American University students have been sparring for days with university vice president Gail Short Hanson over her refusal to sign off on a grant application that could funnel $300,000 to sexual assault prevention to the school. Today, students managed to secure Hanson's signature—not on that critical grant, though. Hanson signed a document today promising to "collaborate with students to complete a comprehensive plan of action" on sexual assault prevention—one that may not go into effect until 2014. The full agreement, and some analysis, after the jump:
Archive for March 2011
Last week, American University students learned that the university administration refused to sign off on an application that could funnel $300,000 to the school to fund sexual assault prevention on campus. After failing to convince the administration to budge in a campus meeting last night, protests began in earnest this morning. The Department of Justice Violence Against Women Act grant would have been due today.
- Advice on thievery, liberalism, and dog trampling etiquette.
Truncating the week's advice columns:
Rehearse retorts for when your liberal friends discuss how U.S. soldiers are baby-killers who deserve to die. You cannot expect the neighbor who trampled your dog in a freak elevator accident to reimburse you for the $1,000 you've paid to purchase a dog of the same size and weight as the deceased. Stay in touch with your friend's widower instead of shelling out for the $250-a-plate annual charity dinner held in her honor. Inform your friend that marrying her cheating fiance will end only in many unpleasant lab results at the gynecologist's office. [Dear Prudence]
- Tina Fey (Photo: Associated Press)
KATIE ROIPHE PRAISES TINA FEY over her superior strategy for breaking into the old boys' club: Telling funny jokes. "You see, some of us have forgotten this basic point," Roiphe writes. "Responding to a situation with humor, as opposed to, say, dead-serious self-righteousness, is a rhetorically effective way to get a political point across." While I agree that humor can be radicalizing, it tends to be a particularly effective strategy for a humorist, and significantly less critical for, say, anti-feminist essayists, or diplomats. Roiphe, for her part, fails to crack any jokes in the course of arguing that feminism has forgotten to write "a better joke than the other people in the room."
AFTER THE JUMP: Deadly cobras; Wal-Mart sexist showdown; Rep. Chris Smith lobbies to ensure African women die from childbirth more than they already do:
- Vote for white guys to help non-white guys get elected . . . next time. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
Parents, teachers, sex reporters, and other adults looking for a creepy window into the sex lives of our nation's youth! Welcome to TBD's digest of local college sex columns:
STRAIGHT WHITE GUYS are at it again: Last week, American University sophomore Tim McBride became the fourth straight white male to be elected president of the school's student government in as many years. McBride was a staunch advocate of increased diversity throughout the campaign (here's how that worked out).
Prior to the election, campus magazine AWOL raised the race, gender, and sexual orientation problem, and later commended McBride for welcoming that conversation and stepping up to demand greater diversity in the legislative body. “There is a perception out there that this is a predominately white, male group,” McBride said of the student government crew. “It’s something that needs to be changed.? We need to make it clear, we need to make it extra clear, that that’s not the case.”
Since June, a group of American University students and administrators have been working to bring $300,000 in Department of Justice grant money to the school to prevent sexual assaults on campus. Seventeen campus offices, three community organizations, and the undergraduate student senate approved the proposal. But just last week—days before the grant application deadline—university Vice President Gail Hanson derailed the effort, refusing to sign off on the grant application because it would impose a class registration hold on students who failed to complete mandatory sexual assault training.
Since the news hit, American University students have rallied to convince administrators to green-light the application before the final deadline. (It's tomorrow).
TRANS BILL HITS SNAGS: The Maryland legislation that would extend anti-discrimination protections to trans people has been sent to a Senate committee, where it could possibly toil until the body adjourns on April 11, the Washington Blade reports. Though the bill has died in Senate committees for the past four years, supporters were encouraged this year when bathroom-obsessed Maryland House of Delegates recently approved the measure by a wide margin. Increasing the bill's chances of dying a slow death:
"In yet another development likely to trouble the bill’s supporters, [Senate offices were] 'inundated' on Monday by calls from transgender activists opposed to the bill because it has been stripped of a provision banning discrimination against transgender persons in the area of public accommodations."
