Friday, April 29, 2011

Gender Equity Deception Discovered in Athletic Programs

A New York Times report released earlier this week uncovered the deception of many athletic programs in schools regarding gender equity in sports, distorting the numbers in order to comply with the requirements of Title IX. 

Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in any federally-financed education program, has largely drawn attention to and been labeled as solution for the unequal treatment of male and female athletes. In 1972, when Title IX was passed, there were fewer than 30,000 women participating in college sports, and today there are over 186,000 women a year – an increase in over 500%. 

The report found that some athletic programs are filling their numbers by counting athletes who no longer play on the team, enlisting women as team members who do not participate in the games, or by counting their male players as women.
Other programs are manipulating their numbers by trimming the rosters of mens teams, eliminating mens sports rather than increasing womens in order to reach the standards of gender parity.

An example of roster manipulation comes from the University of South Florida, where in the last academic year, 71 women were reported as members of the school’s cross-country team, yet only 43 students ever ran in a competition. According to the report, double- and triple-counting women has allowed nearly 50 Division I universities to hide the fact that they have fewer female athletes.

Quinnipiac University was sued in a class action lawsuit last August for failing to adhere to Title IX regulations, manipulating numbers in the list of male athletes and replacing the women’s volleyball team with competitive cheerleading in order to build the roster of female athletes.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an Olympic swimmer and the senior director of advocacy at the Women’s Sports Foundation, told The New York Times “The fraud is disheartening. Intercollegiate athletics are rare educational opportunities, subsidized with our tax dollars, which deliver superior lifelong returns on investment. When an athletic department engineers itself to produce only the appearance of fairness, they flout the law and cheat women.” 

Image via Flickr user Ballin' at Da Beach under Creative Commons 3.0

Previously posted on FMF blog 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cal State Long Beach Hosts the 2nd Annual Chicana/Latina Feminisms Conference

Last weekend, I attended an awesome free conference at California State University, Long Beach. With the help of the Gender, Women and Sexualities Studies Student Association, our FMF affiliate group, the Conciencia Femenil hosted the 2nd annual Chicana/Latina Feminisms Conference: Joteando Por Vida! Para Nunca Mas Nos Vuelvan A Borrar! This conference focused on intersectional identities and addressed issues like: sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, heteropatriarchy, transphobia, reproductive justice, access to education, colonization, ableism, and more. The Conciencia Femenil's goal of the conference was to "reclaim our lost stories and tackle our intersectional identities by building bridges in our communities and creating spaces for marginalized voices by entering our voces de joteria to resist our chronic erasure". The conference featured a panel of notable chicana feminists like Maylei Blackwell, Antonia Castañeda, and Dionne Espinoza to name a few.

The history panel was powerful as it told the stories of the Chicano Student Movement and the Chicano Power Movement from people who were there. The first panel laid a foundation to understand the history behind the chican@ movement. Chicana feminists shared their stories of learning to work for social justice in an egalitarian way as they confronted sexism in their fight for workers rights, immigrant rights, and access to education. The panelists shared personal stories about being feminists in a machismo culture; integrating the voices of women and queer folks was a struggle within the movement.

The conference had one too many awesome workshops to choose from that discussed sexuality, media justice, political art, gender based violence, and more. Among the workshops, organizations like Cucci, xQsí (Porque Sí) Magazine, Dignidad Rebelde, and The OC Dream Team were present.

I was able to sit in on an awesome workshop, "Distorted Images, Distorted Lives" with xQsí (Porque Sí) Magazine. The workshop was led by writers from the brand new Latin@ LGBT magazine. The workshop discussed the absence of a queer voice in Chican@/Latin@ culture in media and how to change that through media. One of my favorite moments from this workshop was when Porque writers asked, "Where are the happy queers?" to point to the fact that queer people are almost never portrayed in a positive light. A majority of the queer faces and stories we get in the media are of upper class, white people. Much of the conference focused on issues of erasure and histories that have been silenced; the workshop made me think of the absence of queer voices in Chican@ history. This workshop was one of the few spaces that I've seen a dialogue about intersectional identities as young, chican@, immigrant, trans, poor, bilingual, queers with stories to tell. My mother sat next to me in this workshop and I know we definitely gained solidarity in talking openly about my queer identity as a Chicana person. I was proud that my mom spoke out and sat next to me as many of the attendees shared personal stories of their parents reaction to their coming out. Keep an eye out for the first issues of xQsí (Porque Sí) Magazine!

