Monday, May 23, 2011

We've Got a New Blog!

Good news campus blog readers – we’ve got our new blog site up and running! Our posts here ( begin with 2011, but if you’re looking for an older post you can still find them on our old blog (

We’re excited to have this new space for our campus feminist activist blog posts. We’ll be posting a lot this summer so come and visit us often – and if you’re fighting the feminist fight over the summer, let us know what you’re up to, we’d love to have you write a guest post!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Happy CEDAW Mother's Day!

This is a guest post by Students for CEDAW co-founders Lara Yeo & Alex Hayes. For more information find them on Facebook or email them at studentsforcedaw[at]

President Carter signed the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1980. Today, the United States (US) remains one of seven countries – alongside Iran, Nauru, Sudan, Somalia, Palau, and Tonga – that has yet to ratify the Convention. The failure of the US to ratify a UN treaty is not unprecedented. In fact the United States has a history of not ratifying the majority of UN treaties, including the nine core human rights tools of which CEDAW is one.

Such a failure, however, is no cause for complacency. CEDAW matters. The American ratification of CEDAW has been decades in waiting and in such time the global relevance and importance of CEDAW has increased. Reports, statistics, and news articles on CEDAW abound, and the overwhelming conclusion is positive. CEDAW is the single most comprehensive human rights tool that outlines the full spectrum of women’s equal rights. It has also proved practical, translating into concrete change, be it legal, political, social, or cultural, in countries all over the world.

The US has not forgotten CEDAW, as is has proven itself pivotal in bringing about landmark change for the betterment of women and girls all over the world. CEDAW passed through the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1994 and again in 2002, both times never making it to a vote in Senate Treaty No. 96-53. November 2010, marked the first time CEDAW had a Senate hearing scheduled in eight years. The witness testimony one can read online shows resounding American support for CEDAW. President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, and Senator Boxer, to name a few of the many CEDAW supporters in the Administration and Congress, have been public CEDAW advocates.

CEDAW matters in advancing the full recognition and protection of women’s and girls’ human rights. This has been recognized by the current Administration and select members of Congress, and so what about you?

Senator Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), has yet to schedule a SFRC hearing on CEDAW. The scheduling of a SFRC hearing would allow for CEDAW to come up for a vote in the SFRC, bringing it one step closer to ratification. We need an SFRC hearing on CEDAW now, as the longer CEDAW remains invisible without a hearing the less likely is its passage this congressional session.

What you can do as a belated Mother’s Day gift is to share CEDAW:

  • SIGN THE PETITION calling for CEDAW to be ratified in the United States.
  • Learn more about CEDAW at the CEDAW Taskforce website
  • Don’t let this be the last time you think about CEDAW today. Read about it, talk about it, write about it, blog about it!
  • If you are a student, visit “CEDAW: Students for U.S. Ratification,” on Facebook and learn about what other students are doing to raise awareness about CEDAW in their communities.

CEDAW matters and Mother’s Day is an occasion to remember that and to act on behalf of the all the women and girls in your life by calling for CEDAW ratification in the US!

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!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rally in Solidarity on April 7th for Title X

This is a guest post from Chloe Kessinger, Project and Design Coordinator with the Center for Gender Equity at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR. She writes about the actions her school is taking on April 7th against Title X cuts and invites other groups to do the same. They are planning a die-in to symbolize the the unacceptable number of preventable pregnancy related complications that occur every minute of every day and to highlight the importance of family planning funding. This is a great example of an action you too organize on your campus to participate in our Don’t Be Fooled by Fake Clinics Week of Action and show solidarity with the National Day of Action for Title X on April 7th as well as participating in our Birth Control Access Campaign

The elimination of Title X will cut funding not only for 900 Planned Parenthood clinics in the country, but also 4,500 other family planning clinics that utilize Title X funding to serve low-income women and men in their communities.

On April 7th there is going to be a rally in Washington D.C. to stand against the proposed elimination of Title X, but many students cannot afford to fly out and join the fight, so the Center for Gender Equity at Pacific University intends to bring the fight to local students.

On April 7th the Center for Gender Equity (CGE) will be gathering students in the University Center at Pacific University to 'drop dead' between the hours of 12 and 1 pm. This demonstration is
to raise awareness for the need of Title X funding through representing the statistic of one woman in the world dies every 60 seconds from a preventable pregnancy related complication. One student will be 'dropping dead' every 60 seconds so at the end of the hour the University Center will be full of 'dead' bodies.’ If Title X funding is taken away, and Planned Parenthood and independent women’s health clinics serving low-income women are stripped of federal funding for family planning, many more women will face these unnecessary complications.

