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The feminist magazine of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


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table of conten ts editor's letter

THIS SEASON FEMINISM IN THE FATOSPHERE fat acceptance bloggers reject discrimi nation, embrace thei r bod ies by olivia blanchard THE SILENCE ON VIOLENCE why we need to talk about violence prevention

by eric starn

12 TOO GREEK TO BE FEMINIST? soro rity women negotiate stereo types and sisterhood

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by olivia blanchard WOMEN'S WEEK 2010 a celebratio n of the diverse interpretatio ns of modern feminism

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by leah josephson THE POLITICS OF GAY PORN the feminis t debate on gay porn ography

by enrique perez

EVERY SEASON 4 5 6 8 10

THE POLITICS OF FEMINIST ACTIVISM ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT CONTEXTUALIZING FEMINISM ADVOCATE & ORGANIZATION PERSPECTIVES

20 COMMUNITY VOICE 22 THE SIREN RESPONDS cover photo by Lizzy Hazeltin e

TheSirenisastudent-produced publication ofUNC-Chapel Hill that promotesafeminist perspective on issues surroundinggender, identity, sexuality andhuman rights.We provide readersaresourcefor discovering, developing and challengingtheir self identities and lifephilosophiesbyexposing thedaily world totheglaring examinationof feminist critique. Inthisway, we aimtoaddress thechallengesofinequalitynot onlygloballyand nationally, but particularly withintheUNC-CH community.

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check out our Web site and blog! studentorgs.unc.edu/thesiren


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Doing something well the first time is difficult. Doing so mething well twice ... well, that may be even hard er. Fortunately, I can now present to you th e seco nd issue of The Siren since my ed itorship began , and I hop e you'll be just as satisfied as last season. That being said, I also hop e you won't be disappointed th at we haven't chi med in on campus discourse about gender-inclusive language. We regret th at the debate has only become so popul ar lately, after our deadlines passed . But if, like us, you are frustrated by the trivializing, snarky criticisms of the University's new gende r-inclusive language policy that have permeated the air (and The Daily Tar Heel), we hope you'll take heart in the substantive dialogue we provide here. We've invited fellow students to share th eir insights and experiences as part of th e active feminist com munity on campus. Learn about th e movement to prevent sexual assault and relationship violence (page 8) and a Living-Learning Com munity that helps men deconstruct masculinity (page 20). In th e aftermath of The New York Times articl e that brought our gender ratio and relations under scru tiny, we take a look at how Ca rolina so rority wom en respond to Greek stereotypes and the historical foundations of so ro rities (page 12). And if you're concerned about th e pornification of culture, you'll be interested in our introductory discu ssion of gay porn (page 18) and our response to Larr y Flynt's presen ce on cam pus (page 22). So here's to working, playing , lovin g and choosing with a fem inist perspecti ve in mind.

L Anqi Li Ed itor-In -Chief

InGreek mythology, the Sirens were enchanted creatures sporting thehead ofawoman and the body ofabird.With their irresistiblesongs, the Sirens lured seamarinerstoward land and rocky graves.We learn in"The Odyssey"that the Sirens' songs, while deadly, were also full ofwisdom. Hearing this, the hero Odysseusdecidestotryhis fate by tying himself tothe mast ofhis ship, but not before haVing hissailorsput wax intheir earstoprotect them.Courage and restraint enableOdysseus tohear and learn from the Sirens'songs. He is then empowered tochange hisdestiny. He makes it past theislands safely. We atThe Siren want tohelp change our future for the better aswell. At first our message, like that of the Sirens: may evoke fear.Thetermsfeminism, women's rights, gender equality, gay rightsand civil rights may cause many people toturn adeaf ear, like Odysseus' sailors. But if you take thetimetoread our stories, you'll find our songsfull ofwisdom and experience, too.We wish you good reading and hopeour songsmight inspire you aswell.

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the secret of '. Student Congress BY LEAH JOSEPH SON

[A UTH 0 R.. itJWAT CH L

Here's UNC -Chapel Hill's best-kept secret: un less you're male, whit e, heterosexual and politicall y con servative, Stude nt Congress does n't really represent you. Despite th e claim on the organization's Web site th at "Every member of the student body has repr esent ation;' in reality Stude nt Congress is overwhelm ingly male, not to ment ion overwhelmingly right -wing ideo logically. In th e recent election on Feb. 2, only 10 female memb ers were voted int o Stude nt Congress, which is comprised of 4 1 members elected by the stude nt body on th e basis of hou sing districts. O nly a hand ful of cur rent members represent racial or sexual min oriti es. These figur es are alarm ing for a school recently featured in The New York Times for its imbal an ced female-to- male student ratio. Whil e the numbers are unrepr esent ative from a solely demograph ical standpoi nt, it's also impo rta nt to note that man y Stude nt Congress memb ers are actively involved in conservative student gro ups, namel y Caro lina Review, a conservative, student journal. Both of Carolina Review's senio r editors serve on Student Co ngress , one as chair of th e

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Helen M. Lewis has devoted her life to activism . A daughter of t he suff ragette movement, Lewis' passion for social ju stice developed wh ile at the Southern women's college Georgia State College from 1943 to 1946. Her professors in particular paved t he way for her activ ist efforts . "I call them suff ragette teachers, the women who had been the fir st to vot e... .They were strong fem ini sts and t hey really pushed us. They said, 'Oh, you 're at a women's college. Here you can be president of the organization ; if you went t o t he univers it y you'd have to be secretary. There you 'd have to be beauty q ueen; here all women are beaut iful. There you 'd have to be t he cheerleader; here everybod y plays all the sport s:' Du ring the peak of t he stude nt anti -Vietnam war moveme nt, Lewis rub bed elbows w ith the authors of the Port Huron Statement, the revoluti onary manifesto of Stude nts for a Demo cratic Society; as a Phelps Stokes

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finance comm ittee, arguably one of the mo st influe ntial bodie s on campus. And remem ber the no tori ous "Don't be afraid to look good, ladie s" columnist Justin Crowder? He's a senato r, too, and a prominen t blogger for Carolina Review Daily. The lack of representation of female, minority and progressive stude nts on Stude nt Congress has serious consequences for the University com mu nity. Student Congress votes on bills determini ng repr esentation of students in its bod y, approves executive branch appo intme nts and has th e power to amend the Stude nt Co de. Moreover, th e financ e com mittee contro ls th e allocatio n of all student activity fee funding, which is cur rently set at $39 per stude nt annually - a huge sum of mon ey th at is appo rtio ned to stude nt organizatio ns for supplies and prog ram ming like speakers, per form ance s and socia l events. Because Studen t Co ngress contro ls th e appropriation of all student activities funding, a small group of right -wing voices have a lot more power on campus than most stude nts would prefer. The abse nce of power ful progressive rep resent ation in Student Co ngress has resulted in exorbitant am ounts of mon ey

Fellow, she pursued some of t he fir st formal academic research into the women's moveme nt as an outgrowth of the civil rights movement; and by the 1970s, she had begun teaching the Lew is leaves the ho me of friends in Blue first Appalachian Ridge, Ga.,wa lki ng out to her truck plaste red wi th op inion ated bumper stickers. studies courses photo by anqi Ii in the histo ry of academ ia, as her upbringing in coalmi ni ng comm unit ies began infl uencing her activi sm. The Siren recommends Lewis' co-aut hored book,

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allocated to conservative gro ups like Caro lina Students for Life - th ose graphic, 9-foot-tall fetus pos ters on Polk Place last year were mystifyingly expensive! In addition, funding for libera l gro ups has been decreased or cut entirely on political gro unds. Studen ts for a Democratic Society has been parti cularly targeted with con troversial funding denials and even lawsuits from the body. The worst thing about the oppressive contro l of Student Congress is tha t we, the stude nt body, fairly elected all of its members. Because so few stu den ts run for seats, election requires little campa igning. Write-in candidates are often able to win a seat on the day of elections with as few as 20 votes, and those appearing on the ballot are almos t always guarantee d a victory. Lack of interest in Stude nt Government elections has allowed for a conservative mon op oly that must be overturned if we want our voices heard and our money back. Run for your district's Student Congress seat and encourage me mbers of your progressive or multicultura l stu dent orga nizatio ns to get their names on th e ballot , too. Let's get th e liberal arts education we dese rve, bot h in class an d in extracurriculars. It's tim e that Studen t Co ngress reflected the diverse atmosp he re at our u niversityJ

"Mountain Sisters;' a collection of oral and documentary history 8N 1V10 UNTAIN that explores social justice for ,{ women in Appalach ia and in the -< Cathol ic Church, as told through the story of the Glenmary Sisters. "Mountain Sisters"is the story of how and why 70 of the sisters withdrew from the Church in 1967 to begin a secular organization called the Federation of Communities in Service. FOCIS members went on to establish a farmers' cooperative, of which Lewis remains a' member to this day. In the end, saysLewis,"It's about the civil rights, the human rights:' -Anqi Li /..

