Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

By Maureem Ventura

Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 178, 480 women and 2,030 men will be diagnosed this year. It is important for women and men to be informed about breast cancer.  There are many organizations that raise money for breast cancer research and the Avon Foundation for Women is a large contributor to such a cause. Every year they host a two day walk in various cities around the nation where there are thousands of participants. Each contributor raises money to sponsor their walk which then goes to help find a cure for breast cancer.

The Avon Foundation for Women is a public charity that was founded in 1955 to improve the lives of women and their families. Their two key areas are in breast cancer and domestic violence. In 1992, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade and Avon breast cancer programs in more than 55 countries were launched to support advancing access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer. The Breast Cancer Foundation raises money for breast cancer awareness and education, screening and diagnosis, access to treatment, support services, and scientific research. One way they raise this money is through their annual breast cancer walk that they host in various cities.

This year, the Avon Breast Cancer Walk closes to our area is being held in San Francisco on July 9th – July 10th. All walkers and volunteers will unite with one purpose and one goal: to end this deadly disease of breast cancer. The participants walk through San Francisco’s crazy downtown area to beautiful Marin. They are able to experience the charm and diversity that San Francisco offers. The hills are only a small price to pay to address the high occurrence of breast cancer in the bay area. At the end of the weekend, the walkers will have traveled a total of 39 miles, each mile striving to end breast cancer. Each participant raises over $1,800 to benefit the breast cancer foundation.

During 2003-2010 the Avon Breast Cancer walk has raised $380 million. The money that is raised also provides women and men breast cancer screening, support and treatment that they need regardless of their economic standing. “Early detection helps save lives”, so it is important to fund screenings for everyone.  There are over 2 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. because they were able to get treatment. 
Every 13 minutes a life is lost to breast cancer; 40,460 women and 450 men in the U.S. will die from the disease annually.  It is a strong misconception that men cannot get breast cancer.  Although it is not as common for men to get breast cancer as it is for women, men make up 1% of all cases of breast cancer.  Survival for men is the same as women.  Men need to stand up and help end breast cancer as well. 
A woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime.  So stand up and fight to end the disease.  Join the Avon Breast Cancer walk and be “In it to end it”. Show your support by becoming a walker, donating, or volunteering. 

For more information visit www.avonwalk.org

Thursday, April 21, 2011

AS Women's Center Radio Show

By Meggie Schultz

I remember the first time I heard my voice on the radio.  I had called in for an on-air talent contest and the listeners of Sacramento were graced with the lyrical sensation that was middle-school me singing “Hakuna matata.”  I giggled as my voice echoed back and, although I didn’t win the contest, I was so proud to tell everyone I saw that I had been on the radio!  It was so exciting to know that for a 2 minute period, people were listening to me doing something I loved.

The second time I heard my voice on the radio, I had officially joined the team of AS Women’s Center radio interns as DJ Vagtastic.  Every Thursday from 6pm to 7pm, I join fellow intern DJ Gynomite in educating the listeners of kcscradio.com on feminist issues within our campus, community, and world. 

As an intern, I’ve assisted with putting together several events, including last semester’s Take Back the Night and this semester’s Maggie Awards.  I’ve stood in protests, holding signs to show my support for my cause.  I’ve sat at informational tables, educating students about women’s issues.  And I’ve proudly stood beside my fellow interns, joining them in changing our campus and community for the better.  And yet I had never considered going on air to share current events, social issues, and my own unique opinions as a form of activism.  

In Philadelphia, a group of volunteers came together in 2008 to build a radio station for their local community as an attempt to bring people together.  Inviting all community members to come on air and get involved, the volunteers created an opportunity for people to share their own voices on issues influencing their community.  One of the members commented that “This is an extremely positive endeavor…I see this as a venue for voices that are often marginalized or drowned out.”  Having the radio has allowed the community members of West Philly to have their voices and opinions to be heard; far too often, the voices of communities are ignored in mainstream media.  As far as discussing social and political issues, one community member sees the radio as “an opportunity not just to preach your politics but work together to build an institution.”  Including local news, hit music, and community announcements, the radio station, although often facing economic hardships, has worked to bring the community together and have their voices heard.

On the other side of the globe in 2011, young women in Fiji joined together to use a community radio broadcast to address daily issues that affect the lives of young women in their area.  This group of 21 women included those from Labasa, Nadi, Suva, the autonomous region of Bougainville, Tonga, and the Solomon Islands.  This radio program became an opportunity for these young women to raise their often ignored and unheard concerns; the main goal of the group was “to develop some radio series on issues that connected women in all divisions.”  The women wanted to discuss issues of women’s access to appropriate housing, food security, health issues, and education.  They even emphasized their desire to provide information on a pap-smear, including how it worked, its purpose, and the danger of cervical cancer.  By using this radio program, the women of Fiji have been able to build a strong community of women who are educated on issues concerning their lives and their bodies. 

