Tag Archives: Global Injustice

Sick and Tired [TW: Racism, Rape, Homophobia]

22 Sep

Maybe it’s because I’ve been beyond stressed out lately. Maybe it’s because I haven’t slept much in the last week. Maybe it’s because I’m struggling to juggle a full-time job, a full course load, and still maintain some kind of social life.

Whatever the reason is, I am sick and tired of being a feminist. I’m tired of constantly defending myself, of trying to explain things. Like all of this:

I am tired of female politicians getting asked silly, vapid questions. As if who your favorite designer is has ANY impact on your ability to lead.

I know that feel, Hil.

I am tired of having to walk down the quad after class and listen to a group of fraternity brothers refer to people as “fags,” as if being LGBTQ is an insult.

I am tired of hearing my male friends complain about being “friendzoned.” I am tired of the idea that just because you are nice to a girl and give her a shoulder to lean on, she should automatically fall in love with you and/or enter into a sexual relationship with you.

Clearly your logic is perfect.

I’m sick and tired of listening to male politicians trying to make decisions about MY body. I’m tired of people like Paul Ryan, the VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE of the Republican Party, trying to argue that RAPE is a form of conception.

I’m tired of not being able to have a conversation about poverty in America without someone bringing up “welfare queens.” Just like Melissa Harris-Perry, I am sick of hearing that poor people are lazy, that they don’t work hard, that single mothers struggling to make ends meet just want to suck on the government tit.

I’m tired of telling people that I write and edit for a feminist blog and getting looks of disdain and dismissal. I’m tired of people assuming anything about me or my sexuality because I’m a feminist. I’m tired of being told that I make a big deal out of “stupid” things. I’m tired of being told to learn to take a joke. I’m tired of my very righteous anger being dismissed as the rantings of a silly young person who will calm down once she’s out of school.

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Sunday Links Round-Up

16 Sep

That’s right readers, we’ve reached the end of our first full week of blogging here at ShoutOut!, and that can only mean one thing- it’s time for the links round-up! Each Sunday, our bloggers will tell you about some of the stories they’ve found interesting this week.

Eszenyme is obsessed with the hottest thing on tumblr, #myfriendsaremarried. It gives all of us single ladies a good reason to laugh even while it seems like all of our friends are succumbing to gender norms and getting hitched.
JGrand50 found this link which discusses the double standard faced by actress Kristen Stewart. While Chris Brown goes on to Grammy nominations and public acclaim despite beating Rihanna, Stewart has been dropped from movie sequels and faces huge backlash for something far less serious.

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Pussy Riot, Human Rights, and Rebel Girls

17 Aug

When I started college, I went through what can only be called a very intense punk period. I started listening to Leftover Crack, Black Flag, Bikini Kill, and Against Me!. I dyed my hair bright purple and sewed patches onto the only suit jacket I have ever owned (my favorite was a large one that said “ANTI-TAMPON, ASK ME WHY”). I would tell anyone who would listen about anarcha-feminism and how patriarchy was just a giant continuation of pointless, fascist government control of the people. I even spent one evening smashing old televisions with an axe, screaming “SMASH THE STATE.”

Obviously, I have calmed down since then.

But when news started pouring in about Pussy Riot’s conviction this morning, it reminded me why I felt so justified in my anger at totalitarian governments. Why I felt such an urgent need to take down the state in any way I could.

For anyone that doesn’t pay attention to Russian news (so, a lot of people), Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist performance art/punk collective. They are known for their flashmob-style performances in high profile, public places. One such performance is what landed them in trouble. In February 2012, Pussy Riot gave an impromptu performance at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They performed a “punk prayer,” that included lines imploring “Virgin Mary drive Putin away,” “Virgin Mary become a feminist” and the appropriately thrown-in, “holy shit.”

The performance was given in protest of the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of Putin’s presidential campaign. Putin has long been criticized by liberal Russians for his human rights violations, treatment of journalists, and in general, his silencing (aka killing) of anyone who opposes him in the public arena.

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Literally Getting Away With Murder: George Zimmerman & White Privilege

16 Mar

Image via WinterArtwork.

[Trigger warning: Discussion of murder, racism, rape, and intimate partner violence].

On February 26 at 17-year-old Black teenager, Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed by the head of the neighborhood watch of the (predominantly white) community where his father lives. While George Zimmerman, the murderer, claims that he was acting in self-defense there is pretty much no evidence to corroborate those claims. According to a 911 call Zimmerman made, he described Martin as “suspicious” apparently because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking slowly. At this point, Zimmerman hasn’t been charged with any crime, and the Sanford police reiterate that he was acting in “self-defense.”

