#WhyIMarch: 5 Reasons I’m Marching on Washington This Weekend

Mackie
01/15/2017

Greetings, Good Millennials!

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? A lot has changed since I last posted – the site got a facelift, there’s new Gilmore Girls and a new Star Wars, a fascist demagogue is now the President-Elect. You know, the usual.

I’m back because I wanted to share with you my excitement about the upcoming Women’s March on Washington on January 21st. I am outraged and deeply concerned about the future of our country under President Trump. The precedents his administration has already set (or, more accurately, broken) are scary, unsettling, and truly dangerous for us as citizens and the future of our country.

Plus, as many of you probably know, I was an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton. This election and her loss (ahem 3 million more votes ahem) hit me very hard. I was emotionally wiped after election day, falling into anxiety rabbit holes and having a hard time controlling my anger and feelings of deep loss and betrayal.

It took me a while to recover (still haven’t listened to Fight Song since election day tbh), but I and my community soon rallied. Throwing myself head first into helping and reaching out to others, particularly other women, really helped. Then I discovered the Women’s March.

CREDIT: ELIZABETH AZEN THISISDYNASTY.COM @THISISDYNASTY

The mission of the march is to “join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore”. Led by a diverse and intersectional committee of women, the march is on track to draw some 200,000 people to DC the day after Trump’s inauguration. For more info on the organizers, you can check out this great article from Vogue or interviews on Pod Save America and Call Your Girlfriend, among many other podcasts.

There are about 55 million reasons to join the march (or a sister march in town near you) but because the internet waits for no woman, I’ve narrowed it down to 5. Feel free to share your own below or on the socials with the hashtags #WhyIMarch and #WomensMarch. And take a look at the march’s Unity Principles, an explanation of why we’re marching and who we’re marching for. (PS. The following artwork is brought to you for free by females and nonbinary people from all over the world via the amazing Amplifier Foundation.)

#WhyIMarch

1. I believe women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.

Women are STILL not equal to men under the law and in our society. While we’ve made great strides, women still face discrimination in almost every facet of our government, our healthcare and education systems, our economic structure, and in our culture. I march because this daily, violent struggle is unacceptable.

2. I want to protect reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy.

Of the many progressive issues I care about, reproductive health and abortion access are perhaps what I am most passionate about. I believe in the right to choose my own medical care, the right to have that care be safe and affordable, the right to honest and clear information about my health (particularly my sexual and reproductive health), and the right to a legal and safe abortion — these beliefs are held somewhere deep inside of me, and when they are challenged, I feel a tidal wave of rage and fear takeover. I march because it’s my body, my choice. (If you’d like to know more about this fight, I recommend reading Pro by Katha Politt.)

3. I need to be involved. 

I have always considered myself a politically engaged person, but like many progressives during and after this election season, I felt that I could have done more. So after the election, I doubled down on any and all of my activism efforts. For Christmas this year, I donated to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other local charities in my friends’ names. I became involved with a few women’s health volunteer organizations here in the city. I make calls to my representatives in Congress and keep up to date with daily action alerts. I recommitted myself to female friendships and building bonds within (and outside) my community. I march because it is just the beginning of what I can do.

4. I want to be connected with other feminists and progressives. 

I only remember a few specific moments when I have felt totally and exceptionally alone. One was the evening of November 8, 2016, as I watched in horror as Chuck Todd explained how the math just wasn’t adding up. A deep and hollow hole began to grow in the pit of my stomach and the grotesquely cool and prickly ripple of anxiety raced up the back of my neck, down my shoulders, and made a home in my chest: it was over. I looked around the room at my friends, they too in disbelief, and I realized tears were streaming down my face. It didn’t seem real. I woke up the next morning, yearning to isolate myself from the whole world, wishing I could hole up at my friend’s apartment and never come out. “No one will ever understand this,” I thought (rather dramatically). I reached for my phone and saw texts, tweets, missed phone calls, messages from former classmates, roommates, family, friends, teachers — all asking if I was ok, sending me strength, sending me love. It was incredible. They lifted me up that day, and since then I have committed to paying that forward in action and activism. I march to connect with my community, the deep well from which I draw my strength, my commitment to action and my hope for a better world.


5. As a white cis woman of privilege, it is my duty to be an ally to my sisters and brothers of color, those in the LGBT community, immigrants, refugees, those living near or under the poverty line, elders, the differently abled, the imprisoned, and the many other people who continue to face discrimination and abuse from their government and communities.

