Men Against Violence
Men Against Violence (MAV) is a student organization that started over ten years ago under the auspices of Center for Women Students. As a peer education group, they are involved with sexual assault training for fraternities, classroom and residence life presentations, and other events on and around the Penn State University Park campus.
On April 29, MAV is hosting “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” (www.walkamileinhershoes.org), where men will walk down Pollock Road in high heels, “to symbolize the pain that men have caused women to feel,” said Tanner Fitzgerald (sophomore-Finance), President of MAV. It might be best not to blame all men, but "you can't really understand another person's experience until you've walked a mile in their shoes," a quote taken from the Walk a Mile website. Don’t let Fitzgerald’s involvement in Greek life, intramural football, and softball fool you; he’s far from the typical college guy. He tells FLY Magazine how he and other members of M.A.V. are working to redefine what it means to be a male student at Penn State.
FLY: How would you describe the objective of Men Against Violence?
TF: To encourage men to join us in the fight against sexual assault, because it is a man’s issue.
FLY: How would you describe the majority of your members?
TF: Cool guys who are great to hang out with and strive to make a positive difference.
FLY: Would you say that you are a feminist? Do you believe that men can be feminists?
TF: I would consider myself to be a feminist so yes, men can be feminists. If a man stands for fair and equal treatment of women, he is a feminist.
FLY: What are the most common reactions people have when you tell them that you belong to this organization?
TF: Usually women are very interested and ask what we do in the group and men look confused and need an explanation.
FLY: What do you think needs to happen before we see a change in the statistics of violence against women, both at Penn State and a more global sense?
TF: There must be a change in what it means to be a man. Many think that a real man is strong and fearless and always in power, but if men realize that their sense of entitlement is false, their view of women as lesser citizens and control over them will decrease.
FLY: What are your goals, both short-term and long-term, for MAV?
TF: Short-term – get our word out to as many people as possible and continue to have a positive influence. Long-term – severely decrease sexual and all kinds of violence towards women.
Women in South Asia Deprived of Minimal Human Rights
On July, Time magazine brought the world into a horrendous shock with its disturbing front cover: an Afghan woman with a hole in her face, instead of a nose. The woman’s blank look on her face unveils severe maltreatment of women in South Asia. While more women are gaining rights in the western part of the globe, those on the opposite side of the world still struggle against injustice that threatens their lives. Atrocity and degradation committed towards women are deeply rooted in Southern Asia, such as Afghanistan and India. Old fashioned values in those nations entrap and oppress women.
With the aid of Taliban, Afghanistan becomes more aggressive and actively refrains women’s rights. Afghan women are considered to be property of men, and are often treated with contempt and malice. Wives are legal properties of husbands, thus men are eligible to abuse their wives physically and mentally. When women escape their husbands, they are beaten and whipped if found, and the brutality is legally undisturbed by authorities. Judiciary encourages domestic violence and harassment by attributing every speck of fault to women. They claim that women should always be subordinate to men and be obedient to all of men’s demands. Because of legalization of abuse and conservative thoughts, Afghan women are aborted of minimum rights to be respected and treated like human beings.
Treatment of women in India is no better than that of Afghanistan. “In some rural areas, women are put out in the woods during menstrual cycle. They are given no food, water, or anything until they are finished with their period because it is considered dirty,” said Noffy Yi, a freshman at Penn State who resided in India for five years. Also, Dowry is still practiced in rural parts of India. Even though it was legally banned in 1961, it still occurs, resulting in domestic violence and even murders. The husband pours kerosene on his wife and burns her to death if he is unsatisfied with the amount of wedding gift. “It is true that India has progressed a lot,” Yi said, pointing out that India is not as extreme as Afghanistan. “It’s hard to see sexual discrimination in urban areas. I mean, India is famous for producing the first female president in the world and such, but you still see unfair treatment in rural areas, and the cases can be intolerable.”
Women’s rights have significantly gained power over the past decades. Women in Western countries can now vote, wear pants, and are given freedom to choose who they want to date; just like any other man. They are no longer stoned to death due to adultery. They can also speak out against inequalities without fear of being beaten up. Yet, these benefits are far-away fantasies to those in South Asia where women are still hoping for equally and freedom from the constraints that men hold on them.
Map: The World Factbook
Amish Women's Rights
Happy Valley is one of the few regions in the United States where the Amish live. Also referred to as the Pennsylvania Dutch, these religious communities offer a “plain” life, free from any advancement that has come about in recent centuries. This means no cell phones, no internet, no…women’s rights?
Not exactly, said Dr. Natalie Jolly, a professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma. She spent two years studying Amish women in rural Pennsylvania.