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Very Young Girls (2007, David Schisgall) Structured around a series of interviews with young survivo rs of underage prostitution, "Very Young Girls"follows the women as th ey work to establish independent lives outside of the industry w ith th e help ofthe non -p rofit organ izat ion Girls Educational and Mentoring Services. Indicting both the indi vidua l perpetrators as well as the larger society that imprisons young women in prostitution, the film has sparked th e Girls Are Not for Sale campaign. For more info visit www. vygthemovie.com.

Gir/27 (2007, David Stenn ) In a world ruled by the infamously cruel MGM studios, sexual assault was an expected part of the sex-sellin g entertainment business. Careful not to sensationalize, David Steen exposes the forgotten rape of MGM studios dancer Patricia Dougl as at a company-sponsored party in 1937. "Girl 27" is an inspirational narrat ive abo ut the strength of the human spirit as well as an illuminating exploration and critique of such issues as victim-blaming and the pric e of hyper-sexualized entertainment.

A Powerful Noise (2008, Tom Weaving together the stories of three women - an HIV-po sit ive widow working in Vietnam , a survivor of the war in Bosnia and a crusader for girls' education in Mali - Tom Cappello creat es a beaut ifull y textured testimony to the need for women's empowerment in all .----' ......_-..- .....---' _, corners of the world. Laced wit'h recurring images of nurturing as well as grief, "A Powerful Noise" explores the ways wo men are changing the world for the better, despite unfortunate circumstances . -reviews by Kat Norcutt

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how we di sagree in dialogue BY ANQl LI

"In 2007, women were paid onl y 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid, according to the u.s. Census Bureau:' -"It'sTime for Working Women to Earn Equal Pay; aflcio.org

"It is accepta ble and often encouraged, [Paula England] has argued, for men to play the field . But wh en women become sexually act ive, they are considered sluts. ...Ultimately, th is cult ure objectifies women as willing to do anything fo r a boyfriend:' -"'New Math ' lacks insight; dailytarheel.com

In Third Wave Feminism and Televi sion, ed ito r Merri Lisa Johnson includes essays on "Buffy th e Vampire Slayer" and sadomasochism, as well as"The Sopranos" and violence agai nst sex wo rkers.

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"The New Math on Campus" provoked a storm of responses when it ran as The New York Times Fashion and Style front -page story. The piece raises qu estion s abo ut the myth of femini st triumph, stigma against sorority women and rise of "hook-up" cultur e that, most fund ament ally, require closer examination of the nature of feminist disagreement. First, it's frightening to see women's higher enrollment in college edu cation so often wrongly cited as evide nce of women's achievement, as William s write s, wh en in fact higher college graduation rates do not tran slate into higher or even equ al workplace earni ngs for wom en. Second, despit e our wellwarranted haste to den y William s' portrayal of UNe-Chapel Hill as a breedin g ground for insecure wom en , it's also imp ort ant to acknowledge that it's just as unfair to say that sorority women are the only ones who might feel dating pressure as it is to say that all so rority women feel dating pressure. Regardle ss, the real issue is wh ere thi s pressure comes from . The Daily Tar Heel's ed itorial board begins to add ress the sour ce of pressure to find a partner in its response to "New Math;' in which it cites Stanford University's Paula England and her definition of "hook-up cu lture" as an alternate explanation for current dating patterns. The idea of hook -up cultur e and casual sex is a growing area of resear ch for sociologists and femini sts with good reason. Is it problematic to say th at men's traditional courtship roles can empower wom en who mimic them? As femini sts responding to thi s question, we mu st be careful to preser ve a space for constru ctive dialogue with out unduly alienating femini sts in disagreement. For examp le, I recently read an article by Katherine Frank in "Third Wave Feminism and Television:' Frank uses television show "The Bachelor" as a text for feminist

"[S]exual nonexclusivity is a crucial piece of sex radical feminist history and could playa stimulating role in the third wave project of reinventing and reenvisioning marriage for heterosexual fem inist women and men . .. . Forgoing romantic ideals may result in self-actualization and female empowerment:' - "Primet ime Harem Fantasies," Katherine Frank

challenge of marriage and sexua l exclusivity as traditional romantic ideals, even fetishes. As a femini st who values thes e ideals, I felt alienated at tim es by Frank's implication that truly modern feminism might require rejecting marriage and mo nogamy. Thu s, our challenge as femini sts wh en we encounter literature like "New Math" is not onl y to examine assumptions tied to college students, so rority wome n and our dat ing behavior, but also to explore ways of establi shing a space in femini st discourse for d isagreement. Not unlike religiou s schools of th ought, feminism is rife with internal disagre em ent s like the one about hook-up culture as empowering or as objectifying. We need to establish a space for thi s discourse that doesn't alienat e fellow femin ists of different perspectives, and we can only do so by understanding that th e non -m on olithic nature of femini sm do es not detra ct from th e legitimacy of our concernsj -

Our challenge as feminists is to explore ways of establishing aspace in feminist discourse for disagreement.


feminism in the fatosphere

As interne t blogging has becom e incr easingly pop ular in recent years, sta mp collecto rs and dog lovers alike have bee n able to sha re com mo n interests in online com m un ities. Today, one of th e mo st diverse an d popular blogging gro ups is the "fatos phe re," a collectio n of blogs abo ut fat accep tance . Incid ent ally, while it would be incorrect to call all of th ese sites femi nis t, most of th e fat acce ptance bloggers are wom en , and many blogs com bine issues of gende r- and fatdiscrimination . Lesley Kinzel, for examp le, is th e pri ma ry blogger of fatshi oni sta.com, whose taglin e is "a head y mixture of social po litics, fat-gi rl mem oir, and popular culture ." Kinzel was recen tly feature d in The Boston Globe for her stro ng fatos phe re influe nce, her determinat ion to dr ess how she likes desp ite lim ited choices for plus-size wome n (freq ue ntly d isplayed in "outfitblogs" sho wcas ing her fashio n sense), and her general refusa l to be defined or mar gin alized becau se of her bo dy size. Ano the r highl y influe ntia l blog is Kate Hard ing's "Sha pely Prose;' whic h has had over 9 milli on visitors in just a few years an d ha s recentl y an no unced a shift to include broad er them es of socia l justice in all its forms, th ou gh still with a com mi tted focus on fat acce ptance . For these fat accepta nce bloggers and many

BY OLIVIA BLANCHAR..D

Lesley Kinzel. prim ary blogger for fatshionist a.com, was featur ed in an arti cle t itl ed "Big Influ ence: Lesley Kinzel is helping plu s-sizewom en see th em selves in a new light :' fat shionista.com

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ot her s, discrimination on the basis of fat is natur ally linked to gender, race and class issues, since all are fund amentally focused on issues of social disadvant age. However, in today's society it seems that fat people are usually left out of discussion s abo ut inequ ality. We are qu ick to condem n treatm en t on the basis of race and gender, but some how it seems less ser ious to make fun of fat peopl e. After all, they can help it, right? Aren't they responsible for their "fatness?" Well, fat accep tanc e blogg ers say no. To date, no die t has bee n shown to produce reliable, long-term results for more th an 5 pe rcent of peop le, and many health professio nals agree th at co nstant yo- yo d iet ing is mu ch wo rse for overall heal th th an being stable at a high er weight. Regardless of sta tistic s and studies, th ough , the real issue is body autonomy. Even if diets were proven to wo rk, and even if th e fat person sitting next to you on a bu s does not eat the perfect d iet (who does?), what right do we have to critique ot he rs' ph ysical appearance ? As femin ists, we sho ut out "My bod y, my choice" to pro tect our reprodu ctive righ ts; isn't judgment, rid icul e an d hum iliation of fat peop le just an ot her infri ngem ent on physical rights? Because of th e strict limitations on wha t kind of female body is acceptable in ou r society-young, th in , but large-breasted both very thin wo men and larger wom en are cons tan tly pu t und er ph ysical scrutiny. Acco rdi ng to Susie O rbach's 1978 bo ok "Fat is a Femin ist Issu e;' a psychoanalytic app roach to why women gain weight , fatne ss is som ethi ng that women often use as a shield again st th e invasive male gaze or unwanted sexualization at a young age. According to thi s theory, whe ther our natu ral bod y typ e is fat or thi n, we will never sett le at a co mfortable level unt il we come to terms with our place as women in a condescending, patriarcha l society. So, is fat really a fem inist issue? O n a basic level, discriminat ion for any reason is unaccept able, and fat people deserve not to be rid icul ed or punished on the basis of size. In any case, fat femi n ist activists are cha lleng ing restr ictive cultu ral no rm s, and that can never be a bad th ing}

