Call for Writers

The end of the semester is approaching, and we would like to thank you for your support and submissions this semester!

We encourage you to write over winter break!

We are interested in content such as: book, movie, music, and other arts reviews; analyses of current events; creative mediums; and conversations involving the intersections of identities including, but not limited to, race, gender, sexuality, ability, and other identities. These areas of feminism can exist in several mediums: poetry, fiction, analyses, personal narratives, and so on.

We are interested in what you have to say, so please keep in mind that we can post your piece anonymously (if you desire)!

If you are thinking: “Where do I start? I have never written a blog post before!” We have you covered…

Tips for Writing Effective Blog Posts

Please email pieces to collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

Best,

The Blog Team

 

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Marginalization Through Poverty

The online magazine, Everyday Feminism, published a post last May titled, “The Terrible Invisibility of Being Bisexual and in Poverty.”

They highlight the lack of acknowledgement of poverty and its significant role in all of the issues we discuss in human rights conversations today; they also illustrate the high likelihood of bisexual people being in poverty.

Here’s an excerpt…

Poverty is a violation of human rights. All people should have access to a roof over their heads, education and healthcare. Issues of class are also predictably ignored when it comes to bisexuality. Unless it’s a fluff piece then you can forget analysis of what bisexual people are experiencing.

Yet as far as analysis on sexuality goes, bisexual people are more likely to be in poverty (this is especially true if also trans, disabled, neurodivergent and/or a woman of color). This is a huge factor in why bisexual people are often marginalized and isolated.

Continue reading here!

What did you think?  Let us know here on the blog or write us at collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

 

Image: http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/05/bisexuality-and-poverty/

 

 

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The Mark Cohen Complex 

When I traveled to the Philippines for three weeks at the end of last summer, I had a plan to write about my experience. I wanted to share my experiences of seeing my extended family, seeing the sights, and experiencing the difference between cultures that makes the group of over 7,000 islands so unique and dear to my heart. I wanted to write about the horrific traffic, the sky that turned the color of loamy water with the combination of pollution and fog, and the mom and pop shops pressed up against each other like the sardines they undoubtedly sell. I wanted to write about the first day in particular when my uncle picked us up from Ninoy Aquino International Airport and instructed his driver to take us on a tour of “The Real Philippines.” I made a point to bring along a small blue notebook to write down observations and then turn them into a candid analysis of Philippine life through my eyes.

The sight isn’t something that I’ll easily forget. Naked toddlers waddled into the middle of traffic and two five year olds crouched near a drain pipe with plastic Ziploc bags, filling them with rainwater, tinted yellow by God knows what. My sister pressed her finger to the window and said plainly, “That doesn’t look safe.” A few days later, driving in the same car, I witnessed the erecting of a shanty: cardboard and plastic bag walls, sporadic gleams of tin just to give it something resembling strength and to give the illusion that it wouldn’t blow over with typhoon winds. Something deeply bothered me when I looked at this, but I still wrote it down, though keeping most of the details through pure memory. Then, during the last week, we went north of Naga City (where we were staying) to the smaller town of Panicuason. Specifically, to the house on land that my mother and a few more of their siblings owned. It was far from a mansion, just a one story structure with two bedrooms a bathroom and a kitchen; it was one hundred-percent livable. What caught my attention and set off alarm bells in my head was the house adjacent to the main structure, belonging to the maid tasked with the upkeep of the house. Dried out banana leaves and various grasses were woven together for the roof. Posters for cell phone plans made up part of the door, or maybe the outer wall (a literal side by side comparison). And it hit me that I’d never step into that house, that I’d never get close to the shanty or even worry about water to the point that I’d risk my health just to get some. But part of me still wanted to write about it, explore this struggle, and turn it into something.

