely out of the ordinary—yet I question if people can really read the pain, weakness, and loneliness I’ve felt during these two years. We were planning on seeing a movie together, though the location was not clearly communicated to me. So that evening, when he came to pick me up, I honestly did not know where we were going (though I assumed it was going to be the movie theater). However, we ended up going to his apartment. He set his laptop on the edge of his bed where we’d be able to view it laying on our stomachs beside each other. The movie started and within the next few minutes I realized that the guy started kissing my neck. Startled, as I had never experienced being in an intimate space with anyone or had a first kiss, I began to feel a bit nervous thinking about how the night would end. In reaction to my state of shock, I giggled and played it off— but things just got worse. The next thing I knew, his hands began touching me in places that made me super uncomfortable. But because I was not the confrontational person then, my body reacted in a way that tried to resist his efforts, such as pushing him away with my hands. At the same time, my mouth was speechless, as I just couldn’t muster up any verbal defense for myself, having never experienced such a violation of my own private spaces as extreme as this one. One thing led to another and eventually my bra was off, then came my shirt, and eventually my underwear was pulled all the way down to my feet—exactly where my pants were too. He then started giving me oral and at that point, I was tired of fighting him off so I just let it happen. At that moment, I just felt numb and in complete disbelief at what was happening. I asked myself over and over: was this really happening to me? I guess there was a point where it clicked in his head that I wasn’t as “experienced” as he was, and he eventually asked if he could ask me a question. At first he hesitated, probably because he did not want to hear the answer I was going to say, but I demanded that he ask whatever question he had. The question ended up
“Self-Portrait” (right) Martha Glenn is a senior Studio Art and Media Production double major from Chapel Hill.
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being whether or not if I was a virgin, as if me limply lying there was enough to illustrate what a “virgin” was. Though that was bad enough, his next question was more rhetorical and still rings in my head today: “Why did you let me take advantage of you?” Such a smart way to frame a question in order to dodge any type of blame associated with the invasion of someone’s intimate and private spaces, right? For the longest time I accepted the way he asked this question and sympathized with him because I thought that he had at least admitted to “taking advantage of me.” What I didn’t realize was how I refocused the blame on me for “not letting him know about my sex life”—was me internalizing self-blame for something I didn’t do. And you would think he would have quit after hearing my answer, “yes, I am a virgin,” however, it only propelled him to take advantage of my vulnerability even further. He didn’t stop, nor did I sense any change of action from him. Instead, he continued to violate the private spaces of my body. At one point of that night, he took my bra and shirt with him to the bathroom so I wouldn’t be able to put them back on, as if he wasn’t “done” using me for whatever disgusting purpose he had. You may ask me: why didn’t I just leave? Why didn’t I call/ text a friend to come get me? Why didn’t I fight back? These are the questions that always come to mind, but questions like these are always easier to ask than to answer. Maybe I will never be able to answer these questions, and rather than answer these questions, I should ask how these questions essentially set up hostile environments to blame the victim, and not the perpetrator. What was supposed to be a fun “movie night” ended up with me just feeling used, dirty, confused, and losing trust in all men. As it was my first “sexual encounter,” it completely ruined how I would approach relationships in the future, and it also made me shy away from spending any “alone time” with any other guy I would be interested in pursuing. I will explain this once and I will explain it again (if necessary): no, sexual assault doesn’t have to be physically violent (as typically pictured with a weapon), and no, the person who commits sexual assault does not have to be a complete stranger to you. In my own experiences of defining sexual assault within those two years, I realized that spaces so private to me were invaded by someone I apparently knew—and never did I once give him the “ok” as he stripped my clothes from me. And for the longest time, I didn’t
want to admit how horrible of a “first kiss” experience I had, much less that it happened in a manipulative manner. Honestly, I have repressed these unwanted memories for so long that even writing this triggers pain from what had happened that night, and the loneliness I felt afterwards. Defining sexual assault within those two years and realizing that I had been a survivor of it was one of the hardest realizations I have come to understand. I never wanted to become a victim of sexual assault, so I denied all the wrong things that happened that night for two years. Yes, a part of me still wants to forget those dreadful moments and pretend that they never happened—that sexual assault could never happen to any college-educated womyn like myself. But then again, I have come to realize that these experiences happen to girls and womyn every single day, no matter what background they have. Knowing this fact empowers me even more to share my story and to let these womyn know that they are not alone, and in a way, this space also provides a pathway towards spiritual healing. &
Rita Phetmixay is a first-year M.A. student in Asian American Studies and identifies as a Lao/Thai-Issan American womyn. As a recent 2013 graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, Rita finds passion in learning more about her Lao American community, leading her to currently conduct research on transgenerational memory passing from first- to secondgeneration Lao in the United States. She hopes to one day be able to uplift this community in ways that will help them achieve higher education, better socioeconomic statuses, and a healthier living spaces. Rita’s other interests include spending time with friends, traveling, drinking boba (new addiction), and learning how to be a better spokesperson for girls, womyn, and Lao Americans across the nation.
A Letter on Objectification from your
“Little Black Minx.”
By India Jenkins Dear _____________,* For courtesy’s sake, allow me to preface this: I know that you’re a great person coming from a nice place. However, in the entire midst of attraction and fascination, you seem to have forgotten that I am a human being, just like you. Sometimes, I feel like our shared characteristics come secondary for you to my physical description: a Black female. Don’t get me wrong. I adore the color of my epidermis, and I love that you are enchanted by it too, but I do think you should know that I’m more than just a brownskinned vassal descended from the African Diaspora. Please understand that my ethnicity and roots are important to me—they are a vital part of who I am—but they don’t exclusively define me. Therefore, I refuse to let you treat me like I am just a product of one of the many cultures that you don’t quite understand. Please do not objectify me by my race when you seek to court me. I would never address you as a “milky white prince,” or an “Anglo-Saxon stud,” because it is awkward and unnecessary. Conversely, I have no intentions of being your “Mama Africa” or “exotic chocolate princess.” I don’t care if I might be your “first Black girl”; I need you to see me as more than that. Do not tell me that I’m cute “for a Black girl.” I’m a beautiful person, and I don’t need your backhanded compliment to confirm my worth. I respect you enough to see you as more than “White.” It breaks my heart that you don’t see why I’m upset. We live in a world where it is common practice to know your history and feelings without acknowledging mine. On that historical note, my African ancestors have been in the United States for as long as your European ancestors; why am I so “foreign” to you? To put it plainly, the fetishization of my West African roots is just weird. I get that I look different from you, but that shouldn’t mean much beyond a basic discussion at most. You have dark hair, and your closest friends are blond, yet you see them no differently than you see yourself. They are from different parts of the country, but because they are “White” like you, you see them as fundamentally similar to you in a way that I am not. I don’t use Mumford and Sons or Frasier lines to pick you up, so why do you think that the only way that we can connect is through channeling your limited Beyoncé lyric knowledge? Why do you think that you can charm me by calling me your “Olivia Pope”? You are not Fitz, and your Scandal fantasy will never happen with me. Please get over yourself. I’m not going to feed your fixation on the “unknown.” I’m not a part of some celestial, intergalactic species; I am a person. I need you to grasp the notion that I am a conscious woman who can connect with you on ways that transcend “traditional” race and gender roles. If you can’t comprehend that, then your entire approach to me must be altered. If you can’t see me beyond my brown skin and kinky hair, then there is no real substance in our interactions. I don’t want to dissuade curiosity, but I have to shame ignorance. This is not your typical “angry Black woman rant.” I’m not mad; I’ve just had enough. I’m sorry I’m tired of being apologetic and passive. Talk to me about this if you don’t “get it.” I won’t be rude; I just don’t want you to spend your life assuming that I am unaffected by what you don’t understand. & Sincerely, India Jenkins *Name has been removed for privacy India Jenkins is a junior majoring in Psychology. She can clap with one hand.