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the silence on violence By Efl....IC 5TA.-M

We need to talk abo ut violence prevention. Silence on the issue of sexual and relationship violence is th e status qu o. It not only blocks victims from getting th e care th ey need, but actively perpetuates fur ther violence by stigma tizing sur vivors and offering tacit approval to perpetrators. Prevention means brea king thi s silence and turn ing our attention to th e culture and att itud es that create and allow violence. T he silence is not co mplete. Man y people on th is ca mpus alrea dy talk abo ut violence preventio n, fro m Co u nse ling and Wellness Services and th e LGBTQ Ce nter to th e Ca ro lina Wom en's Ce nter and the Dea n of Stude nts office. However, sile nce hangs heaviest in the spac es we occ upy m ost frequently: th e do rm ro om , th e dinner ta ble, th e house par ty, th e qu ad . As students, ta lking about violen ce prevent ion with our frie nds , classm ates and professors is th e most powerful first step we ca n take to join those al ready wo rking to pr event violence.

Some might say talk is cheap, th at we need to act now. I'd say that th e value of talk depends on th e content of th e talk, and th at co nversatio n is an action we can take immedi ately. The very act of con versing creates a space for learning and a found ation for furth er action . But what is th e content of th is conversation th at pro vokes us to action? I believe three topi cs sho uld take a central place in our co nversations: we mu st gain a bett er understanding of wh at preventi on

We need to encourage each

other to take part in preventing violence on our campus.

means, especi ally co mpared to intervention and after care ; we mu st locate

where violence occ urs ; and we mu st encourage each other to embrace th e boldness and creat ivity violence prevent ion requires. First, through conversation, we mu st learn what it mean s to prevent violence. Action tak en with regard to violence can fall into three chron ological categories: aftercare, inter venti on and prevention. Aftercare describes the actions taken with surv ivors or victim s of violence. Much of the work done by the Dean of Stude nts office and Counseling and Wellness falls into thi s category.

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[A DV OCA TE o ANI ZATION L S_aLal s_aacs_oJJ.-aD_d Sara Isaacson: [co-chair of Project Dinah, senior chem istry major]

Project Dinah: [ women's safety and empowerment initiative started in 2004] [ seeks to end sexual violen ce on campus and in the commun ity through education and advocacy] [ currently 10-15 active members with a Iistserv of about 300 peopl e]

Where? [ projectdinah.webs.com] 6THE SI fl....EN

photo by LizzyHazeltine


Intervention occurs in the midst of crisis. It attempts to move a situation away from physical violence and, if possible, confront any verbal abuse or emotional violence taking place. Prevention, on the other hand, occurs before violence happens, physically, emotionally or psychologically,and goes right to the root of the problem . Prevention is the work of creating a place where all students can live free from fear or threat. Secondly, through conversations in which we share knowledge and experience, we can begin to locate where on our campus violence occurs, and where we can prevent it. By this I mean both physical locations, suc h as dorm rooms, dark corners at parties and shadowy streets, as well as metaphorical locations like certain types of conversations, socia l situations and forms of media. This latter category represents the most common areas where violence-enabling attitudes, norms and cultures are perpetuated. Some of us may know these locations from personal experience already. But when we locate the violence with each other, out loud, we can begin to purposefully reclaim those locations and preven t further violence together. Finally, we need to encourage each other to

take part in preventing violence on our campus . Engaging in that effort requires immense boldness and creativity, two characteristics strengthened by relationships and collaboration. We may doubt our courage in the face of an armed attacker, but we are much less likely to find ourselves in that situation than we are to find ourselves in incredibly uncomfortable and awkward situations with friends and acquaintances. Do we have the boldness to speak up in these much more common and realistic situations? We should consider encouragement as a meaningful and crucial action in the work of preventing violence. Why do we need to talk [vict im's empowe rabout violence prevention? Blue lights and self-defense ment and sexual assault awareness classes leave our violent group; contact sara isaacson at culture untouched, but the iksara@ema il.unc.edu ] conve rsation of violence prevention engages men and women alike in confronting [ violence prethe att itudes and habits that vention cert ification progra m ofencourage violence on our fered through the dean of st uden ts

help stop the violence project dinah

haven training

office; conta ct dean melinda manning at manning@email.unc.edu]

step up carolina [newly established anti -violence peer educat ion program; contact damitri mart inez

Why, Sara? [ "Violence prevention is everyone's issue and everyone needs to be invested to stop vio lence:' ]

What else? [ host s: annual benefit concert for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, free self-defense seminars, safety whistle and informational bookmark distributions, the popu lar I Love

at martindj@email.unc.edu]

wmst 290 [ leadership and vio lence prevention APPLES course offered fall 2010; to register contact interpersonal vio lence prevention coordinator bob pleasants at bp leas@email.unc.edu]

Female Orgasm program ] [ co-sponsors:Take Backthe Night/SpeakOut! against sexual assault, the Clothesline Project with t-shirts decorated w ith pledges and calls to end violence against women; Halloween Fashion Show protest against misconception that certain attire entitles men to be sexually aggressive or assaultive] -by Jospreet Cheemo 5HJNG 2010.3


women, work, and family: how do we make this decision? BY AMANDA AND MCNEEL

As I get closer to graduation and facing th e "real world;' th e qu estion of tim ing marriage and moth erh ood becomes increasingly intimi dating. I can in some ways app reciate the young wome n who are devoted to the co ncep t of becoming wives an d moth ers di rectly after graduation, but I won der if this path for me would require sacri fices I am unwilling to ma ke, at least so early in my life. The accom plishments of 19th - and 20th-ce ntury femi nis ts allow women to purs ue impressive careers, but marr iage and childbirt h create a d ifferent sort of glass ceiling in the workplace. How do we balance th e concep t of an inde pendent woman with th e biological demands of childbeari ng? And is this generatio n more accepting of th e single, career-oriented woma n? Brittai n McNe el and I share personal insig hts on th e social context of the potenti al conflicts betwee n ma rriage, children and work. - Amanda MacLaren B I recentl y read a boo k review in The New Yorker on the book "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage" by Elizabe th Gilbert. The article desc ribes Gilbert's reactio n to a roug h d ivorce, her trav els an d her explora tio n of th e mean ing of ma rriage. The ar ticle bro ught up an interesting point : historically, marriage in cultures th rou ghout the world is not based on love. Rath er, it is a so urce of pro tection and fina ncia l security, and a mean s of con tinuing th e hu man race. AM : And you learn society's marit al expec tation from such a young

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age,with all th e lovey-d ovey stuff on TV shows, or even by "playing hou se." There's th e expec tatio n of a man and a woman, and you're married with two kid s. That crea tes th e heteronormativity of our culture. BM : It's funny how th e norms we're raised with create co nflict later when we're exposed to othe r lifestyles. Suddenly, we realize th ere are alterna tives to the tra d itio nal fami ly struc ture. Lack of exposure to and acceptance of alternative relationship s is prob ably th e mos t substantial reason why society is so resistant to accep ting single-pa rent fam ilies, much less gay, lesbian and transgender lifestyles. AM : And man y wome n are taught to have a mindset that everyt hing happ ens on a tim eline. O ur lives are defined by certai n checkpo ints. But once we reach a point where the timeline changes based on circumstances beyond our con tro l, we don't know how to effectively handl e it. If you're not marr ied by a certa in age, you feel pressur e; if you don't have kids by a certai n age, you feel pressur e. Some wome n start to feel thi s press ure in college. At th at po int it's a matter of career cho ice and pr iority, but later it's a matter of bio logical timi ng and soc ietal expec tations, like all of your friends getting ma rr ied an d having childre n. You ru n th e risk of becoming a "spinster" or "old maid;' which has such negative co nnotations. BM : IO say that socie ty's percept ion has imp roved, but our culture needs to become even more respectful of th e independent, career-oriented woman. Ideally, women sho uld be accep ted in every lifestyle, whe ther in a

