Saturday, April 29, 2006

Women and Luda (continued...)

This post may be a little outdated now, but I've heard responses (unprompted, I may add) from many progressive/feminist friends about the comments made by Ludacris at Monday's concert. I asked Nazneen (JE '06) to guest-blog for us about the issues... welcome, Naz, and thank you.
After a few lackluster years of forgettable Spring Fling performances, the Yale College Council finally succeeded in getting Yalies to cough up even more money for a new Student Activities Fee in hopes of getting real headliners to come to campus. Securing both Ben Folds and Ludacris for the event was a commendable accomplishment for the YCC, but the latter’s performance left something to be desired—namely, respect for women.

Standing in a sea of students at Spring Fling on Tuesday, we were one mass of “Yale.” Ludacris gave a shout out to us as students, specifically as Yalies, but by the third song, there was a change in our solidarity. Ludacris cleared his throat, and singled out the women in the crowd, "Excuse me for my language, ladies, because some find it explicit, you know...," before asking us, “but how many women here have their pussies clean? come on girls...” Visibly irritated, I looked around at the jocular response from the crowd, and only one of my girl friends standing nearby returned my “what the @#$?!” expression. One song later, the latent misogynistic aggression returned in the form of the question, posed again only to the “ladies,” “Ok, how many of you ladies are just waiting till the end of the night to get fucked hard and good? Fucked hard and good.” To this, his spinner responded over the microphone, “Well, how many of you think you’re making love for a little bit, before you really get fucked!?”

Some will say, “Well, if you didn’t like it, you should have left,” and, I did. The point, however, is not if I had the right to leave, or if Ludacris had the right to say what he will on stage. I would never question his first amendment right to inquire about the cleanliness of my genitalia, but to ignore his comments without reflection would be a missed opportunity to question our complicity in commercialized misogyny.

As 18-22 year old Yalies, we are taught the skills we need to critique society, but we still want to be “normal” kids who can operate in the “real” world. Misogyny is not just a part of rap music, but part of society more broadly, so some may say that I should just grow a thick skin and realize that this is part of what sells in popular culture. We may even assume that Ludacris himself opposes misogyny, and only capitalizes on it to make money and garner fame. Thus, we’d have a situation where Yalies and Ludacris understand that disrespecting women may be part of stage persona, but not reality.

The fact of the matter is that the dichotomy between woman as nurturer vs. woman as whore exists at all levels in our society. For me to step back and say, hey, he’s talking about the ‘other’ women, so this doesn’t affect me, the Ivy League graduate about to enter law school, is exactly the kind of first-world feminism that has provoked criticism of the movement, as well as created a fractionalized notion of sisterhood. Even if Ludacris thinks differently, what about the countless American teens and adolescents who do find themselves in relationships based on male domination and the idea of “separate spheres” in terms of sexual standards for men and women? Laughing at the fact that women might think they are equally consenting participants in sex (“think you’re making love”), but really they are in fact “getting fucked” by someone else, shows that Ludacris is not attempting in any way to be ironic or subvert the status quo by exposing sexism—he’s just perpetuating it.

It’s such a small act to point out misogyny at a rap concert, and perhaps futile as well, given the pervasive effects of such comments. But, at least to those who think feminism is outdated—think again.

If others have anything to add about other aspects of the performance (there was apparently objectionable racial commentary as well), please continue to discuss in the comments section.

Monday, April 24, 2006

just curious...

Is anyone else just not that excited about watching hundreds of Yalies sing along with Ludacris about wanting a lady in the street but a freak in the bed (etc.)?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The 21st Century Woman

The Women's Center's annual speaker series begins today. The schedule is below; make some time to attend! Tonight's event addresses the lack of women leaders on campus addressed by last week's Herald.

Twenty-First Century Woman:
Who is She?
Past Changes and Future Challenges

-April 19 - Where have all the women gone?
A study break on the lack of visible women leaders on campus.

This past YCC election, no women ran for President or Vice President of the Council; there were, in fact, just two candidates for eighteen positions while women account for more than half of the undergraduate population. However, absent women leaders extend beyond YCC to lead positions in various other student organizations on campus. Perhaps they work behind scenes? Regardless, the lack of visible female leadership is unmistakable when considering the abundance of their male peers'. It can't be for lack of qualified women - so what's the reason? Eat Thai and discuss the dearth of active women leaders on campus.

