Deep Calls by Kendra Phillips follows the storyline of the main character Carson (played by Emma Pace). The story primarily follows along her time spent in a recovery clinic as she keeps a journal chronicling her time as a sex worker, or as she calls it a ‘bottom bitch‘. Her journal takes the tragic events of her past and spins them into a fairytale about a fairy and her porcupine prince. Set in the University of Idaho’s Forge theatre, the 2020 spring production of Deep Calls was directed by KT Turner and was set up as a theater in the round, with audience members on two of the four sides of the stage. In doing this, the audience received a very diverse experience based on where they were sitting, getting to watch different aspects of the play based on their location. The topic of sex work was approached in three main ways through the play: the direct handling and discussion of the topic, the journey the audience watches the characters undergo, and the use of lighting to portray emotion.
Deep Calls discusses the events of sex work through the lens of a childhood story, yet despite the youthful approach, the topic is still a tough one to handle. The University of Idaho Theatre Department approached this topic quite well. They begin by listing advisory warnings on both the posters and the program booklet, letting all potential audience members know that there is adult language and mature content that takes place within the show. They also offered guidance and counselling at each of the performances. During some of these performances, the representatives that were there to act as help were from the Women’s Center, some came from the ATVP (Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse), and some from the Counseling and Testing Center. These representatives were placed there in case the subject matter caused complications for any of the audience members and in order to supply help if needed. Each representative came from an organization set up specifically to handle the emotions and the turmoil that can be caused in this type of situation. Finally, in the back of the booklet, the Theatre Department lists resources that can be used to learn more about sex work and how to fight it. Some of these resources include iwantrest.com, an organization dedicated to informing people about the true risk of sex work in their local areas and to helping women and children get help to get off the streets and into safe environments, and genesisnow.org, which works to get sex workers support and to create a plan of action to get them safely away and to a new life.
Though I have always felt an immense care and desire to positively change the world, attending the University of Idaho and earning a Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies minor has broadened my understanding of what it means to think both critically and intersectionally. Before I realized it, I was already well on my way to earning both a WGSS and Sociology minor while earning my degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. This worked out because the immense pool of topics revolving around unequal opportunities focused on in WGSS courses can be applied around the media/entertainment industry I strive to be a part of. Though it can be hard to remain objective, courses within WGSS and SOC can help bring attention to people’s internal biases. Using the education I now have will allow me to help shed light on the things society tends to ignore such as the oppression faced in and out of marginalized groups. I understand school is not a part of everyone’s life and that is completely acceptable, but for me, going to school and taking these courses gave me the structure to learn about things through a sociological lens which in turn I would like to share with the world, for I know others will benefit. WGSS is “an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to the study of topics concerning women and men, gender and sexuality, feminist theory and research, social history, public health, and women’s and men’s participation in the arts and popular culture.”
Though it is heartbreaking to hear tragedies day in and day out, talking about the experiences of others and how their lives are affected by violence is crucial to understanding the impact. Something that is not often talked of is how American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) women have higher rates of violence acted against them such as domestic violence, sexual assault, homicide and even stalking. The homicide rate of AI/AN women are second to African American women, but higher than white women. According to the Reclaiming Power and Place report, native women are 12 times more likely to experience violence in comparison to their white counterparts. All the research is accumulated over the past 30 years, documenting the statistics revolving around indigenous people on reservations, such as AI, AN, and within urban areas such as Canada and Mexico, where 71% of AI/AN live.
According to a 2016 Research report from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), 84% of AI/AN women have experienced violence in their lifetime. To put this percentage into further perspective, this comes out to over 4 in 5 AI/AN women. While the stats on crimes against indigenous women are documented, the data on missing and murdered indigenous women does not have a database, but a likely inaccurate number of 5,712 Native women and girls are missing. According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, only 116 of those cases reported were logged in the US Department of Justice’s federal missing data base. These numbers, and rather the lack of, reflect a much-overlooked epidemic and institutional racism, despite past reforms that have tried to close legal loopholes that separate the responsibilities between Tribal and State Law.
