Friday, January 29, 2016

#OscarsSOnotsuprising

Images of the all-white 2015 Academy Awards winners.
By now it seems everyone and his or her grandpapa has been talking about this all white Oscar situation. Y’all were probably wondering why I had not written a blog on it yet, since I live for pop culture. The truth is while everyone was outraged, I was trying to figure out how much is too much for a Valentine’s Day dress.  I did not comment on the so white Oscars because I was SO not surprisedto be honest no one should be surprised. The academy; which is the group of people that choose the films nominated for the year is filled with old white men. Also despite the fact that there were good movies this year with black actors such as Straight Outta Compton and Beast of No Nation, none of them were about slavery. And we all know white people only like black actors when they are being subordinate or stereotypical. In the words of Queen Nicki Minaj, “Thought you knew better, do your fucking research.” With all of this said I was going to let the conversation of this all white Oscars die out, but Jada Pinkett-Smith made a comment on it, than blacktress Janet Hubert, and also the still clueless Stacy Dash, Viola Davis, and later Gabrielle Union. The tea just continued to spill over with every waking hour, and I could not let all that spilling of tea go unaddressed. At this moment I did what any great blogger would do;I forwent all of my responsibilities to analyze this intense tea and give to you just like it is.

Jada Pinkett-Smith and The Fresh Queen of Petty Set it off

Janet Hubert (left) responds to Jada Pinkett-Smith (right).

Let’s start from the beginning, a couple days after the #OscarSoWhite announcement, Jada Pinkett-Smith posted a video where she urged black people to recognize the amount of power they have. Smith said, “Is it time that people of color have amassed enough power that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere and no longer beg for the love, acknowledgement or respect of any group?”  She also stated that it was time for black people to take back their resources and feed them into their communities and programs, which would acknowledge their work. Smith ended her video by explaining she will neither be attending nor watching the Oscars but she wished Chris Rock, the host this year, nothing but love. The video seemed very well-intentioned, and I do not believe Jada was asking other black actresses/actors to boycott the event; she was just announcing that she herself was not going.

Blacktress Janet Hubert, the darker Aunt Viv, was not here for Smith’s video and decided she would make a response video, where she dragged Mrs. Smith by her edges. Hubert called out Smith for devoting her time on the Oscars, “...when our boys are dying and people are starving.” Hubert also accused Smith for being a hypocrite because she is now boycotting the same group of people that have helped her and her family make millions of dollars.  “Just because the world didn’t go the way you wanted it to does not mean you can ask people to stand up and sing we should overcome for you… You have a huge production company in Hollywood where you only produce your friends, family and yourself, so you are a part of Hollywood and you are a part of the system.”

 Along Came an Airhead

The ever-clueless Stacey Dash chimed in, saying boycotting the Oscars was ludicrous. Dash stated that black people either want segregation or integration. Integration to her would be getting rid of awards such as BET and NAACP Image “where you’re only nominated/awarded if you are black.” Dash also said that if it were the other way around, meaning only white award shows nominating only white people, everyone would be outraged. However it is the other way around. That’s why people are upset because they only see white people win awards. Dash claimed there should be no BET channel or Black History month because at the end of the day we are all Americans.
Before we move any further, Stacey Dash is literally a buffoon and confused.  We should all take Gabriella Union’s advice and completely ignore her existence. Secondly, awards such as the BET and Image awards exist because black people do not see their work appreciated in the “mainstream” and acclaimed white award shows. These awards do not create segregation because as we can see from the previous Oscars and also this nation’s history, segregation already exists. Without channels such as BET and Centric, black bodies would not have been able to see themselves in media. There is still a need for these networks and for magazines that center blackness because blackness in media is still rare. Nothing has really changed, so please stop perpetuating this distorted reality where blackness, black history, black art and bodies are appreciated enough that we should abandon outlets that support and uplift us. Lastly, the belief that only black people are nominated for either the BET awards or the NAACP Image awards is false. Throughout the years there have been white nominees for both award shows.

