What makes a Feminist Quote? Call for submissions!!!

Daniel Willey

A call for submissions by staff member Daniel Willey

 

 

One of my tasks at the Women’s Center is to make a Facebook post every Friday for Feminist Quote Friday. You’d think being surrounded by books written by feminists and activists would make it easy to come up with a quote to use each week, but I keep getting hung up on the question of what makes a feminist quote.

“Activism can be the journey rather than the arrival.” – Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century

Is it a quote by a feminist? Is it a statement which follows feminist principles? What if the person who said it isn’t a feminist? Should I be responsible for pulling out the receipts and making sure everyone I quote has never said or done anything problematic first? Does the quote have to be a feminist statement or can it simply be related to feminist issues?

And besides all that, there are SO MANY great feminist words to choose from!

That’s where you come in: I want to hear your favorite feminist quotes. I want to hear what words inspire you, lift you up, make you feel called to action. I want to hear what made you think, made you reevaluate, what steered you in a new direction.

Submit this google form to send me your feminist quote and tell me a little bit about why you chose it! I’ll be using submissions for Feminist Quote Fridays and you can submit anytime!

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Writing as a woman: A conversation

In recognition of the other month-long celebration that is April’s National Poetry Month, Women’s Center Special Projects Coordinator Amelia Meman recorded a discussion on writing as a woman with her two best friends. Check out the video below, and join the conversation!

Writing as a woman.

It’s something I think about fairly often, because it brings up issues of worthiness, knowledge-making, developing identities, creating dialogues and rhetorical communities, and communicating experience. Writing is, in many ways, the convergence of the private becoming public–y’know, that old feminist maxim. Writing as an act and later as a product contains multitudes, especially in its intersections with identity.

That said, I was eager to talk with two of my best friends, Susie Hinz and Kerrin Smith, about their experiences as writers, as woman, and as women writers (or alternatively writerly women?). A video of our conversation is below. We talk about the intersections of identity and writing, getting over feelings of unworthiness, working through writer’s block, and many other writing-related things.

Susie is a UMBC alum who is working at Maryland Humanities and is also curating a fantastic blog (and possibly publishing a novel in the future). Kerrin is a poet in the Creative Writing and Publishing Arts MFA program, and you can catch updates on her published work (and her life) on her Twitter.

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This is how we generally feel about writing. (Thanks to Susie for this picture.)

A note: Our discussion is extremely limited in terms of “what it means to be a woman writer,” and we want to acknowledge this. We all have particular aspects of privilege and oppression that affect our identities (gender, creative, and otherwise), and this conversation stems from a particular place of privilege. It’s my hope that this discussion, though limited in terms of perspective, is still insightful and helpful to those watching.

Slaying on the Weekly: Affirmative consent + TBTN Re-cap

A weekly round-up curated by Women’s Center staff member, Michael Jalloh Jamboria

In the spirit of my friend, who gave us the glorious name ‘Slaying on the Weekly’, every week I will be bringing you some interesting, funny or thought-provoking content from the internet! Be sure to join us next week for more and continue to slay!

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  “Every 107 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted. Approximately 4/5 of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.  Survivors of sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.”  The Women’s Center is dedicated to programming centered around sexual assault awareness. Be sure to check out the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Calendar. 

Take Back the Night was Thursday April 13th. If you came and shared your story, we are so proud of you. If you didn’t, we are still proud of you. Your story is valid. We believe you. The Women’s Center is dedicated to programming and events that center the voices of survivors. There are still events where you can share your story. Stay tuned for a photo re-cap of the TBTN event.

Check out this awesome comic on affirmative consent!

 

Want to stay informed on things that are happening with the presidential administration. Be sure to check out What the F**k Just Happened Today? This is a website that has specifics on the happenings of the Trump administration. Stay up to date!

What’s happening in Syria? Check out this BBC article on the happenings of Syria.

Al-Jazeera has the up to date news on the latest humanitarian crisis’ happening. Check them out, and let’s see what we can do to make the world a better place!

