Boston-based sexual health advocates have created a crafting activist collective in response to craft-supply chain Hobby Lobby. The Southern Baptist leadership of Oklahoma-based chain Hobby Lobby have made recent news over it’s Supreme Court case on the company’s refusal to follow the Affordable Care Act. The company’s owners, the Green family, cite a religious objection to supplying employees with certain forms of birth control — such as Plan B and intrauterine devices (IUDs). A group of crafty sexual health activists led by Wellseley alumnus and former sex-education teacher (pseudonym) Ferocia LaDyke respond by crafting objects made solely with materials purchased from Hobby Lobby. All objects will have a positive pro-sexual health awareness, pro-choice message — with a side of snark. All objects will be sold online via the Etsy store “My Big Pink Crafty Box,” and all profits will be donated to Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice organizations. Examples include vagina pillows, a “blanket of feminist rage” (images of feminist icons), and sex-positive cross-stitches and stickers. LaDyke seeks volunteers to help with knitting, embroidering, sewing, and design work. All craft-enthusiasts are welcome to apply. The collective is also seeking endorsements from sexual health columnists, educators, and other relevant high profile individuals.
Contact: Ferocia LaDyke at email@example.com
Congratulations to the Wellesley College Administration! They did it! They ignored generations of marginalized students’ voices so well, and for so long, that history has now repeated itself.
Students have organized a new, and improved, WAAM-SLAM, which they are calling WAAM-SLAM II: A Transformative Justice and Education Bill for Wellesley College. (If you don’t know the original WAAM-SLAM, click here now.) You can read the new bill here.
But, fear not, this is not yet another rant by another burnt-out, cynical, queer, alum of color. There is nothing more for me to add, as my Wellesley siblings have outlined all the shameful shortcomings of Wellesley’s multicultural resources, policies, and space in the bill itself. One of my favorite quotes being:
“…Wellesley is in fact perpetuating institutional oppression and racism. It has done so in the act of using students as diversity statistics to promote itself as an inclusive institution, while providing underfunded resources, part time advisors, and deficient support for marginalized students who live and work in an intensely rigorous academic environment.” (Page 2)
So no more ranting. This is now a call to action to ensure that the sad history of marginalized communities at Wellelsey will stop repeating itself. Today, April 22, 2014, marks the last day by which the organizers of WAAM-SLAM II request a response from the Wellesley College Administration, and we can help them keep pressure on the Administration to actually respond even after the academic year is over. Exactly how, you might ask?
As alumnae, we have at least the small power to let the Wellesley Administration know that we are waiting to see how they respond to this student movement. Along with our wallets.
In order to make it clear that we are also invested in the Administration’s response, I propose that we flood the Wellesley Fund with donations that are earmarked for one of the key provisions of the WAAM-SLAM II Bill: The hiring of professors for an interdisciplinary Ethnic Studies Major. According to the Wellesley Fund website, the Fund is directly responsible for generating revenue that supports “Competitive salaries for world-class faculty members”. Well, an Ethnic Studies Major is going to need some kick-ass faculty now, won’t it? It is important that we submit our donations by June 30, 2014, as it marks the end of the fiscal year for the Office of Annual Giving. This means we have two whole months to make fiscal waves that ripple up to the highest offices of our beloved Ivory Tower, siblings.
Who better to let the Wellesley Administration know that the time has come to listen to their own students, than those of us they sent out to “Make a Difference in World.” We know from experience that the outside world is not easy. It is not free of pain. It is not pretty. But Wellesley College is doing current students’ a disservice by not fostering the type of learning environment that shatters a violent and oppressive status quo, especially one that seeps into our beloved Bubble all too often. This negligence can no longer be ignored.
Now I, more than most, understand that not all alums are out there rollin’ in the dough. But, please remember that we are really just trying to make a statement with these targeted donations. Hundreds of us donating one dollar to something called “Salary for Full Tenured Professor - Ethnic Studies Department/Major” will turn just as many heads in the Office of Annual Giving as one large lump sum. And if you really can’t give a monetary donation, then I would encourage you to call the Office of President Bottomly (781-283-2237), and ask her staff, “When she is planning to put out a statement in response to the WAAM-SLAM II Bill.?” And keep calling until they give you an answer.
In the much larger scheme of things, I hope that this bill will go on to spark a dialogue among our community of alumnae. A dialogue that encourages us to think about how we can come together and take collective action on issues that the Wellesley Administration is woefully lax in addressing until it is too late: the status of trans* women applicants, admission and financial aid for undocumented students, and the creation of more physical multicultural space, just to name a few of them. Generations of past students organized and fought for an inclusive vision of Wellesley that, time and time again, the administration dragged its feet to catch up with. If you want to make sure you do something to leave behind a better Wellesley community than the one you found, please see below for further instructions on how to make your targeted donation to support the WAAM-SLAMM II student movement.
Click here to donation online. When filling out the “Designation” section of your online donation, be sure to click the bubble next to “Give to an area of your choice”. From there, you will be promoted to pick from a pre-selected list of options that Wellesley clearly prioritizes. MAKE SURE YOU SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM AND CLICK “Other (please specify your designation in the box provided)”. Then you can type “Salary for Full Tenured Professor - Ethnic Studies Department/Major” in the box provided. All other donation instructions remain the same.
