Love Songs as a Queer Woman

(WLW – A term coined by the internet meaning Women loving Woman)

I am relegated to covers.

One of my latest projects was a lesbian fairy tale. It had everything: a princess, the knight she falls in love with, a bigoted cult trying to keep them apart, an old crone that is more than she seems… all of the essentials except for a playlist that I could write to. I set about naming the empty list “RoShi” after my two protagonists, moving it into the correct “character” sub-folder (as you can see, I am very well versed in the art of creating writing mood playlists) and started to build.

I wanted the playlist to be filled with songs by women for women or, at least, by women that could be interpreted as for women (i.e. lack of pronouns, use of ‘you’/’they’/’them’). I ended up completing the playlist after a long and arduous process and out of 16 songs (that’s all I could dig up that matched my criteria and the feel I wanted from the playlist), 10 were covers.

Queer love songs don’t reach the mainstream. Some can make arguments about Troye Sivan, an out, gay artist, yet the song that reached airwaves was the collaboration he had with female artist Alessia Cara, giving off the expectation of heteronormativity.

While it is true that artists such as Halsey and Lauren Jauregui have stirred the water with their coming out and putting out songs with the blatant use of she/her pronouns, those songs don’t make the big time, being celebrated mostly by the LGBTQIA+ community… and the white LGBTQIA+ community at that. WLW artists of color, Hayley Kiyoko for example, don’t get the same recognition, which is doubly disheartening for queer Asian-American women.

Arguments can be made about the logistics between each person’s record label and the branding of each artist, but taking these into account only adds more evidence that wlw of color having even less air time than white wlw. Similar to how the majority of TV shows and movies feature a white lead, the music that finds popularity often has white artists attached to them. This becomes even more prominent if the criteria is narrowed down to love songs.

Coupled with a toxic belief spanning media that LGBTQIA+ content doesn’t sell or is too controversial, wlw of color have little to no chance of reaching audiences that may benefit from their music. A lot of credit can be given to social media sites focused on fan-bases such as tumblr, which usually brings to light things overlooked.

Of course, there is still a long way to go, and to help get there, here’s a list of black, queer women artists included in the list to maybe give a listen to and support.
Also check out Hayley Kiyoko and Mitski, two queer Asian American artists on YouTube!

 

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Anonymous is an English Major at SCSU. They are an avid feminist and a passionate writer who loves coffee, cats and snapback hats.

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When My Culture Becomes a Children’s Film

Thick eyebrows, big nose, and a permanent snarl.  Portrayed with sinister music or a drive for bloodthirst or greed, Middle-Eastern people are generally cast in a negative light. They are made to be a stereotype for children to watch and absorb, while Middle Eastern culture is watered down and the land they live on oppressed.

Recently, there’s been news of a new live-action Aladdin film coming out.  Initially, I felt trepidation and hesitance about the film.  Would there be any redemption for the Middle-Eastern culture of Jasmin or Aladdin?   Or will they be it be stereotyped and white-washed to fit the high demand of a light protagonist?

I don’t want for myself to be left feeling hopeless with this new adaption.  I want to be able to watch this film and take pride in some of the components that fit my culture. I want to root for the powerful Jasmin or the mischievous Aladdin. 

But with the history of how Middle-Eastern people are portrayed, I may not be too far off in my assumptions and uneasiness. 

Belly DancerThe general stereotypes of Middle-Eastern people are the nomad, the Sheik, the belly dancer, the terrorist, the haggler, and the angry “Arabs” shouting death to all and in between.  Those are the many stereotypes often portrayed in Western film.  It’s incredibly easy to create an “Other” culture to infringe on the Western dream and society that is set. Movies and TV shows are key ways these ideas have been perpetuated.

Prime examples are films like Raiders of the Lost ArkRoad to Morocco, and Never Say Never Again.  The Middle-Eastern antagonist is often portrayed as infringing upon or causing harm to the white male lead or the exceptionally white heroine.  When a Middle-Eastern woman is portrayed, she is either in a haram or she is being ‘rescued’ by a white male lead from the evil of the Middle-Eastern culture.

