A Couple of Issues on My Mind by Jillian Washburn

As I sit down to write this blog, I’m pulled in so many different directions trying to decide on what topic to write. I can’t seem to choose just one; there is too much going on in the world for me to say one subject is more important than another. In my opinion, they all deserve attention, not only to bring awareness, but to spark initiative within someone to start a movement.
I’d like to start off with House Bill 1171 which, if passed in South Dakota, “would expand the definition of ‘justifiable homicide’ to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus- a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions”. Even if a woman chose to have said abortion, the murderer could claim that he or she was trying to defend the “unborn child” making the act justifiable with this law. It is ridiculous that some people are so against abortion, that they would actually give someone the right to murder another person. This is another bill being introduced into a state legislature that will take away from, not add to, the rights of women.
This leads into another topic that needs to be talked about, the feuding over Planned Parenthood’s governmental funding. Opponents of Planned Parenthood and their funding, associate the organization mostly with the abortion services they provide. Planned Parenthood provides many other services besides abortion (i.e. birth control, HIV & STD testing, general health care, and so much more). To take away their funding would only show what little amount these representatives know about the organization itself. I thought there was supposed to be a separation between church and state. These recent attacks on women’s rights to choose for themselves are absurd. We all have differing opinions; we need to learn how to work together instead of attacking people and places that don’t agree with our way of thinking. Even if you haven’t been to, or needed the services of a Planned Parenthood, please take a moment to stand with them by visiting their site (plannedparenthood.org) and signing the petition.
I wanted to talk about the activism happening in the Middle East, but I’m out of words for today.  I encourage all of you to read up on the current standings of other countries, not just our own. There is too much going on in the world for us to be clueless. Educate yourselves!

“Pro-life” Presents its Ethical Contradictions in South Dakota

A bill being considered in South Dakota would allow the murder of abortion providers, by pardoning the crime as “justifiable homicide.” The re-defining of terms, that have been forever clear and understood, by the GOP continues; previously it was rape and what constituted the act, now the conservative forces are reconsidering murder.

The language being added to the definition of what constitutes justifiable homicide would be altered to allow immediate family members and others to murder anyone attempting to provide an abortion to a woman, even if the woman herself wants the medical procedure.

House Bill 1171 is cleverly worded to allow would-be assassins to circumvent the fact that abortion is legal in this country. Normally justifiable homicide applies only to acts which are illegal, so proponents claim this would not provide motivation for attacks on abortion providers. But this simply is not true, as the language being added states that murder would be justifiable if it is committed in an attempt to prevent harm to someone who would harm another; clearly a fetus would fall under the category of life for Anti-choice militants.

This once again provides not only opponents of the bill, but any who observe or may be affected by it, with the opportunity to see that America’s “Pro-life” movement is no more than an anti-choice crusade against women and the development of rights progressing toward equality.

Pro-Life and its Increasingly Rampant Hypocrisy By Gregory Allen

Once again Pro-life (really Anti-choice) fights back with feelings instead of facts with its attachment of the “Protect Life Act”, a provision recently added to H.R. 358, which was introduced by Representative Joe
Pitts of Pennsylvania. The act will effectively allow doctors to refuse medical aid (abortions) to pregnant women even if in doing so it is understood the mother will die.

Perhaps ultra-conservatives need another science lesson after last term’s blatant obstinacy of reality, with recurring incidents such as Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s (MN) declaration that carbon dioxide is in no form harmful; except for Carbon Dioxide Poisoning, which causes minor afflictions like death, and ironically SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome).

So here it is in nine words; if a pregnant woman dies the fetus cannot live.

Simple, right? Not so for conservative supporters. The proposition will allow doctors to refuse aid and treatment to women if they believe that care will kill the fetus. The idea is to allow women to die, to protect unborn life, which will quickly imitate the mother’s condition.

The cruelty of writing into federal law that it is permissible to leave women to perish because of religiously motivated beliefs and apathy has begun to spark responses from groups such as Feministe, “That is truly
sick — and shockingly cruel, even for the usual “pro-life” suspects who regularly use their ideology as a tool to punish women.”

This is a prime example of the necessity of abortions to save lives that are currently in jeopardy, but Pro-life’s vision fails to carry past their ideologies which care for life only when it dwells unconsciously within a
fetus. Once you’re born, you’re past their compassion and consideration; as many who have worked at women’s health clinics have realized, with attacks (almost entirely under the motivation of Pro-life propaganda) still occurring despite cries from Pro-lifer’s for an “open debate” whenever a liberal member of congress introduces a measure to improve and develop equality.

As usual the introduction of this proposition is made by male proponents who lack the physical attributes (such as a uterus) to be affected themselves by a measure that will harm and eliminate others (women).

This mirrors the Right’s Pro-life opposition to stem cell research suggested in previous years that could cure diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. But these attempts have flunked almost entirely, shot
down by members of Congress and the House, who not surprisingly, do not suffer from any of the conditions mentioned; such as George W. Bush, who proposed anti-choice legislation immediately upon obtaining office and worked tirelessly to limit stem cell research.