“Their society is very patriarchal and they are required to be submissive to their husbands and church elders,” said Jolly. “Even so, women still wield a great deal of informal power in the household and in the community.”
The secluded nature of Amish populations leads to many misconceptions about their culture, particularly among feminists who only see their submissiveness to men. The same goes for Amish women, who tend to view modern feminists in a stereotypical light, claiming they seek only respect, which Amish women already have. They are managers, in a sense, of their households, and the fulfillment of their duties as wives and mothers is mark of success for them; however, their religion doesn’t allow them the freedom to stray from these roles.
“I’d say that feminists are fighting for women to have a choice about whether they want to be a domestic house-manager or a CEO or anything in between. Non-Amish women have many more choices,” said Jolly.
Jolly’s research focused on homebirth in Amish communities, which she saw as empowering for those women. The midwives who perform the deliveries are powerful and crucial to Amish society, and the women who are able to give birth without having to rely on medical intervention have a healthier view of their bodies.
“They have a lot less fear and a lot more confidence. They aren’t told repeatedly that their bodies are too fat or too thin or bumpy or ugly,” said Jolly. Amish women are taught not to accentuate their bodies or physical beauty, which to some may seem restrictive. Others might regard this dress code of sorts as a freedom from modern beauty standards that Englishers, or non-Amish people, have yet to acquire.
Amish culture is supportive of women in more ways than their relationships to their bodies. Although the wives and mothers are barely legal adults, the entire community comes together to support a young woman’s transition into marriage and motherhood. They are celebrated for satisfying their gender-specific religious obligations.
Modern feminists may feel that the inherent patriarchy of an agricultural society is in stark contrast to women’s liberation. It’s important to understand that the women are not prisoners. They are allowed to participate in rumspringa, a period of adolescent exploration outside of the community, although the teenage girls usually meet their future husbands during this time. They look forward to getting married and having babies by the age of 18.
Maybe the only real “choice” Amish women have is to become a housewife or be shunned by their family, but most are more than happy to carry on tradition.
Dirty Sex....for the Victim
Does your body cringe and tense up when you hear that word? Do you think of common jokes you’ve seen on television or laughed at with your friends? Do you get annoyed and frustrated that another lecture on sex and female “problems” are obviously going to ensue after this term?
One woman is raped every two minutes in the United States.
My body, the body of someone raped, recoils in itself and feels like vomiting when I hear this word. Almost a year after my “assault”, I am just beginning to regain my values and control with sex again.
How do rape victims lead normal sexual lives?
A common problem is women feeling distant, reluctant and scared to initiate any form of physical contact after being raped. Generally, victims will need to regain trust and comfort by easing into things slowly. Some women, who are able to have sex as proof of stability or a way to cope, experience flashbacks during peak pleasure moments regardless of the distinct situation.
Can sex ever be pleasurable and valuable again?
For me, as I do with all things that really hurt me, I blocked it, as in the rape, out. By being sexually active, I felt I was proving to myself that I was okay and I could move on from my awful experience. I craved any physical contact as a way to make myself stronger. Ironically, after any form of sexual contact, I would cry.
I would feel used and cheap and dirty like I did when I was raped. I would quickly leave whomever I was with and hope to never speak or to see them again. I never stuck around to cuddle and just moved on to the next guy.
My pattern became inevitable. I didn’t’ know any other way to “deal” with my problem and I thought I would stop crying eventually.
Besides using sex as a personal barrier to my emotions, I used men. I wanted each and every guy I “hooked up” with to feel as low and dirty as I felt. I went from someone who looked at sex as a special and love-associated action, to someone who felt sex was nothing more than getting yours and moving on. I wanted every guy to feel the pain I felt. Yet, in the end, I only felt more pain with myself.
I’m slowly regaining my personal beliefs of sex, of men and of myself. This hasn’t been perfected yet. I recently had my first flashback during sex and didn’t know how to react. My story was not something I shared with everyone, nor was it something I shared with all my friends right away and definitely not with the guy I was seeing. No matter how intelligent and aware I am, the feelings of complete embarrassment and shamefulness have remained associated with my rape. For this reason, I tried to ignore my flashback until I had to speak up.
Sex is still something I’m struggling to piece together. My body is still something I’m trying to not feel so distant with and the idea of actually liking someone I have sex with and cuddling with that person afterwards, terrifies me. Who wants to let in feelings they thought they could push away forever?
My story is nothing special or any exception. Sisters, mothers, daughters, best friends and girlfriends are being raped every minute. Yet, we laugh because the term has become such an everyday word. “I’m going to rape this exam or “I’m going to rape him” are common, humorous expressions that give the word little importance. In effect, little importance is given to rape and its after-effects.