I started calling this the Mark Cohen Complex, named after the filmmaker in the musical RENT. I called it this for two reasons:

  1. It’s the desire to help in the form of art. Me through writing and Mark through film.
  1. Too late is the realization that it serves more as a buffer between the artist, their art, and the message it’s trying to convey. A wall. A separation to keep that uncomfortable rolling of your stomach out.

In the musical, an old, homeless woman calls Mark out for filming some police officers urging her to get off the street, saying, “I don’t need no goddamn help from some bleeding heart cameraman. My life’s not for you to make a name for yourself.”

And I couldn’t make a name for myself out of the lives of people I saw for less than a second. The churning won out, and I decided to write this piece instead.

I figure that many artists have at least the first part of the complex. And why not? The purpose of art is expression or attempting to make meaning out of things not easily explained. But for me, it was hard to write about the things I saw. I wasn’t sure if I was stepping into shoes that I didn’t even own, or if I was stealing stories and images from people who barely have even that. The line between creating art and using people to do so became a really big issue for me, and I’m still struggling with every aspect of it. I know it’s not about me but about the people who suffer injustices at the hands of cyclical poverty every day. But I can’t use their voices as someone who stays at hotels, resorts, and three story residences when I visit. I’ll never know their story or feel their struggle, so it’d be wrong for me to try and express it.

Many times what starts off as an attempt to help and raise awareness romanticizes the issue with no real work to fight the issues that are romanticized. I think it’s important for artists to understand this line and to start making a concerted effort that directly benefits what they’re trying to create the art out of. With that in mind, after asking people I know who live in the Philippines and have greater knowledge of the workings of local organizations, here are a few charities to support:

Save the Children: Philippines

Gawad Kalinga

UNICEF Philippines

With this I’m hoping to do my part beyond sharing the beauty of this country through the written word.

 

 

thumbnail_147Mariam Bagadion is a second year student at SCSU double majoring in Women’s Studies and English. She has a passion for writing and social justice and thinks the coolest thing in the world is when the two can be combined. In her free time, she writes fiction, watches Netflix, and plays one of the three songs she knows on the ukulele. 

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To Those So Concerned

My flesh is not yours

You cannot control it

 

I do not live to please you

Your actions do not affect me

 

Your jargon is futile

It is not your burden to save me

 

Your comments are complacent

Your aim seeks propriety  

 

You do not understand my pain

So do not force your opium down my throat

 

 

Image: http://culturalconundrums.theblogpress.com/2015/02/04/pro-choice-what-does-it-really-mean/

 

 

mara-martinsonMara Martinson is a freelance editor, creative writer, and graduate student. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English from UW-Superior and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Rhetoric and Writing at SCSU. She teaches ENGL 191 and in her free time, enjoys writing, reading, knitting, crafting, and spending time with her partner and family. Her creative work has appeared in journals including The Nemadji Review, Kaleidoscope, and The Upper Mississippi Harvest. Mara describes her work for Collective Feminism as feminist, capturing the emotional struggles we face. 

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Black Representations in Film

Crunk Feminist Collective recently published an insightful post on their blog titled, “Moonlight Musings & Motherhood: On Paula, Teresa and the Complicated Role of (Bad) Black Mamas in Film.”

They present an intriguing critique of the new film, Moonlight, and in particular, how the black female and male characters are problematically represented.

Here is an excerpt…

As an autoethnographer, I am invested in the importance and significance of black folk telling our own stories and telling our own truths, and telling them even if and when they may be stereotypical or troubling.  But representation matters.  So, I find myself wrestling with what it means when filmic depictions of black men and women imply that progressive black masculinity, and positive black womanhood, cannot co-exist.  In many ways, these images suggest that in order for fluid black masculinity to be possible, black women and black women’s bodies must be somehow sacrificed.

Continue reading here!