Women head 80 percent of the 12.9 million single-parent families in the U.S., as of 2007. u.s. Census Burea u


non-heterosexual context or in a professional over maternal context. Though my outlook is not set in stone, I do not see myself having child ren and therefore am not planning to get married. This decision, however, is not a common one among my friends who see themselves marrying after graduation. For me, getting married and working out my career and timing with children depends on when I find someone I love and want to do that with, and the compromise we would come to. AM : It is, it's kind of one big compromise within the relationship. Honestly, though, I think looking at women as a who le may not always be the best way to approach the social context of tough decisions. There are pressures that all women face, but there are also other pressures that, for insta nce, lesbian women face. There are all kinds of pressures on women that manifest differently for individual women based on her identity and experiences. You might feel a pressure to have children when you get married, whereas I do want to get married and eventually have children . The difference is that I don't thi nk I'll be pressured into the decision to have children . I fully intend to make it for myself.When you make decisions based on what other people are doing, I think that's where visions get skewed and the idea of women in the workforce or women staying at home gets distorted. I want to make my decisions based on what feels right for me rather than worrying about whether or not I'm going to be a huge CEO of a corporation. Don't forget things you learn from others, but use them in a way that helps

you form your own ideals. BM: I agree that those decisions are really personal. A couple weeks ago I saw the movie "Away We Go;' and it's along the same lines. An unmarried couple is about to have a chi ld. They're trying to find where they want to live and also how they want to live. He wants to get married, she doesn't, and they 're trying to establish compromises in their lives. They visit all different kinds of families in the movie, stockxchng.com and at the end the couple doesn't really take anyone's advice . Through the couple's journey, we find that they are not only looking to others for an ideal location for a family, but also how to establish a balance of relationship, work, and raising a child. In this way, the film comments on the issue of societal influence on family structure in relation to timing and career choices . We tend to look to others for what is acceptable, or assume that what works for other people will work for us. The end of "AwayWe Go" opposes this dependence. I think that just sums it up: there is no perfect solution, and the question of timing is something that you just have to think about yourself. And you can definitely analyze other relationships to help you shape your decision, but ultimately it's going to be your ChOi: ; f

There are 564,743 same-sex couples, married and unmarried,

Women aged 16 to 24 earn 91 percent of w hat their male

Women earn more than men in postal servic e and special

living in the U.S.

peers earn, based on median weekly inc ome. u.s. Depa rtm ent of Labor, 2008

ed uca tion work only, in a study of 95 pro fessions.

u.s. Census Bure a u's 2008 American Community Survey

The New York Times, 2009

SH-JNG 2 0 10

11


TOO to be

FEMINIST?

BY aLlYI.A. BLA NC HA"-D DESICN BY ANQJ LI

Modern sorority women address stereotypes that compete with their ideals ofsisterhood, and aformer sister examines the historical roots ofGreek identity.

S

Alexandra Robbin s' book "Pledged" presents mod ern sororities as th e shallow, toxic environment so oft en stereot yped. weread.com

ABCFamily's televisio n series"Greek" perpetuates a belitt ling im age of wom en, says on e soror ity sister. wi sechoice.com

12 THE 51 "-E N

ororities. The word provokes contrasting images for different people. But what are sororities really like in the 21st century, and are they compatible with feminism? Alexandra Robbins' 2004 book "Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities" attempts to prove that sororities are inherentl y shallow and toxic, but nearly all sororities claim to uphold values of scholarship, leader ship and service, or a similar combination. I am not, as it happens, an impartial observer. I was a member of one of the 10 Panhellenic (l.e., historically white) sororities on campus until I decided to resign last summer. My decision wasn't prompted by any hazing disasters or even feminist objection s at the time. However, it is probably not a coincidence that I finally quit the sorority around the same time that I started to consider more critically my identity as a feminist. Even though feminism did not directly influence my disassociation from Greek life, I do think that it gave me a rather ironic sense of the rituals, social activities and daily life of a "sorority girl:' But other UNC-Chapel Hill sorority members like Kara Todd both identify as feminists and enjoy Greek life as an excellent support network of "sisters:' For Todd, "Feminism is all about equality, and what I get out of the sororit y is sisterhood and support. I think the stereotypical views on sororities are negative, but I don't see a conflict:' While there may not be direct or complete contradiction between sororities and feminism, there is certainly an intere sting tension . On the one hand, the 21st-century reput ation of sororities is often one of shallow pretenti on , boy-cra ziness and excessive socializing. Television shows like "Greek" rc1y

on this image. Character Casey Cartwr ight's ever-changing decision between two men usually hinges on how one of them behaved at a certain cocktail or mixer, and ultimately her choice is irrelevant; the main point is that Casey is a sorority girl and, thus , completc1y absorbed by themed parties and defined by the current man in her life. When I asked Todd about "Greek;' she expressed disdain and frustration for this tired, belittling image of modern college women. "At the very least I think it portrays women negatively;' Todd says. "I think it overlooks the fact that some of us are actually serious, careerminded individuals:' Although "Greek" is relentle ss in its reinforcement of stereotypes, the story does reflect the view of sororities that many non-Greek UNC -CH students hold, and the perceived shallowness of Greek life has received significant media attention recently. In 2007, the Delta Zeta chapter at DePauw University in Illinois unceremoniously evicted over 20 of its members because they were perceived to be not attractive enough to meet national standards. The women were promptly demoted to alumnae status and asked to leave. While the debacle gained national attention, sororities have always been known for intense judgment of physical appearance. Or have they? The other side of the sorority coin reveals a very different , seemingly very feminist side to the traditional image; most of today 's sororities were formed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as support networks for the few women who were able to attend universities at that time. Alpha Chi Omega's national website says that the sorority was "built by and for real, strong women;' and the

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first chapter was, in fact, founded at DePauw University in 1885. The sorority's founders responded to a professor's suggestion that they form a "women's society " in the largely male university. They hoped that their group would promote "the intellectual, social, and moral culture" at DePauw. These women, and the many others who founded sororities across the nation at both co-ed and women's colleges around this time, were indeed very strong. Refusing to bow down to the prescribed contemporary path of quick marriage, many babies and lifelong meekness and submission, they chose education and personal development alongside men. What could we call them, except feminist s? Yet there remains a disconnect between the Casey Cartwright image and the pioneering founders of Alpha Chi Omega. It seem s that as women have gained more rights and autonomy in American society, the sorority image has become that of women seeking the "MRS degree; ' not a vital support network in the mostly-male education system. By the mid -19th century, sororities and fraternities comprised the elite social structure at the nation's best universities, and most UNC -CH sorority house s have chapter portraits from the 1950s that feature rows of docile faces, tulle skirted party dresses and hair perfectly coiffed for a date party. Today, in post-"Feminine Mystique" America, the sorority image is no less eerily dismissive and silencing, though sexual exploitation is used more overtly as a tool of degradation. Stories of fraternity men judging pledges' bodies and "walks of shame" from frat houses abound, and sorority women are fetishized as both highly-sexed and daddy's little girls. Like other, non-Greek college women, sorority members are struggling with ongoing patriarchy and misogyny even in a post -sexual -revolution society. Still, sororities still pride themselves on goals of education and service, and many women participate in Greek life for that reason. Kate Neely,a senior and member of one of UNC -CH's Panhellenic sororities, identifies as a feminist and was attracted to sorority life because of the professional disadvantages that women have historically faced. "One of the really big draws was to have a

network of women professionals in the sorority and the alumnae network to provide that support that women don't have in the workforce ; she says. Finally, in an attempt to highlight a traditionally marginalized group, I wonder how historically non -white sororities fit into the complexities of the mainstream Greek system. There seems to be a parallel between both kinds of sororities in their founding histories. Alpha Kappa Alpha , a historically black sorority, claims "service to all mankind" as a primary goal of the organization. The sorority's Web site notes the importance of cultivating black female leaders who can give back to society through realizing their "enormous potential for empowerment, security and progress:' I think it is a productive question to ask how the images of sororities like Alpha Kappa Alpha contrast with the portrayal of Panhellenic sororities in shows like "Greek:' The current mainstream image of sororities , complex though it is, seems to represent a very basic division between women past and present. Whether labeled as bookish spinsters, 1950s Stepford wives or alcoholic party girls, sorority women have always been defined as groups instead of individuals. This denial of personal identity is perhaps the sorority stereotype's most dangerous assault to feminist Valuj

Senior Kate Neely, a political science maj or, shares lunch in the din ing room of Kapp a Kappa Gamma with Emily Wood Bowron, a sister in her house .

