Sex work has remained a prevalent part of our society’s culture, but has been stigmatized to remain on the fringes of our society as “criminalized prostitution.” Sex workers prefer the label of “sex worker” over prostitute, because it legitimizes that the sex work is indeed work. Whereas, “prostitution” has the stigmatization of dehumanization which leads to sex workers’ being criminalized and not receiving
health, legal, and social services. The criminalization of sex work prohibits the sale and purchase of sexual services as well as management of these services. Criminalization decreases sex workers’ ability to report human rights violations due to fear of incarceration, where they face violence from police. Sex workers are also unable to effectively communicate with each other or their clients, and even fearing carrying contraceptives on the street, due to facing incarceration or violence by the police.
Why should sex work be decriminalized? Sex work is the right to your own personal autonomy of how you wish to exchange consensual sexual services. The government should not be able to tell you when and how, you as an adult, want to partake in consensual sex. It is also a myth that decriminalized sex work will raise the rates of sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is a part of sex work whether it is legal or not. Illegal sex workers are the most at risk of being sex trafficked compared to the general population. Continue reading “Decriminalize Sex Work”→
Going through a pregnancy is one of the hardest things a woman could go through, and depending on many factors, the process of giving birth can go on for 20 hours or more. The risks of pregnancy entail some things such as infections, gestational diabetes and even death. The 2019 data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports how women of color such as African-American, Native American, and Alaskan Native women are more likely to die of these pregnancy related issues in comparison to white women.
Music is something most of us can really connect with and bond over. Sharing our feelings and experiences through lyrics and sounds is an art form people have been actively taking part in for centuries, but women in the spotlight as producers are not heard of as often as male producers. There is a gender gap in the tech side of the music industry, which reflects how women make up only 5-7% of audio engineers and producers. Beyond the tech, the music industry are very low in comparison to their male counterparts. According to a study done by the researchers from USC Annenberg, women make up 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters, and only 2.1% of producers, which makes for a ratio of 47 men to 1 woman producing music. This interesting study also discovered how from 2013-2019, only 10.4% of Grammy nominees were female, while 89.6% were male. They brought s of a male dominated space through the experience of 75 females in songwriting and producing positions. 43% said their skills were discounted and 28% said they were dismissed. 39% said they were stereotyped and sexualized, which further instills this notion that women are only seen as one thing, something to look at vs someone to be listened to, let alone handle and distribute the logistics of making music.
You may have never heard of Uighurs, their religion, or where they live. I hadn’t until I saw a video from Now This, while scrolling on the internet. The video was of a woman explaining the stories that she had heard from loved ones who had survived these detention camps that the Uighurs are being detained in. It was only four minutes long, and I had learned about an extreme mass human rights violation that was currently occurring halfway across the world. How was no one talking about this? Did people know about this? Was it intentionally not being reporting on?
Let’s start with who Uighurs are. Uighurs, also spelled; Uyghurs, Uigurs or Uygurs, speak Turkic, and are commonly Muslim. They live in the interior of Central East Asia. They are a Turkic minority ethnic group that originates culturally from, generally, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in the northwestern part of the People’s Republic of China. Other, Muslim minorities including Kazakhs and Uzbeks also inhabit the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the Central Asian republics. More than 10,000,000 Uighurs lived in China, and at least 300,000 more in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan in the beginning of the twenty-first century. Although,Xinjiang only represents two percent of the Chinese population, it accounts for twenty-one percent of all their arrests two years ago, and has only grown. Since April of 2017, between 800,000 and 2,000,000 Uighurs, Kazakhs and Uzbeks have been detained by the Chinese government.
Where are these millions of Turkic minorities being held? The Chinese government has worked hard to keep their existence a secret. They have created detention camps disguised as religious and political reformation schools. Most of the people they have arrested have been charged with crimes that have no legal evidence backing them. They are arrested for contacting people from and visiting the countries China considers “sensitive,” like Turkey and Afghanistan, attending Mosques, and having any affiliation with the Quran. The government has hidden their torturous practices by handpicking who sees these places. An anonymous visitor took a video of some of the torturous activities that occur within the camps. Watch here: https://youtu.be/inmP0LvZEhY
However, if a country is suspicious of China’s genocidal acts towards Uighurs and other minorities, then China threatens to cut off ties of peaceful trade and commerce. Once, a group of countries came together at the United Nations to address the mass genocide happening in Xinjiang. In Switzerland, this year at the UN Human Rights Council, around
twenty-four Western countries, and Japan, created a call to action on China to close the detention camps in Xinjiang. China rebutted their call by banding together thirty-seven of their allies praising China’s, “contributions to the international human rights cause.” China’s state councilor and foreign minister, Wang Yi stated, “There has not been a single case of violent terrorism in the past three years,” when defending China at the UN summit. “The education and training centers are schools that help the people free themselves from terrorism and extremism and acquire useful skills.”
Nothing been done at an international level to address the mass genocide of these Turkic minorities. But, nothing has been done for decades. China has been slowly attempting to
enact a cultural genocide against Uighurs by targeting Uighur women. The Uighurs, Kazakhs and Uzbeks contained in the detention camps which are around, one and a half million. Only twenty-seven percent of those detained are women. Within the camps, women are sexually assaulted and medicated without consent. “Gulbahar Jelilova, a businesswoman and another Uighur internment victim who was held in a cell with 40 other women, also stated that female inmates were injected weekly with a substance that stopped their periods,” reported in an article for the Washington Post. The forced sterilization of women is one of the first steps towards cultural genocide along with mass genocide. “Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh who was forced to work in one of the women’s camps in Xinjiang, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that every evening, the guards would take the pretty inmates with them, returning them in the morning. She also saw incidents of gang rape, including of one female inmate while other inmates were forced to watch.” Women in prisoner contexts, throughout history, have been routinely taken advantage of sexually to the point of dehumanization. The sexual assaults and forced sterilization against Uighur women is inhumane.
