News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

Zoë Quinn, the first and biggest target of Gamergate, has launched a network to help people experiencing online harassment & abuse.

Why campus approaches to sexual violence shouldn’t be more like criminal trials:  “No one cries foul when a student is expelled for cheating on an exam based on the preponderance of the evidence.”

The girls of the Radical Brownies troop have their own badge system, including one for “Radical Beauty”, an “LGBT ally” badge and a “Black Lives Matter” badge.

News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has found Princeton out of compliance with Title IX because of their poor handling of on-campus rape. Dana Bolger lays out the nuances of the decision, including the welcome news that Princeton is required to reimburse tuition and other costs incurred by some victims.

In the ongoing conversation about street harassment, many men insist that catcalling is a harmless, non-sexual greeting. So Elon James White started #DudesGreetingDudes on Twitter, exploring what it would sound like if catcallers were talking to other men instead of women.

And finally, the Crunk Feminist Collective offers some empowering words from black women in the face of the ongoing unrelenting racism in this country.

Today is my birthday

Day one of my 60th swing around the sun. I’m pretty excited about it.

So I hope you will forgive me as I indulge in a brief feminist retrospective of my first six decades. I was thinking about it on my way to work today, specifically about:

SPORTS. Huge progress.

I missed Title IX by only a smidge. This is a great sadness to me. People often mistake me for a coordinated person (and a vegetarian). Sadly, I am neither, but I often think that I would have benefitted enormously from playing full court basketball, hanging in the outfield, diving headfirst, slaloming a steep course, running fast. I live vicariously through my friends’ daughters who joyfully play, experiencing the rough and tumble, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. This is no idle nostalgia or longing. Girls today are healthier, safer, and more self-possessed because they play sports. And it was not an accident. It was not an idea whose time had come. Women fought for and won the right to play.

JOBS. Pretty good progress.

Della Street, secretary, Perry Mason - Jessie Brewer, nurse to Dr. Hardy, General Hospital – Victoria Winters, vampire victim to Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows
Della Street, secretary, Perry Mason – Jessie Brewer, nurse to Dr. Hardy, General Hospital – Victoria Winters, vampire victim to Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows

In the 1960s, my dad encouraged me to be an oceanographer. I thought he was nuts. I knew my only real options were secretary, nurse, or vampire victim. An enduring love of office supply stores is all that remains of this particular personal legacy, because the women’s movement flung hundreds of doors wide open to us. It’s not all roses. We know that, but oh, what a difference half a century makes.

RAPE. Standing still.

I am sure people are going to disagree with me here, because we have so many laws on the books now about rape. Right? But functionally? How much have things really changed? When I was a young teen, my dad’s lone foray into sex ed was an off-hand warning—something like “once a man gets started, he can’t stop.” Start? Stop? What? I didn’t have the foggiest idea what he was talking about. But he was very much speaking from fear for his daughter, and the social norms of his day. These norms have not changed in significant enough ways. There may be more talk, but there is also a wider variety of fail. That we have made so little progress in ending rape is the biggest disappointment of my feminist career.

And finally PINK AND BLUE. Going backwards.

Come on now. This is ridiculous. This whole pink and blue genderfication thing is just plain wrong-headed. Two good books make this point. Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America and Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps—and What We Can Do About It. As gender becomes more nuanced, more complex, we get nervous and try to get all binary again. This is not good for girls and women. It’s not good for boys and men. It’s not good for intersex and trans people. It does not help us express our humanity as individuals and it’s not good for our relationships.

Perhaps if I live to be 70, or even 80, I’ll be able to shop for baby presents in all colors of the rainbow. Maybe all genders will give and get consent. Maybe there will be a Madame President. Maybe I’ll get my knees replaced and run a marathon (just kidding).

Olympic fever

Wilma Rudolph, OlympianI stayed up way too late last night. I love the Olympics and cannot break away once I start watching. I’m so proud of the women from all over the world who compete—women on every team this year for the first time in Olympic history.

There is so much to say. I could write about Title IX, and the opportunities it created for women athletes. Or about the research that shows that girls who engage in sports are more bomb-proof when it comes to abuse—with a stronger sense of self and their own personal power. Or about the great ways that men are engaging in violence prevention campaigns through sports.

Nah. I’m going to write about fashion.

Don’t you think Misty and Kerri were looking a tad overclad as they took to the sand for their volleyball match? I wondered if it was just too chilly for their regular “uniforms”—as the pair calls their bikinis—or if jolly olde England is imposing a dress code.

Watching the pair muscle through their matches reminded me of a recent conversation with my brother-in-law. He’d just finished up work on a dissertation committee for a woman researcher seeking her degree in fashion design (who knew?). Turns out activists come in all professions.  God knows we need someone shaking up women’s clothing.

She studied active adult women and their experiences shopping for athletic wear—clothing for running, walking, cycling, etc. Can you imagine? She found a lot of dissatisfied women. And a gigantic untapped market of those of us who will never fit into a size 0, or 00. Women who strive to stay active—even as companies don’t even try to make clothes that fit our bodies and that we look good in.

This particular researcher took a teaching job in West Virginia—with the stipulation that the school purchase plus size manikins for her students to use when designing.

How about it Nike, Columbia, Adidas? If you make it, we’ll leap tall buildings in a single bound to buy it. And maybe we’ll smash some sexism along the way.