A Van Gogh piece might suggest, “warmth, radiance, summer.” While a piece by Salvador Dali could conjure up, “surreal, strange, unimaginable.” Now, what thousand words are recalled by this:
For one, it takes a couple of looks to even tell what product is being advertised. And second, I think more than a thousand words could go along with this picture. And they aren’t as radiant as a Van Gogh painting.
Trigger Warning: This post discusses multiple survivors’ sexual assault experiences and may be triggering for others who have also experienced sexual assault.
If you have been keeping up with the University of Idaho news lately, you will notice the attention a 2013 sexual assault case is getting. The Idaho Statesman recently discovered a survivor’s testimony on a blog site, and ran a story that covered the investigation. (Read here). Long story short, the survivors did not receive the help from the athletic department they needed. Both people involved were athletes at UI, but the athletic department only protected the assaulter. The survivors then went to the Women’s Center, and the staff there took the case to the Dean of Students for an investigation. The assaulter was no longer allowed to play football at UI. However, he is now playing for a team in New York (which I do not agree with, but that is a conversation for another day).
Throughout all of this buzz, I have heard some comments questioning why the survivor did not go directly to the Dean of Students. Some of these comments were in poor taste. Others were genuinely curious. Even though the two women who were sexually assaulted at UI chose to report their assault to the police and the athletic department, it is common for survivors to never report. But why?
In America’s fashion industry, the “plus-size” identity has always been a prominent component. This “size” range is considered sizes 8 and above, and isn’t carried in every store. From my perspective, I never noticed any sort of shaming or disrespect towards women that don’t weigh 100 pounds in the media, but of course how could I? I was only a young teen in the grocery stores looking at the covers, I couldn’t possibly notice all the praise of major weight losses that are just subtle conditioning set in our societies to convince us losing weight is a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong, adjusting your life in order to be a healthy you is a great thing. Me being an exercise freak, I think it feels amazing to set a body goal and achieve it but I’ve never been told I had to change like a lot of women have in the fashion world. There are all types of trends today in the beauty and health industry that I’m sure the older generations might not legitimately believe are popular because advancements in makeup, skinny teas and dieting techniques, and online weight loss plans have become so accessible.
This past year has been an incredible one in finally exposing and receiving justice in the largest sexual abuse story known in sports history. I am sure you are all familiar with Jerry Sandusky, the convicted child molester, and rapist who was the assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University but truly Sandusky has now been out done. Larry Nassar, age 54 of Michigan has been an active physician for about 30 years. He was the Michigan State University Team doctor for athletics, (specifically gymnastics) and the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team doctor from 1996-2014.
What initially sparked my deep interest about this arrest was when Chrissy Teigan, supermodel and wife of singer John Legend tweets this at Mckayla Maroney, a previous Olympic gymnast:
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.
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.
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”→