Not only does the Chinese government take their fertility from Uighur women, they also take their children. Uighur children are taken from their families at young ages to be raised by the Chinese government in boarding schools to be raised in the communist party of China. An expert on gender studies, Leta Hong Fincher, noted “the government has offered incentives for Uighur couples to have fewer children and for Uighur women to marry outside of their race. A large number of Uighur children have also been removed from their families and placed in boarding schools, according to a recent report, leaving the Chinese state to raise them.”
As the situation in Xinjiang continues to escalate, it is important to think about what we can do. Educate others around you about the issue and the atrocities the Chinese government are committing against Uighurs and other Turkic minorities. Speak out to your local government representatives or even nationally. Ask them what they plan on doing to address what is happening. Stop buying products from China, in solidarity with the mistreatment of Uighurs. Continue to stay updated, this is an international crisis that will only be addressed when we call it out.
Now that September has come to an end; I think it is important to remember that it is designated as Latinx Heritage Month. Latinx Heritage Month is dedicated to honoring, respecting, remembering, and advocating for the Latinx community, not just in September, but every single day.
Latinx feminism is described philosophically as being rooted in definitions of political and social context by colonialism. Latinx feminism is focused on the work done in reaction to these contexts. It is in tension with itself because there are many Latinx feminisms, due to the diversity of cultures between the regions, histories, and people of each Latinx community’s society. These feminisms are rooted in the relationships between gender, ethnicity, socio-economic class, religion, citizenship, and sex. Continue reading “Modern Influential Feminist Latinx Activists”→
The modern film industry is massive and when we think of its origins, I’m sure names that come to mind are Thomas Edison, the Luimere Brothers, George Melies, etc. To think that there was a woman in the film industry at that time, running her own studio and changing the face of film, is incredible and, frankly, almost unbelievable. An inspiring woman by the name of Alice Guy Blache was doing exactly that. She was, perhaps, the only female director in film during the period of 1896 to 1906. During her reign of film, she directed and produced almost 1,000 films ranging in all different lengths and genres.
Alice was born in France in 1873, and at the age of 21 she started a job working as a secretary for Leon Gaumont, a photography company owner, and renowned filmmaker. Working around this emerging art form of film, she began to develop ideas of her own and became so inspired by the process, that she eventually asked Gaumont for permission to film a story on one of his cameras. He agreed, but on the condition that she filmed it on her lunch break. She spent the next few days creating this film which she titled, The Cabbage Fairy (1896). It was a 50 second, silent film about a fairy growing babies in a cabbage patch. It was such a success that it launched the inspiring career of Alice Guy Blache.
Gaumont was so impressed that he quickly promoted her to the head of production at his studio, where she began experimenting with different techniques. She produced longer films, and started using special effects. During her time at Gaumont’s studio, perhaps her most successful film was The Birth, the Life, and the Death of Christ (1906). In 1910, she was able to build her own film studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey, which was essentially the heart of the film industry at the time. She was the first woman in the film industry to do so.
Perhaps Blache’s most iconic film titled, The Consequences of Feminism, was produced in 1906. In this film, Blache blatantly reverses gender roles and stereotypes of the time. It features men caring for children, sewing, and engaging in “feminine tasks,” while the women are out drinking, and come home to beat their husbands. She made a blatant statement to the patriarchy with this film, staging men in women’s clothing and showing them suffering under oppression in female roles, and portraying the women living easier lives when they are put into male roles. To say that this film was at least a hundred years ahead of its time is an understatement. It aired around the time of first wave feminism, and nearly fourteen years before women had the right to vote in America. Nothing like this film was being made at the time, nor would more be made for many years.
She also made several progressive films featuring larger female presences, interracial casting, and started to portray females in comedy. A Sticky Woman(1906) presents a woman and her maid making a trip to the post office. The maid obligingly sticks her tongue out for the lady to dampen the stamps and stick them to envelopes. A man enters the post office and becomes smitten with the maid. He attempts to kiss her, but gets stuck to her mouth from the abundance of stamp glue, and the entire post office finds it hysterical, as did Blache’s growing audience. Her film, Madame’s Cravings (1907), features a pregnant woman who is so overwhelmed with cravings that she steals food from everyone she passes, including a young girl with a lollipop.
Towards the end of her filming days, her husband moved into her studio and started producing his own films there. This led Blache to direct her last film in 1921, and eventually was forced to declare bankruptcy and auction her studio. She divorced her husband shortly after. After she moved back to France with her children in 1922, many of her films were lost, and her memory was lost with them for years, but Alice Guy Blache’s work and legacy lives in every female in the film industry today. She paved the way for genius, modern female directors like Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird (2017), Little Women (2019)), Patty Jenkins ( Wonder Woman (2017)), and Ava DuVernay (Selma (2014), A Wrinkle in Time (2018)), all who are producing and directing inspiring films of their own. To this day, we still credit people like Edison, Edwin S. Porter, D.W Griffith, among other males with revolutionizing the film industry. They are the names you read in textbooks and hear in documentaries. Alice Guy Blache deserves to be represented as a pioneer of film alongside these men. Unlike her films, her contribution to the modern film industry will not be lost. We love a strong, creative woman.
Feminism is currently in its third wave and it has taken a lot to get to this point in 2019. After a hundred years of fighting, women earned the right to vote in 1920. Another hundred years later and women are still combating the gender wage gap. On top of wanting equal pay for the same labor, women are currently defending their right to live peacefully identifying as such. Though many people know the difference between sex and gender, there are people in the world who feel these two concepts are one in the same.