All posts by hoochie

WMN EMPWRMNT: ISABEL PAILLERE

 

Q: What does woman empowerment mean to you?

A: Personally, women empowerment seems to only exist in Dove commercials, rather than an element incorporated into daily life. However, to me, women empowerment is a unification of the female species, wherein our independence and equality are celebrated. I only hope that woman empowerment will become a theme prevalent in daily life and not only existent in commercials. 

 

Q: What does being a woman mean to you?

A: In my perspective, being a woman means being a leader. The fact that we bear novel life with our bodies barely scrapes the surface of what we women have the power to do. Yet, I feel like many people forget that factor, leaving women to be considered as less than. I think individuals will always underestimate us. But as a woman, I believe our duty is to ultimately prove them wrong.

 

Q: What do you bring to the table when it comes to women empowerment?

A: When it comes to women empowerment, I make my own contribution by uplifting women. I am not afraid to positively “hype” someone up if I see a fellow female living their best life. For example, if I see one of my girlfriends working hard and doing well, you must believe that I will applaud her. I think it’s important to support one another because a sweet gesture like that can make someone’s day and as females, I believe we all need to be more proud of each other

“The Hunting Ground”: A Horror Pseudo-Documentary on a Serious Issue

By Sabrina Schnurr

Summary

CNN’s The Hunting Ground focuses on the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses in America and the way colleges neglect to address it. The documentary seeks to highlight the roles that money and reputation play in college administrations’ choices while chronicling the journey of Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, two former students at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who filed a Title IX complaint and sparked a movement against sexual assault on college campuses. The film criticizes schools’ actions while also examining the culture of fraternities and college athletes. The Hunting Ground includes testimony from many student victims of sexual assault, as well as interviews with psychologists, authors, professors, administrators, police officers, and parents. Lady Gaga recorded a Grammy-nominated original song, “Till It Happens to You,” for the film.

•••

The film opens like a blockbuster thriller: a montage of high schoolers and their families happily opening college acceptances immediately sets the scene for the emotional rollercoaster to come. Even the title itself establishes fears in viewers. Dramatic images of a doorknob and bathroom tile resemble that of a crime scene remake on a television drama, and voice-overs telling terrifying stories contrast with their corresponding montages of beautiful campus scenery. All in all, the film is hard to watch. Images of fraternity signs reading “sexual assault expected” and “thank you for your daughters” land a giant knot in viewers’ stomachs, and specifically, one father’s account of his daughter’s suicide is heart-wrenching and almost impossible to listen to. In this regard, the film does what it was made to do: draw an emotional reaction from audiences.

However, this emotional reaction is then irresponsibly paired with a quick hero-ending and a weak focus on the facts. Almost instantaneously, two students at UNC transition from broken victims to national heroes taking on Title IX to solve college rape; the ending segment presents a suddenly uplifting montage of women standing up. A quick cut between the national map of reported campus sexual assaults and the nearly identical homemade map hanging in the students’ apartment serves as comforting, but irresponsible closure. While these young women may have started a movement, this ending segment credits them — and solely them — with “solving” college sexual assault.

After this quick transition, women are suddenly shown strongly standing up and taking action, and administrators (formerly pessimistic about the future of the issue) suddenly see an optimistic solution. Footage of President Obama giving an address on the issue and a montage of new federal investigations into colleges make it seem as though these national achievements were a direct result of only these two students’ mission. Visually, this creates a false cause-and-effect relationship, in which the middle step is never shown. Where is the mention of Emma Sulkowicz, the student who started a movement in 2014 after carrying her mattress around campus after being assaulted? What about all the administrators, politicians, families, reporters, and students that played a role in this movement (a movement which started long before these young women even started college)?

The journey of the two students at UNC did not happen in a vacuum, but they are portrayed as if they did. Gillian Greensite, director of rape prevention education at UC Santa Cruz, notes that the first peak of activism in the rape-crisis movement occurred after the Civil War. Considering how these incidents are analyzed in isolation, the film lacks a rational evaluation of the then-current state of discussion about sexual assault and consequently, does these victims a giant disservice. Its happy ending also does not leave room for future discussion of this issue. Sexual assault is a dynamic problem in the United States; recently Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the administration was formally withdrawing Obama-era campus sexual assault direction.