The second workshop I attended was called "I <3 Queer Doula-ing!". The discussion covered several topics including the history of queer birth, alternative birth options, and DIY gynecology. At the Feminist Majority Foundation, we care A LOT about reproductive justice and individual autonomy, and theres nothing more feminist than having a child through natural birthing methods. Certified sexological bodyworker, doula, and DJ Pati Garcia led the presentation about what it means to be a queer doula. I enjoyed this workshop so much because doulas, especially queer doulas, and queer families are radically challenging the heteropatriachical family structure. I left this workshop with a copy of A New View of A Woman's Body, a zine about DIY gynecology, and a zeal to become a doula.

Apart from the panels, workshops, and discussions, I also met a lot of great people. Check out this interview with CSULB student Gabriel as he talks about why chicana feminism is important to him!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Boston Unite, Take Back the Night!

Guest post by the Boston Take Back the Night Collective [].

With megaphone cries, righteous posters and strong companionship, a group of students in Boston is hoping to pull off their first Take Back the Night march this Saturday.

Take Back the Night is an evening of education and action in protest of sexual violence and assault. It is a rebellion against the fear that many experience when walking alone at night. They will walk for the survivors of sexual assault as well as anyone who has ever felt frightened just by being outside of their home at the “wrong” hour.

The Boston Take Back the Night Collective recognizes that sexual violence is harmful to people of all ages, genders, races and religions and welcomes all survivors and allies to bring their voice and presence. This Boston-wide Take Back the Night rally and march is a time to speak out against sexual assault as a community.

The rally will be taking place on Saturday, April 30, 2011 at 5 pm. It will start out at the Boston Common bandstand, where two members of the Boston Take Back the Night Collective will make a speech regarding the importance of the event.

Participants will then break into smaller speak-outs led by trained facilitators. In these speak-outs, survivors and allies will be able to share their stories and opinions. At sundown, they will lead a march around the Common. Participants will be encouraged to carry a lit candle and shout chants, making sure that others are made aware of their presence and their goal. The march will be led by musicians from Bread and Puppet theater.

After the march, participants are invited to attend a cool down reception in Emerson College's Beard Room. Here, there will be music and information for survivors. For more information on this event, please visit the Facebook event.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Getting Past "Buy Green" on Earth Day

On Earth Day, it’s not uncommon to see “Go Green” posters and signs around town, but it feels like more and more we are seeing this slogan in stores, with “green” products or all kinds being sold everywhere you look.  

Consumerism-masked-as-environmentalism seems to be at an all-time high, where the word green is no longer just a color, but an adjective, a thing, an action, a state of being.  It is fashion, it is household cleaning products, it is home design.  And it is largely being marketed to women. 

This morning’s Early Show told viewers that the best part about Earth Day is green products, and featured the company Ecofabulous, where women can go online to shop for stereotypically gendered products, such as biodegradable dish soap, organic cotton underwear, or ridiculously expensive designer chandeliers made from discarded man-made debris.  You can even enter to win an Eco-mom Home Makeover! So why does it seem like women are doing all the work here in buying “eco” goods?  And is all of this eco-consumerism really going to save the planet?

We tend to gravitate toward the "conscious consumer" solution to environmental degradation because it’s easier. Do I really want to learn about resource exploitation or our destruction of ecosystems and the accompanying extinction of wildlife when I could just buy this cute, non-bleached organic cotton dress and call it a day?  

Consumption of products to save the world is not relegated to the environmental realm.  Oprah and Bono sold us the RED IPod while breast cancer PINK has made it past the pink ribbons and onto our cereal boxes, coffee mugs, and dog collars.

Suddenly, we have it in our heads that we can buy our way out of problems that are much more complex and require much larger solutions than simply buying products of a certain color.  The larger societal focus on consumption tend to obscure the real issues affecting our planet and serves to make a profit for the corporations that see a niche for people with their hearts in the right place.  Maybe it has to do with a general overwhelming feeling of having so little time or power to make any real changes, when changing our buying habits is something easy, accessible, and within reach. 

