Friday morning begins with a cup of coffee for each student sitting around a table in commons building of the university. Anne Helen Petersen arrives and sits in the seat next to me. Anne Helen Petersen is a senior Buzzfeed writer, originally from Lewiston, Idaho. English majors, such as myself, had the opportunity to speak with Anne about her career and life in the world of media. The first question Anne is asked is regarding her journey to Buzzfeed. Anne received her undergraduate degree at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She wanted to move as far away from Idaho as possible, but Whitman felt like home. After graduation, she moved to Seattle with her college best friends and went on to get her Masters at University of Oregon. Anne completed her education with a PhD in Texas. Later, Anne was offered a job back at Whitman to teach film studies. She was originally unaware that it was a “visiting” position, a temporary position offered as the college tests out a new program. The permanent job was offered to another candidate that had global experience in film studies.
Have you all heard about Friday Crafternoon organized by Women Center (WC) every Friday on campus at UofI? During one of my Friday visits to the WC, I witnessed a bunch of students and some staff hanging out in the lounge area engaging in various crafts and painting activities. With some research I came to know about this unique weekly event, which is an amazing opportunity for all the students as well as faculty and staff on campus to meet new people as well as to learn and explore about art.
Iris Alatorre who is the office manager at WC, often leads these crafternoons. According to her, this program started last January with a goal to offer students some weekly space to hang out in the Women Center and help them get to know the staff as well as the services provided by the office. Because of the Women’s Center’s current location, the ground floor of Memorial Gym, not a lot of students are aware of this specific program or resource provided on campus to help and promote women equality. One of the services the Women’s Center provides is this free crafting activity every week. Anyone is welcome to come and do some crafting or just spend some time with friends every Friday anytime between 12pm to 2pm with the exception of Finals week. Continue reading “Friday Craftivism in University of Idaho.”→
Disclaimer! I am not a scientist, I am not a biology major. What I report in this post is what I have found on my own. I am learning about this along with you, so if you see something wrong let me know. Thank you.
Since October is breast cancer awareness month, I am going to continue with the breast cancer theme. According to breastcancer.org, a nonprofit dedicated to providing reliable, complete, and up-to-date information about breast cancer, one in eight women in the USA will be diagnosed with breast cancer. It also states that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women; in 2017 it was estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be in the breast. Another fact on their website states that in women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African- American women than white women, while in Asian, Hispanic, and Native women the risk of developing and dying of breast cancer is lower than African American women.
There is not much of a focus on the women that breast cancer effects in the media, the media that comes out in October is pink ribbons emblazed on everything. There are two main examples that I want to talk about. The first one is The Bold Type, specifically the episode titled “The Breast Issue” and a book I found called A Breast Cancer Alphabet.
The Bold Type is a tv show on Freeform in its first season. There are currently only six episodes, but the one that I want to discuss in more detail is the episode titled, “The Breast Issue.” The main characters are friends named Jane, Kat, and Sutton who work at Scarlet magazine, which is much like Cosmo in our world. Jane is the journalist one of the group who aspires to be the finest feminist writer. Kat is the social media coordinator and is a very big feminist. And finally, there is Sutton. She works in fashion but her story in this episode is not relevant to my post so I will be excluding it. We start with the girls going to what I think is a #freethenipple rally.
Jane, the journalist of the three friends, faces her past in this episode when the editor of the magazine wants her to write about the BRCA test and why women in their 20’s should or should not get the test. This may seem like a run of the mill article to write considering this is a women’s magazine, but for Jane, this is personal because her mother died of breast cancer. Jane does not believe that women in their 20’s should get this test.
But what exactly is this test?
The BRCA gene test uses a blood sample to look for harmful changes to a person’s DNA (that’s the stuff that makes you, you). It can be used for both breast and ovarian cancer. It looks for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes are the breast cancer susceptible These proteins help repair damaged DNA, but if there is something wrong (aka a mutation) then the protein cannot do their job right, and cells can develop more alterations as a result. The harmful versions of these genes can be inherited by a person by either their mother or father. For specifics on your risk of getting breast cancer, please see a professional.
