One Man Reflects on Ray Rice & Mad Bros

October 13, 2014 by So to Speak · 1 Comment
Filed under: Nonfiction, Opinion, Uncategorized 

By Maurice Carlos Ruffin

She had it coming.

She should have known her place.

California shooter Elliot Rodger

Sometimes it seems as if women are simply guilty of the sin of womanhood i.e. not being men.  Violence against women is on my mind. A few months ago, a man in Santa Barbara, California, went on a shooting spree. After he was shot to death by other men, a manifesto was found. In the manifesto, the shooter named women as the cause of his rage. Chicks didn’t like him. Since he was clearly born superior (i.e. not a woman) that meant they had to die.

Nearly 8,000 miles away in Gonda, India, two young women, Murti and Pushpa, were gang-raped, their bodies strewn from a mango tree like lanterns. Local officials were slow to investigate the crimes as many believed justice was served on the girls; the suspects took the girls lives in deference to the country’s “honour killing” tradition. If those girls were killed because they allowed themselves to be “deflowered,” their murders were not only justified, their murders were praiseworthy. It’s the price our gendered world market will bear for the mistake of falling prey to men behaving monstrously.

Meanwhile, 4,500 miles away down in Borno, Nigeria, hundreds of schoolgirls were kidnapped. Boko Haram, the group responsible for the abductions, apparently justified its actions this way: The girls were receiving an education. Educating girls is a sin because girls have but one purpose in this life—to serve men. We’ve put an end to the abomination of filling their minds with knowledge so that they can be married off to us, the men.

A Ray Rice - inspired meme

Closer to home, NFL star Ray Rice knocked his then-fiancee unconscious and dragged her body into a public lobby. Although there was video of this event, law enforcement, the NFL, and even the public shrugged its collective shoulders. It wasn’t until months later when another video emerged actually showing Rice’s attack that the NFL suspended the running back. Message: it’s okay to attack a woman as long as you’re gentleman enough to do it off camera. If the second, more explicit video had not come to light, Rice would still be playing ball.

The market for young, female bodies, including sex trafficking and prostitution, is by most measures rampant. Domestic abuse against women—like that committed by Rice—is common enough that if you sit between two women in an auditorium, there’s a good chance that one of the women to your left or right were physically abused by a man at some point. Or maybe you’re the one.

It makes me wonder where the anger comes from. Why are men so mad at people who aren’t men?

Following the California shooting, a hashtag campaign swept the internet. #YesAllWomen would encourage women to tell their own stories about the effects of misogyny on their lives. On one of my satirical Twitter accounts, I posted a comment as if I were POTUS answering questions at a press conference. I tweeted: “Yes. All women deserve our respect. Next question.” The tweet was generally well-received, but I was surprised at some of the responses. One stated, “let’s face it. Some truly don’t deserve [respect].” And another, “respect is earned not granted as a default.” Or my least favorite, “What if (as I know in one case) they destroy 2 marriages, and two bi relationships to get what they want and need?” It’s particularly disturbing to me that some of these comebacks were written by women, but for the purposes of this post, I want to focus on the fellas. After all, talking smack is one thing. But the crimes mentioned above are just a tiny sampling of what’s happening all around the world as you, dear reader, peruse this post.

I don’t mean for this to be a blanket accusation against men since, according to my driver’s license, I’m XY-chromosome positive. However, I can’t help but notice that every time one of these cultural tsunamis wash ashore and people on either side of the debate poke their tongues out at each other there’s something missing: Group reflection and accountability among men. We have plenty of women saying that men suck. But where are the men of good conscience?

If it’s statistically true that men are doing the lion’s share of beating, raping, and killing of women (and quite often men, too), then shouldn’t men be a significant part of the chorus singing that we can do better? Simply saying that #NotAllMen (to quote the now notorious counter hashtag to #YesAllWomen) are vicious abusers is lame. Obviously, not all men go on spree killings or kidnap villages of schoolgirls. But doesn’t it fall on husbands, fathers, brothers, and boyfriends to interrogate our beliefs about women? Isn’t it our obligation to oppose the culture of misogyny on our own?

