Monday, May 11, 2009

The New Face(s) of Upstarts: Whoo-hoo to Changes!

With the same sense of both excitement and nostalgia that accompanies the end of each academic year, marked by changes, additions, and losses, Upstate Feminists has much to share at this time. The organization is experiencing a complete reconfiguration -- keeping in line with the changes it has already undergrone as a part of our Upstate Goes Guerrilla campaign. First, we will no longer be known as Upstate Feminists but as Upstarts. This name change reflects the organization's commitment to movement, progressiveness, and what we have characteristically referred to as our playful militancy. We have also elected to put in place a leadership structure modeled after feminist organizational theories. Rather than a traditional, hierarchically based leadership model, we have created new positions that reflect roles rather than titles. These four positions are Administrative Coordinator, Campus Activism and Outreach Coordinator, Community Activism and Outreach Coordinator, and Public Relations and Media Supervisor. Serving in these new positions will be, respectively, Sarah Wilson, Adrienne Jones, Victoria Boyles Escudero, and Lindsay Harris. We are very excited about the new face of the organization and I look forward to seeing what changes and campaigns will undoubtedly occur as a result.

On a personal note, I will be leaving the organization as I graduate and begin hashing out all of the particularities of my post-Upstate life. I cannot stress enough, however, how much working with Upstate Feminists has meant to me both as a member over the past two and a half years and during my tenure as president. I feel so fortunate to have worked with such dedicated, capable, brilliant, amazing, ridiculous, and goofy women. I looked forward to each meeting, each activity, and each interaction that I've shared with you. Whether it be planning ways to enhance our image on campus, broaden the organization's involvement in the community, or deciding under what circumstances we'd most like to be arrested, I have enjoyed every minute of our time together. I feel certain that the group will flourish next year in the hands of such a strong and committed leadership. I also extend my gratitude to the two faculty members who have acted as our advisors over the course of the year, Dr. Lisa Johnson and Professor Cara Tuttle. Without your help and encouragement we would be truly lost. And though this will likely be my last official blog and announcement for the organization, I hope to have the opportunity to return as a guest author on the blog from time to time. Thanks again to everyone who made this such a memorable year!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Semester Events

Hey everyone! The Center for Women's and Gender Studies is going to be pretty busy this semester. Here is a list of the main events going on.

Thursday, February 5
Finding Voice: Women in Music Therapy
12:15 p.m., CLC 309

Monday, February 9
He Ain't Talkin' Bout Me!": Young Black Women's Perceptions of Black Femininity in Rap Music
7:00-8:00 p.m., CLC Ballroom

Thursday, February 12
Reel Genders: In the Mood for Love
7:00 p.m., Tukey Theater

Thursday, March 19
Reel Genders: Summer Storm
7:00 p.m., Tukey Theater

Monday, March 23
Feminism in Hard Cover
4:00-5:00 p.m., CASB 122

Monday, March 23
Bodies of Knowledge Symposium Prelude Event: E. Lynn Harris
7:00 p.m., Spartanburg County Public Library

Wednesday, March 25
Bodies of Knowledge Symposium: Main Event
4:00-8:30 p.m., John M. Rampey Center

Thursday, April 2
Reel Genders: Monsoon Wedding
7:00 p.m., Tukey Theater

We'll be posting reminders as the events come up. Hope to see you there!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Call. Email. Post a Letter. Vomit.

I'll write more about this when I don't feel like I'm already dying, but this is worth posting and worth a response. Good ol' Greenville News:

Bill requiring women to wait day before an abortion heads to House
The Associated Press • January 28, 2009
COLUMBIA -- Women seeking an abortion in South Carolina would have to wait at least 24 hours after their ultrasound under a bill given initial approval Wednesday by a House subcommittee.

The measure would increase the waiting time from an hour to a day.

Proponents said it would bring South Carolina in line with other states that have waiting periods and give women time to reflect on the decision. Critics said requiring two trips creates a burden, especially for poor, rural women.

