, a University of Connecticut alumna and Seattle Clinic Defense organizer, looks at the controversy over a UConn student who challenged sexism.
UNIVERSITY OF Connecticut senior Carolyn Luby wrote an open letter that appeared at the Feminist Wire on April 24 to the university’s first female president, Susan Herbst, to address the university’s recent logo change.
The letter came days after UConn announced its mascot was to be changed from a smiling husky dog to a logo, designed with Nike’s influence, featuring an aggressive, almost wolf-like dog. Luby quoted women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma’s comments on the design change: “It is looking right through you and saying, ‘Do not mess with me.’ This is a streamlined, fighting dog, and I cannot wait for it to be on our uniforms and court.”
Why does the University of Connecticut, Luby asks, need a more frightening logo, when women are intimidated, attacked and harassed by UConn athletes with alarming regularity? She cites some, though certainly not all, of the attacks and violent behavior displayed by UConn athletes:
On October 6, 2012, Lyle McCombs is arrested on charges of second-degree breach of peace for a domestic violence dispute in which he was, “yelling, pushing and spitting at his girlfriend” during an argument outside a residence hall.
On February 11, 2013, Enosch Wolf is arrested on charges of third-degree burglary, first-degree criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct when he “refused to leave” a female student’s apartment, “grabbed the hair of the victim and pushed her head” and “knocked the glasses off the victim’s face with his hand.”
On March 21, 2013, Tyler Olander is arrested for trespassing in a structure or conveyance while on spring break in Panama City, Florida.”
Luby implored Herbst to start addressing the violence against women occurring on campus, rather than concentrating on the university’s corporate partnership with Nike:
Instead of communicating a zero-tolerance atmosphere for this kind of behavior, increasing or vocalizing support to violence against women prevention efforts on campus in the face of such events, or increasing support to student-run programs that seek to work with athletes on issues of violence as well as academic issues, it would appear that your administration is more interested in fostering consumerism and corporatization than education and community.
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FOR SIMPLY asking the question, “Does UConn really need a more aggressive mascot and sports culture when violence against women is happening on a startling basis here already?” Luby was harassed and threatened—both with rape and death. The threats came from fellow students on campus all the way to Rush Limbaugh, who is perpetually looking for another Sandra Fluke to target.
Barstool Sports, an online sports blog, printed a reader e-mail mocking Luby, calling her a bitch, and claiming that she is arguing that the new mascot is the cause of rape.
Luby reported her on-campus harassment to the UConn police, whose response, according to the student newspaper, was that Luby wear a hat and keep a low profile.
The response from the university and President Herbst? Absolute silence. According to an article in the Hartford Courant, Herbst has released a statement citing campus policy on the right of students to express their opinions without being degraded, but didn’t mention Luby.
In an era of Sheryl Sandberg-esque feminism, in which we’re taught to believe that the problem is there aren’t enough women in the corner office or at the head of a boardroom table, this incident is a case in point. The current head of the University of Connecticut is indeed a woman, and Luby appealed to her to further the interests of women on campus, as many current students and alumnae hoped she would.
However, under Herbst’s administration, students have only seen further tuition hikes and the prioritization of the athletic programs over student needs. The example at UConn speaks to the need for confronting the idea that we simply need to equalize the gender balance of the ruling class in order to effect equality for women.
I was recently discussing with some friends the phenomenon of sexual harassment and assault perpetrated by individuals on subways and other forms of mass transit. The discussion was inspired by this article in the New York Times, in which a woman recounts being assaulted on the subway and afterwards feeling happy that she could turn to a nearby officer with the New York Police Department, who apprehended the assailant.
I commented on this article, “I hate sexual assault. But I also hate the notion that the NYPD is a force protecting us from oppression, rather than the misogynistic, racist, force of repression that it is.”
A few people replied that they did think it was possible for the police to sometimes play a positive role, in situations such as this, despite the fact that in other situations they play downright oppressive roles. One person recounted a personal experience of being similarly assaulted on a subway and wishing that a cop had been nearby to help since she felt so alone and physically intimated by her assailant.
Here was my response. Wanted to share here to see what kinds of thoughts other people had on this:
Hmm … yes. Well, I do think that first of all, race and class pay a big role in this, though. Not to be flip about the concerns people have raised, but I do think if the victim in the case cited in the NYTimes article had been either poor and/or non-white, statistics show that the response by the police and courts would have been quite different.
Moreover, the police simply arresting and locking away more people will not really solve the problem, which has its roots in the cultural/structural ways in which our entire society — starting from the top — perpetuates the material and ideological conception of women as sexual objects and less-than-equals to men.
Finally, I think in the absence of any sort of alternative force, the police can seem like the only existing option — with a monopoly on violence and backed by the power of law — to do anything about situations that put us as individuals at risk or harm. This can and does change in times where people begin to organize themselves in order to further and protect their own interests as against both the police and reactionary individuals within the broad masses. See, for instance, the self-organized patrols of Tahrir Square in Egypt during the revolution, or the Black Panther Party, or, my favorite, the Butterfly Brigade of San Francisco (see http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1964&dat=19770127&id=8yMjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ds4FAAAAIBAJ&pg=7223%2C6298005)
Also, beyond organized detachments of “safety-keepers,” the only way any of us will truly be safe is when all of our fellow humans have the confidence and consciousness to respond to any acts of oppression that occur anywhere. When a large mass of people depend on a miniscule group of police to protect them, it reinforces feelings of powerlessness in oneself and those around one. Much better to have a large mass of people defend themselves and each other, without the need for a separate entity — the police or a state, so to speak — standing apart from and above that mass of people; such a situation cannot but invariably breed corruption and abuse among that privileged and armed minority.
