Papa’s Day!

I am so lucky to have my Dada supporting me in absolutely everything I aspire to do and be.  I am proud of and excited for his upcoming trip to Toolik Field Station in Alaska!  Follow him here, and check out his video describing his upcoming project (pay special attention to his green screen technology)!

I love you, Dad!

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http://www.papasday.org/

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A different lens on “Shooting by Agents Increase Border Tensions” (NYT 6-11-13)

If you read this article: Shootings by Agents Increase Border Tensions in the New York Times today, please also consider reading Remembering Jose Antonio: Day of the Dead in Nogales from the Border Wars blog.  While I appreciate the NYT’s exposure of fatal shootings at the Border, I was upset to see the NYT open its article by describing, “…rocks hurled from Mexico rained down on United States Border Patrol agents…”

I attended the vigil for Jose Antonio on Day of the Dead when I was in Arizona on the Border Studies Program.  I was able to see, as the Border Wars article describes, the wall on top of the cliff that separated Border Patrol from the site where Jose Antonio was killed.  Whether or not Jose Antonio was throwing rocks at BP agents at the time of his death is a contested detail, and if he was, it is difficult to picture how the rocks could have been “raining down” from Mexico given the geography of the site.

The NYT’s use of this type of description allows the Border Patrol to be seen as the victims of violent and agressive Mexicans.  Border Patrol likes to be seen this way.  This was apparent in my interactions with the Nogales sector of the Border Patrol, who handed us rocks and asked us, “Do you think this would do some damage? Do you think it would hurt?”  But Border Patrol is not the victim in this situation.  They are heavily armed, and their presence creates an environment of fear and intimidation on both sides of the Border.  I hope that this visibility in the New York Times helps end this sort of violence on the Border, but maybe the NYT could invest their time and energy into investigating why this sort of violence is allowed to happen, and why there hasn’t been a single criminal charge of a BP agent since 2010, rather than investing time and energy into crafting sentences that make it sound like the Border Patrol is just barely surviving a hailstorm of boulders.

Mama’s Day

Celebrate all the mamas! Today and every day!

I got sixteen years with my Mama. I miss her, and I wish she could see who I’ve grown to be in the last six years, and meet all the incredible people who have come into my life.

I’m not the only one who wishes she could be with her Mama today.  This year, Strong Families is honoring the realities of millions of mothers and families who don’t mirror the “traditional nuclear family,” and working to celebrate all kinds of families, and ensure they have access to the rights, recognition, and resources.  Most American households don’t consist of a heterosexual married couple with biological children.  Families look differently than that, for all sorts of reasons.  We all have our Mamas, biological or chosen, who have nurtured us, comforted us, and helped us grow.  They all deserve recognition and celebration, and all families deserve the rights, recognition, and resources to thrive.

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There are a lot of other mamas in my life: my grandmothers, my wonderful Auntie, the mamas I worked with at Derechos Humanos in Tucson, the professors who have nurtured my intellectual growth at Vassar, and the mamas who have raised the amazing people I get to call my friends.  I am so lucky to have these amazing women surrounding me, and the memory of my own Mama to carry with me, wherever I go.

Happy Mama’s Day to all!

MET+ET xmas 2001

Morning edition reports on changes in USAID food aid plans, forgets to talk to aid recipients

Well this is interesting.  NPR is reporting today that the US may be planning to cut food aid programs that involve sending millions of pounds of US grown and processed grain overseas to alleviate hunger, and instead food aid will focus on programs that facilitate distribution of food from farmers closer to the areas in need.

Importing US-subsidized grain to alleviate hunger has a long history of driving prices down in the destination countries, and leaving local farmers stuck in a market where they cannot compete.  A new program where food aid came from the same country or region as the place in need seems like a positive step towards a food system where food sovereignty – populations’ autonomy and control over their food production and supply – is possible.

This NPR piece highlights a debate between a US-based humanitarian/global development organization, International Development and Relief, and Oxfam America.  IDR argues that the current system of food aid is saving lives, while Oxfam points out that it is a terribly inefficient system that robs local farmers of competitive markets to sell their crops.  The voices which are blatantly lacking from this piece are the voices of farmers and people who live in Pakistan and Ethiopia and wherever else US AID has “missions” (US AID projects are actually called missions, uncomfortably, but dare I say accurately, replicating the language of colonization).  Perhaps this is unsurprising, because the voices of those most directly affected and living in the places being talked about are so often omitted from the narrative, but it is none the less disappointing.

A Political War Brews Over ‘Food For Peace’ Aid Program

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

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/prerna-lal/how-queer-undocumented_b_2973670.html

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’

and

NYPD Will Now Run Criminal Checks on Domestic Abuse Victims

and

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?