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THE ELEPHANTIN THE ROOM
THAT ARRIVED AS A man By Maria Noyola When the abuser of a family member or friend arrives at your house, what are you to do? Everyone can see the cracked and sullied mask of a family man. The events behind closed doors are known. The threats and the rush to stop the fighting are still present in everyone’s mind. There are just too many cases of abuse and some that have yet to come to light. It is not as simple as shunning them, especially if there are children involved. The family of the abuser must deal with knowing that they raised a violent person. The families of the victims lose a family member. Friends realize that they lose a friend one way or another. Everyone has to analyze his or her contribution to the violence. They were bystanders. They had questions and worries that they did not ask or address. They were silent and just as guilty. These men have harmed the women and children that loved them. Their children have to bear the consequences and must live between two houses. The mother has to scrounge up money for a new home. If she cannot afford a decent place, she and the children must find what they can and suffer with a home that has no heater. They have to live with the abuser driving by their home and always asking about their location. If the wife and children ran away, their friends and family are left with their abuser slinking around and moping. He is at fault. When he threatened them, he lost his family. He shouldn’t even be talking to his wife’s family members. If he drops by at their home for an unexpected visit, it should have been a sign of his level of manipulation. When they sit at the table, a silence surrounds them. A silence about the abuse and his wife’s whereabouts. Everyone knows that she and the children left, but no one says anything. Running into this person in a public place is even worse. A social need to keep composure and not look at them with disgust. Do you shout? Do you hold back? Do you cause a scandal to shame them and let the public know of this danger? Well, you sure as hell don’t invite them to dinner. I had no idea what was happening because I was living away from home, but during a break, I found that things had drastically changed. I found that my family had taken to living with an elephant in their home. The elephant comes in the shape of a man and continues to grow until it is physically uncomfortable to be in the room. They stick to meaningless discussions to avoid unspoken events. Everyone knows the events that happened. My sister left her abusive husband. Her choice to leave has left a hole in the family. Her choices led to a happy life,
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but my family sees them as wrong. They say he has done nothing to them, so why shun him? I say if no one is pressing charges, then there needs to be other consequences. What about their daughters that suffered? Are they going to ignore the violence for the sake of comfort? & Maria Noyola is a junior Political Science major. An interesting fact about Maria is that she can stretch her pinky toe away from her other toes.
DON’T SAVE THE WORLD SAVE YOUR WORLD By Meaghan McFarland College is a unique place. I often refer to it as the “UNC bubble” because it feels so separate from the rest of the world, from the rest of our worlds that we have all individually known for about the past two decades. We start thinking we are invincible. We start thinking we are exempt from consequences. We start thinking we are just fine ‘on our own.’ But we aren’t invincible. All the time, we say, “Oh, that won’t happen to me,” but how can we actually be sure? We aren’t, or at least shouldn’t be, exempt from consequences. People who stalk, rape, harass, ‘cat-call,’ etc. should have consequences for their perpetration of violent actions. We aren’t always just fine ‘on our own.’ The victims of violence aren’t just fine on their own. The perpetrators of violence aren’t just fine on their own, either. I have been taking several Women’s & Gender Studies courses that have exposed me to just how prevalent violence is in our society, in addition to how it manifests itself on college campuses. Once you learn about all of the frightening statistics and seemingly small factors that collectively work together to influence our violent culture, it can be really disheartening and you can feel genuinely hopeless. We can feel that way, but we don’t have to feel that way all of the time. I think feeling hopeless about what you learned can be good initially because at least you know you are emotionally and mentally acknowledging your newfound awareness. There is no way that you can learn all of this, feel all of this, and not want to do
something. At least, I haven’t found anyone like that yet. Awareness really changes you to your core. It betrays you. It comforts you. It challenges you. It challenges you to do something: it is not saying to change the entire world while single-handedly breaking down all the systems of oppression and privilege. That may come as a surprise to you. But it challenges you to change your world. It challenges you to change your ‘bubble.’ Changing our world and our bubble is how I personally interpret part of One Act’s mission. One Act is an organization here on campus promoting the awareness of interpersonal violence and encouraging interpersonal violence prevention. I was One Act trained at the beginning of this semester and it was an unforgettable experience: one that helped me to further define the “Carolina Way.” One Act’s mission is focused on teaching and helping people to be active bystanders. Being an active bystander means that you are someone who sees a possibly violent situation, or a situation that is showing signs of future violence, and chooses to intervene, to help, to act. It is really easy to just be a bystander and assume that someone else will help the person screaming, “Help,” “Rape,” “Fire” (take your pick), or that someone else will help the very drunk woman being carried into a bedroom by a man much more sober than she is, or that someone else will point out insensitive and problematic language being used to insult someone who is different from our society’s ‘norms.’ I know that in past months and years, I have seen people who might have been in need of assistance, help, or a way out. I always had two different responses to that in my mind: someone who is better or stronger will help them, or asking myself why hasn’t someone done something to help them yet. But, after being One Act trained, I know that seeing something problematic and potentially violent makes you the best person and the strongest person to help. Ask for help. Create a distraction. Talk Directly. ACT. Again, we are not invincible. We should not be exempt from consequences. We are not just fine on our own. You don’t have to save the world in that moment, you just have to see the problem, be aware of what is happening, and ACT. &
Meaghan McFarland is a sophomore Journalism (Editing and Graphic Design) major with a Women’s & Gender Studies minor. She loves typography, dark chocolate, and everything about Mindy Kaling.
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By Andrea Pino I remember how feverishly my hands shook as I stared at my first semester course load three years ago during my first few weeks of classes at Carolina. Coming from Miami, Florida, alone with nothing but the dream of a top-notch education, the worries ricocheted in my mind—would I disappoint my immigrant family? Fail my own expectations of myself ? Trip on every brick that crossed me? Even after years of being in school, I didn’t realize that my worries about Carolina were a sign that I knew nothing about where my story there would lead. Two years ago, I was brutally raped at UNC months after the spring semester of my sophomore year began. I never thought that anything like the nightmare of my assault would happen in a community like Carolina, or that it would happen in a “safe place,” surrounded by friends, and close to a campus that I loved so much. At first it was impossible to think that I could have a voice again when so much of my body told me that I had to “get over it.” My grades quickly suffered, and all I could think about was how I wasn’t “me” anymore. I could never just be a Tar Heel—I would have to hide my battle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, my sexuality, and my fears of failure to blend in. However, when trying to blend in, I learned that I was not the only one. This time last year, I met more and more sexual assault survivors every week at UNC, and I quickly learned that rape was hidden in the history of Carolina. As a 20-year-old sitting in a classroom reading feminist theory, political theory, psychology, and public policy, the books I read taught me that this reality was not right and that I could do something. I was a college student just like many of you reading this—and I did do something. I shared my story. Filing the federal Title IX and Clery complaints against UNC became the biggest test of my semester, and I knew that what I did would change my life. But I never knew that what I would learn from the experience would be greater than anything I’ve learned in a classroom. My last fall semester of college, I traveled across the country, healing from what I once thought was my fault and speaking to other survivors who still thought their experiences were their fault as well. Since I came out as a rape survivor, I have traveled to over 13 states, 35 cities, and 10 colleges, and have connected with
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over 700 survivors. Hearing from so many other survivors, and finding similar fears, worries, and dreams in their stories, I found that my path towards healing would be a lifelong journey, but not a lonely one. What I learned was that by sharing my story, and having others share theirs, we helped break the barrier of silence that allows sexual violence to thrive. Every time a survivor shares their story rather than staying a “Jane Doe” or “John Doe,” they can empower someone else, causing the pattern to change—and that first step towards change can begin today, as you finish this magazine. I never thought as a second semester senior that my spring semester would be what it has been. While in the next week I’ll be writing papers, taking exams, pulling all-nighters, and getting ready for the rest of my adventures, what I’ll learn won’t be measured by a syllabus. I now know as a senior what I did not know as a first-year: our education is not what you read about in the welcome brochures. The real lessons you will learn will come when you take your education with you outside of the classroom and when you share your story with others. I may not be on the quad next fall, but the best part about Carolina is that it’s not the campus that makes you a student: it’s the lessons that help you change the world. Sexual violence can change your life, but sharing your story can change someone’s world. &
Andrea Pino is a senior majoring in Political Science. She once rode on a train and sat next to Madeline Albright: “keeping composed while talking to her was almost impossible.”