Addressing the Real Issues and Caring about All Black Lives

People in media including the gossip of all time, Wendy Williams, believed that Hubert was just being Petty LaBelle. Despite how petty it may have seemed, Hubert’s response video made valid points. Smith was not speaking out last year about the all white Oscars, and prior to this video she has not mentioned the lack of black actors/ movies in Hollywood. Smith does not go to many BET or Image awards, where black musicians and actors are acknowledged for their outstanding work. Jada Pinkett-Smith does attend and speak about Black Girls Rock, which promotes spreading positivity about young girls’ blackness. However, I have not heard Jada speak out about police brutality or the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. It is convenient how she has been able to center her race at this point because her husband was not recognized by the Academy. Why does she not center her blackness in other conversations where she can use her voice to shed light on situations already occurring in the black community? Her and her husband own a production company; why are they not using that to make films centered around multifaceted black narratives and starring new black actors? Situations that are a little more pressing than an Oscar. I am not saying the Academy has not messed up, because they definitely did and have been for almost forever.  Yet, if we are being honest there are only like three black movies that come out every year, so there is not a lot to nominate. Also if we are keeping it like 115, Will Smith shouldn’t have been nominated because that accent was trash. The Straight Outta Compton actors, yes, Michael B Jordan in Creed, yes, Idris Elba in Beast of No Nation; yes!!!, the bear from The Revenant, yes, Will Smith for Concussion, NO!
On the flip side, representation does matter. Devaluing the work of black bodies even if they live in Hollywood is not okay. The question we must ask ourselves when these situations occur is how would the conversation be different if the people were white. Everyone was eating out of Patricia Arquette’s hands when she went on stage last year and demanded the universe had to help her obtain more money, even though she makes millions of dollars. People were fine when Jennifer Lawrence wrote an essay about pay equality. Why is it a problem when black bodies ask why they are not nominated? Why is it automatically perceived as a complaint instead of a genuine concern that should be evaluated? If I’m not mistaken this the third year in a row that we have seen an all white Oscars, instead of 98 percent white Oscars. Why are white actors/actresses who claim to be feminist and activist not speaking out against this?  Actors/Actresses should be speaking about the lack of diversity in Hollywood constantly, not just when the Oscars come up. Actresses/ Actors should be critical about the mostly white academy always, not just when the Oscars come up. Black Actresses/Actors should appreciate the value of awards such as BET and the Image awards all the time, not just when white America has rejected them. If black Actresses/Actors are going to care and about their own, they need to always care about their own all the time, not just when they experience inequality in their privileged lives. Caring about black lives is caring about them all the time in every situation. From Flint, Michigan to Baltimore, Maryland; from Ferguson, Missouri to Cleveland, Ohio; From Sanford, Florida to Staten Island, New York. Not just in Hollywood when the Oscars come around.
On that note that is all the tea I have the week. I know this blog was longer than usual but there was so much confusion that needed to be addressed. I hope you all keep your edges in tact in every situation, and never let the man play you, and that you are always blessed.   
P.S. If you are looking to watch a film produced by a black person that is not about slavery check out AmeriCan. AmeriCan is a short film on YouTube, which gives viewers a new lens on police brutality. The film is directed by Nat Parker, who is also the star and director of the new film, The Birth of a Nation.This is the new birth of a nation about Nat Turner and not the old KKK one.

- Ashleandra Opoku '17, Multicultural & LGBTQ Affairs Intern



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Supporting Survivors @ Colgate and Beyond: A Short Guide


As more and more of the Colgate Community is looking to better support survivors, we thought we'd post a guide created by Sexual and Gender-Based Violence intern Rachel Drucker '17 and WMST PA Allie Fry for an event that took place back in September. We hope you learn something!










Thursday, November 19, 2015

Don't be a Douche: Tips for Caring for Your Vagina

Have you ever wondered about ways to keep your vagina clean and healthy? Read this list of some helpful tips!



Cleaning your vagina


Douching: Don’t do it! Your vagina is naturally acidic (PH levels around 3.5 - 4.5), and has a multitude of helpful bacteria that contribute to defense against infection and a maintenance of a healthy PH level. Douching can negatively affect PH levels and promote bacterial infections. If your vagina has an unusual, concerning smell- instead of douching, see a doctor! Douching can remove the smell, but cannot fix the problem.


Soaps: Don’t use harsh soaps, shampoo, powder, deodorant, or bleach on the vulva or inside you vagina. Like douching, these cleansers can negatively impact the PH levels of your vagina and increase your risk of getting an infection. Remember, your vagina can clean itself with small secretions/discharge. To assist the cleaning of your vagina, you could use a mild soap on your inner thigh and groin area (away from your vulva), and rub water on the vulva.