I didn’t speak loud enough when I should have. I am one of the 60 percent of rape victims who never reports the sexual assault crime. I am the one of five college-aged females who has been sexually assaulted. I am speaking loud now.
I hope it makes your body cringe and tense up. I hope you think of your sister and mother. I hope you get angry, frustrated and annoyed at this problem that is not just about “females”. More than anything, I hope you speak up with me and all the victims who didn’t speak up before.
Local Resources for Victims of Rape:
Counseling and Psychological Services-CAPS (814)863-0395
Center for Women Students- (814) 863-2027
204 Bouke Building
Women’s Resource Center- (814) 234-5050
24/hr. hotline (877) 234-5050
State College Police: (814) 234-7150
Penn State Escort Service: (814) 865- WALK (9255) Dusk until Dawn
Safe in State College?
On a campus with over 40,000 students, can anyone really feel safe? Actually, compared with other schools of similar size and reputation, the answer is yes.
“Based upon what I read about our activity and through frequent interaction with students, I don’t think there’s a large portion of the population that feels unsafe at night,” said Steve Shelow, chief of university police and Penn State alumnus. His said that all the programs offered by the department are integrated into the approach to make campus a safe place.
Penn State has the advantage over other Big Ten schools by being a rural campus, lessening the amount of crimes reported by a substantial amount.
“There are crimes in both places, just different types of crimes,” said Rebecca Bywater, crime prevention/community education officer at Penn State. She cited theft as the number one crime against students. “Thefts are usually opportunistic, caused by people leaving items unattended.”
Each university is required by the Clery Act to release statistical information about the prevalence of certain crimes to its student body. When comparing the 2008 Ohio State Clery Statistics to those of Penn State University Park, the number of incidences of certain crimes is varying.
The number of robberies on the Penn State campus – with campus defined as campus properties and residence halls – is 3, compared to 6 on the Ohio State campus. The difference is much more noticeable when considering burglaries, a more serious offense. There were 68 instances of burglary at Penn State, compared to 197 at Ohio State.
Another advantage of a rural campus is the feeling of community. “Students feel that it’s home. An analogy one student used is, ‘I feel like everyone here is like me,’” said Bywater.
“There are a number of reasons that would make someone feel they should be afraid at night. There are a lot of ways we can contribute to alleviating someone’s fear,” said Shelow. For this reason, many services are available to students who are uncomfortable with their surroundings. Emergency telephones are placed strategically around campus. Penn State also offers a well-lit environment and heavy police presence.
The escort service, which uses the buddy system to help a student get from one part of campus to another, is a core mission of the department. All students have to do is dial 865-WALK to have an auxiliary officer meet them. “Don’t be afraid to call if you get that gut feeling,” said Bywater. “We’re here to serve you.”
There has been a significant decline in use of the escort service, from about 6,000 escorts a year in the 1990s to less than 300 recently. This decline could be attributed to students already utilizing the buddy system, extended hours of bus access, and cell phones as security precautions.
Although crimes are not frequent, they do happen, and it is important for students to understand how to protect themselves. Bywater believes in the importance of being aware of your surroundings. “In today’s society, no one really talks to each other,” she said, attributing the trend to iPods and texting. “It’s amazing how many kids just walk out in the street, not paying attention to what’s going on around them.” Cell phones can be very useful if the need to call for help should arise, and they are a great line of communication, however; they can also be a distraction.
Students should also be careful about locking doors to prevent theft. Residence halls should be treated like apartments, and rooms should be locked even if the students are only going to the dining commons. Students should not leave belongings unattended in public places, such as the library, even for a minute. Most thefts only occur because the opportunity presents itself.
“I think there’s a layered approach, and most of it has to do with the environment” said Shelow. “Penn State has a rich tradition of being involved in initiatives that lend themselves to safety. When we accept someone into our community and make it their home, we are sensitive to make sure those areas are safe.”
What Does a Penn State Feminist Look Like?
There’s a new group on the block. One that is expressive, tough and a little rough around the edges. If you’re wondering what a Penn State Feminist looks like, no need to look any further than into the faces of a group of students that make up Penn State’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA).
One such face that shines within this group is its president, Jane O’Reilly (junior-comparative literature). This self-pronounced feminist restarted the organization back in September when she realized that the only club representing feminists had been inactive for at least a year.
“I thought it was important that we have a feminist organization. I needed a place to go and I have a lot of energy and ideas,” O’Reilly explained. “The smallest things make a difference.”
