Do(ing) it Like a Feminist

Post-Grad Girl living in a Post-Grad World.


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Moving Past the Funk: Living in a Post-Election World

Like many people, I’ve been in mourning. I actually found myself googling how to immigrate to Canada the night of the Election. Granted, I didn’t make it past the screen showing that the site crashed, but I still wondered how I would be able to do it. Then I thought more about what a Trump Presidency would look like and wondered, what would it look like for me to abandon my place in this country and lose my will to fight? If I were a child, I wouldn’t want my elders to do that to me, so I can’t give up now.

To this day, I can not fathom how people could vote for Trump. You say he is anti-establishment; we say he is a racist demagogue. You say he is a great businessman; we say he has gone bankrupt a handful of times and has only looked out for himself. I can go on and on about this, but there is no point. The only points left to make are what is going to happen next. How can we teach our peers and young folk about what it means to be an advocate for the issues at hand?

And here is where you can get your crash course.

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Harro, page 16

In Bobbie Harro’s “The Cycle of Socialization”, she discusses how we are socialized from birth/toddler into a way of thinking. We are taught biases and stereotypes, and we live with these mechanics as we grow up. We are then socialized on a personal level from parents, loved ones, and teachers (that’s why they are so important). These mechanics are then reinforced through various institutions such as church, TV, and in our culture. When these mechanics are reinforced, they result in anger, discrimination, and ignorance. It’s up to you to figure out which direction you want to go- do you want to continue reinforcing the same cycle, or would you want to head in a direction for change?

For those who says white privilege doesn’t exist, I want you to look at the events that have occurred since the election: swastikas being spray-painted on walls, a woman in Brooklyn was punched by a male trump supporter at a restaurant in Brooklyn, a woman pulled another woman’s hijab off in a Walmart in the name of Trump, and the list goes on and on. In Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, she states:

“My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.” (McIntosh, 2)

As a woman of color, I will never be able to have this privilege. From what I’ve observed about the country post-Election is that many people who have this privilege don’t (or won’t) understand the power their actions have with people of color, and they don’t worry about the consequences of their actions, because most likely, they won’t be reprimanded for it. Is this what we want to teach our future children and voters?

For all you Trump supporters, I hope you realize what your future will look like. Only a week has passed and there is already a white supremacist in a position of power. You did this. Take responsibility for it. Once Donald Trump takes his place in the White House, I can only predict the decline of our Country, economically and socially. You can sit back and say that he will fix our broken “system”, but he will continue to display divisive and demeaning behavior toward people of color, the LGBTQIA community, Muslims, immigrants, etc..

Or maybe that’s what you all really want, which is much scarier to think about.

For those of you who are willing to fight forward, find your local community programs. Volunteer. Protest. Write to your local politicians. We will not be swayed. I am with you all.

___________________________

Harro, Bobbie. “The Cycle of Socialzation.” Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. N.p.: Routledge, 2007. 15-21. Print.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

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For Whom Is Silence Golden? An Open Letter to the Administration of HWS

College-sexual-assault

This is a two-part article. *Trigger Warning- viewer discretion is advised*

Upon reading the NY Times article “Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t”, we were reminded of the many stories we heard that went unnoticed at HWS. We relived a time where we fought tirelessly for reform and it was swept under the rug. We were furious and upset that the policies regarding sexual assault (NOT sexual misconduct) were still not being taken seriously.

This is our open letter to the administration who consider themselves “trailblazers” in sexual misconduct policy reform.

Part I

In my job as a case planner, they teach us to do a sanctuary check in order to express our emotions, identify a goal, and think of a person(s) who can assist us with that goal. Today, I am furious as hell. My goal for today is to make my voice heard on the misconduct of HWS’ policy, and all of you can help me by expressing yourselves as well. In 2011, the members of Women’s Collective and I connected with SAFER to have them review our sexual assault policies on campus. I created a photo campaign to assist with the push of the SAFER initiative. Robb Flowers sat with then co-leader of Women’s Collective, Josephina Ragon, to discuss the policies and fill out the proper forms for SAFER to review the guidelines of the misconduct policy. Now, in 2014, I think about that semester where we worked hard to achieve something only to have it fall by the wayside.

