WARNING: This article may be triggering to survivors of sexual assault.
This past spring, the Stanford rape case went viral as millions of bystanders watched Brock Turner face a mere six-month sentence for his violent sexual assault of an anonymous woman. Despite being charged with three separate counts of assault, the 20 year-old student ended up spending three short months in prison for his devastating actions.
This case shocked the nation, sparking a conversation about the gravity of sexual assault, both on and off campus. We’ve seen the chilling statement that the victim read to her rapist in court, the disgustingly candid letters from Turner’s parents to judge Aaron Persky- and now, the fiercely unapologetic words of Emily Doe, a voice for assault victims everywhere.
Last week, Glamour Magazine announced Doe as their Woman of the Year, including her first statement since the one she read at Turner’s sentencing. In the letter, the now no longer anonymous survivor bravely expressed her emotions upon becoming the subject of thousands of online articles and news pieces.
She spoke of the heartbreak she felt upon hearing the short sentence her attacker would face, even her sadness in response to nasty comments about her journey to recovery. Doe explained that “victims are not victims, not some fragile, sorrowful aftermath,” but that those who have experienced sexual violence are survivors, “and survivors are going to be doing a hell of a lot more than surviving.”
Emily Doe has become an international beacon of hope for sexual assault survivors, using her highly publicized trauma to combat stigma and help other women who have been in her exact position. Even in the face of death threats, harassment, and otherwise hateful speech, the 23 year-old speaks with unmistakable strength and unapologetic resilience.
When news of the trial of Brock Turner first hit major media outlets, many avoided sharing and speaking out on the issue because they felt awkward. Some even went as far as to shame the victim for drinking and voicing support for the Turner family. Many would prefer to avoid the conversation about rape.
Since when has discomfort warranted altogether ignorance? Why should we feel the need to keep quiet about an issue as common and horrific as sexual assault? Where do we draw the line? It’s already common knowledge that one in four women have been raped or assaulted: chances are, if you’re reading this, you or someone you loved is a victim.
We are living in a world where rapists may serve only three months in prison, presidential candidates can brag about sexual assault while thousands call it ‘locker room talk,’ and even more people are still keeping their experiences of abuse a secret.
The problem lies in the fact that no one can say that they’ve been pressured to keep quiet about being robbed and no one has ever excused murder because of how the victim was dressed. These statements clearly aren’t true for sexual assault.
This is why it’s more urgent than ever before to start a conversation on sexual assault. In a time where survivors are pushed to the side, taught to hold their tongues, forgive and forget, it’s absolutely necessary to support these survivors.
Thanks to the American justice system, offenders of marijuana distribution are likely to serve more time than offenders of violent rape. This won’t change unless we change the way our society sees rape, unless we educate others and teach future generations to know that it is just as serious as murder. Listening to survivors like Emily Doe and sharing their stories is the first step in breaking stigma and ending rape culture.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
Listen below to this amazing spoken word poem by YouTuber Meghan Hughes!
I was lucky enough to catch up with Darcy, owner and founder of riotcakes, a totally awesome shop themed around empowerment. Read more below.
Can you tell me a little bit about what it was like starting riotcakes?
The launch was back in 2014, while I was still working full time in a bookshop. I didn't have a lot of time to spare, but I used much of the little time I had to prepare everything leading up to my launch, like reading a bunch of articles and books, ordering supplies like my button machine, and registering my business.
It was a time where I was getting very passionate about feminism and I noticed that there weren't many feminist items out there that combined the important political message with a cute design. Since I couldn't find it, I made my own!
My queer identity evolved with my shop, which was at first primarily feminist but now includes a wide range of LGBTQ*-related items.
My first shop was on Etsy, since that is the easiest way to open your own. Everything I did back then was handmade, from punching my own buttons, printing my own stickers, to stamping and taping my own packaging. Over time when I started making money and getting orders in I was able to reinvest it back into the business, so now I have items that I design and which are professionally manufactured elsewhere, like my acrylic jewellery or my notepads. I still punch my own buttons, though!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Darcy and I'm a queer, introverted, cat-loving, artsy, mentally ill, left-wing, inclusive feminist, English nerd residing in Germany. Most of my time is spent growing my business and going to university (or revising for it).