AS A Male feminist
and ally Anonymous When I learned last semester that there was a feminist magazine launching at UNC that needed contributors, I was so incredibly excited to take part in it and to help spread the word about why feminism was important, the theme for the first issue. Then, as I wrote draft after draft and read articles and blogs looking for my inspiration, I ran across a problem. I’m a man, and I felt that men had no business explaining feminism or why it matters. Women didn’t have a voice where I came from, and in this magazine they did. This magazine was a place to speak out and facilitate change and I so badly wanted to be a part of it, but was that the best way for me to be involved? I escaped the sexism and bigotry of my childhood environment, a town where domestic violence, physical abuse, and sexual assault were ignored by police and by my own family. Where I grew up, women were considered lesser, and they had little to no chance to speak for themselves. I was furious about the societal systems that oppress people in marginalized communities, and I was committed to helping make a change. One of the biggest feminist critiques about politics and the media was the overwhelming lack of representation, even in places where women’s rights were being discussed. Did we really need a cisgender, straight, white man with no formal education in the field explaining why feminism was important? The following primarily addresses those men that fit that same profile as me, and if you run into any of us, remind us of these things, if we ever seem to forget: In most conversations involving men and women, men will speak the most and still feel that women dominate the conversation, so make an effort to quiet down and really listen. Furthermore, in a conversation about feminism, you are the guest. You are there to learn and stand in solidarity, not to dictate, not to lead. When you are in this space, also remember that you will likely be taken out of your comfort zone and topics will be about issues you are unfamiliar with. These topics may even seem to attack men as a group. Learn to adjust, because it has been your privilege to not be made uncomfortable, but to women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, being in male dominated, sexist
conversations—whether in person or through media—is the norm. That privilege can be a good thing, though. If you are a man, other men are typically more likely to listen to you and this is where you can make change. You are in a position to call out your male friends and colleagues on their sexist, racist, and homophobic language. In fact, it is your responsibility. So much bigotry occurs within normal, accepted conversation and vocabulary, and it is so important that we start saying, “Hey, that’s not cool.” Go for it. It’s challenging and intimidating, but this is the area where you can make real improvements all the time. Even during the CarolinaDuke game in February, during a lull in the excitement, I found a moment to say to a friend that all of his derogatory terms to refer to the players were based on feminine traits, and I asked if he had some sort of problem with women. A look of recognition hit his face—“Huh… I never realized… that’s a really good point.” He found other terms to use for the rest of the evening. Like calling out your male friends and colleagues, it is also incredibly important to listen to women (and men—in fact, people of every gender) that are survivors of interpersonal violence. In the town where I grew up—the one I mentioned earlier—domestic and sexual assault was common enough that it became a topic that I could relate with other school children about. And it was an issue that was largely ignored by family, friends, and police. Currently, in our society, we have a problem with listening to and believing victims of assault. Break that trend and take all claims of physical and sexual assault seriously, because too often those who are assaulted are minimized, shamed, and blamed for these attacks. All people with privilege have power to help change this cultural mindset. Lastly, being a male feminist is not a “heroic” thing to do. It can be challenging to recognize where sexism occurs and make changes and even harder to encourage change in your friends, but it is a responsibility as a male feminist, as a man, and as a member of society. Embrace it, but don’t seek out recognition. This isn’t something that should be special or award-winning—this needs to be the norm. &
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ONE you PREVENT DO ACT TO VIOLENCE WILL
By Kelli Raker, Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator, UNC-Chapel Hill The mission of One Act is to empower all Carolina community members to: (1) recognize the early warning signs of interpersonal violence and the multiple factors that enable it (2) practice and implement leadership skills with the confidence to take preventive action in everyday life, including high-risk situations, and (3) contribute to a safer campus environment. This mission was first written in 2010 when the One Act training curriculum was first implemented. Student leaders and Student Wellness staff collaborate to accomplish this mission in three main ways: bystander training with Carolina students, awarenessraising events organized by a Steering Committee, and messaging on social media and posters around campus. We believe that if every student on campus started with one act, we could significantly reduce the number of incidents of interpersonal violence on campus and in the surrounding community. In every training, One Act peer educators and I share personal stories where we’ve helped our friends and members of the Carolina community—stories we don’t typically hear in the news. We hope that by sharing these experiences we can encourage everyone to be active bystanders in interpersonal violence prevention. We believe that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander. We can create an environment where problems like sexual assault and abusive relationships aren’t tolerated at all—where we can see warning signs beforehand and figure out how to prevent dangerous situations. Here are some every day actions you can take to prevent interpersonal violence: • Talk to your friends about their relationships (romantic or otherwise!). Seriously! You can ask them “Do you feel like you can be yourself with [partner’s name]?”, “Does this relationship contribute to your happiness?” or “Do you feel like you’re being treated the way that you deserve/want to be treated?” • Challenge folks who talk about sex as a conquest. Talking
“Henna Heel” (right) Karishma Lalchandani is a junior Psychology major. She is a dancer for UNC Bhangra Elite!
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about sexual desire should be authentic and honest, while also respectful of the other person(s) involved. If your friend talks about sex in a way that makes you wonder if they care about whether or not their partner(s) has a good time, encourage your friend to be more respectful. Consent is sexy! • Join a group or organization whose mission is to prevent violence or support survivors of violence. There are many great student organizations and departments on campus who are actively involved in violence prevention or response. Learn more at http:// safe.unc.edu/get-involved. • Continue to educate yourself about why interpersonal violence is so prevalent in our society and how you can prevent. You can attend events or trainings on campus, or read through a book or online resource. Share what you learn with a friend or family member.
We all have a part to play in ending interpersonal violence. Your “One Act,” or what you do and how you contribute, is up to you, and we need your creativity and ideas to help solve this epidemic. & Read more examples of actions you can take at http://studentwellness.unc.edu/startwithoneact Kelli Raker is the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator through Student Wellness. She works with students and staff to prevent sexual assault and rape and believes that if every person on campus started with just one act, we will prevent interpersonal violence. She also works with One Act, the student-led collaboration with Wellness.
Sexual violence impacts everyone. Although some groups are more often targeted than others, anyone can be a victim/survivor, and those of us who care about survivors are also affected by these experiences of violence as secondary survivors. Thus, eliminating all forms of violence is one of the most important things we can do on our campus, and we all have a part to play in this effort. To eliminate and prevent sexual and gender-based harassment, discrimination, and violence, we need continued commitment, energy, and resources on every level—from students all the way up to the Board of Governors. Until the day we end these forms of violence altogether, we must dedicate ourselves to creating a response system that meets the needs of all survivors. There is no perfect system for survivors of sexual assault—at least, not yet. There is always more work to do to help survivors gain control over their experiences, make informed choices about their options, seek remedies related to their victimization, and heal. Rape crisis centers across the country have been at the forefront of efforts to increase access to all of these services, and we are very grateful for their efforts to build the capacity of our local resources. Now—in part because of federal mandates and in part because it’s just the right thing to do—colleges and universities like UNC are striving to create better systems of care for survivors. Because every survivor is different, there is no one single solution that works for everyone; instead, each survivor requires a different constellation of services to meet their own individual needs. Our job as system builders is to create an informed network of options, so that no matter where a survivor turns, they have access to services that meet their individual needs. We also know that survivors may choose to interact with a variety of systems/providers: law enforcement, medical providers,
Sexual Assault: The Importance of Advocacy and Support
By Christi Hurt, Title IX Coordinator UNC Women’s Center
therapists, and university/school personnel. Research has shown that survivors who are accompanied by a rape crisis center counselor or other advocate have better outcomes in these systems, and have better experiences when seeking help. As a university, we strive to increase the number of advocates available to survivors across campus. Administrators on campus and advocates in the community agree that Carolina needs more individuals available to provide support and accompaniment to those available services. While our Title IX Team has been growing in order to support our expanding system of care, we are also preparing to bring on a new advocate position here at Carolina. With the support of a grant from the federal Office on Violence Against Women, we are in the hiring process now to identify a Gender Violence Services Coordinator to be housed at the Carolina Women’s Center. The Gender Violence Services Coordinator will work closely with the Title IX Team and local community services such as the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and the Compass Center for Women and Families to serve as a connector between campus and community services. In addition to this new position on campus, we all have a duty to learn more. HAVEN is a UNC-specific training about how to support people who come forward seeking help for sexual violence, relationship violence, and stalking. This training offers individuals skills to become supportive and informed listeners by teaching them about available campus and community services to help survivors get the help they need. To create points of access across our entire university, we encourage students, staff, and faculty to get HAVEN-trained. For more info, please visit safe.unc.edu. &  Campbell, Rebecca. 2006. Christi Hurt is the director of the Carolina Women’s Center. She is a Carolina alumna, graduating in 1993 with a BA in History and in 1998 with a Master of Public Administration degree. She has worked on the local, state, and national levels in nonprofit organizations that advocate for an end to violence against women.