Can we also ask the important question of why all Middle-Eastern men never smile or show any other emotion aside from anger or lust?  I think it’s because it is better to control how they are perceived by Western culture.  If they are painted in a threatening or dark light and goodness forbid they show any positive emotion, it is easier to control what the West should think of them. muslim-152856_960_720

What makes the stereotype of Middle-Eastern people petrifying is the portrayal of the children. The Western culture has made it incredibly easy to justify the demonization of children in war-like situations happening in the Middle-East.  Two examples are Rules of Engagement, when they paint a little girl as an honest to God terrorist and in the film American Sniper, where it was so easy to callously point a sniper at a child’s head – but wait, he’s a terrorist!

What makes these films frustrating is the lack of understanding about what is actually happening in the Middle-East and the direct effect the West has had on it.  Thousands of citizens dead from useless wars (but in the defense of the West, they were collateral damage).  The land is being cultivated for resources and ground, but the Middle-Eastern people are not appointed their rightful representation of culture or ethnicity.  They are painted in these caricature stereotypes that are so easily accepted that when an actual Middle-Eastern person exhibits a component of themselves, they become the exception to the standard media has created.

It’s numbing. 

I had the unfortunate run in today when I gave my name with the intention to explain its origin with a classmate.  I proudly say Abuhadid and she laughs and says “Abu like the monkey!”  I was flabbergasted.  I wish I hadn’t laughed along to ease the tension but I had to explain that “no, it was abu like father.” My name is powerful and my name has meaning.  It is not an “Arab” little monkey who was given a name that literally makes no sense.  She exclaims and asks me why they would name a monkey abu. 

Well, when no Middle-Eastern person is making the film, it’s far more likely that the culture to get slaughtered and watered down.

I wish I was able to explain the whitewashing and brutalization of my culture.  I am met with blank stares and confusion. 

Will I be watching Aladdin?  I’m not sure.  I honestly don’t know if Middle-Eastern culture will be portrayed authentically.  With the characters look Middle-Eastern?  Will there be a caricature of the culture?  Will they be painted in greed and lust, or will it just be another kid’s film?

 

LakeKholood Abuhadid is a fourth year Biomedical and Medical Lab Science student with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies.  She is Palestinian-American and is passionate about Palestinian rights as well as encompassing feminist intersectional ideology.  Kholood is an avid reader and loves to dabble in creative writing.  She hopes one day to establish herself in the world of medical research as well as have an active voice in the Public Health world.  She also thinks she’s good at knitting but in reality is actually quite horrible!

 

 

 

Championing Diversity or Upholding White Supremacist Values?

In the wake of the violent Charlottesville rallies that happened last month, black Model.jpgtransgender DJ, activist and model Munroe Bergdorf called out white supremacy and structural racism in a personal Facebook post that went viral:

“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people anymore. Yes all white people. Because most of y’all don’t even realize or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of color. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***. Come see me when you realize that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege. Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk.”

Munroe wrote this before she signed on with L’Oréal but it blew up when the Daily Mail caught wind of her post and published an article on it. On Munroe’s twitter she confirms that a white gay man named Adam Pennington had reported her post to the Daily Mail with the intentions of ruining her career.

She was receiving so much backlash that L’oreal made the call to fire her in the name of “championing diversity”.  They responded to Munroe’s comments with a Tweet.

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A black transgender woman speaking out against the oppressive system that endangers her life and many others, is at odds with their “values”? They proved the exact point that Munroe was making.

The white people crying out “RACIST!” at Munroe Bergdorf for her “yes all white people” phrase is unsurprising. When people of color voice out their oppressions, the responses of white people is not how to dismantle these issues, but how to silence them.

If Munroe had chosen “some” over “all” instead, it would allow white people to be absolved from taking any responsibility for white supremacy. It would allow for them to remain complicit in their contribution to structural racism, which was never the intention of her post. Monroe didn’t care about the comfort of white people. It’s just unfortunate that the situation was handled by centering white people and their feelings at the expense of her career.

