Crossing Highways and Intersections: FemJam 2017 Focused on Discussions That Popular/White/Western Feminism Shies Away From | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | June 8th, 2017

With Pop Culture celebrities such as Beyonce, Emma Watson, and even Miley Cyrus, openly and publicly proclaiming that they are feminists, there is no denying that feminism has become part of public discourse. However, for many feminist activists, particularly those from marginalized communities, Pop Culture feminism does not highlight or even come close to addressing the issues that concern them. Pop Culture Feminism-along with what is interchangeably referred to as White or Western Feminism, simply does not represent these groups; and when they try to raise their voices about those issues of concern---they find themselves placed in a position where they have to defend their "agenda."

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Misoprostol, Coat Hangers, and Trump: Foreign Objects in Our Wombs | Assata Baxter

Analysis | March 9th, 2017

In the United States, one in three of us has had one. We don't share this. In the midst of making hard decisions, we bear the vitriolic harassment of those who have never and will never carry children, or those who chose to project the insecurities of their own decisions on others, before we can get to the door. We are blamed and shamed in clinic parking lots with pictures of 56 week old dead fetuses. We enter clinics alone without our partners' knowledge, weighted with surprises in pink lines when it's not yet our time. Or our partners hold our hands and say that whatever we choose they are beside us.

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Welcome to the Trump Era: Time To Rethink the Word "Allies" (Yes, White Women, We Are Looking At You) | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | January 12th, 2017

On January 20, 2017 we will be entering what some have begun to call the Trump Era, an era that will be post-facts, considering the disdain that Donald Trump seems to have for facts and truth. It will also likely be marked with attacks on civil liberties, civil rights, women's rights, and LGBTQ rights, along with cuts to social services and funding of government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health & Human Services, and Department of Education.

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"How Much Do You Cost?": A Story of Sexual Neo-Colonialism | Sonasha Braxton

Commentary | December 7th, 2016

Once upon a time when I was 21 years old, I was a student at United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya. It was my first time in Africa. I had been there about for about two months, when I was out at a bar with my friends, very close to the campus. My friends and I were all college students, and dressed accordingly so. I walked myself to the bar and took 200ksh out of my pocket to buy my myself a beer. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around. It was a Caucasian male in his late 40s with scraggly hair.

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Ensuring the Right To Reproductive Health: The American Public Health Association Takes A Stand With Planned Parenthood | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | November 23rd, 2016

On October 30th, I walked along 14th Street in the heart of downtown Denver Colorado, a notably Progressive city, heading to hear the Opening Address of the 144th annual American Public Health Association (APHA) Conference; and out of the many years of this organization's operations, this proved to be one of the most controversial opening sessions. Before reaching the convention center I was bombarded by protestors who were yelling, shouting through bull horns, attempting to shove flyers into my hand, and also standing next to quite large placards with graphic images on them. One of the protestors who reached out to me, couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 years old. They all had assembled to protest the invitation of keynote speakers, Cecile Richards, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood; and I was of course on my way, along with many other public health professionals - a mix bag of clinicians, social workers, researchers, scholars, and policy makers - who more so than others, know the importance of the critical services that Planned Parenthood provides.

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Fear of a Feminist Future: The Alt-Right Hopes to be Saved by the Apocalypse | Laurie Penny

Commentary | November 23rd, 2016

To imagine the future is a political practice, which means that it's both strangely awful and awfully strange. In 1990, a team of scientists and researchers was given the task of mapping far-future scenarios for the disposal of nuclear waste. Their dilemma: how to design a warning system to make sure humans in twenty centuries' time don't dig in the wrong place and kill the world. As part of the report, a group of academics-all men-came up with a set of "generic scenarios" for how these future humans might live. Their most terrifying scenario? "A feminist world."

