Valuing women by valuing their friendships

My close friend and roommate, CK, just left on Monday to move back to Europe for the foreseeable future. She and I met several years ago during grad school and have lived together on and off ever since. When people ask about her, my go-to response consists of me horribly singing the title lyric of Patrick Swayze’s ballad “She’s Like the Wind.” One, it’s a fantastic song that should never be forgotten. And two, I feel like it accurately describes her affinity for living out of a suitcase, joining me for months at a time wherever I happen to be living, and then departing to places unknown whenever her visa expires or the weather gets too cold for her liking. So I suppose she’s more like a tropical breeze.

For our last weekend together, we went downtown to the African American History and Culture Museum and snarkily commented on how different the atmosphere and descriptions were compared to the almost nostalgic tone of some of the historical landmarks and museums we’d visited on our road trip down south a few weeks earlier. We tried a couple new restaurants (okay, they were actually bakeries) and ate ridiculous amounts of unhealthy food that I’m probably still digesting. After the requisite trip to Sephora, we headed home to watch Netflix like usual. There was the ever-present cloud of her imminent departure, but we didn’t address it except to commiserate about how much of a pain it is to pack. This farewell was becoming routine and it wouldn’t do for either of us to make a production out of it. I woke her for a quick hug goodbye before leaving for work on Monday and told her I’d see her again soon, whatever that means this time around.

As a hard-core introvert, I never thought I’d enjoy voluntarily having a roommate besides my cat. Over the past few days though, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about what CK’s friendship has meant to me and reflecting on women’s friendships in general. This contemplation is due in no small part to the Parks and Recreation mini-marathon I indulged in while nursing sniffles and a sore throat the other night. New goal: To be as caring and dedicated a friend as Leslie Knope.  Continue reading

“We still do that?”: Shackling Pregnant Prisoners in Maryland

When you talk to most college students about shackling incarcerated pregnant people before, after, and while they are labor, most are surprised.  Many look at me incredulously and ask, “We still do that?”

Yes, we still do that. We still shackle pregnant people for all of their medical appointments, as they give birth, and as they are leaving the hospital even though it has been deemed dangerous, dehumanizing, and unnecessary by national organizations like American Medical Association (AMA), American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and American Public Health Association (APHA). Federal courts have ruled that shackling those in labor is a violation of the Eighth Amendment (that one about “cruel and unusual punishment”). The United Nations has also prohibited the shackling of pregnant prisoners and considers the practice a form of torture (though the U.S. would not want to ruin their streak of neglecting to ratify most conventions on human rights that the UN creates).

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Transgender Day of Remembrance 2013

Today is the 15th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

 TDOR was originally held to honor Rita Hester, whose unsolved murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. The purpose of TDOR is to raise public awareness of hate crimes and violence based on bias against trans* and other gender non-normative people and to honor their lives that might otherwise be forgotten. 

This year, to recognize TDOR, The Women’s Center and Student Life’s The Mosaic Center have created a video of the names and pictures of people to remember those we’ve lost.  You can view the memorial video today at the Women’s Center and at the Korenman Event outside of UC Ballroom.

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On double standards and women. A guest post by a Women’s Center community member.

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It was nighttime when I pulled out my favorite dress to wear. There was no special occasion; it just made me feel gorgeous. Nevertheless, I was experiencing an all too familiar nagging feeling as I examined the material. The dress was cut so as to expose the back, and was short in length. Years of training myself to fight against rape culture and slut shaming, and my vivid remembrances of being sexually assaulted no matter what I wore did not stop me from putting the dress back and choosing something else to put on.

Let’s clarify for a moment here: clothes don’t cause rape; rapists do, and they search for vulnerability. I know this. However, the messages I, as well as I believe many other women are taught are the former message instead of the latter truth. At least for me, that conditioning stuck. Also, not only is the societal standard against women putting on certain types of clothes considered as revealing by some associated with rape culture, but it is also connected with other parts of women’s lives. The advice given to women by one law firm was an implication that their cleavage should not be shown due to their attire as this would lead to less significance being placed upon what they say. Even women who work in a place associated with prestige, then, find themselves combating a restriction that places more emphasis on what they wear rather than the job they do.

So, why is it that women choosing to cover their bodies find themselves facing consternation as well? Women who want to wear a burka find themselves unable to do so as this type of clothing has been banned in various regions.

Women are thereby taught that they should reveal their bodies, but only by a specific amount that is, at the same, not clearly defined. There is no way to fulfill such a contradictory and fluid expectation, so women become chastised no matter what they wear.

The double standards don’t end there. Women are told to put on makeup that makes them look more like what society considers as natural, such as a “nude” concealer that assumes that the humans are always white, or skin illuminators, which make people appear lighter. Nevertheless, if women wear green lipstick to actually express themselves, their makeup may be considered as odd. Also, bodily matters aside, women are advised not to speak in certain settings such as church, as seen in an depiction of Google searches. Then, women are critiqued for not raising their voices and letting their needs be heard in the workplace.

Clearly, this contradictory regulation towards women needs to change — the rules certainly aren’t helping women; they’re hindering them.

What double standards have you seen applied to women?