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What I Share in WGST 101
By Dr. Michele Berger, Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s & Gender Studies In the large lecture class, ‘Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies,’ I make choices about how much personal information I will share with students. On the one hand, I want students to be able to view me as approachable and friendly. On the other hand, I want to make it clear that I’m the authority figure. The one week that I reveal something very personal is when I teach about gender and violence. During that week, as we analytically explore issues of sexual assault and interpersonal violence, I often share with students my own personal experiences of gender-based violence. It is not uncommon for students learning about the context of gender violence to re-evaluate their own experiences and the experiences of family members and friends. I find that it is a time in the course when everything becomes a bit more “real” and grounded for students. I reveal both childhood and young adult experiences with violence. I do this for two reasons—one, it brings home the message that I say at the beginning of this section of the class: you may be sitting next to someone who is a survivor. I also share some of my personal experiences with students because I believe it shows that women from many different walks of life have dealt with these difficult situations and survived. I have recently been reminded about the power of making issues of violence visible. I’ve written a monthly column for the Chapel Hill News called ‘My View’ for the past year and a half. It is a great opportunity, as I get to write about whatever I wish. In December’s column, I wrote about a snippet of my mother’s life that involved a great act of courage that changed the course of our lives. When I was eight, my mother left my abusive stepfather and started her life over. Due to her actions, some serendipity, and innovative social service programming, we (my mother, my sister, and I) came to live in a special program for battered women and their children at the President Hotel in Manhattan. The program was a partnership between the hotel and the city of New York. I received the highest number of responses from this column, more than any other I have written. I also had lengthy conversations with friends who read the column. I’ve been reflecting on what people shared with me and on the questions that linger. I was touched by many comments from women who had mothers that stayed with abusive partners, and who were unable or unwilling to leave. A representative remark was: “I’ve
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always wished that my mother had the courage to do what yours did.” These daughters have spent a lifetime trying to understand and cope with the consequences of growing up in a violent household. Some of these daughters later became active in women’s issues: “I grew up in a battering household, found feminism in my 40s and served on several boards advocating and helping women.” I also heard from several readers whose mothers did leave. One said, “My mother did the same for me and my brother. Hooray for women who break the cycle of violence and give their children hope.” Therapists and health providers wrote to say that they work with many abused women and it is still very challenging for many women to leave. They hoped some would see my story and make a change. Others also thought my story might help other women. A friend said on my Facebook page, “Stories such as these need to be told so [that] others can ‘keep on keeping on,’ when they feel all hope is lost…” As I remind my students, the second-wave feminist activism of the early 1970s placed the issue of ‘battering’ front and center in the national spotlight. Advocates were able to recast battering, from a private, personal problem to a public one that needed to be addressed. Previously, women, as a social group, did not have the public support to leave abusive men. Many women like my mother were making history in small, individual ways and empowering their daughters to question the status quo. Our individual stories are always connected to specific, historical eras. Writing that column and having conversations with peers reminded me that I am part of the first generation of women (and men) whose mothers could make a choice to leave an abusive relationship and potentially find societal support (and possibly resources), instead of condemnation. I am proud of that legacy, will continue to share it, and hope that it empowers my students to search for their own solutions to dismantling gender-based violence. & Dr. Michele Berger is an associate professor in the Department of Women’s & Gender Studies. Her teaching and research interests include multiracial feminism, qualitative methods, and HIV/AIDS activism.
Orange County Rape Crisis Center You are not alone. You will be believed. You are not alone. You will
You are not alone. be believed. The Orange County Rape You will be believed.
Crisis Center provides 24-hour The Orange County Rape crisis Center intervention services to Crisis provides 24-hour The Orange County Rape Crisis survivors of sexualservices violence. crisis intervention to Center provides 24-hour crisis Our services include 24survivors ofservices sexual violence. intervention to our survivors Hour Help Line, support services include our 24ofOur sexual violence. Our services groups, and Line, include ourworkshops, 24-Hour Help Hour Help Line, support therapy referrals. Additionally, support groups, workshops, groups, workshops, and and therapy referrals. Additionally, the Center offers educational therapy referrals. Additionally, theprograms Center offersboth educational raising the Center for offers educational programs for about both raising awareness sexual programs for both raising awareness about sexual violence violence and teaching awareness sexualprevenand teachingabout prevention skills. tion skills. violence and teaching prevention Our services areand freeconfiOurskills. services are free and confidential. dential. Our services are free and confi-
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or919-967-7273 919-967-7273 or Visitocrcc.org ocrcc.org for Visit formore moreinformation. information. or 919-967-7273
FEMINIST STUDENTS UNITED Feminist Students United (FSU) is a progressive feminist organization, which affirms that no form of oppression can be overcome until all aspects of racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism are dismantled. We acknowledge interesting identities and strive to be mindful of these intersections in all our work. General Body Meetings: Wednesday @ 7PM Stone Center 209 Join the listserv: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit ocrcc.org for more information. 21 uncsiren.com | Spring 2014
Creating SAFEinSPACES our
COMMUNITY insights of the anonymous complainant By Grace Peter
I would like to share a personal story that I have kept hidden for quite some time. As most of the UNC community knows, a federal complaint was filed in early 2013 against the University by five complainants. The complaint details how the University is in noncompliance with Title IX, the amendment that protects all people, regardless of gender, from discrimination. Four of these authors have been named, their stories exposed and publicly criticized. It is time that I raise my voice as the fifth—and until now, anonymous—complainant. I was assaulted by a fellow UNC student during my sophomore year. But I am not writing this to tell that story. I would like to talk about what happened next. For over a year, my case was open under the University’s Honor Court. A process that I thought would take only 60 days engulfed the majority of my Carolina career. During this time, I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and had to withdraw from school for a semester. I faced countless violations at the hands of the administration, including delaying trials without informing me, allowing court members to question my character and mental health by breaking “rape shield” laws (laws that prevent the questioning in court of rape victims about past sexual activity), allowing student honor court members who knew me personally to read my file, and allowing my attacker to graduate before having a hearing. I was told by an administrator that I was “hard to work with” because I
was paranoid, even though the Office of Student Conduct and the Dean of Students knew I was diagnosed with PTSD, of which paranoia is a common symptom. I was denied right after right, and was manipulated over and over again. As I stated before, I did not go public with this story when we filed the complaint. This is because my case was still open. I had full intentions of going public once the case was closed. But as I saw the way the University, and the nation at large, responded to Andrea, Landen, Annie, and Melinda’s stories, I got scared. I saw them struggle when people blamed them. I saw them hurt when writers got facts or statements wrong. I saw them withdraw when the Carolina “community” abandoned them. We knew it was not going to be easy, but I had no idea of the scope of the negativity we would receive. As an anonymous author, I sought other ways of getting the University to listen. I first tried to reach out time and time again to various UNC administrators to discuss my story, only to be largely ignored. This is why I have decided to share my story. I do not know what the outcome of the complaint will be. A decision will likely not be reached for a long time. But what I do know is this: I did not file a complaint to “get back at” my rapist. I did not file a complaint to simply “complain.” I did not file a complaint to get any sort of attention. I filed to shed light on a huge injustice at UNC and nationwide. I filed to inform people that our policy is not the only problem standing in the way of justice—the leaders of this school who turn a blind eye and refuse to take responsibility for their actions also contribute to this issue. I filed to fight against the rape culture that is perpetuated every day by staff and students at UNC. I filed so that no other student will have to feel as betrayed by this University as I have. And I am speaking up now to implore the University community to stand up for survivors of sexual assault and not be persuaded by the voices of negativity and rape apologists that surround us. The University has made some changes for the better. I work personally with members of the Title IX office, as well as other campus advocates, to make this community a safer place. I am wholly devoted to protecting all members of this community, and there truly is some great work going on here. But we can do better. We have to hold one another accountable for our actions, and that starts at the top, with University officials taking responsibility for their actions and offering solutions to the many grievances they have caused students on this campus.
Grace Peter is a senior majoring in Biology and minoring in Social & Economic Justice. An interesting fact about Grace is that she can clap with her feet.
Eggshells By Blanche Brown
Blanche Brown is a junior majoring in American Studies Major and double minoring in Women’s & Gender Studies and Creative Writing.