When I read the NY Times article, I thought about the countless stories I’d heard about students who were raped or sexually assaulted but were afraid to speak up about it because their assailant was in a Fraternity or Athletic team. I thought about the scenarios where the courageous survivors would stand up against their assailants in the misconduct hearings, only to be heard their assailants would be cleared (what does that even mean). I remembered the students who would be afraid to walk around campus because they didn’t want to be heckled or verbally abused by their peers.

When you think about these situations, what are you teaching your incoming students? When you live in a residential setting, you are vulnerable to the culture that enables peer pressure and “social suicide” (to quote Mean Girls). In 2010, during the Women’s Collective event Take Back the Night, President Gearan stood with us and spoke against the violence that students faced. He stated:

“We have the opportunity to have the ripple effect here. Everyone here can take these tiny ripples of hope and send it out to their friends and families and other people in other colleges. We are fortunate to have the leadership we have here with Women’s Collective. I’d like to take some hope from the obvious tragedies of our culture and part of it might be to send forth these ripples of hope in awareness and understanding and compassion and courage that we are all so privileged to hear tonight.”

Where does the ripple effect begin at HWS?

Some of my closest friends are survivors of rape and sexual assault. Some were afraid to talk about it. Some were brave like Anna and chose to stand up to their assailants. How can we talk about inclusive excellence if we aren’t protecting the very students who you’ve committed yourselves to educating? According to RAINN, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. There are over 2000 students at HWS. How many do you think have had their voices silenced?

In order for change to occur, you must begin to build from within. Establish mandatory trainings for staff and administration to attend on sexual assault. Build a well-trained, substantial committee that can hear sexual assault cases. Hire a SANE nurse for Hubbs Health Center. Renovate the Women’s Resource Center and finally open the hotline that students can call when something happens or they feel unsafe. Sexual Assault and Rape is a culture that will not go away quietly, but you have the power to minimize the conflict on our once-beloved campus.

Be the change YOU wish to see in the world. Or at least on your campus.

Gabrielle Perez, WS ‘12

Part II

I am a William Smith alumnae, and I am a survivor.

Every day of my life is like navigating through rapids going upstream; I slowly make progress but not without a few scrapes and bruises after I am hit by triggers and depression.

I still blame myself for what happened to me.

I am a survivor of molestation. While I was not raped or sexually assaulted during my times at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, it does not mean I do not know what it is like to be silenced. I have been silenced about my sexual assault for over ten years. That pain does not go away.

Anna trusted the administration at Hobart and William Smith. She thought she would receive justice for what happened to her. Instead, you silenced her.

You silenced her when you revealed her identity in an email. You silenced her when you trusted a committee with only 6 hours of training to deal with a case of gang rape. You silenced her when the committee implied that she was asking for it because of the way she was dancing. You silenced her when you questioned how drunk she was when she vomited four times on the way home from the hospital, hours after the assault occurred. You silenced her when you did not punish students for violating the no contact order.

You silenced her.

When I read the New York Times article on the morning of July 13th, I cried. I cried because it was triggering for me, and I cried for Anna. Anna did not deserve to be silenced, to be treated less than human. By silencing her, you violated her just like those football players.

And what would you do if that happened to your daughter? Michael Cragg, your daughter was a William Smith student. This could have easily been her. Would you have ignored the evidence and allowed your players to stay on your team then, even if a perfect season is in jeopardy? Mark Gearan, your daughter is in college right now. What if this happens to her when she is at school? Would you want the administration to handle her case in the same way Anna’s case was handled at Hobart and William Smith? Robert Flowers, you have a daughter. Are you just hoping things will change by the time she is in college?

I will leave those as rhetorical questions.

The semester before Anna was sexually assaulted, I had a meeting with Robert Flowers about a meme on the HWS Meme page on Facebook because a Hobart student posted a meme about a girl crying rape. Nothing was done. I was ignored. Looking back, did you even hear me Robb Flowers? Or were you just appeasing me with that meeting?

Did you listen to Josephina Ragon when she worked tirelessly on changing the sexual assault guidelines in the summer of 2011? Did you listen to the student concerns during the spring of 2011 when another case of sexual assault was brought to the student body’s attention?

Obviously you were not listening or Anna would not have been silenced.

Are you listening now?

It is pathetic that it takes an article in the New York Times to get your attention. And it is even more pathetic that you tried to defend your actions in an email.

Instead of defending your actions, you need to apologize, not only to Anna but to the other nameless survivors who have graduated from William Smith, or are still attending. 39 people messaged Anna the day the article was released about how they were assaulted and never reported it. 39 women who did not get the help they needed because they were too scared of being ostracized, labeled, and discriminated against by not only the administration but by their peers.