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There is No "Honor" In Killing: The Problematic Language Used To Describe Violence Against Women | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | July 26th, 2016

The term "honor killing" is used to describe an act of murder against a relative, usually a girl or woman, who is perceived to have brought dishonor to the family's reputation by engaging in what is deemed an "immoral" act within their given culture or society. In this respect, they can be looked at as a form of domestic violence, one that is colluded and facilitated, not only by a family, but also the external members of the same community; patriarchal views are used to justify these murders. Also, in many cases, these murders are carried out based on rumors and unfounded suspicions, which resemble witch hunts. It is believed that the only way to restore the family's "honor" is through murder - or punishment by death. These "honor" killings have been carried out by fathers, brothers, and cousins; and female relatives, including mothers - out of fear and/or cultural indoctrination - often are complacent and remain silent about these murders.

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Bamboozled: On African Americans and Feminists Casting Their Votes for Hillary Clinton | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | May 20th, 2016

Though the decision should have been an easy one to make, a "no brainer", one that could be made while walking and chewing gum at the same time, African Americans seem to be grappling with the decision on whom they should be casting their vote for during the 2016 Democratic primaries. And, in Southern states such as North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, and Florida, which have large African American populations, they have voted in favor of Hillary Clinton . Clinton's campaign actually relies heavily on this support by African Americans, and she was able to obtain this support because she carries a name that has a great deal of recognition among voters who jokingly called her husband "the First Black President" during the 1990s before Hillary ironically ran against the man who would go on to actually become the First elected Black president of the United States.

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Interdisciplinary Feminism: Why Building Alliances is Critical | Cherise Charleswell

Commentary | March 16th, 2016

The case for intersectionality, what it is, how it can be applied in practice, and so on, has been discussed in women's studies and in feminist circles for almost three decades. Therefore, it should be well understood, but unfortunately that is not always the case. There are constant examples where it is not even considered, particularly when it comes to Western/white feminists. The backlash to Viola Davis's statements about women of color and opportunities in film and television, made during her win at the 2015 Emmy Award, is a recent example of this.

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Very Inconvenient Truths: Sex Buyers, Sexual Coercion, and Prostitution-Harm-Denial | Melissa Farley

Analysis | February 26th, 2016

Some pimps, some sex buyers and some governments have made the decision that it is reasonable to expect certain women to tolerate sexual exploitation and sexual assault in order to survive. Those women most often are poor and most often are ethnically or racially marginalised. The men who buy them or rape them have greater social power and more resources than the women. For example, a Canadian prostitution tourist commented about women in Thai prostitution, "These girls gotta eat, don't they? I'm putting bread on their plate. I'm making a contribution. They'd starve to death unless they whored.

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How Patriarchy & Capitalism Penalize Periods (Menstruation) | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | January 11th, 2016

While gender may be a fluid and social concept [Freud, 1994]1, one's biological sex is more definitive; and the classification is primarily follows a binary system - male or female. Thus sex can be defined as either of the two main biological categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of basis of their reproductive organs and functions. There are noted differences in anatomy and physiology, as well as development - from puberty and aging. [Gur, 2002; Parker, Kalasky, & Proctor, 2015; Giefing-Kro et. al, 2015]2-4 These biological differences between men and women (will refer to cis-gendered) actually result in notable socioeconomic differences across the lifespan. Thus, women and girls face a certain degree of socioeconomic disadvantage, and in some cases marginalization, due to having to cope with the monetary and social costs of menstruation.

