On Being a Non-White Feminist

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So if feminism is supposed to be a movement of solidarity, why then is there still such a division amongst women? We are quick to recall Susan B. Anthony and Rosie the Riveter when we think of feminism, but often forget about Audre Lorde, Dolores Huerta, and Julia de Burgos. As a Latina, I have fought the struggles of both sexism and racism and feel that it is important to recognize that the two are very much interrelated. If as feminists we are going to fight for equality, it should be equality for all people– not just that of white women.

Being a woman of color, it has been difficult to “pick a side,” so to speak, when defending my rights as a woman and as a Latina. It is disheartening to me when I see and experience division between each of the movements. I’ll admit I was even a little discouraged at signing up to write for this blog when I went to the first meeting and was surrounded by all white females. I chose to stay to represent my underrepresented race, and am proud that I did.  Continue reading “On Being a Non-White Feminist”

A Little Case Study

She said something along the lines of, “they told us girls are like a piece of tape, the more partners they have, the less sticky they are,” and she did this kind of motion with her hand, as if she was repeatedly slapping her fingers against an imaginary piece of tape held in her other hand.

Last weekend, I took a three-day seminar on social change. The university invited a woman from Senegal to come and talk about the social movement that was started in her country called Y’en a Marre, which means “enough is enough” or “fed up”.

On the last day of the seminar participants were asked to create a three to five minute video on social change in the United States. I partnered up with a male who agreed on the issue of “women’s inequalities” and took to the downtown area where we knew patrons would be shopping at the local Farmers’ Market. After several refusals by both men and women alike, my partner suggested changing the topic to “gender inequalities”. Once we refined our topic, it was slightly easier to engage people in conversation. After three hours of rejection, with only five interviews to show for it, I wanted to address how this experience proved the difficulties of social change.

Continue reading “A Little Case Study”

All About Tess!

Hi! My name is Tess Fox and I’m a sophomore at the University of Idaho. I hail from Wenatchee, Washington, the very center of the state. I’m studying Journalism with minors in Art and Music. I spent my freshman year as an Applied Music and Psychology double major. Over the summer, I realized that music was not going to be the career path for me. It was a really difficult switch, leaving behind a close-knit department that felt like home. However, rekindling my love for writing, photography and creating has left me with a new energy and excitement for school. I spent a majority of my time in high school working on my high school newspaper as a photographer, and the photo editor during my senior year. This semester, I will be taking photos for Blot, the University of Idaho news magazine. I am really excited to be getting back into the swing of a fast paced journalism environment. Continue reading “All About Tess!”

Feminist-in-Training

Feminism

By Ian Sullivan

The sentence that follows this one may be slightly surprising to you, as you’re currently browsing and scrolling through the University of Idaho Women’s Center’s blog. Until just very recently, I did not identify as a feminist. But don’t be too alarmed. The reason I didn’t consider myself to be a feminist is not because I had misogynistic beliefs or just flat-out believed that men are better than women. I’ve actually considered myself an advocate of human rights and equality for as long as I can remember, ever since I was old enough to even grasp these difficult and controversial topics. The reason I wasn’t “on board,” so to speak, with the feminist movement, was simply due to my own ignorance of the issues involved.

Besides my lovely mother, I’ve spent most of my life around men. I have an awesome sister, although unfortunately, our significant age difference kept us from spending a lot of time together when I was younger. I grew up fixing shit with my dad, running around outside with my friends, playing video games and sports, all of which, for the most part, is usually considered “guy stuff.” I’ve been very fortunate to not have experienced any dramatic struggles in my life. I am a White male from a loving family that has been able to provide me with all that I have ever wanted or needed. So I guess that may indicate why feminism wasn’t always a priority of mine. As far as I was concerned, my life was good and there wasn’t all that much I needed to worry about.

Continue reading “Feminist-in-Training”

Do Enlist!!! NOW Accepting Women!!!

Aaron W. California

 

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It is common in nearly every culture to find positions of employment that are gender stereotyped. In the U.S., according to the American Psychological Association, “more than 90 percent of elementary school teachers are women.” For many Americans, being an elementary school teacher is seen as “feminine” or a “woman’s” position. Men, of course, are allowed to become elementary school teachers if they wish. Throughout history, women have been forced to fight for the right to hold positions of employment that were legally reserved for men only. Fortunately for some women, as Bob Dylan put it, “the times they are a-changin.”