We are waiting for your apology.

Connie Mandeville, WS ‘12


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Guess who’s back?

Hello Bloggers! I can not believe it’s been MONTHS since I last posted. SO much has happened to me (both personally and professionally) that I haven’t had a moment to reflect (it didn’t help that my laptop officially died in April).

So to play catch up, I would like to inform the world that I am now a Case Planner for Good Shepherd Services in the Family Foster Care unit. I can’t even believe how my life has played out in the past couple of months to lead me to this amazing career. I have been working at GSS for almost three months now and I must say it is truly a tedious but rewarding job. I help find youth permanency within the foster care system and have developed relationships with amazing kids and adolescents.

It’s funny to me when I think back on my time at HWS and how it’s helped mold me to where I am now. When I graduated, I wanted to be a hardcore activist, but I didn’t really know what that looked like. I thought by being engulfed in the feminist movement online that I would find my voice and become the next Audre Lorde, but there was a bigger plan for me. I now realize that I don’t have to try to get my foot in to the movement online, but rather become my own type of activist in a field where it needs advocating. It’s kind of ironic to be going from one spectrum of feminist activism when a part of me knew all along that I would be where I am now. I can truly say that it has been a blessing in disguise and all the waiting has paid off.

Now, as I move forth into this career of Family Foster Care, I know that my activism will not fade away because it is with me every day when I am talking with my kids or advocating for them in court. Isn’t life funny?

 


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The Blessings in Disguise

My fellow bloggers! Today has been a wonderful day full of love, compassion, and understanding which has led to inspiration.

These past few months I have been getting much closer with certain people in my family and it has led me to really think about myself and what my future holds for me. When people ask me what I want to do with my life post-grad, I usually say the same things that associate with things I’ve done in college: feminism and media work, student affairs, feminist activism online, etc. but my life after college has done nothing related to that. Granted, I’ve maintained my presence online, but I’m talking on a larger scale.

Then, I think about what I’m doing while offline: spending time with my family, helping my brother with homework, giving my cousins advice on life, love, and menstruation, having adult conversations with my friends, supporting my older cousins with their new endeavors, etc… What I just came to realize is the blessings that have been placed right before my eyes which made me think about my independent study during college: teaching young people about the things that they may not get from their parents or guardians.

I titled this blog Do(ing) it like a Feminist because I believe that everything I do is feminist. Feminism is who I am and it’s the language I speak. When I’m spending time with my younger siblings/cousins, I’m having honest dialogue about growing up and reminding them to always ask questions because I never really had someone to do that for me as a kid.

Sometimes we don’t see the blessings right before our eyes, so once in a while, it’s good to step back and understand a new perspective.


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The Best Things of 2012

I’ve been inspired to write about the type of year I’ve had today. I’m not one to count down the best and worst things of this year, but this is an exceptional year for so many reasons. There are so many things to be thankful for so I want to highlight a few of them here.

1. Being the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college.

(Thank you to Eppy Suarez for taking amazing pictures)

2. Being a badass Feminist Activist

Vagina Monologues 2012

Meeting Robyn Ochs

CLPP Conference at Hampshire College

Bringing Jenn Pozner to HWS

Slutwalk Geneva

(There is more but I have to keep it moving)

3. Making amazing new friends and building feminist community

Have to end it with these two lovely ladies, my advisors and academic parents of HWS.

(There are tons more but that could take the whole feed)

4. Re-connecting with family near and far

5. Finding an amazing man-partner who supports my choices and shares my views on the world.

Honorable mention: MY SEEDLINGS! I can not forget them ❤

It has been a great year for me, and life can only get better.

Cheers to you 2012, you were fantastic!


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Having an Open & Intellectual Conversation with Your Partner/ A Mini-Lesson on Privilege & Oppression

Bloggers,

Last night, Marcus and I had an extremely interesting conversation that spanned over dinner, before and after a movie, and during a quick trip to Dunkin Donuts. Here’s where it started: while we were sitting in Red Lobster, I noticed that I didn’t see any female waiters and I made a comment about it. Marcus told me that I was being “racist” (wrong word) and before I face palmed myself, I told him that he meant sexist. We then proceeded a conversation about sexism and racism and how they weren’t the same thing. I explained that I wasn’t implying that there should be only women working there, but there should be an EQUAL amount of all genders because that’s how it should be. This led into a conversation about children and his double standard of boys and girls.

