Donate to get The Invisible War screened in Cleveland

At Cleveland State University, the Student Women’s Association is keeping very busy. As one of the many tasks we’re tackling, we are trying to raise money in order to get The Invisible War screened on campus. In addition to a bake sale and on campus donation drive, we have set up a Go Fund Me account so we may take donations via the internet.

If we raise enough money, we will be able to have the film maker Kirby Dick come to CSU for a Q&A in addition to the screening. Please consider donating and if you’re not able to donate, please spread the word and share our link to Go Fund Me.

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Make Space For Your Siblings

(Originally posted on Wellesley Underground, an alternative alum magazine)

By Diamond Sharp, Class of 2011

During my time at Wellesley, I had multiple conversations with other self-identified feminist (and/or womanist) students of color about how uncomfortable we felt in Wellesley’s flagship feminist organizations and spaces. I was often asked during my first year why I hadn’t joined a purposeful feminist organization since feminist activism was such a integral part of my identity as I entered Wellesley from high school. (Many of my fellow 2011ers know that I edited a feminist literary journal from ages 16-19, trained male allies for feminist causes and ran a feminist open mic in high school. For the rest of you, now you know.)

The honest answer is that I didn’t join feminist and pro-choice Wellesley organizations because I did not find them to be safe spaces for women of color. Wellesley prides itself on its “Safe Spaces” in their various capacities around campus. As an incoming first-year, I thought that the one guaranteed Safe Space would be the self-identified feminist organizations as we were at a womens’ college. I soon found through personal interactions, however, that this was not the case. In fact, other POC felt that these spaces were the least safe for POC. To that end, it should be noted that oftentimes members of these organizations did not consciously and/or knowingly make these organizations and spaces uncomfortable for myself and other POC on campus; rather, inherent structures perpetuated these problems.

Yet, there were times when members of these organizations actively engaged in activities that alienated POC. For example, commenting on Community threads about why they don’t understand the need for places like Harambee House or multicultural spaces and groups, or negative and presumptive comments about beneficiaries of affirmative action at Wellesley (for the record, Wellesley has no affirmative action policy), or not-so- privately discuss groups of people who SHOULD get abortions.

Yesterday, it dawned on me that many more of these conversations about alienation happened in private. I believe that if they had reached a public forum, the work of reconfiguring feminist organizations and spaces into safe spaces for all Wellesley students would have started earlier. During my time at Wellesley, members of these various feminist organizations would assert that they “reached out to women of color but none of them showed up.” To that, I think it would behoove each of these organizations to self-reflect and ask some honest questions about what they do to alienate students of color on campus. It is not a coincidence that most of those organizations are majority-white with just a handful of POC members, and it is wishful and naive thinking to believe otherwise.

I wrote about some of my experiences on my Twitter account last night, and got an overwhelming response from alums and current students of color who identified with the feelings of alienation*. Many of us had been the feminist during our time in high school (whether president of the feminist club, a pro-choice organizer, etc) and were excited to continue that work at Wellesley only to realize that those spaces were no longer comfortable for us. To that end, I think what I witnessed at Wellesley is also a microcosm of the wider problems in contemporary feminist organizations and movements.

Here are some concrete ways feminist organizations on campus alienated students of color. (Some of these experiences are my own, some are from other alums and current students):

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Celebrating Empowerment and Women’s History Month at Fairfield University

Fairfield University celebrated Women the entire month of March for Women’s History Month.  Various student led initiatives brought attention to the issues women and men face on campus and within our community relating to gender and sexuality, as well as class, race, and religion.

Starting with a film screening of Miss Representation sparked discussion about women in the media and the ongoing pressure to achieve unattainable feminine ideals. Especially relevant at Fairfield, women and men feel these pressures which they expressed at a student led forum that was held in response to ongoing hate and intolerance on campus called Students Act Against. At the forum, men and women stood up in front of their peers, mentors, professors, and administrators to raise their voice about the intolerance they face every single day.

Sophomore, Crystal Rodriquez initiated discussion on gender by sharing her story about the disparities she faces as a woman on our campus. In a poem that she wrote for the forum, Crystal addressed sexism starting by warning all women in the audience that we were “about to get very angry”. She read her poem about the pressures of feminine ideals and how she is told from society that, “women are submissive, small, meek, [there] only value is to serve, [and they are] at a constant struggle to please men”.

After her poem, students responded with their own grievances and stories with similar concerns and struggles. Students brought up their fears in speaking out against these standards and for those that do, they feel ostracized. These fears force students to be silenced on campus unable to speak against said issues which further perpetuates stereotypes and intolerance. Male students stood up and expressed the pressures of masculinity and the idea that today; men are either “masculine” or gay. Junior, Josh Robichaud took  on an initiative to address this issue with men for men by starting a mentor group called Man to Man. One student who is now a mentor in the Man to Man program said this,

I am not allowed to stutter, not allowed to be emotional because I’m a man. It is difficult for me to get up here and be emotional. If I was a woman you would empathize. Thank you Dan (a student who spoke before him) for standing up and saying you were crying because I was crying too…We as a culture have not stop seeing one another as men and woman, girls and boys, guys and gals. We have to see each other as people.”

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Student Leaders Win the Future: White House Campus Challenge for Change

Thanks to everyone who voted for the Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Commons for the White House Champions Campus Challenge for Change! GSSC did not make it into the top 5 but we still had the opportunity to attend the top 5 panel discussion at the White House to meet the other top 15 Champions.

Shout out to all the amazing leaders we met and congrats to the top 5 projects ranging from sustainability gardens, micro-finance initiatives, and programs to end hunger. GSSC loved all of the projects and two of our favorites are Kirsten Foster’s EMPOWER  project that addresses health disparities of women affected by domestic violence, and Grace Phillip’s Local Loans  Project that manages domestic micro-finance no-interest loans, for low-income families in her community to help break the cycles of poverty and dept.

Read more about the top 5 here or watch the panel discussion.

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LGBTQ Advocacy Project in Top 15 of White House Campus Challenge

Fairfield University’s Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Commons (GSSC) is the only LGBTQ advocacy group in the Top 15 finalists of the White House & MTVU Campus Champions of Change Challenge. It is currently up to a public vote to decide the Top 5. Top 5 winners will be invited to an event at the White House and featured by mtvU and MTV Act. GSSC is a small grassroots student initiative working within a private Jesuit university in need of student and institutional support to continue their mission of supporting the LGBTQ community and combating issues relating to gender and women.

Please help GSSC reach more people by voting for The Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Commons!  Vote Here (you receive up to 3 votes and the deadline to vote is March 3).

It’s important that the voices that advocate for the LGBTQ community and women are heard.

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