Bush also established himself as a bastion of hope for Pro-lifer’s during the last administrations eight year reign, and then ordered the torture of other human beings, while igniting two wars; acts which have recently forced him to cancel his trip to Switzerland due to liberal and conservative groups in the country calling for his arrest and scheduling mass protests to demonstrate their lack of indifference toward violence and ignorance.

Many other members of his party who still retain office, such as Senator John McCain (AZ), a two time presidential candidate, have committed themselves to this misinformed and often hostile perspective of only
respecting life that, while in the womb, is unaware and incapable of understanding its own existence.

Also of note, McCain and other Pro-life advocates have tediously and hypocritically opposed sex-education and birth control funding simultaneous to their denial of the reproductive rights of others.

Progress in women’s rights, stem cell research, and other areas of science and politics has been slow and obstructed passionately by Pro-life members and supporters who ferociously defend the “miracle” of birth. And so we are left with this ironic observation, that America’s Pro-life movement has become so fanatic and obtuse it is motivated and willing to kill.

But perhaps more intellectual and open-minded thinking could alleviate the conflict that currently obstructs equality for women and mother’s hoping to flourish in America. Abortion is far from immoral, because it does not destroy a person, but a mere chemical reaction occurring within a woman’s stomach, comedian/philosopher Bill Hicks noted in the early 90’s, and that pregnancy and birth are no more a miracle than putting food in your mouth and transforming it into the by-product that inevitably follows.

To be considered a person, one must possess a collection of experiences, thoughts, and aspirations, and the individual must recognize themselves as such, thus separating one from being an engine of nature driven only by predestined instincts and impulses. An individual that accomplishes this is miraculous and is a form of life worth protecting, and should not be murdered by the homunculus drones of banality that swell our nation’s
conservative faction and its “Pro-life” platoons.

Thoughts on Female Gaming by Jillian Washburn

Typically when one thinks of a gamer (and I don’t mean the person who plays an occasional game on their console), they think of a nerdy, unkempt, male. The key idea here is that it is typically a male being thought of as being a gamer. A quick image search of the word ‘gamer’ turns up pictures of the previous description, with the occasional picture of a female playing a game. It’s very rare that a woman is thought of, or associated with being a gamer and when she is she doesn’t always have the most “feminine” qualities attributed to her; her friends and fellow players tend to see her as ‘one of the boys’. On the other side of the scale are the female gamers who, maybe to the untrained eye, don’t seem like they would be interested in playing a game targeted towards men or any game at all. If there is a woman playing a game, who doesn’t fall into the ‘typical’ category of a gamer, it’s assumed she isn’t playing the game because she enjoys it, but more so to get something (i.e. attention) in return for playing. I happen to consider myself a ‘gamer girl’, even though I don’t fall into the stereotypical role that would be expected. I have  quite feminine tastes when it comes to other activities in my life, and it shocks people when I tell them that I love playing a game such as Call of Duty online. When I started playing video games online it was mainly to spend time with a long distance boyfriend. Once I learned how to mute everyone else or speak my mind when they said something offensive, I really enjoyed playing first person shooting games, along with many others, with a group of other people (and I’ve made some friends while doing so). I was welcomed into the group of online guys because of my boyfriend, not because of the skills I had while playing the game(because to be honest, I had zero to none), and when we broke up I was annoyed, to say the least, at how little of a group I had left. But being the independent woman I am, I played by myself finally showing others I could carry my own weight on the team, now I have a group that I play with on a regular basis. Playing online with people I don’t know has it’s down sides, besides the constant derogatory comments being spewed from the mouths of players, I feel a need to hide the fact that I’m a girl playing their game. I have to admit, there are times that I keep quiet so people on the other team won’t want to target me as the person they go after(though I don’t think it happens all that often, I wouldn’t put it past anyone). I also get the occasional “oh my god there’s a girl in the room!” or creep trying to hit on me but I find ways to deflect what they are saying or to ignore them all together. There are positives though, I think when women play a game online or off, they are proving to men that we too have the ability to be successful in that arena. The more females there are interested in playing games, the more support we can lend one another in breaking down the stereotypes in the gaming world.

