I don’t want to see another Clery Release

I am disappointed in Mizzou. I love this school with all my heart, and I’m severely disappointed in it.

In the past 5 days, I have received three Clery Releases from Mizzou’s Police Department about women being assaulted on campus. In one, two girls were sexually assaulted, groped, by a group of around 6 men. Then a second release came out saying another group of women was assaulted by a similar group of men. In the third, a woman was assaulted, pushed against a vehicle and luckily managed to get away from the male perpetrator.

I am absolutely appalled by this. Our students are no longer surprised by these releases–they are used to them.

Also, we only receive Clery Releases when these events are reported. Imagine the sheer number of assaults that aren’t reported because students are unsure of what constitutes consent, or it was an assault by an acquaintance (which is very common), or the victim doesn’t believe any action will be taken (which is a valid concern).

In my opinion, these assaults are a result of not only the culture of violence against women in our society, but also the culture on this campus. We are a very progressive campus in many areas, but we are really not doing enough with regards to fighting rape culture.

We have a lot of good things going–the Green Dot Program and the It’s On Us Campaign, for example. But these programs are highly focused on bystander intervention. It is my belief that though this is wonderful and can be effective, Mizzou should also do more to focus on the root of the problem.

So, what do I think should be done differently?

Mandatory coercion and consent workshops. Every student at Mizzou should know exactly what constitutes consent and how to recognize/avoid coercion. Every single student. I think this should be taught at Summer Welcome and again within dorms, as well as to Greek organizations and other social organizations.

Don’t be afraid of a black eye. Yeah, reporting will increase when we implement new tactics. That may matter to an administration, but students’ lives are more important than our image. Mizzou can be a leader in this fight, showing that we value victims over a temporary black eye on the administration.

We also desperately need reporting to happen, and we need it to make a difference.

Hold people and organizations accountable. We need real consequences for people. How can someone be expelled for cheating on an exam and barely punished for raping another human being? Students should be assured that they won’t be victim-blamed, and we have to hold perpetrators accountable–no matter their standing with the school. Athlete, fraternity member, student leader, I don’t care. This leads me to my next point:

Combat the culture of toxic masculinity. We must make it unacceptable on this campus to view women as accomplishments, prizes, objects, etc. Men must stand up to their male friends and say, hey that’s really not cool to talk about that girl that way. Since women are punished for saying “no” to men, we have to create a culture in which women’s choices and bodily autonomy is respected wholeheartedly.

We need men to stop being afraid and speak up, stand up to their friends when we aren’t around to do it and when we are afraid of the potential consequences. Make sure they know that their male peers aren’t okay with this. Although it’d be great if women crying out, “hey, stop doing this!” worked, the reality is that many times their opinions aren’t listened to or respected, so we need your help. This is closely related to bystander intervention, but it shouldn’t even get to that point–scold your friend for catcalling at a woman. Hold him accountable when he objectifies a woman. Change the way he perceives women so that a Red Dot doesn’t have to happen.

Oh, and stop saying “Not ALL guys are like this!” Instead, recognize the problem in society’s idea of what constitutes masculinity and help us fix this.

To conclude, I think a lot can be done on our campus to prevent assault, and I wholeheartedly believe that what we’re doing isn’t enough. I felt this post was completely necessary for me to get my feelings out there. I welcome constructive criticism or suggestions, or any comments that anyone may have.

My Brief Take on White Feminism™

I’m white and a feminist–and I do not subscribe to White Feminism™. (These are all my thoughts coming from the perspective of a white cis woman, and I welcome any criticism from POC, non-gender conforming people, or really anyone who believes I’m misrepresenting anything!)

White Feminism is the subsection of the feminist movement that is mostly made up of white women who have neglected to make their feminism intersectional. These women participate in the ignorance of the effects of race on women’s oppression and refuse to acknowledge problematic elements of their Feminist Icons (see: Lena Dunham).

But Allie, why call it White Feminism, isn’t that offensive? No, imaginary person! I don’t find it offensive because it recognizes that these stances are taken by largely white women–to ignore race is to misrepresent the problem. As a person of privilege, it doesn’t oppress me to recognize the role race plays in this issue. (And we don’t want to pull a #NotAllMen type of move. We know there are white feminists who aren’t White Feminists™–let’s focus on the real concern!)

White Feminism has been an ongoing problem in the feminist movement. From Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” to White Feminists’ rejection of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is a schism in feminism. As people with racial privilege, white women don’t have to worry about racial injustice, and therefore can ignore it (just as cis people don’t have to worry about transphobia, and on and on)–women of color cannot, so their cause must strive for not only gender equality but racial equality. They often become ostracized from the mainstream feminist movement.

So, let’s elaborate.

These White Feminists tend to police the behavior of women of other races/cultures. A frequent activity is to preach to Muslim women about how “oppressive” their religion is, how the hijab is oppressing them, etc. This ignores the agency and autonomy of women to decide whether or not to wear the hijab. It is also not the job of a person of privileged person to tell others what is oppressing them and what isn’t. That is not being a white ally.

In addition, White Feminism tends to ignore race as an issue altogether–saying “I don’t see race” is ignoring the real consequences of the social construct of race. White people: the oppression of others does not negate yours, but you also must recognize your privilege as a white person. It’s not the oppression Olympics–admit you have privilege and figure out how to be a better ally. Also, don’t tweet “#AllLivesMatter”. Please don’t.

Another problem with White Feminism is being Trans-Exclusionary (or, a TERF).

Exclusion of trans people from feminist spaces is not only reinforcing their oppression but basically counters everything feminism stands for.

Similar to TERFs, we have SWERFs–Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists. This group of people tends to ignore the lived experiences of sex workers and define (much like what is done with Muslim women) what is and isn’t oppressive to them. Instead of working to make sure these women have autonomy and helping those who don’t (i.e., sex trafficking victims which aren’t the same, or women who have been abused in the porn industry), SWERFs tend to slut shame sex workers or say they must be “saved”.

So, how do I make sure not to be a White Feminist™?

Well, first things first, listen to people of color, non cis/het people, sex workers, etc. Listen. Listen to their experiences and how they want you to be an ally.

Recognize the privilege you may have, and the oppression that you don’t experience. Don’t try to tell people whether they should or should not feel oppressed–it is their lived experience and they know it best.

Make your feminism intersectional! Intersectionality is a super cool concept–the interaction of multiple oppressions on one another, how different identities cannot be viewed separately but must be viewed altogether. Involve the lenses of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, occupation, education level… into your feminist view. Example: the only group that makes $0.77 for every male dollar is white women. Black women make $0.64, Latina women make even less. Disabled people can legally be paid below minimum wage.

And above all, just empower other women! Be supportive of their choices. Be less critical and more helpful.

To end, another amusing tweet: