Femvertising

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by Jenna McDaniel

From its earliest origins, media advertising has portrayed women in terms of their sex appeal to society. The more nudity or sexual references illustrated in ads, the greater the sales in this often amoral and profit-driven industry. Over the years, companies and businesses have struggled to find a balance between what will sell their product, and what’s socially acceptable. The recent phenomenon of Femvertising is a pro-female advertising movement that is geared by marketers toward better engaging and inspiring women consumers. According to Samantha Key, Chief Revenue Officer of SheKnows, women are part of a $7 trillion market, and they make up to 85 percent of household purchasing decisions. Forbes has reported that women are on a trajectory to control more than two-thirds of the nation’s wealth by 2030. With marketing techniques such as femvertising, brands are building deeper, stronger, and overall more powerful relations with women, the growing power among consumer groups.

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Health Care Reform and Religious Freedom

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By Alicia Williams

Margaret Sanger must be rolling in her grave. How can the availability of such a widely-used health care product, legally available in the U.S. since 1965 and taken by more than 100 million women worldwide, be challenged so contentiously in court? Certain employers have decided they don’t want to provide health insurance for this particular product anymore. Can you guess what it is? Birth control. According to the Guttmacher Institute for sexual and reproductive health, more than 99% of U.S. women aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method, with the Pill being the most popular. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has classified the development of the contraceptive pill in the Top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century. The pill doesn’t just help with the prevention of pregnancy, but with many other health problems as well, such as anemia, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease. From what I can tell, birth control has had a tremendously beneficial impact on women and society, so why is it being challenged in court?

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Empowering Women Through Education

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by Jenna McDaniel

The United States is not the only country falling woefully short in presenting equal opportunities for all. Worldwide, we have increased the number of educated women, yet statistics still remain low in comparison to men. The UN General Assembly recently addressed this topic in their 69th session, and noted that the advantages of educating women extend far beyond what we might expect the impact to be. The article Educate women and their community will prosper. Deny them education and the world will suffer, by Julia Gillard and Cate Blanchett, elaborates on the deep-rooted, positive aspects of addressing this ongoing issue, including a woman’s impact on her family and her community, as well as the economy.  Continue reading

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Pink October

Submitted to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Sept. 2014

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By Gillian Sharma

It hasn’t even arrived yet, but I am already looking forward to when October is over. Not to say there aren’t good things about October – fall colors, my younger son’s birthday, my birthday for that matter. But October is overwhelmingly BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH. Around this time of year, I get the urge to do something. A couple of years ago, I sent an opinion piece to the Daily News. I ranted on Facebook about the sexual innuendo-laden games. Last year, I complained about teens wearing I HEART BOOBIES wrist bands, so they could snicker and say the word “breast.” I refused to wear pink because, after all, breast cancer is not a pink, fluffy, happy disease, but a nasty, insidious monster that kills and disfigures.

Everyone who knows me also knows how I feel about pink washing; how so often, little, if any, money from the purchase of pink products goes to something that matters – like research to find a cure. Do you know what tipped me over the edge last year? A picture a reader sent to the Daily News that was published. You know, on the inside cover. A picture of a teacher who had dyed his hair and beard pink, in honor of BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, as a challenge to his students to donate candy (or money to buy candy, I can’t remember which) for a community event.

This made me stop and think, and it finally dawned on me that October is not about helping those living and dying with breast cancer, or supporting research; it’s all about BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, which is becoming little more than an excuse to buy pink crap, giggle about a sexy cancer, or make money for one’s business.

I want this year to be different. Do you know someone with cancer? I would like to challenge you to do something to make a difference. Instead of buying pink ribbon t-shirts, pink toilet paper, and yogurts with pink lids to “do your bit”, you could make a meal for a cancer patient who is too tired to cook, or offer to drive them to radiation treatment, which can often be a trip down to Lewiston every day for several weeks. You could clean house or pay someone to do it for a cancer patient who is too tired or sick to handle the work, look after someone’s children, or grocery shop. You get the idea. The worst thing you can say is, “Let me know if I can do something.” Offer, then do it.