In addition, it has been argued that many of the statistics used in the film are outdated or merely inaccurate. Slate’s Emily Yoffe, who also writes for the Atlantic, spoke to Alyssa Keehan, director of research at United Educators — a higher education insurance group that recently released a study of 305 sexual assault claims they received from 104 schools over three years. Keehan noted that the “most common narrative you hear” — institutions not caring about sexual assault — might not be true. Their data found that when a formal complaint is brought against a student, he is found guilty 45 percent of the time, and when that happens, the attacker is given the “most severe penalty available” (expulsion or suspension) over 80 percent of the time. Nonetheless, while the choice of statistics used in the film can be arguably biased or inaccurate, it can hardly be debated that some are outdated. Specifically, in a portion of the film discussing student athletes as the prime attackers who get away with assault, two statistics are held onscreen; these statistics date back to 1993, over twenty years before the film was released. In using this data, the filmmakers ignore how college culture has changed tremendously in the past twenty years and continue to deny the viewer of a fully-informed, unbiased discussion on college sexual assault.

Any documentary has a responsibility to be fact-based, and in conveniently excluding major pieces of the investigations noted, the film loses its legitimacy and sabotages its powerful message. For example, a large piece of the film focuses on the rape allegation against Jameis Winston, a former Florida State University quarterback who was found not responsible after a criminal investigation. His accuser, Erica Kinsman, went public saying that after drinking a shot at an off-campus bar she started feeling strange and was “fairly certain there was something in that drink.” However, the filmmakers fail to note that two toxicology reports found that she had no drugs in her system nor do they reveal that at the December hearing, Kinsman did not insist that she was drugged or unconscious. Granted, these young women are beyond brave for speaking out about their experiences; sexual assault on college campuses is a real problem that needs to be addressed. Yet while testimony from real victims has raw, emotional power, it isn’t enough. If the students are looking to inform the public about this very serious issue, an ethical stance of fairness does not leave room for picking and choosing what critical pieces get included.

Ultimately, The Hunting Ground does its viewers a disservice by focusing on passion over information. In a world where the media rules our daily lives, documentary-makers have an ethical responsibility to provide fact-based films. However, some could argue that the pushback from schools on the accuracy of things mentioned in the film perhaps proves the film’s point: colleges do not want to put their reputations on the line by addressing this very real issue. Yet, in terms of the film itself, it poses serious questions about bias and our consumption of media. Can a documentary still be a good documentary if it only presents one side of the story? Additionally, Emily Yoffe brought up an interesting point in an NPR interview: what does this mean for CNN? This news network is attempting to present the film as a “fair exploration of an important subject,” but it very easily might not be “fair” at all.

 

Featured image by Christopher Serra, courtesy of the LA Times.

Lost Latina Leaders: Luisa Moreno and the Labor Movement

By Samantha Delgado

Despite being overlooked by a large portion of historians, Latinas played a huge part within the American labor movement. The Latinx community faced higher percentages of living on poverty-level wages than white women, and they were more likely to work in farm work, blue-collar work, and temporary work. These jobs left little for moving up or into other higher paying occupations, and contained harsh working condition. Latinas specifically had the lowest rate of unionization amongst all other groups. Thus, when the chance arose to combat the disparities and disadvantages facing them, Latinas took it and shaped it to fit the needs of their communities.

Latinas took the labor movement as a way to organize their community and uplift themselves from some of the issues that affected them and their community most. In the early to mid 1900s, Mexican and Mexican-American women in the seasonal canning industry in California were able to form one of the largest, most effective labor unions: The United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA). As half of the total UCAPAWA’s total membership, numbers showed that Mexican women had the highest percentages of executive board-trustee posts, negotiating-organizing posts, and social and community service positions in UCAPAWA, even compared to their male counterparts. Latinas used the labor movement to heighten their consciousness as females and ethnic minorities facing inequalities in the workplace, and develop organizing strategies of their own.