Are there any resources you want to see on next week’s slaying on the weekly? Drop a comment!

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Women’s Center staff members being goofy at the 2017 TBTN! 

Who ever you are, what ever your story, we are here to listen. We see you. You are home. You belong. You matter. See you next week!

 

Slaying on the Weekly: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Here’s What you Need to Know!!

A weekly round-up curated by Women’s Center staff member, Michael Jalloh Jamboria

In the spirit of my friend, who gave us the glorious name ‘Slaying on the Weekly’, every week I will be bringing you some interesting, funny or thought-provoking content from the internet! Be sure to join us next week for more and continue to slay!

Thank you for joining us this past Women’s History Month! March may be over but the celebration never stops in the Women’s Center. Join us in celebrating women, their lives, their stories and their resistance.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  “Every 107 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted. Approximately 4/5 of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.  Survivors of sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.”  The Women’s Center is dedicated to programming centered around sexual assault awareness. Be sure to check out the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Calendar. 

Take Back the Night is coming up! Here’s what you need to know about Take Back the Night!!

There has been a lot of Twitter buzz about black and brown girls missing from DC and Baltimore. What’s that about? Learn more by checking out The Rise in Human Trafficking in the State of Maryland.

Wait!! Did you hear that 2020 US census won’t have questions related to sexual orientation nor gender identity? I did. Read more on this Huffington Post article.

What the Heck is the Clothesline Project?? Find out on Thursday April 6th from 10-4pm on Mainstreet. Can’t wait until then, be sure to check out the official Clothesline Project Website.  Starting Monday April 3rd, through April 6th, the Women’s Center will have Clothesline Project t-shirts available for survivors of sexual assault to participate in the Project. Just in case you needed the reminder, the Women’s Center will always serve as a home away from home for those who need a safe space to exist. We’ve got your back!

This month can be particularly triggering for survivors of sexual assault or violence. Stop by the Women’s Center if you need to chat and be sure to check out some of these resources related to self-care during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

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Who ever you are, what ever your story, we are here to listen. We see you. You are home. You belong. You matter. See you next week!

The Rise in Human Trafficking in the State of Maryland

This post was written by Farhan Augustine, a UMBC senior studying Biochemistry. In addition to his work at UMBC, Farhan advocates for the rights of human trafficking survivors and is actively involved in local efforts to create legislation that would protect survivors. 

Human sex and labor trafficking is a hideous violation of human rights that has been quietly growing in our communities for many years. According to some of the statistics, human trafficking is now the second highest grossing criminal enterprise across the world.

Maryland Data TablesAlthough the awareness regarding human sex and labor trafficking appears to be growing, our state of Maryland remains a treasure-trove for human sex and labor trafficking. Maryland is a vital location because many of our highways, especially I-95, provide easy access to some of the most populated communities on the East Coast. Traffickers use many of our local highways to traverse between New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. In fact, National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) reports receiving 531 tips and registering 158 Human trafficking cases in Maryland in the year 2016. Further breakdown of the NHTH data indicates that 77% of the reported human trafficking cases involved sex trafficking, and 16% of the reported cases involved human labor trafficking. Moreover, Maryland’s Judiciary (Administrative Office of the Courts), the U.S. Department of Justice, and Department of Legislative Services advises that approximately 476 violations of Maryland’s Criminal Law, Article 11-303 (MD Criminal Law, Article 11- related to Human trafficking), were seen in District Courts and 256 violations were seen in the Circuit Courts.

Despite being so prevalent in Maryland, human trafficking remains hidden in plain sight. My main purpose in writing this article is to make you aware of human trafficking in Maryland in the hopes that you may become an active and informed member of our society.

Human Trafficking is More Than Sex Trafficking

Maryland Data Charts (1)Many people associate human trafficking with sexual exploitation; however, human trafficking has many different faces, and it plays a major role in dozens of businesses across Maryland. Labor exploitation is another facet of human trafficking. Maryland counts domestic labor, begging rings, traveling sales crews, agriculture and fish farming industries, health care industry, marriage and online dating, commercial brothels, hotel/motel brothels, and online escort services as hubs of human trafficking. As widespread as it is, human trafficking is often undetectable to the untrained eye. “Mail-order brides,” for example are illegal in Maryland under Criminal Law §11-303 and (HB#0276F) which describes “compelled marriage” as marriage in which a person knowingly takes money or uses fraud to compel the other person to marry another person. This crime is punishable with up to 25 years of imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $15,000. A person who knowingly aids, abets, or benefits financially from such ventures or activities is also in violation of the state’s human trafficking laws, and is subject to the same penalties. Thus, human trafficking is more widespread than many people realize and spreading awareness is of utmost importance.

Furthermore, many people are maladroit in distinguishing between smuggling and trafficking. This in part is because of the widespread neo-abolitionist discourses adopted by almost all anti-trafficking efforts, movies, TV shows, and political activities which sets up widespread misrepresentation of victims of trafficking only as young and innocent women who are deceived and forced into the sex industry. The reality is something of a complicated nature and is often perverse for policy and law making purposes. For example, it is true that many women that are trafficked for sex and labor are often forced into such acts. However, the unauthorized international migration, often initiated by women themselves to ameliorate their lives and families, positions them as isolated and distinct victims of emotional, physical, and sexual exploitation that is almost unprecedented and often under reported by victims due to fears of retaliation from the law enforcement agencies. Thus, a simple definition of a trafficking victim that suffers at the hands of individual men: traffickers, clients, and buyers, needs to be broadened to form holistic anti-trafficking policies and laws that do no assume or correlate trafficking with only sex work. The problem with the popular view of “human trafficking = sex work” is that it relies on the construction of human trafficking based on gender stereotypes and denies men and women’s agency by focusing exclusively on sexual exploitation of women that makes other types of labor exploitation almost invisible. Instead it reinforces the patriarchal discourse that all “sex workers” must necessarily be “passive victims” that need paternal protection, and it establishes a single framework for victimhood that most of the exploited undocumented migrant victims cannot meet in the court of law. Thus, it is important to be aware and create laws and policies to distinguish between people that intentional engage in sex work purely for their own economic gains, and separate those from the people who are forced and coerced into modern day sex-slavery.  

Maryland’s Legislation and Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts

Maryland, compared to some other states like Florida, New York, and California, does not have a comprehensive human trafficking legislation. To give you some background regarding the Human trafficking laws in Maryland, I have chosen to present you with information which (I believe) every responsible citizen of the State should be aware of. (Click the hyperlinks if you require further comprehension of Criminal Law Article-11). MD Code, Criminal Law, §11-303, as repealed and reenacted in October 2010, provided the following major provisions to the Criminal Law Article.

  1.  § 11-303(a)(1)(v) of the Criminal Law Article “A person may not knowingly: engage in a device, scheme, or continuing course of conduct intended to cause another to believe that if the other did not take part in a sexually explicit performance, the other or a third person would suffer physical restraint or serious physical harm.”  
  2. § 11-303(b)(2) of the Criminal Law Article A person may not knowingly take or detain another with the intent to use force, threat, coercion, or fraud to compel the other to marry the person or a third person or perform a sexual act, sexual contact, or vaginal intercourse.” Separate from Criminal Law, the MD Code- Transportation- §8-655, requires the rest area restrooms and businesses to post National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline information signs.
  3. §11-303(f), provide that a person charged with Human trafficking of a minor may not assert a defense by claiming to not have known the age of the victim.
  4. As of January 23, 2017, the Maryland General Assembly has passed House Bill #0276 which extends the statute of limitations to 10 years, applicable to civil actions related to Human trafficking.

Maryland’s Human trafficking Laws are slowly becoming more comprehensive, nonetheless, without more community involvement our State’s legislature will continue overlooking Human Rights Violations associated with human trafficking.