The problem isn’t the actual purchasing of these things, it’s the fact that it feels at times as if this is the only social justice activism that many of us take part in – ever. It’s that the problems (over-consumption, mass production of goods, corporate greed) have somehow become the solution.  Because the fact is, over-consumption really is a large part of the problem here.  Environmental problems are completely tied to our use of resources, which has increased fourfold in the last 50 years (our population has only doubled, yet our consumer practices have changed dramatically). The world’s richest 500 million people produce 50% of global carbon dioxide emissions compared to the 6% produced by the world’s poorest 3 billion.

It is absolutely imperative that we examine our consumer practices as well as hold corporations accountable for the disastrous effects of production on our environment. We must pressure our government to do so as well; the fines for violating water and air pollution laws are often so small that multi-national corporations are not discouraged to violate them. If we want to use our purchasing power, we should use it against these companies by refusing to buy their products and mounting boycotts against them.

Green consumerism isn’t going away, so it’s time we start to examine and engage in honest conversations about what we as a population can do to make a real difference in the problems affecting our planet today. 

Image via nuttakit /

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Living Within Our Means: Obama Addresses Students at NOVA

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” President Barack Obama began in a speech addressed to students at Northern Virginia Community College on Tuesday.  In a town hall format in the school’s gymnasium, the President spoke about what’s been on everyone’s minds: the current state of the economy and the resulting budget cuts. 

Relating the budget cuts to the financial problems of college students, Obama asked how many students in the room were also on a tight budget, saying that, just like students, they are “looking for change under couch cushions” in order to cut spending without having to cut social programs that are important to us, like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  As these programs are being targeted by Republicans in office, Obama and other Democrats are fighting to maintain and strengthen them, while finding other ways to reduce the deficit.   It was evident that those in the audience were worried about these very social programs, as well as what would be cut instead. 

Although he did not attempt to address anything remotely related to Title X funding cuts or the slashing of abortion funding in the District of Columbia, he did contend that he wanted to hold the wealthy accountable and end the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest in our country when the two-year extension he placed on it last year came to an end.  He also reasoned that we could find savings in the defense budget, that there was room to cut there as well, though did not articulate what specifically within the defense budget and how he would go about it.

“The question isn’t if we should cut; it’s how,” he said, noting that the things he refused to cut spending on are infrastructure, technology research, and education. He argued that education funding for things like Pell grants should go up rather than be cut, and that we should invest in education and the environment, but attempt to use that money more efficiently.  “We must live within our means, while investing in the future,” he said. The applause for comments regarding education and clean energy spanned the room, generating a lot of positive energy in the crowded gym. 

He kept coming back to the budget being a “shared responsibility,” a challenge that we all have to work toward tackling together. “I need your help,” he said. “Hold us accountable. They want to reduce the deficit on your backs, unless you make your voices heard.”  As we have been, we plan to do so in the immediate future and beyond that.  Students have been speaking out about the programs that they want protected. The question is not whether we will voice our opinions, but rather, whether they will listen.  

Say NO to Pesticides!

The Feminist Majority Foundation unites with our union brothers and sisters to demand justice for farm workers!

Nearly three weeks after Cesar E. Chavez's birthday, the United Farm Workers continue to work for the rights of farm workers. Working conditions for farm workers have been historically unsafe, unsanitary, and unacceptable until community and environmental activists stepped in to make a change. For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has allowed the use of a dangerous pesticide called methyl iodide despite concern from activists, scientists, scholars, and farm workers. In order to stop it, we need to act NOW!

Methyl Iodide is a chemical found in pesticides that is known to cause cancer, neurological damage, and late-term miscarriages. This chemical is dangerous to those that work with it and to those that live in neighboring communities. The California Scientific Review Committee, CREDO Action, and the United Farm Workers are among a few of the different forces coming together to stop the use of this dangerous pesticide. In 2007, more than 50 scientists and scholars sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency warning of this hazardous chemical. For years, the $2 billion industry has ignored what scientists have called, "one of the most toxic chemicals on earth." Due to the hard work of activists and a public outcry for an alternative to methyl iodide, the EPA announced that they will reconsider their choice of using the pesticide.

These businesses are affecting our bodies, our health, our environment. Farm workers deserve to work in safe environments and their health should not be a cost of work. Help the United Farm Workers reach their goal of 200,000 signatures by signing their petition.