L’Oréal’s values and ideas of diversity actually mean tokenizing, exploiting and silencing the voice of a black transgender woman. Corporate feminism is a farce. These major brands learn how to use marginalized identities to sell their products, not to give them a platform. L’Oreal showed us that they don’t value trans women or women of color. We don’t matter to them because we’re seen as disposable.

This is a list of L’Oréal brand names that you can boycott, and here’s a list of black owned beauty brands as an alternative. Please also support trans organizations, whether nationally or locally, and give your time and money to them however you can. Check out organizations like Trans Lifeline and Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) for starters. Always remember to support and uplift the voices of Queer-Trans/People of Color (QT/POC) in your life.

 

mePliab (Plee-ah) Vang is Hmong American. A feminist. An undergraduate senior at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She enjoys talking race, gender, class, social issues and pop-culture and is passionate about Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Pliab is a Master of Procrastination. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends.

 

The Transgender Experience, Part 1

Content Warning: rape, domestic violence, violence against queer people, sexual assault, emotional abuse

(This is Part 1 of a 2-part series of The Transgender Experience)

There are an estimated 1.4 million transgender Americans in the United States. Approximately one-fifth of them have experienced homelessness. This doesn’t end here, however. When they try to access homeless shelters, more than half will experience harassment from the staff and/or residents. Twenty nine percent will be outright denied access and 22% will experience sexual assault from the staff and/or residents. (For the whole summary, click here).

This is the transgender experience.

My name is Archie Alexandre and I use he/him and they/them pronouns. I am a white, queer, neurodivergent, fat, transgender/gender nonconforming* man who is currently on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Yes I plan on having “the surgeries” and no, I won’t tell you my “real name” because Archie IS my real name. I’m 21 years old going to 22 on October 12th, 2017. I am polyamorous and currently have a queerplatonic partner and one romantic/sexual partner. My life is centered around central Minnesota in the United States. I’ve traveled to other states and have traveled outside of the United States once to South Africa.

This is my introduction. This is my Experience.

When I reference “transgender” people, I am also referring to non-binary and gender nonconforming folx. Transgender is considered an umbrella term for all of those kinds of identities. The prefix “trans-” meaning “the other side.”

Now I could go on and on about transgender statistics, but I cannot give you “The Full Transgender Experience™” alone. I would have to include every single transgender person on the planet to do that. What I’m doing here is providing you the lens of one perspective on being transgender. This series will become an intersectional piece on my other identities as one identity is almost always intertwined with another identity.

As a transgender man that works in centering the marginalized voices and bodies, my range of activism expands from grassroots organizing to Black Lives Matter and the abolishment of prisons as well as the disestablishment of the police force. I delve into queer politics and activism more often, however, as it is my main focus for both my educational and personal life. The most notable activism would be around Trans and Queer Liberation.

Being a transgender person has brought about many new challenges in my life. I have never officially come out to my whole family, but I have experienced some rejection from my family on different levels on my journey of discovering my queerness. Unfortunately, coming out to family isn’t as easy as people think it is. Forty-three percent of people who come out to their families will maintain most familial bonds while the other 57% will have experienced very intense rejection from their families.

There is a better chance of you guessing which side a flipped coin will land on.

For my family, coming out isn’t dissimilar to a 10-Step Recovery Process for both my family and I. Most of my family knows and actively ignores my queer identity while there are a few that truly support me. I am out to virtually all of my friends and my co-workers.

I’ve known I was a transgender male for over two years now. I’ve had internal gender issues since I was a child. The language of “transgender” didn’t exist for me until I was in high school where I had met my first transgender person. However, even that is probably a lie. I’ve probably met MANY transgender folx in the time I have existed.

Learning about this identity that I couldn’t put a word to was and is the most super important for me. I admire language in all forms and putting words to my thoughts and feelings. I use language to inform myself and others–like I am now: informing you, the reader, is why I admire language. We can exchange thoughts and feelings to each other with at least a minimal understanding.

Now that we have established some facts of myself, it is time to end here. Please look forward to part two where I describe my feminist philosophies and how my intersecting identities have helped me navigate throughout my world.

Please take this 2-part series as one scope of queer identity out of many. My lived experiences differ a lot from others and are similar to a lot of others, but this should never be used to describe every trans person’s experience.

