Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The living room was filled with laughter, inquiries on each other’s health and well-being and book recommendations as three members of Women Transcending Boundaries met to talk about the organization. Jennifer Roberts Crittenden, a Catholic woman, Saro Kumar, a Hindu woman, and Jeanette Powell, a Jewish woman are all members of the book club.
While they all come from different backgrounds, their constant smiles as they spoke about WTB are the same.
Jennifer Roberts Crittenden, Secretary for WTB
Roberts Crittenden joined WTB about six years ago and she said she loves all that WTB offers. Her main project now is the sewing class with some refugee women at the Center for New Americans. At the class they teach the women how to sew the “American way” using patterns and a sewing machine. Before the sewing class she went to the center to help teach the refugee women English, along with a few other members of WTB. Their methods for teaching the refugees English earned them the nickname of the “The Hokey Pokey Ladies” because of their use of the song to help the women learn.
Every member has certain things they’re passionate about. “Every new person that comes to WTB has changed its direction.” Some of the programs she hopes will continue through the years are the Acts of Kindness Weekend and the book club.
She said she has gained friendship and intellectual stimulation from WTB. The organization has introduced her to new things. “All of us are able to expand beyond WTB, because of WTB."
Saro Kumar, council member
Kumar, who grew up in a diverse, cosmopolitan area, was drawn to WTB because she read about the different backgrounds of its members. “I read about so many religions involved in it and I said, ‘this sounds like my kind of thing,’” she said. “And I never looked back.” Kumar joined WTB about two years ago once she stopped working and her children moved out.
She also said she loves everything about WTB. One project she enjoys in addition to the book club is the community garden she works on with some refugees. “Working with the refugees has been eye opening,” she said. Some of the vegetation she thought were weeds were considered vegetables by the refugees. From the garden she has also witnessed the networking WTB uses, where people have projects they want to put into action and others will contribute goods or services.
Kumar said she has gained “camaraderie and intellectual richness” from the organization. “There’s no limit to learning. It’s been so educational.”
Jeanette Powell, an original member, a past council member and member of the advisory board
Powell became involved with WTB because she enjoyed the idea of women of different backgrounds coming together to talk and learn from each other. “We came together to talk and we haven’t shut up since,” she said. The women are able to discuss complex issues and still remain friends. She noticed that if there is disagreement it often happens among women of different denominations of the same religion. “It’s learning with a capital L,” she said.
While she said her favorite thing changes with her mood, Powell, an avid reader, said she really enjoys the book club, where she reads books she normally wouldn’t. The book club reads a book a month. They switch between different styles, such as memoirs, novels and essays, and cultures or religions. They compile a list of books throughout the year and then as a group decide what the year’s reading list will be. The book must also be available at the public library, so members of the club don’t have to buy a copy.
As one of the original members, she has been able to watch the group change over the years. “It keeps evolving.”
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Medusa Magazine received an e-mail from a representative of The NewHouse Ad Agency regarding the article “Feel boobies. Get objectified.” in the second issue.
The NewHouse Ad Agency would like us to attribute the sexist and objectifying campaign to the students who created the advertisement, as opposed to the national foundation of the same name.
“Feel Your Boobies is not the name of a campaign, it is the name of a Pennsylvania-based non-for-profit organization whose mission is to get young females aware of breast cancer examination,” the representative wrote. “TNH took on this organization has a client this fall after speaking with founder Leigh Hurst, a 39-year old breast cancer survivor. Leigh discovered her breast cancer at age 33 by doing exactly what her organization suggests — casually feeling herself. Now she encourages other young ladies to do the same.”
Medusa Magazine regrets this small error, but the opinion of the writer does not change.
The flyer that the article was a response to advertises the YouBoob Viral Video Contest. With a $10,000 grand prize, the contest turns breast cancer awareness into a contest. It makes no mention of the medical effects of breast cancer, the proper way to give a breast self-exam, and that breast cancer can affect men, too.
To correct the error, Medusa is releasing this statement and has changed the attribution in the print publication, available for download here.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Dean Tiffany Steinwert offered an opening, nondenominational prayer, recognizing the 44 community groups present and “united” she said, toward “equal protection.” I was intrigued. School groups, Baptist churches, Catholic churches, Episcopalian churches, Jewish synagogues, Islamic societies, Latino groups, Labor unions—all together? For common goals? With sign language interpreters too? Would there be unicorns later?
