“These are not your decisions to make. These are not your words to define.”

Eve Ensler has put it best.

The award-winning playwright of The Vagina Monologues penned a column entitled “Dear Mr. Akin, I Want You to Imagine,” published two days ago by The Huffington Post which directly addresses Todd Akin, the Missouri Congressman running in the GOP Senate race who recently asserted in an interview that a woman could not get pregnant if she were the victim of a “legitimate rape.”

Read the column and tell ARK what you think.

Peace,
ARK

Lebensfaden in Berlin, Germany: ARK goes international

Hey A.R.Kers!

Long time no see!  So I hope you can forgive the break…A.R.K. is here, just not in Claremont anymore. As I write this post, the delicious sound of thunder is singing to me, and I am currently in my apartment in a high-rise in Munich…yes, Munich, Germany. Deutschland. And Annie, fellow partner in crime, is in Morocco (but I’ll let her tell you about that another time!)  And the other A.R.K.ers…well, you’ll just have to guess ; )

Before coming to Munich, I was able to visit some friends and family in Berlin. And while Berlin is famous for its street-art, especially more traditional spray-graffiti, I was pleasantly surprised to see yarn graffiti on the rise! I thought I would share some of what I found with you all…

Along the Spree in Berlin

This particular yarn bomb was to promote sustainable water use! A.R.K. is a big fan of craftivism (combining the art of yarn bombing and activism!), and though the Spree is beautiful on its own, the piece definitely added warmth and much needed color to the railing!

Here is a close up of one of the tags:

Tag for Water

The tag basically says, water means life! Every drop counts! It also says how many “Lebensfaden” this person spun. This is a really beautiful term in German…meaning something like, “threads of life.” Now that I think of it, they really are threads of life- yarn-bombing allows for a space to be reclaimed, and it takes on a life of its own. The yarn is living, interacting not only with the space itself, but also with the people and souls who are touched by it (literally and metaphorically!)

Here are some more “Lebensfaden”, maybe not as seemingly impressive, but still made me pause, and smile.

Unexpected Lebensfaden

This particular yarn-bomb was in my old neighborhood in Berlin, and even though it is a small piece, it definitely brightened my day (and the pole’s day!)

I haven’t seen any yarn graffiti in Munich so far, or much street art at all for that matter, but I have a rather strong feeling that that is about to change…very soon (wink wink!)

So where in the world are you? Share with us! I want to know, have you seen any cool street art or yarn graffiti lately? Tell us in the comments! And if you can, send a photo of it to stricken4macht@gmail.com! We’d like to feature it on our blog as well.

Peace and Liebe Grüße,

Rosie

Happy Equal Pay Day!!! Well, maybe…

Happy Equal Pay Day!!! Sounds exciting, right?  And yet, according to the American Association of University Women, American women earn about 23% less than males.  If we actually achieved equal pay, this day would probably become somewhat more irrelevant.

So, what should we be doing about this? The most important rule to remember: don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth.

Also, be sure to check out this cool calculator—it’ll show you how much of a raise you should be asking for based on your current and goal salaries over the time span that you choose.  If you are not sure about how to do so, here are some helpful tips to get you started.

If you want to learn more, visit http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/upload/simpletruthaboutpaygap1.pdf.

Stay Strong,

Rosie

Arizona: Working hard to limit your freedoms

http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/birth-control-exclusion-bill-goes-to-az-senate/article_d758ecbc-03dd-5ae1-8582-90c52576dcb6.html

I thought the Arizona Congress was messed up upon the passing of the racist SB1070 bill, but this new bill puts them at a new low.

If this new bill, HB 2625, were to pass, employers would be allowed to deny health care coverage for contraceptives, if they are morally opposed to contraception.  One congresswoman, Debbie Lesko, said on the subject: “I believe that we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union.  And so government shouldn’t be telling employers, Catholic organizations or mom-and-pop employers to do something that’s against their moral beliefs.”

Guess what, Ms. Lesko?  I believe we live in America, too.  And I believe that taking basic health care services away from people is a huge infringement on their rights.  This bill runs completely counter to the idea of personal liberties.  It would be allowing some citizens to impose their moral views on others, and decide for other citizens how they should live their lives and manage their health.

The inherent sexism makes me sick too.  This bill aims to directly limit the freedom of women when it comes to healthcare.  Imagine the reverse, if men’s health services were being restricted.  What if an employer were morally opposed to erectile dysfunction medications, and denied access to them?  Or prostrate cancer screenings?  I seriously doubt that the bill would have gotten as far as it has.

