Banning the “F-word”

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by Jenna McDaniel

TIME magazine’s recent decision to propose banning the word “feminist” from the English language was met with understandable outrage. TIME magazine claimed that too many celebrities were jumping on the feminist bandwagon, and that the term was losing its power. As author Katy Steinmetz put it:

“You have nothing against feminism itself, but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party? Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.”

TIME has addressed the use of the “f-word” by female celebrities prior to this. In fact, the magazine published a list of 17 female celebrities who talk about what feminism means to them, including Shailene Woodley and Kelly Clarkson. After including the article “What word should be banned in 2015?” in its latest issue, TIME faced a barrage of criticism, leaving them with only one option, to apologize and hastily fix the list of words. Caitlyn Dewey, a Washington Post writer, described the quick amendment of the list as simply a calculated play for more page views. In TIME’s apology, the magazine stated their intent was to spark debate and discussion around the word. Whether this is the real reason behind including the “f-word” in the original list or not, it’s a loaded term that stands for so much more that a belief in gender equality and shouldn’t be taken lightly, regardless.

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Feminism and Islam

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by Jenna McDaniel

Those who persist in analyzing Feminism through a Western lens often consider the Muslim faith and feminist values incompatible. Much anti-feminist sentiment regarding Islam has focused unreasonably on the custom of veiling. The women of the Muslim faith have struggled for years with stereotypes around the veil, which in the eyes of outsiders signify oppression and subjugation to patriarchal regimes. Many non-Muslims who don’t understand the veil’s cultural and religious significance believe that wearing the veil oppresses women.

As Feminism seeks to expand its outreach and context globally, it should refrain from setting boundaries on who is or isn’t permitted to join the movement. Islam began over 1, 400 years ago and its deep roots begin with the faith’s foundational text, the Q’uran. The Q’uran emphasizes that women are fully human and equal to their male counterparts. Islamic feminism isn’t born from Muslim cultures; rather, it is a branch of feminism that syncs with Islamic theology with the Q’uran as its foundational core. Rachelle Fawcett, author of The Reality And Future Of Islamic Feminism, explains:

 “Often, women’s issues are trivialized into whether or not to wear the veil or shake hands with men outside their family, and while larger issues, such as domestic violence are being strongly addressed, the central issue of what “equality” means and how it is expressed go largely ignored. For example, domestic violence is wrong because it creates pain and suffering and is unjust, but the central belief of a man’s right to rule over his wife is not always part of the discussion.”

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The Truth About the Pay Gap

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By Alicia Williams

For the longest time, I naïvely thought wages were equal for everyone. I assumed that two people performing the same job and producing the same outcome would be paid the same. Seems like common sense, right? It wasn’t until later in my life that I learned about pay inequality and the negative impact it has on women. Creating a more egalitarian work environment has been a primary focus of the women’s rights movement for decades, but we still have far to go.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, women on average make a whopping 23 percent less than men while performing the same job with the same level of education. This report takes into account occupation, parenthood, majors, and hours worked to show that women working full-time are already starting to make less–7 percent less, in fact–than their male counterparts just one year after graduating from college. Women with the same credentials are doing the same work and producing the same outcomes, but are being paid completely different wages. Skeptics might argue that the 7 percent difference isn’t really an issue, and doesn’t need to be addressed. But the fact of the matter is, that wage difference comes into play immediately after graduation, almost always within the first year. The percentage in wage difference rises as women move up the ranks to hold higher positions of authority. I’m pretty sure that those who benefit from gender-based wage disparity, and think that 7 percent isn’t a big deal, wouldn’t be willing to give up that extra income. Think about the women who are currently performing the same jobs as men, with equal qualifications and levels of success in the positions they hold, struggling to pay off student loans and make ends meet. According to the article, Graduating to Pay Gap:

“Among full-time workers repaying loans one year after college graduation, more than half of women (53%) compared with 39% of men were paying more than what they could reasonable afford toward their debt.”

Women are having a harder time getting themselves out of debt, just one of the many statistics that provide irrevocable proof that  the wage gap is still alive and thriving. Continue reading

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The Other F-Word

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by Jenna McDaniel

The “F-Word Live!” poetry slam held at the University of Idaho last week on Thursday, November 6th was a huge success, featuring a number of local spoken word artists performing original poetry. Spoken word is a form of interactive poetry that expresses social commentary in a performance-like presentation. The event highlighted the skills of many different activists, feminists, and poets, and showcased their personal opinions and perspectives on current equality between men and women.