But I think we can all be honest about this: Trayvon Martin was shot because he was a Black kid in America, and Zimmerman is currently free because he’s a white man. And in a white supremacist society like our own, when we assign values to people, the white man is always more valuable than a Black man.

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Arab Spring: A revolution of lingerie?

2 Feb

We all know about the staples of the classic feminist movement, one of them being, bra burning. In the 1960’s many “radical” women protested male oppression through the disposal of feminine products, such as brasseries, fake eyelashes and heels. This movement, still active with vivid imagery of setting fire to the patriarchy, is iconic to the origins of modern feminism.

Interestingly enough, Saudi Arabia, a fundamentally Islamic country (for the most part), is undergoing a very different Arab Spring. Rather than about class divides and power hungry leaders, this revolution is about WOMEN and LIBERATION.

Many feminist authors have critiqued the widespread gender segregation and oppressive male domination in many Islamic cultures. According to “Bra Revolution” from Indianexpress.com, “until this month, women—covered head to toe in black, faces veiled and always accompanied by an unwilling and embarrassed male relative—were forced to buy lingerie from salesmen, absolute strangers.”

Ending decades of awkwardness in ultra-conservativism

Facebook, a seemingly pervasive force in the Arab Spring was also vital here. Through an online campaign, encouraged women to not shop at any lingerie store that did not employ women. Needless to say, it worked!

King Abdullah, eventually, was made to enforce this law- a huge win for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. This might not seem like much to you or I, but it’s a major step in the rights of women in Islamic countries. For once, women are legally mandated to be employed in the workforce, creating a whole new level of potentiality in female independence. This can hopefully, decrease the forced reliance on men in these countries. This could be a great stepping-stone for women in the workforce to be able to do even the simplest tasks without the accompaniment of a man, like driving, which is currently illegal.

Bra burning to bra selling?? Who knew!

But, liberation nonetheless: D

African ‘Her’story: Overcoming obstacles

12 Nov

My majors have done a lot for me. As a political science and justice studies double major, I may not have job security immediately after college as opposed to my business major counterparts, but I can guarantee you that I will get a job I love…eventually. But even if I don’t, I’m satisfied knowing that for the past four years, I’ve been happy. I’ve been studying things I love—unlike by business major counterparts.

All business majors strive to look like him.

Justice Studies in particular has given me the ability to engage in great conversations, analyze amazing stories and cherish awesome opportunities. This past week, for example, I was able to have lunch with Nate Fields, someone who was exonerated from death row.  His memories and stories were unbelievable. Closer to the beginning of this semester, I had lunch with the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center—a center that researches hate groups and works to minimize their effects.

This week, I’m especially excited about my upcoming lunch date. I get to have a dinner conversation with Elavie Ndura, a Burundian Hutu genocide survivor and peace scholar. As a victim of exploitation and violence in the 20th century, Dr. Ndura’s life has been filled with challenges.

I initially heard her on a radio interview on With Good Reason, a Virginia Foundation for Humanities program on National Public Radio. I caught the very end of her interview as I was driving to work and I heard her say something truly inspiring. To paraphrase, she said that doors aren’t always going to be open for you; sometimes you have to push them.

To hear someone say something so encouraging and uplifting after having gone through a lifetime of struggle is remarkable.

As president of the Justice Studies Student Organization, I knew she would be an awesome speaker. I looked her up to get more information and found out that she currently teaches peace education at George Mason University. In particular, she stresses the importance of positive dialogue and the critical nature of acceptance of cultural diversities. I emailed her to see if she would be interested in speaking to our organization and anyone else we could get to hear her story.

She agreed to come speak. She is doing so this Wednesday (November 16) at 7:00 p.m. in Transitions.

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Abortion is not genocide; women are not Nazis

3 Nov

My entries on this blog normally describe the struggles and achievements of African women. While I will continue to advocate for the recognition of African women in future blog posts, I’m going to have to diverge from my usual topic this week.

I’m sure you either saw or heard about the latest campus controversy. JMU students were blessed with an opportunity to encounter the Genocide Awareness Project on the commons yesterday. The title of the movement sounds great, right? Who wouldn’t want to learn more about the Genocide Awareness Project? As a justice studies major, I’ll admit I was inclined to learn more about this seemingly-inspiring movement.

I was completely wrong. As it turns out, the Genocide Awareness Project, or GAP, is a right-wing conservative movement that travels across university campuses in the United States and Canada with a movable display of pro-life propaganda.

While I have some, although admittedly limited, tolerance for pro-life movements, this movement without a doubt contains the most distasteful means of expressing their views I have ever seen. Not only did they have a myriad of horrific and bloody images of aborted fetuses, but they had those pictures juxtaposed with human beings victimized by genocide.

