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Th e feminist magazin e of the University of Norh Car olina at Chapel Hill

spring 2009

Volume 3, issu e 1


table of contents page 2

letter from the editor by samantha mich ele riley page 3

EDITORJALS dissp elling the myths by leah josephson staff writ ers: Samantha Mich ele Riley, Tin Wegel, Leah Joseph son , Anqi Li, Cour tney Roller

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design : Anqi Li

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TABLE

07CONTENTS

feminism in practice by anqi li

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT english 101 students write about "covering" on campus pag e 10

THIS SEASON meet th e staff page 6

the fight for femini sm by cour tney roller page 7

a german perspective on 1968 by tin weg el page 8

'7

THE m,EN


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n Greek mythology, the sirens wer e enchanted cr eatures sporting the head of a woman and the body of a bird. With their irresistible songs, the sirens wer e said to lure sea mariners toward land wher e those men swiftly met their rocky grav es . In 'The Odyssey" we learn, however, that the sire ns' songs, while deadly, wer e also full of wisdom . Hearing this, the inquisitive hero Odysseus decides to try his fate. He ties hims elf to the mast of his ship , but not before having his timid sailors put wax in their ears to protect them. Both courage and restraint enable Odysseu s to hear and learn from the sirens' songs. He is then empowered to change his destiny. He mak es it past the islands safely. We at Th e Siren want to help change our future for the better as well. At first our message, like that of the sirens', may evoke fear. When one hears the terms feminism, women' s rights, gender equality, gay rights and civil rights, many people in our society turn a deaf ear, much like the mariners did. But, if you take the time to read our stori es, you'll find our songs full of wisdom and experience, too. This spring 2009 edition of Th e Siren comes off the press and into your hand s in a moment of great historical impetus and change. We celebrate the inauguration of our first African-American president, Presid ent Barack Obama! And UNC-Chapel Hill is also making history.

For example, this academic year UNC-CH cho se Kenji Yoshino 's controv ersial book "Covering: Th e Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights" as the 2008 Carolin a Sum mer Reading Program se lection - an account of the stigmas faced by one brave, gay Asian-American man in the United States. In this issue of Th e Sire n, your fellow classmates have found strengt h to ask how we "cover" her e at UNC as well. Th e past year also ser ves as a year of reflection, looking back to the women' s rights and civil rights movem ents of the 1960s and 1970s to ask what lessons have been learned. Our staff explores these issues historically in Chapel Hill and abroad to find out how far we have really come . And more importantly, where are we going? How can we make our world a safe hom e, endowed with equal and univer sal hu man rights for ever yone? We wish you good reading and hope our songs might inspire you as well. Safe sailing . Samantha Michele Riley


don't really look like a feminist" 'This bru sque observation is a commo n response when I my strong opinions related to equality.Wheth er I first mention the wage gap, reprodu ctive rights or women's health care, the comment comes from men and women, liberals and conse rvatives alike, and it's often peppered with words like "Ierninazi," "militan t" or even "dyke." It's true that I don't fit the conventional feminist stereotype. I have long, blond hair that' s frequ ently styled. I wear traditionally fem inine clothes and I even shave my legs. I de finitely don't hate men. I may not be what people expect, but it's that ver y expectation that hurts the feminist cause at its root