It’s amusing to think about how far this bill could go, letting employers determine what health benefits their employees get.  Would someone who didn’t believe in evolution not allow coverage for vaccines for mutated strains of viruses?  Would someone who disapproved of travelling to foreign countries not allow malaria immunizations?  How about the people who say to have faith in God for everything?  The next religiously-minded health plan: only enough money to cover the costs for a Bible.

I shudder at the idea of any bill that allows some citizens to control the lives of others.  It would let people’s arbitrary personal preferences to influence others.  This sounds much more like totalitarianism than any sort of democracy that I want to be part of, Ms. Lesko.

Another ticked off Arizonan,

Kat

You can’t win if you don’t play the game

This past spring break gave me some time off from focusing on my studies—so instead, I chose to focus on me.  That might seem odd, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in my school life that I tend to ignore what is really going on, just me living my life.  As a freshman in college, something that is always on my mind is my future; where will I be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?  This can easily escalate into overwhelming and stressful thoughts, when I am not exactly sure about how I will fill in the blanks.  There are a lot of unanswered questions there, and that scares me.  But the one thing that stands strong and clear is that I want to make a difference in the world.  That is one of the reasons why I became inspired to start the Armed RevolutioKnits.  I wanted to combine two things I love and am passionate about—being creative and human rights—and channel this into something that could have a positive impact upon others.

While doing a little soul-searching, I came across an article called Lessons to My Younger Self: A Series by Inspiring Women.  The piece showed me that I don’t need to worry about the future so much as just happily absorb every moment of the present.  What’s more, I realized I don’t need to be afraid.  Friends and family often describe me as a dreamer, or an optimist, as if it were a bad thing.  But I believe in myself and in my dreams, and just because they are wild, imaginative, and crazy doesn’t necessarily make them impossible.  Besides, you can’t win if you don’t play the game. 

I dedicate this post to you, readers.  Dream big. Conquer fear. Do the impossible.  And please, read the article.  It shares advice and stories from women who did just those very things, and made it to the top. Even if you are not a woman, this applies to everyone.  Learn from their experiences, and what they would have told their younger selves.

…Unless of course, you’d rather learn things the hard way?

I didn’t think so.

Peace,

Rosie

 

 

Are we ready for Gender-Neutrality?

This column was in my local daily paper earlier this week: http://townhall.com/columnists/monacharen/2012/03/09/gender_specific_writer/page/full/

Mona Charen

Essentially, columnist Mona Charen expressed discontent about Apple’s new word processor Pages because its spelling and grammar corrector suggested she make some of her terms more gender neutral.

Now, I can see her point on some counts–Pages tried to correct the “lady” in “first lady” to “individual,” for example, which doesn’t quite make sense. Furthermore, it preferred “speaker” or “advocate” to “spokesman” and Charen was concerned that her sentence would be confusing with either of those suggestions. In this case, if the person she was quoting was, indeed, a man, there really isn’t an issue anyhow.

But Charen doesn’t say that Pages was too picky or was offering the wrong suggestions. Her anger was directed, rather, at the political correctness of the spelling and grammar corrector. She concludes her column thus:

Apple’s language sentinel has been schooled in political correctness at the expense of English. In another column, I mentioned that the collapse of marriage was “aggravating” inequality in America. Consider “irritating” or “exasperating” instead, Proofreadress advised.

No, those are words I reserve for her.

Does political correctness actually significantly change the English language? If it does, is that a bad thing? This may be a better question for a linguist than for an activist for social change, but I think that political correctness mostly affects suffixes (-er/-ess, -man/-woman, etc.), so probably won’t change the form and function of the language to the point where it’s unrecognizable.                      
Perhaps a more pressing concern is that our society may not ready to unlearn political incorrectness. Are we so used to the current structure that we can’t see past it, that when change starts to affect all parts of society, people get irritated and exasperated?                                                                                                                                   .
I think that Charen was mostly overreacting (especially because Microsoft Word’s Spellcheck isn’t perfect either), and I don’t think that her column was much more than an outlet for frustration because she didn’t connect her anger to any broader problems besides pushing “political correctness at the expense of English.”                                                   .
Still, I think that it’s important that we recognize, as feminists and, more importantly, as activists, as people trying to change society and its discourses, that these are the arguments and sources of resistance that we will meet. People don’t really like change, especially when they feel personally confronted with it.                                                                     a
That said, do you think Apple was right to include these “politically correct” suggestions in Pages’ Proofreader? Do you think Charen has a right to be upset? And most importantly, do you think that this is just an isolated case of somebody being anal, or is it an indicator of widespread resistance to “political correctness” and why it exists?                                       aLet me know! For those of you traveling back to school after break today, be safe.                         aPeace,
Annie

G@m3r G1rlz: Sexism and Gaming

When one of our members, Sacamano, shared a video on sexism in nerd culture with A.R.K., I realized that this is one area that seems to go unscathed when it comes to the women’s movement.  And the more and more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got.