Mama never taught me how to sail, only talked about water and sucking the meat out of crabs. But I can make the second best fried egg sandwich in the state. It’s all about the flip, sliding the filmy goop onto the spatula and flicking the wrist. On nights the brash blood-orange sound of framed photographs hitting the wall and this is not the life I signed up for cracked the cicada-flushed dark, Mama would come down to my room afterwards— face red, hands shaking, glasses gone— and pull my whole body into hers. The fat pads of our feet made the softest sound on the kitchen tiles as we practiced. The sizzle and pop of eggs filled rooms hushed for a while. In the spaces between seconds, I learned to distinguish the safe silence from the bad. To keep the yolk runny and not burn the toast with all the lights off, ears perked for any creaking on the stairs.
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THE SIREN uncsiren.com // uncsiren.tumblr.com @uncsiren (INSTAGRAM, TWITTER, FACEBOOK)
Project Dinah advocacy. education. empowerment. whO WE ARE WHAT WE DO CONNECT We are a student organization at UNC-Chapel Hill devoted to safety and empowerment. Our mission is to prevent and end all interpersonal violence (stalking, relationship abuse, and sexual violence) on campus and in our community.
We offer a variety of resources for survivors and allies of interpersonal violence and host numerous events and programs to spread awareness and understanding on our campus.
GETTING INVOLVED Our weekly meetings are on Mondays at 7 p.m. in Dey 210. Join us anytime in the semester to get involved and learn more about the work we do! E-mail us at email@example.com to learn more.
we envision a world in which every relationship is free of fear and force.
facebook.com/projectdinah twitter.com/projectdinah firstname.lastname@example.org
OCRCC Volunteer Social 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Cleary Day Event Info Session
Alliance Against Violence (AAV) 10am - 2pm all week in the Pit
A Mile In Her Shoes 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Body Politics 7:00pm - 8:30pm AAV in the Pit
AAV in the Pit
AAV in the Pit
Clothesline Project (SWAG)
Clothesline Project (SWAG)
Clothesline Project (SWAG)
OCRCC Shout Out 6:30pm - 8:30pm Seymour Center
OCRCC Cupcakes & Cocktails at Orange County Rape Crisis Center
APRIL IS SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH 4
Cleary Day Event Info Session
Iâ€™m a Survivor Benefit Concert 8:00pm - Midnight AAV in the Pit
For more information visit: womenscenter.unc.edu/
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STAGE By Mary Koenig
“Girls don’t like it when a man asks for consent, they like it when he just takes it.” They both laughed. Judging from the expectant looks on their faces, I was supposed to find it hilarious as well. Not getting a reaction, they pressed: “I bet you like it, don’t you?” They were two guys who looked about my age, and I recognized them from the bar where my band had just finished playing a show. They stopped me on my way back from the venue to our “tour vehicle” (my dad’s old SUV that we borrowed and packed full)—with instruments balanced in my arms, I was charged from a successful show, but tired and definitely ready to pack up and get some sleep somewhere. “Hey. Girl! Stop! I’m trying to take a picture of you.” Irritated, but hoping to represent my band well with some (very) effortful politeness, I stopped to ask them as nicely as possible if it had occurred to them to seek my permission or consent before taking the photo. The word “consent” led to the instant and personalized rape “joke.” I wondered why they thought it was okay to treat me like that in the first place: to demand that I stop what I was doing to make it easier for them to take my photo, to tell me what “girls like,” to expect me to laugh along about sexual assault. I felt disappointed that they felt they had nothing to say to me about the music we’d been playing for the past hour, and instead opted to sexualize me, “joking” about how I’d like to be assaulted. I was frustrated, tired, and irritated. I didn’t have the time or energy to formulate a response to educate them on why this was not okay with me, and though my bandmates were around the corner and I know they’ll always help me out if I need them, I felt singled out and definitely a bit scared. As much as I want to write this experience off as a strange and rare run-in with two very rude, drunken bros, it was far from the first or the last time that I felt scrutinized, disrespected, or threatened at shows or venues because of my gender. The reality is that I—and many of the women performers I know—have had at least a few similar experiences
Photo by Lauren Nakao Winn while performing. We’ve been called “sweetheart” by sound guys and condescendingly been shown how to properly use a microphone (as if we don’t already know). I’ve personally had older men come up to me after shows and touch my face, my waist, or my leg, leaning in to my space to “compliment” and share their evaluations of my looks, my body, or my clothes, rather than the show that I just put on—the music I just played with five of my best friends. One man who had been to two of our shows asked me (while I was still on stage) if I’d lost weight between shows because I “looked great”—I wondered what made this unknown man feel like he could and should be zeroing in on tiny fluctuations in my appearance, and why he thought it was his place to share his judgment of my body. Now I know that when I get onstage, I’m not only being judged by what I do and what I play—like my male bandmates are—but also if I’ve lost (or gained) a pound or two. And it’s not just me and the women I know personally. Female performers like M.I.A., Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry, and Grimes have recently spoken out about the sexism and double standards that female musicians and performers have faced for years. Because of their fame, the scope of the sexism and oppression they face is even wider and more intense—and for M.I.A. and other female performers of color especially. Though I’m not trying to compare myself to these artists and performers, my experience illustrates that what they have acknowledged starts at a local level. I’m not “asking for” this kind of treatment by getting up on stage any more than my wonderful and supportive male-identified bandmates— we’re asking you to listen to (and perhaps enjoy) our music. I shouldn’t have “expected” to be treated this way because that’s “the way it is” for female performers. It’s not a “compliment” to be felt up or judged by strangers, and I should not have to find a graceful or polite way to squirm away. My body does not become public property because I am feminine and on a stage. My body is mine—not yours to touch, judge, or threaten.
“ ” My body does not become public property because I am feminine and on a stage.
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I am so thankful for the support I have found from my bandmates, my friends, the bands we’ve played with, and the wonderful people who come to our shows, share with us, and make our lives meaningful. I am thankful for my sisters, the women musicians who continue to love what they do despite whatever they may face. And finally, I am thankful to be involved in this wonderfully creative and supportive local music community, which has expanded my life and worldview like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. I don’t want to have to feel unsafe here. Every person has a right to pursue their passions without fear of violence. If they feel unsafe, we could miss out on the art that they can share—so let’s make the music scene a more inclusive place for musicians of all genders. & Mary Koenig is a senior Psychology major with minors in Sexuality Studies and Social & Economic Justice. She plays music in the band Morning Brigade, and in her free time she watches Scandal.
Ash Conrad. Menses. 2013. Blood and graphite. Ash is a junior studying Biology and Studio Art. She is interested in pursuing scientific illustration and finds particular inspiration with the body, especially the female form.
J Gray Swartzel. Mother’s Bedroom. 2013. Photography. J Gray Swartzel is a senior majoring in Studio Art and minoring in Women & Gender Studies. He is moving to Brooklyn in June!
TIg H TRO
By Caroline P it
every night you must walk a tightrope to your car walk quickly, with no sway in your hips smile, sweetheart but don’t you dare ask for it don’t open the car, but have your keys ready held tight like claws between your fingers unlock the car, get in, lock it quick before somebody snatches you up congratulations, you’re safe till the drive is over
Photo from Morguefile.com
Caroline Pittman is a junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Women’s & Gender Studies. 27 uncsiren.com | Spring 2014
DO DOYOU YOU KNOW KNOW Carolina?
By Meredith Shutt
There’s a moment, near the end of Tori Amos’ haunting a cappella song “Me and a Gun,” when she sings of ‘Carolina, where the biscuits are soft and sweet.’ The arbitrary nature of the thought is justified by the next line, ‘These things go through your head when there’s a man on your back.’ The song is stripped, raw and unplugged, lacking any instrumentation aside from Amos’ honeyed voice. The piece speaks of Amos’ rape, outlining her thought pattern during the assault in vivid detail. The song doesn’t shy away from its content, doesn’t speak apologetically. Tori Amos is an agent; she is in full control of her mind and her art while her body is forcefully controlled by someone else. Little Earthquakes, released in 1992, is the debut album of singer/songwriter Tori Amos. Critics have debated Amos’ feminist credibility for years, but that isn’t my interest here. Amos fascinates me as a musician and artist who expresses the female experience in all of its forms and who speaks with honesty and without reserve of the reality of rape. I’ve always learned in the university setting of the cultural relevance and importance of the minority experience. We read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and study the rhetorical structure of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” but how often do we critically engage with literature that depicts femininity with the same honesty and credibility as in the aforementioned portrayals of the African-American struggle? There’s a reason Tori Amos’ music is described as haunting, powerful, and consistently relevant. It’s
Meredith Shutt is a junior English major with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s & Gender Studies. She enjoys coffee, the E! Network and grunge music. Twitter: @meredithfrances
er e t h
e bi c
TORI TORI AMOS AMOS Carolina, w h
surprising. It’s different. Twenty-two years later, “Me and a Gun” is an unparalleled work. I have a strong love/hate relationship with pop music. There’s something enthralling about the catchiness of a Katy Perry song or the undeniable physiological response one has to any dubstep with Calvin Harris’ name attached. I can’t help but think, though, of the problematic portrayals of sexuality in popular music. From Rihanna’s “S&M” to the unkillable Robin Thicke fiasco “Blurred Lines,” violence in sex is considered an appropriate theme while sexual violence is not. Popular music affects youth culture. Our perceptions of healthy sexuality are defined, in part, by what we hear and see in cultural platforms. Accurate and honest portrayals of sexual assault shouldn’t be anomalies. Unashamed expression creates space for dialogue, allowing survivors to discuss their experiences without judgment. Tori Amos was born in North Carolina and paints it as an idyllic place, a place of refuge and solace during her assault. Our Carolina may not yet be that place, but we can work to make it a space of inclusion, comfort and uncensored expression. &
oft and sweet.