The incoming administration and their policies systematically attack marginalized people. The rhetoric during the campaign is now becoming law, and that is due in part to the 53% of white women voters who voted for Trump. While in theory this number may be surprising to someone like me, it is not for the generations of people who have watched only white feminism become mainstream. As Gloria Steinem says, it’s not feminism unless it’s intersectional. I believe it’s my duty to stand beside all those who are yet to be truly free in America; their fight is my fight.

 

If you’d like to know more, including how to get to the march, how to attend a sister march, and more, please visit the Women’s March website. If you’re attending the DC march, please RSVP so they can have enough amenities and space for those attending and please reach out to me! I would love to march with you. The rise of the woman = the rise of a nation. Let’s rise.

 

International Women’s Day 2016

To honor International Women’s Day, Good Millennial has compiled a list of ways to celebrate and get involved. All information is via International Women’s Day campaign – check their website for much more here. Start a conversation that matters today!

Find an event

You can find an event held today or this week anywhere in the world through this link! Get out and meet other incredible women in your area. Or you can hold your own event in your school or community!

Watch International Women’s Day videos

Groups around the world have made International Women’s Day videos to explain their support in helping to accelerate gender parity. You can also YouTube other important speeches by women, like Hillary Clinton’s famous “Women’s rights are human rights” speech at the fourth Women’s Conference in China in 1995.

Donate to a female-focused charity

If you are in the green giving mood this week, consider donating to a charity that directly supports women in your town or throughout the world. The International Women’s Day’s official charity is the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. We also love ZanaAfrica, a foundation that provides period supplies for girls who otherwise couldn’t do work or attend school while on their periods. A $40 donation provides four girls with supplies for A WHOLE YEAR.

Share your support on social media and with others

Use hashtags #InternationalWomensDay and #PledgeforParity to bring friends and loved ones to the celebration! Encourage them to continue to act and learn all year long.

Make the #PledgeforParity

Via this website, you can pledge to combat gender differences in your everyday life. Make sure you share the pledge with friends and start a conversation!

Read pledges from other global leaders

Read how CEOs, heads of state, and other leaders around the world are pledging to fight for female causes. Get inspired!

How are you honoring International Women’s Day? Share with us on the socials or in a comment below!

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week *GUEST POST*

It’s a special day here at Good Millennial because we have a GUEST POST! This week’s guest post is from the lovely, formidable butterfly that is Abigail Oldham.

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Eating disorders affect over 20 million women in the United States, and many of these cases go unreported and untreated.

I knew I wanted to highlight #NEDAwareness Week on the blog, and I immediately thought of Abigail. She has been sharing her recovery experience for over two years and her effort, strength, forgiveness, and compassion never cease to amaze me. I’m so honored she shared her story with us.


12733449_10208629298473205_5266293663989719391_nOver the past two years in recovery, I’ve surely been known to use my social media platform to promote openness, honesty, and self-discovery through the recovery of my eating disorder. When NEDA’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week rolls around, I take the opportunity to share even more posts to celebrate my recovery and the gift awareness brings.

I come from a world where calorie and nutrition facts quantitatively measured my worth, and now I live in a world where faith trumps fear and a number can’t define the many intangible parts of who I am. How that did that happen? It started with me knowing I was bulimic. Though I had exemplified every behavior trait of someone suffering from bulimia for the past 7 years, I sat at the group table during my first day of therapy with tears streaming down my face explaining, “I’m just not one of you.”

It’s never us, until it is. It’s never real until the reality is our own staring us back in the mirror. I really was one of them, and I was in a battle that I was refusing to know. One night while in treatment but denying my diagnosis, I innocently walked to the kitchen on the phone to get a drink of water. Impulsively, I dropped the phone, opened the freezer door, and dug into 2 gallons of ice cream, a pizza, and then the porcelain god for the following 3 hours. I laid on the couch until the sun rose with one thought, “I cannot live like this another day.”

12744152_10208631865537380_1146735826687877813_nI often refer to this as my “Come to Jesus” moment. The next day, I brought my beloved scale to treatment to smash and vowed it would no longer ruin another night of my life as it did the night before. That is the day I decided to go on the long and treacherous road to recovery from my eating disorder.

To celebrate this week, I originally thought about just telling you facts you might not know about an eating disorder, like an eating disorder is not just physical but very mental, it looks different on everyone, and how you talking bad about your body and “diet talk” triggers everyone around you struggling with an eating disorder.

However, what I want you to know is that recovery is hard. It is the most unpredictable process: one minute you’re doing well and the next you’re back in treatment for a relapse in behaviors. It is learning to love what you’ve defined as unlovable because you only know conditional love. It’s learning to silence the “Who do you think you are?” and “I am not enough.” For I really am just enough.

I hope this week you will commit to being aware, because I promise you we’re all in recovery from something. Of course, I am passionate about eating disorder recovery because it is my battle to fight, but we are all fighting a battle every day. I beg you to be kind, loving, and full of grace to those around you.

