Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2nd Annual Rock Against Rape: Tomorrow!

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which means it’s time for the second annual Rock Against Rape! The Women’s Resource Center and The House CafĂ©, in conjunction with several local bands, are raising awareness of sexual assault by hosting a benefit concert. So help us kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month and enjoy some great music by socially conscious musicians and support a good cause! All proceeds will go to PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment). Time: 6:00–10:00 p.m. Location: The House, 263 E. Lincoln Highway Cost: $5.00 Co-sponsors: PAVE, Alpha Phi Gamma

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Girl Effect

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of academic work around the devaluing of girls globally. Basically, in places all over the world female children are valued less than male children, so they are treated differently. This includes a lack of education and choices for girls. Because they are denied education and other things that male children have, they grow up differently and are subsequently valued less as adults. This means that female children are less likely to be enrolled in school or to complete school, and more likely to be married and have children at an earlier age. USAID reports that “of the 72 million primary school aged children who do not attend school worldwide, 57% are girls, in addition, girls are 4% less likely than boys to complete school.”

The devaluation of girls causes them to be more vulnerable to poverty, gender based violence- including trafficking, and disease. Suddenly, this has become a global problem affecting more than just the girls, but everyone. How can we work to fix this?

The Girl Effect is an organization that is offering girls the opportunity to change their circumstances by going to school and earning a living; and changing the world one girl, one family, one village at a time.

I think that The Girl Effect is a great model. They’re working on the ground to change the lives of girls and increase their societal value. How much better could we do than that?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rutger's Residence Halls

After a freshman living in the residence halls at Rutgers University committed suicide after being bullied by his roommate for being gay, Rutger’s is rethinking its residence halls policies. The freshman, Tyler Clementi jumped off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate and his girlfriend videotaped Tyler having sex with his male partner.

Rutger’s is now starting a pilot program in the fall for students who wish to participate in gender-neutral room assignment. It’s only available in select halls, and only open to 100 students (about 50 rooms). Students who receive gender-neutral rooms will be able to request the sex of their roommate. Rutgers says the program is also open to heterosexual students as well, and will not ask the sexual identity of its students.

Kudos to Rutgers. I hope all universities start implementing residence hall policies such as this one.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Woman at Point Zero

I re-read one of my favorite books recently, Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El-Saadawi, and it is better than I remember it being the first time.

The novel’s narrator, Firdaus, is on death-row in Eygpt and her execution is set in one week. For the rest of the week, Firdaus recounts her life and how she ended-up on death row. She starts with her childhood; she was born to parents who didn’t love her and was given off to her uncle who married her off to an awful man who abused her.

After a particularly rough night with her husband, which ended in him raping her, Firdaus left her husband promptly. Suddenly Firdaus had to provide for herself in a culture that did not value women’s independence and most jobs were not open to women. So Firdaus decided a career in one of the very few jobs open to women – prostitution.

It proved to be a very luxurious job – FIrdaus owned her own body, something few women could say. She was able to use a word she wasn’t able to, even in her marriage: “no.” She denied men she wanted to, even men who were not accustomed to being denied by women, and got great satisfaction from it. She made good money from being a prostitute, and owned her own apartment and lived very comfortably.

After a few years, Firdaus decided to work at a factory, doing a conventional job. Oddly enough, Firdaus thought the factory was oppressive, not prostitution. She said, “These women are more afraid of losing their job than a prostitute is of losing her life.”

This book changed my perception of prostitution – for better or worse. It’s a slim novel, about 130 pages, and well worth the read. The author, Nawal El-Saadawi is a rad woman, and her biography on Wikipedia is worth a look.