Do(ing) it Like a Feminist

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


2 Comments

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


Leave a comment

The Personal is Political: Life in Social Service

Hello fellow bloggers! It has been a long time (as usual), but the life of a case worker never rests! 

I have been working at my job for 8 months now and it has taught me a lot about myself as a professional and as a person in society. Working in the foster care system is no walk in the park; it tests your mind and your spirit every day, but I am lucky to have such a strong, stable team who push me to keep moving forward. Foster Care also teaches you a lot about the systemic issues that occur within our (NYC) society. So many people say the system is broken, and in some instances they may be right, but sometimes it isn’t. If there is anything I have learned about working in foster care, it is that despite the circumstances that may arise, we are in control of our future; WE can take responsibility for our actions and learn from them. 

There is such a thin line between the personal and the political, especially when it comes to direct work/social service. We work directly with families and often times we are taught not to step over the line into personal territory. Now this is true, as a case worker, it is pertinent not to pass the boundaries, but sometimes it’s hard not to let your personal feelings get the best of you. I have worked with some of the best kids who have been dealt a bad hand in life, but when you pour your heart and soul into working with them, your desire to protect and advocate for them comes into full effect. 

People can go back and forth about the systemic issues that are failing our kids, but in essence, the life of a social service worker isn’t easy. We devote so much of our time to helping reunify families and do right by them, but no one can truly understand how much effort goes into this job. I applaud all my case workers and social service workers every day for doing this type of work and not getting much recognition for it. I just want us all to remember: let us not become jaded from the downfalls we face, but to be proud of the successes we achieve. As Robyn Brown-Manning stated, we are precious care workers. If the work is sacred, then so are we. 

I am proud of the work I do despite the many challenges. Case workers are activists too, even if they don’t recognize it as such. Let’s continue to do the work. 

 


2 Comments

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.


Leave a comment

Poetry Corner: Hate Happened Here

I found this poem I wrote in 2010 after the teen suicides in 2010 and I wanted to share it on the blog. Here it is:

 

Hate Happened Here

What is hate?

A simple object of our imagination

Playing a big role in the reincarnation

Of traditions and old ideologies

Simply leading into the objectification

Of people we love

And those who love us.

 

How dare we objectify people because of their identity?

The color of their skin

The people they choose to love

Their gender and class

Being able-bodied or not–

This can’t be society’s plot

To change the way we think

Reinforce the roles from history,

Or in my case, HERstory,

To keep the cycle of socialization going and going,

Until we’re

Gone.

 

We can’t continue to live like this,

Hoping and praying that change occurs

While we sit back,

Become a bystander

Read on the news

“A teenage boy has committed suicide due to anti-gay bullying

ENOUGH.

 

One person

One person can change the world.

Pretty soon that ME will turn to WE

And WE can be the change we wish to see.

In the world.

 

© Gabby P 2010


7 Comments

Life is All About Rhetorical Choices

Bloggers! Today was an exciting day for feminism and community!

Don’t you just love graffiti art?

My friend Connie came to visit me this past weekend (also known as my birthday weekend) and we have been having great feminist conversations since her arrival! Considering we are social justice sisters, it is fitting that once we get reconnected, we start devising plans of world domination (or what flavor cupcake we want to try). Today, we met up with my friend Carrie for some Brooklyn fun, which may or may not have included cupcakes, feminist lit, and tattoos.

Yes, you read correctly – TATTOOS. Everything about this was a rhetorical choice, based on a previous situation that left three people tattooed with the word “choice” in various fonts a couple months ago. Even when I got my first tattoo (FTB – F**k the Binaries), it was based on a rhetorical choice, as all tattoos should be considering it’s permanent. As usual, my thought process behind today’s tattoo was spontaneous even though Connie was dead set on getting it for weeks. She decided on getting “womynist” with the O replaced by a venus symbol (aka the female symbol for those who don’t know). I had to sketch the idea for the tattoo artist, and this is the best I could do in a short time:

Check out my hand drawn font! Yes, that is helvetica.

This tattoo is both a personal and rhetorical choice, because as you all know, the personal is political (as usual). After talking with the tattoo artist and my fellow fontist Carrie, we decided to go with the Franklin Gothic Demi Condensed font in size 36 (Michele you would be so proud). And because you are all anxious for the finished product, here it is:

JUST KIDDING! If you don’t know where this is from, you need to get out more. Here it really is:

This is some rhetorical shiznet

Aside from the tattoo being at a steal of a price, it was also a great to finally get a tattoo with my social justice PIC (never mind the awesome look on Carrie’s face when I made a split decision to get it as well).

For me, tattoos are meant to be rhetorical, but personal. This is a representation of the person I am due to feminism and activism. If you are going to permanently ink your body, it should have a higher meaning than the average “it would just look cool” thought.

Next up: I found a signature of my mother’s and I’m going to have a tattoo artist scan and enlarge it for my next tattoo project. Here’s to the next rhetorical choice!


1 Comment

Columbus Day: Why it’s a Holiday Not Worth Celebrating

Last week, I was helping my brother with a paper on whether or not Christopher Columbus was a positive role model for people to celebrate. At first, I was wondering why his 7th grade class was learning these things at his age, and second, I had an in depth conversation regarding the truth of Christopher Columbus. Needless to say, we both ended up on the same page and banged out his one page paper (don’t you wish you were in middle school again).

Christopher Columbus is not a man to be celebrated. Here is a picture explaining why in one sentence:

Get it?

Columbus was responsible for many things, main ones being the spread of diseases and the opening of the slave trade in the New World. He is also responsible for eliminating a culture that existed before he arrived. Instead of celebrating Columbus Day, celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. It’s more important and it highlights a culture that was there before Columbus’ invasion.

This video is about three years old, but it still gets the message across. Check it out after the jump.

Oh, and Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!