Awareness is our greatest agent of change. Share some love this week on someone else’s recovery journey.

 


 

If you or someone you know is struggling with food or exercise issues, please visit nedawareness.org. NEDA can help you get screened, find recovery centers near you, and help you begin or continue your recovery process. Get Screened. Get Help. Get Healthy.

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Abigail is a St. Louis native currently studying Acting at Ball State University. A BodyPeace activist, she is a contributing writer to the Faith column and a video blogger for recovery in mental health for Libero Network.

Gloria Steinem’s Christmas List

For over half a century, women the world over have looked to Gloria Steinem for guidance, wisdom, and truth. She is outspoken, extremely intelligent, and, even now at age 81, still extremely dedicated to the cause that shaped her life. As a feminist, I owe Gloria Steinem a lot. But as a woman and a citizen of our country, I owe her even more. I am eagerly awaiting her book, which is currently on my Christmas list. This is her Christmas list, as told to an audience at The Betty Effect holiday show and posted on her Facebook page.

 

Ms. Steinem writes:

Thanks to my dear friends, BETTY, for giving me the opportunity to share my Top Ten Things I Want For Christmas at their holiday show (to support their wonderful organization The BETTY Effect. Donate here:http://www.thebettyeffect.org/). Thought you might like to see them as well.

10. An abject apology from Donald Trump for being a Birther; anti-immigrant; a builder of buildings that look like big Dunhill cigarette lighters; the world’s most punishing source of Green Cards for women who marry him to get one; daring to rate women as no longer Tens when he himself has never been a One, going bankrupt multiple times in order to stick other people with his bad-judgment debt; pretending he ever hit a home run when actually, he was born on Third Base – and oh, yes, setting the hair weave industry all the way back to Rogaine.

9). If Trump doesn’t apologize, I wish us all the gift of remembering that Hitler was democratically elected — in a low voter turnout. (Hard to explain short, but Hitler wasn’t elected personally, he headed the party that won a plurality of seats and a power-sharing deal.)

8) I would like state legislatures to stop building prisons with money that once went to universities, thus keeping way too many people in prison and way too many people in lifetime debt. This would not happen if Americans gave ourselves the gift of knowing and caring who our state legislators are.

7) I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons – but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters.

6) I want people to know that the great gift of Black Lives Matter was created by 3 young black women: Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors – and that has led to 3 great organizing guidelines:

1) Lead with love
2) Low ego, high impact
3) Move at the speed of trust

Gives you faith in the future, doesn’t it?

5) I want Uber to stop charging for the weather – nobody, not even airlines, charge for the weather! – and I want Uber to stop refusing people with disabilities, and now, with 30,000 unregulated Uber cars in New York City, driving wheelchair accessible taxis out of business. Don’t let Uber become uber alles.

4) I would like us all to send a nice Christmas thank you to President Obama – for surviving ultra-right-wingers who, if they had cancer, and Obama had the cure, wouldn’t accept it.

3) I want any young men who buy a gun to be treated like young women who seek an abortion. Think about it: a mandatory 48-hours waiting period, written permission from a parent or a judge, a note from a doctor proving that he understands what he is about to do, time spent watching a video on individual and mass murders, traveling hundreds of miles at his own expense to the nearest gun shop, and walking through protestors holding photos of loved ones killed by guns, protestor who call him a murderer.

After all, it makes more sense to do this for young men seeking guns than for young women seeking an abortion. No young woman needing reproductive freedom has ever murdered a roomful of strangers. (This riff is not mine, it’s on the Internet – I thank whoever gave us all this present.)

2) I want the three magical women of BETTY to have everything they need to spread the BETTY EFFECT around the world. They are such a gift. They organize with music and by their own irresistible examples.

1) Finally, I want to make it to 100 — because I don’t want to leave, I love it here. You in this room are the biggest gift of all.

xxx

Merry Christmas from Gloria Steinem and Good Millennial! May we see her wishes come true as soon as damn well possible.


Featured image credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-U9-15739, frame 18]

I Got An IUD and Nothing Bad Happened

At first glance, the Internet is littered with IUD stories. Comments in health forums, guides full of warnings and medical jargon, poems on Tumblr – when I was researching birth control options, I saw it all. But rather than finding information I could really use, I found horror stories and rumors that left me a little scared and very confused.

Recently, a friend asked about my experience with the IUD. She told me she had been unhappy on the Pill, and although she was grateful to have Plan B as an option when a hookup went awry, she knew she didn’t want to continue to leave her reproductive future up to a partner or a perfectly-timed birth control pill. So I decided to share my story.