Today, Chico’s KCSC radio program has become an opportunity for me and my co-host DJ Gynomite (Hannah Clause) to use our voices for activism.  Each week, we come together to raise awareness on important feminist issues, sharing with our listeners knowledge, opinions, and lots of laughs.  Whether it is women’s rights issues or women’s pleasure issues, we are ready to step up to the mic and talk it out.  DJ Gynomite remarks that she has “been able to express my activism to anyone who will listen…using forms of media is one of the strongest ways to get ideas and issues circulating in the public, and the DJ show allows me to be the one to put that information out there.”  For me, using the radio program has allowed me to show my support for women’s rights and my concern for women’s issues, while also building my confidence in how I can truly be an activist in my community. 

Listen in every Thursday from 6pm to 7pm at kcscradio.com
For more information, search for the AS Women's Center Radio Show on Facebook!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

AS Women's Center's 14th Annual Women's Conference

By Rachel Robledo

The 13 annual Women’s Conference is final here! This Sunday April 10th in Sylvester’s Café. I have never attended a women’s conference before but if I had to pick one to go to, it would most definitely be this year’s conference. This year’s conference theme will be, “Breaking Feminist Cultural Boundaries.” This theme may have different meanings for people. For me the theme shows how struggle and/or self-exploration of my own identity have exposed the many different identifiers in that I have in my life. I find that depending on how I grow and mature I see myself through many different lenses such as my cultural identity, my school identity, the identity I portray with my friends or family, and much, much more. As an example today I am a Hispanic and White female who is a student, involved in Greek life, is a practicing Catholic who loves TV, all foods, clothes and I am a feminist. What I am trying to say is, although my identity is always evolving I can be all these things and also be a feminist. I can be anything I want to be and as long as my values and personal beliefs stay constant I will still consider myself a feminist. When I doubt myself or think, well my religion says this or my behavior shows that…I think; do I believe that every person should have a fair say, that andocentric language is wrong or that in the year 2011 there should no longer be a wage gap? Then I know I am a feminist.  Feminism is an identity in itself and is different for every person. It will always be evolving and changing.

At this years conference I hope every person walks away feeling empowered and more knowledgeable about feminism. Not only feminism but specifically how feminism and culture bring people together. Through a variation of workshops and lectures we will be breaking down the stereotypes and show how related culture and feminism really is. Please join us if you want to discuss feminism, boundaries, diversity, and ultimately come together to support each other. The event kicks off Sunday, April 10th in Sylvester’s Café on the CSUC campus. Join us from events from 10-3:30, with a free lunch and our new tote bags for sale, only $7!

For further information, contact:
Jillian Ruddell, Director of the AS Women’s Center, BMU 002

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Moving Through the Pain

By Nicole Walker


The ability to wrap your arms around someone you love, to run to someone you haven’t seen in a period of time, to smile and laugh at the best days of your life, to see the most beautiful of scenes and to be independent. These actions may seem ordinary, but to someone who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, commonly known as MS, they are extraordinary and every smile, footstep and hug is made with the knowledge that it could be the last.

Moving is not a guarantee and last year my family was reminded of that when my mom began complaining about not being able to see out of one of her eyes. After being seen by a physician, there was a possibility that she could have MS. After further testing, that possibility quickly changed to a reality.

Although the vision loss was temporary, the disease that is and will continue to attack her is permanent and proceeding. Currently my mom is 45 years old and relies fully on a walker to get her around and is medicated everyday, but she finds the strength to smile at every chance she gets.

Our bodies are in constant motion--moving information from the brain to the body. But, MS stops people from moving by attacking the myelin that protects normal nerve tissue. This damage keeps people from living smoothly, both inside and out.

When she was diagnosed, I was 18 years old, selfish and rarely ever home. I distanced myself even further from my mom and the realistic nature of her condition after I learned the extent of it. I became independent and for what I couldn’t handle, I relied on my older sister for.

My sister and I rarely discussed our home life with people around us, nor did we alone with one another. In our minds, if it was unspoken it wasn’t real. Being in denial made it simple to distract myself with my last month of my senior year in high school.

When graduation came around, reality set in. After the ceremony the parents of the new graduates come down to the field for pictures, hugs and memories in the making. I got up from my chair after the diplomas were handed out, looked around and felt so alone while hundreds of people surrounded me.