UCAPAWA also produced one of the most influential Latina leaders of the time: Luisa Moreno. Moreno has been noted as one of the unknown heroes of the labor movement, due to the lack of depth and recognition she receives outside of Latinx history. Her work in the labor movement paved the path for Linda Chavez-Thompson and other Latina labor leaders alike. From Tampa cigar-rolling plants, New York City garment shops, and canneries in Los Angeles, she organized in various communities for workers across the country. Moreno would go on to become the Vice President of UCAPAWA, making her the first-ever female V.P. of a major union. Using her power as a leader in several communities, Moreno organized the first national Latino civil rights assembly, as well as a Mexican Civil Rights committee in San Diego. She spoke out on racial profiling and police brutality against Mexican-Americans as well as other ethnic minorities. Sadly, she was deported due to a major operation against Mexican and Mexican-Americans. It is devastating not just to the Latinx community, but to the history of the labor movement that her story and work has often gone overlooked. Moreno is not the only Latina who has been ignored by historians, and it is crucial that as scholars, we dig deeper into history and give light to the unsung heroes of the Latinx community.

UCAPAWA was just one example of the many ways Latinas used the labor movement to understand their own concerns as both women and Latina (and what those two parts of their identity mean). It showed how they came together collectively to organize for their issues, negotiate their benefits as workers, and take active leadership roles both within and outside the unions.

Despite being ignored by historians, Latina union membership grew from 500,000 to 3.5 million in a span of 7 years during the early to mid 1900s. Our history–– Latinx history–– has been repeatedly ignored, and therefore, young Latinx people lack the encouragement to get involved with their communities, like Moreno did. Latinas like Moreno deserve their work and contribution to be recognized. By telling others about Moreno’s work, and getting involved in our own communities, we can give her and other Latina leaders the recognition they deserve.

Dysfunctional Mitten

By Marie Cantor

With the end of the semester fast-approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about home.  The breezy air from the Great Lakes, the bustling sounds of Ford Road, and the ruthless certainty that the Detroit Lions will never make it to the Super Bowl. I’ve lived in Michigan

Williams, Izzie. My Detroit. 2016. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit.
Williams, Izzie. My Detroit. 2016. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit 

an my whole life. I’ve gone through the lows of Kwame Kilpatrickand the highs of the slow revival of the automotive companies. My whole life I was told Detroit is good, bad, and ugly. Currently, domestic violence in Wayne County–– the most populous county in Michigan, within which Detroit is included–– is on the rise.

Wayne County’s population is approximately 1.8 million, and Detroit accounts for roughly 37% of that population, according to the 2017 census. By comparison, twenty-eight Bostons can fit in one Detroit. Wayne County’s prosecutor, Kym Worthy, reports a noticeable increase in domestic violence in 2017. She explains that in 2017, the cases neared 9,000––thats about 2,000 more cases than average.[1]

Williams, Izzie. Unnamed. 2016. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit.
Williams, Izzie. Unnamed. 2016. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit.

There are 72 organizations in Michigan that provide services to people experiencing domestic violence.[2]Recently, Wayne State University created a new program to help survivors in the Metro Detroit area. Of the 11,341 rape kits found in 2009, those that were tested by the Detroit Police convicted 152 rapists.[1]Pursuits to combat domestic violence in Michigan are all in full force and taken seriously. So why this sudden influx of abuse in Metro Detroit?

Worthy notes a trend she calls, “the CSI effect.” Alluding to the overtly dramatic television show by the same name, this effect makes clear the phenomenon that jurors in the Wayne courtrooms expect theatrics. Jurors want lawyers screaming, and eye-witnesses crying; the jury expects the courtroom to reflect entertainment from television shows.  Prosecutor Worthy says this causes difficulties in performing due process.[1]In our culture, there is a thin line between reality and what we see in the media.We watch shows like CSI and Law & Order, and expect to have the same experience in the real world.

