Militants from ISIS, a.k.a. the Islamic State/ISIL (or whatever else you’d like to name the terrorist group that’s been wreaking havoc on Middle Eastern society and by proxy, much of the rest of the world), has kidnapped close to 7,000 Yazidi women and children within the past two months to be kept as slaves and forced into marriages with strangers. Many of those who were kidnapped saw their husbands, fathers and other male relatives murdered before their eyes. The victims, members of the Kurdish Yazidi religious group (which ISIS has heavily targeted), are from the Sinjar region of northern Iraq, an area that’s now been overtaken by the terrorist group. Here are five things to know about the nightmarish kidnappings. Keep reading »
A few months ago, one of my friends posted on Facebook that he was looking for a new tattoo shop that was woman-friendly and queer-friendly after a bad experience with his last artist. I asked him privately who the artist was who he’d had a bad experience with and he gave me the guy’s name and the tattoo shop he worked at. “He’s quiet and nice in person, but when I friended him on Facebook I found out he’s anti-choice, anti-gay, racist, misogynist, and pro-gun. After he defended the Hobby Lobby decision I decided I can’t ignore his politics anymore.”
I told him I could relate: I had gone to one artist who had done fantastic work, but when I friended him on Facebook I found out that he had dressed in redface to be the Blackhawks mascot for Halloween and was just throwing out people’s criticisms wholesale and telling them to unfriend him instead. More recently, I’d gotten beautiful work done at a different shop that had done similarly great work for my friends, but when I went back to look into getting knuckle tattoos, the artist had thrown out my few guidelines — I didn’t want the tattoo to be black, and I wanted it to be pretty without being too feminine. He insisted that it had to be black and block lettering or it’d take away from the “impact” of the tattoos. I had asked for what I’d asked for because I already have black block letters on the insides of my fingers and I needed to differentiate, and because these are my hands. I want to love this tattoo for the rest of my life. He clearly didn’t care, so I canceled the appointment. Keep reading »
This video by psychologist Dr. Nina Burrowes explains the smoke screen that keeps society blind to what sexual abuse really looks like and makes it more likely for abusers to get away with what they’re doing. Obviously, abuse is a horrible thing, and it is never anyone’s fault but the abuser. That said, society as a whole buys into misleading stereotypes that enable abusers to continue what they’re doing and to emotionally manipulate their victims into thinking what happened wasn’t abuse. The cliche image of creepy men in public alleyways committing sex crimes makes it harder for most victims to be taken seriously, because most instances of abuse happen behind closed doors and are carried out by someone the victim trusts. While disturbing to think about, this video is full of insights you may have never heard before, and awareness like this is the key to making life easier for victims and tougher for abusers. [Everyday Feminism]
Before the movement to end street harassment really gained steam, I penned an essay about my childhood experiences as a poor, Black girl. In the piece, I detailed an interaction I had, at 11 years old with a group of men more than two times my age, where they publicly sexually harassed me while on my neighborhood street. The piece expressed the hurt, anger and rage that is buried so deep within me after decades of feeling unsafe in this world just because I am woman. This was the story of how I learned that my entire being was defined, in this society, by my sexuality. Not my intelligence, not my humor, not my wit, but access to my body.
I looked back on that piece and felt all the fears and anxiety that I have so long tried to cast aside and dismiss. Fears that resurfaced because of stories that two women were brutally attacked within the past couple of days (one of whom lost her life and the other who thankfully is expected to survive), by men who sought to gain access to their sexuality but were denied. Men who invaded the personal physical and emotional space of those women, without any permission or invitation, and murdered them simply because they were made aware of the fact that their advances were not welcomed. Keep reading »