Community Safety and Involvement

As stated previously, much of our community is unaware of the expansive foothold that human trafficking is establishing in our communities. Maryland, in 2007, established the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force (MHTTF) under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General of Maryland, and the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City to investigate, prosecute, and serve the victims of human trafficking in our state. MHTTF has been subcategorized based on the region it serves. See the resource section for the list of local Task Forces. Since January 2013, the local task forces and federal law enforcement partners (FBI, Dept. of Homeland Security, etc..) have identified ≥ 200 victims of trafficking and have prosecuted 94 human traffickers. The men and women of MHTTF do great fieldwork and deserve our gratitude for making our communities safer.

However, the infrastructure to support MHTTF is still in the infancy stage. The state and federal funding to establish facilities that can provide crisis services to victims and survivors, and to serve as community outreach centers for training, research, and development is lacking significantly. It is paramount to provide training to first responders, public universities, school teachers, and to health care professionals that can confidentially screen potential victims of Human trafficking.

My principles spare me no excuse, for the same freedoms, which I enjoy so much, should also be accessible for every person regardless of their race, ethnicity, immigration status, or age. Most of my December and January months were spent studying Maryland’s Constitution and Criminal Law, Article-11. I was writing emails and making phone calls to anyone I though could help in making my voice heard at the state or the federal legislature. My singular voice in the ether of bureaucracy was praying for a change to occur. Thanks to the efforts of so many people who had the same conviction as me, the change has begun to happen. On January 23, 2017, the Human Trafficking – Civil Actions – Statue of Limitations (HB#0276) was first read and passed in the Maryland’s General Assembly. Its purpose was to extend the Statue of Limitations related to Human trafficking, effective October 1, 2017. Which means, if a plaintiff who were a minor at the time the statute of limitations began to accrue, he/she would now have 10 years to file a civil cause of action in Maryland. Furthermore, a new federal bill has been proposed in the House of Representatives in January, “Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2017.” This new bill is spearheading the efforts to decriminalize certain non-violent convictions and arrest records of Human trafficking victims. Many of our young adults and runaway foster-care children become victims of human trafficking. [They are pushed into a lifestyle that they did not choose and often violently exploited.] It is heartbreaking for me to acknowledge that instead of providing safety, protection, and guidance to people, our laws assign a criminal status to those who are victims of Human trafficking.

Thus, I implore you to partake in the process of bringing freedom, liberty, and happiness to victims of Human trafficking, and help to lessen their suffering. One of the easiest ways you can help is by holding your public officials accountable. Public pressures and public awareness is the key to getting our legislatures to recognize and change the laws which protect and safeguard our communities against Human traffickers. Together we can bring change in our communities. I am providing you with two links to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s petition forms. Please consider signing the petitions to protect the victims of Human trafficking, and please help them get their freedom back.

 

1). Petition for the reauthorization of Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act: http://act.polarisproject.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=23990

2). Trafficking Survivor’s Relief Act http://act.polarisproject.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=23688

 

Additional Resources:

Maryland’s Human Trafficking Task Forces: http://www.mdhumantrafficking.org/mhttf

 

 

NGOs and Other Local Agencies: http://www.mdhumantrafficking.org/partners

Whats your queer click moment?

Maybe you’ve heard of a feminist click moment, but do you remember what your queer click moment was? Kayla Smith, Women’s Center student staff member, collected queer click moment stories for the blog. Thanks to those who contributed!

That moment when the lightbulb went off in your head and a little (or loud) voice said “Holy crap! I’m not straight!”

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Maybe you had a “girl crush” on a classmate? Or found yourself getting REALLY into L Word? The Women’s Center staff and community members share their queer click Moments!

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Bi AND badass. Thanks Callie!

“When I was 19, I was completely infatuated with my Women’s Studies professor. She was
brilliant and beautiful, and I worked so hard in that class to try to impress her. I soon realized that it wasn’t a “girl crush” – it was an actual crush.” – Megan Tagle Adams, Women’s Center Assistant Director

 

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First Shira, and then Willow. Everyone is gay

 

 

“I was in middle school, sitting next to this person who had identified as a lesbian at the time. I remember daydreaming in math, and suddenly an image of us married to each other, laying in bed and cuddling ( super scandalous for a 12 year- old, I know!). I quickly repressed that thought and never seriously revisited my queerness until college – though I still had a crush on this person all the way through High School.” – Shira Devora, Women’s Center student staff member

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Shane putting the connections together!

