Listen! ¡Escucha!

Today, undocumented queer organizers continue to organize based on our experiences and the stories of people in our communities. It is by listening to these stories that many of us have come to the conclusion that we need to continue to use creative and unapologetic tactics to stop deportations and to address the abuses and injustices taking place every day in immigration detention centers. Meanwhile, national mainstream organizations continue to push for a path to citizenship that ignores the immediate needs of undocumented immigrants and the record-breaking deportations under the Obama Administration. Perhaps Frank Sharry and DC-based immigration reform groups should stop rewriting history and listen to those directly affected by immigration laws, including undocumented queer immigrants who continue to be at the forefront of the movement.

-Prerna Lal, How Queer Undocumented Youth Built the Immigrant Rights Movement


An Overview of Rape Culture in Three Articles

Articles dominating my corner of the internet today:

CNN Reports On The ‘Promising Future’ of the Steubenville Rapists, Who Are ‘Very Good Students’


NYPD Will Now Run Criminal Checks on Domestic Abuse Victims


Telling a Woman to Get A Gun Is Not Rape Prevention (which is a post linked to a segment in which Sean Hannity* can’t process the idea that we should be teaching people not to rape rather than teaching women to arm themselves to deter their rapists)

The conclusion I reach from the fact that all three of these are converging upon me today is: We have got it ALL WRONG when it comes to ending rape and rape culture.

Today, the media is telling people that the perpetrators of rape are the true victims. It’s telling victims of domestic abuse that they can be even more doubted and victimized if they report their abusers. It’s telling women that if they aren’t armed, their rape is their fault because they should’ve been ready to defend themselves.

If we want to dismantle rape culture and end sexual violence, we need all of these things to happen:

We need a common understanding that victims of rape, sexual assault, and abuse are NEVER at fault for the crimes perpetrated against them.

We must have access to resources for victims of abuse that victim/survivors feel comfortable and safe using.

We have to teach people not to rape rather than trying to create strategies for people to keep from being raped – they don’t work.  The only people who can stop rape are the people who decide not to rape.

We have to get away from the idea that people who perpetrate crimes of sexual violence are anonymous, bad enigmas, who crawl around in underground tunnels until they jump from behind the bushes.  The majority of sexual violence happens between people who already know each other. 

We need to address the parts of our culture that teaches young people, particularly young men, that they are entitled to women’s bodies, and that they don’t have to respect when someone says no, or when someone is too sick or intoxicated to consent.

We need mechanisms to address sexual violence and domestic abuse that both trust and validate victims, and hold perpetrators accountable.

We have a lot of work to do.

Here’s a fourth article that just popped up, which is a really important part of this whole puzzle: if we really want to end a culture of violence and oppression, we have to dismantle the prison industrial complex and stop putting people in cages.

Rape, Cages, and the Steubenville Verdict by Mia McKenzie

It’s not as simple as just throwing people in jail for committing rape.

*whoops – meant Sean Hannity, not Bill O’Reilly

Bechdel Test: College Edition

I want to create a Bechdel Test for my classes.

What the fuck is the Bechdel Test?

The Bechdel Test was created by Alison Bechdel, author of the comic Dykes to Watch Out For. Here’s how it works:

You take a movie – ANY MOVIE – and you ask yourself three questions:

  1. Does the movie have two named, women characters?
  2. Do they have a conversation with each other?
  3. Is the conversation about something other than men?

If you’ve answered yes to all three – congratulations! It passes the Bechdel Test.

Most movies don’t pass the Bechdel Test. This is why I haven’t seen most movies.  I’ve done this with other media, too – I got really fed up with most books when I was in high school because they all only had straight people, and my young lesbian soul was bored with it… but then I found lesbian fiction, and books that weren’t just about high school romance.

Most movies, most books, most everything are about men.

Many of my classes are about men/straight people.  I’m a Women’s Studies major, now, so they’re better than they could be.

But not all of my classes are WMST classes, and some are particularly frustrating.

I call one of my professors – to not-his-face (though he might eventually see this) – “Bro”fessor.  He calls male students “bro” and female students “girl.” He’s trying to be friendly. Instead I want to vomit.  He’s teaching “new new journalism,” and still, on a 13-week syllabus, we’re reading 3 women – and one of those women is interviewing a man.  If you ask me, a HUGE part of the new new journalism (and when we talk about NNJ, we mean journalism in the age of the internet, more or less), is the diversity of voices that can be heard if you’re looking for them.

Here’s my Bechdel Test for a syllabus and classroom:

  1. Are AT LEAST 40% of the readings by women or queer people? Are at least some of those readings from non-male-dominated sources?  (I say 40% here because we have to be honest with ourselves about the fact that women haven’t been prominent in academia for nearly as long as men, and there is just less out there by women at this point. This can change, though, and this 40% would ideally be with the vision for larger numbers in the future.)
  2. Are those women/queer writers, and the subjects they discuss, included as valid voices and topics, not just as asides saying, “This is what the women are talking about” ?
  3. Does the professor treat the women and gender-non-conforming students in the class with the same respect and attention as s/he does the men?

Oppression by omission is common throughout curricula.  Inclusion of female voices, queer voices, voices of color, disabled people’s voices, and the voices of other historically marginalized and disenfranchised groups is too often about tokenizing and including “diverse perspectives” to complement white male voices.

What do you think of my Bechdel Test for Syllabus and Classroom? Brofessor, do you want to talk?