achievem ents, but as simply an attempt to inspire recognition - and correction - of societal inequities. Katelyn Bryant-Comstock, a senior English and folklore double major, ha s held internships with the Feminist Majority Foundati on and Planned Parenthood of Central N.C. She agrees that these unnecessary power struggles enable the stigm atization of feminism . "People like to joke and criticize feminism because women are consid er ed the weaker sex," Bryant-Comstock said. "Whe n someone is already consider ed weak er, it's easier to put down thing s they do." Society's pervasive lack of se rious consideration of feminist issues manifests itself in many ways. Sign ificantly, women are frequ ently portrayed as sexual objects, and light is often mad e of their maltreatm ent. Bryant-Com stock recalled a BoUNCe Magazine car toon that ran a few years ago. It depicted images of differ ent ways to have sex with women, some of which involved sce nes of rape. When she expressed distaste at the cartoon, Bryant-Comstock's concerns wer e dismissed by many as overreactions, as BoUNCe Magazine is satirical in nature. "But there's wher e I se e the problem," she said. by leah josephson "Joking about rape makes it okay. Doing this just perpetuates the cycle of thinkin g less of women." Even see mingly harml ess parodies instill the values of an oppressive rape culture in the minds of an impressionable audience. Such flippant dismissal of se rious concerns frequ ently prevent s many Femin ism is diverse. Its goals touch everyone in every people from acknowledging their existence. It enables them to industry: poverty-stricke n single mothers needing food consider feminist objectives unimportant or even humorous. stamps to feed their childre n; corporate presidents forced Th er e are several strategies we as feminists, both men by legislation to cease sex discriminati on in their payrolls; and women, can use to end this perp etuation of oppr ession. pharmacists providing bir th control methods to desperat e We can teach ourselves and others to be mor e conscious of tee nagers. With so many differ ent issues to debat e and so the subtle precepts that dictate women 's treatment in society. many specific interests to lobby, the nuances of feminist ideals are sometimes interpreted as combative and polarizing. We can reject satirical depictions that maintain stereotypes. While we can also certainly be activists, Bickford advises that However, Dr. Donna Bickford, director of the Carolina it's equally important to personally model adaptable feminist Women's Center, thinks the media too often focus on the practices for others and facilitate informal discussion s with most extre me positions rather than producing thoughtful, friend s, family memb ers, and colleagues. Most simply, we CCUl measured dialogu e. 'This type of constr uction also pits groups reject the feminist stigma and be proud to embrace feminist against each othe r, such as working mothers and women who ideals. choose to stay home. Th ese interpretation s miss the main With few strong equality advocates in popular culture objective. '111e root of all of our conce rn s is simply equality. and mocking representation s of women in the media, it is Bickford says that many people censure feminism not surpri sing that many men and women are reluctant to because equality involves relinquishing some conventionally call them selves feminists. However, most people do believe male-dominated powers to women. "In western society, we that women have a right to their own bodies and that people ge nerally understand power as power to control," she said. "If should be treated equally, regardl ess of gend er or sexual that is our conceptualization of power, it's easier to see why, for some people, thinking about women gaining power is the orientation. same as men losing power." Feminism shouldn't be a power Th ey are feminists. • str ugg le. It shouldn't be see n as a way to deprive men of their


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We of the third wave of feminism are failing. Even when we can get past the stigma of "the , J f-word,' we all too often embrace a misinterpretation of tru e feminism. We accept an individualistic feminism that counteracts progress toward a gend er equitable society. Literatur e that addresses dominant schools of modern feminist thought labels the collective approach "radical." In fact, tru e femini sm requir es a collective approach. Most fundam entally, feminism challeng es a system depend ent on the subordination of women . Consequ ently, we mistak enly label feminism as "women 's issues." Feminism in its pur est state, however, is a frame of reference for und erstanding how we str ucture our society and intera ct with each other as gend er ed beings. Femini sm is about exposing a system built upon power hierarchies and domination that disadvantages people along race and economic lines, as well as ge nde r lines . Th ese esse ntial truths of feminism have fallen victim to inflated American individualism. '111C result is a perver sion of individual "choice," which becomes appare nt if we would only look at the workplace and the pornography industry. Regarding the family-work balance, the central issue is constraint of options. In her book "Opting Out?" (2007) sociologist Pam ela Stone finds that even amon g Ivy Leagueeducated white women with high-status car eer s, a numb er of common workplace factors result in a professi onal "shut out" after childbirt h. Once moth er s, working women 's best "choice" is to quit. Th ese factors include inadequate childcare, limited and stigmatized part-time work options, inflexible hours and unequal pay. Sources ranging from ABC's 20/20 to the National Committee on Pay Equity estimate the "the woman's dollar" to be anywher e between 75 and 78 cents as recently as 2007. Yet Ann Crittend on, former economics reporter ofTh e New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize nominee, publish ed research in 'The Price of Motherhood" (2001) indicating that this calculation includes only full-time, year-round workers - mostly men. Since women compose over half of the part-time labor force, we can infer that 78 cents is misleading at best. When comparing the wages of all men and women in the labor force, the woman 's dollar remains relatively consistent at 66 cents to the man's dollar. Thus wages , as the most easily quantifiabl e symptom of ge nder inequity, reflect one incentive for women to "choose"