How have you found the business climate to be, as someone fairly young?
Starting out I was only 19, but the combination of youthful passion and a deep love for planning and organising have been good for my business. The climate in the handmade and online business community is very friendly. A lot of people of all ages, but especially young people, are finding out that starting a business isn't as daunting or difficult as we'd imagined or as it used to be.
Where does the inspiration for your designs come from?
Everywhere, really. My goal is to spread positivity with empowering and validating designs, so I try to keep my eyes open for ideas that do that. I'm generally inspired by feminist and LGBTQ* discourse online (on twitter and tumblr mostly).
When I started I dabbled in any style I came across that I liked. Now I've honed in on the style that suits my business best, which are sort of cute, colourful and positive designs.
What are your favorite items in your shop?
This is a tough question, but it will have to be my Feminist Sloth stickers, my Busy Feminist notepad, any of my Rebel the Unicorn Cat items, because she's my mascot, and my Rainbow Pride necklaces.
Which items sell the most? / Which items are your best sellers? / Which items are the most popular?
The longest and best selling item is the Feminist Sloth Sticker Set. They started out handmade with me having to handcut every single one of them, but now they are available as big vinyl stickers that are precut and very durable and weatherproof. They've come a long way and have been really popular, in part thanks to being featured on websites such as Buzzfeed or the Stuff Mom Never Told You blog – and of course because sloths are cute and amazing!
Another big seller is my Rebel the Unicorn Cat enamel pin, since pins are all the rage right now. I love Rebel a lot because I spent weeks designing her and she is my mascot, so she really embodies my business: part unicorn to represent queerness and part cat to represent feminism!
What are your plans for riotcakes in the future?
There is a lot in the making, like a collaboration with the Feminist Sticker Club in October and also a second enamel pin! I'm planning to extend my jewellery and stationery collections and have lots of big ideas for those, so stay tuned for that! In the long run I want to grow my business enough to be able to do it full time after university, so everyone's support means the world to me.
Are you currently working on any new designs?
Coming out soon are the aforementioned pin as well as a lot of different Pride buttons. They feature pride flags for lots of different identities from the LGBTQ* community, for example a few non-binary genders.
Where can our readers find you/follow you and where can they purchase your pieces?
You can find my site at riotcakes.com and I'm @riotcakes on tumblr, twitter and instagram! I'd love to see you there.
As a special treat for the readers of Bruised Knuckles you can get 15% for 2 weeks with the code “BRUISEDKNUCKLES”.
Photo via here
The above Facebook post from “comedian” Kurt Metzger has rightfully been under fire since its publication. The post was made in response to fellow comedian Aaron Glaser’s Facebook post (which has since been deleted, but screenshots are still circulating online), which criticized the Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB) for banning him based on rape allegations from one or more women. Metzger questioned the credibility of women who claim to be assaulted, but do not report the crime to police.
But how does Amy Schumer fit into this equation? Metzger is one of Schumer’s friends and writers. When Twitter users questioned Schumer’s professional involvement with the “comedian” (mostly asking why she has yet to speak out against him), they were blocked.
Many have criticized Schumer for her delayed statement, which she released on Twitter days after Metzger’s post.
Personally, I think Schumer has been getting a lot of attention for something that has very little to do with her. While I think she should have released a statement against Metzger sooner than she did, I also think this is a very uncomfortable position she was put in.
What do you think about Metzger’s actions?
I spent this past Friday volunteering in my aunt’s classroom at her elementary school. Going with her required me to wake up far earlier than I am used to, which meant that the last thing I was concerned about was my appearance. However, I put on my nicest pants and threw on a professional shirt. To be honest, I was worried more about arriving on time than anything else, due to my perpetual history of tardiness.
About an hour after I got there, I was sitting in an exhausted trance in an undersized blue chair when I heard a chorus of whispers filling the classroom. It wasn’t until I heard the loud groan of the word “Ewww,” that I lifted my head.
Apparently, most of the girls in the classroom were asking their fifth grade, male counterparts if I was pretty, and their responses were not so positive. I made pretend not to hear them as they commented on my short hair, furry eyebrows, and tired, pale face.