photo by Lesley-Ann Hix

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1.1


en's Women's Week celebrated the diverse interpretations and opportunities ofThird Wave feminism through art and dialogue. By LEAH JOSEP HSO N DESIGN BY ANQJ u

week

celebrate. challenge. catalyze. W

omen's Week 2010, an annual campus celebration of th e man y facets of fem in ism , provided th e UNC-Chapel Hill com mun ity diverse outlets for entertainm ent, empowerm ent and dialogue cent ered on gende r equity. The events took place the week of Feb. 8 and wer e hosted by the Caro lina Wom en's Ce nte r. The y revolved around th e th eme "Take Back the F-Word: Be Your Own Fem in ist:' W ith th e goal of empower ing participants to evaluate feminism's connection to their own lives, programs through out th e week explored co untless feminist concerns from both ind ividual and community perspectiv es. The celebration kicked off with th e pre sentation of the Uni ver sity Award s for the

Advan cement of Women. These awards are pre sented an nually to two facuit y and staff members and one student each year, and th ey come with a monetary reward. The pri zes recognize individuals who have worked to improve the status of women on cam pus. Physics and astronomy professor Laurie McNeil, assistant dean of students Melinda Manning and chemistry research assoc iate Para sto o Hashemi were all recogni zed at th e ceremo ny for their efforts. FEMINISM AS

ART,

POETRY

That evening Women's Week continued with one of the mo st memorable events of th e lineup: "Perfor m ing Ferninisms" in the Union Cabaret. It showcased live spoken- word performances

Celenia Lon singer, a sophomore publi c policy and peace, war and defense do uble major, takes center stage dur ing EROT's gro up ensemb le perfo rma nce. p hoto by Chad Weeden

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14 T.H E SI f<-EN

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inte rspersed with short films submitted by community members. A projec tor also showed clips from feminist comedian Sarah Haski ns' "Target Women" segment of the info Mania program on Cur rent TV. Korean -born joy Mes singer opene d "Perfo rm ing Feminisms" with a powerful spoken word piece, tit led "Flue ncy;' abo ut her stru ggle reconciling her Asian identity wit h co ntem po rary racist attitudes. Messinger, who was adopted at 3 months old and raised in up state New York, desc ribed her fluent understand ing of "the history of whi te men" but expressed a desire to co nnect with her Asia n roo ts. "I know everythingll know noth ing andll long to speak th e language of myself;' she said. Q uestions of identity were a recurring theme th rougho ut the showcase. Particularly memorab le wer e two piec es by Sam Peter son, a self-id entified transsexual man who writes a popular blog, "Th a Man Sam : Son of T," about his fema le-to -m ale transformation. Peterson, in co llab oration with the event's emcee Danny DePuy, assistant di rector of the Unive rsity 's LGBTQ Center, submitted th e sho rt film "44 Questions" ab out gender transitioning . He also read a hum o rous pos t from his blog focu sing on issues of trans ide ntit y. Peterson asse rted tha t feminism has reac hed its fourth wave: th e moveme nt for understanding and acceptance

of trans-identified individuals. Spoken word poet Rhonda Reese continued this th em e with a moving perfo rmance about Sakia Gunn, an African American, lesbian identified I S-year-o ld girl who was murdered in Newark, N .j., in 2003 . African American and LGBTQ co m mun ities were outraged at the lack of coverage of thi s hate crime and began to examine the sign ificant effect s of in tersec ting oppressions on reporting. Reese poetically contrasted the relative silence surrounding Gun ns murder with the immen se publicity gained by Matt hew Shepard, a white, middle-class gay man who was brutally murdered. "A chi ld is dead; a baby is dead ; a little girl is dead, and no one will respond;' Reese said heavi ly to a silent audience. Members of the Ebony Readers/Onyx Theater (EROT ) spoken word performance gro up, a subsidiary of the Black Student Movement, further exp lored issue s of race and violence with several solo and small group perfo rmances. Most striking was "the proper ing redients (or ) love potion for rihanna, " written by [amila Redd y, a junior sociology and dramatic art major. Ari DeDeaux, a sophomore psycho logy and women's studies major, and Abby Crain, a junior communication studies major, performed the piece, which was an empowe ring, so mewhat controversial approach

Melinda Manning, Assistant Dean of Stud ent s photo by Lizzy Hazeltine

Bob Pleasants, Int erp ersonal Viol ence Prevention Coord inator photo by Lizzy Hazeltine

WHAT WAS THE MOST [meaningful] PAR..T OF THE WEEK FOR.. yoU? - by Rebecca Hundley

...

"The idea of women fighting back in abusive relationships was presented and was powerful. I noticed all different kinds; [violence] is verbal and nonverbal when It comes to physical or emotion violence. It can even be within and toward the same sex. I also appreciated the inclusion of transgender issues. "

"I like how she [the main character in 'Whip It'] found herself it the course of the movie. I like how the movie used humor to further important themes:' Tyson Ellinger, sophomore business major

"I liked the spoken word. I liked how th ey addressed serious topics by alte rnating using serious mediums and laug hte r. I especially liked the 'Fight Back' piece!" Jessica Dilday, junior sociology and w omen's stu dies major

Karen Ashcraft, Carrboro resident

I

SPRJNG 2010

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to men's violence against wome n. "Give your daughters these instru ctions/ and tell them/if he h its you , strike back/take your papier-rnache fists and turn them to stone/ fold the m into weapo ns/pa pe r, rock, scissorwhatever you need/ to defend yourself. ' O ne member of the audience expressed concern abo ut these verses duri ng th e question-answer session at the end of th e program. Is promoting retaliation the appropriate way to add ress violence? Reddy assured th e audience tha t th e message of th e poem wasn't necessar ily mea nt to be taken lite rally. She said the most important message to glean from the piece was this one: "Do n't just let yourself be a vict im:' RECLAIMING THE NIGHT

Surv ivors' empowe rme nt was an importa nt the me for Projec t Dina h's Take Back th e Night rally and SpeakOut! events on Tuesday, Feb. 9. Take Back th e Night is a na tional move me nt to recognize women's daily safety concerns in a world plagued with violence. Keyno te speaker Dr. Dorothy Edwards of the Un iversity of Kentucky was un able to ma ke it to Chapel Hill due to fligh t delays, so interpe rso na l violence prevention coo rdinator Bob Pleasa nts gave an inspi ring speec h in her place to kick off the eveni ng. Participan ts then made an hour -lon g march

aro un d camp us and Fra nklin Street, cheering in support of violence prevention advo cacy. They returned to the Union Cabaret for the , seco nd phase of the event, SpeakOut!, emceed by ju nio r psych ology an d political scie nce major An nie Clark an d junior English majo r Dam itri Marti nez. Members of Project Dina h an d the Men @Caroli na Living-Learni ng Co m mu nity read heartrending ano nymo us testim on ials fro m bo th primar y and seco nda ry surv ivors of sexual violence . RECOGNIZING RAPE (ULTURE

Project Dinah's program focused on empowe ring survivors of domestic, relat ionship and sexual viole nce, an d Wed nesday's guest spea ker Rob ert jense n, a well-k nown anti-po rnography activist, conti nued this disc ussion with a call to action to end violence ent irely. jen sen, who was spo nso red by Femi nist Stude nts United , hosted a screening of Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun's doc u men tary "The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexua lity and Relation sh ips;' whic h d raws par allels be tween th e influe nce of the pornography ind ustry on mai nst rea m Ame rica n cu lture and men 's violence agai nst wo me n - rape cu lture. jensen's anti -pornography view is not con serva tive or religiou s, however. He poi nts to recur ring st ruc tures of domination

WHAT WAS THE MOST [meaningful] PAR..T OF THE WEEK FOR..

vou> -by RebeccaHundley

"I liked the variety of the pieces [in 'Performi ng Feml nlsms'l , The comedy and th e setting for it. I liked how feminism was depicted in a gathering of art:' Lauren Thie, Carrboro resident

"I think humor is an important mode through which to convey messages...1 always sorta had doubts about roller derby, thought it wasn't legit, but this movie and the characters' connections to one another changed my mind:' Elizabeth Benn inger. sophomore Spanish and comparative lit erature major

1b-rHE

"It thought the [main] character was better than Juno ...howeve r, 1thought it was a little typical at the end with everything coming together so happily. But the messagesof teamwork, fo llowing your heart, family values and doing your own thing were all great messages. The soundtrack was cool too:' Lindsey Ragsdale. j uni or phi loso phy majo r


