The 2012 winter may not have been as cold as this past year, but it was surely chilling when the 112th Congress failed to reauthorize an amended version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). These amendments included enhanced protections for immigrant, Native American and tribal, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) survivors of domestic and sexual violence. But with the 113th Congress, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 was passed and signed into law on March 7, 2013. Although not all the provisions were adopted into the new law, considerable steps were taken in protecting a population that is so often overlooked: the transgender and gender non-conforming community.
The Mindy Project just came back on the air and with it we’ve got the wonderful Mindy Kaling hitting the media circuit. She gets real about body image and the media in this interview, telling Jimmy Kimmel that it’s not “courageous” of her to wear a crop top.
An anonymous Harvard student recently published a heart wrenching Op-Ed about her experience of sexual assault at the university.
There had to be other options for me out there, I thought. I got the school to issue a no-contact order against my assailant. I convinced myself that if I pushed hard enough, if I made enough noise, someone somewhere would hear me, stand up, do something. But no one really did. Confidentiality rules prevent me from revealing most of what was—or was not—done to respond to my report. Ironically, if I were to reveal this information, I could risk getting disciplined. What I can say, however, is that in my opinion, the school’s limited response amounted to the equivalent of a slap on the hand for my assailant. After unsuccessfully suggesting a number of interventions that could have helped me better live with my situation, I eventually got the persistent impression that my House staff believed I was fussing over nothing.
After Time magazine published a post describing feminists as “hysterical” in their focus on rape culture, the wonderful Zerlina Maxwell (pst, check out my interview with her from last year) took to Twitter and started #RapeCultureisWhen, a great hashtag that delves into the painful realities of rape culture. She recently published an excellent response to the original Time calling out Caroline Kitchens and RAINN for their harmful statements.
How amazing are teenage girls? So incredibly amazing. If you need more proof, just look at the middle school girls in Evanston, Illinois who are picketing for their right to wear leggings to school. Let’s give these girls a high five for fighting patriarchy at such a young age.
U.S. Border Patrol officer Esteban Manzanares was recently found dead after kidnapping, raping, and stabbing several women who were attempting to cross into the United States. While the full story may seem exceptionally shocking to many, those working in the anti-violence field know that the targeted abuse of immigrant women in the US has become a far-too common occurrence. PBS FRONTLINE has a great documentary about sexual violence committed against immigrant farmworkers, Rape in the Fields (Violación de un Sueño).
I have very mixed feelings about Chelsea Handler but wow, bless her for dressing down Piers Morgan on live television. She actually told him, “You’re a terrible interviewer.” It is so satisfying to see him nervously laughing because even he knows it’s true. (I mentioned Piers Morgan last month when this went down.)
Internet celebrity Tom Milsom is now facing rape allegations from a former girlfriend. He’s only the latest in a recent string of internet famous guys who have exploited their fame to get sexual attention and favors from their very young fans. The upside of this is that it’s bringing about an important discussion about fandom, abuse, and the relationships between stars and fans.
It’s ridiculously easy to think of self care as an activity that takes thirty minutes at most. For a long time I’ve approached it as one single activity, like taking a walk or a bubble bath. I’ve even found myself putting self care on a to-do list, treating it as another thing to cross off before bedtime. But lately I’ve been thinking that it’s time we make some changes in how we think about self care.
A week or two ago I had a really traumatic experience with street harassment. It was coming off of a particularly difficult week and ended in me sobbing on Franklin Street in broad daylight. I called my best friend, cried on the phone to her, came home and cried a little bit more. Then I decided it was time for my self care. I curled up in bed with my laptop and watched a few episodes of New Girl on Netflix before my hall meeting. I set aside an hour for myself, that was good right? Totally enough. So after the meeting I filled my backpack to the brim and headed to the library to finish a paper. But once I had a moment in my corner of the library to be alone without distractions, I couldn’t stop reexperiencing the incident. It played over and over in my head. I tried to write my paper but I found myself opening up Word documents to vent into instead of analyzing Jane Austen. I texted my sister, Coco, frustrated that I couldn’t finish my work.
Yesterday the Senate blocked the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) bill. The current system requires that a rape or assault be reported to superiors within the chain of command. The bill would instead have reports be made to an independent military prosecutor. As Feministing pointed out, “The military is creating a system in which rape survivors must report their rapes to people who are friends with the rapists, or the rapists themselves. This obviously inhibits reporting.” No doubt Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the bill’s champion, will continue fighting for change regarding military sexual assault. Find out how your senator voted here, and let them know you’d like their support on this issue in the future.
In all of our post Oscar excitement it’s easy to forget that idolizing someone and understanding them are two very different things. This Buzzfeed article explains:
Black History Month Super Post Edition:
Actress and activist extraordinaire Gabrielle Union recently opened up about the sexual assault she experienced at age nineteen. Everyone heals in their own way and everyone speaks about their assault differently, so whether or not Union’s words resonate with you, it’s always amazing to see young women speak up about their experiences.
The ever wonderful Autostraddle compiled this mega list of amazing lesbian, bisexual, queer, and transgender black women and you should scroll through right now.
If that’s not enough, check out our feminist facts in honor of Black History Month!
Happy Friday y’all! Celebrate the end of the week with a review of the progress being made around ending sexual violence! Plus, Gilmore Girls and Audre Lorde! …
I wrote about the amazing girls of Youth Against Rape Culture and Hollaback Chapel Hill-Durham for SPARK Movement. They’re basically an all star activist team and they’re making moves in North Carolina.
Like any activist college student, I grew up with Gilmore Girls and while I always wanted to be Rory, this is a wonderful, chill inducing defense of Rory’s rival, Paris Geller makes me reconsider my Gilmore Girls role model.
Teenage girlhood is a kind of torture I would only wish on my worst enemies. Sure Rory had her troubles (choosing between guys, choosing which Ivy League to attend) but Paris truly felt the grunt of a geek solely focused academics and so completely clueless about boyfriends, dances, fashion, aka “girly” stuff. The same stuff I was clueless about too. No matter how many books she read or how many speeches she researched, nothing could prepare her for being a teenage girl. Through her entire run in Gilmore Girls, she’s seen as insecure and strong, smart and lost.
It’s been a rough week for survivors and those who love them. We’ve had all things Woody Allen in the news, plus Piers Morgan insulting and mis-gendering Janet Mock. So with that in mind, here are some positive things to remember and think about as you head into your weekend. To quote feminist writer Jamia Wilson, you can’t ignite change if you’re all burned out…
Jordan Coleman, now 18, created a documentary about domestic violence entitled Paying the Price when he was just sixteen. He spoke to Ebony on why domestic violence matters to him and how he uses media for social change.
After The Daily Beast’s horrifying defense of Woody Allen, it was a relief to see this post from Aaron Bady of The New Inquiry which clearly explains why we need to believe Dylan Farrow and appreciate the courage it took for her to speak about her trauma.
Transgender advocate Janet Mock’s new memoir, Redefining Realness, has just been released. I got the chance to interview her and in the spirit of self-care, this is what she said about taking time for herself: