Monday, January 31, 2011

Street Harassment

Today, when I was walking from class to work, something happened. It happens rather frequently. You have probably witnessed it, or even have been a victim of it. So, what happened you might ask?

Street Harassment.

A car full of men shouted at a woman crossing the street asking her if she was a “hooker.” The woman continued walking, ignoring the car full of men. Those who heard it continued on their way, perhaps giving a glance at the car. Although, many people don’t think twice about it or even turn a head.

Many of us do this – namely, because we do not know how to react. We know that these instances of street harassment are not right but many of us are at a loss on what to do.

Fortunately, help is on the way. Anti-harassment expert Holly Kearl is coming to Northern Illinois University to discuss whether there should be legal repercussions for street harassment and how being cat-called affects women’s experience in public spaces. Join the Women’s Resource Center, Health Enhancement and the Campus Activities board while we welcome Holly, and learn more about combating street harassment.

Tuesday, Febuary 1st
Heritage room, Holmes Student Center

*This blog was written by WRC staff member: Lettie

Friday, January 28, 2011

"I'm Not Buying It"

As the Super Bowl quickly approaches, America is busy reppin’ their respective teams, placing bets on who will win, planning Super Bowl watch parties, and flocking to Texas for the game. However, die-hard football fans are not the only ones heading to Texas in mass amounts, thousands of people, including children as young as 10, will be forcibly transported to the Super Bowl for sex trafficking’s busiest weekend of the year. Jezebel reports that the Florida Commission against Human Trafficking estimated that “tens of thousands of women and minors were trafficked into the Miami area during the Super Bowl last year.” The expected increase in occurrences of human trafficking has both law enforcement and advocates gearing up to prevent and crack down on trafficking.

The Polaris Project and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights have released this ad, campaigning for the closing of the “Adult Section” of the Village Voice Media’s which has been used by some for child sex trafficking.

Traffic 911 has released a series of videos called “I’m not buying It” which feature a variety of people including trafficking survivors, hip hop artists, and football players talking about the sexual trafficking of children. The videos can be found here.

I'll admit that I’m not necessarily a fan of all of the content of the videos, especially the statement in one video which says “real men don’t buy sex.” I think it’s problematic to infuse anti-trafficking awareness with ideals and notions of “traditional” masculinity and “real” men; also it comes across as strictly anti-sex work. Although being anti-sex work is not necessarily bad, I think we need to remember that voluntary sex work, (if truly voluntary), is a completely different thing from underage children being sold for sex, and as such needs to be treated as adifferent issue. I do think that the ads are genuine in intent and I think it’s great that they will be shown during the Super Bowl. The videos will reach a huge number of people and are sending a message that isn’t often heard in mainstream society, I hope that the videos can serve as a conversation starter about human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a serious problem which is going to require tons of anti-trafficking awareness and support in order to stop or decrease, kudos to these groups to use one of the biggest events in United States to be pro-active about stopping human trafficking.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blog for Choice Day

Last Friday, hundreds of bloggers across the country took to their computers to participate in national Blog for Choice Day. log for Choice Day is an initiative sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice America to get “ more people reading and talking about reproductive rights online on one of the most important days surrounding a woman’s right to choose: the Roe anniversary. Plus, it lets your readers and the mainstream media know that a woman's right to choose is a core progressive value that must be protected. “

Saturday was the 38th anniversary of Roe V. Wade. This important decision legalized abortion, giving women the crucial right to decide what happens to their bodies, and ultimately saving women’s lives by removing the need to have dangerous back-alley abortions.

Although Roe V. Wade was decided thirty-eight years ago, the right to chose is still not solidified. States are passing more and more stringent regulations with the aim at making it impossible for abortion clinics to stay open, and its working. Many women do not have a choice, because abortion is available to them only at unfair burdens. Frontline: The Last Abortion Clinic does a great job at analyzing this ever-increasing problem.

It’s important that we affirm the right of women to choose. This means that we need to call awareness to the problem and work actively to fight against it. We cannot let the fundamental right for women to choose what happens to their bodies be taken away. I urge you to find out what kind of activism is going on near you and find a way to support it.

If you are interested in pro-choice and reproductive health activism at NIU, I urge you to check at Advocates for Choice NIU, it meets Wednesdays nightst at 6 pm at the Women's Resource Center.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Active Disability

We all recognize the universal wheelchair symbol. And for the most part, it has served pretty well. However, the standard wheelchair symbol might be changing. TJMaxx and other stores are using an image of a person in a wheelchair that depicts them being active and independent. I hope all wheelchair symbols will be replaced with this progressive image.

In the first image, it is often assumed that someone else will push their wheelchair for them. In the second image, the self-agency of the individual in the wheelchair is clearly defined.

Some wheelchair symbols don’t even explicitly define the person’s arms, let alone the person using them. That typical image has a passive, inactive, and dependent quality about it. And as the typical wheelchair sign is the universal symbol for those in wheelchairs, unfortunately, those passive, inactive, dependent qualities are transferred from just a sign to an actual human, and to a diverse group of individuals.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again???

Returning to campus (which, after four weeks off of school was not an easy task) I really thought about all of the events that had happened in 2010 and so far in 2011. Several of the events that had rocked my year and some days included mostly civil rights topics (disclaimer: not every event I want to list is here because let’s face it, my blogs are generally long enough as is).

In February 2010 it was announced that women in the Navy will now be allowed to serve on submarines (that was still an issue?). March 2010 brought an Oscar Award to Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director. Kathryn was the first ever woman director to receive an Oscar in that category. President Obama also signs a comprehensive medical bill in March 2010 that will insure about 95% of all Americans (Wow, even the working poor can get some help in this country? Where am I?). 21 states announce in May 2010 that they will sue the government in order to repeal the comprehensive medical bill signed in March (Oh wait, yep, I’m in U.S). In July BP finally stops the oil spill in the Gulf Coast after it pollutes the water for 86 days (while the poor who are uninsured die out, we’ll kill the environment too… Now that’s what I call multitasking). August 2010 brought the conformation of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (rock on Kagan!!!) and the decision in California that Proposition 8 (which banned gay marriage) was unconstitutional (Oh my. Really?). September-November brought law suits, repeals, and investigations into whether or not Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be repealed. December 2010, congress finally ends the bickering (say what????) and votes to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to allow gay and lesbian service members to be open about their sexuality in the armed services. January 2011 brought a terrible shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona. Around the same time Glen Beck goes on record saying we need political tolerance (I don't even know how to respond to that).....

As we move into a new calendar year and the second part of the academic year, I can only hope we can forge through for the equality of men and women. But whatever I do, I simply can’t blink at any point this year! Doing so would make me liable to speed through the year without realizing all of the things going on around me. This would lead me to do the time warp, again.