Have you seen the film?  What did you think?  Let us know here on the blog or write us at collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

Image: http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/2016/10/28/moonlight-musings-motherhood-on-paula-teresa-and-the-complicated-role-of-bad-black-mamas-in-film/moonlight_2016_film/

What Race You are Might Affect Your Water Access

Most people know that there are places in the world where water access and quality are bad.  And I’m sure if you have been watching the news, you have also been reading about the quality of water in places like Flint, Michigan.  While I knew issues with water quality existed, I was astonished to learn that these problems affect the United States in enormous ways.  I also didn’t see the connections between race and water access. I thought issues of race didn’t run so deeply, but I was wrong.

According to The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World, “Over one billion people do not have access to improved water supply sources and more than two billion people do not have access to any type of improved sanitation facility.”  This lack of water and sanitation contain a lot of repercussions for women and men, but as with other things in our patriarchal society, women bear the brunt of these issues.  Bearing children becomes much more dangerous without sanitation.  Girls and women are less likely to participate in school once they reach ages of menstruation, due to the cultural unacceptance and lack of sanitation.  Women and girls are also the “collectors” of water in many countries, and on average a woman walks six kilometers a day in order to get water for their family (Link).  Most of the people that live in these conditions are people of color.  Norleen Heyzer, the director of UNIFEM stated, “Women constitute 70% of the world’s…absolute poor.”  This fact means that not only are the people living in these conditions people of color, they are women of color!

Enter Flint, Michigan.  This predominately African-American city is located northwest of Detroit, and most of the residents in this city live below lines of poverty.  In 2014, the city changed its water system in order to get water from the nearby Flint River, because it saved money.  Since 2014 there have been warnings sent to public officials, who haven’t taken any of the warnings seriously (Link). I certainly can’t give reasons why someone in public office would ignore EPA warnings, but it seems as though Governor Rick Snyder didn’t care about the lives of people that wouldn’t be backing him in upcoming elections, as he gave tax cuts to big businesses by about 1.7 billion dollars, while raising individual taxes, and cutting programs in education!  (Link).  And this is the same man that “respectfully declined” to testify at the hearings for the crisis last spring (Link).

Celebrities have been helping provide water and housing to the thousands of residents that can’t afford to leave the city.  Aretha Franklin, resident of Detroit, donated money to pay for hotel rooms; Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, Sean “Puffy” Combs, and Mark Wahlberg have donated a million bottles of water (Link); and filmmaker Michael Moore created “10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy” (Link).

It seems that even in the U.S., water security is something that we afford to those people who have money, instead of providing safe and clean water to all of our citizens, even when we can afford it!  Surely something can be done to shine a spotlight on the corruption that is obviously happening within the political climate of Michigan. Corruption that is still happening, because Flint STILL doesn’t have clean water.

I’m sure the residents of Flint would agree!

 

 

melissa-anne-frankMelissa Anne Frank is majoring in both Women’s Studies and English Rhetoric at St Cloud State University.  She plans on continuing her education with a Master’s degree and then a Doctorate.  Melissa is a white, cisgender, pansexual who is proud to be part of the Social Media team at the St. Cloud State Women’s Center.  Melissa also writes a personal blog called Musing with Melly on WordPress. Melissa loves reading, writing, video games, spending time with her partner and two children, and crushing the patriarchy! 

 

Inquiry on Issues No. 1

Our blog team tables in Atwood twice monthly and one activity we offer to the students and faculty on campus is “Inquiry on Issues.” This activity provides individuals a chance to write down any questions they have about feminism (anonymously) that our blog team can answer here on our blog!

We have retrieved two thoughtful questions thus far and they will be answered by two of our blog members: Ruth Sybil May and Melissa Anne Frank.

  1. How do I talk to a trans person about pronouns if I don’t want to offend them?

Talking to someone about what pronouns they use can seem daunting. You want to be respectful without crossing any lines or boundaries. And as a trans person, I must say that I take to it kindly when people respectfully ask what pronouns I use, because it shows that they care and are aware enough to ask in the first place. 

