Senior Class Gifts and Classism

Paying for college is hard. It costs an insane amount of money, and that cost increases annually. For independent students, finances are an even bigger stress factor. After four quick years, we’re abruptly thrown into the “real world”, and expected to immediately begin paying off our student loans (or, more likely, we’ll be stuck with them until we die and our credit score will cry great big tears of misery). Remember asking your parental figure to check under your bed for that scary, imaginary monster? Yeah. That monster is now made up of at least five digits and will follow you from country to country, refusing to die even if you declare bankruptcy!

…Can anyone tell I’m feeling pretty anxious about beginning loan payments post-graduation, with a microscopic art intern paycheck?

We’ve essentially exchanged our financial souls for knowledge! We’re so poetic!

But… wait… Randolph isn’t done with us. Senior Dinner/Dance tickets? Absolutely! Graduation fees? Well, I guess I don’t have choice. Caps and gowns? Curses! I was hoping Commencement would just be like a lengthy Dell Run. Fine.

Aaaannnnd a senior gift? You want a donation… for a bench or a fountain. From us. From the same people who have already pledged all our past savings on top of the student loans we’ll be struggling to pay off for decades?

With what money? Randolph, honey, you already took all my money. What are you expecting? Aren’t you supposed to wait until I’m moderately successful and wrinkly to ask for donations? You can’t even wait until I receive my diploma?

To make matters worse, when approached by more affluent peers, we are judged for being unable to contribute to a gift we didn’t consent to give. This strikes me as a remarkably classist tradition. I’m very aware that senior class gifts aren’t solely a Randolph College or RMWC tradition. It’s incredibly common. But, at a larger school, you’re protected from judgement and harassment if you cannot (or choose to not) donate. That isn’t the case here.

Yesterday, I was approached by a student helping to organize the class gift. I responded honestly that I didn’t have any money. Glaring, he snapped back, “You really don’t have any money?” No, I really don’t have any money. That wasn’t my first negative encounter with someone about not donating, and I doubt I’m the only one.

If you’re judging someone for not donating, really think about your reasoning. We have a very diverse campus, with students coming from a wide array of circumstances. Assuming that someone isn’t donating because they’re “cheap”, “lazy”, or “apathetic” isn’t reasonable.

So how do we make this better? Perhaps if donations were anonymous or only staff members had access to the names connected to donations, this problem would be solved. Have you faced classist criticism on campus? How did you handle it?

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If Only I Could be BFF’s with Lucretia Mott

As a social activist, it’s easy to get bogged down in how much needs t be fixed. You look around and it can be difficult to see the light. In those times, I like to think about how far we’ve come, and the brave feminists who came before us. So I did a little independent research on early American feminists! Most of the names are new to me, since our public schools only feel the need to educate the masses about the history of cis-hetero white men. I decided to share a few fun facts about Lucretia Mott (1793 – 1880), who was quite the bad ass. I firmly believe that, if she were still around, she’d be marching in DC about pretty much everything.

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Its Our Turn to Speak Up: #BlackLivesMatter

“For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”

― Thomas More, Utopia

“…But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

― Martin Luther King

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Evan Smith ’15 & Cale Holmes ’16 paced back and forth between the street and sidewalk, leading the group.

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One generous man even stopped his car to share bottled water that he had already purchased for something else.

Last semester, on December 13th at 1:00pm, students held a ‘Black Lives Matter’ demonstration directly in front of the red brick wall. Dozens of students, staff, and faculty came with banners and cardboard signs. Led by Cale Holmes ’16, Student Goverment President Evan Smith ’15, and Abigail Smith ’14, we shouted “I can’t breathe”, “No Justice, No Peace”, “Black Lives Matter”, etc. Drivers slowed to watch us warily, honked for support, took pictures with their phones, and even parked to join us. 

About an hour in, multiple police cars arrived on the scene (video recorded by via cell phone above). They approached Evan Smith and Cale Holmes, asking if our protest had a city permit. We did, and I firmly believe that they knew this beforehand. We were peaceful, but our actions didn’t matter. We were approached with automatic suspicion. Continue reading

Star Wars VII: The FEMINIST Force Hopefully Awakens

*spoilers maybe, but probably not*

I love Star Wars. Like, a lot. Like, too much.  Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic I and II on the original xbox are, to this day, my favorite games. As a child, my primary form of entertainment was pretending to force choke my teacher under the my desk, and lightsaber-fighting my brother and father on our front lawn. Having geeky parents, we received fabulous geeky lightsabers for birthdays and Christmases annually.  My mother always explained to me that, after the movies, Princess Leia learned that she had the force. She told me her lightsaber was white, and that she was just as powerful as Luke. This meant the world to me.

Then the second trilogy came out. I saw every one of them, the day they came out, in the theater (not at midnight, though, because I was a wee soybean). While Padmae was a diplomacy boss with the most imaginative hair I’d ever seen (and I watched Yu-Gi-Oh!, too, people), I was itching to see her chop a bro’s head off with a lightsaber. She never did. Sure, there was Aayla Secura, but there were never any major female Jedi in the films.

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Fighting Racism: A War on Every Front

Saginaw Grant & Loren Anthony, actors who left the set of Adam Sandler’s upcoming racist film, ‘Ridiculous Six’.

A  dozen Native American actors walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s “comedy”, The Ridiculous Six, earlier this week. Sadly, the script was riddled with insults to the Native American Community. Native female characters were given sexually objectifying names like “Never Wears Bra” and “Beaver’s Breath”.

Allison Young, Navajo, confronted  producers about her concerns. “They just told us, ‘If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.’…Nothing has changed. We are still just Hollywood Indians.”