The proposal follows nearly two years of debate on whether to require women to view an ultrasound image before getting an abortion. Under a compromise passed last year, women must be asked whether they want to look at the screen during the procedure or see a printed image -- and sign a form verifying they were given the option.

The compromise kept in the law a 60-minute wait already required after women are handed brochures about fetal development and abortion alternatives.

“But one hour is not enough time to think about it,” said Rep. Greg Delleney, the sponsor of last year’s law and the current proposal. “I’m trying to give the chance for a child waiting to be born to have a birthday.”

He said he didn’t make it an issue last year because he didn’t want to further bog down the law’s passage.

At least 25 other states require waiting times for abortions, and all but two set them at 24 hours -- Indiana, the other, sets an 18-hour minimum, said Oran Smith, president of the Palmetto Family Council.

Several women who had abortions testified they would have changed their mind if they’d had more time to think it through.

“I went blindly, fearfully into a clinic,” said Carla Harvey, a nurse and a volunteer at Lowcountry Crisis Pregnancy Center in Charleston. “They’re in a waiting room. They’re numb. They’re afraid. ... Time really does make a difference.”

Advocates also noted South Carolina requires a daylong wait for a marriage license, and patients have to undergo pre-counseling or classes for many other surgeries, such as for obese patients and hip replacements.

“A waiting period before a final decision regarding abortion is far more critical than any other waiting period,” said Holly Gatling, executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life. “Before making such a grave and permanent decision, women deserve a 24-hour waiting period that safeguards their dignity, their health and their right to choose life.”

The South Carolina Coalition for Healthy Families opposed the measure, calling it extreme and said it could require taking two days off of work and finding transportation. The state needs to focus instead on reducing unintended pregnancies by funding preventive health care, contraception and comprehensive education beyond abstinence only, said coalition lobbyist Brandi Parrish.

Women must make appointments to get an abortion and already spend time agonizing over the decision, she said.

“They’re not walking in the door 10 minutes after making the phone call,” she said. “It’s not like they’re going and getting their hair done in the afternoon.”

Opponents at the hearing included two anti-abortion activists, who want abortion outlawed.

“It’s not God’s will to wait 24 hours and then kill the baby,” said Steve Lefemine, director of Columbia Christians for Life, who can frequently be seen at the Statehouse carrying posters of aborted fetuses.

The measure stipulates the 24-hour waiting period applies only if an ultrasound is performed. But abortion rights advocates have testified that clinics already perform ultrasounds in nearly all cases to verify how far along the pregnancy is, since state law requires abortion doctors to tell women the likely age of their fetus.

The bill now goes to the full House Judiciary Committee.
Alright -- now that I'm sufficiently perturbed, I'm going to bed. More to report in the morrow and a reminder to all that we have pamphlets from the Morning Star Foundation in the Center for Women's and Gender Studies that provide all kinds o' helpful information in terms of contacting your elected officials.

-- Andrea

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bodies of Knowledge Symposium

Just wanted to let everyone know that the Bodies of Knowledge Symposium is open for registration! Here's the information from the website:

The Bodies of Knowledge Symposium brings cutting edge theory on gender and sexuality to the upstate of South Carolina.

The Symposium will take place during the spring semester as part of a larger campus commitment to the principle of respecting sexual diversity demonstrated by the highly successful Safe Zone Allies program and the acknowledgement of sexual orientation as a protected category of identity in USC Upstate’s longstanding Diversity Initiative. The symposium serves to maintain and further fuel the energy of the students, faculty, and staff who are galvanized at this time to improve the campus climate for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff.

The Bodies of Knowledge Symposium is designed to raise awareness on campus about sexual diversity, to cultivate anti-homophobic attitudes among Upstate students, faculty, staff and administration, and to provide LGBTQ students with opportunities to deepen their ties to each other, to the LGBTQ community, and to their straight allies on campus, as well as in the region of the U.S. Southeast.