Clothing

Your underwear choices should keep your vagina clean and dry. Go cotton or commando. Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University states, “Cotton breathes and absorbs moisture, it’s the ideal way to clothe your [genitals]”. Avoid wearing thongs, tight fitting pants, and extended wearing of wet bathing suits or sweaty exercise clothing; they can increase heat and moisture and may contribute to certain infections. Do not wear pads or panty liners when you are not on your period, due to increased heat and moisture, and increased likelihood of infection.


Diet


To keep your vagina happy and healthy, eat a balanced diet and drink a lot of fluids. Some foods have even been found to help treat or prevent vaginal infections: cranberry juice and yogurt (with live cultures- not the hyper-sugary kinds) are examples. Soy products can increase lubrication, therefore decreasing vaginal dryness. Certain foods may even affect the way your vagina smells and tastes. Eating more leafy green vegetables, fruits (pineapples and strawberries), cinnamon, and cardamom may produce a taste that is sweeter, while eating red meat and dairy may produce a taste that is more bitter.


Sex


Utilize safer sex practices. Use a condom .Condoms helps maintain of the PH level of your vagina, which helps keep the beneficial bacteria inside your vagina which prevents infections. When transitioning from oral or anal sex to vaginal sex, change to a clean condom. Not doing so can cause harmful bacteria to enter your vagina. Use lubrication. If not enough natural lubricant is produced during arousal, use a synthetic water-based or silicone-based lubricant. Do not use oil-based lubricants, they can cause tearing or breaking in latex condoms and can promote harmful bacterial accumulation and infections.  


Infections


The three common types of vaginal infections are: yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis. Yeast infections are caused by the overgrowth of the fungus Candida, which causes itching, swelling, or burning of the vulva. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by the growth of certain bacteria in the vagina, which causes unusual discharge, itching, burning, or irritation of the vagina. Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the transmitting of a parasite.


Doctor Visits


Regular visits to the gynecologist are very important! Every person with a vagina should have a gynecological exam either “by the age of 21 or within three years of becoming sexually active”. Gynecologists can detect and diagnose diseases and disorders of the vagina or reproductive system and can discuss ways to keep your vagina at its healthiest!  


Photo from http://www.scribd.com/doc/254757422/The-Vaginatastic-Coloring-Book-of-Vulvas




Sources:
womenshealth.gov


Erin Diguglielmo '17, Women's Health Intern

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: Fun Home


On November 7th, I had the opportunity to get out of quiet and mundane Hamilton to see Fun Home, which was based on Allison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir, on Broadway. Getting out of Hamilton felt amazing. Not to mention, later that day, I was able to eat real soul food, which warms my heart. I was so relieved to be off campus, I almost took the R train back to my house. Yet, I realize that if I disappeared, you, my endearing fan base, would be exceptionally sad. Also I came to the conclusion I’ve worked too hard to not get this piece of paper this institution claims is a credible degree. So here I am, entertaining you with my thoughts of Fun Home.



Overall, Fun Home was a great musical that had a compelling cast. The play follows Allison Bechdel, who tries to make sense of her life, sexuality, and relationship to her father by reflecting on the events she experienced as a young girl. During her college years, Allison becomes comfortable with her sexuality and her work as a comic artist. She falls in love with a confident lesbian named Joan, who helps her to become comfortable with the fact that she is a lesbian. Even with her newfound confidence, Allison still seeks approval from her father. This is evident when Allison waits for her father’s response to her coming out letter only to be met with disappointment when her dad says he is glad she is “experimenting.” It is clear that often there is a disconnect between her and her father, yet there are certain moments where they seem one in the same. Allison wholeheartedly tries to build their relationship and make her father happy. A scene that stuck with me is when younger Allison was drawing a picture and her father told her it needed more structure. After her father has an outburst, Allison pleads with him. Even though she didn’t agree she did what he wanted anyway, saying, “Daddy, I’m sorry, I want to do it your way, I like the way you did it.”

Allison’s father, who is exceptionally hard to please and is manipulative, is troubled and conflicted throughout the play. There are times when he seems to love his family, and then, minutes later, he is revolted by everyone and everything. Allison’s mom and her siblings are often just backdrop in the play; once in awhile, they will speak and sing, but that’s it. There isn’t much character development going on for anyone who isn’t Allison or her dad.