*DISCLAIMER: This link to the definition of gender non-conforming, while offering an excellent explanation, features Laci Green, who recently has made some problematic content about gender identity. This link is meant for an explanation of the term “gender non-conforming.,” but is not meant to condone Green’s recent problematic statements.

 

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Hello! My name’s Archie Andersen, and I use he/him and they/them pronouns. I identify as a neurodivergent, AFAB, Fat, Queer, Nonbinary Transgender man activist. My main studies are in Queer Theory and Issues and the Prison Industrial Complex, but I also work to end all forms of oppression. I am in my 4th year at St. Cloud State University majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies and minoring in Ethnic Studies. My favorite color is pastel blue, and I really enjoy watching YouTube videos in my spare time.

 

 

Protesting: An Act of Privilege

Mariam

Anti-protest rhetoric in a country that places one of their crowning achievements on throwing a bunch of tea into a harbor has always been baffling to me. With the social and political climate divisive and, frankly, frightening, the art of the protest has emerged more prominently as an act that only privileged groups (for the purpose of this article, White Americans) can participate in with little to no consequence.

The most recent example of this is the rally that took place in Charlottesville, VA, on August 12th, 2017. A group of individuals aligning themselves with a political stance called ‘The Alt-Right’ rallied in Charlottesville, torches in hand, shouting chants and sporting symbols that evoke racist and Nazi-like images . Police presence at this event was meager at best, scarce at worst.

Witnesses of the rally recount what they noticed about the attitude of Virginia law enforcement during the rally. The general feeling gathered by the public seemed to be disappointment in the individuals tasked with the safety and security of the people. The apparent police protection of individuals aligned with white supremacist ideologies isn’t something new.

In December of 2016, Richard Spencer, the leader of the White Nationalist Movement, spoke at Texas A&M University. While he stood in the hall and said phrases such as, “At the end of the day, America belongs to white men”, many students and faculty stood outside in protest of the event. In front of them, on the steps of the hall, police in riot gear stood at the ready, protecting Spencer and, by extension, his hateful rhetoric.

This lukewarm response to the violence that took place contrasts rather starkly to the way the police have reacted to the protests of people of color, for example, Black Lives Matter and the Native American protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Civil Rights group, Black Lives Matter (BLM), who stage protests against issues such as police brutality (with the murders of Michael Brown, Philando Castille, Sandra Bland, etc.) and the prison system (which incarcerates a disproportionate amount of black men), has been demonized for what their critics call ‘violent’ and ‘disruptive’ behavior.

Police response to BLM protests has almost always been with aggression. They meet most rallies with riot gear, and it isn’t rare to see an altercation between police and protesters. Even more baffling, forces deployed to the site of the #NODAPL protests infamously doused protesters with water and tear gas.

Let that sink in.

Indigenous Americans protesting a pipeline crossing into their land and endangering their drinking supply, were met with more fire and fury than literal White Supremacists.

The trend that appears is that protesting is only acceptable and not seen as inconvenient or a threat in the eyes of the police if you’re white, no matter how disturbing the ideology. But protesting against unjust systems is as American as apple pie, and BLM, the #NODAPL protesters, any Person of Color standing up for rights not given them are just as American as the Sons of Liberty.

(For a more in-depth discussion on the rationale behind protests staged by people of color, check out this video on BLM and this personal account of the #NODAPL protest)


Mariam Bagadion is a Filipino-American third year SCSU student. She is double-majoring in English and Women’s Studies and has loved writing from a young age. She is excited to use this passion to bring attention to and start conversations about feminist issues surrounding the world of politics and pop culture today. Mariam is an editor for The Upper Mississippi Harvest, SCSU’s literary journal and a writing tutor at The Write Place. In her free time, she writes for her personal blog, scribbles in journals and is the Game Master for her friends’ Dungeons and Dragons games.

Muslim Girls Read Too

Hello, America!  Come a little closer, I have quite the secret for you.  This might sound odd.  A little strange.  You might just have an actual mind warp from what I’m about to tell you, but I think I’m just going to take the plunge.