The aforementioned theory still doesn’t explain the increase in cases of domestic abuse. The Detroit Police has not given any formal statements or information on the matter. Frankly, there isn’t much talk in general, except for casual slips of information regarding the increase in Wayne County. Even Prosecutor Worthy gave a small statement with no new information, and claims that the police department is  ameliorating such situations. Despite this statement, all I personally see is useless talk and little action.  I realize that feminist programs continue fighting to help survivors every day, but officials still shirk from solving issues sprouting from lack of communication.    

Williams, Izzie. The Beauty of the Broken. 2017. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit.
Williams, Izzie. The Beauty of the Broken. 2017. Instagram @livingizzie, Detroit.

Detroit is not an outlier in this issue. In our society, there is an abundance of programs to help survivors, which is fantastic, but there is no education on how to prevent violence in the first place. The question still stands–how can you tell someone not to be an abuser?

Relationship education is not stated in the sex education obligations providing by Michigan Department of Education.[3]In early education, there needs to be a standard of instructing what a healthy relationship looks like. Instead teachers are instructed to stressabstinence from sex.

Where are the statements? Why are there no questions? Why is there more domestic violence? We claim “Detroit vs Everybody” but it seems we are only fighting ourselves. There is no point of promoting strength when we are still crumbling through the cracks. Detroit is trying to rebuild its economy with fancy bars and cute decorations. But the people of Detroit are being forgotten. 

      

 

 

 

[1]Jachman, Matt. “Wayne County Prosecutor Talks CSI Effect, School Threats, Domestic Violence in Town Hall Meeting.” HometownLife, 5 Dec. 2018, www.hometownlife.com/story/news/2018/12/05/kym-worthy-talks-csi-effect-school-threats-more-town-hall-meeting/2161061002/.

 

[2]“Michigan Domestic Violence Help, Programs and Statistics.” DomesticShelters.org, www.domesticshelters.org/mi/michigan-domestic-violence-help-statistics.

 

[3]“HIV/STD and Sex Education in Michigan Public Schools: A Summary of Legal Obligations and Best Practices.” SOM – State of Michigan, Department of Education, www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/Michigans_Sex_Education_Laws_Summary_303019_7.pdf

WMN EMPWRMNT: GABRIELLE MONTES DE OCA

By Melissa Hurtado

GABRIELLE MONTES DE OCA

Q: What does woman empowerment mean to you?

A: Women empowerment means sisterhood and solidarity.

Every woman on this planet is fighting the same fight each and every day. No matter how different two women are, they likely share similar experiences when it comes to gender-based oppression. These experiences connect women in a unique way- it makes us sisters and sisters stand together.

Q: What does being a woman mean to you?

A: Womanhood means freedom and possibility, but when it doesn’t, it means stoicism and strength.

Being a woman allows me to safely explore what it means to be pretty. Femininity and prettiness are intertwined, and as a woman, I get to have fun with both. I also get to be vulnerable and sensitive with those I trust. I have deep, meaningful friendships with men and women. Men are not as safe doing the same.

However, as a woman, I have faced danger and limitations. My parents raised me with fear, afraid of how the world could hurt me so they did their best to control and shelter me for as long as they could. It came with love “but a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams.”

I can’t blame them- I have felt fear when I would walk home and strange men would yell at me, or when I would get stared at on the metro, or when I got followed to my car, or when I was flashed in a university parking lot, or when a faculty member at university tried to force me into an embrace.
In these events, as a woman, I have to stand my ground and be strong.

Q: What do you bring to the table when it comes to women empowerment?

A: I bring vegan, love filled donuts, an open mind, a big heart, and loads of La Croix.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Force to be Reckoned With

Amid all the horrible things currently tearing apart our nation, we sometimes forget to appreciate everything beautiful in our lives. Let’s take a minute to bask in the glory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, shall we?

Ms. Bader Ginsburg’s parents worked as a furrier and as a garment factory employee in the height of the Great Depression. Her parents emphasized the significance of education, although they themselves have not received university degrees. Unfortunately, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s mother died from cancer the day before Ruth’s high school graduation. Despite this drawback, Bader Ginsburg completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University. She met her husband, who was a Cornell Law School student, and started a family with him after she completed her undergraduate degree. Soon afterwards, Ruth Bader Ginsburg received her law degree from Harvard Law School. Upon graduating, despite her high qualifications, Bader Ginsburg was constantly faced with inequalities; she would always receive a much lower salary than her male counterparts and felt pressured to hide her pregnancy in fear that she would be fired.