Chancellor Holden Thorp, far left , sits down with campu s and community members to di scuss women's status on cam pus. Chancellor Tho rp has held th e "Fireside Chat"in conunction wi t h Women's Week since his first year in offi ce, beginn ing July 2008. photo by Chad Weeden

present ed in popular porn films as repre sent ative of the subjugatio n of wom en in Am er ican society. Jensen also examines its negative effects on int im ate relatio nships. "Porn is abo ut men 's abil ity to do whatever they want to women, but wom en acce pting it and seeing it as a part of th eir na ture;' said Jensen abo ut po rn's implications for intimacy. PROGRESSIVE POLICY

The eve nts of Wom en's Week all seeme d to exam ine broad er societal issues th at affect both wom en and men on a daily, individ ual basis - struggles with bod y image, sexuality and viole nce prevent ion . Bringing these exami na tions even closer to hom e was argu ably th e mos t impo rta nt program of Wom en's Week, th e "Firesi de Cha t with Cha ncellor Hold en Thorp;' whic h took place late afternoo n on Tuesd ay, Feb. 9. The casual d iscussion was atte nde d by University adm inistrato rs, com m unity members and bo th gr adu ate and undergr adu ate stude nts conce rne d with wom en's status on cam pus. Atte ndees were able to ask Tho rp qu estion s mo de rated by Ashley Fogle, asso ciate dir ector of th e Carolina Wom en's Center. Director of Diversity Education and Research Dr. Cookie Newso m expresse d conce rns abo ut the underrepresent ation of wo me n and minorities on th e Unive rsity's facult y. She also called for mor e recognition of int ersectin g identities - for exam ple, black women sho uld n't have to choose betw een th eir racial and gende r min ority sta tuses . Thorp agreed that th e University should be proact ive in rec rui ting diverse faculty. "More diver se institution s make bett er decision s;' he said.

The conversa tion th en turned to th e recent The New Yor k Times article about th e University's lop sid ed gende r ratio. Man y atte ndees expressed co ncern for th e negative portrayal of UNC -CH wome n in th e sto ry, as well as th e sto ry's heteronormativity. Some felt th e Unive rsity sho uld resp ond d irectly to th e ar ticle throu gh a lett er to the ed ito r or simi lar publi c stateme nt. Thorp said th e article could not have come at a wor se time, as in com ing first-yea r students are making enrollment decision s. He said quest ions abo ut th e fem ale-to -m ale ratio are very com mo n fro m prospective stude nts. Many discussion pa rtici pan ts men tion ed a stri kingly different inte rp retatio n of UN CC H's composi tion. W hile wom en make up a major ity of th e stude nts, it is men who co ntro l most of th e ad mi nistration and student orga nizatio ns, nam ely Stude nt Co ngress. Men disp rop ortion ately fill th e exec utive bra nch offices of Stude nt Co ngress, and a ma n is th e ed ito r-in-c h ief of The Daily Tar Heel. Atte ndees th ou ght th e portrayal of UNC- CH as overw hel mi ngly fema le misrepresent ed actual power dyn am ics o n campus. Th ursday night's scree ning of "W hip It;' a film abo ut roller derby di rected by Drew Barry mo re, wrapped up the week of event s in place of comed ian Sara h Haskins' scheduled routine. Haskins had to cancel her live sta nd up ro utine due to a family eme rgency. Wom en's Week 20 I0 was a welcome opportu nity for fem inists co nnec ted to UNCC H to celebrate th eir diverse identiti es and challenge systems of powe r on both small and large scales. Most im portantly, th e week's d ialogue cata lyzed particip ant s' em powerme nt , facilitating the positive support of a !1etwo rk of conce rne d com muni ty memberSj -/

Community member Rhond a Reese delivers a memorializati on of Sakia Gunn, a lS -yearo ld lesbian-ident ified African American gi rl murdered in a 2003 hate crim e. photo by Chad Weeden

SHJNG 20 10

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V The dialogue on gay pornography is far from black and white, compounding feminist concerns about heterosexual porn with issues like race dynamics and public health. BY ENR..IQ..UE PER..EZ DESIGN BY ANQJ LI

Jun ior Alex Kilkaa helps sell tic kets fo r t he GLBT-SA spring drag show, "Dance in th e Dark;' whi ch to o k plac e on Thursday, March 25. ph oto by Lizzy Hazeltine

16 TH E SIR..EN

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ights. Ca me ra. Pene tratio n. The smell of lubr icati on fills th e air in a Ca liforn ia studio as two mu scled guys called Kenda ll Steel and Rob in Woo d lay down on a matt ress stage read y to fornica te for th eir willing audience. So, your next logical que stion mig ht be "wheres the fema le?" A be tte r question may be - what fema le? Gay porn bein g no excep tion, po rnography and th e multi-billion -d ollar industr y th at pro duces it has been a pro mi ne nt po in t of co ntention amo ng many feminists. And while mu ch has been writte n and disc ussed regard ing th e role of femin ism in heterosexual C'straig ht") and lesbian po rnography, comparatively little atte ntio n has focused on how feminism fits into th e all-male world of gay porn. Ove r the years, gay male activists have continuously acted as some of the porn industry's most avid defe nde rs, seei ng their rig ht to create and access as integrated into their idea ls of freedo m in sexual discovery and libe ration aga ins t mainstream heterocentrism . Alex Kilkka, a jun ior eco nomics an d medi a production majo r who identifies as gay, exp lains, "Porn ography is jus t anot he r piece of info rma tion that you ng peo ple mig ht use whe n figur ing out th eir ident ities, base d on whe re th eir att rac tio ns may be. "There can cer tainly be harm if it's someo ne very young watching po rnography. That would no t be appropriate;' he says. "But for people of legal age to consume this mater ial, I don't think it's anybodys right to tell them they can't do so:' But, as with any othe r issue and any othe r de mog raphic, not every self-ide ntified gay ma n unde rstan ds porn the same way as Kilkka. Sean Kiernan, a junior art history major who also ide ntifies as gay, explains that to him, gay porn is greatly detriment al to society as a who le.

"I am ma in ly op pose d to porn ogr aph y beca use I feel it is a com plete objec tificatio n of all peopl e involved in it;' Kiern an says. "It put s peopl e in a bracket of bein g purely sexual beings and amplifies thi s th rou gh mass med ia:' Kiern an's idea s on porn fall in line with those of th e feminist anti- pornograp hy arg u me nt developed by prominent scho lars Cathe rine MacKinn on and An drea Dworkin. Anti-po rnograp hy femi nists argue aga inst gay po rn on th e basis th at it per petu ates a woman-deg radi ng representation of sexual roles similar to that of hetero sexual porn . For ins ta nce, gay men who are "femi nize d" in porn are ofte ntimes expec ted to lust after pain and degrad ati on , just as fema le part icipant s in straight po rn are ofte n expec ted to play into masochistic sexual desires. Accordi ng to Dwo rkin, thi s type of role play not on ly fur the r exacerba tes the in ferior posi tio n of the fema le status on the gendered powe r hierarchy, but also wo rks to set the sta nda rd of value and self-wo rth for gay men based on the ability to be mor e "ma le" an d less "fema le:' Yet some scho lars, like Jeffrey She rma n, professor of law at Ch icago- Kent Co llege of Law, sees erro r in th e fem in ist antipornogr aph y argume nt's conflatio n of fem ale charac teris tics and expe rie nces with those of gay men. He calls th is false co nflation th e "cross-gender stereo type :' "A wo ma n bri ngs to any sexual encou nte r with a man th e experience of having been a member, since birth , of a subord ina te gender;' She rma n writes . "A gay man does not sha re that backgroun d; he is aware of his malen ess (and th e privilege it brings) before he becom es aware of his gayness:' In "Love Speec h: The Social Unity of Pornogra phy;' Sherman argues tha t gay male pornograph y sho uld not be "tolerated;'