The U.S. launched its first submarine in 1900. For more than 100 years since the commissioning of the first U.S. submarine, women were banned from serving on board. There is no clear reason for the preventing of women serving on submarines, therefore I will address what took place on April 29, 2010. On this date, the U.S. Navy lifted their ban on women serving aboard submarines. This surprised me, as until now I assumed women were still not allowed to serve on U.S. submarines. Perhaps it was a bit of my own pride keeping me from imagining women serving on submarines. I have to admit, I did see submarine service as “a man’s job.” Never did I question my own thoughts and beliefs regarding women on submarine duty.

Nevertheless, I am excited to learn that things are changing for women, however slowly it may be. As of now, 43 women have begun service on U.S. submarines; indeed this is a very small number among the ranks of thousands of male naval servicemen. The courage these few women have to serve on male dominated vessels will hopefully inspire more females to pursue service on U.S. submarines.

Women are often a far cry away from being openly welcomed into desegregated fields of employment. The history of women in the New York Fire Department is one example of society’s continued fight against integrating women into a once male-only profession. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that “only 37 of the 10,500 firefighters in New York City are women.” Currently, female firefighters in the NYC Fire Department are being harassed by their male coworkers. Female firefighters are experiencing “silent treatment from their male coworkers, finding their firefighting gear tampered with, and…complete refusal to impose accountability on the perpetrators of harassment and discrimination.” Why are women being subjected to such abuse?

One reason, among many, many others, is the natural instinct to dominate women. The natural reaction for many men to having a female leader is to feel ashamed. Men feel this shame due to the instinct they have to be over and more powerful than women. Perhaps the male firefighters molesting their female coworkers feel as if they are no longer in control, “like men should be” they may think in their minds. If men are ever going to work peacefully alongside women in any profession that was once only open to men they will be required to let go of the desire to control women and the feelings of hurt pride when women are above them in ranking.

What purpose do male-only organizations serve? Sure, it’s understandable that men want to be only with men at times, just as women have girls’ nights out. There is a problem, however, when the “male-only” sign hangs over public fields of employment and government positions. It is a problem when, after sexual segregation has ended, women experience discrimination, verbally or physically. What is it about women being in once male-only positions that elicits so much violence? I mentioned earlier the vast majority of elementary school teachers are women, 90 percent, according to the APA. Are men who become elementary school teachers discriminated against by women for choosing a female dominated position? Clearly not. In fact, many school districts around the U.S. are actively recruiting men to take on the profession of an elementary school teacher.

Brenda Berkman, the first female NYC firefighter, has said discrimination against female firefights will stop when “the department stops repeating the mistakes of the past.” Indeed, much of the discrimination against women joining such professions comes from the desire to hold on to the traditions handed down from generation to generation. The NYC Fire Department has a long history of being a male-only group, as it was not until 30 years ago that the Department allowed women to join. Like a bad habit, keeping women out of positions based solely on gender differences is a practice that needs to be broken.

Psychology teaches something called extinction. Extinction is the ending of a response or behavior in a human that is no longer wanted. To end an unwanted response or behavior, patients are either denied what triggers the unwanted response or behavior, or exposed to what upsets them until the negative feelings go away. Professions discriminating against women need a good dose of extinction. Women need to be integrated into once male-only positions until the harassment and the violence stops. The women who continue to work in once male-only professions despite discrimination will lead the way in ending male-only policies.

Men who hold chauvinistic views towards women joining their line of work need to do much in order to change. The reasons why men discriminate against women are endless. One of the most important keys to ending discrimination against women is  having men make some personal life changes, yet changing personal beliefs is no easy task. Men will need the courage to seek professional help to realize they have a problem. Men will need the bravery to question the validity of their prejudicial views against women. Men often see being proven wrong as shameful and an attack on their personal pride; men will have to find the nerve to swallow their pride in order to end discrimination and violence against women.