As the play progresses, my disdain for Allison’s father grows, with almost every single scene. This was disheartening because when the play started I really wanted to like him. He is inconsiderate, abusive and projects his feelings onto Allison. This is evident when he  tries to force Allison into gender binaries by explaining if she doesn’t fit them people will gossip about her. Allison points out that this is ironic, since he is not your typical “rugged” portrayal of a man.

The audience also witnesses Allison’s father flirting with underage and younger men, whom he employs to work in his house and whom he teaches. Allison’s mother even tells Allison that he has gotten in legal trouble because he served alcohol to a group of young men to coerce them to have sex with him. After hearing this, Allison believes that now her and her father are connected through their homosexuality. However, I find this lens she uses to view her father troubling. Bruce Bechdel targets young men and provides them with alcohol, so there is the question: is he gay or is he a pedophile? Those two things are not synonymous. I wonder if Allison ever grappled with the idea of her father being a pedophile and just did not mention it in the play because of the way he dies. (Oh, yeah, he dies in the play, but I won’t tell you how so you can remain surprised.)

All in all, I really enjoyed it and would give it like 4.5 stars out of 5, which might not mean much because I’m a twenty-year-old college student and not a theatre critic. However, I figure if you didn’t value my opinion you wouldn’t read my awesome blog posts!!!

Although I did not cry, one of my best friends who prides themselves on avoiding sad human emotions did cry. So you should probably carry some Kleenex just in case.

 - Ashleandra Opoku '17, Multicultural and LGBTQ Affairs Intern

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Conversation with Christina (Poppy) Lui '13

A graduate of the class of 2013, Christina (Poppy) Liu was a senior during my first year at Colgate University. I was blessed with the fortune to witness her finish both of her thesis projects throughout the year, and even luckier to get to know her personally in the spring semester. Poppy continues to be an inspiring force as she explores the world beyond Colgate. Now, three years later, as a senior beginning to look at life beyond Colgate, I was able to ask Poppy a few questions so that others can hear some words of wisdom and might better know the amazing artist, actress, and human being that she is.


How were you involved in WMST/feminism at Colgate? How does it apply to your life now?
I was a Women’s Studies (WMST) major (double major with theater), directed The Vagina Monologues twice, and interned at the Center for WMST for three years. I also wrote and produced an original play, This Is Not A Play About Sex, in my last two years of my time at Colgate. WMST and feminism applies to every aspect of my life: the way I choose roles I want to perform as an actress, the way I took no bullshit from men while I was a bartender in the city, the way I practice communication with my partners, the types of communities I immerse myself in, the way I watch films, everything.

What are you up to now?
I’m rehearsing for three shows that are all geared for full production in the winter and spring of 2016 (The Gambler with Phoenix Ensemble Theatre at The Wild Project, Double Falsehood with Letter of Marque Theater Company at Irondale, and BODY with Blessed Unrest at The New Ohio Theater). I am also building the theater company I founded called The Collective Sex, the project that birthed out of This Is Not A Play About Sex.

What advice would you like to give current WMST concentrators?
Stay soft, stay loving, stay tender. This work can be challenging, and it can make us hard or bitter. It takes lots of courage to stay in your softness. Love is the strongest choice. After you have moved through anger, through pain, through judgment and injustice, right as you are about to think "Ugh, is this how it's always going to be? Why bother?" right at that moment, choose love instead.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for students at Colgate and/or seniors who are graduating soon?
My biggest piece of advice is to not give a fuck what people think about you. For real. Measure yourself by your own internal value system. Build your own internal value system. What things do you love? What do you have tons of passion for? What is stopping you from doing those things? To hell with what people expect of you or think of you. We waste so much of our energy worrying about how we appear to the outside eye.

Learn to find peace in the fact that everything changes. You won't be doing "one thing" after you graduate so don't feel a need to answer, "What are you doing when you graduate?" The answer is everything. Just start somewhere. The secret is it really doesn't matter where. What did I first do when I graduated? I made it an adamant part of my "plan" to start bartending in NYC. Period. I got a bartending job eight hours after I moved into the city. I spent all of my other free time figuring out what I loved about this city, sponging in as much as I could, and when I found threads I wanted to follow, I did.

A few more words of wisdom:
  • Spend some time with yourself. You learn so much in solitude.
  • Surround yourself with the type of person you want to become.
  • Adopt a pay-it-forward attitude.
  • Don't have a plan, have passion.
  • Don't take yourself too seriously.

- Monica Hoh '16, Information Technology and Resources Intern