VI'V 17 J

DUAt.1SM .

by an qi li

the domestic sphere. While we must acknowledge the validity of an individual woman's choice to become a full-time moth er, we also need to recognize that women as a whole cannot make a choice to work or to mother with the degree of freedom men enjoy when choo sing to work and to father. Ifa woman 's work will not be sufficiently reward ed, why wouldn't she do the "right" thing and just go home? And speaking of home, almost nothing is such an insidious part of the modern American hom e than por nography. Again, in addressing porn ography, we must consider the constraint of options that women face when "choosing" to enter the indu str y. We must ther efore approach por nogra phy not as disconnected images, but as the lucrative, high-tech industr y it actually is. Sociologist and professor Gail Dines asse r ts that even if we assume ther e is a small population of people fit for the abusive, pornographic sexual treatment we ours elves would be unwilling to endure , pornograph y as an industry harm s all women as a collective. Leading legal scholar Catheri ne MacKinnon stat es succin ctly, "The way men inflict on women the sex they experience through pornography gives women no choice about the porn ography or doing the sex." Pornography touches ever y individual in society because to the extent that gender identity includes sexual identity, pornography teaches men how to be "me n" and women how to be "wome n" in sexual relationships, to the detri ment of both . So, you see, we are failing. True femi nism is about igniting a conviction in people that society can be better, that people in society can be more. Feminism is about transforming this conviction into action. Th e inflated individualism of modern American society stag nates progressive social movem ents and obscures our per spective on broader structural mechanism s that construct social beh aviors. If we hope to continue advancing the goals of social justic e, we must tak e owner sh ip of feminism - collectively. •


In the 2005-2006 academic year, Ashley LoBuglio took the Women's Issues Newsletter, an initiative of the Women's Center, and transformed it into The Siren . Four years later, The Siren has reemerged with a new identity heralded by the arrival of a new staff, from editor-in-chief to writers to des igner. We'd like to introduce ourselves to you. Photos courtesy ofstaff

Sophomore und ergraduate Jou rnalism and French major, women 's studi es minor lnjoseph @email.unc.edu

NTHA MICHELE R-.ILEY

== Sopnomore unaerg major,

Junior undergraduate Journalism major, women 's studi es and history minors rcourtne@email.unc.edu

Interested in writing, designing or photographing for The Siren? Do you have questions or comments? Contact us!

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THE SIR-EN


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Wh en describing the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill words like progressive and forward-thinking ar e always at the tips of tongues. Though bleak moments freckle our University's history, especially when it com es to the treatment of women; the present atmosphere of universal resp ect and acceptance mak es the past seem much farth er away than perhaps it should. It is easy to look at where we are in comparison to wh ere we wer e and feel a se nse of victory at a mission co mpleted. It is also easy separate ourselves from the past and to view the feminists and feminism that achieved these goals as outda ted or no longer necessary. However, as wom en and men with an obligation to a better futur e we mu st rem ember that the need for feminism on our cam pus and in our world is still practical and necessary. Dr. Jennifer Ho, an English Department professo r who res earches interdepartmental issu es, which encompass Asian-American studi es, ge nde r and American popular cultu re, says that all her fields of research and interest relate to women's issues in som e form. "As someon e who ha s always been attracted to the feminist movem ent, I first and foremost believe that feminism is about wom en being treat ed equal to men , not the sa me , but equal,' lk Ho said. As a femal e, non-tenured professo r with