 

Muslim girls read.  Like, actually.  Be calm!  Are your foundations shaken?  Has the end of times come near? 

 

Muslim. Girls. Read. 

 

This ideology that Muslim women are not educated, not literate, not smart enough to fit into the frame of educated women needs to stop. The stereotype that’s settled deeply into this society needs to be eradicated.

 

Islam has often had fingers and accusations thrown at it in regards to education and educating the women under the Islamic sphere.  Often, I hear that Islam only enforces the foundation for men and completely dis-acknowledges women. 

 

The argument that generally comes up in regards to educated Muslim women is that they are the exception.  That they broke free of the ‘misogynic’ holds of Islam and have went against the grain of what Islam has prohibited.  One story that I can’t ever seem to forget had to do with a statement from a girl I was chatting with early on in my freshman year of college.  I don’t remember her name and I don’t even quite recall if she was in one of my classes but she was speaking about wonderful it was to be following what I wanted to do and how amazing it was that my father was allowing me to go to college.

 

Allowing me?  My father and mother aren’t allowing me to go to college.  They pushed me to seek a higher education. It was never just me being the exception but instead, they were telling me by seeking a college degree after high school, I was fulfilling my duty as a Muslim.  It’s not just a college degree, though, that pertains to Muslim seeking knowledge.

 

It can be anything as long as we further our depth as individuals and flick away our ignorance.

 

Teaching and seeking of knowledge is mentioned in the direct scripture of the Quran.  There is absolutely no distinction between men and women.  The quote I’m going to provide is from the Quran and it is important to note that the Quran was a revelation to Muhammad PBUH.  It is as if he is spoken to but it encompasses men and women.

“(O Beloved!) Read (commencing) with the Name of Allah, Who has created (everything). He created man from a hanging mass (clinging) like a leech (to the mother’s womb). Read, and your Lord is Most Generous, Who taught man (reading and writing) by the pen, Who (besides that) taught man (all that) which he did not know. [al-‘Alaq, 96:1–5.]”

 

Knowledge is actively being told to us to seek it and to continue seeking it.  We read because we want to. We learn because it is required.  Muslim women know this and will continue to know this.  It is not exclusive to most Western Muslim women.  We are not being chained to our homes and into a world where education is held on a string and taunted to us.  It is readily available to defend our rights from the cultures that try so hard to stall us.

 

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It is also important to create a distinction between the culture and the religion.  The two are incredibly different and they are not one in the same.  A culture can have a main religion be in its practices but the culture itself does not dictate the religion.

 

Malala Yousafzai is a prime example of the blurred line between culture and religion.  She was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan while she was on the bus because of her growing activism and voice that continued to grow to fight against the closing of female schools in Pakistan.  It is not her religion that tightened its seal onto her voice.

 

The violent culture that surrounded her has tried to eradicate her strength but it is her reasoning that allowed her to continue to be one the most powerful female figures to stand for female education in the Muslim world. 

 

One of my favorite and powerful quotes by her Islam tells us every girl and boy should be educated. I don’t know why the Taliban have forgotten it.”

 

 Malala

She clearly states that Islam is not the shackles to the illiteracy of Islam but it is the culture that is often dangerous to silencing women.  It is crucial to think about it from an intersectional feminist stand point.  It’s not just a culture that taints a Muslim women’s chances at education but it is so many other factors that stand in the way.  War, violence, poverty, and the underlying factor of simply not having the resources to actively seek out education in the western and eastern world. 

 

But if we just step back and look at it from a western stand point, it is important to lay a distinction between both spheres of the world.  There is not a difference between education in regards to wanting it. Both spheres have Muslim women who are ready to do what it takes to achieve their education and practices of the Quran, they will do it.  Western Muslims and eastern Muslims have different factors that play in their lives but one thing is clear.

 

Muslim girls read too.

 


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Kholood Abuhadid is a fourth year Biomedical and Medical Lab Science student with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies.  She is Palestinian-American and is passionate about Palestinian rights as well as encompassing feminist intersectional ideology.  Kholood is an avid reader and loves to dabble in creative writing.  She hopes one day to establish herself in the world of medical research as well as have an active voice in the Public Health world. She also thinks she’s good at knitting but in reality is actually quite horrible. 

