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One week after the Women’s March: what now?

Author:
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It’s been 1 week since the Women’s March where millions of people stood against Trump, and perhaps more importantly stood in solidarity with each other against what Trump stands for. One week on, we reflect on some of our experiences of the march, and some of our hopes for the future…
Awakening to the news that the women’s march was the largest protest in U.S history made me speechless. Awakening to the news that an estimated 2.9 million marched in the country surprised me. As someone who avoided the inauguration because I believe that this country was in a hopeless state, I found myself in an unexpected state of optimism. Seeing so many committed to women’s rights was uplifting. Moving forward, I hope that women of all identities will not only continue to fight for the rights of women, but also fight women from minority races, the LGBTQ community, the Muslim community, and more. I hope that a stronger and larger coalition of women forms in years to come. I hope that more female politicians specifically those in the white house and females in positions of power push an agenda that protects the rights of women in collaboration with the millions of citizens who want the rights of women protected.

– Maram Elnagheeb

Last week I marched in a loving community of 500,000 people, which now seems like a drop in the bucket of over 4 million people worldwide. We marched not just in opposition to the inauguration of a President, but in protest of the unequal treatment of women worldwide who are standing up to say, “We have had enough.” It was one of the single greatest moments of my life because for the first time I know I’m not alone. There are millions of women and we are fighting together regardless of race, gender, sexuality, citizenship status,and physical or mental ability status. When you cut one of us, we all bleed and we are refusing to bleed anymore. We sent a clear message to political leaders across the world, we are here, we are loud, we are energized and we will not go away. The war on women has gone on for far too long, we are prepared to stand up until we are all equal. Stand up and rise we will.

– Christiana Paradis, Washington DC march

The Women’s March was the biggest I’ve been on in my life, and I’ve been on a lot of marches. From the sheer scale of things it’s obvious that Trump’s presidency has really upset and terrified a lot of people, even over here in the UK. I think it’s important that we don’t stop with the march – that we continue to show solidarity with women and oppressed groups worldwide, now and in the future. Marching is great – but what now? It’s important we take action to support others, and keep resisting.

– Yas Necati, London March

Book Review: My Daughter’s Army

Author:
mydaughtersarmy

By Christiana Paradis

I just finished reading My Daughter’s Army by Greg Hogben and the moment I put it down my heart was pounding—I just wanted more! It’s honestly taken me several days to fully put all of my thoughts about this book together and write the review that it deserves. The book follows Adam Goodwin, an attorney, who finds a baby abandoned in a train station. Goodwin goes on to adopt and single parent the child, Sera. As she ages Sera becomes an international advocate for women’s equality and her dad remains her number one supporter through it all. Here’s a quick run-down of a few of the reasons why I loved it and why feisty feminists everywhere will want to snag a copy!