I wanted an IUD in the first place because I wanted the freedom to have sex whenever I wanted and not get pregnant. I was also sick of my birth control pills, and after about a year of bad PMS and weight gain, I knew I had to make a change. But the combination of my insurance and what I could feasibly pay each month for birth control left me with few options. Plus the thought of taking a pill at the same time every day for the next ten years seemed really daunting.

I just want to have sex with my boyfriend and be protected from pregnancy and not feel terrible all the time! Is that too much to ask?

No. It’s really not.

So my primary care doctor suggested an IUD. An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a t-shaped piece of plastic connected to a very long plastic string. A health care provider inserts the IUD into a woman’s uterus, and hormonal IUDs release a small amount of progestin to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. (IUDs with copper do not contain hormones, but do the same job.)

Because I’m the type of person who would research what it’s like to watch paint dry, I began obsessively combing the Internet for in-depth coverage of IUDs. When I was able to find credible information, I realized an IUD was perfect for me.

IUDs are considered as effective as sterilization when it comes to preventing pregnancy. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant within a year of using an IUD, and it’s easily reversible. They also last a long time – depending on which IUD is right for you, you can be protected from pregnancy for three to twelve years. Plus it’s usually covered by insurance, sometimes without a copay.

So I can have pregnancy protection for years, hardly pay a dime, and almost guarantee I won’t be pregnant?  

Yes, please!

Of course, IUDs don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections and there are still risks associated with the procedure. But as long as the insertion is done by an experienced health care professional, serious problems are rare.

An IUD seemed like it could change my life. But when I spoke to my friends and family, their reactions were less than stellar.

“Those things are really dangerous,” my friends said.

“Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” my mom asked. “I’ve heard terrible things about them.”

My mom and friends were very sure about the horror stories, but when I asked what they really knew about IUDs, they couldn’t tell me very much. Sadly, their reactions made sense. After all, the zeitgeist is rife with IUD nightmares, rumors, and out and out lies. Who could have told them otherwise?

Well, I am here to say, for anyone who wants to read it, I got an IUD and nothing bad happened.

That’s right. I am sitting here today with that tiny piece of t-shaped plastic in my uterus and I am doing just fine. In fact, I feel better than fine.

I FEEL AWESOME.

But at my first consultation appointment, I was sort of nervous. After all, when your mom warns you about something, you should probably listen. And when that thing is a foreign object full of hormones that is housed in your downtown, it seems you should really listen. But my gynecologist explained the risks, gave me reliable information, and sent me on my way. One month later, I showed up for my insertion.

After consulting with my doc, I chose to use Mirena, a hormonal IUD that works for up to five years. Once I’d signed some forms and assured my nurse I was not pregnant (some offices require a pregnancy test before insertion), I positioned myself on the exam table.

I glanced over at the instrument cart. The IUD came in a long, skinny box and it was prepackaged inside its insertion tube. The device itself was no bigger than a matchbook, and the insertion tube looked like a long, skinny drinking straw. There was a speculum, cleansers, some other shiny tools, a long skinny pair of scissors, and… lube? Yes, even gynos rely on the magic of KY to get the job done.

In order to insert the IUD, my cervix had to be relaxed. I had taken a prescription pill before my appointment that would help soften my uterine walls, and during the actual procedure, I kept myself calm and distracted by focusing on my breathing. My doctor talked me through each step, first inserting the speculum and cleansing my insides to prepare for the insertion. I felt a slight pressure and kept my breaths deep, low, and slow.

My doctor, who used an IUD herself, said the insertion would feel like intense period cramps.

Uh, yeah. She was right.

Though I had taken some Ibuprofen before my appointment, the insertion was just as odd and painful as everyone described. It felt like needles were poking an undisclosed place behind my belly button. Like my vagina was constipated or like a very long pap smear. I kept focusing on my breath as my eyes began to water, but before I knew it, my doctor was saying the insertion had gone well and all she had to do was cut the strings.

Two minutes of weirdness and I had an IUD!

I relaxed on the table, and my doctor told me about the next few steps of the IUD process. Because I wasn’t currently on my period, she said I should use backup contraception for the next seven days. She also said partners can sometimes feel the IUD strings during sex, but it usually doesn’t pose a large problem. Unless I experienced very serious pain, I wouldn’t need to return until my one month checkup. After that I would check the strings myself each month to make sure the IUD was still in place. The next few hours and days would be slightly painful with cramping, and I might see some bleeding or spotting. In fact, she said these symptoms could last three to six months.

To me, that seemed like a very long time, even though it’s similar to the adjustment period for birth control pills. After all, my uterus did just get a new, unannounced roommate. She was bound to need some time to adjust.