I was skeptical, but I was also really, really hopeful.
I was not disappointed (well, maybe about the unicorns, a little).
The meeting was essentially a task force update and rally. The ACTS group is split into many task forces, including Healthcare, Economic Development, and a Youth initiative in collaboration with Say Yes. Three task forces presented at the meeting on Sunday: Civil Rights for Immigrants, Criminal Justice, and Food Access.
The immigration rights task force explained its goals: a viable path to citizenship; enforcement that doesn't criminalize, and doesn't function on racist principles; contextual discretion for every deportation case; and expanded family and worker visas. The chair, Aly Wane, asked a local family to relate their story of an ICE raid in their home earlier in September. With the help of a Spanish translator, (and, it should be noted, also with the immense courage it takes to come forward and speak on these issues), they described the brutish police invasion and destruction of their family unit. This was unacceptable, Wane said. It goes against the ideology of America, and it ought, he noted, go against the moral ideology of the groups present. “The God of our many understandings,” Wane said, “is not a god of apathy.”
This idea, I admit, was somewhat novel to me. As someone who has historically been at odds with religion, because of sexuality, politics, and general disenchantment, I've become accustomed to thinking of religion as an opposition to humanist work—when really, maybe they aren't so irreconcilable after all. And, hey, I know, maybe it shouldn't be such an outlandish thing, but you send an atheist to cover the Faith-Based Initiative, this is what happens, okay? And, I think we could say that in our culture, the media representation of religion is a lot more right-wing and exclusive than many of the actual religions at work out there. Or maybe not? You tell me. Comments section—go at it.
Moving on, though! The next task force was justice-oriented. Their projects lately have been concerned with enabling persons released from prison to get photo identification—something that has been unduly difficult in years past. The task force was instrumental in not only the eased accessibility of birth certificates, but also the initiative to print proof of identity at the prison which would count toward the points needed for a drivers license, or other photo ID. They also demanded change at the Onondaga County Justice Center, citing the needless deaths of Chuniece Patterson and Raul Pinet this August as evidence of the center's racism, neglect and the need to establish “meaningful accountability.”
The last group that presented was the Food Access team, and they had really impressive and specific projects in the works to improve the food situation in urban Syracuse. They reported that no grocery stores had been willing to open up in the area, but that they were working with local farmers and artisans to create a year-round market to make more food available. Moreover, they are working with local officials to reform the corner-markets to provide more healthy options, more food, and at fair prices. Their proposed methods include helping the markets find funding sources and encouraging patrons to frequent stores with healthy selections, or, alternatively, law-enforcement based pressure to oust non-compliant stores. “Every person,” chair Mable Wilson asserted, “should have the right to make sound, healthy choices in their diet.”
They closed with a hymn, and a prayer by Imam Yaser Alkhooly of the Islamic Society of Central New York, who stressed the common goal of “shelter for everyone who needs shelter, care for everyone who needs care,” and asked that we be sheltered from “ignorance, violence, and fear.”
I have to say I was really stunned and impressed and happy about the initiatives I saw in action. What really won me over were the numerous elected officials, or candidates in the upcoming election present—Dan Maffei, Police Chief Frank Fowler, Sheriff candidate Toby Shelley, Dan Young, David Valeski, Kathleen Joy, Sam Roberts, Michael Donnelly, Christina Fadden-Fitch, and Matthew Morgan-- who were asked specifically if they would help to perform specific functions in the projects that ACTS is generating. All present agreed, (the mediators of the event pointed out a few other officials who had declined the invitation to the event).
The tasks set out seem really meaningful, feasible, and organized. So, what can we expect from these folks in the future? What would you like to see happen in the community? What can Syracuse do to help? For my two cents, (and I know it's really a problematic and stressful issue, particularly/traditionally with Faith-based organizations), but I was a little surprised that there was no collaboration with the Q Center or even the University's LGBT Resource Center. Given that Queer youth and teens are at a raised risk of suicide, bullying, and violence, it seems it would be a good problem for the Youth Task Force to tackle.
The ACTS group is doing great work, I just would like to push them to continue to stretch their boundaries and be even more intersectional and transformative.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
There were other words, too. Words like beauty, orgasm, period, pain, and happiness resonated throughout the building. These words capture the essence of “The Vagina Monologues” as performed by Syracuse University and SUNY–ESF students and faculty.
