Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We Need to Talk About Disability And Sexual Violence

As the Sexual and Gender Based Violence Intern at the Center for Women’s Studies, I actively strive to bring an intersectional lens into all of the work that I do, particularly given my own positionality. In many ways, I have often failed. One way in which I, and many of us involved in this conversation at Colgate, have significantly failed, is in speaking about disability. I believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to create programming and initiatives that address the issues survivors of color and LGBTQ survivors face, including my own. Similarly, it is up to me to acknowledge the ways in which disability impacts the experiences of survivors, even if I myself do not possess a disabled identity. Though it is impossible for me to delve into the intricacies of the relationship between sexual violence and disability in the confines of a blog post that you all will actually read, I hope this will be the beginning of an ongoing learning experience for all of us.

Sexual violence affects everyone differently. There is no monolithic experience to surviving trauma. Specifically, aspects of identity, such as race, class, ability, gender identity, and citizenship status, can have a profound impact on the experiences of survivors. Beyond simply acknowledging this, we have to ensure that our conversations and support systems truly delve deeply into how survivors’ identities influence their experiences. Just as no two survivors have the same experience, no two disabled individuals are the same. Disabled people can experience sexual violence in vastly different ways, but it is important that we are all aware of how we can strive to support survivors with a range of physical, sensory, psychosocial, and intellectual disabilities. For example, when we fight against street harassment with campaigns such as #YesAllWomen, it is crucial to remember who might be excluded from this narrative. As Kayla Whaley explains in her article Nobody Catcalls the Woman in the Wheelchair “People register “disabled” before they register “woman” and the former always overrides the latter, because in our ableist society, a disabled body is necessarily a desexualized one(Whaley, 2016). When we talk about #BodyPositivity, we need to include all bodies, including those who use wheelchairs or are missing limbs. Just as Whaley says, “Harassment, after all, isn’t actually about sex, but about power” (Whaley, 2016). Exerting power to desexualize disabled women is harassment. Campaigns against harassment must acknowledge that.

In addition to including disabled women in the conversation about street harassment, we must acknowledge how disability plays a role in complicating the notion of consent. Individuals with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities alike may rely on a caregiver to assist them in gaining and providing consent with a partner. Furthermore, many people view disability as a sign of vulnerability and weakness, which is one reason for the disproportionately higher number of disabled survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Oftentimes, structural power relations and dehumanization within care facilities, such as group homes, facilitate cultures of violence (Gill, 2010). That being said, it is crucial to “question how the predominance of sexual abuse for women with intellectual disabilities can be addressed without making the victims symbols of humiliation” (Gill, 2010). Oftentimes, non-disabled people understand disabled people, particularly disabled women, solely through the lens of victimhood, whereas in reality, disabled people are complex, dynamic individuals with interlocking identities- not victims to be pitied. There is a tendency to deny disabled people agency, both in the context of consent and sexual violence, and beyond. We must resist that tendency. In order to do so, many disability theorists and activists advocate for an understanding of sexual violence that considers power, rather than consent. As Gill states, “The shift to define sexual abuse from a matter of consent to a relation of power and exploitation highlights that those who experience sexual abuse do so not because of a ‘lack’ of intelligence but rather because of unequal power dynamics that might favor professionals, family members, and staff” (Gill, 2010, p. 202). Just as we acknowledge the complicated role of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation in the discourse surrounding sexual violence, we need to consider the disproportionate ways in which disabled people are affected by sexual assault and relationship violence.

While the statistics about the disproportionate impact of sexual violence on disabled individuals are jarring and important, I purposely did not focus on them in order to address the structural issues that create these discrepancies. Highlighting the prevalence of violence against disabled women and disabled gender nonconforming people runs the risk of perpetuating the stereotype of disabled women as helpless, when this is far from the case. In writing this blog, I seek to raise awareness about the impact of sexual violence on disabled people and to push myself and others to continue to think critically about how our anti-violence work and advocacy is failing disabled survivors. Intersectionality is more than just a theory. It is a critical consciousness that we should put into practice each and every day.
-Rachel Drucker '17, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Intern

Gill, M. (2010). Rethinking sexual abuse, questions of consent, and intellectual disability. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 7(3), 201-213.
Whaley, K. (2016, January 26). Nobody catcalls the woman in the wheelchair.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Engaging Feminist Thought & Action High School Seminar

Check out these awesome feminist zines made by high school students from our "Engaging Feminist Thought & Action" Seminar!

Learn more about Colgate's High School Seminar Program here!

Take Action: Engaging Feminist Thought and Activism - Allie Fry with TAs Ashleandra Opoku '17, Nitika Sachdev '17, and Ciara Swan '17
What does it mean to be a feminist in today’s world? Our seminar will explore this question by looking at how feminists past and present work to disrupt systems of oppression, like racism, sexism, and classism. We will examine with an intersectional feminist lens how activists protest, politically engage, and organize around issues like immigration rights, ending gender-based violence, and media representation. Our goal will be to gain a deeper understanding of the forces that feed inequality and discrimination, to discover what place feminism may have in our lives, and to consider the possibilities of a more liberated and inclusive society.