The nurse gave me some published information on Mirena, as well as a card that stated the date I received the IUD and the date I would need to have it replaced. I couldn’t believe I was looking at the year 2020 written there on my card. Five whole years, I thought. I am safe.

I left the office feeling relieved and incredibly proud. While the rest of my day was spent taking pain medicine and sleeping (my cramping wasn’t severe but it was pretty bad), I also tried to remember the magnitude of the occasion. A few office visits, one ultra-sound check up, my own monthly string check, and I’m set until 2020. That’s pretty damn cool.

My pain gradually subsided, and after a few days, my life returned to normal. The side effects that gave me so much trouble with the pill had almost completely disappeared. As my doctor had warned, my boyfriend could feel the IUD strings during sex, but it didn’t bother him; he knew what they were and knew they were protecting us from an unwanted pregnancy, so in his mind, who really cared? I made a good decision for myself and for my future and my confidence grew.

I was healthy and strong and I felt like an IUD-wielding badass! So, why did so many people tell me not to do it?

IUDs, though innovative and simple, are still a mystery to many people. From lawmakers and leaders to moms and friends, we just don’t seem to get it. Bad products in the 1970s and 1980s created widespread panic about the IUD in America, and while global use of the IUD has skyrocketed, Americans still seem hung up on decades old problems fueled by urban legend and propaganda.

While the copper IUD can act as emergency contraception, the IUD does not cause abortions. The IUD does not cause infertility. Women who have never been pregnant can use an IUD. These rumors are wrong, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, odds are they are misinformed.

If you’re interested in learning more about IUDs but your health care provider doesn’t offer them for moral or religious reasons, find one that does. My primary care doctor, who had originally suggested the IUD, could not do my procedure because the religious hospital associated with her practice wouldn’t allow it. It made my journey to reproductive stability a little longer, but it did not deter me. I knew I deserved the care and protection that was best for me, so I kept looking.

The bottom line is IUDs work. They work well. We have seen the impact IUDs have on states and communities, and, perhaps even more importantly, I have seen the positive impact my IUD has had in my own life. While there are some side effects (pro: no period! con: doesn’t control acne), I feel confident, strong, and informed, and I’m ready to share my story.

So, listen up, Internet: I got an IUD and nothing bad happened.

Spread that rumor.

 


 

Do you have an IUD story to share? Hit us up below or on the socials @goodmillennial!

Happy Birthday, Hillary!

Today is October 26, 2015! And you know what that means…

It’s Hillary Clinton’s 68th birthday!!!!!

While my last birthday was spent eating cake off paper plates and Skyping with my mom, Secretary Clinton got down to Demi Lovato at her birthday bash/campaign fundraiser event last night in NYC. And while my birthday wishes can’t really compare to the dulcet tones of John Legend (yup, he was there, too), I do want to say how grateful I am that HRC was born on this day back in 1947. Aaaaaand here’s some reasons why!

She’s always fought for women

From her groundbreaking speech at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women to making women a central part of her turn as Secretary of State, Hills has spent her career fighting for women. Recently she has stood with victims of sexual assault and made reproductive rights central to her presidential campaign. See a timeline of her inspiring life here and watch the speech that cemented her global presence below:

She’s a trailblazer

How many times can we put “first” in front of Secretary Clinton’s name? Let’s see…

She was the first First Lady to hold an advanced degree, the first First Lady to hold public office, the first female senator from New York, the first woman to win a Presidential primary, the first First Lady to be directly involved with public policy, the first female partner at Rose Law Firm in Arkansas, the first female politician to win a Grammy (really!), and first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. She is also the most-traveled Secretary of State, logging almost one million miles traveling around the world. (Not to mention, she also lead the fight for universal health care 20 years before Obamacare.) Being the first person to achieve so many things does come with a price, but Secretary Clinton’s resilience and courage in the face of speculation and ridicule are a large part of what makes her exceptional. [Crossing our fingers for another first in 2016… #madampresident]

She’s hilarious

You’ve seen her on SNL. You’ve read her emails about Parks and Rec and The Good Wife. (Also this interview is gold.) She’s gotten a lot of flack for being cold and calculated, but when she’s at her best (#DemDebate, amiright?), Hillary is pretty funny. See below:

She’s dealt with some shit

As if you haven’t heard.

Yes, yes Benghazi, her private email server, Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation money, BENGHAZI. And that’s just from this election cycle. Whitewater, Troopergate, and of course Monica Lewinsky (whose TED Talk changed my life) are scandals that many media outlets and political commentators said would ruin the Clintons forever.