We will also be tabling with pamphlets of information on Planned Parenthood and the value of all family planning clinics, as well as having laptops open to the website where students can sign a petition in support of Planned Parenthood. We will be encouraging people to wear pink in solidarity with Planned Parenthood.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, "The Title X Family Planning program was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families."

Last month, the House voted to completely eliminate the 40 year-old Title X Program.
Current news on the situation is that the proposal of the House was rejected by the Senate and sent back to the house for revisions. No matter what the revisions are they will be UNACCEPTABLE to both the young women of this nation and all other people who seek help from family planning clinics. No cuts are acceptable to family planning. By cutting family planning in any way the young poor people of our nation will be made to suffer more then they already are. We need to stand up with all those protesting at the White House on April 7th to show our support for Title X funding and the Planned Parenthood Organization and all women’s health care providers.

The CGE would like to invite any and all other schools and student led organizations to participate on April 7th in some way. Wearing pink, and handing out information is a good way to start spreading the word on the vital importance of organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

American University Students Rally for Sexual Assault Prevention and Support

Guest Post by American University Student Nicole Wisler

Since June of 2010, American University students and administrators have been working on a grant application that, if accepted by the Department of Justice, would provide $300,000 to go towards resources for preventing sexual assault and supporting survivors. Seventeen campus offices, three community organizers, and the entire undergraduate senate approved this grant and all of its provisions.

Part of the proposal provided for mandatory sexual assault prevention trainings for all new students. Students would have multiple opportunities throughout their first semester to complete the training. If they failed to complete the training by the end of this period, a stop would be placed on their registration until they fulfilled the requirement.

Although this enforcement is required by the DOJ for grant approval, Vice President of the Office of Campus Life, Dr. Gail Hanson took issue with mandating educational programming (because that’s not what college is all about, or anything), and refused to sign the grant. According to committee members and students Quinn Pregliasco and Leigh Ellis, Hanson had expressed concerns over the stops in October, but had given her approval and urged the committee to move forward. Her refusal to let the proposal go forward came just days before the application deadline (March 31st).

As an American University student and a survivor of sexual assault, this is a crushing blow. It seems as though Dr. Hanson is valuing the comfort of some students, those who do not wish to complete the training, over the safety of others.

I am encouraged by the support our community has demonstrated in the wake of this news. Last night, around 50 students met to discuss the situation. Hanson attended the event and continued to discourage students, stating that there was no way she would change her mind on the grant.

Our community refuses to let the administration sidestep the issue and avoid acknowledging what we all know: sexual assault is real, it happens frequently, and students need advocates. We have decided to continue pushing for resources and programming on sexual violence, regardless of whether this grant application goes through.

Tomorrow, at 11am, students will assemble for a rally on the main quad to demonstrate their frustration and solidarity. Students and D.C. residents are encouraged to attend wearing black and holding signs. You can find information about the event on our Facebook page.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"WAM! It Yourself"

The campus team urges you to check out the Women, Action, and the Media conferences happening across the country this weekend. These "WAM! It Yourself" conferences aim to raise awareness about sexism in media and promote action on gender justice in the media. WAM's vision, and the goal of the conference is to attain, "Gender equity in media access, representation, employment and ownership — and a world in which a just media is considered essential to a just society."

The conference will be led by activists, educators, journalists, and media-makers, giving attendees some insight on why gender justice in the media is so crucial. With technology quickly changing and evolving, media in all its forms has become an important tool for activism, education, and entertainment. The conference will touch on important issues dealing with intersectional identities, body image, beauty, online media, and much much more. The conference will give a second look at the pervading messages media gives us and stress the importance of having a diverse, inclusive, and real representation of gender. Check out this video!

Why Gender Justice in Media Matters from Jaclyn Friedman on Vimeo.

WAM! It Yourself is happening in Los Angeles this weekend at Santa Monica College and the West Coast Campus Team will be tabling at the event on Friday. On Saturday, our colleagues at Ms. magazine are hosting a workshop about feminist online media and giving their reflections on the first year of the Ms. magazine Blog.

The conference will have video presentations, lectures, workshops, a poetry slam, discussions, presentations, and lots of information that will keep your feminist heart beating.

To attend WAM! It Yourself in Los Angeles, be sure to RSVP on the Facebook event page. Be sure to check out the WAM! website and Myspace for more information on other locations.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Year Later: Feminists Stand By the Affordable Care Act

On the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we see that the fight for quality, affordable care has not yet been achieved.  This essential piece of health care reform legislation in 2010 sought to end abuses by the insurance industry and extend health care coverage for all Americans.  We all remember the right-wing campaigns to spread fear in the year leading up to (still waiting for those death panels…). The House majority continues efforts to undermine the Act by trying to eliminate funding, challenging it in court, and continuing to promote lies to the public in an attempt to push for its repeal in 2013.

