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Preventing Sexual Assault


By Erika Davidoff

Trigger Warning

Jezebel recently featured a great article compiling ad campaigns on rape prevention from police departments across the world. Though some of them have messages that accurately blame rapists for rape, like Canada’s “Don’t Be That Guy” series and Scotland’s “This Is Not an Invitation to Rape Me” campaign and website, an alarming amount still imply that it’s women’s responsibility to prevent rape by not drinking too much . While it’s perfectly reasonable for police to launch campaigns warning citizens about the dangers of drinking and impaired judgment during a season where alcohol is particularly plentiful, it’s unfortunate that this message is tainted by victim-blaming and misconception when it comes to rape.

These campaigns also reminded me about the messages regarding sexual assault that are disseminated across my college campus. This was the first year that my school required all incoming freshmen to take an online course on sexual assault, and though I’m not sure what the class told men, I know my women-only section was full of advice on how to avoid rape and prevent dangerous situations from happening. Flyers advertising defence courses for women—often specifically rape defence courses—are also prevalent on campus. I’m not against any of these measures and I think it’s important that women (and men!) watch out for themselves and their friends, especially when alcohol is involved. But it’s unfortunate that on campus I am so frequently reminded of our culture’s general opinion regarding rape—that it is women’s responsibility to protect themselves and prevent themselves from being assaulted. It’s simply rarer to see such messages targeted towards men.

I’m glad that this belief is slowly changing, as evidenced by the new campaigns Jezebel highlighted, and I want to commend the Vancouver Police Department and the Bristol police for their thoughtful campaigns. I hope that others follow suit, and that, eventually, the self-defence courses and rape-prevention advice targeted towards women will become a little less necessary.


Just a little reminder that you’re incredible


By Hannah Johnston

Today is a good day for all of us to sit back and bask in some self-appreciation. It’s really easy to lose track of ourselves day to day, to start to see more of what we think is wrong than what we think is right in ourselves. Take a moment to listen to this song and know that everyone one of us is amazing, despite what the damn media might have you believe.

India.Arie – Video

STEM Programs for Girls



by Kara Chyung

In honour of Grace Hopper, an American computer scientist and Navy rear admiral whose 107th birthday would have been on Monday, I thought this week would be an appropriate time to raise the issue of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers.

Math has always been my favorite subject. I used to think my interest in math stemmed (see what I did there?!) from a desire for concrete answer, but I’ve realised that what I enjoy most is the process of solving the puzzle. As I go through high school and begin to think about college, I find myself strongly considering a career in mathematics or technology.

Recently, I read an article in the New York Times Magazine about the challenges women seeking a career in the sciences face. While often there are not rules strictly prohibiting women from pursuing STEM careers, the numbers show that the feeling of exclusivity in an all-boys class and a lack of encouragement from professors have deterred women from taking their studies in STEM fields beyond the undergraduate level. The circumstances have improved since the time that the author was in college, but there still is a lack of girls aspiring to these careers.

The article also mentions that girls are not introduced to STEM fields at a young age, so even if they develop any interest in science and math later on, it is often too late. Fortunately, there are many programs to get girls interested in STEM fields and promoting STEM education. Read about the organisations listed below.

Remember, a woman can do anything that a man can do, including programming computers or solving calculus problems! :)

Check out these links to find out more about STEM education for girls!

Girls Who Code: A nonprofit organisation that promotes girls’ education in computer science. Girls Who Code offers an intensive 8-week long Summer Immersion program  that exposes girls to careers in technology.

The National Girls Collaborative Project: An organisation that helps bring girls together across the United States on STEM projects. The National Girls Collaborative Project currently has 28 Collaboratives serving 38 states.

Girlstart: A community-based organisation based in Austin, Texas, that seeks to spark girls’ interest in STEM through year-round education and programs.

Girls Scouts’ Imagine Engineering: Imagine Engineering seeks to educate girls about engineering careers and helps link girls and their families to STEM opportunities and organisations.