This was the first poetry slam I had ever attended, and I absolutely loved it! All of the performances were spectacular and blew me away. What captured me the most was how each poem was so easy for me to relate to. At this event, I found emotions within me that I didn’t know I had for such controversial topics. It showed me that it’s okay to express how I feel, and to soak in the expressions of others. I loved the “Mmm-hmm,” “Hell yeah!” and snapping and clapping by audience members when they agreed with something said in a poem. It made me feel so good to see the satisfaction the poets experienced while performing their poems with such whole-hearted passion. It was as if the poets were releasing pent-up feelings that came from somewhere deep inside them, and when they were vocalized, the persuasion hit me, and their words took me with them.

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Rape Culture on College Campuses

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by Monica Reid

The existence of rape culture is something that is continuously debated and studied in American society. The fingerprints of the strangling hands of rape are evident throughout our culture, even in places which are meant to be safe from such violent acts, such as college campuses. Rape culture is widely prevalent in all of American society, is especially ubiquitous on college campuses, and is not being properly addressed or combated by most universities. Fisher and colleagues, quoted in the article “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Multilevel, Integrative Approach to Party Rape,” maintain that “A 1997 National Institute of Justice study estimated that between one-fifth and one-quarter of women are the victims of completed or attempted rape while in college.” This means that a whopping twenty to twenty-five percent of all women will graduate college not only with a bachelor’s degree, but also with the trauma of sexual violence. Although women and men both experience rape, for the purposes of this article, I will only be addressing the rape of women by men, and the rape culture which encourages and perpetuates that specific kind of rape.

There seems to be some ignorance as to what the term “rape culture” is referencing. Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle, the activists of the creative collaboration FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, state that rape culture consists of “jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable.”. Rape culture deeply permeates American society, yet often goes unnoticed and dismissed. This, in and of itself, proves that rape culture is present. If rape culture did not exist in America, then rape would be taken seriously and recognized as a widespread epidemic that needs to be eradicated; it would not be ignored and denied as it is today. Rape culture is especially rampant on college campuses. The frequent presence of pro-rape media, acceptance and perpetuation of rape myths, and lack of required prevention education about rape all play into the rape culture present on many campuses.  Continue reading

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The HeforShe Campaign to End Gender Inquality

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By Alicia Williams

Emma Watson, a woman we all know from her role as Hermione Granger in “Harry Potter,” has publicly taken up the mantle of feminism. Two weeks ago, in her newly-minted role as Goodwill Ambassador for Women, Watson gave a speech at the UN about the HeforShe campaign, billed as “a solidarity movement to end gender discrimination.”  The campaign asks men and boys to join in to help create a more equal and just society. “It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals,” said Watson during her speech. The campaign purportedly isn’t just about women having equal rights; it is about everyone feeling equal, feeling like they can be who they want to be, without judgment. Watson talks about how both men and women should feel free to be sensitive and strong.

According to the International Business Times, 200,000 men have already pledged to the campaign to help stop gender discrimination. The campaign emphasizes that up until now, the struggle for gender equality has been largely led by women. Through HeforShe, men are being targeted to actively participate in the movement. Watson mentions that Feminism has developed a negative connotation, a word that even women don’t want to be associated with. But this should not be the case. Feminism is the advocacy for women’s rights to political, social, and economic equality with men. Feminists are often stereotyped as pushy and over-the-top, a characteristic that many men have said they find unattractive. Many women may feel afraid to claim the label of “feminist” because they don’t want to alienate men. Simply desiring equal rights is a strongly feminist value, and one that many men also embrace. Continue reading

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Turning the Tables on Domestic Violence

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by Jenna McDaniel

Fact: In the majority of cases of domestic violence, men are the attackers and women the victims. According to the NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), one in five women and one in seven men are victims of severe physical violence during their lifetime. Because women are statistically more often the victims, it is natural to assume that a man was the aggressor in just about any DV case we hear about prior to being informed of the actual details. The problem with this assumption is the little-publicized fact that men are also victims of domestic violence. Broadly portrayed as the weaker sex, women are increasingly more likely to be perpetrators of abuse, as well as victims. Continue reading

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