Monday, January 29, 2007

Virginity in the Women's Center

Come to the Women's Center at 9pm tomorrow to discuss virginity--how we experience it, why we value it, if we should value it, cultural representations of it, religious and pop-culture depictions of it, and anything else that seems relevant... There will also be Indian food.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Do Women Photographers not TA?

Art Schools are stereotypically female heavy, and Yale is no exception. This is particularly true of the photography department, where of 18 photographers, 12 are women. There are a lot of issues that arise, because most of the faculty and critics who visit the department are male, creating an odd dynamic where most of the time a group of men is critiquing a female students.

What I realized today when I saw my TA Thomas walking down the street, was that of seven photography classes I have taken, I have only had one and a half female TA's. I say one half, because this semester a second year female student is sharing a TA position with a first year male student.

I of course have no idea what causes this discrepancy, I just know that almost every male student in the department has held a TA position, and apparently very of few of the female students do so.

The problem with this, and again, I have no idea if this represents some sort of institutional discrimination, luck on my part, or a general disinterest towards teaching felt by the female students, but regardless, I have not had the benefit of hearing a female perspective on photography (something I yearn for) and female grad students miss out on the opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience and the relationship they could develop with the art professors. Sad.

Yale Women Speak Out about Abortion

Last night I sat on the floor in a packed room in HGS and listened to Yale women recount their abortion experiences. While I had heard similar stories in different settings, I had never been part of an event like this. The "rules" of the speak-out were that only women who had personally had an abortion could speak to the group and that we would wait up to ten minutes after each speaker in order to give everyone who wanted to speak a chance to do so. The event was very well organized, thanks to the coalition of groups - Nursing Students for Choice, Med Students for Choice, and the Reproductive Rights Action-League at Yale (undergraduate group) - that sponsored the event. The audience (yes, mostly women, but a good number of men as well) was supportive, patient, and encouraging. The speakers ranged from confident to hesitant, matter-of-fact to overtly emotional, but each women who told her story was treated with respect. Many speakers expressed their gratitude for having the opportunity to speak in an environment like this; they hadn't really talked about their abortions before, and they found it truly empowering to do so.

I expected the event to be powerful and moving, but I didn't anticipate the overwhelming sense of community that I felt in the room last night. As one speaker said, women who undergo abortions often feel like they are completely alone, like no one has ever done this before. These feelings of isolation don't reflect the reality of abortion in this country, since approximately one-third of women will have had at least one abortion by the time they are 45, but the stigma surrounding discussion of abortion experiences reinforces such misconceptions. It is important for women to talk about their experiences, both in order to guide other women who have to make choices about their reproductive health (as many noted last night, abortion services remain a mystery to most women who need them) and to process the experiences themselves.

As I see it, though, the speak-out purposes were not solely practical or therapeutic. The opening speaker expressed the importance of talking about abortions in personal, human terms instead of in terms of politics or ideology, but I would also note that speaking out is inherently a political act. To refuse to be shamed into silence, to break free from sexist social dictates, is a powerful self-assertion. The speak-out reinforces a central argument for women's reproductive freedom that is often overlooked in debate on these issues: a woman's right to choose is a civil right; it is a crucial component of her liberty. To determine when and how and with whom to bear children are decisions that shape an individual life. If we deny women the right to decide whether or not to become a parent, then we are revoking their right to self-determination. Most of the women who spoke described how having a child at an earlier time would have radically changed the course of their lives and prevented them from living the lives they wanted to live. Reproductive health and reproductive freedom are crucial components of women's social and political equality.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Adda's First Column!

You should all check out Adda's column in the YDN -- Sexism's Power Struggle Mirrors Historical Racism.

That's all.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Speak Out: Abortion

Happy New Year!

Look out this week, Broad Recognition will be starting up again with brand new posts on new and old topics. Also look for us in the Yale Daily News, where Basha and Adda will be co-writing a bi-monthly editorial, running on Tuesdays.

In the meantime, check out the many events planned for RALY's Roe v. Wade Week at Yale, to celebrate the 34th anniversary of the landmark supreme court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. Make sure to attend the Speak Out, Tuesday night at 8 pm in HGS Rm 119.