It is as important now as it was a year ago for us to stand with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), though many women’s rights advocates strongly disagreed with some of the provisions related to reproductive rights – the Act maintained the Hyde Amendment’s restrictions on abortion funding, extending them to newly created health insurance exchanges, making abortion less accessible and affordable in the process.  The ACA has produced the largest gains for women’s health since Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law 45 years ago.

When the Act’s full provisions take effect in 2014, it will make incredible headway in promoting gender equality in healthcare by ensuring that women can not be charged higher premiums, nor will they be denied coverage due to pregnancy or other gender-based discriminations often considered to be pre-existing conditions.

These health reforms are imperative for women, as currently nearly half of all low-income women are uninsured and more than half of all women report delaying needed care because of cost. Women are routinely charged higher premiums than men; according to, a healthy 22-year old woman can be charged premiums 150% higher than a 22-year old man.  The Act also allows young people to stay on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26 and provides steady funding for comprehensive sex education and teen pregnancy prevention.

This year, the Act requires that new insurance plans cover prevention and wellness benefits, as well as preventive services, including mammograms, cancer screenings, and annual physicals.  Because of the Act’s committed support for reproductive health and family planning, an effort by various women’s health organizations is underway to include birth control under preventive services.  We expect to see contraceptives covered and provided under the ACA, despite criticism from the Right.

Today, there is a concerted effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Last month, the House passed a continuing resolution that would defund key parts of the ACA, particularly those affecting women.  Though they claim it is an attempt to reduce the federal deficit, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the ACA will actually reduce the deficit by over $210 billion in just the first decade. Although it does not defeat all of the barriers to comprehensive health care for women, the Affordable Care Act takes us one step closer to making health care for women more accessible and affordable. All women stand to gain from these upcoming changes, and it is imperative that we as feminists not only recognize but celebrate its one year anniversary.  Our bodies, our lives!

NYFLC 2011 Recap by Marysa Falk

Cross-posted from the Women's Writes Blog on Marysa Falk is from the University of Nevada, Reno, and attended our National Young Feminist Leadership Conference this past weekend.

On March 12th and 13th I had the privilege of attending the seventh annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., which is sponsored by the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Best. conference. ever. Photo courtesy of Marysa Falk.

I was fortunate enough to network with young feminists (both men and women) from all over the country who are working hard at their campuses and in their communities to advance equality.

For the first time in my life I was completely surrounded by others who, despite our geographical differences, were just like me. They were just as passionate and aggressive for issues like affordable and accessible birth control, equal pay and pro-choice.

One thing that was thoroughly emphasized throughout the weekend and is also an issue I strongly believe in and advocate for is that we need more women in leadership and political positions.

In order for women to get elected to political positions or promoted to leaders of companies, they need to develop their skills at an early age. It’s critical that we encourage young women in high school and college to run for student government.

During elections there is always one winner and one loser. Women are less likely than men to run again even after they’ve lost. For example, Casey Steitler, President-Elect of ASUN ran last year and lost but he didn’t let that faze him. He kept very active in ASUN and ran again for president and ultimately won.

We need to make sure women don’t feel defeated or worthless and can pick themselves up and try again just like Mr. Stietler.

The conference opened with a panel of pioneers and heroines of the second and third-wave (First: Get the vote Second: Get the choice Third: Modern inequities) feminist movements: Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, National Organization of Women President Terry O’Neill, the chief of staff to the First Lady and the Director of the Committee on the Status of Women and Girls Tina Tchen.

These women have paved the road for the next generation of feminists to take over the steering wheel. While their fight will never cease to exist, it’s up to our generation of women and men to continue the fight for an equitable society.

Another panel of women who specialize on international women’s rights and health reminded us that it is our generation leading the revolutions in the Middle-East and that women, despite their lack of publicity, are leading the way.

In fact, last year, male Iranians wore scarves in solidarity with Muslim women during Iran’s revolt against their dictator. Middle Eastern women are leading the movement everyday; they’re risking imprisonment and their lives to speak out for freedom.

Closing the conference Sunday evening was Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis speaking to a room with more than 500 feminists. She is the first Latina appointee in a president’s cabinet and works everyday for sex and racial equality in the labor force.

“Women, no matter how highly educated are, are still discriminated against,” Solis warned.

The NYFLC inspired me beyond words. I heard first hand from international and American feminists what they are doing to advance women’s rights.

My favorite line from the conference was during the general assembly by Ellie Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, regarding President Obama. I volunteered on the campaign to elect Barack Obama for nearly eighteen months. I always believed he would be elected and I remain a strong supporter and advocate of the president’s policies and goals.

I sat in the front row, directly in front of Ellie and sensed she was talking directly to me as she proclaimed, “You are the generation that gave America its first African American president. You will be the generation to lead a revolution.”