Most of these cases are never solved which means Native women are not likely to have justice brought to them because, as stated by the Indian Law Resource Center, the “race-based criminal jurisdictional scheme created by the United States has limited the ability of Indian nations to protect Native women from violence and to provide them with meaningful remedies.” Distinguishing between tribal and federal/state law prevents these nations from having criminal authority over non-Indians simply because they are not of their tribe. The lack of criminal authority over non-Indians, the ones who commit the most acts of violence against Native women, is due to the prosecution being left to the state. Since federal and state officials have the authority over non-Indians vs. the tribes due to differences in jurisdiction and control, prosecutions are often declined. The U.S. Crime Victims Funds are not distributed equally among tribal lands as they are the rest of the states. The funds make up a billion dollars meant to update their resources and support services. According to the Department of Justice report of 2017, “from 2010 through 2014, state governments passed only 0.5 percent of the available funds to programs serving tribal victims, leaving a significant unmet need in most tribal communities.”
The lack of attention to the epidemic of violence against women was studied by the UIHI and found “the lack of quality data include underreporting, racial misclassification, poor relationships between law enforcement and American Indian and Alaska Native communities, poor record-keeping protocols, institutional racism in the media, and a lack of substantive relationships between journalists and American Indian and Alaska Native communities.” It seems these cases are not often talked about not only because of the lack of data documented, but also the lack of reporting by media outlets which come out to 95% of cases never covered by national or international media. UIHI analyzed the coverage that has taken place, concluding 50% of the 46 media outlets used violent language such as racial stereotyping, reference victim’s criminal history, victim-blaming language, or made excuses for the perpetrator. University of Kansas professor, author, and member of Muscogee Nation, Sarah Deer said,
“I think the reason that Native women may go missing at higher rates than other groups of people is very similar to the reason that they are at higher risk for domestic violence and sexual assault. The legal system is simply not functioning properly (to prevent) these types of things from happening.”
The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 was implemented as a means of ensuring Tribes can access law enforcement databases, which in turn is meant to increase public safety within Indian country and decrease violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women. Without this law, the funds to solve and bring justice to the crimes were not there. Tribes want to keep their members safe, but before this law they were lacking in tribal officers, whereas now the law increases efforts to recruit, train and keep them. Implementing this law enhances the authority tribes have to prosecute and incarcerate criminals through better data collection as well as provides resources for survivors, such as legal advice. Reports show how when tribes are given more funds for training and a means of investigation, such as control over investigating and persecuting nontribal members, perpetrators were arrested and convicted more often.
Because so many Native women go missing and are rarely found, Montana finally implemented a bill in the name of a missing Native woman, Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind , 22, who was found floating in nearby water. A tragedy like this is one of many examples of state police not taking cases of missing women seriously. Though she was found dead, her body was found, which is better than not finding her at all. The Savanna Act is a federal bill meant to enforce collection of data on missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) cases between tribal, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, but it does not address or take into consideration the difference between urban and federal jurisdiction which seems to be the basis of the problem of why violence against native women is not documented, resulting in the lack of criminal justice. Honoring Savannah Native women alike is the intention behind naming the bill after her, but according to the bill, the data on Savanna herself would not be logged under the federal government like the bill aims to do. Just last week, Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now, spoke with the brother of a missing women, Olivia Lone Bear, who was recently found a mile from her house, dead in a truck submerged in a lake, 9 months after the report was made. The tribe urged for the lake to be searched by the state because they did not have the means of investigating water on their own. This story is one of many which reflect the lack of respect and seriousness taken for tribal peoples. Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is the most recent step in restoring tribal jurisdiction because without further tribal authority, suspects and perpetrators will continue to go uninvestigated and therefore Native women and girls will continue to be victims at higher rates. The lack of attention to MMIW cases emanates a lack of care towards indigenous women therefore acting on the crisis of violence against them starts with seeing Native women as victims.