It’s easy enough for me to sit here and throw bombs at other men. I’m in no danger of losing my man-card and last I checked no one can lock me out of the Man Cave. Yet, I can only offer what I do when one of these terrible incidents occurs. I imagine the girls and women who have been violated are my sisters or aunts. Or better yet, I imagine they are me. Because perhaps at the center of endemic, violent misogyny is the thought that somehow women are “The Other” in the same way that undocumented workers, slaves (both historic and modern), Jews in WWII-era Europe, and any foreign soldier fighting against our military are The Other. It’s impossible to respect The Other because they are subhuman, shameful, and not worthy of humane consideration. For any male out there who metaphorically looks down on women, just remember that you had a fifty percent chance of being born female, too.

You just weren’t that lucky.

_____________________________________________________________________

Photo Credit: Che Yeun

Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop and a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance and the Melanated Writers Collective. His work has appeared in Redivider, the Apalachee Review, and Unfathomable City: a New Orleans Atlas edited by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedecker. He is the winner of the 2014 Iowa Review Fiction Award and the 2014 William Faulkner Competition for Novel in Progress.

 

Fall for the Book 2014!

September 12, 2014 by So to Speak · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Announcements, News, Post by: Paula B, Uncategorized 

The sixteenth annual Fall for the Book festival is taking over George Mason University’s Fairfax, Virginia, campus and spreading out onto about two dozen other venues in Virginia, Maryland, and DC, Sept 11 – 18. Check out the following links for a sampling of a promising roster for the reader-writer-human in you.

 

Novelist and Essayist Roxane Gay @ Grand Tier III, Center for the Arts, George Mason University

Saturday, Sept. 13, 4:00 p.m.

Roxane Gay

 

 

An Untamed State. Bad Feminist. Enough said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grain Press Feminist Poetry Reading and Book Release Reception, The Arts Plaza Tent near the Center for the Arts at George Mason University

Saturday, Sept. 13, 4:00 p.m.

A reading and reception to honor Anne Lesley Selcer, whose collection from A Book of Poems on Beauty won Gazing Grain’s 2014 poetry chapbook contest, selected by judge Dawn Lundy Martin. This event celebrates inclusive feminist poetry and promotes socially conscious work in today’s literary community.

 

 

Everyone Is Gay Founders Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo@ Research Hall, Room 163, George Mason University

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 3:00 p.m.

Owens-Reid and Russo

 

 

Outreach and empowerment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memoirist Dani Shapiro @ Grand Tier III, Center for the Arts, George Mason University

Tuesday, Sept 16, 6:00 p.m.

Dani Shapiro

 

On writing. On life. Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sociologist Earl Smith @ Sandy Spring Bank Tent, Johnson Center Plaza, George Mason University

Wednesday, Sept. 17, 1:30 p.m.

Earl Smith


 

Not a game: Race, Sport, and the American Dream

 

 

 

 

 

Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz @ Sandy Spring Bank Tent, Johnson Center Plaza, George Mason University

Thursday, Sept. 18, 12:00 pm

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

 

On myths and truths: An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communications Scholar Sheena Howard @ Sandy Spring Bank Tent, Johnson Center Plaza, George Mason University

Thursday, Sept. 18, 1:30 p.m.

Sheena Howard

 

Infiltrating Comic-Con: Black Comics: Politics and Race of Representation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women and Gender Studies Scholar Wendy S. Hesford @ The HUB, Front Ballroom, George Mason University

Thursday, Sept. 18, 3:00 p.m.

Wendy S. Hesford

 

Spectacular Rhetorics: Human Rights Visions, Recognitions, Feminisms

 

 

 

 

California Senate Passes SB967: “Yes means Yes” Law

Property of The New School

As Americans we like to rage over the outrageousness of news like this summer’s case of a six-year-old in India who was raped by school staff–a security guard and a gym teacher–while on school grounds. It’s a safe kind of rage–much like pretending that longer hems and looser silhouettes protect us from sexual violence, we can huff and puff over treacherous things happening to poor, uneducated, usually dark-skinned folks in some “third” world nation unlucky in their lack of, well, America.

Yet, as a country, we’re still debating whether “no” really means “no.” Especially if the two individuals in question have a sexual history together; especially if she or he “technically” said ”yes” at some point during the act.   Sadly, educated young people and university officials in campuses across the nations are apparently among the really confused still.  In fact, this past May, the U.S. Dept. of Education named almost 60 schools which investigations of sex crimes had come under close scrutiny.