This test is recommended to anyone who is likely to have an inherited mutation, and is based on your family history or a specific kind of breast cancer. Even if a person receives a positive result, that does not mean that they will develop breast cancer. Your doctor can help you understand your risk.
The free the nipple hashtag is the story arc for Kat, the social media coordinator. She is a forward thinking, go-getting feminist who decides that since she can’t post women’s nipples on Scarlet’s Instagram, she will go around taking photos of men’s nipples and post them instead to challenge the Instagram rule that men can show their nipples but women cannot. She does this because she is getting ready for Scarlet’s breast health issue. Although she doesn’t use the free the nipple hashtag, I think it is important to talk about this because women’s breast are sexualized in today’s society and then women get breast cancer and their breast which women are taught are a private part of body, are everyone’s business. Society tells women that they need to cover their breast, that the breast is a sexual organ, not secondary sex characteristic. This is exemplified in the debate over women breast feeding in public. People say that women’s breasts are for male pleasure and therefore cannot be shown in public. Shame is placed upon women who dare to breast feed in public or show more of their breast than society has deemed appropriate. So basically anything above the areola (the circle around your nipple) or below it is A-Okay. Just don’t show your nipple. But once there is a cancer diagnosis, your breast become public property. People ask you questions, doctors take photos, nurses examine. They invade the privacy that society used to force on you.
A Breast Cancer Alphabet by Madhulika Sikka talks a little bit about what it felt like to have her breast go from a private part of her body to something that everyone discusses when she dedicates a chapter to breasts (B is for Breast). After a cancer diagnosis, a woman’s personal space is invaded in the name of her health. Sikka talks about reconstruction, and how that affected her. I thought it was a nice reprieve to read this book because Sikka did not give me facts and figures. I saw next to no numbers and that is what I wanted. Sikka said her reasoning behind this book was because she wanted something that was easy to read and wasn’t too scientific or self-indulgent and I feel that that is what she wrote. Reading this book is like reading a letter from my mother, comforting and not too shallow. A Breast Cancer Alphabet covers topics that might not be found in the literature, like what it feels like to shave your head and lose your hair, what it feels like to have a mastectomy and how cancer can affect your sex life. Sikka even has a tumblr where anyone can submit a sentence or photo to create your own breast cancer alphabet.
Red light. You’re dying. You must be dying. You never thought you’d die in a Volkswagen.
Green light. Your heart beats uncontrollably. So loudly you can hear it over Katy Perry on the radio. Your chest throbs as if she also hit you in the torso with a baseball bat.
Left turn. Your legs and arms go numb, making it hard to grip the wheel. You start singing every church song you can remember from Sunday school.
Red light. You can’t see. You check your phone to call 911 but you can’t see the numbers. Everything is blurry–the lights, the cars, your mind. You’re on the verge of passing out.
Left turn. Breathing becomes painful. You take a breath as if your car is floating under water, your mind floating somewhere above your car.
Red light. Your body begins to shake uncontrollably. You see a police car at the next intersection. You begin to formulate a plan to flag him down and tell him you’re dying. But you don’t know how to do this, so you keep driving home.
A wonderful opportunity is coming to a University of Idaho campus near you! Anne Helen Petersen, senior Buzzfeed writer, author of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of Unruly Women is coming to the university. October 13th from 8:30-10am, all English-majors are invited to attend a breakfast with Anne.
The multimedia company Anne writes for has become extremely prominent the past few years. Buzzfeed churns out videos, news, opinion and multimedia pieces, quizzes and much more. Typically, the multimedia company focuses on inclusive feminist views. The voice that Buzzfeed brings to mass media is one of empowerment, hilarity, and vulnerability.
These things and more can be found within Senior Buzzfeed writer Anne Helen Petersen’s book, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of Unruly Women. Anne Helen Petersen has a PhD from University of Texas in media studies and she focuses on celebrity culture within her writing. After years of studying classic Hollywood stars and gossip, Petersen has a strong idea of how studying celebrities can illuminate how women are perceived by the public. The book focuses on 10 female celebrities that have been criticized for their actions as women. For example, Serena Williams, Madonna, and Hillary Clinton. Peterson uses examples like these to show what celebrity gossip says about those who read it and participate.