Despite the countless sexist hurdles Ruth Bader Ginsburg faced, she still persisted. Ruth pursued civil procedure and then became a law professor at Rutgers University until she was hired by Columbia University, where she was the first woman to receive tenure. Former President Bill Clinton then appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a Supreme Court Justice, where she continued her passion for advocating. She fiercely fights for women’s rights, and even wrote the majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, which argued that women should not be prohibited from joining the Virginia Military Institute.

The moral of the story is, know your female role models. Know what you want in life, and persistently fight for it. Understand female role models’ history, the struggles that they lived through, and appreciate their accomplishments. Internalize their strategies that allowed them to climb to success. After all, Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not grow up in a wealthy household, but she is now a Supreme Court Justice. Despite the immense amount of personal hurdles and academic hurdles that Bader Ginsburg faced—including when she battled both pancreatic and colon cancer—she never faltered. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has never missed a day of oral arguments, and proudly represents the feminist movement. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my female role model, and I hope she is yours too.

 

Source: https://www.oyez.org/justices/ruth_bader_ginsburg

 

By: Eleni Constantinou

 

WMN EMPWRMNT: Alexandra Marie Vargas

Photography and Interview by Melissa Hurtado

ALEXANDRA MARIE VARGAS

Q: What does woman empowerment mean to you?

A: Woman empowerment is what allows us, women, to comfortably have a mind of our own. It’s what allows us to express how we feel and do what we love. It is freedom. It is a step closer to being equal to one another as it should be.

Q: What does being a woman mean to you?

A: To be a woman is to be brave. to be bold. to be strong. to be love. I believe it isn’t the easiest role, but one of the most beautiful ones.

Q: What do you bring to the table when it comes to women empowerment?

A: What I bring to the table in focus of woman empowerment is knowledge, ingenuity, and kindness. I feel that they play such a big role in woman empowerment for individuality. Knowledge binds us with ourselves and allows us to open our mind to know more than what we’ve been told to do or feel. Bringing out our own ingenuity that differentiates one from another. With kindness, we accept and love one another.

Curls

Originally published in our Spring 2018 Reader, Dev Blair’s poem “Curls” is one of two prose poems that “tell a part of the story of a young femme wrestling with the ways in which they meet the world and the ways in which the world meets them.”

In their abstract, Blair explains that:

“In Curls, I draw parallels between my hair’s relationship to relaxers and my relationship to men, using the comparison to analyze the ways that I’ve been mistreated by the men in my life. While the terms “queer” and “non-binary” don’t feature in the poem itself, the experiences I describe within are inextricably tied to those parts of my identity, by virtue of how these things influence which men I interact with and how I am seen by them.”

If you are interested in buying a physical copy of the reader, email hoochie@bu.edu ! We are selling them for $5.


[ Content warning: for mentions of depression ]

Curls

by Dev Blair

For a long time, I didn’t quite understand the term “natural.”

See, I knew that curls grew from my scalp naturally and I also understood that I could see my curls intertwine and loc beautifully—if I ever stop tryna cop Britney’s ’‘07 hairdo every time I have a breakdown.

But what I didn’t get was how we could name our curls—something so deeply personal and meaningful—”natural,” as if to make them sound normal, mundane, or palatable.

See, I don’t want my curls to be something you can stomach, another vaguely ethnic dish for white eyes to consume.

My curls are something your combs cannot tame, your brushes cannot beat back, your razors cannot cut down.

My curls are twisted and kinky and they like to play rough.

Relaxers hide their faces in shame when they see my curls, gettin’ clowned on in their workplaces for lack of game, their own failure to play aces, ultimately to blame for their inability to run bases and tame my militant curls.

