University of Utah Anti-Racism Solidarity March

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In another proud moment for this alumni of the University of Utah, the school is hosting a solidarity march and town hall discussion on racism on Friday, November 20th. Join in the town hall discussion to help tackle racism on the University of Utah campus.

 

You’re Gonna Want to Know Our New Intern

Katie Christensen

I’m so excited to announce that Kaitlyn (Katie) Christensen has joined SLC Feminist for the fall as an intern from the University of Utah. Katie is a senior at the U of U where she’s pursuing a degree in Gender Studies with minors in Sociology and Psychology. She has been a Research Assistant for local legend, Dr. Lisa Diamond the last few years. When she isn’t researching the role of religious affiliation in identity formation, she’s hanging out in South Jordan with her cat Ziggy.

Katie is writing an upcoming series on Gender Studies 101, you know, for the people who don’t want to spend $25,000 on a degree.  Her posts will include breakdowns of canonical texts, introductions to theoretical concepts, and bios of influential feminists. Here’s a little bit about Katie to prepare you for her upcoming knowledge bombs:

Chelsea: When did you first identify as a feminist?

Katie: I first identified as a feminist when I was in high school but it didn’t become a huge part of my identity until college. The issues addressed by feminism have always been important to me but I didn’t have the terminology to identify it as such until I was in a more liberal educational environment.

C: Who are your feminist role models?

K: I love Mia McKenzie (founder of Black Girl Dangerous). Her ability to write something that is important and informative, yet simultaneously personal and passionate amazes me. I hope to be able to write with her passion and honesty someday. Lately I’ve been really impressed by Anita Sarkeesian’s work on representation within gaming. She is a great example of someone working to change a sexist institution from within despite threats to her safety. I also have a big soft spot for Angela Davis, whose work on the prison industrial complex changed the way I think about the United States in general and the US prison system in particular.

C: Tell me three fun feminist facts about yourself.

K: I recently realized I own at least four overtly feminist shirts; I am the co-author of a study about the perception of gender that is currently being run; A feminist tweet I wrote was included in a CNN online article about the “#notbuyingit” campaign. I count that as being published on CNN.

C: What’s your least favorite question you get asked about feminism?

K: I absolutely hate being asked some form of the question, “Are you one of the cool feminists who doesn’t hate men?” I’ve been trying online dating and because my profile includes the word “feminism” I get that question several times a day.

C: Describe what your feminist utopia look like?

K: My feminist utopia is an amazing fantasy. I imagine a place where people have complete control over themselves and their bodies. A place where everyone’s contributions to society are recognized and valued. In my utopia, the world is not constructed to favor certain bodies over others and identities are only self-imposed. I picture a world without false-binaries or labels, in which the same opportunities are given to everyone regardless of age, ability, gender, sexual orientation, class or race.

I think Katie is going to do a great job, and I look forward to sharing her work with all of you.

Her Gender Studies 101 series will start trickling out in October! Subscribe via email so you don’t miss any of her posts!

 

University of Utah Statement for Employees on Preferred Pronouns

Preferred names and pronounsThe University of Utah is my alma mater, and I’m a proud graduate for many reasons, but today this is why I’m proud to be a Ute! Ruth Watkins, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Vivian Lee, Senior Vice President of Health Sciences recently sent out a letter regarding preferred pronouns and names to faculty/staff on campus. The University of Utah’s LGBT Resource Center has provided students, staff, and faculty with services and perspective since 2002. As evidenced by this letter, they are making the campus a more inclusive place by collaborating with other campus and community organizations. The letter about preferred pronouns (pictured above) reads:

“In order to continue our efforts to create an open and inclusive university community, we ask all faculty and staff to call students by their preferred name, as found in the Campus Information System (CIS). In addition, if a student has requested to be referred to by a particular preferred gender pronoun, we ask that you honor that request.
Should you need more information or resources on preferred names and gender pronouns or on LGBTQIA issues generally, please see http://lgbt.utah.edu/

We thank you for your continued efforts to make our campus a welcoming place for all and appreciate all that you do to make this a great institution.”