 

 

 

Just Another Nice Guy?

We’ve all heard of the dreaded Nice Guy™ right? For a lot of us, we’ve crossed paths with him. We know him. He’s a friend. He’s the one claiming he’s different from all the other guys. He promises he’d treat you better than the jerk you’ve spent the past hour and a half crying and complaining about. He believes that he’s the nicest guy on Earth, and that in return his niceness should be rewarded with romantic affection.

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This Nice Guy™ exists both in reality and in fiction. Turn on a TV show or a movie and there’s at least one character who falls into this archetype.

Two weeks ago popular Chinese and Taiwanese American filmmakers, Wong Fu Productions, released their “Just Another Nice Guy” series on Youtube. This three part series is a sequel to an older short film of a similar name“Just A Nice Guy” which was originally released in 2007.

In the 2007 version, the film’s protagonist Nick is the “Nice Guy” who develops unrequited feelings for his friend Amy. While Nick doesn’t come off nearly as entitled and bitter as other portrayals of Nice Guys™ in pop culture, he does exhibit typical characteristics and traits. Nick is awkward, unconventionally attractive and isn’t familiarized with dating and women.

Throughout the film, he’s exasperated over being disregarded as a potential romantic partner and doesn’t understand why women wouldn’t be attracted to “Nice Guys”. After confiding in a friend, who tells him that women only like cocky, confident, and assertive Jerks. Nick attempts to impress Amy by emulating a version of what he thinks is “The Jerk”, eventually he realizes it doesn’t work and gives up. The short film ends with Nick finding the courage to confess to Amy and spoiler alert: he finally gets the girl.

Phil Wang (co-founder) confirmed that “Just A Nice Guy” was an ode to all the “nice guys” in the world, and his intentions in writing the story was to give them hope. This is a good example of pop culture perpetuating and reinforcing this trope. Validating men who live by the Nice Guy™ code does more harm than good.

It also brings us to our next Nice Guy™ from the Wong Fu series, Derek. After watching the “Just A Nice Guy” film and learning what a Nice Guy™ is, he decides he never wants to be subjected to the “Friend Zone”. So, when Derek falls in love with his friend Audrey, he does everything in his power to avoid “falling into the standard Nice Guy™ traps”. His strategies include not talking about other girls in front of Audrey, purposely distancing himself from her, and doing anything that wouldn’t place him in the“Friend Ladder” also known as the “Friend Zone”. Confident that these strategies were working, Derek confesses to Audrey spoiler alert: only to discover that his feelings aren’t reciprocated.

It’s at this point in the short, where I feel that the situation starts to become more reflective of a realistic scenario. For anyone who has been in Audrey’s shoes (I know I have), we understand that when rejecting the Nice Guy™ it only gets uglier and messier from here on out. Derek, unlike Nick, didn’t get the girl and so he lashes out to get back at her. He completely cuts Audrey off from his social media, he avoids any interaction with her in real life, and he goes around telling their friends that she was “leading him on” behind her back. All of these attempts were made to paint Audrey as “The Bitch”, but also to guilt trip her into reconsidering her feelings.

“Just Another Nice Guy” challenged the Nice Guy™ trope in ways that “Just A Nice Guy” didn’t. For instance, I appreciated Audrey calling out Derek on his entitlement to a relationship with her. In the first installment, the narrative of the story was different so we didn’t get to see that same conviction coming from Amy.

Listen my friends. Regardless of genuine intent, no one should be rewarded with romantic attention just because they were performing basic kindness and human decency.

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But while I liked that about Audrey’s character, there wasn’t a deeper evaluation as to where this male entitlement of the Nice Guy™ comes from. It never explicitly connects the idea that cis-het male entitlement, masculinity, misogyny and sexism in our culture helps breed and keeps this trope alive. It also doesn’t address how violent and dangerous Nice Guys™ are and can be, and how that type of behavior often leads to violence against women. There are underlying messages that need to be addressed and discussed, and telling a Nice Guy™  to accept the rejection and move on from it, isn’t the best or only solution to the problem.