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From #BlackLivesMatter to Anti-Austerity: Women of Color and the Politics of Solidarity | Akwugo Emejulu

Analysis | October 29th, 2015

The experiences of women of colour in left-wing anti-austerity movements in Britain and the Black Lives Matter movements in the United States highlight the persistent problem of our erasure in these supposedly radical democratic spaces. Women of colour's struggles to have our intersectional social justice claims taken seriously by 'allies' exposes the fragility, and in some cases, the impossibility, of building solidarity across race, class, gender, sexuality and other categories of difference in protest movements. In Minority Women and Austerity, the research project I co-direct with Leah Bassel on women of colour's anti-austerity activism in Scotland, England and France, we found that some white radicals actively excluded women of colour activists from anti-austerity protest spaces. Under the guise of class solidarity and racist constructions of 'belonging' in neighbourhoods, many white activists failed to see women of colour as comrades and refused to recognise the legitimacy of both their intersectional analyses of austerity and their grassroots activism against cuts to public services. As one of our participants, a West African migrant woman in Glasgow, observed: 'How do you link with the local people, the indigenous people? It's almost impossible… You don't seem to find an avenue to join in when people are doing their thing… It's just so segregated'.

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Intersectionality 26 Years Later and White Women Still Don't Get It: A Look at the Response to Viola Davis' 2015 Emmy Win | Cherise Charleswell

Commentary | October 22nd, 2015

In 1989, legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term "intersectionality" in her groundbreaking and insightful essay, "Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics."1 Intersectionality provides a framework to observe, analyze and critique social institutions, behaviors, injustice, inequality, and more. The theory points to the interconnected nature of social categories, whether they be race, ethnicity, nationality, race, class, gender, age, or sexual orientation. These categories may be applied to a given individual or group, but the truth of the matter is that there is a great degree of overlap -- or intersecting between these categories. Each categorization has its own interdependent system of discrimination or disadvantage; and as these categories intersect, those who fall into these multiple categories become more-and-more disadvantaged or marginalized.

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Gentrification is a Feminist Issue: A Discussion on the Intersection of Class, Race, Gender, and Housing | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | August 19th, 2015

From a socioeconomic standpoint, gentrification may be defined as a gradual process of renewal and rebuilding that involves the influx of upper-income or affluent - usually white people - into existing urban districts that are often viewed as being deteriorating areas. This process causes the displacement of the low-middle income working-class, and often long-time, residents due to the increase in rents and property values and changes in the district's overall character and culture. The "rent gap" is often noted as the underlying mechanism of gentrification. The following is an overview of the cyclic nature of this rent gap put into historical perspective:

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Rachel Dolezal Lied, But the EDGES Don't Lie: A Look at White Privilege In Black Face | Cherise Charleswell

Commentary | July 8th, 2015

Rachel Dolezal broke the Internet by affirming her Black womanhood, and the most obvious problem with this was that she is not Black; and that is part of the sad irony that accompanies her story. No Black women could ever hope to affirm her Black womanhood in such a way, and achieve the same level of media attention. The media blitz of #WhiteGirlsRock, a backlash to #BlackGirlsRock, particularly Michelle Obama's words delivered at the show, exemplify what typically happens when Black women and girls attempt to affirm their beauty and talent, make themselves visible, or dare to remove themselves from the marginalized spaces --- off to the edges -- that society expects them to occupy. Thus, a response to Rachel Dolezal's performance of Black Face and mocking caricature of Black womanhood was inevitable.

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Women in Health & Biomedical Research: What You Should Know & Why It Matters | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | May 15th, 2015

Many have made the argument that "Women's diseases are not better understood or well researched simply due to the fact that they are women's diseases". An example of this would be the limited scientific knowledge around pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication that impacts 5-7% of all births in the United States and up to 18% in countries is the Global South, which has no reliable method for early detection, or real treatment. Mother's simply have to carry their growing fetus to term and "see what happens." And to clarify, the statistic speaks to the number of births, and not necessarily the number of mother's who have the condition. Thus, any given women having more than one pregnancy can find themselves having this complication more than once. Research Scientist who focus on the field of gynecological immunology, and who have studies focused on pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, often lament that there is at times not enough interest or excitement about their research in the scientific community, and it can be discouraging.