All attendees must register online for the conference, even if you do not plan to attend every presentation.

A Prelude to the Bodies of Knowledge Symposium, featuring guest speaker E. Lynn Harris, will be held at the Spartanburg County Library on March 23, 2009 at 7 p.m.

Here's a link to the registration page:

Remember: registration is first come, first serve!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Important Reminder: AWESOME Women's and Gender Studies Courses Being Offered This Spring!!!

I know we're all getting back to the grind today and finalizing schedules and all that jazz in the process. But want to remind everyone that there are several fantastic, exciting, can't-afford-to-miss-out-on-'em courses being offered this spring through The Center for Women's and Gender Studies. Some of them are cross-listed through other departments, so just want to go ahead and give you all the pertinent information:

SWST 301: Feminist Theory and Methods
MW 2-3:15 Bell

SWST 398: Queer Theory
TTH 10:50-12:05 Johnson

SATH 301: Women and Art
W 6-8:40 Snow

SHST 352: Women European and American Modern
M 6-8:40 Henderson

SSPH 398: Communication, Gender, and Power
TTH 9:25-10:40 Davis

SREL 399: Religion and Gender
TTH 12:15-1:30 Damrel

SMUS 398: Women in Popular Music
TTH 10:50-12:05 Scarborough

Hope you decide to take advantage of these great classes this spring! And good luck to us all as we start back!

-- Andrea

Friday, January 9, 2009

New Year's Resolutions: Gaza, the UN, Obama, and Blogging (?). . .

This week, despite all intentions of blogging regularly again, I've found myself pretty incapable of mustering up any resolve to write about feminist theory or gender/ sexuality issues cropping up in the U.S. I've been glued to the news of what's happening in Gaza coupled with its macabre relationship to U.S. current affairs, wishing that Democracy Now! was broadcast on-the-hour rather than each morning. Oh to have Amy Goodman's calm and reassuring voice offering up headlines as quickly as they can be reported, replete with insightful contributors on the matters. . . Sigh. . . But since this is more than a little impossible, I've just resorted to refreshing my internet browser in search of constant and more new information. And after reaching the conclusion that it's ok to be distracted by the crap situation in Gaza, I've also decided that it's ok to write about it too. Injustice is injustice is injustice. I've always had a particular soft spot for the Palestinian conflict and know that I could (and perhaps should) wax more critical as to why I find myself so affected by that moreso than all the other various crimes against humanity occurring daily. However, I also know that U.S. involvement plays a hefty role in my fixation. It's not just any old crime against humanity, it's one my country has practically championed.

Last time I wrote, I discussed my misgivings about the national climate post-election. And already, I find my concerns mounting as Obama gives his cabinet announcements in a week of international outrage directed at the U.S.-backed Israeli offensives against Gaza. On a positive note, The Guardian today reported that "the incoming Obama administration is prepared to abandon George Bush's ­doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organisation, sources close to the transition team say. The move to open contacts with Hamas, which could be initiated through the US intelligence services, would represent a definitive break with the Bush ­presidency's ostracising of the group." Though The Guardian also noted it unlikely that Obama will acknowledge Hamas as having political legitimacy, initiating what is described as "low-level diplomacy" bears the implications that the organization is being acknowledged as legitimate enough to engage in talks and that its concerns are not wholly invisible or unwarranted.

However, even with this step that appears a break in our otherwise unwavering support of Israel, it makes me wonder. This report comes on the heels of another -- Obama's announcement of his intelligence team, which includes Retired Admiral Dennis Blair as Director of National Intelligence. Blair, serving as the commander of the U.S. naval presence in the Asia/ Pacific region during the Clinton administration, has been notoriously linked to General Wiranto of Indonesia, who militarily and financially backed the church and village massacres throughout East Timor in the Timorese Crisis of 1999. Blair has been reported to indicate his support of Wiranto and to falsely indicate U.S. backing (including promises of financial aid) despite orders to denounce Wiranto's actions, even inviting Wiranto to Hawaii as his personal guest during this time1. This incident has been largely neglected in the media. Surprise, surprise. But it just seems ominous, at this time of change and international crises, that we are offered up this man whose past indicates not a departure from past U.S. approaches to foreign policy and international relations but a reaffirmation of them.