In California at least, the question of what consent is and isn’t could be cleared up once and for all as soon as  September. The state’s senate has passed SB967 and if the governor signs off on it, college students will have to have  true ”affirmative consent” before getting on with getting “some.”

“Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.” — SB967

Here’s hoping.

Until then, I leave you with Laura Passin’s “In Stubenville,” published in our online issue this summer. (Haven’t seen our summer issue yet? Click here. Ready to submit your own feminist poetry, prose, or visual art? Click here.)

 

“In Stubenville”

They peed on her. That’s how you know she’s dead,

because someone pissed on her.

—Michael Nodianos, laughing

1.

The boys have been boys.

They’ve gone to boy jail.

2.

The girl, they thought as good as dead.

You can do anything to the dead:

we only remember them when they are useful.

But the dead girl was not

dead—she was a girl

instead. To be a girl at a party in Ohio

is to be as good as dead.

The boys will be boys

until they are men.

The girls will be dead.

3.

The girls are anatomical

sketches: here

you dissect the body, here is where

the flesh splits clean open.

Here is where the heart used to beat.

Here are the pearls that were her eyes.

4.

The girl was dead.

The girl was a thing

that once, if you looked at it

from just the right angle,

may have been a person. Not  a

boy. The girl was slung

and carried, hands and feet,

trussed animal.

The girl woke up naked, shoeless,

in a basement. Surrounded.

5.

The boys were shocked: they had held her

funeral. The boys had been boys.

6.

The girl raised herself up, Lazarus,

and testified.

She told us what it is like:

being dead.

It is like being a girl

where boys are boys.

It is any basement,

Ohio.

 

Fall Submission Period Starts Today!

August 20, 2014 by So to Speak · 1 Comment
Filed under: Announcements, Art, Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Uncategorized 

Listen up, y’all!

As of today, August 20th, and until October 25th, we’ll be accepting submissions for our print spring issue. Look into your feminist archives for your best work of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or visual art, put it through a last round of tough love, and submit!

We know you know this but let us show you our love with a friendly reminder that we recommend  reading past issues for a feel of what makes our feminist hearts swell and minds soar. If you simply cannot endure waiting for your subscription to kick in, may I recommend our fourth annual summer issue, gratis and online for your reading pleasure.

Most important, take a moment to look over our Submit page where you’ll find guidelines for all genres, including the So to Speak blog.

Now begins the waiting game! Happy submission season!

StS Editors

2014-2015

 

 

 

4th Annual Summer Issue Is Here!

Cover Art: 2014 Summer Issue

Fresh from the Issuu presses: the 2014 fourth annual summer online issue is here!

The issue includes all of the genres you’ve come to expect from So to Speak: extraordinary fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art. The editorial staff is happy to introduce you to the work of these feminist writers and artists and invites you to join the conversation. Read the new issue HERE or click on the cover art to the left. Then be sure to check back (great time to subscribe to the blog!) later this summer for posts by our contributing writers and artists, as well as guest writers, on craft and feminism. When you find a blog that resonates with you, engage with the writer via the message board, share the piece widely, and come back for more!

Our blog aims to offer a platform for continuous dialogue on the challenges and successes of our feminisms,  which can be found everywhere. So enjoy reading our latest summer issue, sharing your fave finds, and writing your own contribution to the worldwide dialogue of feminism in action–check out submission guidelines for our journal and blog!

–StS Staff

Here are the writers and artists featured in the 4th annual online summer issue of So to Speak:

Visual Art

Alex Pohl

Fiction

Allison Amend

Sara Erdman

Nonfiction

Catherine Kasper

Eryn Lyndal Martin

Erika D. Price

Poetry

Jessica Rae Bergamino

Joanna Catonar

Sarah A. Chavez

H. V. Crammond

Donelle Dreese

Geanni Galeazzi

Jessica Glover

Jane Joritz-Nakagawa

Becca J. R. Lachman

Giki Marks

Freesia McKee

Laura Passin

Molly Prosser

Dean Shaban

Meredith Trede

Joy Von III

 

 

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