“It’s about celebrating the vagina,” Caitlin Guthoff, a senior television-radio-film major and cast member, said. “It’s a forgotten body part sometimes, and why should it be?”
“It’s a roller coaster ride. Some of it is funny, poignant, some of it is really sad,” Tula Goenka said. Goenka is a professor of television-radio-film who acted as a narrator for the show.
Brianna Garcia, co-president of Students Advancing Sexual Safety and Empowerment (SASSE), the organization behind “The Vagina Monologues” at Syracuse University, said the show is more than entertaining: it is powerful.
It can help women who have been victims of sexual abuse “overcome their own trauma and come to terms with themselves,” she said.
SASSE and “The Vagina Monologues” have many common goals. “SASSE is about being empowered to make good sexual choices and to be emotionally okay with those choices,” Garcia said. “There is a lot of stigma surrounding sexuality, particularly women’s sexuality. We’re sexual beings and I think it’s important to celebrate that.”
According to the program, “The Vagina Monologues” is a play derived from feminist Eve Ensler’s interviews with over 200 women about their vaginas and sexuality. This performance included monologues about first periods, sexual slavery and abuse, lesbian experiences and the female orgasm. Proceeds from the show benefitted local organizations that deal with women’s issues, including The Vera House, Planned Parenthood, SU R.A.P.E. Center and The V-Day Haiti Rescue Fund.
“The Vagina Monologues” set gave Hendricks Chapel a new look. Benches and chairs were draped in fuzzy fuschia and candy-apple red blankets. Pink and red pillows of various shapes and sizes dotted the platform.
The all-female cast was bedecked in reds and pinks, too. They were a diverse group that included women of different ages, races and personalities. The cast was made up of undergraduates of all ages from SU and SUNY–ESF, graduate students and professors. Their clothing ran the gamut: conservative pantsuits, short skirts with bare legs, tailored vests, corsets, sky-high stilettos, ratty sneakers. But they were all clad in shades of red and pink.
“Vagina colors,” Harriet Brown said with a smile. Brown is a magazine professor and member of the cast.
Although Hendricks Chapel may seem like an odd venue for a play with such a racy theme, Goenka said it’s the “perfect space” for “The Vagina Monologues.” “It is a very spiritual piece,” she said. “It’s about reclaiming your body but also reclaiming your soul as a woman.”
There was general consensus among the women involved that everyone should see “The Vagina Monologues.”
“I can’t really think of anyone I wouldn’t want to see the show,” Garcia said. Goenka said she thinks the content of the show is very relevant on college campuses.
“It’s important on a college campus because there is a lot of sexual abuse at college that is never talked about,” Goenka said.
“I would prefer if more men saw it...they have no idea what women go through,” said Tamara Williams, a junior English major and member of the cast. Brown also said that men should see the show. “It’s important for young men to see that young women can be empowered to talk about their sexuality. It’s not just men who can talk about sex.”
Sean Eberle, a sophomore computer science major, was one of the few men in the audience of 80 on Friday night. It was his first time seeing the show and he said that it opened his eyes “to what women experience regarding their sexuality and process of maturing.”
Garcia said that performing in “The Vagina Monologues” can be an eye-opening experience for freshmen, as well. “You see them really uncomfortable talking about vaginas or periods,” she said. They feel like it is not acceptable to talk about these subjects and “we’re like ‘It is!’”
Brianna Collins, a senior communications design major and the other co-president of SASSE, can attest to the powerful effect of “The Vagina Monologues” on a first-year student. She wandered into one of the organization’s meetings by accident her freshman year, and left with a role in the show. “It was a transition for me,” Collins said, and explained how she was making her own decisions for the first time in college.
The importance of her first experience with “The Vagina Monologues” is what kept Collins from auditioning this year. “I didn’t want to take away the opportunity from anyone who walked in the door,” she said. “I’ve seen it as my job essentially to help other women experience what I experienced freshman year.”
The women said they had high hopes for the show and its impact on the audience. “I’m hoping they take away the idea that women’s sexuality is as individual as everything else about human beings. There are many ways to be sexual,” Brown said. “There is nothing embarrassing about your body, it’s part of who we are and it’s OK.”
Similarly, Guthoff hopes to remove some of the taboo that surrounds sexuality. “It’s a very natural thing, if it’s between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man, it’s something to be celebrated,” she said.
After the show closed, the women reflected on their experiences. “I had tears in my eyes the first time I heard it,” Brown said about the first performance of all the monologues together.