However, after about two minutes of this, I found myself growing increasingly more insecure and excused myself to the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror.
As a disclaimer, I have never planned on writing about looks or appearances, because, for the majority of my life, I never thought that it was really worth discussing.
But, as I was looking at myself in the mirror in the elementary school bathroom, I started to wonder how strong the patriarchy was with this situation; that I, a grown-ass woman, was made insecure by a group of fifth-grade boys.
They were overpowering me with their perceptions of beauty, probably ones that they have learned from television or the Internet. Granted, the opinions of these 10-year-old students did not upset me. Rather, it was that the standards of female attractiveness had extended to such a young age. It was starting to feel helpless.
I was a paraprofessional for a middle school class this summer, and I met a beautiful eighth-grade female student who confided to me that she had been hospitalized for an eating disorder that school year. She told me that all of her friends were skinny and pretty, and that it was hard to believe that she was attractive in the way celebrities look. Besides telling this student how much I admired her for her strength, and reminding her that her body is just a case for her soul (that elicited an eye roll from her), there was not much I could do.
There are people my age who are struggling just as much as this young student was. Insecurity is not something that just disappears with age. It’s hilarious and accepted to Snapchat your friend a picture of your four chins at an unattractive angle, but nearly sacrilegious to go on a date or out to a bar without 30 minutes of preparation to look "presentable."
If you look at it objectively, it just seems like an overly confusing and altogether unnecessary game to play. And if you're like me, and perhaps a little exhausted, it’s easy to quit this game prematurely.
In order to create any sort of outward change, it's important to understand and sit with our own opinions and perspectives as to what we feel beauty is. By doing this, we are better able to distinguish both what we value and how much we value it in a person.
I went through a period in my life where I chopped all of my hair off because I did not want to feel “pretty” anymore, mostly because growing up, I was told that long hair was beautiful, like Tova Benjamin writes about in her article.
I wanted to wear asexualized clothing and detach emotionally from any sort of romantic situation because I wanted be seen as an actual person, as opposed to somebody with boobs and a nice face.
Tavi Gevinson expresses this idea in her really good article. But then, over time, I came to realize that by doing this, I was only letting society/the patriarchy/whatever win. Who canreally determine what is feminine, when it comes down to it?
I can be incredibly feminine and beautiful without having long tresses and perfectly lined eyeliner. You best believe that you can, too.
It would be one thing if it was just something our generation is doing, but it’s a whole other thing for it affecting people younger than us, who are still determining and crafting what beauty is in their eyes.
That day in class, a quiet fifth-grade girl could have heard her male classmate outline in what ways I was not pretty. And, in return, she could have committed it all to memory, taking serious note that perfectly maintained eyebrows warrant male approval. That makes me worried and, ultimately, powerless.
So, my call to action is to tell you, readers (regardless of gender), to do you. Go braless or bare-assed, or treat yourself to that new MAC palette and wear the shit out of it. By doing you, unapologetically, somewhere the wheels will begin turning and perspectives will begin to shift. And with that, I am pretty sure that there will be a fifth-grade student, somewhere, who is going to benefit from it.
Originally appeared in The Odyssey, reproduced at the request of the author.
I found this clip floating around on Facebook, and if this isn't #squadgoals I really don't know what is.
Last summer, I was a paraprofessional in a middle school and I met a student who confided to me that she had been hospitalized for an eating disorder during the school year. She told me that all of her friends were skinny, and “so are all the people that I see on Instagram”. This discovery lead to an incredible amount of body shaming and an internal war, forever perpetrating in her mind about how she wasn’t good enough. It was heartbreaking, to say the least, and actually contributed to me switching the course of my career and pursing an occupation that could help young woman, like her. It was this interaction which lead me to want to volunteer in the program I did this semester, “Girl’s Talk”, in order to help re-define the ideas of beauty, self-respect, and feminism that these women are beginning to develop at twelve, thirteen, and fourteen years old.
This semester I devoted two afternoons a week working at a local middle school’s enrichment program. It was originally named “Beyoncé” and was targeted towards these young woman in hopes of exposing them to the importance of female empowerment at their young age. Every week we’d listen to a song written by Beyoncé, and examine the lyrics, trying to learn what it means to be a woman through the lens of her work; it was a definite hit with the students who rely on Ms. Knowles music and words like the Bible.