I stood, alone until my sister and some of our extended family made it out onto the field to congratulate me. I was grateful and happy they did, but behind that smile captured in a series of photos, I wanted to cry. My mom couldn’t come down to the field because she couldn’t walk. My step-dad, who has been the main father figure in my life, couldn’t come down either because he had to take my mom to the car.

I never got my graduation picture with my parents, and although some people don’t see the importance of it, it represented what could potentially turn into my life without my mom—alone. This realization made me question my life, my career path and my choice to move six hours away to attend Chico State in the fall.

Everything felt to be falling apart and emotionally my mom wasn’t strong enough to be there, or so I thought. I was afraid to share my feelings about her disease with her, the person I had shared every fear, dream and heartbreak with for as long as I remember. I had to be strong for her and the only way I knew how was to move on and go about life as if I had planned.

I made the six -hour move up California to Chico State. Once again, my mom nor step-dad could be there because doctors didn’t think it was smart for my mom to ride in a car that long.

Although my aunt, uncle, sister and grandma filled in the gap and helped me move, I still had that familiar feeling of being alone. Although the feeling was familiar, I never and still haven’t adapted to it.

I struggled my whole freshman year in college while my mom suffered her whole first year with MS. With distance between us, we grew apart and I found myself in positions where I needed my mom more than anything.

I stayed in on parent weekends and always resented those who got baked goods from their moms. As the year went on, I distanced myself a great deal from my mom and home life while focusing on school, switching my major from biology to journalism and getting involved in every aspect of campus.

Summer came, and I left Chico. Not to go home like the rest of my friends, but instead I spent my entire summer in Florida with my aunt, uncle and cousin. Some would call it running away, but it was a chance for me to catch my breath, find out who I was and wanted to be. I realized how much I had changed from the careless, free spirited young woman I was to the person I had become. I became afraid of living my life, while my mom was fighting an ongoing battle for hers.

Currently I am 19 years old and into my second year at Chico State. I work, have an internship and write for the school newspaper in addition to taking classes. I keep myself busy and I still feel as if I am attempting to distract myself.

As time has gone by, I have developed a close relationship with my mom. Although I have not fully accepted the full realities of her disease, I have begun to return the favor of her strength as a mother who has made me who I am today. Although we have distance apart and my step-dad is her sole caregiver, I want my strength for her to shine through.

I want her to know that no matter how far I go, she and I will remain mother and daughter and I will always view her as a strong woman even without the physical strength that MS will take away from her.

My mom complains about the pain, the numbing of limbs, loss of balance, blurred vision and memory loss. She has difficulty understanding and conversing with people. However, she is still the beautiful, strong willed, feisty, determined woman who birthed me and has been through more than many could ever imagine.

MS has impacted my family greatly, my step-dad has dedicated his life to taking care of my mom, my sister had to mature and take the roll in raising me. But, they have all shown great strength throughout this journey. I, on the other hand, have finally began to realize that I may have had my world turned upside down when my mom got diagnosed with MS, but her world was taken over and replaced with and life of full dependence on others and the unknown of what will come in the future.

On April 16, 2011, I will be leading my team, Walk it Out Chico State, in the fight against MS. We will walk in support of the National MS Society that addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward.

There are 400,000 Americans living with MS today. Money raised at Walk MS funds groundbreaking research and innovative programs and services to help people living with MS fight the battle. Currently, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, and with a diagnosis occurring most frequently between the ages of 20 and 50, many individuals face a lifetime filled with unpredictability.

MS is not going anywhere without our support for the fight against this ongoing battle. I may be hours away from my mom, but I have grown to appreciate her and cherish every moment with her as time goes by. This walk is just one way to represent my gratitude toward such an inspiring woman who has never once gave up on me and I plan to never give up on her.

Because mom, I will walk forever for you.

For more information on how to get involved with Walk MS and joint Walk it Out Chico State please visit the following website, http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?px=9233383&pg=personal&fr_id=16486

Victim Blaming in NYTimes

By Daniella Galaviz

In a New York Times article, entitled “Vicious Assaults Shakes Texas Town” by James C. McKinley, McKinley goes as far as blaming an 11 year old girl for a sexual attack made against her.  The article begins by speaking about the boys future “the boys have to live with this the rest of their lives” but what about the victim? Five of the suspects were in high school, one was a 21 year old son of a school board member, a few have criminal records that range from selling drugs to robbery, and in one case, manslaughter. The ages range from middle schoolers to a 27- year old.  These “boys” knew what they were doing. This11 year old girl, however, is not old enough to consent.