Feminism - A Love Story
Feminism is for everyone

Vagina - maybe she's born with it...

Intersectional Feminism
Note: We apologize! This zine was so huge and awesome our scanner didn't get the whole image :( If you'd like to take a photo of the full image and send it to, we can post it! 

no matter what...


We Can Do It!

The Perfect Feminist World


The Perfect Feminist World

The White-Washed Stick World

Journal of a Feminist

Beauty comes from with in...
Don't Tell Me To Smile: A Quick Guide to Feminism

Monday, January 16, 2017

Spring 2017 WMST Brown Bags

Tuesday, Jan. 24 | 11:30am at WMST (MLK Week)
“Evidence: A Black Feminist Archive of the Impossible” - Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a "queer black troublemaker" who has a PhD in English, African and African-American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University. She is a published author, organizer, and educator. Alexis is a Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize Honoree and is featured in Best American Experimental Writing 2015. Alexis was the first scholar to research the Audre Lorde Papers at Spelman College, the June Jordan Papers at Harvard University, and the Lucille Clifton Papers at Emory University. Her mobile homecoming project aims to chart and celebrate queer Black elder history. Her work incites us to be "visionaries" and imagine justice is possible.
Co-Sponsored by ALANA, Educational Studies, University Studies, Africana and Latin American Studies, Department of English

Tuesday, Jan. 31 | 11:30am at WMST
“Why I Still Work on White Women: Sabbatical Reflections in a Mean Time” - Prof. Sarah Wider

Tuesday, Feb. 7 | 11:30am at WMST
"Beyond The Vagina Monologues: Towards an Inclusive, Intersectional Feminist Campus  Storytelling Tradition" - Sharon Nicol ‘17, Ashleandra Opoku ‘17, Nitika Sachdev ‘17, Tashi Sherpa '19
Members of Collective Breathing will discuss their upcoming creative project, why it was time to leave behind The Vagina Monologues,  and how to get involved.

Tuesday, Feb. 14 | 11:30am at WMST
“Careers & Communities Beyond Women’s Studies” - Liza Paudel ‘15, Rachel Greenburg ‘10, Evan Chartier ‘14, Dena Robinson ‘12*
Join WMST alumni as they share what paths their careers have taken and how they have found feminist community beyond WMST.
*confirmation pending

Tuesday, Feb. 21 | 11:30am at WMST (Black History Month: Black Girl Magic)
“The Black Student Union Presents ‘Fat Femme’ Yogi & Activist Jessamyn Stanley” - Jessamyn Stanley
Jessamyn Staley is a yoga teacher, body positive advocate, and writer based in Durham, North Carolina. Jessamyn uses high energy vinyasa flow as a way to move past mental and emotional barriers. Her classes provide a body positive approach to yoga which celebrates students’ bodies and encourages them to ask “How do I feel?” rather than “How do I look?” when practicing yoga.
Presented by the Black Student Union; Pending BAC Funding

Tuesday, Feb. 28 | 11:30am at WMST
“Confessions from a Recovering Academic” - Béalleka, formerly Lynn Maku
“Confessions of a Recovering Academic” charts Béalleka’s professional trajectory from her undergraduate specialization in Gender and Women’s Studies, through a series of jobs and a ten-year, academic career. Reflecting on her recent transition to independent employment, she speaks to the freedoms and challenges of feminist work in a gig-economy and heart-centered vocational practice.

Tuesday, Mar. 7 | 11:30am at WMST (Africana Women’s Week)
“Art as Resistance” - Yunnie Tsao-Snyder & Trinidad Escobar
  • Yunnie Tsao-Snyder is a visual artist (grown from a mama artist), writer, educator, feminist scholar, teacher educator, and student of the healing arts based out of Oakland, California. For more than fifteen years, she has worked with underserved youth and adults in community and school-based arts programs throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Yunnie has been a lecturer and guest speaker at the University of California Santa Cruz, University of San Francisco, San Jose State University, UC Womyn of Color Conference, Practical Activism Conference, San Francisco Youth Arts Summit, and Oakland Unified School District among others. She is currently working on a new series of illustrations featuring women healers and sits on the editorial board of the Pinxy Radical Imagination Reader.
  • Trinidad Escobar is a poet, illustrator, mother, bruha, and educator from the Bay Area, California. Her writing and visual art have been featured in various publications such as Rust & Moth, The Brooklyn Review, The Womanist, Red Wheelbarrow, Solo Cafe, Mythium, Tayo, the anthologies Walang Hiya, Over the Line, Kuwento, and more. Trinidad has been a guest artist and speaker at the San Jose Museum of Art, Pilipino Komix Expo, LitQuake, and The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. Her graphic memoir CRUSHED will be published in 2017 by Rosarium Publishing. Trinidad teaches Comics & Race at California College of the Arts in Oakland, California. Having been born in the Philippines during Super Typhoon Gading in 1986, Trinidad’s work weaves the lush– and often violent– nature of her homeland with  class, race, trauma, myth, and magick. Her in-progress graphic memoir, CRUSHED, is a biomythography that explores the interior landscape of her experiences as a magickal transnational adoptee, and the intersecting worlds of Western science and Filipino spirituality.
Presented by the Sisters of the Round Table (SORT); Pending BAC Funding

Tuesday, Mar. 21 | 11:30am at WMST
“Sisterhood: Feminism, Sororities, and Disaffiliation” - Larissa Grijalva ‘17,  Sally Langan ‘17, Maya Srivastava ‘17, Renee Xu ‘17
This panel offers perspectives from two women currently active in sororities and two women who have disaffiliated from sororities. The panelists will share their personal narratives and analyze their experiences through a feminist lens. The panel will be moderated by WMST PA Allie Fry.