I had spent time before volunteering at this particular school in the past, but this experience was unlike any I had before. Adjusting to a curriculum where the focus was not entirely academic related was something that took me awhile to get adjusted to. Every week the students would learn new vocabulary words such as “feminism”, ” intersectionality”, or “consent”. These topics would elicit conversations that regarding the media and the lack of representation of women who they felt were similar to them in skin color, body types, or sexuality. It was essentially ten weeks of witnessing these young women and their journey towards self- discovery.
We are inarguably in an age where the celebration of feminism is at an all-time high. However, during the time I spent with the students, I began to learn that this scope of feminism that we see throughout the media is not all encompassing. Throughout several of the in-class discussions that I facilitated, the students discussed as to how many actors, and models, and musical artists that the students see look different from them. We had conversations revolving around the abundance of white actors that were nominated for the Oscars, to the lack of representation there is in the government. According to one of the students, after learning all of this information: “Why do white men have to do everything?!”
It is one thing to know this, and be discouraged by it, but it is a whole another thing see this discovery in the eyes of the youth. To rediscover alongside with them that things are not even and are not fair in this world we are living in. But perhaps the most powerful aspect of it all is realizing that it is going to take a whole lot more than complaining to fix any of these injustices.
The conversation about their social media usage was something that intrigued me the most. Many of them complained that it was unfair that their male classmates could post a picture of them shirtless and get heart-eyed emojis, whereas if they posted a picture in a cute sports bra, there would be rumors around their schools that they would be labeled as “sluts” by their male and female classmates. It’s dispersing to see as to how this double standard affects a group of free-thinking group of young woman. Especially as their perceptions of beauty, in addition to what they post, are undeniably influenced by the society around them.
It goes without saying, but I've had an awesome time facilitating some much needed discussions and jamming to Beyoncé with them. I have learned SO much in this short time, alone. Every week I would find myself getting excited to go into the classroom to hear the thoughts shared from both the students and the teacher who created the program. Being surrounded by powerful women, at all ages, is a wonderful, fierce, experience. If there are young women in your life, remind them of the importance of having kind hearts, fierce minds, and brave spirits to lead them forward in this world, just like the sign in their hallway says. That way, we can all see each other's halos ☺
Amidst recent sexual assault accusations against Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, from reporter Michelle Fields, the Trump campaign is becoming more and more unfriendly toward women. Donald Trump is notorious for his offensive comments against almost everyone; Mexicans, Muslims, other minorities, and women.
Over the years, Trump has said many disturbing and misogynistic things about women. A Huffington Post article recorded 18 of the most absurd things he’s said (some of which are below). The list includes quotes from his interviews, tweets, and books.
Some highlights from the collection include the following; “I would never buy Ivana any decent jewels or pictures. Why give her negotiable assets?” (from a 1990 Vanity Fair article), “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass” (from an Esquire article), and “Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye - or perhaps another body part” (from Trump’s book Trump: The Art of the Combeback). Even more Trump quotes can be found here.
Not even Fox News anchors are safe from Trump’s sexism. Megyn Kelly is still awaiting an apology from the GOP front runner after he made the comment “blood coming out of her wherever” (in response to Kelly acting as a moderator for a GOP Debate in 2015) (you can read more about that here). The feud has been ongoing for months now.
And let us not forget about the time (or two) Donald said he would date his daughter Ivanka if she wasn’t related to him. This comment took place on The View (video below: “Trump: If Ivanka Weren’t My Daughter, I’d Be Dating Her”).
Most recently, Trump made inappropriate comments toward Heidi Cruz (which he was later called out for when talking with Anderson Cooper on CNN). Both Trump and Ted Cruz have been talking back and forth about a piece released by the National Enquirer where Trump threatened to blackmail Heidi Cruz (more information here).
All of these comments against women, and I haven’t even gotten to Trump calling for “some form of punishment” for women who partake in illegal abortions (from here and here), his comments about Carly Fiorina’s face (“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”) (from here), and more (and here and here).