Hello there! I’m Amy Alfredson, the editor of the Women’s Center Blog. It is my pleasure to introduce myself to you in the hopes you understand a bit more about me when reading some of the articles here. I am a first year M.A. English student here at the University of Idaho. I received my B.A. in English at the University of Oregon in Eugene and came into my current personal and political ideologies there. As a developing literary critic, I like to look for queering or ambivalence of gender and sexuality in literature, specifically in novels from the 18thand 19thcenturies. I find there is no better motivation for studying and researching than being able to claim and prove a character is highly progressive in an older text.
Slightly outside of the realm of class and studies, I participate in the U of I marching band. This is my first year marching with this band, but I have marched trumpet for the last six years in high school and at my last university. I am absolutely in love with the music we play, especially the fact that we play both Nintendo and Foo Fighters in the same field show. I’m also a beginning member of the fencing club on campus. It has been my dream for so long to learn how to fence, and it is nice to see a large presence of women in a sport that was originally created for duels between men.
Women are a quarter of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) work-force population in the Unites States. Recently the number of women in STEM has been declining. Why is this happening? A study conducted asking men and women if they thought they were intelligent enough to work in a STEM field. Only 40 percent of women were confident in pursuing a STEM career compared to 60 percent of men. Where is this psychological effect coming from? Why do women believe they are not intelligent enough to pursue a future in a STEM field?
Women need to begin to believe in themselves again. We can do this by looking up to our role models. Positive strong female role models are very important for a girl contemplating pursuing a STEM field. If she sees an intelligent, capable, woman handling a career in STEM, then hopefully that will encourage her to continue to make future steps into becoming a woman in STEM. My cousin, Jacqueline Clow, is a bright young woman who pursued a career in STEM, knowing fully well the baggage that comes with it. Continue reading “Why Aren’t More Women In STEM?”→
Katherine Groggett was not only a strong leader and a passionate learner, but she was a loving friend, family member, and a beautiful soul. I only personally knew Katherine briefly, but she left a glimmer of light in my life that I have so much more drive to sha-
re now, for her memory. Katherine came to the University of Idaho community as a freshman and new member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority Theta Tau chapter, where Katherine and I crossed paths.
Katherine was a junior at the University of Idaho, and studied dietetics, a nutrition science. She was incredibly dedicated to and passionate about dance, and had been most of her life.
She was a beautiful dancer with flawless technique and infallible talent. Katherine was currently in term as president of Tri Delta’s Theta Tau chapter, promoting to “steadfastly love one another” and support St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Disclaimer: Native American Indian Tribal People do not identify themselves under one label. “The question is usually posed as, ‘do you prefer to X ,Y , Z?’ to which I am expected to choose from one and categorize who I am, further marginalizing myself, and possibly someone else. It’s always difficult to answer this question because ‘I’ do not necessarily identify with any of these terms.” – Courtney Tsotigh-Yarholar, Indian Country Today
Native American history has been riddled with genocide and pain since the introduction of colonialism. The Trail of Tears is a painful memory of the forced relocation and resettlement of the Native American people to their current reservations. Originally, 15 million Native Americans began the Trail of Tears—today, there are a total of 5 million. Contemporary Americans may not be familiar with the history of the past century of Native Americans in the United States. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Native American children were forced to attend Indian Boarding School, in order, to “kill the Indian, save the man.” More recently, in the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of Native American women unknowingly went through forced sterilization by the Indian Health Service, because they were deemed unable to use other forms of birth control on their own.
These malicious acts made against Native Americans caused deep distress and dejection throughout Indian nations, that continues to affect their lives today. The unemployment rate among American Indians today is 85 percent. American Indians are 500 percent more likely to die of alcoholism than the average American. The suicide rate among American Indians is 62 percent higher than the average American. Native youth have the highest rate of suicide among any other ethnic group in the United States. One in ten American Indians become victims of violent crime. A recent study showed that the vast majority of Native women in the United States have experienced sexual assault or rape. According to the Indian Law Resource Center, “More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence, and more than 1 in 2 have experienced sexual violence.” Why is this happening and what can we do to help American Indian and Alaska Native women? Continue reading “End the Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women”→