Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When Do I Get to Vote on Your Marriage?

NIU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) student organization, Prism, has recently formed another organization called the Prism Activist Movement (PAM). PAM focuses on advocating on behalf of the LGBT community on campus and is currently hosting a fundraiser to raise money for future Prism events and Equality Illinois. Equality Illinois is an organization for marriage equality in the state of Illinois that does really great work; they were instrumental in passing the Illinois Civil Unions Bill and have created positive change in the lives of LGBT people all over the state.

PAM is selling “When do I get to Vote on YOUR Marriage?” buttons for $1 each today in Wirtz from 9am to 3pm. Buttons will also be available in the LGBT Resource Center (located on the 7th floor of the Holmes Student Center) today. So come out and help support PAM and Equality Illinois!

More information can be found here.

For more information about the Prism Activist Movement, visit PAM’s facebook page.

What is Consent?

When I was first introduced to the topic, sexual misconduct and consent, I wasn’t sure how to respond without being too opinionated. So, I decided to do a little research before blogging to see what society defines consent as. While researching I came across a site This site discussed the issue of consent on college campuses and identified the idea that most campus codes of conduct explain what consent is not, but not what consent is. Intrigued by this fact, I decided to find the definition of consent.

According to, consent is defined as - to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield (often followed by to or an infinitive): He consented to the proposal. We asked her permission, and she consented.

A person must give permission and or agree, before consent is formally given. Armed with this knowledge I decided to delve deeper into NIU’s definition of consent in the student code of conduct. According to NIU’s code of conduct, chapter three article 1.3a and b, Sexual Misconduct includes sexual harassment and assault.

NIU’s code of conduct states the following:
Sexual Harassment: Behavior that may include but is not limited to unwanted fondling or touching of a sexual nature, directly or through clothing; indecent exposure; or lewd behavior; any of which demeans, intimidates, coerces, threatens, or has the effect of creating a hostile or offensive environment. Such behavior may include the use of mail, telephone, or electronic communication to convey messages that are obscene or intimidating to the recipient.

Sexual Assault: Any actual or threatened sexual contact against that person’s will or where the victim is incapable of giving consent.

So once again I was given the answer to what consent is not, but not what it is. Given this information how can one truly understand the issue of sexual assault and consent, when it is not clearly stated in the campus code of conduct?

It’s about time “consent” is defined clearly and plainly so that it is accurately understood. Here’s my advice to all out there, if you have to question it then you shouldn’t be doing it.
Written by guest blogger, Jalen

That's Gay - Sissy Commercials has a great special called “That’s Gay” hosted by Brian Safi who is always spot on with his commentary. One of the best episodes I’ve seen is Safi highlighting commercials put out by big name brands (Old Spice, Snickers, Miller Lite and others) that use macho masculinity and compulsory heterosexuality to sell their products to their target audience.

True, some marketers may make ads targeted specifically at gay men, and put them in gay magazines. However, most advertisements that have some sort of homophobic undertones are in the mainstream media.

As Safi points out, marketers are missing something vital: they are insulting and alienating consumers that have more disposable income for their products. As gay couples, specifically gay male couples, historically have not had children to care for (and to budget for), they have had more disposable income. So why would companies want to insult such a demographic? Perhaps they are making a social statement. Perhaps they feel 7%- 10% of the overall population is not large enough to be concerned about. Whatever the reason, the homophobia is off-putting to gender-conscious consumers.

I know I blacklist brands (and their parent companies!) that use advertisements full of homophobia, racism, sexism, etc. More than that, I consciously support brands that actively work against those said prejudices by buying their products and telling my friends.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Baby Trap

Why is it that Jennifer Aniston gets scrutinized for not having children yet, while other childless celebrities such as Oprah don’t receive the same scrutiny? The media portrays Aniston as a selfish person for not wanting to have children. They also blame her for the failure of her marriage to Brad Pitt. They say that he dumped her because she was not ready to have his children. They say Angelina was ready to settle down and have children and Jen was not. Apparently, Jen not wanting to start a family is what pushed Brad into Angelina’s arms, so to speak.

The fact that this gossip has taken a toll on Jen’s career is absurd. Even if Jen does not want children she could never express that in an interview because the media would bash her as a person. Why is it that in every relationship Jen has been in since Brad, magazines such as Star and People speculated about a potential baby bump? Also, recently there was an adoption rumor that got started. Bloggers and journalists said that she was going to adopt since she could not have any children biologically.

This entire obsession with her reproductive life is insulting and ludicrous. Why can’t she live her life as a happy successful actress instead of being portrayed as either selfish or infertile? The media should not scrutinize her decision to not have children just because she’s reached a certain age. I feel we need to leave Jen alone and let her enjoy life. If motherhood comes for her one day then it will and that will be her choice.

It’s interesting that older, childless male celebrities do not face the same scrutiny as female celebs like Jen.
Written by guest blogger, Sharnice

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Female Candidates Faulted for Being Female

Two female candidates for a Vice-President position of their college student association are being slammed for attempting to look like beauty pageant contestants, instead of respectable candidates. The college newspaper, The Concordian, had harsh words for the two women: “If you pass by a bulletin board in any Concordia academic building, you will likely find it congested with the over-sized, smiling faces of the ASFA candidates. I'm wondering — are these individuals running for student government positions or the chance to don a sparkly crown and sash?”

It’s not any secret, in fact it is generally accepted, that candidates attempt to look visually appealing. And surprise! Male candidates do the same. As pointed out, “[the candidates] look like they're dressed to go to class.” And as it is a college student association, you would think that would be appealing. Do they really look like they are dressed for a pageant? I mean, they are not wearing ball gowns or big hair-dos. They are wearing feminine, casual clothes.

If a male candidate used a photo of himself in masculine casual clothing, would that be newsworthy? Would there be an article in the school newspaper about how he appears to be riding on his good looks by way of getting votes? Of course not.

It is unfortunate the article is inherently sexist and yet masked with something as benign as clothing.

Unfortunately, the direct link to The Concordian has been removed. Perhaps a sign of regret? Here is the article I referenced written by

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yes Means Yes

I read Yes Means Yes a couple of months ago and was blown away by the unique mix of accessibility and challenging/new ideas in the collection. I expected the book to be a collection of survivor stories, or family members of survivors, but I was in for a surprise. The book goes far beyond survivor stories, and delves into theories of consent, and an ideal world free of sexual assault, while the authors use their personal experiences as anecdotes to their ideas.

For instance, one author writes about her own relationships and how every act involving physical touch must be asked for and consented to every time. This ranges anywhere from a hug from a friend to sex with a partner. She writes how that model of consent allows her and her partner to have completely open lines of communication and how she has learned to not only accept/consent to touch, but also how to ask for touch that you want. She writes that she loved consenting wholeheartedly every single time.

I thought one of the most powerful pieces was the “Not-Rape Epidemic” by Latoya Peterson. In the essay, Peterson writes that we all learn about rape. From an early age, we understand what rape is. There are countless Lifetime films devoted to rape, lectures, speeches, etc. to promoting awareness of rape. What we don’t hear about too often is “not-rape.” Peterson defines not-rape as: being pressured into losing your virginity, not being able to remember what happened when you wake to find a family member in your bed with you, having an older family member’s boyfriend ask you for sexual favors, feeling boys grope you during school, among other sexual transgressions that don’t fit the definition of rape. Peterson even includes her own painful and personal experience of not-rape.

All of the essays in the book are extraordinary and powerful. Luckily, the WRC owns a copy of Yes Means Yes, which any NIU student/faculty member can check out from our library. You can look at our entire library collection here.