the CAGEDbird. By Dory DeWeese
Alone in the dark, surrounded only by the floating wisps of him. She huddled in her carved-out nest in the ground, her only companions the quivering animals, who found comfort in the desolate darkness of her home. She sat, shriveled and wallowing, content to wrap her emaciated arms around her random assortment of bones, which God called a body. A body which was no longer her own. She had long since searched for a way out of this tunnel of terror. Her sinuous fingers gleamed in the darkness, covered in long forgotten blood, and scars with longer memories. Her feral screams wrapped her body in a kind of inhuman panic, as she searched desperately for a way to escape the memory of him. She clawed the rock wall with her long, probing talons, extending them and wrenching them as if to disintegrate the matter of her enclosure with each scrape. Her terror and vulnerability spilled from her soul onto the rough contours of her cheek, tracing melancholy paths down the dirt and dropping to the ground, continuing the endless cycle of take and give. With each swipe of her only arsenal, blood made an appearance, embracing her gentle fingers in its warm, loving embrace. Her nails clipped the rock walls, but eventually they left her alone with the shape of him etched on the back of her eyelids. Her shuddering sobs did little to heal her broken and swollen hands, but eventually, the shaking ceased and she retreated into herself, an empty bottle that used to be brimming with spirits. Many days and nights passed, signaled only by the passage of thought through the young girl’s feeble reality. Her eyelids fluttered on occasion, her eyelashes finding comfort in her cheekbones. The blackness stretched into eternity, whether she choose to embrace the blackness or fight it off with a thin layer of skin. As her strength faded and she continued down the slow passageway to acceptance, she could no longer tell whether her eyes were open or closed. It was all the same. It was all black. She would never be whole again.
In the bleak blankness of the cave, she accepted her reality. She invited it in to help her untangle the web of insanity that had infested her mind. Because, oh, the spider of pseudo-sanity was the mistress of her mind. And the only escape was acceptance. Eyes still closed, lying on the ground of the rough cave, she heard a drop of liquid. She made no movement. She heard it again. She then heard the scrape of wood against metal. Curiosity flickered down her spine, but she could not find the strength to open her eyes. Through her closed eyelids, she felt a warm glow run across her skin. She shuddered, as she felt the dark and light swordplay on her collarbone. She felt a pain in the crease of her arm. She stayed still, forever caught in the in-between world of darkness. And she opened her eyes to a world, a world that was very much real. Our real world is shaped by frequent acts of interpersonal violence, which have been accepted—by the victims, by the perpetrators, and by our society. This acceptance means that victims of sexual harassment or interpersonal violence have their experiences normalized. Victims’ sufferings are continually individualized, which leads victims to believe that they are alone and at fault. And this is not the case. Our normalization of interpersonal violence leaves women alone to face the violence of men—the real and the memories. &
She stayed still, forever caught in the in-between world of darkness.
Dory DeWeese is a first-year majoring in Astronomy and Physics. Dory has read the Harry Potter series 37 times.
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IS THE NEW
By Matt Herman
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What do you think about when you and/or raping female prisoners. Female drive by a prison? People who are violent prisoners are often afraid of speaking and dangerous? People who deserve to out about being abused because they be there? Over the course of only a few could face consequences such as solitary months, my perspective has changed confinement, an extension on their drastically. Millions of people in the U.S. sentence, transferral to another prison, spend part of their lives incarcerated. and even more harassment from other These people are dehumanized and made prison guards and prisoners if the a victim of the violent and oppressive U.S. perpetrating prison guard gets penalized. prison industrial complex. Sexual relations between prisoners and The real issue here is how prison guards are technically against easily most people, myself the law. In addition, women in prison included, have failed to take the sometimes cannot do much to avoid initiative to become aware of the sexual harassment. Reporting harassment injustice that many prisoners can lead to the assumption that it was experience. It is sad to consensual. Under most The prison system circumstances, women in say that it sometimes seems as if people is set up to re-inflict prison are more heavily in prisons are than the male trauma, abuse and punished an afterthought prison guards who assault violence on people. them. This incentivizes to most. Their voices are not silence. -Victoria Law In one of the emails often heard—not I received from Law, she emphasized enough people are listening. a very important detail for me: “the Among other things, my prison system is set up to re-inflict attention became drawn toward trauma, abuse and violence on prisoners with the help of the people.” Many forms of violence exist very popular Netflix show in all prisons here in the U.S. People are Orange is the New Black. The show raped or physically abused. They are effectively highlights the real-life struggles forced to live in solitary confinement, an of inmates, especially struggles of inhumane and unhealthy environment in interpersonal violence and sexual abuse. which people can be put for illegitimate When thinking about these issues within our entire society, it is especially important reasons and for undetermined amounts of time. Women are sometimes forced to to also remember those who suffer from wear shackles while giving birth. Many these types of abuse as a result or as part transgender people are assigned to live in of their imprisonment. prisons designated for the sex they were In Orange is the New Black, one of the assigned at birth. In the documentary prison guards, nicknamed “Porn-stache,” Cruel and Unusual, trans women tell their sexually abuses some of the female prisoners. This is not a rare occurrence stories—stories of being incarcerated in many prisons spanning the U.S. in real in an all-male prison, of facing sexual life. Sexual abuse happens on both among abuse and harassment because of their imprisoned people and between these appearance, and of being denied the right people and the prison guards. to receive hormone therapy. I briefly chatted via e-mail with Many people are incarcerated for activist Victoria Law on the subject of non-violent drug charges. Others like violence in prisons. In her book Resistance CeCe McDonald, a trans woman of color, Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated are incarcerated for defending themselves Women, she documents several stories of against people who violently express male prison guards sexually harassing misogyny, homophobia/transphobia,
COMMUNITY and/or racism. A large number of people who finish their sentence and leave prison often have difficulty readjusting to “normal life,” and may end up returning to prison. All of these situations represent a system of interconnected oppressions that is impossible to challenge without acknowledging every dimension. Yet, I write not to discourage those challenging this system—only to empower them to fight harder! As inmate Sarah Jo Pender writes in a message to Victoria Law on the website Solitary Watch: “Whatever you choose to do, just DO something… Anything is better than turning the page to the next article and forgetting about us, leaving us alone in our cells.” Matt Herman is a first-year. Right now his favorite jam is “Emotions” by Mariah Carey.
Dear mama, how do you feel? By Diamond Brown
2.19.14 Dear mama, how do you feel Does the past make you cry sometimes? Does it make you ask what if do you think about your scars sometimes Dear mama, does it still hurt no… not a piercing pain, just a dull one that comes and goes as if you had had surgery several years ago and someone carved pieces of your heart out then told you you’d be better sooner or later was it later rather than sooner has it happened yet dear mama, there are times when I feel your anguish my sweet mother I don’t mean to push you but even if you don’t, I ask myself sometimes what if what if you had found love in someone with a heart did the hollow sound of his empty chest make you feel the need to fill it and if love never fails, then where is he now? why doesn’t he care? why did he want us dead? I feel the guilt in asking myself these questions because in this I know I am questioning God but best friend, mother of mine, queen, and stronghold I never blame you You patched yourself up after the cuts and bruises you taught me to gather my own strength from within myself I was so afraid of the world after all we had been through because he was half of it back then Fuck him It baffles me to this day how you are where you are You were mother and father to me, to us Your strength, my inspiration Diamond Brown is a junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Linguistics. She is the president of MASALA, a student organization and the first multicultural group on campus.
