Feminism Isn’t a Reality in the American Dream

Woman-President

Would you vote for a woman president?

Of course.

Then, why hasn’t a woman made it to the Oval Office?


On March 30 at 7pm in Sears Recital Hall, as the keynote speakers of Women’s History Month, Dr. Karrin Vasby Anderson and Dr. Kristina Horn Sheeler will speak about what it would take for a woman to be elected.

Vasby Anderson and Horn Sheeler met in doctorate classes at Indiana University, where they researched presidential spouses and women in posititions of executive leadership in terms of communication and popular culture studies.

Their 2013 book “Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture,” the focus of their presentation, addresses Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign, labeled “a good year” for women in politics. Vasby Anderson and Horn Sheeler argue that when MSNBC anchors publicly compare Clinton’s voice to a shrill wife and all women in the political sphere must still tryingly deflect gendered attacks, we need to address these issues as ones ingrained in our society.

“If you think that feminism’s work is basically done,” she continued, “and women have what they need to succeed in politics, read this book.”

Vasby Anderson and Horn Sheeler refuse to give prospective female politicians advice (for they aren’t the ones who need it). They will, however, give advice to voters.

“We have the power, as voters, consumers and audience members to demand more from our political and popular culture. In a democracy, it’s the people’s responsibility to engage in and improve politics. Let’s all get to work.”

Tip Your Hat to Tipped Employees

If you’re observant, you can point out those of us who have worked as waiters or waitresses at some point in our lives. Long after we’ve ditched whatever ugly uniform we had to wear, we continue to carry unwieldy items–pizza boxes, trays of food and drinks, etc.–in one hand, balanced on one palm. We make a point of addressing restaurant servers and grocery cashiers by the names pinned to their uniforms, and we try not to leave pennies on the table as part of a tip. Perhaps most tellingly, we tip well. Sometimes, even for sub-par service or food if it was obviously caused by factors beyond our server’s control.

If you’ve never been a tipped employee, you may think, “I work hard for my money, too, so why should I give a ‘bonus’ to servers?” What you may not know (in fact I hope that the miserly tippers don’t know this) is that the federal minimum wage for tipped employees is currently $2.13 / hour. Thirty plus years ago, when I was a tipped employee, it was $2.01 / hour. Yep, that’s right:
In the 30 years since I’ve had to rely on tips to pay my rent, buy my textbooks, put gas in my car, etc., the federal government has only raised the minimum wage for tipped employees a full 12 cents an hour.

So, those “bonuses” servers get from tips should more accurately be called “wages.”  No one, not even the thriftiest amongst us, can live on $2.13 / hour.  Even working full-time (40 hours / week) equates to just about $85 / week–before taxes. And most tipped employees receive few, if any, employer-paid benefits such as healthcare coverage, paid sick leave and paid vacation. Try to imagine living on $85 / week without any benefits. Lest you still think that working as a tipped employee–very physically demanding work, I might add–can be a gold-mine, keep in mind that those “bonuses” in the form of tips are also taxable and often must be shared with other restaurant personnel, who are most likely also paid $2.13 / hour.

Assuming you, like me, think leaving hard-working people’s ability to earn a living wage in the customer’s hands is unjust, you might be asking, “What can I do?”  At a minimum, you can be more conscious of your tipping habits because until the powerful lobbyists who’ve convinced our elected officials that it’s OK for you and me to pay the bulk of servers’ wages are shouted down, there’s little chance we’ll budge from today’s $2.13 minimum wage. You can also take a few minutes to educate yourself on other ways to help food service employees, everything from making small changes in your own tipping behavior to making conscious decisions on which restaurants to patronize–or not–based on how they treat their employees.

To learn more, start here…..

– Lisa Rismiller, Women’s Center Director

‘I want my life to stand for something.’

In her work with Eagle Energy, Adrian Manygoats brings safe, clean solar energy to impoverished members of the Navajo nation.  In this video, she explains how her work is rooted not only in her tribe’s values and beliefs, but also in the commitments she developed as a women’s and gender studies major.

– Dr. Rebecca Whisnant, Director of Women’s and Gender Studies

LGBT A to Z: A Crash Course

Welcome to a very brief, limited, crash course list of common LGBT terms and identities. Before going through this list, it may be helpful to check out our previous post on gender. Gender can be super complicated, but to understand the following terms and identities, you need to have a basic understanding of it.

This list is not exhaustive, but is is a basic list of common terms and identities.

alphabet-soup-comic


Asexual: A person who is not sexually attracted to anyone or does not have a sexual orientation.

Ally: Any person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBT people.

Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both people of their own gender and another gender. Also called “bi”.

Cisgender: Refers to people whose sex assignment at birth corresponds to their gender identity and expression.

FTM: Abbreviation for female-to-male transgender or transsexual person.