 

 

me

 

Pliab (Plee-ah) Vang is Hmong American. A feminist. An undergraduate senior at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She enjoys talking race, gender, class, social issues and pop-culture and is passionate about Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Pliab is a Master of Procrastination. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends.

Unmasking Crisis Pregnancy/Pregnancy Resource Centers

Part 2:

Many advocates who are in support of the operation and tactics used by crisis pregnancy centers claim that abortions are a severe threat to a person’s health, so therefore the existence of these centers can only be for the greater good. However, after reading this piece, it is evident that many of the claims these centers make about the negative effects of abortions on cis women’s (though it affects those of other genders too) health are in fact, false. After a nationwide study, there were three large pieces of misinformation that crisis pregnancy centers were giving to their clients consistently. The first of these false claims is that having an abortion will boost their likelihood of developing breast cancer, but this has been disproven by the National Cancer Institute. Secondly, they claim that those who have abortions are likely to experience many different problems with their fertility in the future as a direct result of the abortion. On the contrary, abortions that are performed within a woman’s first trimester of pregnancy do not put her at an increased risk to develop any significant problems with her fertility in the future. Lastly, this organization frequently proclaims that those who have abortions are likely to experience continuous detrimental mental illness that could last throughout their entire lives. Yet no scientific studies have been able to prove that people who have abortions are likely to experience lifelong mental affliction of any sort (Rosen 201-202). All of these false scare tactics make it difficult for people to know which information presented to them is accurate, and can lead to uninformed decisions that they may regret if they ever receive fully comprehensive services. But in a patriarchal and heterosexist culture, it makes sense that these organizations spread such blatant misinformation because the main goal is to control women’s sexuality and bodies, instead of acknowledging the idea that everyone should be given full moral agency over decisions that concern their own psychological and physical health.

One other argument that individuals in favor of crisis pregnancy centers usually use is that they promote good health through abstinence, which they believe is the most effective approach to educate people about sex. In Rosen’s piece, she points out that most centers give out inaccurate information about contraceptives, including condoms and birth control, and urge people not to have sex in order to avoid the necessity of using either. But since young adults are likely to engage in sexual acts anyways, this lack of education and resources puts people at a higher risk of becoming pregnant in the near future, and also increases their likelihood in developing a sexually transmitted disease (202-203). Using a large scope, this lack of access to adequate contraceptives and health information can be frightening, seeing as how it is only increasing the chance of young people contracting diseases and becoming unintentionally pregnant. It’s truly a disservice to young people everywhere, because a person’s innate human worth is substantial enough to warrant that all organizations geared toward reproductive health should have to provide basic resources that allow people to protect themselves from a very real potential harm. If more people were better educated about choices and risks in relation to contraceptives and safe sex through actual credible organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, then it is only logical that issues such as the transmission of diseases and unintended pregnancies would likely occur less and less as time goes on.

The continuous operation of crisis pregnancy centers in the United States, which often use deceit, manipulation, intimidation, and downright misinformation to control folks’ decisions over their own reproductive health, is one of the biggest obstacles in the way to achieving a much better public health initiative which aims to put the reproductive health of all people at the forefront of the cause. The tradition of treating women’s welfare and happiness with no respect or dignity needs to be eradicated in favor of a more feminist mindset that cares about a woman in and of herself, without attributing her value as a person to her decision to bear children or not. Such a progressive idea could have the power to shift a culture to allow everyone the liberty to make their own informed and consensual choices concerning their own bodies and health, giving way to a much more understanding world for all.

 

 

andy-blog-photoRuth Sybil Virginia May is a junior undergraduate student at St. Cloud State University, studying Gender and Women’s Studies, Human Relations, and Film Studies. Ruth is a genderqueer trans woman from a poor, working class background with a passion for feminism, fashion, film, and rad tunes. 