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The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Subversive or Reinforcing Oppressive Norms? (Sneak Peek)

(SPOILERS) Tina Fey’s new Netflix original, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, was definitely an interesting show to binge-watch. Kimmy’s character, kidnapped as a middle-schooler and forced into an “Apocalypse Now” cult, moves to New York City on her own. The show frequently and humorously mocks cat-calling, racial stereotypes, homophobia, xenophobia (among other things). While it was refreshing to see a female protagonist confronting a terrible abuse in a healthy, realistic, empowered way, many viewers are still left questioning the show’s politics. The show does well in one episode, making jokes that a black, gay character, Titus, is treated with more respect and friendliness dressed as a werewolf than he is when walking the streets normally. But there are also several racial jokes and subplots that happen so frequently and strangely that they no longer feel ironic – it just feels racist.

 Is the show ground-breaking or inappropriate? Tune in next week for a lengthy reflection! Share your thoughts!

Learning to Love Our Bodies

Learning to Love My Body

“Be careful about what you say about your body – she hears every word.”

It’s no secret that our society’s toxic beauty standards permeate our media, language, and self-esteem. Everyone, regardless of gender, experiences negative feelings toward their bodies. So how do we exorcise these damaging, ingrained, and socially-constructed thoughts? It takes work and active dismantling! Here are some tips I found to be positive and healing:

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Still pissed off at Hobby Lobby? Me, too!

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I’ve found great pleasure in purchasing my crafting supplies elsewhere and signing dozens upon dozens of online petitions. But what else can I do? Here’s a list!

1.) Cross-stitch a uterus onto a blanket and use a nail-gun to safely attach it to the Hobby Lobby CEO’s car.

2.) Paint an uncommissioned mural of various kind of birth control on a Hobby Lobby sign. If the manager is upset, claim that they must have lost your contract. Why would you just randomly paint a mural? Oh, and that’ll be five hundred bucks.

3.) Make a scarf out of tampons, leave it next to your cross-stitched car-blanket. That car will be so warm.

4.) Hand out coupons and flyers for Michaels outside of your local Hobby Lobby.

5.) Decorate a Hobby Lobby with condoms, maxi pads, and stream147462_600ers in the dead of night. It’ll be like in ‘Elf’, but even cooler!

6.) Go to a Hobby Lobby. Find a nice aisle in the center of the store. Rearrange various shelved objects into a three-dimensional portrait of yourself flicking off the store chain. (Bonus: if you’re incredibly wealthy and wasteful, glue together individual birth control pills into your three-dimensional portrait, instead! Personally deliver prototypes to Hobby Lobby shareholders)

7.) Streaking is always a good idea.

8.) Fill a Hobby Lobby parking lot with cardboard cut outs of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They can be arranged like an angry mob, or a ‘Shining’-like maze!

9.) Make a voodoo doll of a Hobby Lobby store. It will probably look like a derpy pillow with the words “Hobby Lobby” on it. That’s okay. Stab it with pins and stuff. Take out your aggressions.

10.) Send laxative chocolates to their upper level management. It could be a belated Valentine’s Day gift (for yourself).

11.) Perhaps send one of those glorious glitter envelopes?

12.) Sing some Lily Allen, Beyoncé, Joan Jett, Janelle Monáe, or some War on Women loudly over the store’s intercom. Perhaps dressed like Tina Belcher.

13.) Demand to know if Hobby Lobby sells anything made of both wool and linen. If the manager says they aren’t sure, assert yourself! The bible says in Deuteronomy 22:11 “Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together”.  Insist that they can’t just follow SOME of the rules. It’s all or nothing!

14.) Write a musical about it. Broadway would love it!

15.) VOTE!

Photo Credit: Cagle.com

#HobbyLobby

I’ve Got 99 Problems & “Feminazi” is Definitely One.

Our patriarchal society constantly uses certain words to shut women down. Women are called “bitches” or “bossy” while demonstrating assertiveness and leadership skills. We’re a “slut” when we say “yes”, and “friend-zoning” when we say “no”. And when we’re outspoken about feminism? We’re  a “feminazi”.

"Feminazi"

This is an excellent argument-winner I’m hearing more and more lately. What proves your point of view more than comparing a social activist you disagree with to a genocidal racist? Hitler totally wanted access to birth control and safe, legal abortions! It’s a little known fact that the Nazi party walked on Take Back the Night marches and volunteered for shelters for abused women. Advocating gender equality is essentially a war crime, anyway. So why bother having legitimate, thoughtful discourse backed with facts and examples of personal experiences when you can simply hurl this bad boy instead?

In all seriousness, this word is constructed to paint feminists as “extreme”, “violent”, “unreasonable”, and “hateful”. It doesn’t contribute to any kind of conversation. It’s used when the speaker cannot find anything better to say. Name-calling is only ever employed as a last resort. It’s just not good rhetoric. There are plenty of other strategically dismissive words used against women that are designed to put us on the defensive. In August 2012, Helen Lewis expressed on twitter that “The comments on any article on feminism justify feminism.” It’s often referred to as Lewis’ Law. I argue that a word like ‘feminazi’ justifies feminism in the same manner.

It’s also incredibly insensitive in several obvious ways. Although the Holocaust may seem like a piece of ancient past, there are still millions of people it affects today. Verbally diminishing something so devastating only perpetuates further violence and ignorance. The word “Nazi” should be exclusively used for actual Nazis.

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This tactic isn’t just used to counter feminism. Ever heard the word “grammarnazi”? It’s just as unkind and inappropriate. Calling someone a “grammarnazi” may show that you are frustrated with them, but it lead anywhere positive. It isn’t a respectful way to approach someone. I’ve heard people call one another “cleaningnazi”, “hygenenazi”, “gamingnazi”, “honor code-nazi”, etc. Imagine how that word feels on the receiving end.

What are your experiences with this kind of insult? How do you respond?

Photo Credit: someecards.com