And remember all the other cancer patients who happen to have an un-sexy cancer, like bladder, lung, or colon cancer. We don’t generally wear ribboned t-shirts for them, or buy yogurts with specially colored lids for their cancer, or have a month long “celebration”. They deserve our time and attention, too.

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A Conversation with Duke Porn Star and Feminist, Belle Knox

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by Monica Reid

It’s that time of the year again; students all over the world are returning to school with renewed hope and excitement for the upcoming year. But for some, namely Duke University sophomore and Spokane native Miriam Weeks, returning to her beloved university was less like going back to a newfound home, and more like entering unprecedented territory. Along with being a full-time Pre-Law student, Weeks also works as an adult film star, acting under the alias Belle Knox (NSFW). Last year, she endured hateful scrutiny and alienation from her peers, including violent threats, hate mail, cyber bullying, and slut shaming, for her decision to work in the porn industry. I had the opportunity to interview her about her experiences last year while at Duke, as well as her expectations for this year. Continue reading

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Tips on Being a Healthy and Strong Individual

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by Alicia Williams

In general, most women know how hard it is to eat healthily. We love chocolate and salty foods, especially when we’re depressed or bored. Most women know how to eat well; it is just having the confidence and motivation to do so. An article from Medical News Today, Freshman girls know how to eat healthy but need to develop strategies to use in difficult situations talks about women in college understanding what healthy eating involves, but not having the confidence to follow through. When it comes to combining fun and with the demands of a busy schedule, it’s sometimes hard to make healthy decisions. We’ve all been there, when we’re studying and don’t have time to make something healthy to eat, so we grab a bag of chips. And then there’s the weekend struggle, where going out with friends in the evenings and drinking alcohol sounds so much better than staying in. And it’s all fine, in moderation.

The article above references a study of 286 female college students and the effects of their decisions when it comes to healthy eating. The negative effects of “social pressure” were the same for normal weight and overweight women. Both groups are just as likely to make the same decisions in these situations. Most young women face the same kinds of challenges when leaving home for the first time, like trying to discover the person they want to be, figuring out how to be independent, and not having parents there to tell them what to do.  The article also mentions how most women don’t get enough calcium in their daily diets. “Women optimize bone mass when they’re about 18 years old so we’re talking about an important time for them to be consuming calcium,” says Karen Chapman-Novakofski, a U of I Professor of Nutrition. College women don’t seem to have a hard time opting for low-fat meals, but don’t realize that they also need more calcium in their diets to help them stay healthy.

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The Connection Between Kabul and Conformity

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by Jenna McDaniel

When we are young, we get put in time-out for breaking the rules or for doing things we aren’t supposed to do. Adults scold us and say, “Bad girl” or “Bad boy”, as they try to teach us how to abide by a set of socially appropriate guidelines for behavior. But as we age, we learn, both consciously and subconsciously, how to conform to the world around us. We develop and grow to assimilate the cultural norms of our society, creating an environment that contributes to making this world go round.

Azita and her husband live in Kabul, Afghanistan and have for years, raising their four daughters. The eldest two are twins, Benafsha and Beheshta. Mehrangis is the middle girl and Mahnoush is the youngest. Although a strong family of six, they were nevertheless viewed in Afghan society as incomplete, weak, and vulnerable, due to the simple fact that they only have daughters. In Afghanistan, a woman’s primary aspiration is to bear a son. When she doesn’t, she is given the insulting title of dokhtar zai, meaning “she who only brings daughters”. The mother, Azita, was passionate about pursuing her career as a politician, but lacked support from her extended family and peers. Most Afghans don’t know that the sperm from the father carries the chromosomal makeup for each child, determining whether a male or female child will be born. As a mother without a son, Azita, just like any other Afghan mother would, took the brunt of her community’s disapproval. People were unsympathetic, branding her untrustworthy and incomplete, merely adding to the embarrassment she and her husband already felt. Azita and her husband’s approach to solving this dilemma was to have a boy. At the age of six, they cut their youngest daughter’s hair, changed her clothing, enrolled her in boys’ sports, and called her Mehran. Mehran’s newfound status provided a number of benefits to the family, including greater freedom for her siblings, pride from her father and most importantly, approval from the outside world.

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