Unmasking Crisis Pregnancy/Pregnancy Resource Centers

Part 1:

Through my experience as an employee at SCSU’s Women’s Center, I have become much more aware of issues that meddle with women’s (and folks of other genders’) rights all over the nation. An issue at the forefront of my mind is the operation of crisis pregnancy centers (aka pregnancy resource centers) in the United States, which often use deceit, manipulation, intimidation, and downright misinformation to control people’s decisions over their own reproductive health. Therefore, in order to protect reproductive freedom and well-being, it is essential that crisis pregnancy centers be seen for how they really are and not be allowed to continue to operate in this manner in the U.S., and instead allocate more attention to encouraging people to visit comprehensive women’s health centers throughout the country.

One of the primary reasons that crisis pregnancy centers should not be allowed to continue operating in the United States is that they blatantly abuse their right to freedom of speech in order to deceive and manipulate those in crisis situations to not receive any sort of abortions, even if it goes against what the woman wants. According to a piece by researcher Kathryn E. Gilbert, a crisis pregnancy center located in Manhattan in New York City used extremely deceptive tactics to prevent one woman from having an abortion by telling her that she needed to keep coming in for additional ultrasounds, and by the time the woman was able to see an actual physician, she was too far along in her pregnancy to terminate. This is clearly a threat to reproductive rights all across the country because even though this woman was looking to have a safe and legal abortion, she was sneakily persuaded against doing so without her informed consent. However, these anti-choice organizations have been able to legally use these strategies based on their claim that being forced to use only factual and straightforward methods would inhibit their right to freedom of speech. And, as a noncommercial entity, the courts have omitted the questionable behavior of this organization as acceptable. But this omission of injustice to healthcare only perpetuates the severity of the situation, seeing as how the organization’s keen awareness of this loophole only strengthens their cause to restrict people’s control over their own bodies (Gilbert 3-4).

Another reason in affirmation of the assertion that crisis pregnancy centers are a threat to reproductive health and freedom is the fact that they use disingenuous advertising and phone calls to lure folks into their locations. As cited by NARAL Pro-Choice America in their document titled, “The Truth About Crisis Pregnancy Centers,” one of the main ways that these centers falsely advertise is by seeking reproductive health services and listing themselves in phone books and online databases under “abortion” and “abortion services,” even though the organization does not offer any form of abortion procedures at their locations (2). Consequently, many folks seeking full abortion services find the crisis pregnancy center when they believe they are at a reputable service. This is in direct violation of their assertion that they are a proper organization, seeing as how they don’t actually care about the pregnant person’s well-being, otherwise they would offer fully comprehensive reproductive services, instead of secretly advocating their anti-choice agenda which only aims to protect the fetus, not the one carrying the fetus. The volunteers and employees at these centers are no better at handling phone calls, because when someone calls they are advised to do whatever it takes to convince that person to make an appointment so that they can continue to feed them empty answers and false information in person (3). Clearly, this is not a sound method because it attempts to act as a moral agent, restricting people’s decisions over their own pregnancies. If our judicial system were to properly recognize these unprofessional occurrences and reprimand offenders, the likelihood that these situations would continue happening would decrease.

An additional reason as to how the crisis pregnancy centers located throughout the U.S. infringe upon reproductive freedoms and should therefore be put under close surveillance and potentially closed down is that they use intimidation tactics to take advantage of people during some of the most difficult times of their lives. In one situation, as noted by NARAL Pro-Choice America, a father took his teenage daughter to a crisis pregnancy center to help her with her crisis pregnancy, but instead his daughter was only inflicted with psychological harm. After being shown “brutal footage” including pictures of dismembered fetuses, the man claimed that, “they just emotionally raped her. . . . They are advocates for the unborn, and to hell with the troubled person. They had an ax to grind, and just terrorized her”’ (6). With that instance in mind, it is clear that these centers prey on people in extremely vulnerable predicaments and exploit them for their own interest, namely the religiously backed anti-choice movement.

 

…………..Tune in on Thursday for Part 2…………

 

 

 

andy-blog-photoRuth Sybil Virginia May is a junior undergraduate student at St. Cloud State University, studying Gender and Women’s Studies, Human Relations, and Film Studies. Ruth is a genderqueer trans woman from a poor, working class background with a passion for feminism, fashion, film, and rad tunes.