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Hate Speech & Hockey

BY: ALEX ALSTON

Wayne Simmonds was the victim of a racially charged display one week before when a fan chunked a banana in front of him during a Philadelphia Flyers exhibition game in London, Ontario.  On September 24th, however, he found no problem with calling Sean Avery, an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community, and forward of the New York Rangers, a “f*cking f*gg*t.”  According to Simmonds, his actions were the result of a sucker punch Avery hit him with earlier in the game.  Whatever his reasons, Simmonds was wrong.  In this day and age of the camera constantly being in every athlete’s mouth, to even “slip up” and say something like this a perpetuation and a promotion of the homophobia that runs rampant in our culture and so blatantly and consistently ends in the deaths of young people across the country.  The NHL would do well to react swiftly and decisively because a lack of a response in this case should be understood as nothing less than an endorsement of this type of behavior. We all remember Kobe’s $100,000 fine, so my eyes are fixed on the NHL.  What kind of league do they want to be? One that fosters hate speech and homophobia or one that promotes tolerance and equality?  Of course they can’t control what every individual player says, but they can set standards that make it clear that bigotry will not be tolerated.  Unfortunately, it does not appear as if they plan to enact any repercussions on Simmonds, without any prodding at least.  I encourage you all to prod, and to join the 50,000+ other people who have signed the petition to fine Wayne Simmonds for his homophobic slur against Sean Avery.  You can read and sign it here.

 

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Article

Too Much Doubt: Troy Davis & Our Jordan River

BY ALEX ALSTON

I glued myself to my Droid, using Tweetcaster to keep me updated.  Riot police gathered outside of the prison where he was being held.  There were reports that even the Ku Klux Klan made an appearance in Jackson last night.  Indeed, the eyes of the world were on Troy Davis, the Supreme Court of the United States, and our so called “justice system.” We have been here before, Oscar Grant, Rodney King.  Certainly, we thought we had come just a bit too far to see it happen again. We were wrong.  Regardless of Troy Davis’s guilt or innocence, there was no gun linking him to this crime, there was no DNA evidence linking him to this crime, there were 10 eyewitnesses.  7 of those 10 either recanted their testimony in part or completely, or charged that they were coerced by police into testifying against Davis.  Despite those facts, despite a world-wide outcry, Troy Davis was executed for shooting a police officer in Georgia in 1989 at 11:08p.m. on September 21, 2011.  Make no mistake about it, there is nothing liberal or conservative about this tragedy.  There was simply too much doubt for this man to be put to death.  Again, this system is failing us all; men, women, white, and black (yes a white man was put to death in Texas yesterday as well).  Duke’s own Dr. Mark Anthony Neal remarked, “Every generation has to cross their River Jordan; this is your River Jordan.”  I hope we make it.

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Article

On the Ostentatious Male Feminist

BY ALEX ALSTON

I personally think the idea that only women can be feminists is a myth constructed by a male-dominated society.  Quite frankly, it has done much in the way of dividing men and women working toward gender equity, as it is often wielded by patriarchal ways of thinking.  However, one of my professors and I recently sat down and began discussing the somewhat problematic, in our respective opinions, phenomenon of men in academia (or any other discipline) promoting themselves as feminists when in fact their actions suggest otherwise.

The specific case in question involved Tulane University professor Shayne Lee and his book entitled, Erotic Revolutionaries: Black Women, Sexuality, and Popular Culture.  (If you haven’t heard about the debacle please google it.) Lee was once a part of a group of black professors, all men, who very vehemently and consistently articulated their place as “black male-feminists.”   The problem arose when Lee’s work was critiqued by a colleague of his, Dr. Tamura Lomax.  For whatever reason Lee responded hostilely toward his colleague via text message and facebook.  Dr. Lomax expressed that she felt physically threatened and intellectually demeaned by Lee’s comments toward her.  Lee, however has defended his position even as the situation has deteriorated and many of his colleagues, both men and women, have firmly denounced his behavior as neither feminist nor professional.    The point both my professor and I stressed was that a commitment to feminism from a man, cannot simply be lip service.  There are inevitably various ways to practice feminism, but physical intimidation and insults cannot be readily incorporated into a feminist framework of responding to a colleague.  Like Lee, there are many “progressive men” operating in different disciplines and different spheres that don’t mind calling themselves feminists.  Part of my experience at Hollaback! taught me to value the meaning of the term and to not just lump myself in simply because I could be mildly cognizant of sexism.  I certainly don’t claim to be the authority on who is and who is not a feminist, but I will say there is a real problem with the almost flippant use of the word on the part of some men to serve their own ends.  A feminist in speech only, is no feminist at all.