Like men disappoint me, so too do relaxers disappoint my curls. Inviting them in with promises of beauty and a future, they leave them desolate and lifeless after extracting every ounce of magic and joy from their being. Slinking down the drain, they take my curls’ hopes and dreams and parts of themselves with them.

Capitalizing on my curls’ labor and my curls’ abuse, relaxers are like men to me, suitors that preach and preen over how faithful they’ll be, only to treat our “unruliness” as a liability.

White cream slathered on black curls, like white men slobbering over black girls, suffocating them with their emotional unavailability, then leaving them a little more broken than they were found, even though it’s been years since they were chained and bound to Eurocentricity’s straight and narrow Middle Passage.

Postcolonial as in post relaxer as in post heart break post break up postmodernism, this is a poem posted like a notice on every door and Facebook wall saying that I’m better off without them. And so are my curls.

My beauty is achieved, not defaulted. My strength is earned, but not exalted unless it can be used to turn a profit.

My pretty smells of hard work and healthy routines learned from unhealthy habits and a history of hurt. My curls shine with a radiance not natural nor innate but learned from every trial that turned out to be a mistake. She must learn to love themself, because others don’t care to take the time to learn how to love me.

My curls have got it on loc because when I unlocked my heart for you, instead of with it you ran away with the key and so now only rage spills out, with no kiss to fix it or stop it up.

With each beat of my thoroughly disappointed heart, the rage rushes to my ears, breaking every part of myself I curated like fine art. As I crumble into sadness, the blood pounds with the barking madness of hell hounds bounding after their-query for you: “did it feel good to waste my time?” Before the answer can be found, my innocence dies like the Virgin Hairy, killed by sounds in my head of “you’re undesirable,” and “you’ll never marry,” and I am left limp and wet and barely recognizable.

Solange wrote a catchy song about it, so y’all get it already, right?

But see, you don’t. Because my curls are not just the feelings I wear, but the product of the pain I bear and the parts of myself I refuse to share and the things that I talk about in prayer.

I am not natural. Neither are my curls. We are more than you could ever hope to call natural—after all, what is natural about a body ravaged by the politics of desirability?

See, love is a battlefield and my body is the site of war. Y’all come into my life, fuck shit up, then call me whore so now I can’t sleep. I can’t rest or lay down and neither can my curls, and girls, that’s how we all got our razor-sharp edges-from pain so intense, we can’t even weep. That’s why I shave my head like I’m shearing a goddamn sheep, so if you want my curls, know that the price is steep. Don’t hurt me so deep that I can’t keep myself together. If you can avoid that and ease my bleeding heart, help me heal from the times I fell apart, then and only then do you deserve to look at my curls.

“Intro / Black Heels” : An R&B Slam Poem on Catcalling

By Izzy Weinberg

The funny thing about this piece is that I wrote it on a regular day, when the words just started coming to me. Being catcalled or talked at is almost a daily thing for most women that you’d assume it wouldn’t bother me. But I never get used to it, and it always puts a strain on my day. When I was writing it, I didn’t think about getting any certain message across, but when I read it back I realized it was from my unique perspective. These instances are a daily part of my life, but who the men who are on the other side of the situation, it doesn’t effect them. I go on with my day with that shame and humiliation on me. They get to laugh it off. It’s so much more serious to me, and while some things are flattery and complimentary, most of the time it’s just degrading. 

https://open.spotify.com/track/4o2icJJdqrOlSavvkSDOvL?si=BgS3LKw8Qd2t7H1XgYUxnQ

Transcription:

have you ever noticed that harassed
has the word ass in it?
It’s telling you exactly what not to touch
and yet that still doesn’t seem to be enough.
It’s not clear for you.
I walk down the street in fear of you,
in an outfit I wore for me
now how can that be?
see my daily routine does not involve you.
yet you seem to think that that’s not true,
that I provoke you.
that I want this.
excuse me but I don’t need you to tell me what my worth is
and it’s not really worth you’re commenting on is it?
just the way ass and tits sit
yeah that’s your business.
people say it’s a compliment
well that shame I feel when you linger near
doesn’t really booster my confidence.
makes me want to take off this outfit I wear
and change myself to hold you back
but that won’t stop the racket
so why am I the one who’s supposed to change
when you’re the one getting in my brain
Everyday.
feelings of humiliation won’t go away
through the days they always stay
I was just trying to go to work today.
So no,
I will not change so you have the power.
I will wear short skirts and I will talk even louder
I will stomp down the sidewalk in my black heals
and I will not let your stupidity blind me to my ideals.