Hillary Clinton has been especially eviscerated by the press and the public for nearly her entire career, either getting lumped into her husband’s issues or dealing with her own. How often has this decorated public figure been publicly called a bitch? Her physical appearance as well as her mental capacity have been called into question. First she’s too feminist, then not feminist enough. She’s the subject of damning books, even a video game app that lets the player slap the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State in the face. In this fascinating piece from The New Yorker, Frank Rich breaks down the Clinton enemy’s obsession with sex and “how frequently [Hillary Clinton is] the victim of drive-by character assassination” in almost any political or personal instance. Most recently, her public record has come into question, when Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina asked Democrats to find one thing Hillary Clinton has accomplished.

They managed to name a few.

And yet Hillary and President Bill Clinton have not only survived, but thrived. Is this a Frank Underwood of House of Cards situation, where everyone else takes the fall while the power couple who orchestrated it all climbs to the top of the DC ladder?

I guess it’s possible.

But I think what’s even more possible is this: The bigger the public platform, the bigger the risk – in policy, personal lives, and especially in the press. The more responsibility you have, the greater the consequences. Are the Clintons perfect? I don’t think so. But I also believe they have been the victims of some of the most intense public scrutiny we have ever seen. Secretary Clinton has been affected by intense sexism and misogyny, an issue that creates and augments political scandals, detracts from her astonishing public service career, and affects the rhetoric around her as a candidate and person to this day. And that’s on us.

Hillary Clinton is smart, passionate, aggressive, and vigilant. She continues to work tirelessly for the betterment of others despite near constant attacks on her record and her character. But time and time again, she’s come out on top. And that is pretty remarkable.

Cheers to the lady of many firsts who continues to inspire women, men, and children all over the world. Happy 68th Birthday, Hills.

Keep it up. We’re with you.

 

Emma Sulkowicz’s New Piece and What It Means… For Us

Mackie
06/06/2015

It’s a lesson I find myself learning again and again:

If you want to find the scum of the earth, look no further than a comments section.

If you really want to find the scum of the earth, look no further than the comments section on a post about rape.

It’s not like this is news. After all, anyone who has ever made a YouTube video knows the power a few trolls can have when they’re reviewing your work behind a keyboard. But there’s something special about posts on rape that bring out the actual worst in humanity.

For instance, remember Emma Sulkowicz, aka Mattress Girl? Or perhaps you know her by her names in the comment threads: “unemployable nutcase,” “retarded slut,” or my personal fave, “a pretentious and mentally ill troll.”

Emma made headlines when, after she was raped at Columbia University, she spent her senior year carrying a mattress across campus as a form of performance protest. Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight) also acted as her senior project, and it was to continue until her rapist was expelled or left school. Her attacker was not expelled, and she finished her piece by carrying her mattress across the stage at Columbia’s commencement in May 2015.

(FYI: I’ll be using Emma’s first name to identify her in this post, because, probably like many of you, I’m not 100% sure on how to pronounce her last name, and I want her to be a real person in your mind’s eye, not a jumble of letters you don’t really understand.)

In a recent interview with ArtNet, Emma said she did not intend for the project to become a movement, saying, “I had no idea it would get noticed by anyone when I first made it.”

But as striking images of her carrying her mattress across campus appeared on social media, word began to spread. Emma was profiled by high-ranking news organizations and websites. 130 schools participated in a student-created Carry That Weight Day of Action, in which students carried their own mattresses in a show of solidarity and protest. Emma became the latest poster child for campus rape, raising awareness and calling for action through art, while her ‘alleged’ rapist still attended school.

Of course, this project came with its own set of challenges. Emma herself did not call out her attacker specifically, but as her story became more public, her accused rapist was revealed to be fellow student Paul Nungesser. While Nungesser was pronounced not at fault by Columbia, he was ostracized and harassed and is now suing Columbia for gender discrimination, claiming “the university supported a campaign to bully and harass him and that the administration would never have let a male student target a female student in the same way he had been targeted.”

(While this sounds like a fair argument, let’s not forget the other students who have filed complaints against him, or the relative absurdity of an accused rapist suing an institution for gender discrimination, regardless of its validity.)

Emma endured skepticism, threats, and attacks from all corners of campus, the Internet and the media. I could give a link supporting that, but the proof is in the Google: the first suggestion to come up when I type in “Emma Sulkowicz” is “Emma Sulkowicz liar”.

So just when it seemed the Internet was rid of the pesky, girl-who-cried-rape art student, that same “charlatan” is BACK!

And with a SEX TAPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Instead of continuing with the facts, let’s go ahead with what I found when I discovered this story as a trending topic:

 

‘Mattress Girl’ Breaks into Pornography, Accuses Viewers of ‘Participating’ in Rape

^Gotta love clickbait.