Upon first meeting someone (or even if you’ve known someone for a while), I generally directly ask about a person’s pronouns in 1 of 2 fashions: What are your pronouns? or What pronouns do you use? I’d stay clear of the whole “preferred pronouns” because it is quite cissexist; meaning that cisgender (which means someone who identifies with the gender that was designated to them at birth) people are never thought of to have “preferred” pronouns; they’re just pronouns. Pronouns are mandatory, not just a mere “preference” for most people. And once you ask someone what their pronouns are, they may turn around and ask you, so be prepared to state your own pronouns.   

Also, try to be sensitive to the fact that it might be uncomfortable to be asked about pronouns in front of a lot of people; especially if that person doesn’t know if they are accepting or to be trusted, so try to ask only when it feels safe and comfortable to do so.  

Another good piece of advice is to default to using the gender neutral, singular form of they/them pronouns when unaware of the gender/pronouns that a person uses (and some people, like I, use they/them pronouns anyways). This way you can maximize respect by not assuming what pronouns they use prior to finding out.  

It can feel uncomfortable when first starting to ask people what pronouns they use, but it is a great habit to develop to shift our culture away from making assumptions about people’s genders based on their gender expression, and move towards a self-determined horizon where everyone gets to define their own gender and self-narrate their bodies on their own terms. And this can be used when talking to someone of any gender, because you can’t always tell what a person’s gender is just by looking at them.  

I wish you good luck on your pronoun quest!  

 -Ruth Sybil May 

 

2. From a feminist standpoint, how would the song, “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease be interpreted? This is nothing academic; I’m just wondering for my own sake.  One of the lyrics, for example, is:

“You better shape up
‘Cause I need a man
And my heart is set on you.”

While it is perfectly fine to be a woman and want a man in her life, is it okay to change for a man, or ask a man to change/“shape up” for her?  In the context of the movie, Sandy shows up dressed in leather.  She’s dressed unlike her preppy self, simply to impress Danny.  Yet she sings, “To my heart I must be true.”  How is any independent-thinking girl supposed to reconcile this?  I know this song is from the 70’s and written to be catchy; I’m just wondering what a feminist thinks of it.

This is a great question!  As a lover of musical theatre, I have often looked at some of them and thought about how they perpetuate the very stereotypes that I fight against on a daily basis. Even some of the best musicals can look at things in a way that isn’t great.  Take for instance one of the hottest musicals in the last two years, Hamilton.  While this musical is breaking boundaries between race and class, it also escalates some sexist, classist, and racist issues.   

Grease is a lot like this.  The idea that Sandy changes just to get a man is a sexist issue. Let’s be real, almost every song in the musical sung by Danny Zuco’s band of problematic men is quite sexist; from lyrics like, “Tell me more, tell me more, did she put up a fight?” to, “With a four speed on the floor, she’ll be waiting at the door.  You know without a doubt I’ll be really making out in Greased Lightnin’.” 

But the Pink Ladies of Grease aren’t much better either.  In Summer Nights, the gals are more concerned with whether Sandy’s beau has a car than if he can treat her well.  

While Grease is steeped in cultural norms of sex, race, and identity, it is also about believing in yourself, perseverance, and learning to be your own authentic person.  These themes live together in many of the same ways that our own identities do; they are sometimes confusing and conflicting. 

Just because we love something doesn’t mean it’s perfect!   

I think the most important thing is realizing where those imperfections come from and thinking about how our own biases work. Of course, finding a partner in your life is something that some people want to do, but it’s important to recognize that changing only for that person is not the way to go about it. I hope that, someday, Danny will dress again in that preppy outfit to show Sandy that both of their choices are valid for their lives. 

As for myself, I will enjoy musicals and think deeply about the problematic issues in them. I do this as a way to relate to the problematic nature even in myself, and as a way to relate even more to the world and people around me. 

I hope this answers your question! Thanks again for submitting and keep ‘em coming! 

