Feminist Friday

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Zerlina Maxwell

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.

The awesome UNITY conference (the Southeast’s biggest LGBTQI conference) is now accepting workshop proposals and registrations!

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Feminist Friday

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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.

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Giving Yourself Time to Feel

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AudreIt’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.

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Feminist Friday

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Stats on Military Sexual Assault

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:

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Feminist Friday

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Black History Month Super Post Edition:

Black Queer WomenActress 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!

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Feminist Friday

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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! …

AudreI 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.

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Feminist Friday

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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…

Filmmaker Jordan Coleman

Filmmaker Jordan Coleman

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:

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Sensei

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Ora DeKornfeld created Sensei, a short documentary about Brenda Mayfield, a Durham woman who became a martial arts teacher, or sensei, after being raped. We asked Ora to share with us her video and how it came to be. Watch the documentary and read more about Ora and Brenda below. (*Trigger warning)

Sensei from ora on Vimeo.

The first time I spoke with Brenda was on the phone. I had seen her number listed on a flier advertising ‘No Nonsense Self Defense’ at Joe’s Diner in East Durham and decided to give her a call. Her voice was immediately familiar and warm. She was so open, telling me about her childhood in foster care, the violence in her neighborhood and how she uprooted her life in Boston to move to Durham seven years ago. She didn’t know me at all and yet she warmly agreed to help me when I proposed to make a documentary about her. Little did she know this documentary would practically mean living together for the next month.

I followed Brenda’s every move— we went everywhere together, anywhere from the Harris Teeter to buy microwave dinners when her oven broke to trick-or-treating around the neighborhood on Halloween. She quickly got used to the camera and learned to ignore me. Though our hangouts usually ended with Brenda saying, “Okay Ora, get out of my house,” as we spent more and more time together, we became friends.

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Feminist Friday

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One part of advocacy work is being conscious of current events and developments. From taking a stand against pop culture icons spouting problematic lyrics to advocating for healthy relationships, there are many ways to be activists and cultural critics in our movement.

Take a few minutes to catch up, get inspired, and maybe share a laugh with us. We’re going to bring you a weekly round-up of topics related to anti-violence and anti-oppression work, so stay tuned to our blog and our Facebook page for updates!

And without further ado, here’s this week’s round-up:

Beyonce & Jay-Z Grammys 2014You probably love Beyonce Knowles, force of nature, self-proclaimed feminist, certified babe. Her Grammy performance of “Drunk in Love” with her husband has but one flaw: Jay-Z’s lyrics make light of traumatic domestic violence. This article about Beyonce and domestic violence perfectly describes why those lyrics matter. After all, when one of your faves messes up, it’s important to hold them accountable.

President Obama recently announced that he is starting a task force on sexual assault on college campuses. On the To the Sexual Assault Task Force Tumblr, students are telling their stories and asking that their voices be heard on the task force.

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Partners in Prevention

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Partners in PreventionThe Center is an official “Partner in Prevention,” a nationally-recognized public standard to end child sexual abuse (CSA). The designation was awarded for our commitment to protecting children by training 100% of our staff on how to prevent, recognize the signs, and react responsibly to CSA.

The “Partner in Prevention” designation was created as a national standard to help parents and caregivers recognize organizations who take CSA prevention seriously by training staff and implementing effective prevention policies. The training and designation award is provided by Darkness to Light. D2L has championed the movement to end CSA since its founding in 2000 and now has education programs in 49 states and 15 foreign countries.

D2L’s training curriculum points out that CSA is pervasive in a society where it is repressed and not discussed. Though 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18, less than a third of cases are reported. Thousands of organizations across the United States and Canada are now seeking out a dialogue for prevention, and they are sending parents and the community a message with the Partner in Prevention distinction.

Rachel Valentine, the Center’s Rape Prevention Educator Coordinator, is a trained facilitator for D2L’s Stewards of Children program. In addition to training our own staff, she provides prevention education for adults across the Orange County community. The Stewards of Children program is especially designed for parents and caregivers of children. In the 2012-2013 academic year, Rachel trained 141 adults in proven child abuse prevention techniques.

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