Gay: A person who is attracted primarily to members of the same sex. Although it can be used for any sex (e.g. gay man, gay woman, gay person), “lesbian” is sometimes the preferred term for women who are attracted to women.

Heterosexual: A person who is only attracted to members of the opposite sex. Also known as “straight.”

Homosexual: A clinical term for people who are attracted to members of the same sex. Some people find this term offensive.

Intersex: Someone whose sex a doctor has a difficult time categorizing as either male or female. A person whose combination of chromosomes, hormones, internal sex organs, and/or genitals differs from one of the two expected patterns.

Lesbian: A woman who is primarily attracted to other women.

MTF: Abbreviation for male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.

Queer: An umbrella term sometimes used by LGBTQA people to refer to the entire LGBT community. It is also an alternative that some people use to “queer” the idea of the labels and categories such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc. It is important to note that the word queer is an in-group term, and a word that can be considered offensive to some people, depending on their generation, geographic location, and relationship with the word.

Questioning: For some individuals, this is the process of exploring and discovering one’s own sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions, not just people who fit into the standard gender binary (i.e. men and women).

Sexual orientation: The type of sexual, romantic, and/or physical attraction someone feels toward others. Often labeled based on the gender identity/expression of the person and who they are attracted to.

Transgender: This term has many definitions. Sometimes used as an umbrella to describe anyone whose identity or behavior falls outside of stereotypical gender norms. More narrowly defined, it refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match their assigned birth gender. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation (attraction to people of a specific gender.) Therefore, transgender people may additionally identify with a variety of other sexual identities as well.

Transsexual: A person whose gender identity is different from their biological sex, who may undergo medical treatments to change their biological sex, often times to align it with their gender identity, or they may live their lives as another sex.

Gender is Complicated

Gender is complicated. I’ll do my best to explain.

sex-checkbox

For many people, the terms “gender” and “sex” are used interchangeably. We rarely think twice that the terms are used as one in the same. We are born as male or female (with the exception of those born intersex, which could be an entire blog post in itself), and are sent out in the world to live up to society’s expectations of what it means to be male and female. Yet biological sex and gender are different; gender is not inherently or exclusively connected to an individual’s physical anatomy.

Biological Sex vs. Gender

Biological sex includes your physical anatomy, sex chromosomes, sex hormones, and reproductive structures. At birth, it is used to assign sex – to identify individuals as male or female. Gender is much more complicated. It is the complex relationship between an individual’s sex, the internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither, and the outward presentations and behaviors related to that perception. Together, the intersection of these  dimensions produces an individual’s authentic sense of gender – both in how people experience their own gender and how others perceive it.

Terms & Definitions

Gender Expression: Refers to the ways in which we each manifest masculinity or femininity. It is usually an extension of our gender identity, our innate sense of being male, female, etc. Each of us expresses a particular gender every day by the way we style our hair, select our clothing, or even the way we stand. Our appearance, speech, behavior, movement, and other factors signal that we feel and wish to be understood as masculine or feminine, or as a man or a woman.

Gender Identity: The sense of being male, female, genderqueer, agender, etc. For some people, gender identity is in accord with physical anatomy. For transgender people, gender identity may differ from physical anatomy or expected social roles. It is important to note that gender identity, biological sex, and sexual orientation are separate and that you cannot assume how someone identifies in one category based on how they identify in another category.

Gender Normative: A person who by nature or by choice conforms to gender based expectations of society.

Gender Role: This is the set of roles, activities, expectations and behaviors assigned to females and males by society. Our culture recognizes two basic gender roles: Masculine (having the qualities attributed to males) and feminine (having the qualities attributed to females). People who step out of their socially assigned gender roles are sometimes referred to as transgender. Other cultures have three or more gender roles.

Genderqueer: A term which refers to individuals or groups who queer or problematize the hegemonic notions of sex, gender and desire in a given society. Genderqueer people possess identities which fall outside of the widely accepted sexual binary (i.e. “men” and “women”). Genderqueer may also refer to people who identify as both transgendered AND queer, i.e. individuals who challenge both gender and sexuality regimes and see gender identity and sexual orientation as overlapping and interconnected.

The Inaugural Post.

BECAUSE I AM FEMALE:

My name is Amanda Dee.

I am a student. I am a writer.

I am a female:

That’s who I am when I first meet someone. Walk into a classroom. Write my name.

Sometimes, it’s conscious. Sometimes, it’s unconscious. But, my experiences on campus and in life are different from a male’s nonetheless. They could be seemingly harmless assumptions about my favorite colors, TV shows, bands. They could be dangerous assumptions about my value as a human being.  Regardless of their nature, these assumptions surround me and shape me — even if I don’t want them to.

This blog is a platform to speak to these differences. It is not meant to incite controversy, but it is meant to start conversations about issues that might be difficult to talk about. It is meant to give UD women — foreign, domestic, white, black, straight, queer — a chance to express their individual experiences on campus.

We just want you to be heard.