Friday, October 30, 2009

Guerrilla Girls

The Guerrilla Girls are coming to Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art on November 10-11! This group of masked avengers has been touring the country and the world since 1985 speaking out against sexism, racism and corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture. The group has appeared at more than 90 universities and museums, not to mention The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Bitch, Artforum, NPR, the BBC and CBC.

To make their point, the Guerrilla Girls maintain their anonymity by wearing Gorilla masks while presenting public interventions, performing satirical skits to help inspire others to create their own sophisticated acts of aesthetic resistance.

So if you happen to be around the Museum of Art November 10-11, be prepared for a spectacle of creative protesting mixed with thoughtful insight into the world of art.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Helping Women who have been raped not a government priority?

In all of my blogs I attempt to throw in a little pop culture related to important issues of the day. This particular blog, although serious in its subject matter, is explained though this clip of The Daily Show:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

It is absolutely ridiculous that private contractors are allowed to put clauses on rape in their employee contracts. Al Franken's Bill is not proposing gratuitous suing; it is allowing women who are RAPED to get some form of justice. It is sad that Republicans (considering they cast the 30 nay votes) attempted to block a bill intended to help women. We should be questioning the motives of representatives that are voting down bills that help the corporations and not the public.

If you want some more information on this story I found this post from The Nation.

Friday, October 16, 2009


LUNAFEST 09/10 Films from Mara Sohn on Vimeo.

Tonight at 6:00 p.m. in Wirtz 101, the Women's Resource Center will be hosting LUNAFEST. LUNAFEST is a short film festival featuring films by, for, and about women. Professor Vazquez from the Communication Department will also speak about her experiences as female filmmaker and introduce her documentary "Mother Jones: America's Most Dangerous Woman".

To see LUNAFEST in Chicago would cost you up to $50, but the Women's Resource Center has brought it to NIU for only $2 for students and $5 for community members, faculty and staff.

Proceeds from this event will benefit the Breast Cancer Fund and the Women's Resource Center Library.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

No Homo?

So, for those who dont know, Current TV has come out with a new, witty short in addition to the ever-awesome Sarah Haskins. That’s Gay is the “gay” version of Sarah Haskins, where the host, Bryan Safi, reviews popular culture, mostly media. This particular episode caught my attention:

I think that this episode shows a disturbing and growing trend. It is sad that this phrase is not only catching on, but that people do not even question the homophobic undertones. Also, one of the most depressing aspects of this whole “NO HOMO” trend is that Kanye West has begun to use it. Granted, Kanye is not a shining example of how to be politically correct or tactful for that matter (see MTV choice awards), but, at one time, he was actually an advocate for LGBT rights!

I am glad to see I am not the only one questioning this preposterous and offensive trend, and hopefully more people will come to their senses and start questioning rappers' use of the phrase. If we continue to blindly accept the phrase "No Homo," then we are forgetting and diminishing all the advances that we have been making in stopping homophobia.

There’s An App for That, and it Pisses Me Off

This past weekend, I came across an article on Jezebel about the new iPhone application by Amp energy drink called “Amp Up Before You Score”. This application has a two-fold purpose. When you see a female that you wish to penetrate, you decide which category (from a list of 24 possibilities) she best fits under. Then, the application provides you with a “cheat sheet” including pick-up lines or insider information to help you smooth-talk your way into this lady's pants. For example, if you want to bang a Punk Rock Girl, “Amp Up Before You Score” provides you with a history of punk rock via Wikipedia, so you can impress her and open up her legs with your knowledge and insight into her very being. And, if* you do score, this app encourages you to brag about it to all your Twitter and Facebook friends.

Obviously this is an idiotic program which I doubt anyone would use. That is not the point. The point is, to quote an excellent movie (Network), “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”. On a related note, this is not the first time Pepsi has angered the writers of this blog.

The story gets even more interesting when you consider the fact that Northern Illinois University is a “Pepsi Campus”. In 1998, NIU signed a 10 year contract with Pepsi; Pepsi agreed to give NIU at least $400,000 a year in exchange for ‘exclusive pouring rights’**. Well, NIU, I give you at least $10,000 a year (and that doesn’t even include books!). The 12,950 other female students who attend this school and I represent (at a low estimate) nearly $130,000,000 in tuition dollars. Yeah, NIU, Money Talks. And maybe you shouldn’t be taking dirty money from a company that continually takes a dump on the gender that makes up over half of this school’s student population.