AFTER THE JUMP: Protesting Wal-Mart; NAACP on HIV; pegging, considered:
In 2008, undergraduates at American University completed a campus survey on whether or not they had been sexually assaulted in the past year. According to the survey, 6.8 percent of American University undergraduate students—about 400 of them—reported experiencing "forced sexual touching or fondling" in the previous year. And 4.1 percent of them—about 200 students—reported experiencing "unwanted sexual intercourse" in that same time frame.
AU's Office of Campus Life, which sponsored that survey, has now blocked a campus initiative that could net the university $300,000 in federal grants to help reduce those numbers.
Yesterday, local anti-abortion group the Maryland Coalition for Life announced that it would soon open a pro-life pregnancy center directly across from the Germantown clinic where Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a colleague of the late Dr. George Tiller, performs abortions. The target audience for the new operation? "Anybody within the area that’s considering having an abortion," says Mike Martelli, executive director of the coalition.
But specifically, the center hopes to reach those women who are considering having an abortion, immediately, just across the parking lot. The Maryland Coalition for Life has provided this handy illustration of its proximity to Carhart's clinic:
- This old thing. (Photo: Associated Press)
Over the weekend, the New York Times Fashion & Style section finally discovered a Washington trend worth investigating: a band of white, highly educated men who are pushing 30 and taking the media world by storm. Who would have thought these crazy kids would make it!
The piece included such anthropological insights into "Washington's new brat pack" (except older, and not new anymore) as: "Sitting in a darkened bar not far from the Washington Convention Center, drinking bourbon, Mr. Yglesias, 29, wistfully recalled his days as a student in Cambridge, Mass., where he developed his own blog with the help of his college roommate, who knew something about this new thing called HTML." Later, Yglesias' romantic situation is compared to St. Elmo's Fire.
- Betty Friedan. Gloria Steinem. Charlie Sheen. (Photo: Associated Press)
CHARLIE SHEEN: "FEMINIST VICTORY?" "Sheen has allegedly threatened to kill five women, has shot at and strangled his girlfriends, and once beat a woman for not having sex with him. It’s darkly enjoyable to see a man who has abused so many women in the past now be openly mocked by the public, and to witness his breakdown and consequent firing from Two and a Half Men," argues Sarah H., blogger for Where Is Your Line? and occupier of alternate universe to myself. "It’s encouraging to see that people are laughing at Charlie Sheen, not with him, as he holds a knife to his girlfriend’s neck and holds a prostitute hostage in a bathroom. To quote Mr. Sheen, we may very well be on our way to, duh, winning." ANNA HOLMES, you're my only hope!
AFTER THE JUMP: Finding the gayngle; Sucker Punch feminist/misogynist breakdown; Bachmann v. Palin:
- Dr. LeRoy Carhart (Photo: Associated Press)
It's on: After months of protests outside Dr. LeRoy Carhart's Germantown abortion clinic, anti-abortion groups Operation Rescue and the Maryland Coalition for Life are stepping up their efforts to intercept Carhart's clients and prevent them from receiving abortions. On April 2, the groups will team up to open a new crisis pregnancy center directly across the street from Carhart's clinic, complete with free ultrasounds and pregnancy "counselors."
"The office will be used as a place of prayer for pro-life supporters, but will also act as a resource and referral center for vulnerable and needy pregnant women as well as post-abortive women," Operation Rescue wrote in a press release today.
On Saturday, the Maryland House of Delegates voted to advance a bill that would ban discrimination against trans people in employment and housing—but would stop short of eliminating discrimination in public accommodations. The rationale for giving the state's hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, shops, gyms, and stadiums free reign to legally bar trans people? Think of the toilets!
In recent years, local opponents of trans rights have swatted down proposed gender identity protections in the state by hammering away at the bathroom question. Their argument: When trans people are granted equal access to public restrooms and locker rooms, any man will be empowered to don a skirt, infiltrate a women's bathroom, and rape women and children with impunity. Seriously.
There's no evidence that anyone has ever capitalized upon trans anti-discrimination protections in the hopes of raping anyone, anywhere. But that hasn't stopped groups like Maryland Citizens for Responsible Government from painting all trans people as potential sexual predators plotting to infiltrate "our" toilets. In 2009, Ruth Jacobs—leader of MCRG's "Not My Shower" campaign—explained her crusade to me: "If somebody with an opposite body part is allowed in to a ladies’ restroom—a guy who has a penis, who could put his penis inside my vagina—what am I to do?”
