Educate Yourself While Educating Others

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AliceI started training as a Community Educator during my first semester of my first year of college. Going into the first meeting, I was pretty nervous — the room was filled with folks that were older than me as well as a couple of fellow college students. But we bonded quickly, and they became some of the people who helped me survive my first semester of school.

The college environment can be incredibly stressful for women and their allies in the fight against sexual assault. It’s easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed with the number of students who perpetuate oppressive ideas. The best way to combat this feeling is to put that anger and frustration into direct action — working with the Center is one of the best ways to do that.

Trainings are long, but filled with love and purpose. The time commitment is significant but so deeply worth it, and you really can’t have a bond with your fellow trainees without putting in that time.

Working with the Center gave me the chance to learn about rape culture in a safe environment. I wasn’t being graded, I had many opportunities to ask questions about the cause and effect of oppression, and I learned how to exercise self-care.

It was also a great chance for me, as a Women’s & Gender Studies major, to get a chance to see what day-to-day life is like while working for a direct service nonprofit. When you think of a rape crisis center, you tend to imagine somewhere cold and depressing, with lots of crying women and weird smells. But the Center radiates love and warmth. Every person there takes their job very seriously — but there’s also lots of joy and laughter in the room.

In the education trainings, we’re taught how to keep a conversation moving, dig deep, and avoid common conversational pitfalls. These skills come in handy in so many areas of life, and it’s great to learn them in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

I loved having the chance to connect with other students as well as adults from around the community. It’s so nice to get a break from the campus bubble and be around folks who are old enough to give you advice but are not, you know… your parents. It’s like getting to hang out with your cool queer aunts/uncles and help prevent sexual assault. Does it get any better than that?

Alice Wilder majors in Women’s & Gender Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has supported the Center in a number of capacities, including Start Strong Educator and Social Media Intern.

Safe Touch Educator training begins in August 2014, and Start Strong Educator training will begin in September. Find out more about our volunteer programs and how to apply at ocrcc.org/ce


Feminist Friday

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bidenIt’s like my main man Joe Biden knew it was my last Feminist Friday and came out with an awesome new website and PSA for the White House’s “1 is 2 Many” campaign, which is all about sexual assault on college campuses. Love you, Joe.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month just came to a close, and it’s a great time to look back at our events from the Shout Out to Cupcakes & Cocktails to Hollaback’s awesome screenprinting events. With these events we combined the catharsis of storytelling with self-care and direct action. When you work in violence prevention, it can seem strange to have a month for awareness when it feels hard not to be aware of interpersonal violence. But I think it’s helpful to think of SAAM as a time to heal and bring our passion for this work into parts of our community where awareness isn’t so high. It felt so gratifying to see people stopping in their tracks to read the shirts on the clothesline project, and I heard many of my friends say that they went out of their way to walk past the shirts on their way to class.

If you’re busy wrapping up the end of the school year, this is a great work/study playlist that’s instrumental but still really energizing.

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Feminist Friday

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GOTI’m digging this Game of Thrones-themed study playlist – it’s all music from the show! Like the Game of Thrones, finals week often feels like a “win or die” situation.

This week’s Game of Thrones was deeply disturbing – the executive producers decided to take a consensual sex scene in the books and make it a rape scene on the show. Like, they took what was already a pretty deeply messed up situation (a brother and sister having sex in a church which holds the body of their dead son) and made it even more disturbing. I’m mad, the internet is mad, what they did to these characters and to the show is not okay.

Watch this awesome video “The Minority Experience at UNC” which includes student testimony on the challenges that minority students face at UNC.

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Feminist Friday

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All my feminist friends have been making these fun little dolls lately and it is so strangely relaxing and wonderful. Seriously, revert back to your twelve-year-old self and play dress up for fifteen minutes.

The New York Times recently published an exposé of Florida State University’s failure to pursue justice for a survivor of rape. It’s a long read but well worth your time. It focuses on how colleges tend to protect their star athletes (the alleged rapist, Jameis Winson, is FSU’s star football player) rather than care for survivors. According to the article, the lead detective for the rape case didn’t write a report on the crime until two months after the crime was reported. According to the New York Times there was “virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.”

I have a deep love for Sansa Stark, the long suffering eldest Stark daughter. This is partly because so many seem to hate her, calling her “whiny” or “boring.” Sophie Turner, the actress who plays Sansa recently gave an interview (it’s filled with spoilers, so watch out!) and responds to the hate many have for her character:

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Feminist Friday

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SirenHave you read the newest issue of Siren yet? Grab a copy on newstands around UNC’s campus or read a digital copy here!

We at the OCRCC have your weekend planned out for you!

  • If you love Beyoncé and feminist activism you absolutely cannot miss Project Dinah’s I’m A Survivor benefit concert. All proceeds benefit the Center.
  • This weekend is the UNITY conference! UNC students get in for free, and there’s a drag show at the Chapel Hill Underground tonight at 10:00.
  • Then on Saturday attend the Latino Greek Cookout which is benefiting the Latino Scholar’s Initiative.

 

UNC’s own Bob Pleasants recently published a piece on Huffington Post on how to approach interpersonal violence on college campuses.

We conclude that the answer is not one of either/or, it’s one of both/and. We can’t end the -isms in a world that tolerates sexual assault, but we’ll never end sexual assault — a physical and psychological assertion of power — in a world filled with imbalances based on gender, sexuality and other systems of power. It’s not a complicated point: we can’t end rape until we change the culture that enables and supports rape. And we can’t change this culture without a community-based approach.

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Feminist Friday

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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.

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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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Feminist Friday

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stats

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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