“Self-portrait with Father and Dying Mother” Photo. (left) J Gray Swartzel is a senior majoring in Studio Art and minoring in Women’s & Gender Studies.
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THE STATE OF
VIOLENCE By Sarah Pederson
and give people education.” Instead, that money goes directly into the pockets of the private contractors who are building and profiting from privatized deportation centers. That’s right—the government is incentivizing businesses to forcibly remove innocent people from our country. The denial of education and use of the term “illegal” serve a larger purpose. There’s a bigger picture of inequality so insidious that you can taste it every time you chew your food. As part of our trip, we visited multiple organizations such as Student Action with Farmworkers, Legal Aid of North Carolina, and Episcopal Farmworker Ministries that provided insight into our nation’s agricultural system— from the worker’s perspective. More stories that seem too familiar: harsh working conditions with unfair wages. Substandard housing. Pesticide exposure. Employers who violate policies put in place to protect workers. Coercion is commonplace in the fields: “We are afraid…” one woman told us, “Sometimes we work faster just so that we can get ahead of the crew leader so he won’t see us taking a break.” Most farmworkers are Latino/a. Some come on H2A work visas, but many are undocumented. Language barriers and immigration status stop many workers from reporting abuses, wage theft, and inhumane living conditions, and prevent them from finding other sources of employment. After learning about farmworker conditions, we drove to visit a migrant labor campsite in Dunn, N.C. As we turned onto a dirt road marked “Plantation Lane,” we saw surveillance cameras and signs threatening, “no trespassing.” Off the road, we saw rows of trailers that look uninhabitable and crude outhouses (employers are not required to provide indoor plumbing). We learned that at this campsite, like many others, air conditioning, mattresses, and washing machines are not provided. Food is not provided. In many cases, choice is not provided (to learn more, check out the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an organization working to expose human trafficking within the agricultural system and advocating for farmworker justice). This story seems like a relic of an oppressive past—but it’s happening right in our backyard. As our group reflected on the experience, we laughed, cried, and thought critically together about our shared realities. As we worked through our different perspectives, we came to a similar conclusion— these are not “Latino” issues or “immigrant” issues. These are our issues. Throughout the trip, we couldn’t help but notice the awful similarities between the current exploitation of farmworkers and the violence of slavery in the U.S. South not so long ago. America has a legacy of violence, exploitation, and coercion of people. An assault on humanity. Some people argue that such exploitation of people is necessary for our economy and way of life to continue—I argue that we are already dead if we think this is the only way we can live. Let’s make new stories. &
Over spring break, I went on an alternative break trip through APPLES service learning. Our focus was “Latino communities” in North Carolina—as broad and diverse as that is. I left for the trip with mixed feelings: I was worried that I would find this trip like any other weeklong service experience that primarily caters to the fulfillment of selfcongratulatory volunteers, privileged saviors that can “fix” the “issues” of certain communities. Instead, I came away from the trip humbled to my core with a heavy heart. And some hope. We spent most of the break listening to stories. Stories of community organizers, young people the same age as us. They told us that they were undocumented and unafraid. Some had been accepted to Carolina. Just like myself and other UNC students on the trip, they had worked hard, done well in school, and dreamed like us of attending Carolina. But they could not attend because of policies in our state that force undocumented individuals to pay out-of-state tuition, even if they have lived in the United States since they were a day old, pledge allegiance to the flag, and try to enlist in the military—“It’s as if they don’t want us to get an education.” These people were denied the American Dream, so they decided to redefine success for themselves by fighting back and organizing for just immigration reform. Over 11 million people currently live in the U.S. without citizenship papers. The American immigration system is very complex; however, you can only become a citizen by first applying for permanent residency. And the process can take years depending on who you are. For example, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is currently reviewing the cases of people from Mexico who applied for permanent residency in 1992. So, if you don’t have twenty years to wait to escape the poverty imposed on other countries by U.S. foreign policy (see the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA), you’re all but forced to enter the country without papers. This is not an illegal action, because a crime has not been committed—in fact, within immigration administration the term “illegal” is never used. The term actually originated from anti-immigration advocates in 2005 that promoted the use of the term “illegal” to describe immigrants without papers (source: droptheiword.com). The label “illegal” works to dehumanize immigrants of color in order to perpetuate racist immigration policies, the denial of worker’s rights, and violence. There are no people that are inherently “illegal” people. More stories. Stories of families being ripped apart, police officers arresting mothers in front of their children and dragging the mother to deportation centers, leaving the children stranded in the car. Imagine fearing the police, the very people whose duty is to protect you. Imagine the fear of living day to day not knowing if you will ever see members of your family again. The Obama administration has deported more people than any other presidential administration—almost 2 million individuals so far. Behind those numbers are millions of families and communities being torn apart. It costs the government $23,000 to deport one person—one of the people who we talked to commented, “Imagine if all the money that was spent on deportations was used to build schools
There are no people that are inherently “illegal” people.
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Sarah Pederson is a junior majoring in Public Policy and Women’s & Gender Studies. She came out of the womb opinionated.
OBJECTIVITY The Line Between
A Journalist’s Perspective
By Meghan Sobel
When most people hear about victims of sex trafficking, they tend to envision young girls, but boys can be trafficked in much the same way. Boys are trafficked around the globe, including here in the United States. My eyes were opened to the experiences of young boys forced into the sex trade in the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai. A network of “boy bars” exist in which men (or women, but primarily men) called “johns” can come have a drink and select a boy that they like. They then pay the bar owner for the boy’s sexual services and take him home (or back to their hotel room) for the night. The situation is complex; the boys often have no other means of paying for food or a roof over their heads, some bar owners are law enforcement officials, and the “johns” are often well-dressed, Western businessmen who identify as heterosexual, married men with kids in their home country. This topic has received a startling lack of media attention, which is what drives me to study the connection between media representation and human trafficking. “Human trafficking” is an umbrella term for several different types of exploitation. Sex trafficking is the most well-known, but human trafficking could also refer to forced domestic or agricultural labor, forced organ/tissue removal, or the use of child soldiers. Human trafficking is a widespread problem that transcends borders; it happens in both urban and rural areas, in countries on the other side of the world as well as in our neighborhoods. Although it may be hard to imagine, the victims are truly no different than your brother, sister, friend or classmate. During my time working with various anti-trafficking organizations in the U.S. and abroad, my coworkers and I were continuously trying to draw attention to these issues by increasing and improving news coverage. Anti-trafficking advocates often believe that journalists incorrectly report on the issues or do not cover them at all. However, for journalists reporting on human trafficking, in addition to time and financial limitations, the safety issues and ethical complexities are
immense. Journalists must walk a blurred yet important line between being an objective reporter and an activist. Fortunately, with the help of an organization called Urban Light, some young boys in Thailand are getting out of the red light district, going to school, and improving their quality of life with jobs at restaurants and hotels. My goal is to push for media coverage of these boys and others just like them around the world. News media hold the power to shape public discourse and impact policy decisions. Next time you’re on CNN.com, click on and read the story you see about human trafficking. Better yet, share it on Facebook or tweet about it. By circulating these articles, we can raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking. If you want to get more deeply involved, there are a number of local anti-trafficking organizations that will connect with you. I believe that it is time to harness the power of the media to increase public attention to and understanding of the atrocity of human trafficking and therefore help to bring an end to it. & Meghan Sobel earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Colorado, an M.A. in International & Intercultural Communication from the University of Denver and is currently working on her Ph.D. in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at UNC. She has worked with anti-human trafficking organizations in Thailand and the U.S. Department of State in Malawi. Her research focuses on international communication and human rights journalism, specifically news coverage of human trafficking.
“Portrait of Aliaa Elmahdy” Oil on Panel (left) Shelby Bass is a junior majoring in Studio Art and minoring in Advertising.