  • Hooray for representations of healthy masculinity! This book is told from the perspective of Adam Goodwin, who is a father raising a sweet, caring, and loving daughter who will stop at nothing to improve the lives of women around the world. In presenting the book like this, it highlights the topic of single fatherhood, which is often overlooked. Adam finds Sera abandoned at a train station and takes on the responsibility of raising her along with his brother and three female neighbors. Additionally, Adam’s character never hesitates to express the true love that a father possesses for his daughter. We hear so much about the problems of toxic hypermasculinity and the ways in which it works to stifle male emotion. This book does the opposite. It presents the true beauty of healthy masculinity and particularly this father’s never-ending duty to support his daughter in any way that he can to help her achieve her mission.
  • Not another gay tragedy! Adam Goodwin is a gay single father. The way in which his sexuality is referred to is monumental for two reasons. First, Adam’s sexuality is not the main focus of the book, in fact it is only mentioned in reference to the loss of his partner. Thus, his character’s sexuality is presented just as normally as any other heterosexual character. Often when LGBTQ+ characters are included their sexual identity becomes their only. To the contrary, My Daughter’s Army presents sexuality as any other qualifying distinction and moves on. It was a breath of fresh air to see the normalization of an LGTBQ+ sexuality. Secondly, despite several upsets the character endures throughout the book, his sexuality is never a point of tragedy. Often LGBTQ+ characters endure tragic fates or are continually presented in stereotypical depictions. In this work, Adam’s sexuality is not a cause for depression or sadness, but rather just a piece of the character that is presented in a positive and empowering light, which is a drastic change from most novels.
  • Feminism and Faith. Towards the middle to the end of the book religious connotations begin to make an appearance. (I hate spoilers so I will not tell you how or why.) At first, I was a little reluctant to this addition; however, it is integrated into the text in a way that the reader doesn’t feel forced into understanding or accepting the character’s religion in order to enjoy the work. The religion is presented mostly as non-denominational with Christian undertones. Additionally, once I had finished the book and reflected on it I actually realized that this integration helps reconcile some ever persisting ideas that feminism and LGBTQ+ issues automatically clash with ideas of religion. It was wonderful (even if you don’t have any particular religious affiliation) to see the integration of these two spheres of thought, coming together in a mainstream title.
  • The US isn’t the center of the universe—International Feminist Representation and Inclusion! One of my favorite things about this book is that it integrates international feminist and women’s issues. It tackles everything from human trafficking to honor killings and it presents them in a way that is raw and real; yet takes into account cultural implications for the communities in which they are taking place. Often feminist works tend to stick to one particular issue or present third wave feminist issues only on a national level, this book goes above and beyond to include women’s issues on an international scale. THANK YOU!
  • Powered By Girl! But finally–my absolute favorite thing about this book is that it highlights the amazing accomplishments that internet activism can have and it is entirely powered by girl! This book is a homage to all social justice activists working in the field and behind computer screens to make a difference in the lives of women around the world. It presents how internet activism can make a difference, but also encourage real action offline. The accomplishments and implications of Sera’s work throughout the text are a true testament to the work of feminist organizations like PBG and others around the globe. Sometimes work in this movement can be exhausting—this book put into perspective that we are making a difference and each day at a time, little-by-little, the world is becoming a better and safer place for women.

Please consider purchasing and reading My Daughter’s Army. You will not be disappointed!

How “Love Actually” Taught Me To Check My Privilege

Author:

By Christiana Paradis

In light of the recent outbreak of racial tensions in the United States—I say outbreak with a grain of salt because I firmly believe these tensions have always existed in the history of the US, but have just been pushed aside the last several years—I questioned how best to support the African American community in the United States. As a white American it outrages me that, “While African Americans comprise 13% of the US population and 14% of monthly drug users they are 37% of the people arrested for drug offenses” – according to 2009 Congressional testimony by Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project, and that, The U.S. Sentencing Commission reported in March 2010 that “in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10% longer than white offenders for the same crimes,” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-quigley/fourteen-examples-of-raci_b_658947.html) or that, “Black women are almost three times as likely to experience death as a result of DV/IPV than White women. And while Black women only make up 8% of the population, 22% of homicides that result from DV/IPV happen to Black Women and 29% of all victimized women, making it one of the leading causes of death for Black women ages 15 to 35” (http://time.com/3313343/ray-rice-black-women-domestic-violence/). Yet I know that these facts can only anger and outrage me a quarter of the amount that they enrage people in the African American community, because despite being able to spit these statistics, I do not live this experience. I do not know what it means to be an African American woman living in the United States and I’m not going to pretend to, but I do believe that I need to do whatever I can to support them and anyone else that is living in a community that is not experiencing equal treatment in the US.

Growing up in a town that is 91.7% made up of Caucasian citizens (US Census Bureau, 2010), I was never Untitledsurrounded by a shortage of white people and though I was always taught to respect people of different cultures than my own. The opportunity to experience some of these cultures was minimum and the opportunities to check my privilege were even less. Therefore, it came as a huge surprise that one of the first situations I encountered that shattered my white lenses came while watching a Christmas movie, Love Actually, in 2004.

