The Collegian: 2011 Pieces

Pieces are in reverse chronological order. Some pieces have minor edits, but most are presented as they were printed.

November 1, 2011

OPINION: Girls hold doors, too (100 word rant)

I have a bone to pick with the lack of holding doors open for other people. There seems to be some politics involved in this simple act. Case in point: the conflicted expression of an older male student as my 4’11” female self held a door open, as well as the awkward “no, after you”s that were exchanged.

Dear “chivalrous” males: I’m not going to think you are any less of a man for walking ahead of me. Courtesy is for everyone – regardless of gender or height or anything else. All people deserve courtesy, and all people deserve to enjoy it.

November 1, 2011

Porn representation speaks volumes on violence toward women

Robert Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, spoke at the Soda Center last Thursday evening on pornography and its impact on violence against women. Jensen has had over twenty years of experience in the field of media studies, and within that time he has published the book Getting Off: Pornography and the end of Masculinity and has produced a documentary entitled The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality, and Relationships.

During the talk, Jensen utilized a feminist critique of heterosexual pornography. He noted the perceived irony of being a male feminist, but he made a point of articulating a certain advantage to being a part of the dominant group: he could be as radical as he wanted.

“If I can push the boundaries,” Jensen said, “it creates space for women to come in and be more rational.”

One of Jensen’s most striking comments of the night came with the description of pornography. Jensen explained: “Pornography is what the end of the world looks like.” Pornography, as explained by Jensen, is what happens when human beings cease to have empathy for each other.

According to Jensen, heterosexual pornography perpetuates the idea of a dominant male and a subordinate female. This idea is reflected in the current trends of modern pornography, many of which involve multiple penetrations.

Jensen was quick to point out that a producer in the porn industry was unsure of where the future of porn would go because they have already “done everything they can to a woman’s body.” Jensen argues that this attitude toward women seeps into the popular culture and into the mass public, thus perpetuating violence against women.

Jensen emphasized the importance of discussing pornography, despite the difficulty in approaching the subject.

“It’s difficult because it asks us to look seriously at the world in which we live,” Jensen said.

October 25, 2011

OPINION: Occupy movement goes global

The people of America aren’t the only ones who are angry about the economic inequality within our society. The Occupy movement has has made its way onto 82 countries, with its protestors taking issue not only with the economy, but also with the problems specific to their country. From education to food prices to child care, the Occupy movement allows participants to voice their concerns and bring these issues to attention. Many people have expressed excitement over the fact that Occupy has gone global; after all, if 900 cities around the world have chosen to join the movement, it seems that the system is indeed broken and needs fixing. Score 1 for Occupy and none for the banks, the government, and all the various machines that the protestors continue to rage against, right?

Not quite. Occupy Rome was recently in the news due to their march turning violent. On October 15, the day of global protest, a violent minority of rioters took control of the mark and began hurling rocks at windows and setting vehicles on fire. Not surprisingly Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, condemned the violence of the march and the rioters that created the chaos. The violence of the march placed an unfortunate mark on the Occupy movement, but it was an occurrence that was out of control of the original demonstrators.

Unplanned occurrences such as the rioters in Rome pose a major threat to the movement. Luckily, the incident did not completely mar the image of the movement, but misinformation surrounding the violence still exists. This is problematic, as misinformation can delegitimize a movement, and the issue of economic inequality is simply too important to dismiss.

Consider how Occupy Wall Street represents itself: a working group dedicated to created positive media about the demonstration. All demonstrators are given the chance to shape the image of the movement thanks to the extensive online presence of Occupy on various social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. The global movement would do well to follow the example laid out by the demonstrators at Occupy Wall Street.

It’s a good thing that the demonstrators of Wall Street have made their resources readily available to various websites in order to support others who are looking to Occupy. The information age we live in is responsible for how the movement caught fire, and now it seems that it will be responsible for keeping that fire alive. Self-representation is key. While the global span of Occupy makes this difficult, the span itself is a testament to the shared discontent of all people around the world, and it serves as further proof that systemic change needs to happen – for the betterment of all people, all over the world.

October 25, 2011

Annual ‘Night to Remember’ honors Catalina Torres

This past Wednesday marked the third year of “A Night to Remember,” an annual event held by the Women’s Resource Center and Hermanas Unidas to honor the life of Catalina Torres, who graduated from Saint Mary’s in 2003. At Saint Mary’s she held leadership roles on campus as a part of the Women’s Resource Center and Hermanas Unidas. As a survivor of domestic violence, she spoke out against domestic violence both on and off campus.

However, in 2008, Torres was shot and killed in a domestic violence incident.

Torres’ family and friends, along with current Saint Mary’s students, gathered in the Women’s Resource Center last week to pay tribute to a woman who spent much of her life helping those who were victims of relationship violence. The evening was filled with poetry, stories, and memories shared by those who knew her.

Gabriel Rubalcava, Torres’ cousin, shared a photo slideshow of Torres and praised her fro being very friendly and compassionate.

“I just want to all to remember her smile,” he said.

The event ended with a candlelight vigil in front of the chapel.

Shannon Daley, a current second-year student, thought that the event was very powerful. “I came in not knowing Catalina, but I feel 100 percent closer to the issue of domestic violence,” she said. “I understand how it affect everyone just by seeing everyone in the room tonight.”

Torres now has a plaque that will be on display in the Women’s Resource Center. A quote from Torres is inscribed at the bottom, which reads: “I give back because of what I received. If we don’t focus on changing society, we will never be free of violence.”

September 27, 2011

Stories from the Bay Area home front

At 90 years old, Betty Reid Soskin is the oldest national park ranger in the country.

Soskin’s profession entails of telling visitors the story of the people who served the American home front during World War II – but with nine decades under her belt, the park ranger has a few stories of her own.

This past Wednesday, Soskin spoke to a packed room at the Women’s Resource Center. Soskin workers at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical park in Richmond and was hired as a ranger at the age of 85. During the time of the home front, she worked for a Jim Crow union hall, reflecting upon the segregation at the time.

As a young office worker, she felt she had a presence-only role.

“I didn’t feel connected the home front,” she said. “I had no sense of what had been accomplished.”

Decades later, Soskin is well aware of what was accomplished. In the Richmond shipyards alone, over 747 ships were built by the works supporting the home front in the span of four years.

Soskin, who served on the park planning committee, saw to it that the stories of those who served the home front – with workers ranging from the abandoned housewives to migrant workers – would have their stories told in full. As someone who was there during the time of the home front, Soskin provided an insight that was unmatched.

“This park was going to fail if it decided on a universal truth,” she said, referring to a proposed revisionist history that would gloss over the fact that segregation was alive at the time. “All of these stories had to live side-by-side.”

Soskin felt it was her personal duty to deliver the truth.

“I had an obligation [to speak up] because I was being listened to.”

When asked if she plans to write a book about her wealth of experiences, she said she doesn’t have time to recount her own story in print.

“I’m too busy living it,” she said with a laugh.