FMLA, although small in size, has started to make big waves within the campus community. A pro-choice rally held on October 20, 2009 was a response to the Genocide Awareness Project that came in late September. The rally advocated for female reproductive rights and showed women that there are options and people to support them.
“The biggest problem is reproductive health because no one seems to want to talk about it,” O’Reilly said. “It’s an issue that doesn’t involve men so it became a controversial topic. Women should receive respect and attention about it.”
O’Reilly exhibits a strong will and independence that is true to a natural leader. Her role model, when asked, is her mother.
“I know it’s cliché but she is a woman who fights the everyday battle, the kind of woman I am probably going to become. She shows me that there is nothing wrong with being intelligent, independent and single.”
Although active in college, O’Reilly really just wants to settle down in the future with a husband and children.
“I really want a family, but I also understand the difference between independent and dependent relationships with significant others. Being with a man doesn’t mean being a dependent woman.”
O’Reilly’s activism has reached out to unveil hidden feminists as well as subconscious ideas in others.
“I joined FMLA because I wanted to support my friend [O’Reilly] but then I became interested,” said Elizabeth Short (junior-recreation, parks, tourism management.) “I’ve always been in support of women’s rights but the term ‘feminist’ didn’t have much of a meaning to me.”
Being labeled a feminist can be difficult O’Reilly said. She hears a lot of stories about criticism from her group members.
“The word ‘feminist’ implies a lot. But there is nothing wrong with being gay, ugly or butch,” she explained as she listed off common stereotypes. “I don’t like the terms ‘man-hating’ or ‘female supremacists’ because we also want men to be feminists. And they can be.”
O’Reilly hopes for a bright future for FMLA and Penn State.
“I feel this university has a long way to go in supporting half of their population and I hope in five years they achieve that and organizations like FMLA will not be needed,” O’Reilly said. “But until then I hope FMLA gets more support and I hope people come to Penn State knowing about this group and wanting to make a difference.”
“I don’t like to be told what to do, and I listened to him.”
She had to wear sweatpants so other guys wouldn’t look at her, but she had to wear a miniskirt when she was around him. She couldn’t get her hair cut short. She had to paint her nails orange. If she went out with her college friends, she had to text him every hour. If she didn’t, they would fight for days. Once, he grabbed her hand so hard that it was bruised for a week.
This kind of domestic abuse is not always easily recognizable, but it happens to one in four women in the United States, and the Penn State community is not exempt. The student quoted above, Mary*, stayed with her abuser for a year and a half. “He was the first person that I actually loved,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’ve never felt this close to a guy before.’”
Domestic and sexual violence can happen to any woman of any age, race, or class, but the Family Violence Prevention Fund claims that women between the ages of 20 and 24 are at the greatest risk. Pregnant women are also at a high risk for abuse from a partner because they are particularly vulnerable during that time. Abused women are more likely to develop serious health problems related to depression, panic attacks, migraines, chronic pain and substance abuse or addiction.
The Centre County Women’s Resource Center’s website says that domestic abuse is not a condition or disease but a choice, caused by one person (95 percent of the time, a man) desiring power and control over a significant other. There are many ways in which abuse can present itself in a relationship whether it is emotional, physical, sexual, economic or psychological. The dynamics of the intimate nature, between boyfriends and girlfriends or spouses, affect how often it is resolved or reported.
Some of the reasons a woman will not leave the relationship are financial dependence, a desire to keep the family together, pressure from other members of the family, shame, fear, denial and hope that the abuse will stop.
Mary began to notice a change in her boyfriend’s behavior after two months. “We would constantly have the same arguments because he wouldn’t change when I brought up a problem. Whatever I was mad about was my fault, not his fault. He was so manipulative that by the end of the argument, I was the stupid one,” she said. Things got worse when he was fired from his job and she felt that she had become the only focus of his life. They began spending all of their free time together, and Mary began to neglect her other friendships.
The emotional abuse went on for a while, without anyone realizing it. “I didn’t tell my friends. I knew what they would tell me. For some reason I thought I could change him. I thought if I broke up with him, I’ll never find anyone else,” Mary said. Her boyfriend had bought her a promise ring to eventually get married. “Also, I was scared of what he would do, and I felt like I had alienated my friends and had no one to go to.”
Breaking up with or leaving an abusive partner is not always the end of the mistreatment. Mary eventually broke up with her boyfriend and no longer speaks to him, but many women who decide to leave an abusive relationship are still at risk for abuse. To someone who needs to assert his dominance over his partner, walking out is seen as betrayal; in doing so, a woman is “asking for it.” 73 percent of women who required emergency medical services for domestic violence received their injuries after attempting to leave. The safest way to leave is to have the authorities intervene.