Granted, I could have just gotten up and walked away to go to the bathroom or just changed the subject, but these are the types of conversations that need to be created to understand both sides of the relationship. When I decide to have kids, it doesn’t matter whether they are a boy or a girl, they will be treated the same way. If I treat them a certain way according to society’s standards, then the cycle of socialization will continue amongst my children. Marcus felt a different way about raising his children, but after reaching a stalemate (or rather our food came), the conversation stopped and was left alone. Later that evening, we started talking about the impending ratification of Puerto Rico as the 51st state, and to my surprise, we held the same ideals. Then, he made a comment about Latin American’s emulating their culture off of black culture, and I couldn’t just let that go. I started talking to him about urbanization and how we’re socialized according to the environment we surround ourselves with. There was something so genuine about this conversation because although in my heart I knew he was serious about these ideas, I was afforded the opportunity to educate him about these types of subjects.

Now, when it comes to relationships, is it OK to keep the politics out of it, or engage them and create conversations? With that question, I answer by saying that the personal is political, and everything we do, experience, etc. has a political connotation. We can’t pretend like our society isn’t dealing with social issues and economic crisis, so conversations need to happen. Who knows, maybe both sides can learn something and take it to someone else, then the dialogue is really expanding. As a female who understands the simultinaety of privilege and oppression, it is pertinent to retain knowledge about these different types of politics.

According to the SCWAMP theory, it is said that if you fall under SCWAMP, then you are of the privileged few. What is SCWAMP? It is an acronym: Straight, Christian, White, Able-Bodied, Male with Property (meaning social class), and if you fit into this mold, then you are privileged and considered the dominant force in this society. However, many do not fall under this system; many feel oppression from single or multiple identities. As a Puerto Rican woman with no property, I understand the oppression of my race, class, and gender, but I recognize my privilege in my religion, accessibility, and sexuality. It is with the simultinaety of my privilege and oppression that I am able to understand the concept of how I’ve been socialized in my environment, but it is my duty to break free from the cycle and educate others about it, and what better way to start then with your partner.

Granted, this post switched into a personal rant, but as I said before, the personal is political. Stay true to yourself and expand the conversation. After all, it’s the most simple form of activism.


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Preparing Yourself for the Younger Generation’s Questions

Bloggers,

In the past couple of months, I have been hanging out a lot of with my younger cousins (age range 12-14). Usually, I bring a game with me (either a hand game or Apples to Apples), but last week we played Manhunt outside at night time. After having to explain what it was (none of them knew – curse my 90’s self), we played about 5 rounds, the last round being that they couldn’t find me (FTW). After that I was tired (because I’m old) and we went to the store for drinks and candy. When we came back, we sat in the kitchen and the funniest/craziest/weirdest thing happened. The oldest cousin of the three just blurted out “Gabby, did you know that (name) started her lady business.” — Ok, it wasn’t exactly that because I couldn’t remember what she said, but you get the picture.

I was baffled for a quick second. How can my fourteen year old cousin just blurt out something like that? Then my feminist mind kicked in, telling me that it was ok to create conversation about menstruation and puberty. They started asking me questions about how your period works and I began telling them about my first time getting it (I was in church, God gave me a gift of messed up jeans and no protection). After we laughed about it, we got down to the nitty gritty and I drew a picture of a vagina and explained in detail how getting your period works. They kept asking other questions, such as, why do we get cramps and how often do you get it and for how long, etc. I told them it was different for everyone and cramps come from the shedding of the uterus lining (not in those words though).

Then they asked me why boys are so dumb, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I just remembered my thirteen year old self feeling that way about boys because they would bother me, when really they just liked me. I started to explain to them why boys are so simple yet complex and assured them that they would grow out of it a little bit at a time.

I came home and reflected on the conversation I had with my younger cousins and wondered how kids are getting their information. Granted, there are parents who are open and honest with their children, but what about those who choose to play the ignorance card? The younger generation is in need of some serious information about puberty, sex, boys, education, etc. and we need to prepare them. I am glad I was able to sit down with my little cousin’s and talk to them about puberty, even if we had multiple interruptions. In a society that pushes puberty, sex, and sexuality in to the private sphere, we need to make it public and educate the younger generation about what’s to come.