Victim blaming is holding the victim of a crime or any type of abusive maltreatment to be responsible for the transgressions committed against them. In this case an 11 year old girl was brutally assaulted. The assault took place after a 19 year old man invited the victim to ride around in his car, he took her to a house where another man, 19, lived.  There the girl was disrobed and sexuality assaulted by several boys in the bedroom and bathroom. When a relative of one of the suspects arrived, the group fled and went to an abandoned mobile home, where the assault continued. There the assault was recording and later shown to other students (McKinley, 2011).

McKinley goes on to state that the 11 year old girl had been seen wearing provocative clothes, and make-up, not suited for her age but rather for a woman in her 20s. Even though this child, might wear provocative clothes it does not mean that others have the right to sexually assault them. The word provocative is defined as “Serving or tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate” according to Merriam-Webster. This young girl didn't intentionally or willingly try to “provoke” or “excite” these men. No women who has been sexually assaulted tries to provoke their attackers into committing such a crime.

In the article, “Did the New York Times Blame the 11 Year Old Victim of a Texas Gang Rape?” by Andrea Grimes, Grimes mentions how irrelevant stating that an 11 year old wearing make-up was. Grimes states that McKinley, a graduate of Cornell University, should have known better than to print this information in a national news article. By printing how some people perceived an 11-year-old child to dress in a sultry, sexy way doesn’t give readers information they need – which is the fact that this is a horrible thing that happened in our society. Writing about how people in the community thought about the boys' welfare rather than the girl's perpetuates rape culture not only within the small community itself in Texas, but all over the nation. It gives those who want one an excuse to dismiss the behavior of 18 men who have been suspected of gang-raping an 11-year-old girl.

When a woman, in this case a child, is raped or sexually molested society always questions the victim rather than facing the actual culprit and investigating why they did it or how they could have committed such a crime. Society instead blames the victim with common ideas like “if she hadn't been wearing clothes like that..” or “she was asking for it” or “she shouldn't have been walking around that late.” It is sickening that society even questions what a woman must have done to provoke sexual assault. Instead of blaming the victim, society should look at the real problem, the perpetrator.

Now, to be fair, the NYTimes publication did come out and tried to re-examine the article, breaking it down into sections and pinpointing certain pieces that proved that the original author didn't mean to victim blame. However, they still use the same type of language as in the first article, "These elements, creating an impression of concern for the perpetrators and an impression of a provocative victim, led many readers to interpret the subtext of the story to be: she had it coming." Now, they did try to explain themselves and said that they were simply giving an insight into the community that was questioning the lack of supervision that left this young child at risk. This still puts blame on the victim's family when there should be investigation into the perpetrators family, the way they were raised, and how they lured such a young girl into this situation. 

The article continues, trying to clean up it's language and tone, "Philip Corbett, standards editor for The Times, told me earlier today that the story focused on the reaction of community residents and that there was no intent to blame the victim. He added, “I do think in retrospect we could have done more to provide more context to make that clear.”" This is something that the NYTimes and our patriarchal society needs to work on in general. I think they were woken up to this incident and rightfully so. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ohio's Proposed Heartbeat Bill

By Sarah Mann

The issue of abortion rights has been at a new height over the past few weeks. Abortion rights activism has been one of the leading social issues of our generation and recently in Ohio there has been a new twist in the potential for state restriction of this federal right.

House bill 125 or the “heartbeat bill” was set forth by Ohio Republican Rep. Lynn Wachtmann in February to ban abortions once a heartbeat is detectable on an ultrasound.  As of right now there is no specific timeline regarding how many days along a woman must be in her pregnancybefore this restriction might take place, but it is known that as early as 18 days a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Since 1973, the Roe v. Wade case decision brought legal abortion to all women in the United States, and this heartbeat bill is by far the most aggressive challenge since its passage.       
Prior to researching more about abortion laws and rights, I have to admit I was a bit confused as to how legislators in Ohio could essentially overturn this 1973 Supreme Court decision to legalize abortions.  Then I realized it was because they justified this bill as a restriction to an abortion. 
Although abortions are technically legal in all 50 states, many states have made them more difficult to obtain than others. Many states have demanded mandatory ultrasounds, parental consent if underage and even a 72 hour waiting period prior to an abortion, but no restriction as gone as far as Ohio.