Despite saying all of these blatantly misogynistic and sexist things about women, Trump believes these comments should not be held against him because they were released before he decided to run for president. According to a recent Vanity Fair article on Trump,
“Given an opportunity to apologize for insulting remarks he has made in the past, including calling women ‘bimbo,’ ‘dog’ and ‘fat pig,’ the Republican front-runner waved them away, saying ‘I never thought I would run for office’” (read more here).
Trump genuinely believes that “nobody has more respect for women” than him (quote from here), and that his past comments and actions should not be held against him. Despite everything he is trying to say he will do for women, Trump is not our ally.
A judge recently decided to hold recording artist Kesha to her contract with Sony producer Dr. Luke, who not only “allegedly” physically and emotionally abused her, but actually did. This goes beyond the legality of recording contracts; after this ruling, it has become very clear that a woman’s health and safety concerns are not enough of a reason to free her from a recording contract with a toxic individual.
This lawsuit is not recent; according to The Rolling Stone, it was filed in California in October 2014, but petitions for #FreeKesha started as early as 2013.
As a result of the court’s decision, celebrities and fans alike have come together to work to address what happened (and is currently happening to Kesha), as well as addressing what women face in the music industry. Celebrities include Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Lady Gaga.
While there has been some arguing between supporters over the best approach to helping Kesha (like Demi’s criticism of Taylor for donating to Kesha as opposed to addressing the broader issue), the main argument still stands; what happened to Kesha should not be allowed to happen to anyone else.
Kesha isn’t the only artist Dr. Luke has abused. Charli XCX quoted him in a 2014 tweet (below), claiming that he told her she needed to lose weight. He’s also reportedly had altercations with artists like Demi Lovato (refusing to give her a sing when she wouldn’t make it her second single off of “Confidence,” and Becky G). You can see more of those here.
So join the #FreeKesha movement and help open up the discussion about abuse within the music industry. If you’re interested in reading more about the Dr. Luke lawsuit, you can check out these articles by The Guardian, Buzzfeed, and Vogue. You can also check out the FreeKesha website for more information.
By now you’ve probably heard about or seen Beyone’s Superbowl performance (shown below in case you missed it. If the video doesn’t work, check out this link here). Debuting her new song, “Formation,” Beyonce’s performance was nothing short of brilliance and political activism.
Skipping over the specifics of the performance (like Beyonce’s back-up dancers sporting Black Panther attire, or her newest hits’ politically provoking lyrics), let’s talk about why [white] people are so offended. Many people are upset over Beyonce’s obvious stance with the Black Lives Matter movement (which many have compared to the Black Panther Party), claiming that she has no respect for or understanding of the police force, and the protection they provide for stars like herself.
Others are accusing her of exploiting black tragedy for personal gain, like the author of this article from Slate. One of the questions Shantelle Lewis, the author, chooses to highlight in her piece is, “For an artist to become political, must she perform against a backdrop of black tragedy?”
Opposition to such a controversial message such as this is expected. But amidst the negativity, there are many Beyonce supporters. For a joint article in the New York Times, Jenny Wortham wrote;
“This video feels like the ultimate declaration from Beyoncé that the tinted windows are down, the earrings are off and someone’s wig might get snatched, judging by the scene in the hair store about 1:22 minutes in.
Personally, I support Beyonce wholeheartedly. I think she is genuinely lending her fame to the Black Lives Matter movement and shedding light on the uncomfortable racial tensions that the U.S. has always had, but never addressed. I can understand why individuals like Lewis could take offense to the video, as it is clearly taking place in New Orleans, but I do not think Beyonce would ever intentionally exploit the culture to gain popularity.
I was especially impressed with Beyonce’s inclusion of Messy Mya, a young black artist shot and killed in New Orleans in 2010 (which you can read more about here and here). I didn’t initially understand the significance of his inclusion in the song (or who he was before looking him up), but I think Beyonce’s decision to include his voice recordings in the song only emphasizes her understanding of the challenges African Americans are facing (especially in regards to gun violence). The inclusion of Messy Mya also gives context to the New Orleans backdrop of the video.
You can watch the video below if you haven’t seen it yet (if the video doesn't work, check out this link).
If your feminism isn't intersectional we don't want to talk to you.