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but instead valued as a publ ic goo d to help co nsume rs "realize satisfying, self-affirming lives" - in effect end ing hom ophobia, a cause, Sherma n bel ieves goes hand -in-hand with endi ng misogyny. Growi ng up, young gay men do not have th e same luxury as th eir heterosexual counterpa rts of being con stantly endowe d with affirmi ng information regard ing sex. Any menti on of alterna tive sexual beh avior outside of th e heteronormative is often times hu shed and treated as deviant. To even find anothe r gay friend during ado lescence is to be blessed with goo d luck. "Not being aro und other gay men [growing up ], porn woul d be the next best substitute, really;' Kilkka says. "It would be a way to feel like a part of my ident ity would be acknowledged if I'm not able to express it in other ways:' Justin Smith is a second-year ma ster's stude nt in th e Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at UNC Gillings Schoo l of Global Publ ic Health and former pro ject man ager for Project Style, an HI V preventi on pro gram th at works with young, HI V-positive men of color. Smith has enc ountered evidence that suppo rts She rma n's argume nt and has heard co mme nta ry akin to th at of Kilkka co nce rni ng th e role of pornograph y in the lives of gay youth. "In my work with young men of color who are HIV positive, one of the things we explore is how folks first learn abo ut sex and, oftentimes , th e first thing th at comes up is po rn ;' Smith said. "So, I think porn, for bett er or for worse, is an impo rtant socia lization tool for young gay men to learn about th eir sexualities since we don't necessaril y have a lot of main stream visible ima ges of gay sexuality. So people really d o turn to porn ograph y as a way to understand their sexuality." From a publ ic health standpoint, Sm ith ad mits that th e issue of pornography is complex in a lot of ways. "[ In term s of disease preventi on], when we think of th e menu of opti on s we can prom ote to gay men in terms of safer sex optio ns, pornography can be includ ed in that menu of options because watching po rnography is genera lly don e as a solo experience:'

But Smith acknow ledges that certain me ntal health implicatio ns mu st be con sid ered when discussing th e me rits of pornography. Partic ularly for men of color, Smith says, po rnography tends to be relegated to specific stereo types, which can result in the co nstruc tio n of fantasies th at are in many ways racist. "I can thin k of part icular stereotypes of black men in porn ograph y, with roo ts back to slavery and th e way we th ink of black men 's sexua lity as being un cont rolled and unbridled and violent, even;' Smith explains. "I think a lot of th e images that you see of black men in porn , and particularly in gay porn, really compo rt to that eroticizi ng of black man as savage." Ano ther potenti ally dangerou s trend that has grabbed hold of the gay porn industry in recent years is the re-em ergen ce of "bareback;' or condo m-les s, porn. "For a lot of tim e, the industry kin d of took th e respo nsibility to ens ure th e health of all th eir actor s th at were in anal sex scenes;' Sm ith says. "And I think th at there ha s been a rolling back of that, where you're starting to see more industry-generated po rn that is bareback:' In 2008, a BBC story titled "H IV scanda l in gay porn indust ry" repo rted th at bareback films now comprise 60 percent of th e gay po rn indu str y. In June 2009, The Los Angeles Times pr inted a story titled "Mo re porn HIV cases disclosed;' reporting th at 22 porn performers had been infected within the last five years . Smith find s th e bareback trend concern ing given th e serious publ ic health implic ation s, especia lly for gay yout h. His person al conce rn is th at if th e first images of porn th at socia lize gay youth are bareback, it may becom e norm ative behavior to th em , which can ma nifest in actual un safe sexua l practices. There is no forma l evide nce of th is causal relationshi p, however. Pin po inting a single feminist perspective on gay porn ograph y is complex, involving the overlap of varyi ng degrees of ident ities and com mu nity needs. Neither good nor bad, gay porn carries the po tential for abuse or adva nce me nt, -

Junior Sean Kiernan says he is opposed to pornography because it objecti fies all peopl e involved, wh eth er it 's gay porn or not. His perspect ive is reminiscent of th e fem inist argument th at porn mu st be viewed as harmfu l to th e real peop le invo lved, not just as fant asy. photo by Chod Weeden


spotlight: Melissa Exum, vice chancellor of student affairs BY LIZZY HA.ZELTINE

Dean Melissa Ex um, vice-chan cellor for student affairs, grew up in a small town in the segregated South. It was a culture of grassroots social activ ism that remained with her from her childhood experiences in desegregating schools to her organizi ng days on Wak e Forest University's campus. No w as an int egral part of the University adm inistration's engagem ent with stude nts' issues, Exum uses her experience as a way to catalyze conversations and ensure that voices raised are also voices heard.

Based on your insights intothe administration atUNC-Oiapel Hill and your history withsocial justice campaigns, what do you see as the role ofactivismon auniversitycampustoday? I think the role still is the same. It's to bring to attention, bring to light some of the issues and concerns that only students can. There are things that ad mini strators and faculty can do, but I th ink there are things th at students can do to bring to th e forefront some issues and concerns in a way th at's poignant and that peopl e can understand. I see peopl e taking action on tuiti on , the whol e aspect of access to high er education, who deserves access to a UN C-Ch apel Hill education - that's going to continue to be a conversation. I think th e othe r th ing being discu ssed in a very interesting way is th e malefema le ratio on campus. If you could advise young activists, feministsorotherwise, what would you want themtoknow? I think activism is a sha red respon sibilit y. You have to build coaliti on s around the shared interest. I think sometimes we get so siloed that we see it as uni-dimensional. Wh en you look at activism, you see those issues that have been pu shed and maint ained and have had some great success are issues th at are supported by social collabo ration. The civil right s movem ent could not have existed without a wide variety of co nstituencies that at some levels would have never thou ght to come together around an issue. More specifically, what do you think are the challenges facing the femi nist community atUNC-CH? Having a common understanding of what feminism me ans is imp ort ant. Some times we need to defin e femin ism and not just say we're

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feminists and assum e that peopl e kno w what feminism is. What are our common grounds her e? Wh at are the common denominators here? What are we comm itted to? When you talktostudentsabout social and political activism, what insight doyou share most often? Wh en you step out into the world of activism, there is no such thing as comfort able, cozy activism. There's no such th ing as a comfortable protest, no such th ing as a polite prot est. There's no such thing as a prot est without conseque nces. I'm glad Nelson Mandela, Fann y Lou Ham er and Martin Luther King, [r., and Rosa Parks, all tho se folks, were willing to be arre sted . You have to be willing to cross that line. That's what I say to people before th ey get activism is about per son al into any

cour ageJ

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community: Men@Carolina, a living-learning community for students BY DAM ITf<-1 MAf<-TINEZ

I I

I recline on a futon in a room at th e end of my hall, closin g my eyes as my roommate reads "Mo ther to Son" by Langston Hughes. O ne man has just finished reading a Shakespearean so nnet ; another flips through a collectio n of Emily Dickinson . Toni ght is our first-ever Men @Carolin a Poetry Slam, one of man y events spo nso red by the on -campus Living- Learni ng Co mmunity. This scene is probably not typical of a Thursday night in an all-ma le hall, but it is on e of many examples of how Men@Ca rolina, M@C, allows men to begin redefining how the y spen d tim e togeth er. The program's mission is to decon struct ma sculinity by allowing men to consider the qu estion , "W hat does it mean to be a man? " We not only explore ma sculinity by participating in event s th at emphas ize community bondingincluding imp romptu basketb all games, bakin g nights and movie nights- but every Monday night , we discuss specific issues based on a monthly th em e, like ment al health, violen ce prevent ion , porn ograph y and sexuality. While not all of th e men in the program ide ntify explicitly with fem inism , M@C provides a space for men to begin exploring cultural

assump tions about trad ition al masculinity. What I've been most amazed with in bein g a part of M@C, especially as a co- leader who has constantly tri ed to instill feminis t values, is the way th e pr ogram has subt ly cha nged the masculinity of M@C me mbe rs. The close proximity in which we are required to live has literally allowed us to cross bound aries that me n usually attempt to rigid ly up hold . I've noticed th is gender shift most in the conversatio ns and relation shi ps developed by th e men in the hall. Wh ile spo rts, video games and food ste reo typically circu late in conversa tio ns, the re is also talk of emotiona l relation sh ip advice, sexual identity and argume nts th at explore femin ism and sexism . The ton es of th e co nversatio n are so un iqu e th at at one point, one of my friends exclaime d, "We're just like a girl's hall!" On hearing this, I pointed out that intima te com mun ication is no t lim ited to women only, but also took it as evidence that the se men notice a shift in their own masculinity. I've also noticed cha nges in myself, pa rticularly in how I've developed as a feminist. I like to think of myself as a fairly androgyno us person , part icularly when it comes to communication: I appear confident and asse rt ive when approac hing my male friends, but I implement sincere listen ing that allows me to empa thize with th em and establish trust and co mpassion , a traditionally feminine technique. This style is sp reading. M@C men are beginning to em ploy th is "gende r blurrin g" in their own app roac h to relation ship s. It's why we feel so co mfo rtab le with one ano the r. The credi t for th is shift in behavior and attitude goes to the space that M@C has allowed for th ese tran sformations to take place. It's a space that is necessar y if we want men involved in decon structing genderj -