A small, but important step in the right direction for trans*, non-binary, and genderqueer students and staff. Go Utah!

Bisexuality Is the Most Common—Say Goodbye to “Born this Way”

Image: Kim Raff

Image: Kim Raff

University of Utah Professor of Psychology, Lisa Diamond, researches sexual fluidity, which describes a person’s sexuality as it varies over time, and her conclusion is that most people are bi-sexually inclined versus strictly homosexual or heterosexual. Her conclusion, along with other researchers, contradicts the widely accepted “born this way” narrative activists use when fighting against harassment in the LGBTQI community.

Lisa Grossman interviewed Dr. Diamond for the site New Scientist this week, and below are some of the highlights.

Why is the “born this way” tagline so popular? 

To put it simply: it’s difficult to argue with someone if you eliminate all options. For instance, you can’t tell someone to “pray the gay away” or shock them to bits if their sexuality is immutable. Diamond explains:

“It really dates back to a campaign against the gay community back in the 1960s and 70s, led by American singer and activist Anita Bryant. Her whole argument was that gay people were a threat because they were going to recruit young people to be gay. She specifically said homosexuals are made, not born; they can’t reproduce, so they’re trying to recruit our children. Gay people said, that’s ridiculous, we’re not trying to recruit your children – that wouldn’t even work! This isn’t something you can be recruited into. It’s just the way we are.”

Does that mean gay folks can choose heterosexuality?

Most folks have heard of the Kinsey Scale but in case you haven’t here’s the deal–sexual experiences, including interactions and attractions, can change over a lifetime. However, the scale is quite rigid for some folks, and some heterosexual and homosexual people do not ever experience much variance. This means that although some people may choose hetero, or homo, sexuality for a variety of reasons, a person must possess those inclinations to begin with. Diamond explains:

“I think all the evidence suggests that we’re born with an underlying capacity, and then that capacity interacts with a whole bunch of other influences. Some of them are prenatal; some maybe in the first year of life. We still don’t know whether there’s a point at which things become more fixed.”

So is it time to abandon the “born this way” tagline and Lady Gaga altogether, or is there still some room left for the concept in our community work? Read the full interview with Lisa Grossman and Dr. Lisa Diamond here before you decide. 

Sex Trafficking: Myths, Signs, and Connections to Utah

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[Ed Note: This is a guest post from the indomitable feminist activist, and animal liberator, Natalie Blanton.]

Last week, I had the chance to go to the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law’s event “The Invisible Crime: Human Trafficking in Utah” and hear from Captain Fernando Rivero, MPH, EMT-P of the Utah Trafficking in Persons Task Force.

I was definitely intrigued by the topic as we often hear of sex and human trafficking as a far and away issue – but, what with recent news like Arizona’s proactive Super Bowl sting operations– the issue is suddenly, and finally, visible in our own back yard. The idea that sex trafficking is a “developing world” problem is a myth that Rivero set out to dispel early in his talk. Sex trafficking is a $36 billion a year industry, second only to the illegal drug trade. It is $9.8 billion industry here in the United States. Every year, between 100,000-300,000 underage girls (average age 12-14 years old) are sold for sex in the US. In fact, on the Global Slavery Index of 2014, the USA ranks 145/160. The Polaris Project has recently cited Utah as the “most improved” state on this front – but we still have a long way to go.

Rivero encouraged his audience to think critically about human trafficking and cultural contributors to this problem – this question becomes much more complex and intricate in the conservative Utah setting, and it is closely linked to Utah’s problem with sexual assault more generally because 80-90% of human trafficking victims have been sexually assaulted. As we know, 1 in 3 women in Utah will be sexually assaulted, and 20% of women will be sexually assaulted on college campuses, which is finally of great emphasis on the University of Utah campus as the student government just rolled out their rendition of the It’s On Us movement this week. This issue should certainly matter to anyone and everyone, because it infringes on our basic human right: freedom.

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