One of the main plotlines in the movie is that Daniel, played by Liam Neeson, has a stepson, Sam, who falls in love with a classmate, Joanna, and in an attempt to win her heart learns to play the drums for their school Christmas Show. The entire movie with intertwining plot lines leaves in you in suspense of meeting Joanna until the very end of the movie. Throughout the movie you must make conjectures about who Joanna is, what she looks like, and of course whether she actually likes Sam. In one of the last few scenes in the movie we are introduced to Joanna while she performs “All I Want for Christmas” at the Christmas Show, while Sam plays drums.

I remember watching the movie in anticipation for the first time to see Joanna and remembered being floored when Joanna was a different race than Sam. Though I didn’t have a problem with it, she was just different than I expected. Then I remember thinking, why is she different than I was expecting? Because she wasn’t white? Why did I think that? That is not okay! I’ve had a few moments like this throughout my life, where I’ve had an immediate judgment, had to backtrack and then question where that thought came from or what was encouraging this stereotype/bias/judgment. In the years since I’ve realized we all make judgments about others, it is what we do with those judgments that determines who we are as a person. Do we make these judgments, let them fester and then act upon them or do we question where they came from and challenge them? Our actions in these moments determine whether we check our privileges or enhance them.

Untitled1Being an aspiring ally to any community that is different than you takes work. It is an ongoing process. You can’t just take a webinar and – poof! – consider yourself an ally to that community. You must be constantly working to improve the lives of others around you. You must make advocacy a daily routine. You must challenge micro aggressions that you hear. It is a process and quite frankly sometimes an exhausting one, but one that needs to be done. Recognizing your privilege is important, using your privilege for good and to help the lives of others is even better. This video is a stunning example of the ways in which we can use our privilege to enhance the lives of others and act as an aspiring ally

I encourage everyone in a place of privilege to question it and the judgments we make every day. Use it to improve the lives of others and above all speak up! Please don’t just sit by while millions of people fight for their rights. #BlackLivesMatter #Everywhere.

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I Knew Taylor Swift Was Trouble When She Walked In

Author:

By Christiana Paradis

It’s never been a secret: I dislike Taylor Swift. Unfortunately, in a world where it appears everyone loves her, I for the most part, keep quiet because it really isn’t worth the fight. However, her latest video, which was brought to my attention by a wonderful friend, has infuriated me to the point where I need to say something. And “haters gonna hate, hate, hate” about that — and quite frankly I don’t care.

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Regularly in the media domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault is presented and normalized (Has anyone seen the new Maroon 5 video?). It is seen more as a given and normalcy in our society than an atrocity.

Often when this happens we see a male perpetrator of domestic violence and a female victim. Working in the domestic violence field, very rarely do we talk about female perpetrators and male victims because our statistics don’t support that it happens very often. 85% of domestic violence victims are women (Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003). But it is important to remember that statistics are only as good as what is reported and quite often, cases of domestic violence against men, when the perpetrator is female, are not reported. The reason for this is simple: gender stereotypes are still very prevalent in our society. Not many men feel comfortable reporting to the police, hospital or domestic violence shelter saying “my significant other hit me,” because to say that is presumed emasculating.

This has to stop. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence and anyone can be a perpetrator. We need a society where everyone feels safe to report regardless of gender.

The same as domestic violence against women has become normalized in the media, domestic violence against men has become comical. (Remember the social experiment of domestic violence of men versus women in public?) Taylor Swift’s new video for “Blank Space” is no different.

The video begins depicting a very common theme in domestic violence relationships – the honeymoon phase – where everything is wonderful and the person expresses a lot of love early on in the relationship. In this video the victim has found Princess Charming, aka Taylor Swift. However, this relationship quickly turns unhealthy as some domestic violence relationships do when a perpetrator may accuse a victim of cheating with little to no evidence. This is apparent in the video when Taylor sees Sean texting someone else and automatically assumes it is another female. She even expresses this excessive jealousy as she screams (emotional abuse), hits, and pushes (physical abuse) Sean in fury. We then see Taylor throw his cell phone in a fountain, cut up his clothing, and destroy his car — all things that are done to intimidate, threaten, and embarrass the victim. Frequently working in the field of domestic violence, I see cell phones are destroyed because it makes it impossible for the victim to call for help and destroying property in an effort to threaten and terrorize the victim are signs of further emotional abuse.