It is men who will need to take a step back and see the work women can do. If men would but swallow their pride by recognizing and appreciating the quality and effort women put into the profession, they can begin to see women as their professional equals. Men will need the courage to question the saying “don’t send a woman to do a man’s job.” Men will need to ask themselves some important questions, namely “what exactly is a man’s job?” and “if women can do what I do, is there than any reason to continue their exclusion?” The fall of male pride and chauvinistic ideology will be necessary before violence and discrimination against women will stop.

What does it mean to now have women on board U.S. submarines and fighting fires alongside men? It means, although often little by little and while enduring harassment and discrimination, what Bob Dylan said is true, “the times they are a-changin.”

No Fun Playing to an Empty Arena

Aaron William California

It’s true that going to sporting events are fun when there are tons of people watching. Personally, I enjoyed seeing the University of Idaho men’s basketball team play to the screaming of hundreds of fans in attendance. I love it when I watch a Philadelphia Union game on my tablet and see PPL Park filled with thousands of fans screaming for a victory. Both U of I men’s basketball and Major League Soccer are for male players only. Honestly, I’ve only attended a handful of U of I women’s basketball games and one women’s soccer match, yet I can report there is a major difference between men’s and women’s sports anywhere, and that difference is attendance.

U of I women’s basketball is notorious for having low attendance. Just imagine roughly two dozen people in the Memorial Gym and you will have a good idea of what it is like to attend a U of I women’s basketball game.

In all of the U of I women’s basketball games I’ve attended, never was the Memorial Gym filled to capacity. I have to say, when there are so few people at a game I have a hard time enjoying the match. The low attendance at the University of Idaho’s women’s basketball and women’s soccer games brings up an important topic: Why do women’s sports have such low attendance?

Why Some Watch Women’s Sports

When watching female sports with other men and women, it is common for me to hear comments regarding how attractive or unattractive the players are. Every time the Summer Olympic Games rolls around, many, but not all, men make a comment to the effect of “women’s volleyball is just more interesting to watch for whatever reason.” Let’s all be honest for just one moment. Has anybody ever watched the men’s Olympic volleyball games? I’ve never. Although I do not like the little clothing the players wear, because I think it degrades women, it is not hard for me to guess why some people only watch the women’s volleyball games. Is it attractiveness that makes or breaks attendance at women’s sporting events? I think the answer is yes.

Can you name a female player on any of the WNBA teams? Did you know there is a WNBA? Perhaps you can name some names. However, I think for most, no names come to mind. Who’s this man in the photo, without looking up his name?

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How about this woman in the photo?

Brandi Chastain

Do you know her name? It is Brandi Chastain. I had to look up her name, even though I remember her face and her taking off her jersey after scoring a game winning goal. Is it really all about whether fans find the women attractive or not? Does that answer why few attend the U of I women’s basketball and soccer games?

Why Attend Women’s Sports?

I go to U of I women’s soccer games because I love soccer, not just to see elegant women running around a green field. Yes, the women on the team are in fact eye-catching young women, let that be known. The women on the U of I women’s basketball team are just as beautiful and attractive as women like Brandi Chastain. When I go, my mind is focused entirely on the match itself. I pay attention to the plays, where the ball is going, and the game winning goals. When I watch a Philly Union game, played by only men, my mind is on the ball, the tackles, the red cards handed out, and the expressions of the players yelling at the referees for ejecting them from the game. When you watch men’s NBA or NFL games, what is your attention on?

Whether I am watching an NFL or NBA game with men or women, their attention is on the touchdowns, slam dunks, and the controversial calls by the referees. Why should we watch women’s sports? For the same reasons we watch men’s sports– because they are interesting, the plays are dynamic, and we like to see our favorite teams win.

In 2012, the Women’s Professional Soccer league came to an end. Among the reasons for the WPS folding is “bad television ratings and attendance.” Is it that society is more obsessed with how woman look verses what they can do? Other than Brandi Chastain, does you know any other famous female sports players?

How Things Get Better for Women’s Sports Attendance

The solution to improving attendance at women’s sporting events is easy; treat women with the same respect we give to male athletes. Focus instead on how women move the soccer ball or shoot a ball into the basket. Relish women’s championship games the way we do the Super Bowl or the World Series. Do you know who won the most recent Super Bowl? How many know that the University of Idaho women’s basketball team won the 2013 WAC championship title?