Reporting violence against women has proven unsuccessful, for the most part. Domestic situations are too often seen as “personal” and best left to the couple to resolve, and the threat of police may only provoke the abuser. These preconceptions discourage women from seeking help and maintain the unreasonably high incidences of abuse in the United States.
The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994 and has been reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. The act takes into consideration domestic (defined as marital and/or cohabitating) and dating violence in proposing to enhance judicial and law enforcement tools; improving services, such as medical, housing, and protection services, for victims; and prevention. It will be up for authorization again in 2011. With the federal budget divided between so many government projects, it is important to call attention to the severity of this problem and encourage its place on the forefront of national concerns. Domestic violence is a threat to women’s civil rights.
If you know someone suffering from abuse, provide information about available resources, express concern for her safety, and remind her that it is not her fault. Also, do not hesitate to call 911. The more instances of domestic violence reported, the greater the likelihood that the Violence Against Women Act will be enforced, abusers will be convicted, and women will be safe.
*Name has been changed.
Local Resources for Women:
Dirty SEX Scandals and the Politics Behind Them
It’s nothing new to the American public. A well-respected political figure is caught in an affair. A scandal erupts. He issues an apology, resigns quietly and by that time, another well-respected political figure is caught in an affair.
Rumors came to fruition in the cases of Bill Clinton with an intern, Eliot Spitzer with a call girl, Mark Sanford with an Argentinean mistress, John Edwards with his mistress and their lovechild, among many others. Then there were homosexual extramarital affairs, such as Jim McGreevey, and (allegedly) Larry Craig, which challenged the public to scrutinize their possible marriages of convenience. Some political careers continued, and some crumbled. Some wives divorced their husbands, but most stood behind them.
The theories behind the prevalence of politicians’ extramarital affairs are mostly linked to the reasons one would have an interest in politics: power, a sense of entitlement, and the notion of invincibility. The ability to hire a high-class call girl might be seen as a privilege of their wealth and status. Political success can also lead to narcissism. In their mentality, they received a lot of votes, thus they are well-liked, and likeable people can get away with anything.
Other theories rest on the nature of adultery, political or not: loneliness, stress, and tensions at home. The job requires a lot of traveling and stress, and the convenience of separation and prepaid hotel rooms might be an invitation for cheating. With pressures from the family states or even countries away, an affair on the road may seem like a welcome distraction.
The aspect that hasn’t been able to be explained through numerous speculations is the reason women stay in the marriage. In instances where the politician’s career suffers as a result of his indiscretions, the public usually feels a sense of sympathy towards the woman. Her strength of character is displayed in her choice to stand by her husband and their marriage, but she is still seen as a victim to be pitied. Public sympathy is not doing much in the way of progressing women’s representation in the media, let alone politics.
The perception of women as “victims” of an extramarital affair or in suspected marriages of convenience, where the woman’s sole value is to cover a politician’s closeted homosexuality, furthers the notion of women as a weaker sex. There have been few examples of female politicians confessing to cheating. One was the case of Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage. She was a private citizen in the 1980’s when the affair took place. Political scandals in this sense remain dominated by males, leaving women to be viewed as security blankets or homophobic decoys; in other words, objects.
The weaker sex idea infiltrates all societal dimensions, including politics. It is important to consider how this may have affected the campaign of Hilary Clinton, when competing in the Democratic primaries in 2008. Choosing to stand by her notoriously disloyal husband, Former President Bill Clinton, may have represented her as strong and forgiving, and the fact that she had experience in the White House may have helped her campaign still. However, the fact that she was a woman became a convenient excuse for any expression of emotion. Sadness and anger were no longer displays of concern; they were unwarranted, hormonal outbursts. If she would have been elected, many would have attributed any positive results of her administration to her husband.
This is a dangerous precedent for women in politics. If the media continues to manipulate women as victims of scandal and women continue to stand quietly by while their husband’s arrogant exploits are paraded in front of the press, women will never be seen as confident enough to defend themselves, express reasonable emotions, or hold positions of power. Decisions regarding marriage are private matters, but women are not just objects next to the podium of their husbands’ resignation speeches, either.
Women Entrepreneurs in State College
Photos by Anthony Santiago
Today, females are managing their personal lives along with their business careers. Females are doctors, lawyers, engineers, and judges. They’re working hard and proving the old myth wrong, women can be more than housewives (though we can be that too).
FLY interviewed two local businesswomen, Mrs. Judy Moyer, wbose been in business since 1964, and Ms. Sore- ray, whose been in business for about one year. Both women let FLY inside their world for a couple hours. We discussed some of the struggles they faced as women in business and how they overcome them positively.