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Article

The “Justice” System

BY ALEX ALSTON

A Manhattan judge recently dismissed the case against former director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Khan, due to the District Attorney’s decision to drop the charges of sexual assault against him. The prosecution essentially stated that Nafissatou Diallo’s inconsistencies in her recollection of events damaged her credibility to the point where her account could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes, folks, the prosecution decided that it, and not a jury, would decide the fate of this case.  Not to be outdone, the media certainly did its share to discredit Diallo, drudging up federal forms she filled out in the past and even introducing the option of deportation as a result of perjury on these documents.

In a classic case of the justice system treating the victim of sexual violence as a criminal, we are yet again faced with the harsh reality that system’s glaring, inherent flaws.  Now I am not presuming that is DSK guilty, not at all.  I am saying, however, that the structure of our justice system was leaning heavily toward his innocence before he ever stepped foot inside of that hotel.  I’m saying that “the law” is not colorblind.  In fact, it is just as sensitive to race, to gender, to class, as those who make it, enforce it, and interpret it, and until we part with the myth that there is such a thing as “equal protection under the law,” this will always be a problem.  Diallo, then, was not failed by the justice system, she is collateral damage for the sexism, racism, classism, and religious discrimination that it is steeped in.  If the outrage and sense of betrayal this decision produced can be used as a catalyst for reform there, then it is not in vain.  But if we have only gathered to cry out for Strauss-Khan’s head, then we will be back, and soon.

Hi, my name is Alex and I’m a college student who interned at Hollaback! this past summer.  I am, of course, elated to be a part of the blogging team and hope some of you can hear echoes of your own voices in my writing.  I’m new at this so any comments or suggestions would be more than welcome!

 

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Lost In the Circus

BY Alex Alston

Earlier this month the Obama administration took a marked step forward on the issue of women’s healthcare with the Affordable Care Act by requiring new health insurance plans to cover birth control, annual exams, breastfeeding tools, and a host of other preventative care-related services, all without co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles.  A clear victory for women across party lines, this decision drew ire from many on the right, perhaps most notably, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.  Obviously, no one expected O’Reilly to be on board with anything the President thought was a good idea, (he probably found it outrageous that Mr. Obama would turn 50 with this economy the way it is) but there is something deeper than just run-of-the-mill partisan politics going on in O’Reilly’s efforts to malign the decision.

Aside from O’Reilly’s position that making healthcare affordable and accessible to all women is the equivalent of “a welfare state” and an overwhelming reason for businesses not to expand and hire, he reasons that, “Many women who get pregnant are blasted out of their minds when they have sex, they’re not gonna use birth control anyway.”  Now if you can find a way to overlook the crass and sexist generalization made here (if you can’t that’s fine too) you’ll see that Mr. O’Reilly has a bit of a flawed understanding of how the birth control pill actually works.  Most of us are aware that this is something a woman takes daily and not just after sex.  Place his comments in the backdrop of a national war on women’s reproductive health and the big picture is frightening.  A faction of Americans, led by mostly men, is waging an assault on women’s healthcare and reproductive rights without a basic understanding of something so simple as a birth control regimen.  The discourse then, around the subject, is not a debate, but a political circus wherein no effort is being made to genuinely understand what gender equality would look like, let alone value that.  Inevitably, the implications for all Americans are tangibly detrimental.

Hi, my name is Alex and I’m a college student who interned at Hollaback! this past summer.  I am, of course, elated to be a part of the blogging team and hope some of you can hear echoes of your own voices in my writing.  I’m new at this so any comments or suggestions would be more than welcome!

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