-Melissa Anne Frank 

 

As always, we are open to answering your questions, and we welcome you to talk to us at our booth or send your questions about intersections of our lives to collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu. Remember, we will not identify you on our blog, so your question(s) will remain anonymous!

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Kardashian-Jenner Sisters: Cultural Appropriation

Whether you’re browsing through TV channels or even looking through social media, it isn’t uncommon to accidentally come across new gossip about the Kardashian-Jenner sisters, or even their latest fashion go-to looks. The Kardashian-Jenner sisters are well known for their TV show on E, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. But besides that, the Kardashian-Jenner sisters are all over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and many other forms of media.

As I walked to class the other day, I was calmly looking around, gazing at different houses as I passed by them. One thing caught my attention in particular. In one window of an apartment building, there was a poster facing the street showing the Jenner sisters modeling. There is no doubt that whoever lives in the apartment building enjoys the Jenner sisters and perhaps they even look up to them. This made me think about how influential the Kardashian-Jenner sisters are. The Kardashian-Jenner sisters most definitely have had a huge impact on the way people see themselves, others around them, and the world as a whole. I am arguing that this is problematic. I argue this because the Kardashian-Jenner sisters are guilty of cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is a form of disrespect to another culture due to the unacknowledgement of why these elements are culturally significant.

So, let’s take a closer look at some photos the Kardashian-Jenner sisters have posted.

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Almost a year and a half ago, Khlo‎é Kardashian posted this picture of herself on Instagram. She decided to caption this picture “Habibi Love.” In this picture, she is wearing a niqab. A niqab, not to be confused with a burqa or hijab, is a veil that some Muslim women wear on their face that does not cover their eyes. Wearing a niqab is a part of some Muslim women’s faith. For Khlo‎é to be adopting this significant element of another religion is disrespectful. It is disrespectful because Khlo‎é does not identify as a Muslim and rebranding the niqab erases its cultural significance.

kylie

Kylie Jenner posted this photo on her instagram and captioned it, “I woke up like disss.” First of all, we definitely know Kylie did not wake up with that hairstyle. We also know, that Kylie is guilty of cultural appropriation due to the fact that she decided to have a cornrow hairstyle. This hairstyle has historically been worn by black women and originated in Africa. Kylie’s decision to have cornrows is inappropriate due to the lack of acknowledgement of where cornrows came from and why they have been historically worn by black women.

Cultural appropriation eliminates the historical roots behind whatever is being culturally appropriated. The Kardashian-Jenner rebranding of other communities’ elements to be “trendy” is disrespectful and socially unacceptable. People look up to these women and when cultural appropriation is seen as the norm, people stop questioning it. It’s time for the Kardashian-Jenner sisters to stop culturally appropriating and start culturally appreciating.

 

 

heather-helmHeather Helm is a student at Saint Cloud State University. She is currently studying Women’s Studies, Psychology, and Human Relations. Heather is extremely passionate about helping others. She aims to apply a feminist framework to her anticipated career in the future as a Social Worker. 

 

Feminism: The 2016 Edition

Reasons we still need feminism,

And More Importantly…Intersectional Feminism,

The 2016 edition

  • Because I had colleagues who said we should be happy Brock Turner got any time at all for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster…

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  • Because of 49 victims in Orlando, who were murdered for being part of the LGBT community…
  • Because…Brexit…
  • Because, in 2016, Hollywood still puts white people in movies instead of people of color…just because “it sells”…
  • Because “Make America White Again” is an ACTUAL campaign slogan…on an ACTUAL billboard.

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  • Because #OscarsSoWhite was a hashtag…two years in a row…

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  • Because the Supreme Court still has to stop lawmakers from banning abortions… 

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  • Because…Bathroom bills…
  • Because Donald Trump is the Republican candidate for the Presidency.

