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Feminist blog subject of discussion today

BY ALYSSA MARCHETTI | MARCH 09, 2010 7:30 AM

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The newest wave of feminism seems to be taking place on the Internet.

Every month, more than 500,000 readers open their browsers and log onto Feministing.com, a blog and online community that aims to give a voice to this generation of young women, a voice that is fresh, humorous, and informed.

Founded in 2004, Feministing highlights myriad topics, including popular culture, advertising, social justice, relationships, and reproductive health from a feminist perspective.

“[Feministing] is a fairly safe environment for young people to hash out issues … and engage in dialogue together,” said stef shuster, a coordinator for Iowa Women Initiating Social Change.

The Women’s Resource and Action Center will present the discussion panel “Feministing at Iowa: A Conversation with the Editors of Feministing.com” at 7:30 p.m. today in 100 Phillips Hall.

Admission is free and open to the public.

As part of International Women’s Month, Feministing Editors Vanessa Valenti, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, and Miriam Pérez will speak to the Iowa City community to address such questions as: How is the failing economy changing gender roles? What’s up with the sexual climate on college campuses? And, is there such a thing as “women’s issues” anymore?

“It is easy to counter these myths [that feminism is no longer relevant] with concrete numbers on wage gaps and hiring records,” Mukhopadhyay said. “Women are still statistically paid less for the same work and promoted less often.”

UI senior and longtime WRAC volunteer Miranda Welch agrees. She has Feministing.com set as her homepage and contributes to it as a community blogger.

“We still have issues with maternity leave in the workplace, we have childcare access inequities, we have severe lack of comprehensive sex education in our schools,” she said. “We have a severe lack of women’s representation in all branches of government … and things like “Girls Gone Wild” masquerading as women’s empowerment.”

The idea that sexual liberation might not be tantamount to the perceived sense of promiscuity on campus is another major issue the panelists will discuss.

“This debate isn’t about [the “hook-up culture”] — it’s about our need to learn the skills of honest and open communication with sexual partners,” Pérez wrote in an e-mail to the DI.

Many in the Feministing community believe casual sex is not the core of the problem. The real concerns arise from the closed-off environments that condone sexist attitudes and behavior, which is often more prevalent in college culture.

According to the Department of Justice, roughly one in five women who attend college will become victim of a rape or an attempted rape by the time she graduates.

“Sexual assault is definitely a huge problem on college campuses,” Pérez said. “Survivors need to feel supported and also given the resources they need to feel safe again.”

The Center for Public Integrity recently released a major report that revealed most college sexual-assault offenders found guilty receive little or no punishment, and their actions rarely lead to expulsion even in the cases of repeat offenders.

“It’s unsettling to say the least,” Valenti said. “[We] need to teach boys to appreciate girls more as human beings … and help women not buy the hype that our value as human beings should be determined by men.”


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