Obviously, that would require a change in culture, consciousness, and ultimately a revolution in the prevailing social conditions. But i think the consciousness-raising and empowering that people are trying to do around the SlutWalk, Holla Back, and anti-rape activism, can actually go a long way in this direction …
OMG! Everything about this is so ridiculously amazing and adorable!!!!
Photographer Jaime Moore from Austin, Texas, took photos of Emma emulating real women worth admiring: Amelia Earhart, Coco Chanel, Susan B Anthony, Helen Keller and Jane Goodall.
If they are keeping secrets, they may not tell even other women about bad experiences—or good experiences. So each woman who is thinking about abortion is on her own. And they may not report substandard care to health authorities because they don’t want to jeopardize their own confidentiality. Or they may not even realize that they deserve better.
|—||Charlotte Taft, director of the Abortion Care Network|
Sexual Violence and Neoliberalism
Sponsored by Historical Materialism Conference 2013 - New York
I love this so much! Am now adopting “Lewis’s Law” into my writing and speech forever more!
The only reason to read the comments, I guess?
In addition to being hilarious, Louis C.K.’s latest HBO special includes some brilliant bits that are downright feminist. Let’s get married and have a million fat red-headed babies together — we all know how much you love being a father!
After Louis seemingly defended Tosh.Doh’s idiotic and scary rape non-joke, we were all a little on edge until he explained himself on The Daily Show:
I’ve read some blogs during this whole thing that have made me enlightened to things I didn’t know. This woman said how rape is something that polices women’s lives. They have a narrow corridor. They can’t go out late, they can’t go to certain neighborhoods, they can’t get a certain way, because they might get-That’s part of me now that wasn’t before.
Apparently he’s been thinking on it because, as David Haglund at Slate writes, his new special further explores those truths:
Halfway through the new special, C.K. starts talking about how dating is an act of bravery for all involved. “The male courage, traditionally speaking, is that he decided to ask” a woman out. (Note the careful caveat, “traditionally speaking.”) And if the woman says yes, “that’s her courage.” That kind of courage, he says, is beyond his imagining. “How do women still go out with guys, when you consider that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat to women! Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women.” A moment later he adds, speaking for all men, “You know what our number one threat is? Heart disease.”
In an effort to get men to understand a woman’s experience on a date, he says “try to imagine that you could only date a half-bear, half-lion. ‘Oh, I hope this one’s nice.’ ”
It’s exciting because you rarely see this sort of reflection in comedy — and it’s still fucking hilarious.
Inspired by Anita Sarkeesian’s Video Game Tropes vs Women, I wanted to pitch a Zelda game where Zelda herself was the hero, rescuing a Prince Link.
Clockwork Empire is set 2,000 years after Twilight Princess, and is not a reboot, but simply another iteration in the Zelda franchise. It just so happens that in this case, Zelda is the protagonist. I’m a very big Zelda fan, and worked hard to draw from key elements in the continuity and mythos.
This concept work is meant to show that Zelda as a game protagonist can be both compelling and true to the franchise, while bringing new and dynamic game elements that go farther than being a simple gender swap.
Hope you like it!
Fascinating. First issue of the newspaper started by Margaret Sanger in 1914, “The Woman Rebel.” The masthead reads, “No Gods No Masters.”
“The aim of this paper will be to stimulate working women to think for themselves and to build up a conscious fighting character.
” … It is also the aim of this paper to circulate among those women who work in prostitution; to voice their wrongs; to expose the police persecution which hovers over them and to give free expression to their thoughts, hopes and opinions.
“And at all times the WOMAN REBEL will strenuously advocate economic emancipation.
” … Superstition; blind following; unthinking obedience on the part of working women; together with the pretence, hypocrisy and sham morality of the women of the middle class have been the greatest obstacles in the obtaining of woman’s freedom.
The Border House is a blog for gamers. It’s a blog for those who are feminist, queer, disabled, people of color, transgender, poor, gay, lesbian, and others who belong to marginalized groups, as well as allies. Our goal is to bring thoughtful analysis to gaming with a feminist viewpoint and up-to-date news on games, virtual worlds, and social media.
Framingham High teens this morning protested against what they say was a lack of response to two sexual assaults at the high school.
The teenagers said they are upset by the lack of response by many adults - school, police and the district attorney’s office - to two sexual assaults that they and at least one school employee say happened at Framingham High last spring. The assaults were allegedly perpetrated by the same male athlete against two different female students inside the school.
“It is time to expose what has been hidden for too long,” said senior Jessica Krueger. “I can’t allow the school to keep hiding these incidents.”
Nearly 20 students scheduled their protest at the same time as Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone was scheduled to speak to 400 male students at Framingham High about the White Ribbon Campaign, which asks students to take a pledge to never commit violence against women.
“One day with the DA won’t right the wrongs,” said Alyssa Almeida, one of the protesting seniors.
… The school district has a strict policy against drugs and alcohol. The teens who protested this morning are upset that the policy is not as strict when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assaults.
As a senior, that male student was allowed to play football, despite both accusations, said one of the two female students who was assaulted.
“Sexual assault is traumatic enough without having it be hidden. The administration needs to do more,” said Naomi Zahler, one of the student protestors.
Framingham High School social worker Kevin Fox agreed to speak publicly about the attacks as “we (school leaders) need to send the right message to students.”
He said the “culture at the high school has to change.”
Every day, this sophomore and senior girl see their alleged assailant at school.
He lost five days of school at the end of June, but got to play the entire football season, said Fox.