But back to Gaza and the figures that have kept me perpetually horrified. According to the United Nations' website today, the Palestinian death toll has reached 798, with 3,200 Palestinians estimated injured and the total of Palestinian refugees estimated to be 750,000 as a result of this most recent conflict. The Israelis can even take credit for four of the 11 Israeli deaths (soldiers killed during "friendly fire") reported during the conflict. In their meeting yesterday, the UN Security Council called for an immediate ceasefire, yet the Israeli offensive continues while the casualties mount. It all seems more than a little dismal to me. . .

1 A really great interview with journalist Allen Nairn, who broke the Blair-Wiranto story can be read at

-- Andrea

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays! Hate Crimes and Homophobia as We Transition into 2009. . .

Proposition 8 passed in California.  This week the Pope referred to the need for an "ecology of man" to save the world from homosexuality as tantamount to that of saving the rainforest. AND our messianic president-elect chose homophobic Christian phenom Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.  Oh yeah -- and a 28 year-old San Francisco woman was brutally gang-raped and beaten because of her sexuality.  That story didn't quite make the CNN headlines this morning.  AP reported today that after being verbally harrassed due to her lesbian identity, the woman endured what Police Lt. Mark Gagan described as "beyond fathomable" and that "the level of trauma - physical and emotional - [she] suffered is extreme."  Lisa Leff reported:

The 45-minute attack began when one of the men approached the woman as she crossed the street, struck her with a blunt object, ordered her to disrobe and sexually assaulted her with the help of the other men.

When the group saw another person approaching, they forced the victim back into her car and took her to a burned-out apartment building, where she was raped again inside and outside the vehicle. The assailants took her wallet and drove off in her car. Officers found the car abandoned two days later.

 Scarcely a month ago, I waxed both optimistic and surprisingly patriotic as I watched Obama deliver his acceptance speech.  And I can't say that the sentiment has entirely worn off.  It hasn't.  But I can't shake the icky creepy-crawliness that the overwhelming idealism circulating post-election is little more than a temporary analgesic, falsely numbing the country  just long enough for the momentum to wear off.  We are not so stoned that we are completely insensitive - empty pockets across the country attest to that; yet there is something very seductive in aggrandizing the potential for change solely because of the new administration's diverse appearance.   I write this to remind myself as much as anyone:  2009 still looks better than 2008.  I can't deny that.  But 2009 still begins in a country that unequally distributes access to citizenship based on race, class, gender, and sexuality.  As a good friend of mine says so frequently, "You can't gild a turd."  Things still suck.  Yet there was an undeniable sign of political movement this fall.  My fear is that it will simply be a transient phenomenon.  My hope is that it won't. 

And the signs in that department aren't necessarily dismal.  It's looking like Proposition 8 might be overturned as early as March and the economy is bad enough to keep people tuned in.  It's hard to ignore the loss of nearly 300,000 jobs in November. There is a personal-political component to unemployment that defies otherwise divisive categories.  But in that same way, it is extremely important to remember the personal-political face of all forms of discrimination that exist across the country.  Nationwide homophobia is not only reflected in measures such as Prop 8, but in the real and daily harm done to members of the LGBTQ community like that of today's story out of San Francisco.  A woman was raped.  Multiple times.  The acknowledgment of Proposition 8's unconstitutionality does not signal the end of homophobia.  Barack Obama's election does not signal the end of racism.  We still have lots to do and far to go.

-- Andrea