I would post the pictures here, but I don’t want to force people to see the pictures if they choose to avoid images and the commons altogether. To view the pictures, check out their anti-abortion website or read the coverage of the event in The Breeze. They’ll also be on the commons until the end of the day today for your up-close viewing pleasure.

GAP has a few things wrong with their argument and their methods. First and foremost, choosing to have an abortion is NOT equivalent to genocide. Second, the bloody fetuses depicted on the commons were results from abortions completed in the third trimester—something that is illegal and rarely practiced. Third, this isn’t the way to voice their beliefs; it is totally unacceptable . Period. The First Amendment obviously gives them the right to do whatever they want. Decency, however, shouldn’t be left to the wayside.

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African ‘Her’story: Gone but not forgotten

25 Oct

One of my best friends is Kenyan. He just graduated from Eastern Mennonite University with a degree in justice and peacebuilding; I figured he would be a good source for information about African women achievements. I was right. “Google Dekha Ibrahim Abdi,” he said.

It was an easy inspiration. After reading just a few sentences about her and her achievements, it was clear just how remarkable she was. She is another example of a strong African woman that only makes international news coverage after her death.

She passed away this summer because of injuries during a car accident. She had just gotten back to her home country, Kenya. She was returning home from classes at EMU during the Summer Peacebuilding Institute learning how to further use her innate peace skills.

During the 1990s a small scale war broke out over water and livestock in Dekha’s hometown of Wajir. She initiated a peace movement that united Christian and Muslim women to work toward peaceful negotiations. Her process was centered upon rules of mediation; she made sure to listen intently without interrupting to everyone who wanted to use mediation as a resource. According to her obituary in The Guardian,

“she knew that humiliation is one of the main drivers of violence, and that they best antidote to humiliation is respect. When everyone felt their point of view was understood, she would work to restore relations between victim and offender.”

She was part of several non-governmental organizations and non-profits including Wajir Peace and Development, Responding to Conflict, Co-existence International, ACTION for Conflict Transformation, Peace Direct, and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in Cambodia. She was a founder and/or on the board of many of the organizations.

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African ‘Her’story: The powers of women

15 Oct

To celebrate Eastern Mennonite University’s homecoming, Leymah Gbowee a 2007 Master’s degree graduate from Liberia, came to speak about her work and receive EMU’s alumnus of the year award. It seems fitting for her to win the recognition from EMU, considering she was just announced as one of the Nobel Peace Prize winners. She won the Nobel Peace Prize along with two other women–Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman.

Leymah received the Nobel Peace Prize because of her leadership in bringing peace to Liberia following years of violence and oppression in the 1990s and 2000s.

Charles Taylor, one of the most oppressive and corrupt war lords in Africa, was president of Liberia at the time and was using his oppressive regime to rape and kill Liberians across the country. In addition to the violence, the country was short on food and extremely impoverished thanks to Taylor’s apathy for taking care of his citizens.

According to the award-winning documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” at the height of the violence, one woman remembers watching Taylor’s followers slowly murder her husband to her left while witnessing the rape of her 12-year-old daughter to her right.

Leymah remembers having to tell her son he couldn’t have a bite of food because they didn’t have any left and praying every night that a better world would exist the next day.

Because of the uncontrolled violence and oppression in the country, she decided to do something about it.

“If we allow evil, what do we tell our children in the future?”

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African ‘Her’story: A Noble Woman

27 Sep

If you happen to be one of the few people who set your CNN homepage to the international version, listen to NPR or read news on the BBC, you probably found out that Wangari Maathai passed away from cancer on Sunday at the age of 71.  Unfortunately not many people on this side of the world got a chance to know about this incredible woman while she was alive; I will reluctantly admit I was one of those people.

Maathai was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.  She received this honor in 2004 for her work advocating for environmental protection policies.  She focused on the link that sustainable development had with the promotion of democracy and peace.  Maathai argued that environmental degradation and un-monitored development were factors that contributed to a growing amount of poverty in Africa.

As part of her advocacy work, she founded the Green Belt Movement.  According the non-profit organization’s website, it

“is one of the most prominent women’s civil society organizations, based in Kenya, advocating for human rights and supporting good governance and peaceful democratic change through the protection of the environment. Its mission is to empower communities worldwide to protect the environment and to promote good governance and cultures of peace.”

One of the most important projects within the Green Belt Movement that Maathai started was a tree-planting initiative.  This project has resulted in 40 million trees freshly-planted across the African continent slowing down the speed of soil erosion and protecting biodiversity.

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