- This old thing (Photo: Associated Press)
THE NEW YORK TIMES paywall goes into effect today, potentially limiting our exposure to masturbatory ruminations on the lives of wonder boy bloggers (and the women who love them). Clever NYT backlash pieces will remain free of charge.
AFTER THE JUMP: Fox joins Apatow; Richmond, Va. debates Planned Parenthood; Scott Walker's pro-life flip-flop
- GW students gather for the vigil (via Rory Gerberg)
Last December, students at the George Washington University made a disturbing discovery: Rape kits—the medical and forensic exam performed on a victim following a sexual assault—are not available on GW's campus. According to a study released by the Younger Women's Task Force that month, 62 percent of GW undergraduate and graduate students were under the impression that the school's student health center was capable of administering the exams (it's not). Eighty-nine percent of students thought they could find the kits at the adjacent—but unaffiliated—George Washington University Hospital (they can't).
Since the study broke, campus activists and journalists have rallied to reconcile those numbers by demanding that forensic exams become "immediately" accessible to GW students.
CollegeACB—the latest in a line of anonymous gossip websites targeted at college students—is now the latest anonymous gossip site to become the target of wide-open campus backlash. USC freshman Haley Winters has launched a campaign encouraging college students around the country to speak out against the site—under their real names—and reject the sexist, racist, classist, homophobic, and generally misanthropic commentary filed under each campus gossip page.
"We're trying to make CollegeACB a more positive and productive place to have anonymous conversations," CollegeACB promised in a response on its homepage. The new, happy-go-lucky ACB will "Encourage users to post more positive and productive content" and "Push the culture of the site in a more positive and productive direction."
DOES GOD WANT WOMEN TO WEAR PANTS? Considered: "I believe that it has to do with what culture and time period you live in.There is no way that any of us can deny that we know the difference between men’s clothing and women’s clothing. Even in today’s society, when the look is becoming more androgynous, there is still a distinction, and hence the reason why there is a ladies’ section and a men’s section in every department store you enter," writes True Femininity on the issue. "Though pants have fallen into common usage today, I believe it would have have been wrong for Christian women of that day to have participated in such a rebellious and shocking movement. . . . At the time women were beginning to wear pants, showing a division between the legs was considered incredibly immodest. Today this is not viewed in the same light. In some cases, wearing skirts and dresses is actually more immodest and less appropriate."
AFTER THE JUMP: Protesting the treatment of Bradley Manning in Va.; the Walk for Choice returns; more on pants!
In light of some recent unconventional anti-gay assaults in the District, I've been taking a look at the difficulty in proving bias motivation in alleged hate crimes. Here's one pretty clear-cut bias-motivated crime that didn't yield a hate crime designation, via the Washington Blade: On Tuesday, a jury convicted 25-year-old Justin Navarro of first-degree murder in the death of 31-year-old Kevin Massey, but declined to convict Navarro of bias motivation in the killing. The facts of the case, from the Blade:
- Advice for dying cheaters, guilty eaters, and recovering drunks (Photo: Associated Press)
Truncating the week's advice columns:
Upon learning of your cancer diagnosis, consult with a lawyer to ensure that your wife and children do not discover you've dedicated a chunk of your will to your mistress of ten years. In the event that the affair is posthumously revealed, arrange to have a sealed letter delivered to your family explaining your enduring love for them. You are not obligated to express your condolences about the tsunami before consuming Japanese food. If you fear your ultra-thin friends are starving their children, write an anonymous letter to their pediatrician articulating your concerns. You must disinvite your mother's estranged friend from her upcoming surprise anniversary party, and prepare for the contingency that the rescinding of the invitation will result in her sabotaging the event. [Dear Prudence]
EXAMINING the wall-to-wall social (and traditional) media coverage that erupted when Emily Hershenson, a white "former Capitol Hill staffer," went missing early this week. (Hershenson was found alive and well yesterday). Commentary from @ByJulieWestfall: "Obv. Hershenson story wouldn't be as big a deal if she wasn't well-off & white. capitol hill staffer is code for well-off." And from @mazzie: "Can't help but be troubled by how much more my community cares about a missing/dead white woman than any person of color." Replies @turbogrrl: "people care about people in their community. If emily had been a yuppie yoga mom of color, people would have searched just as hard." That's justice in the District of Columbia: We will search for a lost yuppie yoga mom regardless of race!