Taylor’s messed up world and perceptions are evident not only in this video, but in the song lyrics themselves —“boys only love it if it’s torture.” First, this statement is extremely emasculating towards men; similarly to when men call all women girls, in an attempt to infantilize us. This statement emasculates all men into boys and makes a sweeping judgment about what men like and don’t like. Let me clear this up for you, Taylor. NO ONE likes torture. NO ONE likes to be made to feel less of a person by another person, no matter what your gender identify. Maybe I am over rationalizing? You were just trying to make a statement about men liking relationships that are difficult. Guess what? I still don’t buy it. What frustrates me further is that this video came from someone who recently proclaimed to the world that she was a feminist. Perhaps I should explain that feminism is about gender equality. We do not achieve gender equality by emasculating men, but thank you for furthering that stereotype.

We see the cycle begin all over again at the end of the video as a new victim comes to Taylor. I don’t care if you’re Taylor Swift or a person just sitting at home on their computer watching Taylor Swift, we need to stop presenting domestic violence against men as funny or less serious than violence against women. Violence against anyone is not okay.

Drops of Hope

Author:

By Christiana Paradis

Being a third wave feminist can be draining. For days on end you work tirelessly to effect change or alter gender stereotypes only to be cheered on by the same 15-20 feminists that continue to read your blogs or share your posts on various social media sites, but you rarely reach a wider audience. It becomes downright excruciatingly exhausting some days, and the more exhausted you get, the angrier you get. You stay up late at night and question: Why don’t other people care about these things? Why don’t my OWN female friends care about these things? Is everyone crazy or just me? HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO EXPLAIN THAT SEX AND GENDER ARE NOT. THE. SAME. THING!?!?!

Over the last couple of months I’ve felt this anger more than I should, but every now and then something happens, something remarkable. Maybe it’s something big or small depending on who you are or where you are in the world. This something for me this past week was the release of Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens due to an additional video surfacing regarding a previous domestic violence issue. Why was this so remarkable, you may ask?

Back when I was a wee blogger at PBG, around 3 years ago to be exact, I wrote a blog about the ways in which the National Football League (NFL) continuously downplayed domestic violence and sexual assault allegations. At the time I cited a recent murder-suicide of a Kansas City Chief’s player, the sexual harassment of a female NFL reporter, and the recent domestic violence allegations of a Miami Dolphins player. I was disgusted that despite different teams calling out the behavior, there was no general outcry or any official statements made by the NFL, and as a result this invalidated and dismissed female football fans. Once a boys club always a boys club, right?

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Fast forward to 2014: In February Ray Rice was seen dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator, the NFL decided to suspend Rice for two games and the Baltimore Ravens took no additional actions regarding Rice’s behavior. All of a sudden public outcry begins and memes pop up all over social media sites questioning a yearlong suspension for marijuana use vs. a two game suspension for domestic violence.

Feeling pressured the NFL decided to determine new sanctions for players accused of domestic violence. These new sanctions include a 6 month suspension for a first offense and banned for life for a second offense. Additionally, after a second video emerged from the February incident involving Rice, the NFL decided to ban Ray Rice indefinitely and the Baltimore Ravens made a decision to release him. Though some of these changes came much later than I would have preferred, the fact that teenagers, men, women, and current and/or former NFL players stood up together and challenged the NFL regarding this issue, exhibits remarkable change in opinion and culture. Three years ago a murder-suicide ignited little outrage, but today a two game suspension for domestic violence created a fire storm. That is change. It is a change so big that it forced an organization as large and powerful as the NFL to act, and that gives me hope.

It means that as a society we have become much more educated and more aware of the many implications of domestic violence, it means as bystanders we will not allow this behavior to continue to exist and be rewarded. It means that though we can’t always see it on a daily basis, things are changing and standing together we continue to be drops of hope in a very large bucket that is defining the third wave feminist movement.

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