*More like when. Because what woman can resist some dude who just ‘gets’ her, ya know?
**I searched very hard to find evidence of this contract renewal. For the purposes of this blog, and because of word-of-mouth, I am assuming it has been renewed. Last time I purchased a soda from a vending machine (September of this year?) it contained Pepsi products.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I love this picture…but I didn’t at first.

In the spirit of WRC’s next program, The Personal is Political: Feminist Disruptions in Art on October 14, I have decided to tell you about a piece of feminist art I discovered and why I love it so much. I should preface the following observations by saying I’m not an “art person”. I do not regularly contemplate or create art, or know anything about art history, so my thoughts are strictly based on my perceptions and are not well informed critiques.
I came across this picture on while researching feminist art a couple of months ago. My first thought was “why would you make that the first picture you see when you open the page?!...that’s terrible image of a woman…yet another promotion of sexual violence against women.” But as I continued on with my search, the image kept creeping back into my mind and I couldn’t figure out why I was thinking about it so much or how I felt about it. Then I realized….slowly…..that I kind of liked the picture. For the next couple of days I tried talking myself out of it because it is kind of a weird picture of a woman apparently being murdered and that really shouldn’t be an image I enjoy or approve of. So after awhile I decided to copy the image onto my desk top to discover what it is that I find so interesting about her and here is what I have concluded.
She is a victim and a fighter. I think a lot of women feel this way on a daily basis. Of course, I don’t think this feeling rises to the level murder but the little jabs from society are still injurious. At the same time however, there is an unmistakable look of determination on her face. Even though is knows that she is badly hurt, she is not going to back down. The image shows her naked, with her back literally up against a wall putting her in an incredibly vulnerable position, but she does not show any weakness. The gun is steadily pointing back at her attacker, she has aimed her weapon perfectly, and I have no doubt that she will shoot…but only if she has to.
That leads to another interesting thought. I believe that she knows who her attacker is but is not afraid or even surprised. It seems all to true that women are far more likely to be victimized by someone they know than by a stranger. Again, this victimization may not always be murderous, but could be the little stereotypes that women are confronted with everyday by people who they know and love.
She also seems so pure and innocent. The stereotype of blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin are token characteristics of innocence and she manages to pull them off while bleeding and holding a loaded gun. In today’s society where women are pressured to become sexual at younger and younger ages, it seems like women struggle to maintain these characteristics and in a figurative sense, they must fight for them.
Finally, I must say she looks good doing it….not the most progressive sentiment, but it’s true and I think it does draw me to her. Then again, why can’t good looking women also be powerful or perhaps dangerous?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Advocates for Choice is having its FIRST Meeting!

Advocates for Choice (AFC), the new student group affiliated with our center, is already doing lots of great work to improve the campus climate for women. The Education of Shelby Knox, a documentary about a young woman who rallies for comprehensive sex education at her school, was screened on September 9. AFC also acted as a counter-perspective to the anti-choice rally that took place in MLK Commons on September 24. Condoms and information about the group were distributed. Our message and presence was well received by many students who were glad to see another option being represented. Many thanks to all of those who participated in these events!

AFC is happy to announce that the first group meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 (TODAY!) from 5-6 p.m. at the Women's Resource Center. We will be discussing the future of the group and ways to get involved. Please bring any ideas you would like to share regarding possible events or tactics we could employ to educate the university community. Hope to see you there!

Video Game Glass Ceiling

So, I was looking on for a good article to blog on, and my nerdy half jumped a little inside when I saw the article, The Glass Console Ceiling. I opened it thinking I would read all about videogames and how women are now breaking the “console glass ceiling,” but unfortunately the article was on how to assemble a glass table. Nevertheless, it brought up video games and, therefore, I will be venting about them and you all get to sit back and enjoy the show.

So, I occasionally play Xbox360 video games online, and it has gotten to the point that I no longer feel comfortable playing and hearing other gamers, predominantly men talk. When playing video games people say thing that are completely sexist, racist, and homophobic with no filter or remorse for who is listening. One particularly alarming example of this offensive
language takes place when one player is winning by a large margin, or one player has lost in an exceptional manner. The winner often uses the phrases “I raped you,” or “you just got raped.” rape quotes are some of the most popular and frequent. Many people say this without thinking about what they are equating rape to.

When using it in the settings listed, gamers, mostly men, are saying that rape is comparable to winning. It accentuates the dynamics of powe rand dominance in rape and takes away from the seriousness by applying it to mundane games. Personally, I could not handle this phrase knowing the impact of rape and the disproportionate number of women affected by it each year, so to hear men using these sayings was unacceptable in my mind. I have been turned off by such language and I can only image that others feel the same sense of outrage that I do.