Mrs. Judy Moyer and her husband Mr. Gary Moyer work together running Animal kingdom located on S. Allen Street. Animal Kingdom has been in business for close to 15 years and is still going strong. It is filled with plush bears (Gund, Steiff, Mary Meyer, etc), gift cards, and children clothing’s ( Zutano, Heartstrings, Sweet Potato, etc). Animal Kingdom has been known as the “Toys R Us”of State College.
Ms. Sore- ray’s business, The African Market, opened in 2007 on East Beaver Ave. Its African products bring diversity into State College. The African Market has a huge selection of body products for the skin, and a wide variety of cloths imported from Africa.
Q& A with Mrs. Moyer:
Q. What made you want to go into business for yourself?
A. I never thought I would wake up one day and be in business. It was a series of events that happened in my life, with my father-in-law dying my mother-in-law needing people to help run the place. I realized I was good at selling. “I learning how to turn lemons into lemonade,” as they say. I also knew I always wanted to have a family so whatever I did I wanted make sure I would be able to do this as well.
Q. What obstacles did you face as a woman starting your own business?
A. I think as a woman you need to know how to assert yourself. I never really ran into any serious problems with men. You just need to know your job really well. If you know what you are doing it all works out. Neither my husband nor I like when someone tells us we can’t do something. You have to be determined.
Q. What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
A. When people come in and say “this is my favorite store,” it just makes my day. The people that you meet are the most rewarding part of being in your own business. It’s also allows you to be creative.
Q. Any words of wisdom?
A. Always pay yourself first in a business. Some people go into it thinking it’s easy it’s not. First be around other people that know business and learn from them. Then go off on your own.
Q. What made you want to go into business for yourself?
A. I had some ideas I wanted to try out. So I said OK, let’s see if this works. I used to be a missionary, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to get back into the business.
I graduated with a degree in Finance and Economics
Q. What obstacles did you face as a woman starting your own business?
A. Sometimes it feels as though it’s a man’s world and it can be a little hard. Some of the obstacles I face are more as a person rather than a woman. Have confidence and have faith in your ideas. Be able to hear criticism and don’t take it personally.
Q. What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
A. We work with a lot of trade organization and business. I get to meet fun people, and
I receive good advice from people of different backgrounds.
A man just came in and he is sponsoring two Nigerian kids, so it is good to know and I’m helping people in African.
Q. Where do you see yourself in the future (do you see your business expanding, what fresh ideas do you have)?
A. I have lots of ideas, maybe an African café or an African restaurant. Lots of places where we want to go, so it will fun
Q. Any words of wisdom?
A. Just be yourself. Figure out who you are and what you want to do. Just grow from your experience in life.
We live in a world where a person can express their views in many different ways, freely, with no fear of being purged or silenced… or so we think.
Ghada Amer considers herself a hybrid of cultures. Amer is an Egyptian born female that has traveled all over the world since she was a young child. She was born in Cairo, Egypt, lived in France for over twenty years, and currently lives in New York City. She also speaks Arabic fluently.
Traveling and having a father that encouraged an open mind to other cultures has played a great role in Amer’s work. Her use of different languages in her art shows this.
Amer works with embroidery, cartoons, paint, installations, clothing and words. She has even used billboards as her canvas. Embroidery stands out as a common thread in her artwork.
Amer’s work focuses on the liberation of women—physically, mentally, and politically.
She voices the opinions of people from many worlds, mainly those of Egyptian women, along with some of her own political views. Much of her work can be considered an enmeshment of sexuality and tradition.
Amer expresses her interest in female liberty in what many consider extreme ways. Her usage of the naked female body masturbating has been criticized as the work of a male. Her interest in portraying women pleasing themselves, however; says more than just soft-core porn.
It says that the women are reclaiming their bodies and taking back the power that society, politics, and religion have taken from them.
References: Amer, Ghada. KSKC. 2005. Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist ArtFeminist Art Basehttp://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/feminist_art_base/gallery/
Penn State Clubs & Organizations
Leader: Doug Baldwin, firstname.lastname@example.org
USAS has been active at Penn State for the past 8 years. USAS is working to make sure that Penn State clothing is not produced in sweatshops and has made sure to affiliate Penn State with the Worker’s Rights Association. Penn State is not a part of the Designate Supplier Program where independent groups monitor codes of conduct and license agreements to make sure clothing is not being produced in sweatshops. This is what USAS is currently working to get Penn State affiliated with.
“Overall, we want the Penn State University to look a lot better its just the administration is not very supportive,” said Baldwin. “They don’t listen to student groups that they disagree with."
To help USAS with some of their rally’s and other methods of attention grabbing, contact Doug Baldwin with the above email address.