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  • Because the media only uses the word “terrorist” when describing people of color…

 

 

melissa-anne-frankMelissa Anne Frank is majoring in both Women’s Studies and English Rhetoric at St Cloud State University.  She plans on continuing her education with a Master’s degree and then a Doctorate.  Melissa is a white, cisgender, pansexual who is proud to be part of the Social Media team at the St. Cloud State Women’s Center.  Melissa also writes a personal blog called Musing with Melly on WordPress. Melissa loves reading, writing, video games, spending time with her partner and two children, and crushing the patriarchy! 

Familial Ties and the Decision

By: Asmita Koirala

A spine-chilling breeze hums in my ear. Heavy rainfall touches my shoulders and caresses my face; I am sitting on the windowpane of my room that overlooks the balcony. Ever so often I like to sit by myself and think. The rain gives me serenity, and for a few minutes I am transported to a utopia. Sitting in the rain helps me escape all the chaos and inner turmoil that has been engulfing me lately. I have a decision to make. A decision that will determine the path I have to embark on.

My father’s word still echoes in my mind. He trusted me with this. This might probably be the biggest decision I was ever subjected to take in my nineteen years of life. The one that will forever stay with me. He summoned me to his room earlier today and said, “Asmita, you have a decision to make.” For many, this decision might be easy to make, but for me it is tough. Fear of the unknown, and the fact that I might mess things up scares me.

I reminisce all the things I have done with my family, my friends, my siblings here in this very place I call with my whole heart home. It feels like yesterday that I was playing hide and seek with my brothers and that I was screaming at them .My eye falls upon my window pane. The windowpane I call the pane of memories. As I look through the windowpane I see old markings. I look at the different colors I used to draw. Each portrays a story of their own. In red crayon, I drew a ludicrous picture of my brother when he was mad at me. I used green to draw a sad personification to cheer my brothers up when our tutor got on our nerves. I look at the windowpane and I smile; I smile thinking about all the we were and all that we will someday be. Each and every corner of my house holds some sort of beloved memory of us. Us as a family, us as siblings, and us as people slowly trying to morph from naïve childhood days to adulthood.

I recall fighting over something as small as who gets the remote control. I recall smashing my brother’s fingers in the door mistakenly when he tried to get inside the television room .I recall blood dripping down his fingers and the murderous look he gave me .I drown myself in memory lane so deep tears start to stream down my face. It’s bittersweet .I have spent nineteen years of my life in this house; I have grown with my brothers here, I have learned from my parents here, and I have grown emotionally and physically here. I have never known life outside this house and outside the love of my parents. I have never known anything but to be a caring daughter to my parents and a pain to my brothers.

I look at my dog that is now wagging her tail and is trying to get my attention. I remember the circumstances under which she became a part of our home. I was heartbroken when my first dog, Bruno, passed away. I cried a river mourning his death .My brothers and parents made sure I was okay. They were my rock at times when things were tough. As soon as I recovered from Bruno’s death, they got me my new dog, Lucky. Bruno will forever hold a special place in my heart but the void, which he left behind, was gracefully fulfilled by Lucky.

“Asmita your future is in your hands. Either you stay here in Nepal with us and pursue your higher education in the prestigious Kathmandu Management College that you qualified in, or you go to a foreign country, be independent, and enroll in the college that you qualified in to. What will your decision be? Which college will you pick? Where do you want to go?”my father had said.

Coming out of memory lane, I observe my surroundings and see that, in the blink of an eye, the night has been swept away into the dustbin of the past and a new day is upon me. The sun like a great golden disk rises across the sky to greet me. It shines in my hair and glitters in my heart. I see the overcast fog of my clouded mind fading away. The decision now doesn’t seem to be as daunting to take, as it was a few hours before. I steal one last look at my room, my windowpane, and my dog I inhale the sweet air of my country and decide its time. It’s time for me to get out of the bubble of protection my parents have always given me. I decide it’s time to break free and be liberated. I will carry my loved ones with me in my heart, but I decide its time for me to break the mold and embark on the journey of the unknown in a foreign country without anyone to look after me every step of the way.