8pm at the Women's Center

-April 20 - Beyond Madonna: An Exploration of Women in Art

Who is our era's Madonna and what does she look like? Images of women in art have changed radically over the millennia. Join the Yale Women’s Center as it teams up with the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art for a grand tour of how the depiction of women has changed in art.

5.30 Center for British Center

6.30 Undergraduate Art Galley
8.00 Opening of undergraduate works at Women's Center

-April 22 - Life after Yale: Alumnae Discuss Work and Family, Expectations and Realities

Four diverse women alumni will return to Yale to hold a panel-discussion with undergraduates on the complex factors that shape their lives after graduation. The panelists will speak about the combinations of choices they've made and chance circumstances they've encountered. They will discuss living with Yale's expectations that its graduates will become "successful leaders." Likewise, they will offer observations and insights derived from their experiences and attempt to answer our questions on future apprehensions and aspirations.
Alumnae :
Anne Nelson YC '76, playwright, mother and professor at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs
Laura Freebairn-Smith MPPM '86, mother, director of Organizational Development at Yale
Linn Cary Mehta YC '77, professor at Barnard College, scriptwriter and literary consultant, mother, writer, and philanthropist
Cary Hyson YC '77, history teacher, mother and college counselor

email for location

-April 23 - A Conversation about Writing, Girls' Issues, and Trying to Have it All
With Carol Weston, Novelist, Columnist, Alumna and Mom

Carol Weston, SM '78, writes and speaks about girl and teen issues. She is the "Dear Carol" columnist at Girls' Life magazine. Her twelve books include Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You and For Girls Only (HarperCollins), and Melanie in Manhattan (Knopf). Girltalk has been in print for 21 years and has been widely translated. Carol has appeared on The Today Show, The View, and Oprah . She lives with her husband and two teen daughters in Manhattan. Her website is

11am brunch at the Women's Center

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Deans respond to the Rumpus outrage

Let's hope this community responds similarly next time Yale publications publish rape jokes and other sexist "humor" pieces.

"The stereotypes of Asian Americans appearing in certain student publications recently are neither humorous nor inoffensive; they are, in fact, disgusting. Although Yale College's commitment to free expression protects vulgarities such as these, we all must be mindful of an equally powerful obligation to create a larger community fostering mutual respect. In this instance, what may seem funny to a few is deeply insulting to many."
-Peter Salovey
Dean of Yale College

"Free speech is a fine thing. But we are also free to call the Rumpus articles exactly what they are: thoughtless, arrogant, insulting and disruptive to our community. I am repulsed that the editors used their privileged positions to spread vile and puerile stereotypes, particularly as we welcome over 1000 extraordinary admitted students to campus as our guests. Thankfully, the vast majority of Yale students will provide the admitted students with a very different kind of welcome."
-Jeffrey Brenzel
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Yale of the future? Still not so bright.

The Asian American Students Association and other groups are protesting racist content in the Bulldog Days editions of the Herald and Rumpus. There's a facebook group that makes the arguments and has a lively discussion board.

We've found it hard to laugh at the Rumpus' tasteless and irresponsible articles in the past, and we've had the same debates on this blog about rape jokes and the promotion of sexist stereotypes. The verdict is that the line has been crossed, again. I find it disturbing, telling, fitting that it's been crossed in connection with Bulldog Days, a time notorious for sexual assaults on and among pre-frosh and what exists of Yale's frat culture is played up to the max. Not only does this "undermine diversity recruitment," it fosters this culture among Yalies - before they even get here. That's shameful.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Take Back Tonight

Take Back the Night
is this evening (Friday) at 6:00pm on Cross Campus.

TBTN is a national event that gives voice to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. The event will feature a performance by Tangled Up In Blue, survivor testimonials, and an address by Kristen Leslie, a professor at the Divinity School and a former consultant on sexual assault to the US Air Force Academy. It will culminate in a short march through campus and a reception at the Women's Center.

Please come in solidarity and in protest of sexual violence.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Women's Center Endorse Larry Wise for YCC President

I'm pasting the Women's Center endorsement below. Please vote in the run-off election today here.

The Women's Center endorses Larry Wise, MC '08 for YCC President as he has demonstrated a strong commitment to gender and sexual equality most notably in his work regarding the drafting of a new sexual harassment policy on campus.