During the case on March 2, two Ohio women, both supporters of the bill, took the stand and had ultrasounds preformed on their 9 week and 15 week old fetuses. Controversy over the depiction of these women who are suppose to, in effect, represent all women in Ohio, was conveyed by Kellie Copeland, spokesperson for NARAL Pro-Choice in Ohio.
"They were used as props, and women are not props. Women are citizens and we deserve the right to protect or have them to make their own decisions.  I don't think Lynn Wachtmann or anybody else should be able to make decisions for every woman which is exactly what they're trying to do."
Since Republicans control all aspects of Ohio state's government, it is likely that this bill will in fact pass.  The United States Supreme Courtonce again has a conservative edge with John Roberts as its Chief Justice.  If the Ohio law were to be appealed to the Supreme Court, it may be upheld.   
When looking into any critical social controversy I like to look to both sides and see why people see things so differently.  And when watching a video on www.heartbeatbill.com, a woman emphatically asks for support on the bill and discusses the need for defenders for unborn fetuses.
 What I have interpreted from many pro-life activists is that it’s pro-life v. pro-abortion, and I don’t believe this is really the case.

 I consider myself pro-choice, not because I agree with the procedure of abortion, but with the choice its gives us.  The bottom line, for me anyways, is that there simply has to be the option, the choice, the opportunity because if that’s taken away from us we all know the procedures certainly won’t stop, they will just get dangerous and unsafe.
I believe this is what all the pro-life activists aren’t addressing.  That is the real issue.  It’s not that I, as a pro-choice supporter, believe that terminating a pregnancy is good or ok, but I understand that taking away the option to abort a fetus will only lead back to the dangerous road of back alley abortions and unsafe conditions.
For an update, check out the Jezebel article!

Roe V. Wade Economics

By Kate Finegold

Roe v. Wade, a landmark Supreme Court case from 1973 that made abortions legal in the U.S., has most definitely brought about pivotal improvements in the lives of women. Some of which are more obvious than others. By declaring that abortion is included in a woman’s guarantee of privacy under the 14th Amendment, the abortion procedure was brought into the public arena to be regulated and standardized, making it less risky for women and also not as taboo a subject. Now that women can go to a licensed doctor and have their operation in a sterile hospital room, instead of being forced to seek out a “back alley butcher”, the complications and deaths associated with abortions has dropped to just below 0.3%. Before Roe v. Wade, 50% of maternal deaths were a result of illegal abortions. Now, abortion is 11 times safer than giving birth, a statistic that really drove home for me how important to women’s safety legalizing abortion has been (for more statistics, go to NOW).

Other societal benefits that can be attributed to the Roe v. Wade ruling are less apparent. Economist Steven Levitt believes that the legalization of abortion in the 70’s led to the substantial crime drop that occurred in the 1990s. Crime rates in the eighties were on the rise, and most people expected another spike to occur in the following decade. But what happened instead was a 30% decrease. Explanations for the sudden change included more innovation policing methods, harsher sentencing of criminals, a crack-down on the crack market, tighter gun control, a strong stable economy and more police. But based on Levitt’s calculations, these factors only contributed to half of the decrease in crime. What other explanation could there be? Abortion. If it wasn’t an option for parents not ready to start families, there would be a lot more children born into the world whose parents weren’t in a position to give them the proper care and attention. The first wave of unplanned for kids born in the seventies would be the prime age for crime in the nineties, but since they were never born, crimes they may have grown up to have committed didn’t happen. Thus the drop in overall crime activity, according to Levitt.

When I at first watched a FreakEnomics YouTube video about Levitt’s findings, I wasn’t buying it. In the heated debate still surrounding abortion, Levitt’s argument would definitely add ammo to the pro-choice side. Because let’s be honest, politicians, and most people for that matter, care most about and focus most on money. So an argument that shows that we could save dollars on law enforcement by having people police themselves with abortions could persuade a lot of folks to join the pro-choice side. While such an argument is indeed persuasive, is it true? I remember from a former statistics class to be wary that apparent correlation does not always mean causation. It seemed so far-fetched to me that I thought it was a farce, but then I researched the various effects of Roe v. Wade and what Levitt is saying began to make a lot more sense.

Children born to families that planned on having them are usually raised in a more caring environment. Mothers with unwanted births have a harder time forming a healthy relationship with their child; they spank and slap their children more often, according to a study posted on Planned Parenthood’s website. In addition, children born after 1973 in states that are pro-choice are less likely to be born in single-parent households, live in poverty or receive welfare. Hence, the option for legal, safe abortion that Roe v. Wade has made possible gives women the freedom to choose when they are ready to start a family, and when they are in the best position in their lives to do so. Although it is sad to think about children being neglected and mistreated because they weren’t “wanted”, it is more uplifting to think that less children are being born into this situation since the legalization of abortion, and that our entire society is benefiting from this in the form of less crime.