f FEM1N 1Stv

by courtney roller

and there is a perception of wom en wh o have an interest in rac e and gend er, Dr. Ho sees children in acad emia that their attention is the constant need for feminism in both her divided ." personal and professional life. Through h er life expe riences , Dr. Ho sa id she "I definitely think there is a need for feminism on this campus and in this stat e," has found that many peopl e feel a disconn ect between the need for femini sm in the past and Dr. Ho said. She describ es the most basi c premi se of feminism as working toward th e need for it today. "I think so me people feel feminism is obsolete in a very hopeful way," Dr. non-discrimination on th e ba sis of gend er. Ho said. "Th ey feel that we ar e past the era of 'There are al1 sorts of ways in which we gend er discrimination that requires the need for can define discrimination," Dr. Ho said . feminism or they feel that femini sm is so mehow "Do 1think that women ar e no longer being radical in a way that suggests that femini sm promoted and ar e not up for jobs solely means a certain set of things." based on their gender? 1would say no . She also describ ed an experience she had in That kind of blatant sexism is probably not Dr. jennifer Ho discusses a a feminist theory class during graduate school. res ent at this university." However, Dr. Ho summer reading assign ment She explaine d that stude nts were as ke d to acknowledges that more subtle remnants with students, provid e their ideas or views of wha t femini sm of discrimination against wom en ar e still Photo courtesy ofj ennifer Ho was. "I was surprised at the number of students pres ent such as issu es with fertility and - who were largely wom en - wh o had an idea reproduction. "I am ful1y aware that being a non-tenured person, If of what feminism was that was very antiqu ated ," Dr. Ho said. "Their notions were from th e 1970s. Feminism was about loud 1were to have children now, it could potential1y result in a professional loss for me," Dr. Ho said, adding, "I don 't wom en burning their bras and not shaving and about insisting nec essarily mean that I'd lose my job, but 1would lose time that they were the same as men." 200 9

7


UNC-CH women to come and familiarize themselves with the One of the key issu es in the str uggle to ensure that people list of demands that Female Liberation members had recently still see fem inism as per tinent to their lives was exe mplified presented to the administration. in this classroom exe rcise , Dr. Ho said. "A lot of the women Among the 21 demands present ed wer e calls to eliminate . in this class were really inter ested in feminist theory but discrimin ator y scholarships and grants like th e Moreh ead they felt like from an activist point of view, we wer e beyond Scholars hip which was not available to wom en at the time; feminism. 'I1Iey were inter ested in it as a philosophical idea to end "cover t and overt channeling of women" into "female" and, theor etically speaking, how it applied , but they wer e not majors such as nur sing, teaching feeling like it was important in their and social work and away from fields day-to-day lives," she said. "I think "1 was surprised at the number in math , science, business and law; that largely happen s because we ofstudents...who had an idea to abolish discriminatory rule s that have had some pretty significant uph eld a double stan dard for cur fews, gains as women in this countr y." of whatfeminism was that was visitation and overnight abs ences; and Th is theory is cer tainly worth veryantiquated. " to eliminate publication s and activities considering in the context of our that exploited fem ale stud ent s as sex own campus here in Chapel Hill, objects, such as pictur es of bikini-dad wom en in the Daily Tar where we have a 60 percent female demographic. It see ms Heel and beauty contests that wer e featured extensively in the almost unbelievable that less than 50 years ago first-year Yakety Yacko wome n stude nts wer e not even admitted, and the junior Most of the demands made by the 1970 Female Liberation and se nior status women who wer e admitte d cam e in small !-,'TOUp have been met and in some cases exceeded. Th e numbers and under many stipulations as to what they could inclusion of women as campus leader s has certainly had a major in and where th ey could live. large impact on how women are viewed in our community In th e 1970s, female students had plenty of deliberately and man y of our University organizations and publications discriminatory policies, rules and regulations to fight against. are cur rently headed by female stude nts. Along with the In April 1970, members of the on-campus Female Liberati on University's anti-discrimination policy and the current push organization held a meeting in the Frank Porter Graham toward a gender neutral language policy it may see m as if th e Stude nt Union. Flyer s adverti sing the meeting encouraged all

