Site To See: She’s The First

Did you know that DonateMyDress founder Tammy Tibbets also has an organization that helps send young girls in developing nations to school?

“She’s The First” is a non-profit organization that aims to “sponsors girls’ education in the developing world, helping them be the first in their families to graduate.” Tibbets established this site after realizing that if she could create a network for underprivileged girls to find prom gowns, she could surely do the same to enable girls to get an education and make their mark in the world as global leaders. She’s The First contains a directory of organizations around the globe that supports girls’ education for interested donors, provides tools for starting local chapters, and offers its own sponsorship program.

As always, I am quite proud to share this cause with you readers. I will be adding their link to the Blog Roll at the bottom of the page in addition to featuring it here so you have easy access to their webpage.

Click here to visit ShesTheFirst.Org

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Bitching at Barnard

I, for one, was thrilled when I heard that President Barack Obama was going to give Barnard College’scommencement speech this semester.

Unfortunately, to say that many Columbia University students didn’t share in my enthusiasm is a vast understatement.  In fact, they took to the web and began posting some awfully hateful, misogynistic comments on the original story. Take this gem for example, as submitted by Barnard sophomore Anne Bahr to Jezebel (read the story all the the offensive quotes by clicking here):

While you guys were perfecting your deepthroating techniques and experimenting with scissoring and anal play, we were learning Calculus (usually by sophomore year of high school).

Lovely.

What’s even more screwed up is that Barnard’s own President Debora L. Spar brushed off the commentary as the inane comments of “19-year-olds writing at 4:30 in the morning.” Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger concurred, even stating that general disappointment was “understandable.”

Both Spar and Bollinger need a wake-up call. The comments of these students go beyond being merely bummed that they won’t get a send-off from Obama. It’s disturbing that this hate speech is going unchecked and that these two key authority figures refuse to take a stand against it. Granted, there is a right to hate speech so long as it doesn’t incite violence, however neither of these University presidents should stand idly by and allow the obvious animosity toward their sister university.

This issue even got the attention of The New York Times! Click here to read the article.

 

Reclaiming “Slut”

The recent emergence of “slut walks” has been causing quite a stir in the media, with the latest occurring in my (semi) hometown of Philadelphia.

So, what is the point of an army of scantily clad women taking to the streets? According to a report on NBC, the SlutWalk movement was sparked by a Boston police officer’s comment which reflects the unfortunate opinion of many when it comes to the sexual assault and rape of women” “If didn’t dress like a slut, then she would not have been raped.”

I could go on a 100 mile-long rant on how this police officer is an idiot, how he would think twice about saying that if the victim were, say, his mother, daughter, sister, niece, etc., how the way a woman is dressed is not an invitation to rape no matter what, that rape isn’t a crime caused by uncontrollable sexual urges but by an assailant wanting exercise power and control over their victim and so on. But, I won’t. I think these SlutWalks are doing a great job in not only gaining media attention for a crime that continues to affect women worldwide, but they are also sending a powerful message: we are not “sluts,” we are women who have rights to our bodies and to our sexuality.

Latina Lesbians and Partner Violence

According to a study conducted by Mujeres Latinas en Accion and Amigas Latinas, it seems as if Latina lesbians in Chicago are enduring a surge in domestic violence.

Out of the 300 women profiled, 49 percent report that their partner attempted to isolate them from family and friends (which is a huge red flag in any relationship, to say the least) 43 percent report that their partner had pushed or hit them, and 31 percent have had a partner threaten their lives.Furthermore, 45 percent admit to have attacked their partner and 25 percent report that they had threatened to kill their partner during a dispute.

Click here to read the full report via the Chicago Sun Times (Photo taken from PhotographicDictionary.com)

As if the discrimination they face (both outside of and within the Hispanic community) was not enough, these women also have the added issue of domestic violence. Small sample size aside, these numbers point to a growing issue. It is already difficult for members of the GLBTQ community, regardless of race, to acquire access to resources that combat domestic violence. This impediment, no doubt, exacerbates domestic violence withing the GLBTQ community overall.

Although the end of the report has a silver lining in that most in the LBTQ are out and have found support, the issue of dating and domestic violence is an ongoing one. Overall, the Medical University of South Carolina reports that 17-45% of lesbians have reported at least one incident of intimate partner violence, and even this number reflects vast underreporting (as do most statistics regarding dating/domestic violence).

As someone who works adamantly on my campus to educate my peers on the dangers of dating violence, the need to raise awareness about and fight it in the heterosexual and homosexual communities is paramount in my eyes. No matter who a woman decides to love, she does not at all deserve to be abused by her partner in any way, shape or form.

Love does not hurt.

The best way to combat abuse is to talk about it. Here is a list of my favorite resources:

DomesticViolence.org

TheHotline.org

NCADV.org

AARDVARC.org

RAINN.org

 

Femininty Doesn’t STEM from Math and Science?

According to a TrueChild report, the answer is “yes,” or at least that’s how our young girls feel.

Statistically, elementary school children show the same interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related topics, but by the 8th grade, girls are outnumbered two to one. Furthermore, by high school girls are less likely to take AP math and science courses, and tend to have lower SAT math scores.

The TrueChild report states that this decrease in interest starts around the 3rd grade when girls begin to “notice” boys and begin internalizing the incorrect notion that women can be either “pretty” or “smart,” not both. This conflict only continues with women who do enter STEM careers. According to a BUST.com piece on the report:

Later on, adult women with careers in engineering are also found to often feel conflicted about choosing between proving that they are “real engineers” or “real women.”

It’s a damn shame that, even now, women are either pigeon-holed into more “conventional” careers or break the mold only to be met with some form of hardship or pressure rather than being rewarded for their efforts. No wonder the gender pay gap persists. It all goes back to what (and how) we teach our girls about brains and beauty.

She could do both-and, so can you (Source: DeviantArt. Click to see original.)

Read BUST.com’s full commentary on the study.

Gender-Free Preschool?

First we had Baby Storm, and now this.

A new preschool in Stockholm, Sweden is riding the gender-less wave and attempting to construct an environment free from gender expectations for their students. The school, aptly called Egalia (Swedish for “equality”), offers a unique experience for students, according to one of its teachers:

“Society expects girls to be girlie, nice, and pretty and boys to be manly, rough, and outgoing,” says Jenny Johnsson, a teacher at the school. “Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be.”

According to the article on Bust.com, Egalia constructs this gender-neutral environment by way of referring to students and instructors by name or “Teacher” followed by the name instead of the pronouns “he,” “she,” Miss” or Mr.,”stocking the bookshelves depicting families in gender-neutral or non-traditional parental roles, and allowing students to play with any toy they choose instead of redirecting the girls to the kitchen station and the boys to the toy cars.

A very interesting experiment in shaping, or not shaping, gender roles and expectations.

Students at play in the garden of Egalia Preschool. Source: Today Moms, NBC; click for source.

Here are the questions I would like YOU to answer:
Would you enroll your child?
Do you think gender neutrality is the road to gender equality?

Read the full news story here.

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