Leader: Clayton Chiles, email@example.com
Meetings: Wednesdays at 8pm in room 373 Willard
The Cycling Club consists of members of various levels and abilities. One of their major events will take place March 29-30 where they will host an intercollegiate race in the downtown area and the surrounding countryside. This date’s significance is also the 5th weekend of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference.
The Cycling Club is also planning a Community 500 where fraternities and sports teams will race to raise charity money.
The Cycling Club is sponsored by Mt. Nittany Wheelworks that provides paying members of cycling club to receive discounts. Members are also allowed to go to Freeze-Thaw Cycles for clinics on how to properly repair bicycles.
Brent DiLella, a member of the Cycling club and engineering major, wants more bike zones downtown and on campus because it would be safer and easier for cyclists.
“Biking around campus is a great idea. Its fast, mostly safe, and very good for the environment,” said DiLella.
Two of the major problems he’s found with biking have been the lack of parking and the incompetence of pedestrians, by which DiLella means “lack of signaling, looking for traffic, or not being courteous to others using the paths or roads,” said DiLella.
For more information on the Cycling Club, contact Clayton Chiles or attend one of the club’s meetings.
Can I Get Some Gay Rights with MY Constitution?!
Homosexuality is a topic deeply rooted in human history. It has lingered in societies and cultures, either as a common and accepted practice, or as a vile, unnatural act worthy of punishment and ridicule. With time, societal views of homosexuality have shifted. In ancient Greek society it was common for men to explore homosexuality. Today, some countries like Iran, think homosexuality is punishable by death.
There is deep religious reasoning that homosexuality is a sin. This has stopped any gay rights protection from being included in the United State’s Constitution.
Homosexuality is moderately accepted in American society. People have become less obligated by religious beliefs and more open to diversity, which allowed homosexuality to become an approved lifestyle by about fifty-seven percent of the population. However, gays are not given the same rights as others. Not until 1994 was sex between two men legal.
The debate over gay rights has focused around the specific issue of gay marriage, a major symbol for social equality. The gay marriage topic arose in Hawaii were denied marriage licenses by the state. In the United States, the only state that has decided to allow gay marriages is Massachusetts. The option of civil unions are similar to marriages except they are strictly legal and remove the element of religion. Only a few states allow civil unions and some states have banned gay marriage altogether.
Under the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people” gay rights is a state issue. States have the authority to designate gay marriage and civil unions as legal or illegal.
The only real legislation made by the national government was in “1995 Congress voted down legislation that would have incorporated sexual preferences into existing employment laws”, and the passing of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 under Bill Clinton. DOMA allowed states to choose to recognize same-sex marriages, which still left the decision up to the states. Clinton also enacted his executive order, 13087, which prohibited discrimination against applicants based on sexual orientation in the civilian workforce. It has been enforced in a handful of states and major cities across the nation.
There is a bill currently being run through Congress known as the Matthew Shepard Act, which aims to add gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the currently acknowledged types of hate crimes.
Another facet of social equality is adoption. Only some states and cities in the United States allow for adoption by gay couples, and the majority of those are the ones that also support civil unions and gay marriages.
The Supreme Court has not held a strong opinion on homosexuality, making rulings seem to favor and oppose homosexuals in different instances. Homosexuals do still have the same rights covered under the Constitution that all other U.S citizens have, but there is nothing explicitly protecting gays from future legislation that states and other political bodies can enforce against them.
Advocates have hosted annual gay pride parades and rallies that are meant to make the country more aware of the gay population and their urge to be considered socially equal to heterosexuals. In the 60's and 70's, there was a more abrasive type of protesting which led to some changes, the most noteworthy of which is the American Psychological Association’s removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Some political advocates, such as Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, have made attempts to change legislation in favor of gay rights. The opposition, however; has been very strong in preventing legislation to pass.
There are strong Conservative opinions opposing the promotion of homosexuality due to religious values. The long-time Republican-controlled Congress has stood in the way of any pro-gay rights attempts to change legislation. The newly Democratic-controlled Congress brings hope for future gay rights changes.
There are many advocates and anti-gay leaders in the United States. Some famous Republican advocates of gay rights include former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani and current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy is another gay rights advocate and has pushed the aforementioned Matthew Shepard Act. Bill Clinton has also passed some previously noted legislation such as his executive order 13087. And extreme view comes from religious activist, Fred Phelps, who has made it known that he is against homosexuals, coining the phrase “God hates fags”. Most Catholic groups are against homosexuals, as well as the Ku Klux Klan and the Boy Scouts of America. As mentioned before, very little legislation has been made by these major advocates on either side; the issue seems to be at a relative stalemate.