Picture courtesy of

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Equal Pay Day: Promoting the Rights of ALL Workers

Congratulations women, as of today you have earned as much money as your male counterparts did in the year 2010: it only took you 16 months!  Equal Pay Day takes place on April 12th each year as a way to symbolize the amount of time women must work into the following year to earn the same amount that men earned last year alone. 

The issue of fair pay feels like something we should read about in history books. How can women continue to make 77 cents for every dollar that men make? 

And yet, in celebration of today, the blogosphere is filled with writers arguing that the gender wage gap is a lie. Some argue that it is the women’s choice to engage in jobs that notoriously pay less, that the measurements are skewed, or that women are actually making more than men in this economic recession. I even happened upon this little gem about why there should be an Equal Pay Day for young, single men (incidentally written by a woman).

But these are all arguments to skirt the issue, to blame women for their position, or to diminish the need for action.  These are the facts: at this point, there is not equal pay for equal work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010, women were earning on average 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts were earning.  The National Women’s Law Center calculates this gap to translate into $10,622 less per year in female median earnings.  Because of the economic recession, women have become a larger segment of the workforce, and more and more families rely solely on women’s incomes for survival. The wage gap is damaging as it also further intensifies the feminization of poverty, a term that illustrates the rise in the number of women and female-headed households that live below the poverty line (the poverty rate for female-headed household being almost three times that of male-headed households).

On this day focused on gender inequality, it is important that we also examine how race factors into equal pay, and that we ask the question: which men do we as women want to be equal with?  In 2006, the National Committee on Pay Equity found that while the median annual earnings for white women were 73% of what white men made, black men made 72% and Latino men earned only 57% of what white men were earning.  For women of color, the numbers were even worse: the median annual earnings for black women were 63% and for Latina women only 51% of white men’s salaries for comparable work. 

There is also a direct correlation between age and the gender pay gap; the older the worker, the wider the wage gap between men and women.  While women under 25 on average make 85% of what men their age make, women over 50 earn just 73% of what older men earn in wages. 

Our culture must also revalue the types of work typically occupied by women (which also tend to be the most underpaid), such as teaching, nursing, and child care. The promotion of these fields would help to ensure that women receive the compensation they deserve and would begin to close the wage gap.

We need to reach a point where all work is valued and workers are paid fair wages no matter one’s gender, race, age, or any other arbitrary factor.  Let’s make the future one where we will be able to celebrate Equal Pay Day on the day that it should be: December 31st.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Georgia 7 Standing Up Against Education Ban

Education policy makers in Georgia are attempting to prevent undocumented youth from accessing higher education in this country. The Georgia House introduced Bill 59, a bill that would essentially restrict eligible immigrant youth from applying to some of the top schools in the state.

"The Georgia 7" are a group of undocumented students who came out publicly as undocumented people on April 5th and were arrested and briefly detained for exercising their right to civil disobedience during an action on the Georgia State University campus . The young activists gathered from different states and blocked traffic, representing the barriers they personally face in trying to access opportunities in higher education. The protesters came from similar backgrounds and had the same struggles, many of them were brought to the U.S. at a young age, did well in school, and are academically-eligible to go to college. Currently the ban forces the top five schools in Georgia to prohibit undocumented students from applying because of their legal status.

Viridiana Martinez is one of the "Georgia 7" and stated at the rally, "My community is under attack by legislation that strips people of their humanity, and our human right to education." Viridiana represents the thousands of young students who are undocumented and denied access to higher education because they lack a nine-digit number.

These bans on higher education serve to reinforce inhumane immigration policies that do not reflect a comprehensive framework and further subordinate the immigrant community into the shadows. These policies reduce a person to their legal status and take away their humanity by denying them the most basic right to an education. In regards to those that were released yesterday, it is unclear what will happen next.

Unfortunately, these anti-immigrant legislative proposals seem to be gaining more momentum and the introduction of Arizona"SB 1070" type bills are currently underway in states like Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama.

To take action, sign the petition to take a stand against the Georgia ban! The undocumented youth movement continue to empower themselves through organized actions and fearless determination so please be sure to check out: and . Also for more updates, you can follow DREAM activists on twitter @DREAMAct.

Support our sisters and brothers who are in this fight and be informed!