Williams said she felt the performance had a huge impact on the audience. “It’s always profound to see the whole show together. It just makes me love vagina,” she said.
Collins said one of the most amazing things about “The Vagina Monologues” is that it “invites all different kinds of women” to bond over “a common goal.” Women are coming together because they are “passionate about what we do with the Monologues,” she said.
Williams agrees. “We all have this common bond,” she said. “We all come of age, we all get our periods...because we share this we always have something to talk about, regardless of things like age or race.”
Despite all the stress and hard work that goes into the show, Garcia was sad to see it come to an end. “The last night is always bittersweet, because it's amazing to see their growth but sad to let them go,” Garcia said. “Those ladies rock harder than they'll ever know.”
Goenka said that she believes the women who were part of “The Vagina Monologues” have been empowered by the experience and have learned about their own sexualities. “Hopefully when they graduate they can take this sense of themselves out there into the universe and continue this work in some way,” she said
by Jacqui Kenyon
Monday, February 22, 2010
Anna Holmes’ visit to Syracuse was a laid back stroll down memory lane, strewn with blunt and honest advice regarding her two favorite topics; Journalism and Feminism.
Holmes graduated from NYU and moved on to work at magazines like Entertainment Weekly and Glamour. “Working at Glamour refined my hatred of women’s magazines” Holmes said as the audience giggled.
Holmes was then summoned by Gawker.com to create the “female gawker.” She decided right away that it needed to be more about making fun of women’s magazines, that “created and preyed on insecurities or just always tried to sell you something.”
Holmes is now Editor-in-Chief of Jezebel.com. Her site gets over 20 million monthly views, and has a die-hard fan base. These ‘jezebels’ often get into heated debates in the comments section, as well as share very personal stories relating (and sometimes not) to the article.
When asked about these fans, Holmes theorizes with slight frustration that “a lot of women are being underutilized in their jobs.” Because of Jezebel’s feminist and often snarky content, some companies dislike the site immensely. American Apparel, a common target for their underage-looking models and creepy owner, has not advertised with Jezebel for at least a couple years. To the angry emails Holmes receives, she laughingly says “If someone complains about me making fun of them, I’ll probably run their email on the site.”
While Anna focused more on her journalism experience during her presentation, I got to sit down with her after and talk about Feminism and women’s issues. (Yes, I was incredibly excited, thanks for asking.)
What is Feminism to Anna? “It’s called the F-word for a reason. It’s a bad word now. But I don’t think it’s something ugly or bad. I’m not going to stop using the word because it conjures up… images for some people. It’s just a marker, like anything else.”
But, how can we reach out to the upcoming generation? It seems as though Feminism just becomes a “dirtier” word as time goes on. “You have to draw girls in with stuff they want to hear. You have to hide the spinach in tastier food,” says Anna.
While she’s looking at some new projects, Anna has no idea what the future holds for her. One thing she does know is that she probably won’t be at Jezebel in 5 or 10 years… Which means you should check it out right now to see the greatness that is Anna Holmes, Editor-in-Chief at Jezebel.com.
PS- She thinks the name ‘Medusa Magazine’ is “pretty awesome.” Yes.
by Veronica Ripson
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Ani DiFranco is a feminist. But she’s more than that. She is the reason that other people (men and women) are feminists. During her performance at the Westcott here in Syracuse Friday, February 5, she sang a piece inspired by an old working song from the 30’s. I don’t know what the original lyrics are, but I’m pretty sure that “feminism ain’t about women, that’s not who this is for” was not fashioned by the lovely Ms. DiFranco.
Now this is supposed to be a review of the concert, and I am going to do that, because it was my first time ever seeing her live and my life has officially been changed. However, I am also writing for a feminist magazine, and Ani has way too many interesting pieces to discuss in regards to her feminism to simply let that part slide. I was hoping she would do a couple of her extremely feminist songs at the show so that I would have a way to tie everything together but—oh well. I guess finding the common thread is my job. And actually that won’t be too difficult.
At the merchandise table, one of the t-shirts had what is possibly one of my favorite lines of hers pasted on it. It read “Feminism ain’t about equality, it’s about reprieve.” Isn’t that beautiful? The reason that so many people are feminists because of Ani DiFranco is because she gives them a legitimate reason.