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Patchouli Oil or, Maybe, Weed: Black Women's Hair and the Politics of Resistance | Sonasha Braxton

Analysis | April 10th, 2015

E!'s, Fashion Police may not carry service pistols or be under intense global scrutiny for their chronic casualty infliction on innocent Black and Brown bodies, but they have brought attention to themselves recently for engaging in behaviors that, like the US's Police Force's actions, appear to be founded in prejudice and racial bias. Dr. Jason Williams, The Hampton Institute's Criminal Justice Chair states, "policing in America has always been one of color/class-consciousness…American policing at its foundation is inherently protective of the status quo". Even the most apolitical offerings of dictionary.com are happy to include amongst its definitions of policing, "regulation and control of a community". Arguably, both of these definitions are also applicable to the Fashion Police. However, to enforce and maintain the color and class status quo, their weapons of choice are not Glock 19s, but microaggressions.

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Disproportionate Representation: A Look at Women Leadership in Congress | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | March 5th, 2015

Political representation is defined as the election of officials, who then stand in for, and speak for a group of their constituents in the legislature, for a set period of time. Unfortunately moneyed interests, the threat of being "primaried" by the tea party lunatic fringe, and other factors have dismantled this process. Over the last few years, and certainly for most of the Obama Administration, Congress has had a low approval rating. So, much so that they have been nicknamed the "Do Nothing" Congress. These elected officials have been voting in lock-step with each other, and often opposite the opinions and desires of the American people.

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On Checking Allies Who Do Not Realize That #BlackLivesMatter is a Reproductive Justice Issue | Cherise Charleswell

Commentary | January 27th,2015

Not too long ago, I was scrolling through my social media newsfeed and came upon a post by an individual who was a member of a feminist group page, and who was ranting about the many posts that focused on what was occurring in Ferguson, Missouri, New York, and Ohio. In short, she felt that the topics of police brutality, police violence, and profiling did not belong on a feminist discussion board, especially since the conversation seemed centered on men with hashtags like #MikeBrown, #EricGarner, and #TamirRice. She wanted to see more posts about "feminist stuff" and stories that were relatable. Now, I am sure that you may ask, relatable to who?

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How Black Women Have Been Erased from America's Race Debate | Candace Simpson

Commentary | December 31st, 2014

Myriad thoughtful articles have been published about the invisibility of black women and girls in the context of police brutality. We now have sufficient resources to correct anyone who forgets black women are also killed by police. We've also learned that black women have led and organized solidarity actions across the country. Yet, if you read most signs at any protest or scroll through most Facebook timelines, you get the impression that black men are the only ones in the community who've been persecuted.

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Bad Editing: Moving the Discussion of Street Harassment beyond "The Video" | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | December 20th, 2014

One of the most vocal and visible aspects of rape culture is street harassment, which in itself is a form of sexual harassment; and sexual harassment is a social phenomenon that women across the world have to cope with inn their daily lives. It can take place in the workplace, school, online, and in the case of street harassment, in public places. It is the unwelcomed comments, sexual advances, requests for sexual acts (including a kiss), unwelcomed physical contact, and requests to "smile," which go unrecognized and unaddressed. The greatest problem with street harassment it that it is viewed as a social norm across cultures, and the behavior for the most part is deemed acceptable.

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Imperialist Feminism and Liberalism | Deepa Kumar

Commentary | November 7th, 2014

In a recent CNN interview, religion scholar Reza Aslan was asked by journalist Alisyn Camerota if Islam is violent given the "primitive treatment in Muslim countries of women and other minorities." Aslan responded by stating that the conditions for women in Muslim majority countries vary. While women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia, elsewhere in various Muslim majority countries, women have been elected heads of states 7 times. But, before he could finish his sentence pointing out that the US is yet to elect a woman as president, he was interrupted by co-host Don Lemon who declared: "Be honest though, Reza, for the most part it is not a free and open society for women in those states."