Feminism: My “Cult” of Equality


by Alice Woods, guest blogger

Kristen, Andrew and I sat in a booth near the windows. The Stanford/Hecht dining hall hummed with the sound of many young voices peppered over the incessant buzz of industrial refrigeration. I don’t remember how the word ‘bitch’ came up in conversation; today, in any description of women, the word is often casually implanted, so its use in this case was not significant. Nonetheless ‘bitch’ triggered my newly conditioned response: to point at someone and say, half-jokingly, “Hey, we don’t say that.”

“What?” Andrew was confused at my offense. My closer friends know of my recent feminist sensitization and might jokingly apologize or make some snide comment about women’s and gender studies. I gladly accept these responses as they fit into my larger goal of subtly sharing my strong sentiments of equality while always seeming to take this “feminism thing” only half-seriously. I’m not nearly comfortable enough at this school to openly share my “controversial” point of view.

In any case, Kristen, being in on the ongoing “joke” about the field of study to which I may devote my life, said, “Alice is a feminist so she doesn’t like that word.”

Her condescending tone snapped something in me. More seriously, but still always keeping anything feminism-related very light, I slapped the table and turned to her saying, “You are a feminist!”

She laughed and looked at Andrew, who she had been casually sleeping with for about a week. “Not really,” she corrected me.

I asked the two questions I always ask when trying to force the label of feminist onto others who reject it: “Do you think women should be paid as much as men in the same work? Do you think women are culpable for their rapes?”

Kristen cut me off before I finished, “I know, I know,”—she had heard me grill others with the question many times before—“but like,” she continued, while Andrew watched, laughing, “I’m not really a feminist, I really think women should just take care of their kids.” She sped up as she always does when making a long point. “Honestly if someone told me they would pay me to just stay home and take care of my kids and clean and cook, I would love that.” She giggled at Andrew.

“Yes!” Andrew slammed his fist down on the table. “I love it.” He loved it. He adores her and she knows what to say to continue that adoration, to make him think about marrying her.

“I would too!” I chimed in, angry that this girl, who I know is studying neuroscience with the hopes of becoming a brain surgeon, felt the need to cut down my beliefs in order to impress her love interest. “But that’s just what would make us happy,” I continued. “That might not be what makes everyone happy and they shouldn’t have to do that.”

Neither Kristen nor Andrew listened. My words, as any about gender equality and any that, dare I pity myself so, are spoken by a woman, were zoned out as hysterical nonsense—in this case, hysterical and distinctly unattractive nonsense. I am used to this from men, but Kristen’s insult, and it was an insult, had me seething.

Why is this topic so laughable? Why, when I bring up feminism, this fight for equality, do men and women roll their eyes and tune me out? Why must feminism be such a dreadfully unattractive and taboo topic of conversation? Why do I feel the need to giggle self-deprecatingly when I tell people that this is my major? My foray into what I have come to think of as my “out-loud feminism” has been marked with these kinds of questions and frustrating conversations. There have been moments of shame and embarrassment associated with my point of view, but there always exists some feeling of pride during and after these incidents. I feel like I know that I am right, and if others cannot see the validity in my statements, that is their loss.

And yet I so often feel it is my loss when others cannot see through the comfortable bandage that the media and society have wound around their eyes. I am the recipient of mocking and worst of all, indifference. I am not used to my words and views being so chastised by those I share them with. I find myself grateful to the point of tears when I find a sister in my fight, or an enlightened man. Feminism binds me to those I might not otherwise find common ground with but cuts me off from many who I might otherwise open up to. In this way, I have found it to be like an unpopular religion or a cult. From this comes the absurdity of my situation: the idea that there exists a cult of equality. Don’t most people believe in equality? Apparently not, as my views and my fight for equality are laughed at, and brushed off.

And yet, even through my frustrations, I get constant reminders of the importance of this fight, and the small ways in which I can see that feminism does make a difference to keep me afloat. I am not going to stop asking people not to say “bitch” and “slut” even while my peers may not be able to understand why these words frustrate me. And after months of constant reminders, being dragged to women’s leadership events, and seeing the feminist articles and videos that I never stop posting on Facebook, my friends have indeed decreased their inadvertent slut-shaming, and use of derogatory words and comments. Most of all, I am happy to report that Kristen no longer denies being a feminist, at least not when I’m around.

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