No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions? by Jillian Washburn

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act was introduced into the house on the 20th of January 2011 by Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey . One-hundred and seventy-three members of the House (13 of who are women) are in support of this bill that would change the definition of rape as we know it and push back the rights women have worked so hard to achieve. In section 309 it states that, “If the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape,” she is allowed to receive an abortion paid for by taxpayers.By choosing the language “forcible” rape, the bill makes readers wonder when rape isn’t forced. If a person has intercourse with another without their consent, by force or otherwise, it is still rape. The topic gets a little mucky when drinking is brought into play; however, if someone is not in their correct frame of mind, meaning if they are drunk or under the influence of drugs, and someone takes advantage of them, that is rape. The authors of the bill are dismissing what survivors of rape go through. What happens to  the women whos experiences don’t fall under the catergory of “forcible rape”? Do they not matter ? I’m straying from my original point, but I think an issue rising from this bill is the attempt to redefine what qualifies, and apparently doesn’t qualify, as rape.
            Something else to consider is the fact that this bill would interfere with a woman’s right to choose. If two consenting people agree to have sex, and take responsibility for safe sex that doesn’t mean that even if something going wrong, they can afford to have abortion. I realize that in a perfect situation people should have responsibility set on their shoulders, and shouldn’t fall back on others for help, but not everyone can afford to help themselves. That being said, it doesn’t mean the woman should be forced to carry a child for 9 months. Yes, there is the option of adoption. That is something else tax payers money will go towards. Is that what people are going to go after next? There are also other factors to add into the equation, such as being financially and emotionally ready to care for a child. Some may even say that the price of an abortion shouldn’t be hard to save up for, or get the money for before it’s too late. Not everyone is in the same financial situation. For a family, with children already struggling to get by, the money it takes to get an abortion may not come in time. If that family (woman) is forced to bring in another hungry mouth to feed, they are going to struggle even harder to provide for everyone. This situation may lead to the family needing governmental assistance (yet another thing taxpayers give their money too, am I right)? It’s interesting to see that people would be more willing to pay, over a lifetime, to take care of a child they don’t know, than to help pay for an abortion (which is what the mother wanted all along). Some people would rather get in the way, and tell the woman what she can and can’t do with her own body than let her decide for herself what is right.

Stop Slut-shaming Written by Jillian Washburn

Today’s topic is slut-shaming; for those of you are unfamiliar with what that is, here’s a quick lesson! Slut-shaming is when a person, more often than not a woman, is shamed or attacked for being sexual, acting sexual, looking sexual, etc. It seems that putting a woman down for her number of or perceived number of sexual partners is a popular and acceptable thing to do in our society. So popular in-fact that Taylor Swift sings in her song Better Than Revenge “She’s not a saint and she’s not what you think; She’s an actress, whoa; she’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress”. Messages such as these have the implication that the woman in question isn’t a good person because she has sex. Calling a woman a slut is something that has become so embedded in our vocabulary, it’s not surprising, that when calling someone a slut people don’t feel or seem to feel remorse for the person they just labeled. Slut-shaming is another way to keep women in line. Starting at a young age women are expected to have a limited amount of partners or limited sexual experience, meaning one or none. If a woman breaks from that desired path or “acts like a man” for lack of a better phrase, she is then labeled a slut. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but there is no such thing as a slut. If two people consent to have sex or hook up, whatever that may entail, then that’s their choice. It may not be something you agree with, but doesn’t mean that you can slut-shame someone. People are often too concerned with what others are doing, too busy judging and labeling. They’re doing their own thing, do yours.

VAGINA MONOLOGUE AUDITIONS!!

Please follow the link above to our facebook event page!!
Help Stop Violence Against Women!! UMass Dartmouth students, faculty, staff and general community members are welcome to audition.

Auditions will be in Campus Center Room 007

Tuesday Jan 25: 6pm-9pm
Wednesday Jan 26 7pm-10pm
No prep required. Copies of the script will be available at auditions to look through.
All those who identify as female are welcome to audition.
We CANNOT wait to see you there!!!!

Are you a feminist? By Jillian Washburn

I hear it every semester in at least one of my classes, “raise your hands if you consider yourself a feminist”. Immediately, as if without thought, my hand shoots into the air before my professor can get the words out of their mouth. I glance around trying to see which of my fellow classmates are willing to raise their hands proudly (usually a small percent) and which much to my chagrin, keep their hands low by their sides, while the rest don’t raise their hands at all. The following discussion, about why people didn’t raise their hands, often leads into stereotypes about what a feminist is, or what you have to do to be considered a feminist. Things like you have to hate men, you must want women to have special privileges, you must be a woman, etc. None of these statements are necessarily true in order for someone to call themselves a feminist; by the most basic definition, a feminist is someone (no matter what sex, gender, sexual orientation, or identity) with the belief that men and women should be treated equally in all aspects of life (politically, economically, socially); if you agree with this statement then you are a feminist! Being an activist isn’t a requirement for being a feminist. There are of course, feminists who are more active than others, they may attend protests, marches, or conferences trying to make a difference in the lives of women, but there are also feminists who commit small, daily acts of feminism by simply speaking up against something they don’t agree with, then of course there are all the feminists in-between and beyond that don’t simply fit into one category or the other. What it means to be a feminist changes from person to person just as any other part of an identity does, but we all have common goals in mind. While at Umass Dartmouth I have discovered more of who I am as person and being a feminist is an important part of my identity. For me it has become a way of life. Although I am involved in many different aspects of the ‘feminist world’, I also make sure that I speak up in class, become involved with different activities on campus through the Women’s Resource Center, and try to educate people in my life who don’t know as much about a subject as I do. If more people were willing to listen to what being a feminist truly is, then we might be able to break down those stereotypes and show them they are probably a feminist too.

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