So, for me, breaking the video game glass ceiling involves muting the misogynistic language so that I can participate in a field of male dominated and male-centered culture. I hope that eventually, just as we are critical of such bigotry in modern society, I hope that we can one day be critical of what goes on in video games as well and that everyone can participate without hearing racial, homophobic or sexist slurs.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bras Hats Off to This Guy

Oz du Soleil of Chicago originally collected the bras of his female friends for a blog project; he’d photograph the bras (sans humans) and write about the women who wore them. After the project ended, he had 50 or so bras stuffed in the back of his closet. When his girlfriend discovered them, it naturally sparked her curiosity; after he explained himself, she donated some of them to girls at a local school who had been wearing safety-pinned bras. The girls were grateful to have clean bras to wear, and du Soleil moved on with his life.

After he was laid off in the summer of 2008, the bra donation idea came back to him. He decided to launch an online blog to collect new or gently used bras. Apparently, bras are the least-donated item for underprivileged women and girls. Oz du Soleil’s blog aims to change that; he has now donated over 3,000 bras.

This story made me so happy! And it also made me want to clean out my underwear drawer.

Photo: Oz du Soleil sorts through some donations


Monday, October 5, 2009

Autism Speaks...with a gender bias??

By: Tabi Cooper, WRC volunteer*

In the United States, there is a 1 to 150 chance of being diagnosed with autism; the male to female ratio for this diagnosis is 4:1. Recognizing the ratio and that research focuses on male autistics, it’s unsurprising that females with autism are overlooked.

So, why are there a lower number of female autistics? One theory is that is that the number of female autistics is not lower, but that there are a large number of undiagnosed females with autism. One reason behind the low number of females being diagnosed might be that females display different signs of autism than their male counterparts. For example, when considering gender roles, females are generally expected to be shy and docile, while males are more outgoing or aggressive. If a male child does not fit this profile (e.g. if he is shy), he might be diagnosed earlier. If a female child is shy, it’s just considered part of her temperament. Thus, many females might not even receive an autism diagnosis until early adulthood.

How do I know about this? It’s because I am an autistic female, and I know firsthand how difficult it was to get a diagnosis. When I was 4 years old, my parents took me to get evaluated. The evaluation focused on many different aspects of my development; during the evaluation, the evaluators noticed that I had “autistic-like characteristics,” but they did not diagnose me with autism. I’m not sure if they did not diagnose me at the age of four because the evaluation took place in 1985, when little research had been conducted on autism, or if it was because of my gender.

Fast forward to 2004 when I was finally diagnosed. There is now more research on autism conducted. Yet, there is still a lack of research on female autistics; much of it focuses on Rett Syndrome: the female-dominated form of autism. I have Asperger Syndrome, which is a male-dominated form of autism. I see two major problems with research on female autistics: it’s difficult to get a large enough sample (fewer diagnoses) and the medication that treats anxiety and hyperactivity are not generally tested on female autistics.

To help female autistics, separate research needs to be done that does not focus on the male population. There has been research done on the differences of heart attacks on males and females; maybe there are differences with autism between males and females. I believe that it is important that autistics should have the opportunity to live successfully with autism, but that requires research for both male and female autistics. Autism does not display a gender-bias, nor should its research.

*Editor's Note: The WRC blog will occasionally feature thoughts and opinions shared by a guest blogger. Many volunteers and friends of the Center have expressed an interest in contributing, and we look forward to sharing their various interests, experiences, and reactions to current political, social, and cultural topics.

Friday, October 2, 2009

What are you going to be for Halloween?

I know Halloween is weeks away, but if you are still contemplating what outfit to don, here are some of the great costumes for sale this year….

Pretty Polly Poseable Dolly Adult Costume

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it has come to this. After all, Halloween costumes have become less costume/disguise-like and more sexualized versions of costumes. But here we are; this Halloween you could be "Pretty Polly" the ideal poseable doll in a box. It isn’t enough that women are figuratively forced into unrealistic expectation boxes…..

Oh wait…it gets better…

Trophy Wife Adult Costume

I’ll just give you the retailers description to enjoy, "[e]very superstar, titan of industry, mogul or tough guy should have a trophy wife! Strut your stuff and show him you've got what it takes - move over Marla, there's a new girl in town! Trophy Wife costume is a 100% polyester gold dress and matching glovelets; dress has an attached black base bearing the words ‘Trophy Wife.’"