Gay rights is now at the forefront of American politics. The United States is in a deadlock; support of homosexual lifestyles appears to be split quite equally. The Constitution does very little to specifically protect the rights of homosexuals yet, there has been a steady increase in the approval of homosexuality in developed societies. Will this trend continue?
Famous Court Cases
1972 Gaylord v. Tacoma School District:
Supreme Court overlooked case in Tacoma where a school teacher of twelve years was fired after being exposed as homosexual to the principal. In not addressing the case, the Supreme Court agreed with the ruling that homosexuals were unfit to teach children because they wer immoral
1986 Bowers v. Hardwick:
Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals had no right to privacy when engaging in Sodomy under the Constitution
1996 Romer v. Evan:
Supreme Court overruled an amendment to the Colorado State Constitution that would have prevented any municipality from taking action to prevent gay citizens from discrimination based on sexual orientation
2000 Boy Scouts of America v. Dale:
Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts of America were protected under the 1st amendment to deny anyone membership based on their sexual orientation
2003 Lawrence v. Texas:
Supreme Court ruled that laws against anal sex or sodomy cannot be made against homosexuals alone. In effect, it repealed the ruling in Sowers v Hardwick.
Does being white in the U.S., a country that has historically been run mostly by white people, have advantages? Today, being born white in American society being born with an array of unearned privileges simply due to color of skin. These privileges were at one time made obvious through segregation and Jim Crow Laws, but have since fallen below the radar of the public eye, embedded within the sociopolitical systems of American Society. Sadly, when it comes to the issue of white privilege, ignorance is bliss.
When I, as a white person, arrived at the truth: that indeed, white privilege does exist—the meritocracy in the equality of our society crumbled beneath me. Suddenly the strides I had made, the successes I had as an individual were not solely a result of my hard work, but rather, in part, a product of a society that is constantly doing me favors, a society that wants me to succeed because I am white.
“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.” – Peggy McIntosh
Is racism just crosses burning on lawns? Is it lynchings? Is it segregation? Is it something in the past? Racism no longer takes the form it did when our parents were growing up but equality has not been restored. Racism now functions on an invisible level of systems that work to privilege those who are, well, white.
In the above quote, Peggy McIntosh—Associate Director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women and specialist on issues of educational equality, diversity, and unearned privilege—speaks about the concealed systems of white privilege, or racism, that give advantages to white people while oppressing minorities that function within American Society today. These advantages are often difficult to spot, and it is this invisibility that allows white privilege to persist.
Does the fact that I was born into an upper middle class family in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia, and not into a working class family the projects of North Philadelphia relate to my race? Is my race part of the reason that I am attending one of the most expensive state universities on my parent’s tab? It may not seem this way, but when we look at the numbers of white individuals versus minority individuals who have the opportunities that I have had, things begin to look suspicious and the true equality of American society is brought into question. When we begin to realize the major, overarching forms of white privilege it opens our eyes to a world of unmerited privileges that are daily occurrences.
For all the white people out there, I have few questions for you that will hopefully show you the reality of white privilege in your life.
Have you ever walked in to a class here at Penn State and found that you were the only person of your race in the entire room?
Have you ever had trouble finding Band-Aids or cover-up that matches your skin tone?
Do you ever find that your race is not represented on television?
More likely than not, the answer to these questions is no. For most minority students the answers may be yes to one or all of these questions. As white Americans, we often take these simple, everyday circumstances for granted. That in itself—the ability to not have to deal with our own race and ignore the fact that we experience white privilege—is also an example of white privilege.
It’s difficult to recognize white privilege. Most white people will live their entire lives in blissful ignorance to it. That’s how these invisible systems work, and continue to work. If everyone were to recognize these systems of racism, the system of equality for which America claims to stand would be broken, and once and for all we, as a society, would have to do something to change things.
In her essay, “White Privilege; Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” Peggy McIntosh makes white privilege visible to the average, blissfully ignorant, white person. Here are a number of examples she lists of the daily effects of white privilege.
“1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
3. Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of my financial reliability.
4. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.
5. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
6. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
7. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
8. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.
9. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.
10. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our households.
11. If I have difficulty getting a loan, I can be sure it is not a reflection on my race.”
The question is, now that you know what white privilege is, and that subsequently the equality preached by America is built upon systems of inequality, what are you going to do about it? It is incredibly important for white individuals to start becoming aware of the way that being white works privileges on a daily basis. The first step is ending the ignorance. Being conscious of ways in which you are experiencing unearned privilege is a step toward ending these systems of racism.
References: McIntosh, Peggy. "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." White Privilege and Male Privilege: a Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies (1990).