When you see Ani perform live, it isn’t frightening. She isn’t some crazy lesbian butch maniac singing about roasting men over the fire. She is a tiny woman with a powerful voice and a whole string of powerful songs. She has the ability to entertain an audience—and she is a feminist. People assume because of her whole persona and because of her record label name and all of the things that anyone has ever heard about her that she is overwhelming and intimidating.
But that’s not true. I was actually surprised after listening to a couple of live albums of her music at how tame she was on stage. She made a couple of political jabs and she did her fair share of cursing at the audience, but she wasn’t preaching. And even though this wasn’t what I expected, it made me like her even more.
If you’re familiar with Ani’s music at all, she sang a lot of songs off her older albums and of course a lot of her classics—Napoleon has got to be one of the most energizing songs to hear live. She has a full band behind her but honestly she is so mesmerizing that you can’t really pay attention to them, except when the xylophone player has a kick-ass solo and everyone is cheering for him. It’s her and her guitar and the amazing lyrics that have the power to change your life and being in the room with all of these people who know every single word to every single song. That is an experience.
One of her songs, which she did not perform that evening but which always sticks with me, begs the question “why can’t all decent men and women call themselves feminists? Out of respect?” and I would like to know the answer. Ani makes identifying as a feminist something to be proud of – she markets it as a way of looking at the world, not the “bra burning, I don’t need a man” stereotype, but the idea of respect.
To Ani, feminism is the idea that the sexes be equal on all levels, and we still aren’t there yet. But we could be. And we should be. Most importantly, if everyone could get on board and realize the goal of feminism, wouldn’t we be a hell of a lot better off? I think she’s on to something. Maybe if life was like a giant Ani DiFranco concert everyone would understand. And hey, would that be such a bad thing?
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
It seems that the goddesses of female music are finally smiling down upon me. My previous blog post dealt exclusively with the history of Lilith, after I discovered just how few SU students had heard of it. It may not have been very evident from my last post, but my excitement was uncontrollable when I heard the news of the Lilith revival not two weeks before my post.
And as if the news that I was finally able to witness the glory of Lilith Fair wasn’t exciting enough, at the peak of my excitement I was informed that Terry McBride was giving a lecture here at Syracuse. Terry McBride; the co founder of Lilith Fair, the person who worked with Sarah McLachlan to bring this feminist music Mecca to life, was going to be speaking here.
My previous writing was based on the written history of Lilith as acquired through my research. But lucky for you all, I am now pleased to relay the information which I learned directly from Terry McBride himself. His segment on Lilith Fair focused mostly on comparing what he called “The Old Lilith” to the soon to be revealed “New Lilith.”
Now before I launch into the tale of my evening of rapture, let me remind you: Terry is a man. He is a high-powered, male music executive. As surprising as it may be, it is also incredibly encouraging to see that the person who drove such a crucial piece of the feminist movement, an event that has practically become synonymous with feminism, is not even a woman. He put this event together because he loves good music. And he doesn’t see gender as a part of the equation that determines good versus bad. Which means that this man is very much our ally. So now that you have been properly warned; get ready to fall in love.
The main discrepancy in my historical account of Lilith was my lack of acknowledgement of the festival’s charitable involvement. From the way in which he spoke of his creation, it is clear that Terry is most proud of the astonishing ten million dollars that Lilith was able to donate to women’s aid organizations. One dollar from every ticket—and this system is to remain in place for the upcoming Lilith—is kept and donated to a charity that helps women. And at the first Lilith show, over fifteen thousand people showed up.
McBride plans to take it to a whole new level this time around. The New Lilith will focus even more on the charity aspect of the event, selecting four or five for profit organizations who show promise to achieve great things and sponsoring them.
Doesn’t sound too charitable? Think again. These businesses will be brought on the road with Lilith, setting up tents and advertising what they do at all of the concerts. Then these for profit organizations will donate portions of their proceeds to non-profit organizations, which are selected by a local talent search of sorts.
For McBride, it’s all about sustainability. His biggest disappointment from the old Lilith was the fact that although it was wildly successful and brought massive amounts of awareness when it was first created, only a few years after the last tour ended, so too did their work. People seemed to forget about it, and the charities they had helped to support were on their own again. They left a legacy, certainly, but not one with much proof of existence. McBride wants to change that this time around. His fresh approach promises to make Lilith a permanent fixture in the minds of great music festivals and great charity excursions.
Emmery Brakke is a sophomore in VPA. She can be reached at email@example.com.