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THE SII'..EN


need for feminism has been diminished or even eliminated. But, Alisa Eanes a senior Women's Studies and Psychology double major said she feels that although the gains women have made on our campus should be celebrated, they should not be used as an excuse to eradicate feminism or the fight for equal rights. "It's great to hear that those 21 points from 1970 have been met The thing is, though, with each generation, with each new group of people that come to this campus those points are changing," Eanes said. "There are a whole new set of points that were made in the 19805and the 1990s and the 2000sthat have not been met" Eanes referred to issues such as the wage gap, which in 2007estimated women make 78 cents to a man's $1,according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research; inaccurately gendered language such as the use ofwords like "freshman" or "Congressman"; the lack of affordable and quality childcare and, as Dr. Ho explained previously mentioned, parental leave policies that indirectly penalize women for having children as some of the concerns and battle grounds of our time. '''We have made a lot of progress; feminism has made a huge impact," Eanes said. "But it is stillreally needed to make the world a better place and bring people together and to create more equality and put us all on the same ground." •

SPfl.-.ING 2 0 0 9

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Covering is a fundam ental component to our

PER..SONALI1Y. As such a social species , we actively

search for acceptance with one another. In ord er to achieve this, we must all adapt our personality, ride fads, and learn trends from others to fit in. Indeed, we willingly and happily do just this . Covering occurs with people No group of peo ple is pressured into of all ages, wheth er it be dressing differently to cove ring at UNC more so than make friends at school or to seem more a more freshmen as a wh ole; thi s is driv en by a sociable and approachable team member in the office. Whether consciously covering DESI RE 10 FIT IN. It is important to or not, I believe that covering is one of re me mbe r that college is not only a tim e wh en the most basic traits we all hold, and has ma ny peopl e cover, but also a tim e in which enabled us to adapt for cooperation in th e tr ue identity is und ergoing formation . This furth ering society. eme rgence of th e true self, how ever, is more - Junior Peter Gillooly co mmo nly seen in stude nts who hav e lived on ca mpus longer. Th e over whe lming effect of a new e nviron me nt and th e need to gain acceptan ce and h ave a multitude of new friends is often too much for any freshman to avoid covering dem and s. Once th ey lind comfor t, it will not be long befor e th eir tru e identity begins to find its way out. - Firs t-year Aaron Church

When I came to UNC, I was first struck by the beautiful campu s, followed closely by the thousands of very different students. Of all the new friend s I've made, I realize that I don't know what many of them were like before they came to Chapel Hill. Would I recognize them if I met them a year ago? Are they the same person or are they distinctly different? Are they covering or UN CO V ER..l N G? -Anonymous


.Covering is the act of hiding one's tru e-self in order to fit into society and be accepted . ... Ju st as Kenji Yoshino, author of "Covering, " covered throughout his teenage years, many individuals at Carolina can be seen doing the same thing. Whether we obs erve the smokers at the flagpole, the fraternity and sorority member s at their cocktail parti es or the athletes out on the field, each of these groups is covering up a part of them selves. Each of us has emotions and feelings we choo se not to share with our friend s or the rest of society, and the refore we cover these emotions in an effor t to appear FLAW LESS. -Anonymous

Most people conside r stud ents of UNC to be a part of the "wealthy elite." However, som e stud ents do not conside r themselves a perfect fit in this l,,'TOUp. Thus, stud ents begin to MOD I FY

THE I R. IN 0 I V IOU A LI TY A change in appearance is the most visible. Stud ent s' fashion styles tend to transition into a mor e preppy and classy look. Th ey put away the denim wash ed jeans and Nikes, and begin to sport khakis, polo shirts, and Sperry's. "Covering" is prevalent at UNC. As a large institution, I do not understand why people do not try to find their niche, instead of giving in to one. No one is obligated to act a certain way. ...Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." -Anonymous Although UNC-Chapel Hill prides itself on being a diverse campus, stud ents still cover their identities. However, what stude nts do not und erstand is that ther e is no need to cover because the "norm" is an illusion that people believe wholeheartedly. Embarrassment and rejection only rejection only com e from those who are too afraid to uncover themselves becaus e of their insecurities. Th e best rout e in life is to be who you are and let oth ers see that. Ifall stude nts uncover ed their tru e identity, then we could all start working toward s HUMAN -Anonymous

EQ..UA LITY.


Siren - Spring 2009  
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