 

‘MATTRESS GIRL’ EMMA SULKOWICZ JUST RELEASED A SEX TAPE: HERE’S MY REVIEW

^Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this.

 

Columbia’s Mattress Girl Has Made An ‘Artistic’ Sex Tape 

^Nice use of air quotes.

 

So, the logical explanation is: the girl known for a long term performance art project dealing specifically with rape who just graduated from Columbia… is now a porn star?

By the time I actually found a pseudo-credible news source covering this story, Emma’s site, which was the only place to watch the film, wouldn’t load. When it did, the video itself was unavailable, which is apparently because of a ‘cyber attack’.

I’m not going to rehash this whole story, especially because there’s limited information out there as it is. Before you read further, I urge you to get some basic info, and then go look at the film’s website, the best source of information, and read her preface to the film. Due to the work of some actual pieces of human feces, the film is apparently streaming on PornHub (and probably a million other places by now) if you want to, as Emma says in the text on her site, “participate in [her] rape” by watching the film.

Otherwise, ponder her questions. Read and absorb her statements. You can also read this interview with her about her piece, which, despite what the true art aficionados say in the comments, is art.

If you can stand it, read the comments.

Remember how this piece is specifically made to engage its audience — not necessarily by watching the film, but by encouraging us to look at ourselves. Are we, as she asks, looking for proof? Are we being duped by social media? What does sexual assault or the objectification of women mean to us? What does this film or Emma’s public persona mean to us?

And, are we really participating in her rape?

As an artist (who hasn’t watched the film), I think the creation of this work and its engagement of its audience is kind of extraordinary, albeit a little disturbing. As a woman, it’s difficult for me to read about, but I do find it moving and empowering. As a person with a small shred of empathy, I find the response to this work despicably (and maybe intentionally?) predictable.

I had initially wanted to post a screenshot of every single comment I found infuriating and explain how each of these sometimes faceless or nameless cyberspace commenters had proven Emma’s exact point. Or, if there is no point per se, perhaps given her a desired response to a specific thought.

After a few tries, though, I realized that probably wasn’t the best way to go. However, I am going to share this comment made by someone called UnTrust, who jokingly (read: horrifyingly) suggested Emma do another film, this time focusing on solo masturbation because this commenter “really [wants] to see that pussy…………. in an artistic way of course ;)”.

I will also share this one, in which a guy casually explained, “Some people just like hard sex!” And I’ll mention the one in which someone expresses their sympathies about her rape, but claims that anyone who posts a video like this must be mentally ill and she should seek help.

I thought about sharing many more. I thought about the effect they would have, if any. I thought about the people who claim her film is just porn, not art. And I thought about my role, my participation in this piece. Should I discuss its artistic merits? Its effect on rape survivors and the fight to end campus rape? Should I discuss what it means for women? Or should I try to figure out what it really means, what it’s about?

As Emma says in her preface, the film is not about her rape–  “It’s about your decisions, starting now.” But that can’t be it. What about protest and art and the influence of the zeitgeist?

And what about rape?

After encountering her website, I have not chosen to watch the film because I do not feel I have met her qualifications as stated in the preface. Therefore, I have not decided to take one stance, but leave it up to you, to all of us. However, I didn’t really have a chance to watch it, as the film was no longer up on her website. By choosing not to scour the Internet for the film, am I making the right decision? By not taking action, am I doing the right thing?

And, if it was available, would I have watched it regardless?

 

“Watch kindly.” – Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol (This Is A Not Rape.)

 


Did you watch the film? What do you think? Share with us below or on FB, Twitter, & more.

It’s Our Turn to Lead

Mackie
04/21/2015

For the first time in a long time, I will not be spending Earth Day outside. Because of work, I won’t be committing April 22nd to a day of service for our planet.

I am hoping to find some time off soon to commit to outdoor clean up and enjoyment, but my current situation has put me in a funk. It’s the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day, and if I were in high school, I’d be celebrating with Earth Club, actively focusing on outreach and advocacy. We’d be holding recycling drives and tree plantings. We’d host Bike to School Day. I would really be making an active change.

Celebrate-EarthDay-484x600_2968cee9-72fe-4bd8-899e-e9db79b2f811But spreading the word one day or one week out of the year will not even scratch the surface of the work we must do to stop the escalation of climate change. Turning my lights off when I leave the house a couple times is not going to stop the drought or our dependence on fossil fuels. And recycling my pizza boxes is not going to stop the global warming deniers from restricting funds (and even how we speak) to push politics instead of the health of our planet.

So on Earth Day 2015, I am choosing to recommit myself to the fight against global warming. I am pledging to make active and purposeful strides in my every day life to rely less on the material and disposable, and more on the natural and renewable.