Follow Izzy and FOOL:

Instagram: @officialfool
Facebook: @FOOLofficial
Spotify: FOOL
Soundcloud: @officialFOOL

 

 

The Manspread: The Bane of Working Women

By Sabrina Schnurr

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 3.58.20 PM

Manspreading: “the practice in which a man adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat.”

This behavior – most commonly spotted on public transportation – is often attributed to a man’s “intrinsic need” to assert his authority and subsequently undermine a woman’s space. The prominence of manspreading on transportation in big cities poses a daily struggle for professional women on their way to and from work, and the newly noticed trend has attracted attention all over the internet and new sources.

Spinal neurosurgeon John Sutcliffe explains that the art of manspreading could in fact be a matter of physicality, rather than sheer egotism. Sutcliffe states that the “overall width of the pelvis is relatively greater in females and the angle of the femoral neck is more acute. These factors could play a role in making a position of sitting with the knees close together less comfortable in men.” He also suggests that most men “adopt the more spread posture”to avoid testicular compression from the thigh muscles.

I call bullshit.

While this is biologically true, humans – as an advanced species – have the ability and willpower to exhibit behavior that overcomes historically biological instincts. Men have the brain capacity to notice how much space they are unfairly consuming and to make a rational decision that would equally benefit those around him.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 3.58.31 PM

Spain’s capital has recently taken a stand against manspreading: Madrid’s Municipal Transportation Company (EMT) has installed new signs in all of its vehicles reminding transport users to “maintain civic responsibility and respect the personal space of everyone on board.”  These signs serve as a visible warning that assuming bothersome seating positions is prohibited in the city’s transport system. The move comes after months of campaigning by women in Madrid led by the group Mujeres en Lucha.

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A similar movement has grown in the transportation system of NYC, where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled public service ads that encourage men to occupy only one seat in subway cars. However, whether or not they will pay mind to the new ads is a whole other question. The ads have, of course, received criticism from many subway riders; a 20 year old man recently made comments declaring he’s not going to “cross my legs like ladies do. I’m going to sit how I want to sit … I’d just laugh at the ad and hope that someone graffitis over it.”

While I think that enacting a law to force men to sit courteously seems a bit extreme, it is quite upsetting that it has been deemed necessary. Once again, we are policing behavior with the wrong mindset; is it too much to ask for men to simply take up one seat? This is yet another example of our failure to raise our children to think civilly and merely respect the women around us.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 3.59.15 PM

On the flip side, Mic released a video showing what happens when a woman manspreads on the New York subway; blog editor Elizabeth Plank wanted to see the reactions when a woman spread her legs in the same manner as men in public. Her male coworker, Nick, tagged along. Not surprisingly, Elizabeth attracted notably more glares from the men compared to Nick, who received very little.  While virtually no one noticed Nick’s manspreading, Elizabeth was made to feel uncomfortable and even shamed in her chosen posture. Nick – whose behavior was seen as just something that guys do – had to move only when people directly and repeatedly asked him to, whereas Elizabeth’s behavior was seen as both rude and unladylike.

How do these misogynistic and bigoted standards persist in an “evolved” society? While women continue to make strides in prominent areas through activism, how do we – as a society – go about shaping the minor habits of men that have drastic impacts on the minds of young girls and the women they grow up to be?

For starters, we must remember and defend our right to space. Although it is easier said than done, women need to protect our right to travel to and from work in the same manner as men. And we must recruit men that share in this belief.

 

Sources:

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/manspreading-scientific-explanation-revealed-men-behaviour-public-transport-etiquette-a7862771.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/mandspreading-madrid-spain-ban-public-transport-bus-metro-behaviour-etiquette-a7779041.html