The video by Bob Chipman, which was posted on The Escapist, talks about how sexism in nerd culture is “NOT OKAY”.  Recently, on Cross Assault, which is the company Capcom’s online reality show, Aris Bakhtanians, the coach of Team Tekken, made persistent sexist remarks to Miranda Pakozdi, who was the only female member on his team.  The coach commented on her breast size, among other offensive remarks.

As Giant Bomb stated, “Pakozdi’s contract obliged her to stay in the competition so she had little choice but to endure it. Eventually, to escape this unpleasant situation, she stopped trying to win matches and got herself knocked out of the competition.”

Yet, when challenged about his behavior, he defended his blatant sexism arguing that sexism is part of the gaming culture, and if removed, the fighting game community would no longer exist.  So…does this mean that it was Miranda Pakozdi’s fault that he got to act douchey? 

Sadly, the incident that occurred on Cross Assault barely even scrapes the surface of the sexism that does occur on a regular basis in the gaming world.  For instance, the language used among gamers.  Is it really ok to harass women? Or to use sexist slurs as a form of violence? And since when did it become acceptable to use the word “rape” as a casual word, used as a synonym for defeat?  As stated in one article,

“When complaining about the way I was treated at a certain event, I was told I just need a ‘stiff dicking.’ In what other industry is this even remotely acceptable behavior? 

This is why I care. Because I know I’m not the only one who has to deal with this, and I know I’m certainly not getting the worst of it.

”

Besides the language, what about how women are portrayed in games? For instance when designing female characters, most designs are not based on playability, but rather, on fuckability, admits LaToya Peterson.  Game designer Jonathan Jacques-Bellêtete tries to “always trying to have very beautiful female characters.” I am not arguing against having attractive characters; I am arguing against characters that are purely defined by their appearance.  And for those of you whose retort has to do with empowerment via liberated sexuality, there is a fine line.  Are these women created to be sexually empowered, or are these women purely created because men want to see them looking a certain way?  In other words, are these women created to be more than another male fantasy? And yes, there are female gamers who try to be “g@m3r g1rlz”, thinking that if they are seen as an object of desire they will be treated better.  But, usually they are quickly labeled as attention whores, and are not respected.

At Freeplay, an independent games festival held last year in Australia, there was a panel titled ‘The Words We Use’ that quickly developed into a conversation including sexist statements about what women’s place in games criticism should be.  Tracy Lien, editor at Kotaku AU commented on her reaction of complete silence while sitting in the audience saying,

“At Freeplay I was afraid that had I said something I’d have been dismissed or ignored…I was afraid of hearing someone say (or tweet) that I should just suck it down and deal with it, that I’m making a big deal of something that means nothing to them, that no one cares, that my kicking up a fuss was just a sign of my weakness. As a woman, I felt that my gender somehow made me less qualified to speak about gender issues that directly affected me; that people, especially those who needed their views challenged, would be less willing to listen to a woman (yes, I see the irony).”

Does anyone else see the problem here? Women should not be forced to be distanced from gaming as a result of sexism.  This will only further perpetuate the same issues, and punishes the victims. Can we just move forward from here? I don’t see this as a problem that will go away on its own. And why is there such resistance to talking about sexism in gaming culture? I am not trying to say that everyone thinks like Bakhtanians about sexism in the gaming community.  I know that most gamers do have good intentions, or at least that is my hope.  But at the same time, even if sexism was an integral part of gaming culture, does this make it any more acceptable? Should sexism be an integral part of any culture? And “Because, this is the way things are, so why are we even talking about this?!” doesn’t seem like a sound, steady argument to me.  Would people rather the media provide even more criticism and scrutiny on the gaming community, or can we just grow up, address our own problems, and take the high road here?  Please don’t tell me you need to keep up the boy’s club because you aren’t finding social acceptance beyond the gaming world.  You are better than that.  And yes, I know it is highly unrealistic to entirely eliminate sexism from the gaming world. This hasn’t really occurred in any other cultures or communities either.  But at the very least, this should be the beginning of the end.  And it starts by talking about it!

Do you think that sexism in gaming culture should be left alone? How do you think this problem should be addressed?

Peace,

Rosie