We would appreciate if you could take the time to vote for Larry Wise between this Thursday, 9am, and Friday, 9pm. We firmly believe that Larry Wise is the candidate offering the best kind of broad-based platform necessary to succeed as the YCC President. As the Morse YCC Representative, he has developed this platform through his experience and successes on the council this year. During these two semesters Larry Wise:

* Wrote the Sexual Assault Resolution in conjunction with RSVP, establishing a more centralized and advertised of assault prevention and response
* Chaired the YCC Security Committee
* Successfully advocated increasing police patrols, improving street lighting, and better campus security publicity
* Created the new nightly Blue Line bus route and advocated minibus expansion
* Successfully pushed for renovations to Morse, Stiles, and Calhoun
* Sat on the Committee for Campus-Wide activities (CCA)
* Co-chaired Yale's upcoming Community Service Day

We think it is important that the Yale College Council works on both serious, long term issues and day-to-day student life functions. To that end, Larry's stated objectives are to:

* Significantly increase aid for middle income families
* Finalize improvements to Yale's Sexual Assault response and
prevention system.
* Use the activities fee effectively year-round and improve fall show;
* Publicly seek student opinion of renovation needs
* Promote responsible environmental stewardship by emphasizing green products
* Press the administration to support Yale's LGBTQ community with an administrator and increased funding
* Improve relations between our Greek community and the Yale administration
* Make DUH more student-friendly by continuing to push for minimized wait times and more effective publicity and web-based information

Please join the Women's Center in voting for Larry Wise for YCC President. Thanks for your time.

Finally, I'm Proud To Be From Texas

For anyone who has ever been ostracized for having progressive or gosh dare we say it "liberal" views check out the Dixie Chick's new video. The song's called "Not Ready To Make Nice". Sure, it's not entirely Yale related, but sometimes we all need a little upper.

It's Not Funny

I don't know what it is about this week, but the rape jokes have been incessant. Just in the last twenty-four hours I've had two men come up to me to tell me a) that my outfit is asking for assault and b) the t-shirt displayed on cross campus that reads "my short skirt + my drinking = my fault?" is a true statement . . . no need for the question mark. When I didn't laugh, but gave them the "angry feminist" death stare, they did the usual "oh come on, Della, it was only a joke". I'm still not laughing.

We've said it time and time again, there are no such things as rape jokes. No one asks to be assaulted no matter what they are wearing or what they are doing. To suggest otherwise, even as a "joke," is offensive and gross. It's time we take back not only the night, but also our sexuality.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Weekend news

For those keeping abreast of the Duke rape scandal, there's a scathing piece on Slate on the culture of lacrosse with good links throughout. The commentary on the sport's demographics is perhaps not surprising, but elicits a sigh of despair from this blogger.
More than any other sport, lacrosse represents the marriage of athletic aggression and upper-class could college lacrosse players be any more misogynous than your typical football-team steakhead? Perhaps it's because, unlike their football brethren, an unusually large proportion of college lacrosse players spend their high school years in sheltered, all-boys academies before heading off to liberal co-ed colleges...In the warm enclave of the locker room, safe from the budding feminists and comp-lit majors, their identity becomes more cemented.
I am a little wary of the stereotypes promoted in this article - but i have to say that they are, sadly, confirmed by my own private school experience. Thanks JS for the link. ;)

Also check out the Herald's cover piece on women in leadership positions on campus. It's always interesting to me to observe the ways in which progressive institutions can reproduce social inequalities while trying to address them externally. I've personally been in groups where "liberal" men consistently feel uncomfortable ceding control to the women they work with - as the article implies, it's essential to call them out on these unconscious biases. That last quote is really sobering, by the way...

I'd be interested to hear our readers' responses to the article, if there are any of you still out there. Actually, right now you're probably at Toad's.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Hear us in person

Della and I will join this year's other Rossborough Fellows in speaking about our projects at 5pm at the Women's Center today. We'll talk about the blog and about Aurora; come cheer us on, or to throw rotten fruit.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Take Back the Night Public Art Project

Please come participate in this important preparation for Take Back the Night, which is next Friday on Cross Campus. We'll write more about TBTN next week.

There is also a rally for the gender non-discrimination clause on Beinecke Plaza at 5pm today.



Wednesday, April 5th
10-11 pm
Yale Women’s Center

come design and paint a personal t-shirt about sexual assault.
the shirts will be displayed on cross-campus during the week of take back the night as a symbol of solidarity for survivors of sexual assault.
please bring your own t-shirt if possible (inside-out is ok!); paints and markers provided.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Two items of interest

Jacob First has an editorial today explaining the motivations and reasons for adding a "gender expression" clause to Yale's non-discrimation policy.

Also, feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon is speaking today at 4:30 at Labyrinth Books on York St. It should be awesome.