“The moment is so vivid for me. At 24 years old, I was alone in my apartment watching L Word on DVD for the first time. I remember sitting on this green couch and feeling totally excited by what was happening on my tv (women hooking up with women – gasp!) followed by this realization that the stereotypes fed to me of what and who lesbians were was totally wrong. In that moment, my world opened up to the possibility there was another way of being for me… the rest, my friends, is history. This late bloomer, thanks you, L Word.” – Jess Myers, Women’s Center Director

“When I was a child, my favorite movie was The Sound of Music. My queer click moment, was when I saw Liesel (you know, ’16 going on 17′) do her musical number with Rolph (the bad guy who later ends up being a Nazi)! I wanted to be Rolph (but not a bad guy). Wow, this is embarrassing!” – Michael Jalloh-Jamboria, Women’s Center Student Staff member

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Liesel seducing a young Michael.

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Look at her cute gay overalls.

“I used to watch Power Rangers at my cousins house when I was little and I found myself really drawn to the Pink Ranger – Kimberly. I really liked Trini, the yellow ranger, and I knew I wanted to BE the yellow ranger….but something about the pink ranger and her little skirt? Yep. Definitely a queer.” – Kayla Smith, Women’s Center Student Staff member

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“A friend of mine sent me a cool looking picture of a fantasy theme featuring a particularly attractive girl. We got into a conversation about female aesthetics which led to a rather non-PG13 discussion resulting in my friend telling me “you know that means you’re at least bi, right?”. My response was, “Wait what? Nooo…. wait. Hold on… huh. Aaaactually? THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE!” Click.” – Anonymous

“I slowly started realizing I was bisexual late freshman year. I had just gotten a tumblr, Ooyu49hand one of the first blogs I followed was literally just selfies of “androgynous girls” (just gals admiring gals, right?) It finally hit me sophomore year when I got really into the band Halestorm. Their singer’s leather pants, her bright red lipstick… it was all too much for my baby bi heart.” – Anonymous

 

“I suspected I was rainbow-tinged from an early age. When I was 5, I kissed a girl in kindergarten and thought it was gross (because let’s face it, out of context, kissing is weird). But when I went into elementary school and then middle school, all of my best friends were girls and I thought they were the most beautiful people ever. I would seriously stare at them in disbelief that people so beautiful could ever exist. Ladies were like otherworldly goddesses to me, a small unworthy frog-girl. Meanwhile, I was also heavily interested in the idea of Jesse Bradford (specifically as Cliff in Bring it On) putting his smirk on my face. I didn’t really put all the pieces together of being queer, until I kissed a girl and I liked it. And then I kissed a boy and I liked that, too.” – Amelia Meman, Women’s Center Special Projects Coordinator

Do you remember what your queer click moment was? Join us at Between Women on Thursdays (☞゚ヮ゚)☞ bi-weekly in the Women’s Center lounge. Between Women is a discussion-based program that centers the experiences of women students who identify themselves on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

We can’t wait to see you in the center!

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Slaying on the Weekly: Spring Break is HERE!!

A weekly round-up curated by Women’s Center staff member, Michael Jalloh Jamboria

In the spirit of my friend, who gave us the glorious name ‘Slaying on the Weekly’, every week I will be bringing you some interesting, funny or thought-provoking content from the internet! Be sure to join us next week for more and continue to slay!

Happy Women’s History Month! Join us in celebrating women, their lives, their stories and their resistance.

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Provost Philip Rous and Vice Provost Simon Stacy came to the Women’s Center to pay us a visit!

 

Enjoy your Spring Break! See you in two weeks! Same place, same time! Stay safe and continue to slay! Happy Women’s History Month!