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Literacy: An Imperative for Women and Girls Liberation | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | November 5th, 2014

One of the greatest threats to global patriarchy is literacy, or more specifically, the education of girls and women. This truth is well known by repressive regimes such as the Taliban, who in 1996, after coming to power in Afghanistan, passed their first decree which was the banning of women and girls from attending school. Prior to this ban, women in Afghanistan were well educated and held some of the most prestigious jobs in the country. In 1977, women comprised over 15% of Afghanistan's highest legislative body. It is estimated that by the early 1990s, 70% of schoolteachers, 50% of government workers and university students, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women.

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Latina Feminism: National and Transnational Perspectives | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | October 17th, 2014

Women's studies and the early waves of feminism were initially dominated by the experiences of white middle-class women, thus leaving Latinas, like other women of color, feeling excluded or not fully represented. Outside of women's studies, ethnic studies also left Latinas feeling the same, in that they focused on issues of racial and ethnic oppression and cultural nationalism, while ignoring the critical issues of sexism and heterosexism. Women and women's issues were only seen as "White," thus denying Latinas and other women of color their full identity. Eventually, Latina women joined other women of color in the introduction of gender issues into ethnic studies and critical race issues in women's studies. Their actions were taking a direct stance against not only the exclusionary practices of white middle-class feminism, but also against those within other social movements.

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Adding Insult to Injury: Intimate Partner Violence, Victim Blaming, and its Deleterious Effects on Women | Dr. Chenelle A. Jones

Analysis | September 17th, 2014

Clearly the award for the most ignorant, most insensitive, and most despicable victim blaming statement goes to the individual who posted this comment on Facebook. The commentator was referring to the recent incident involving Ray Rice, a former Baltimore Ravens Running Back and his fiance' (now wife) Janay Palmer. During the incident, Rice knocked Palmer unconscious and then carelessly dragged her lifeless body from a casino elevator. The graphic scene was caught on video and then disseminated through televised and social media outlets. This situation, which occurs in homes across the country, is commonly known as intimate partner violence (IPV) - the physical, sexual, and/or psychological harm of an individual by a current or former partner or spouse (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2014).

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Women's Rights Activism 101: For the Busy Woman | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | September 4th, 2014

Women and girls account for a slight majority of the world's population, and this is despite continued practices of female infanticide. What is female infanticide? It is ancient phenomenon that is still practiced in the modern world in deeply patriarchal societies; which place a low value on the birth of females. Thus, gender-selective deaths, which involve the killing of baby girls due to this preference for male babies, are carried out. In nations like China, girls are twice as likely to die in their first year of life as boys. So, let's be clear: women's rights are human rights. They involve treating women and girls with the same dignity that is given to men and boys. It is ensuring that all genders have their humanity acknowledged and their lives equally valued.

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The Straight Outta Compton Casting Call and the False Outrage over Colorism | Cherise Charleswell

Commentary | July 28th, 2014

The Sandi Alesse Agency recently released a casting call for the movie, Straight Outta Compton, an N.W.A. biopic, set for release next year; which is nothing short of sexist, racist, and brimming with calculated colorism. Although casting calls are meant to be specific, due to its keen focus on race and complexion, which includes detailed descriptions about the various constructed categories of women that they want to cast; the casting call reads like an antiquated caste system or eugenics scale. Here is the original casting call text, which has since been removed from their website:

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From El Barrio to La Realidad: Women Lead Struggles to Transform the World | Jessica Davies

Commentary | July 16th, 2014

On May 24, hundreds of members of the Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York, mostly women of all ages, came together to honor the life and struggle of the murdered Zapatista from La Realidad, "Galeano". For this event, the prominent Mexican feminist, activist and thinker Sylvia Marcos sent her reflections on Being "Jovena" (a young woman) and Zapatista in La Realidad. The women of El Barrio and the Zapatista women of La Realidad are two examples of how women in struggle all over the world are coming together to inspire and learn from each other, and how, in the process, women are transforming the world. The Movement for Justice in El Barrio is a community-based organization, led by immigrant women who work for dignity and social justice and against oppression, gentrification and displacement in El Barrio, New York.

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