I pledge to truly make every day Earth Day.

I hope you will join me.

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, when 20 million people took to their local streets and parks to support a sustainable environment in nationwide protests. College students, farmers, hippies, business people, Republicans, Democrats, the poor, celebrities — people from all walks of life were connected by their commitment to the planet we all share.

45 years later, strides have been made. But we can do so much more.

Commit to a year in which every day is Earth Day. It’s our turn to lead.

If you would like to know what you can do in your daily life to reduce global warming, check out our recently updated 8 Real Ways We Can All Prevent Climate Change.

 


Earth Day image via EarthDay.org – Buy the t-shirt and support climate change!

SAAD’15: Letters to the Editor

Do you have something to say you want the whole world to hear? Writing a letter to the editor of your local paper (or favorite online publication) is a great way to share your thoughts, influence public opinion, or spread awareness about an issue. The more people who write in about a certain topic, the more traction the topic gets.

If you’re in college, writing a letter to the editor of your campus paper would be a great way to make students and administrators take notice and maybe even take action. Here are some tips to get you started:

Review your publication’s guidelines

Some newspapers or online publications require different things in order to submit a letter. Length, authorship, style — they will tell you what you need to include. Make sure you follow these instructions. Otherwise, your letter might not be printed.

Be clear and to the point

A letter to the editor is not the place to wax poetic about your love for Proust or french cooking. You’re writing to make a point, so make one! Explain why you’re writing right away, and then be clear and concise. Explain why you think your issue is important, cite evidence as to why you think so, and keep it brief. Make sure what your writing is completely original and truthful.

Look at samples

There are lots of places online that show you how to write a letter to the editor. Here is a great website that details some more tips, and here a sample letter from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Make sure you write your own original work (don’t just copy the sample letter), but reading example letters will help you better understand the tone and style of a letter to the editor.

Create a call to action

At the end of your letter, make sure you include a few sentences on what should be done about the issue you’re dealing with. No one wants to hear somebody complain about something — they want to know what they can or should do about it. Your letter could be urging politicians to act, a local leader to step down, or it could be encouraging the general public. If you know who you’re writing about and what you want them to do, your call to action will be clear.

Proofread

Proofread proofread proofread. If there’s one thing I have learned writing a blog, it’s that I cannot proofread enough. (And even then, I still miss things!) Sending in a clearly worded, grammatically correct letter will make your piece stand out and more likely to be published.

Own your letter

Most newspapers require a signature to a letter to the editor. Even if they don’t, I encourage you to always own your opinions. People want to hear thoughts and opinions from other real people, not mysterious authors. Even in online comment sections and other sometimes anonymous places, not sharing your name is cowardly. If you have a thought worth sharing, it’s also worth owning up to.

There are many ways in the Age of Information to get your cause some time in the spotlight. A letter to the editor is a tried and true method.

Have you ever written a letter to the editor? What was your experience like?

SAAD’15: Engaging Bystanders

All Good Millennials want to help those in need, including those affected by rape and sexual assault.

But, you might be saying, “I’m no Olivia Benson. What can I do to help?”

You can help by being an engaged bystander, a non-victim who helps prevent sexual violence. On average, 293,066 people are sexually assaulted each year. That number has continued to drop dramatically over the past 20 years with the help of active and engaged citizens like you.

So here’s what you can do! The information below was gathered from RAINN: Rape, Assault, & Incest National Network. They have great tips, stats, and ways for you to get involved.

If you see someone in danger of being assaulted:

  • Step in and offer assistance. Ask if the person needs help. NOTE: Before stepping in, make sure to evaluate the risk. If it means putting yourself in danger, call 911 instead.
  • Don’t leave. If you remain at the scene and are a witness, the perpetrator is less likely to do anything.
  • If you know the perpetrator, tell the person you do not approve of their actions. Ask the person to leave the potential victim alone.

Be an ally:

  • When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other frequently and leave together.
  • Have a buddy system. Don’t be afraid to let a friend know if you are worried about her/his safety.
  • If you see someone who is intoxicated, offer to call a cab.
  • Speak up and speak out – if you know your school, business, or other organization is not doing enough to prevent or handle sexual assault, do something about it.

You can also take the action pledge from the It’s On Us campaign. It’s On Us challenges all of us — victims and supporters — to take on the issue of sexual assault. Here is their pledge:

IT’S ON US…

  • To RECOGNIZE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
  • To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur.
  • To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
  • To CREATE an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

When we choose to make ending rape a priority, we are choosing to make our world safer and better for all. Act now!

Want to start a campus or community campaign? Check back later in the month for more posts!