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How my pasT AS A black woman informS MY black male FEMINIST Perspective today By Dr. Kortney Ziegler Originally published on Blackademic and republished here with their permission Although I am not new to masculinity, I am new to being a black man. I am new to the experience of male privilege and its consequence of authority, as well as the disprivilege of race that marks my black male body as innately suspect. It is the delicate balance between power and criminal that has allowed me to see the machinations of misogyny in an entirely different light. Whereas black cisgender men have generally approached feminist discourse through the academic texts and writings of black women, for me, it is my lived experience as a black female that has shaped the ways in which I embrace and practice black feminism. Prior to physical transition, I wasn’t naive to the ways in which certain forms of black masculinity contribute to the oppression of women. I grew up in a family of single black women who loved, really loved, black men even though it was their husbands, boyfriends and sometimes brothers who were the perpetrators of emotional and physical abuse. I watched my mother, my beautiful mother, struggle with the demons of mental illness and drug use. Her sickness, it seemed, gave the men in the neighborhood free range to take advantage of her financially and sexually. Though I’ve never met him to form an opinion, my aunt still declares it was my absent father who literally drove my mother to madness. I was witness to the sadness my grandmother felt as all three of her sons followed in their father’s alcoholic footsteps. She still smiled through all of the pain but I saw the sadness when my uncle, her child, routinely threatened her in the same ways as did the abusive husband she left years before. I learned to resent black men. As I grew and my body changed, so did my interactions with males that I encountered. I suffered the threat of sexual violence as my female body consistently invited unsolicited advances from (black) men despite my masculine presentation. I became more aware of the ads, music, and propaganda that told me that I was ugly, unattractive, and good enough only as a sexual object for black men. Even though intro courses to race and women’s studies in college began to offer me the critical tools to somewhat reject these images, I still felt shame as it was impossible to escape the reality that sexist images of black women suffocated me. When I began to date women, I repeatedly encountered the aggressive homophobe who thought their magical black dicks could turn me “straight.” In some instances, I would rebuff their advances with jokes though I was well aware of the possibility of danger in doing so. I learned to fear black men. Although my relationship with black men and masculinity was fraught, I still desired to be one; I knew that gender transition would be a necessary part of my life’s journey. For some transmen, their female past conjures up memories of pain and humiliation, and rightfully so. These feelings are not absent from my journey but I’ve come to embrace my past as a beneficial asset to my practice of a progressive black masculinity. Primarily, I am very careful with my interactions with women in
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order to not be perceived as a physical threat. I am always thoughtful of my newfound “bulk” due to hormones and the ways in which my masculine body moves and occupies space. While walking on the streets, I maintain my distance from women. I avoid eye contact unless we are engaging in mutual conversation and even then, I do not stare. The memory of harassment as a woman doesn’t allow me to. In professional situations, I am always aware of my male privilege. I do not hog the intellectual space and make it a point to deeply value the input of my female collaborators. My goal is not to be the dominant voice of reason but to attempt to exist as an equal colleague. Furthermore, in my work I find it very important to centralize the experiences of women to supplement the work that they are doing for themselves. Although I identify as a heterosexual male, in my relationship with my partner I strive to avoid replicating the harmful gendered dynamics that are traditionally associated with heterosexuality. I make it a point to share my feelings and evaluate my shortcomings. I am not perfect and sometimes I slip but the emphasis I’ve placed on expressing my feelings has provided a deviation from conventional notions of black masculinity. This gesture does not negate my manhood; rather it permits me to love and perform gender in a much healthier way. Additionally, I do not use my manhood as an excuse to cheat, to view my partner as another sexual conquest, or to marginalize her feelings. In my brief experience of living as a black male, I’ve learned that it is difficult to challenge misogyny in male dominated spaces. I have found myself in a number of uncomfortable situations with men who openly insult and humiliate women and I feel silenced. Not because of the fear of being outed as trans but I fear being perceived as a failed version of black masculinity–a fear that I believe imprisons all black men–adding to the reproduction of a violent patriarchal society. I am not a perfect man. I am not immune to the assumptions that are expected of me and sometimes, I act them out. However, my transition journey has allowed me to begin the process of forgiving my absent father, my alcoholic uncle, and the cat-calling homophobe on the corner. Because black feminism allows me to love myself, I have learned to love black men. & Dr. Kortney Ziegler is an Oakland-based award-winning artist, writer, public speaker, and the first person to hold the Ph.D of African American Studies from Northwestern University. He is also the Founder of Trans*H4CK: Hackathon for Transgender Empowerment.
PURI Yculture By Jennifer Waldkirch
The summer before last, I was a volunteer counselor for a weeklong Christian Bible study camp. The camp was a program put on by my hometown church for third- through sixth-graders that centered on the idea of “blood covenants.” A blood covenant (for those who don’t speak Old Testament) is a binding agreement made with God or before God and sealed with bloodshed. In many religions, including Christianity, the blood covenant is a model for the marriage ceremony. The idea is that if a woman is a virgin, then she will bleed on her wedding night, thus sealing the covenant and making the marriage binding in the eyes of God. The theme might seem a little morbid for a group of children, but as someone who had been through the same camp when I was in fifth grade, I didn’t think much of it at the time. In fact, I had reflected very little on my experience at “Covenant Camp” until I was charged with the care of my own group of fifthgrade girls. That week, I was disturbed to see children indoctrinated to believe such a limited view of female sexuality. To represent the importance of purity in a more easily digestible way to children, the counselors came up with the idea to give the girls milk bottles. The girls were told to decorate the bottles in whatever way they chose. These inconspicuous recyclables were made to represent virginity—the message being that once broken, they are broken forever. The craft may have been a playful attempt to lighten the themes of the Covenant, but the girls seemed conscious enough of its implications. They took great care in painting little hearts and sunshine rays around the exterior of the glass, using whatever girly adornments they could think of to represent their individuality. A counselor remarked that the bottles should be a memento they could keep for a long time; they could “show it to their future husbands” as a sign of their commitment to purity. One of the girls asked me the question, “what if it breaks?” “I don’t know,” I told her, “I guess you should be careful with it.” Asking young people to promise to abstain from future sex at an age when they have very little understanding of what they are committing themselves to is an all too common practice within the church. Yet the model of sexual purity cuts deeper than that. Here I was, one of many adults in their lives, essentially telling them that their self-worth was dependent on the intactness of their hymens. Forgetting the fact that woman can “pop their cherries” during any number of physical activities that aren’t sex, the deeper meaning of this idea is rather violent. What kind of message were we asking children to internalize when we tell them that a woman must bleed in order to prove her devotion to God?
In a meditative contemplation of my upbringing, I’ve begun unpacking the antiquated views of sexuality I was exposed to in my youth. Though frank discussions of masturbation were taboo, I remember that the subject was brought up once on a retreat for sixth-grade girls. To quote one of the counselors, “sex should always be between a wife and her husband, and if a woman touches herself down there, she is robbing her future spouse.” Whether or not I really grasped this at the time, I was being told that my genitals did not belong to me. They belonged to a man I had never met (I can’t know for sure, but I doubt very much that my male peers were ever told their penises belonged to a female stranger). As a result of this indoctrination, it’s taken me a long time to give myself permission to experiment with my own sexuality. Masturbation was something I never allowed of myself until college. Though my church may seem backwards to some, my experiences are far from unique. The “purity myth” is just as pervasive in larger U.S. culture and politics as it is in Bible Belt churches. “Promise rings,” worn as a symbol that “true love waits” for marriage, have become a notorious fad for young celebrities. Yet time and time again, these celebrities, from Miley Cyrus to the Jonas Brothers, admit to breaking their promises. Abstinence-only education is a continuing trend within public schools, despite the overwhelming evidence that it only aggravates unsafe sex. Most disturbingly of all, conservative lawmakers haven’t given up on their mission to obliterate women’s reproductive rights. While the church still rails against the “dangers” of the secular world, it’s doing everything within its power to ensure that its doctrine pervades every facet of society. & Jennifer Waldkirch is a junior double majoring in History and Studio Art. She was raised in Charlotte, N.C. in a Southern Baptist church and she aspires to be known as a “born-again feminist.”
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seeking support after an unwanted sexual experience? for confidential services, visit any of the following: at UNC campus health services counseling & psychological services (CAPS) university ombuds office
in any emergency
off campus orange county rape crisis center compass center for women and families
Your DHRE Staff Department of Public Safety Office of the Dean of Students Deputy Title IX / Student Complaint Coordinator
RESOURCES and INTERIM PROTECTIVE MEASURES for Sexual Harassment, Sexual and Relationship Violence including: campus-based no contact orders changes in housing or changes in class schedules
can be obtained by contacting... Deputy Title IX / Student Complaint Coordinator Ew Quimbaya-Winship SASB North, Suite 1125 email@example.com 919-843-3878
Office of the Dean of Students SASB North, Suite 1106 firstname.lastname@example.org 919-966-4042