The opportunity to sit with Anne is, most likely, not one that will come around again. Anne Helen Petersen taught media studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington from 2012-2014, and more famously wrote for The Hairpin from 2011-2014. The Hairpin is a well-known “general-interest site aimed at women.” Anne was interviewed by The Hairpin about her life success and about her thoughts on Audrey Hepburn. The Hairpin allows us to get an in-depth look in the head of Anne Petersen. During the interview, Anne speaks about her first class in graduate school where she realized what she really wanted to study. She took a class called “Female Stardom” and that class led her to her dissertation on celebrity gossip.
Anne has always been interested in celebrity scandals and how the public perceived the women that were involved. After writing columns for The Hairpin, Anne went on to write her first book, Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema. This book is well connected to her columns for The Hairpin, and she analyzes the scandals in a similar fashion, although Anne does say that the research that went into the book was far more expansive. The main point that the book shows the readers is how white, straight males tend to get away with scandals, whereas women do not. Surprisingly though Anne lets us in on an interesting opinion, she hates Audrey Hepburn! Anne believes that Audrey is “the same trope(s) over and over again.” When Anne did her research for Scandals of Classic Hollywood she wanted to stray from the overarching attitude the public had towards the stars. Anne focused on the star themselves to really gain an accurate understanding of the scandal.
After her time with The Hairpin Anne was offered a job from Buzzfeed. Anne Helen Petersen has posted over 200 articles to Buzzfeed in the past few years! As a writer for Buzzfeed Anne has creative freedom to write about what truly interests her. And in a time like this where scandals and celebrity gossip, even within our presidency, have no end, there is a lot to write about. Anne’s most recent post on Buzzfeed from two weeks ago is titled, “Top Of The Lake” Is The Anti-SVU. Top of the Lake focuses on a detective that specializes in sexual abuse crime. Top of the Lake’s second season began on Sept. 10. A common criticism for the new season, according to Anne, is that the future for the show is unclear. There is not enough coherence. Disregarding the struggles the show is facing regarding structure, Anne notes that this is the first piece of fiction that has made her emotional within the past few months. Top of the Lake explores the facets of motherhood, rape culture, sex and misogyny. These things portrayed on screen are what make the show watchable. In this article, Anne dives into the idea of watching your own troubles on a screen. It’s relatable and the problems within are fought by tough women that become survivors of their own tragedy.
Anne writes incredible articles about women in pop culture. She is an experienced and talented writer and it will be a pleasure to have her here at the University of Idaho. On October 13th, the Lewiston native will be here for breakfast and questions. If you’re an English-major remember to take a little time out of your day to speak with one of the great female writers of our generation.
“That day I came back home only to get an energy drink poured down my face and being flicked in the head all the way to the back of the bathroom and he wouldn’t stop hitting me so I had to push him back and clawed his face because I had had enough of it.” Some of us know what I am going to talk about. Because recent data shows that on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. So most of us must have encountered a story of domestic violence or unfortunately may have been a victim once in their life time.
Domestic violence is defined by the US Department of Justice, as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. Britne Worl is a survivor of emotional and physical domestic violence who is vocal about her story to raise awareness. Continue reading “A Domestic Violence Survivor”→
Today I want to talk something that is close to my heart and that I don’t talk about a lot, but I will since it’s October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Right now little pink ribbons and surround us as reminders to check your breast and remember anyone can get cancer.
First I would like to share some information about breast cancer in general. Please remember that I am not a biology major; I do not study this in my spare time. One, because I don’t have any spare time and two because it’s not how I want to spend my time. Breast cancer is when cells in the breast start to grow uncontrollably and then form a tumor. Although there are many tumors that are benign, meaning that they are not harmful. But some are malignant, meaning that they are harmful. Cells become uncontrollable and cause tumors because of damage between three to seven genes. Then the cells grow and multiply and can escape the body’s defenses leading to the cells spreading. Just think, one cell; it only takes one cell to change your life. Continue reading “My mother’s disease is not a game”→