Tuesday, Mar. 28 | 11:30am at WMST
TBD - Prof. Gina Athena Ulysse
Prof. Gina Athena Ulysse does work on Haiti and her work is based in Black Studies and Feminist Scholarship. An interdisciplinary scholar-artist, Ulysse weaves history, statistics, personal narrative, theory, with Vodou chants to dramatize and address issues of social (in)justice, intersectional identities, spirituality and the dehumanization of Haitians and other marked bodies. With her performance work, she seeks to outline, confront and work through the continuities and discontinuities in the unprocessed horror of colonialism.
Recommended reading: Part II From The Archives Pawol Fanm sou Douz Janvye (Women's Words on January 12th); Why Haiti Needs Narratives by Gina Athena Ulysses (2015); "It All Started with a Black Woman" in Are All the Women Still White?: Rethinking Race and Expanding Feminisms (2016) ed. Janell Hobson 
Presented by Prof. April Baptiste, Caribbean Studies

Tuesday, Apr. 4 | 11:30am at WMST
“Resisting Gentrification Through Art, Culture, & Activism” - Betty Yu
Betty Yu is a Chinese-American interdisciplinary, multi-media artist, educator and community activist.  Ms. Yu was a 2012 Public Artist-in-Resident with the Laundromat Project and is a 2015 Artist-in-Resident with the Saltonstall Foundation. Currently, Betty is a 2015 Cultural Agent with the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) a people-powered arts network. She recently co-created the "Monument to Anti-Displacement Organizing" which is part of the Agitprop! show at the Brooklyn Museum. Betty is the recipient of the 2016 SOAPBOX Award in Community Arts from the Laundromat Project.  She is a co-founder of the Chinatown Art Brigade (CAB), a cultural collective working with CAAAV Organizing Communities to tell the stories of Chinatown tenants fighting displacement.

“My talk/presentation will focus on the anti-gentrification cultural organizing work I've been doing as a co-founder of Chinatown Art Brigade, an Asian women-led collective and our Brigade's close partnership with CAAAV's Chinatown Tenants Union. The "Here to Stay" cultural art project that involves a series of large-scale outdoor mobile projections that will address themes of gentrification, displacement and community resilience in NYC's Chinatown. I will talk about our project as an example of how artists and cultural workers can work in collaboration with communities who are most directly impacted by gentrification and help provide a platform to tell those stories of resilience and resistance of those fighting gentrification and displacement. And as local cultural workers ourselves in the Brigade - we are really trying to put out there a different kind of model where artists can work with activists and tenants in Chinatown to use art and culture to help serve the interests of the working class immigrant communities. And in a concrete way, through art, culture and media, we are advancing CAAAV's campaign to push for a rezoning plan that will truly protect people from being displaced.” - Betty Yu
Sponsored by The Colgate Arts Council, Presented by Prof. Eli Horwatt, Film & Media Studies

Tuesday, Apr. 11 | 11:30am at WMST (Queerfest)
“Queerness and Cartoons: What We Can Learn from Steven Universe” - Queerfest Panel
Steven Universe is a children’s television show on Cartoon Network. The show has been heralded as a feminist and queer-affirming series. Panelists will highlight ways this show has offered children (and adults) ways to talk about consent, queer partnerships and families, and healthy coping skills.

Tuesday, Apr. 18 | 11:30am at WMST
“Queering Sexual Violence & The Politics of Healing” - Jennifer Patterson
Join Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Violence Movement editor Jennifer Patterson as she takes a look at anti-violence work, survivorhood & healing. Often pushed to the margins, queer, transgender and gender non-conforming survivors experience high levels of sexual violence yet lack services and supportive spaces in which to begin the lifelong healing process. And what is healing when trauma is frequent or deeply rooted in systems bigger than individuals? What are the barriers, and who are the gatekeepers making sustainable healing difficult? What can healing look and feel like outside the dominant narratives of medicalization and pathologization? How can we reimagine our support and healing spaces in order to hold space for many narratives of harm and healing?
Presented by Haven

Tuesday, Apr. 25 | 11:30am at WMST
“WMST Senior Capstone Projects Part I” - WMST 490
Senior Women’s Studies Concentrators will present their praxis projects.

Tuesday, May 2 | 11:30am at WMST
“WMST Senior Capstone Projects Part II” - WMST 490
Senior Women’s Studies Concentrators will present their praxis projects.