To phone in your donation, you can call the Office for Resources during regular business hours at 800-358-3543. Again, make sure to specify that your donation should go to “Salary for Full Tenured Professor - Ethnic Studies Department/Major”. Should they not know what you are talking about, I encourage you to take the opportunity to educate them. They accept all major credit cards, as well as personal checks. Be sure to ask that they issue a receipt for your donation!
Link to the general Wellesley Fund Website: give.wellesley.edu
Ok. So I lied.
This did turn into a small rant; But I hope this small rant will open eyes to the power we possess as an alumnae community to affect positive change in the lives of current Wellesley students, as well as all those who have yet to open their acceptance letters.
Class of 2010
Thanks to the anon who submitted Laila as our April 2014 Young Alumna of the Month (#YAOTM). Submit your choice for May 2014 YAOTM here.
Laila Alawa is a phenomenal leader, interdisciplinary thinker, and tremendous writer. She has written on issues of feminism and gender inequality, racism and discrimination, and religious pluralism aiming to include marginalized minorities of race, religion, and culture in the national discourse on politics, social welfare, and justice. Through her blog, Coming of Faith, Laila has also demonstrated her innovative approach to understanding and conveying identity, particularly of Muslim women, to the masses. In addition, her work with Unity Productions Foundation and Muslim Public Affairs Council reveal her unwavering dedication to advance Muslim Americans in fields of media, government, and public/social policy. An awesome human being all around!
A few months ago, I saw this photograph furiously circulating around social media. It is of a well-dressed, White woman sitting on top of a chair that is propped up by the thighs of a mannequin. This mannequin lays topless on its back, its arms in long black gloves, with its long legs upright in long, black, platform heeled boots. A small platform with a large black cushion rests on the ass and large squished breasts of the mannequin. This object was created by Norwegian, New York City-based artist, Bjarne Melgaard, and this photograph of Garage Editor-In-Chief Dasha Zhukova, accompanied an editorial published on Buro 24/7. The controversy that surrounds art is what fuels its necessity, because the act of making art is an act of making meaning, and that meaning fuels our existence. That act of artistic production and meaning-making can liberate us, or it can be blatantly destructive and oppressive. In this article, I will argue that this photograph is the latter, and I will elaborate on the importance of evaluating gendered and racial hierarchies reinforced by this image. Later, I will take on the Toni Matelli sculpture, Sleepwalker, at Wellesley.
The Chair both functions as an object and through its mimicry, serves to objectify. When sitting on this chair, the participant is poised to penetrate the bound mannequin below, which is in a sexualized, subservient position. Melgaard states that he is informed by sadomasochism and heavy metal music, and he presents a submissive Black woman as his subject.
In her fabulous essay, Fascinating Fascism (1974), Susan Sontag analyzes how fetishized sadomasochist aesthetics reinforce fascist power dynamics, and why S&M appropriates fascist imagery: “Sadomasochism has always been the furthest reach of the sexual experience: when sex becomes most purely sexual, that is, severed from personhood, from relationships, from love. It should not be surprising that it has become attached to Nazi symbolism in recent years. Never before was the relation of master and slaves so consciously aestheticized… Now there is a master scenario available to everyone. The color is black, the material is leather, the seduction is beauty, the justification is honesty, the aim is ecstasy, the fantasy is death.”
In Chair, Melgaard, a white, queer male, manifests violent sexual fantasies on an inanimate sculpture of a Black woman. Her existence as an object of pleasure is marked by the bright make-up on her face, her fit and well-proportioned body, and her voluptuous breasts.
I’m not a love at first sight person. But I know the moment I realized I wanted to be a sociology professor, and I can pinpoint the moment when it hit me – almost 10 years later, with my PhD nearly in hand – that maybe I could do something else. Maybe I could work at a tech company.
I started with an analogy to love, because, as many people do, I experienced my calling to academia as one might experience love: only one option felt right, exactly right, for me. The summer after my sophomore year at Wellesley, I went to Berlin for a summer seminar and research program. I remember the moment, back at home reading Sartre and Arendt in my parents’ backyard, that I realized a life of reading, writing, and exchanging ideas might be possible for me. I could be a professor. With the support of several Wellesley professors, I pursued that path to the sociology graduate program at Yale.
I was a happy and productive graduate student. Yale awards the same, relatively generous funding to all PhD students. In the absence of financial competition among students and the financial pressures of larger cities, a spirit of collegiality and a pleasant atmosphere prevailed in New Haven. I liked my cohort. I liked my friends. My advisors read my work and actively supported my intellectual and professional development. During the first four years of my graduate program, I published three papers and co-edited a book with two of my advisors.
I decided to enter the job market early. “Early” in the academic sphere means that I had spent 4 years in graduate school when I decided to apply for jobs. This is where the love I felt for the academy began to sour. Academia and I, we could have stuck with it: making compromises, downgrading expectations. We might have made it through the rough patch just fine, and be better now than ever. But I don’t know how I might have turned out as a professor, because I broke off from that path.
I took a job at a tech company.