Burton Peebl es sm iles at th e cam era during a group icebr eaker in Cobb basem ent w it h fellow M @C m en (clockwise ): Josh Weath erman, Si Carp enter, Tim ot hy Palpant. Habib Maya. Will iam Hip schm an, Mason Jenkins, Will Bayli ss and Joe Halthaus. Sl Li (left ) and Sim on Ghofrani (rig ht) look o n.

cour tesyof Damitri Martinez

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our response: Larry Flynt on the First Amendment and sexually explicit "speech" BY LIZZY HA.ZELtINE

How to address such an hour and a half? Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler magazine, delivered hackneyed appea ls to middl e-class values, off-color jokes abo ut "Tea-baggers" and attacks on religion befo re he answered only ques tions from his suppo rters. Flynt clearly cultivated a stro ng respon se. However, his speech and respo nses at a sympos ium sponso red by the First Am endment Law Review of the UNC Schoo l of Law made it equally clear he had no interest in addressing well-infor med and well-reasoned objections to his work and his presence. Mod erat ors Dr. Clay Calvert of the Unive rsity of Florida and Dr. Rob ert Richard s of Penn State University said th ey were pleased with the way Flynt handl ed a d iverse range of qu estions. Gabrie lle De Rosa Phillips, the law review executi ve editor, agree d, noting that perhaps so me quest ion s were "lost in translation:' Their stateme nts ma sk the free-speech crusa der trop e Flynt used as a distra ction from a d iscussion of sexually explicit speec h. Flynt admitted th at he only co nside red the free-speech impli cation s of his magazine on ce he was in legal troubl e. That said, pornograph y is not speec h. Pornography's alarming connectio n with sexual violence rem oves it from the realm of pure speec h int o th e catego ry of speech- plus: word s added to acts. Wh en violent titles are th e mo st popular, it's no sur prise that over 70 perce nt of sexua l crimes include acts or images from pornograph y. Speec h is acco rded more protection than action becau se action pert ain s to the physical world, rather than th e intellectu al one. Action is actionable in th e legal sense, as is speech when it lead s to action. Inciting riot or yelling "fire" in a crowded th eatr e are classic examples of unprotected speec h. By extension, when

racial slurs are used as part of an assault , th e act is termed a hate crime. In exactly the same way, pornograph ic imagery and acts der ived from porn ograph y compound a sexual assault. Alth ough th is is not legally ackn owledged as a hate crime, th e ad ded indignity and violation sho uld merit th e legal distinction . By his own ad mission, Flynt has mad e a career out of expos ing hypo crites th rou gh parody, as in the Falwell cartoo n. He continued that trend by expos ing his own hyp ocrisy.

The landmark Falwell v. Flynt decision on a satirical pol it ical cart oon printed in Hustler undoubtedly expanded First Amendment protections of political free speech. But like his lecture at the law sympo sium , the Falwell case did nothing to addre ss sexually explicit speech.

As ard entl y as Flynt claims to champion free speec h, he didn't stop a que stion er from be ing esco rted out by police before he could ask his qu estion. He criticized porn filmmaker Max Hard core for pu shing the limits of decen cy, yet he said th at "no one is sacred:' Flynt left th e cro wd with a parting lesson . The preeminent right of an y individua l is "to be left alone ;' he said. But the reality of his sexua lly dero gatory, explo itive work shows th at he is not leaving women alone. Neither th e wom en in his films, nor rape victims and girlfriends who are forced to recreate pornographic po sitions and acts are being left alon e. Flynt tramples all over th e freedo m to not be harmed, even as he invokes it. Thank goo d ness our student fees d idn't pay Flynt's

For more informa tion, look up Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dwarkin'swr it ing on pornography in th e legal system and Rob ert Jensen's work on porn 's place in heterosexual relat ion ships.

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Carolina Students for Life: framing abortion as black genocide? BYMICHLLE BELLAMY AND ABBEY

Carolina Stude nts for Life, a UNC-Chapel Hill's anti-c hoice gro up, held a screening of "Maafa 21" on Wed nesday, Feb. 24. Writt en and directed in 2009 by nation al anti -choice activist Mark Cru tcher, the mai n goals of the doc umentary are to suggest that aborti on is a form of black genoci de and that the cur rent pro-choice movem ent is tied to the practice of decad es-old eugenics. The event drew a hand ful of studen ts, only three of who m were black. The documentar y hop es to make th e African Ame rica n population address the issue of suppose d black geno cide. On e tactic of "Maafa 21" is to highlight Planned Parenthood founder Ma rgaret Sange r's affiliation with th e eugenics movem ent. As defined by Cru tche r, eugenics is a way of "pe rfec ting" the human race by eliminating peopl e wh o are deemed "unfit" or "feeblem inde d." Cru tcher furth er argues that because some lead ers of th e early Planned Parenthood Fede ratio n of America (forme rly kn own as th e National Birth Contro l Leagu e) were eugenicis ts, th e cur rent goa l th e "hid den agen da" - of Plan ned Paren thood is to wipe out m inorities. He argues that mod ern Planned Paren thood cente rs are stra tegically placed in mi nor ity neighb orhoods with th is intenti on . Obvio usly, these argume nts conflict with the femi nist approach to repro ductive justice. Firstly, rather th an bei ng located in

.: so/!

mi nority neighb orh ood s so as to kill black babies, Planned Par enthood is located in areas whe re help is most need ed. These inclu de com m un ities wh ere people are no t privileged enough to have access to informatio n abo ut all of their op tions, in clud ing birt h co ntro l and abo rtion. Most imp ortantly, the film suggests that the pro-choice movement is something happen ing to women, rather than descri bing birth contro l and abo rt ion as tools wome n use to control th eir own lives and bodies. It is easy for Cru tcher to argue th is because the voices of black pro -choice women simply do not exist in the document ar y. For example, Crutcher assumes that all black suppo rters during the civil rights move me nt were anti- cho ice and simply wanted to create more black ch ildren. What isn't shown are the women involved in the civil rights movem ent who had their own agendas, separate from their ma le coun terparts. Unlike what is suggested in the film, black women during the civil rights movement advoca ted for repro ductive justice as well, as they do tod ay. Ove rall, the biased na ture of "Maafa 21" ign or es th e fem in ist voice. Saying th at abortio n is black genoci de is a tactic of the an ti-choice movem ent to deval ue a woman's rig ht to her bod y and li

y

CONTP-J BUTO R..S:

ANQJ LI

editor-in-chief LEAH J 0 SEPHS0 N managing editor OLIVIA BLANCHAR..D

treasurer LIZZY HAZELTINE

web coordinator

michelle bellamy jaspreet cheema lesley-ann hix rebecca hundley amanda maclaren damitri martinez

brittainmcneel kat norcutt enriqueperez abbey riddick eric starn chadweeden

che ck out o ur Web site and b log! studentorgs.unc.edu/thesiren SP"'NC; 20 10

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If you or someone you know has here's experienced sexual assault or how to get help: relationship violence••• Campus Health Services 966-3650 • 966-2281 (after hours) • <campushealth .unc.edu> Offers confidential health core for UNC students, including evidence collection, screening and treatment of sexually tran smitted diseases and emergency contraception .

UNC Hospitals Emergency Room 966-4721 After-hours core . All treatment for sexual assault survivors can be paid for by the Victim 's Assistance Fund .

Counseling and Well ness Services 966-3658 • 966-2281 (crisis line after hours) Offers free individual and group counseling for UNC students. Appointments or walk-in assistance available.

Offi ce of the Dean of Students 966-4042 • <deanofstudents.unc.edu> Advises survivors of options and helps students access a wide voriety of services , including safe rooms and "no-contact" orders . Assists survivors filing a complaint w ith the Honor System.

Orange County Rape Crisis Center 935-4783 • 1-866-WE-L1STEN • <www.ocrc c .org> 24-hour crisis response services, including a c c o mpaniment to the emergency room or police d e portment. court advocacy and support groups. All services ore free and confidential.

Family Violence Prevention Center 929-7122 • <fvpcoc .org/> 24-hour crisis response services, court ad vo c a c y, and support groups for survivors of abusive rela tion ships. All services ore free and con fidentia l.

POLICE (file report in the jutisd iction wh ere th e cr ime occurred) Department of Public Safety* 962-8100 (non-emergency) • 911 * does not ta ke blind sexual assault report s.

Carrboro Police Department 918-7379 (non-emergency) • 911 Chapel Hill Police Department 968-2760 (non-emergency) • 911

For informatio n & more resources , see : Project

SAFE <unc.edu/safe>

Siren - Spring 2010  
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