On Conference Excitement

Attendees at RespectCon 2013

This was an exciting week. Not in the way that last week was trip-to-Texas exciting. And emotionally different than the previous weekend’s trampolining exciting. But exciting nonetheless!

Most of that derived from the fact that RespectCon, the conference on sexual assault prevention/response that I helped organize, happened this past Friday. Like, actually happened. People came! Presentations were made! Cameron and I got to have a wonderful discussion about armadillos and leprosy! There was a hashtag!

So that was very nice. I think it went well. If it didn’t, then I know a lot of very polite, very convincing liars, which is emotionally equivalent.

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Viva Academia: Women’s Studies Symposium Style

Last week, I presented at my first conference (like a grown up!). It was Oxford’s Women’s Studies Symposium. The presentation was over  a paper I wrote as a culminating project for my Women and Cross Cultural Perspectives class. Here’s the abstract:

This paper explores the evolution of third gender identities in the Navajo, Zuni, and Lakota in North America. Prior to European settlement, each tribe possessed a different term for and conception of third gendered individuals. Though it is tempting to consider Native American tribes as enlightened and accepting of non-binary sexualities, the treatment of third gendered individuals within these groups (and the roles they were expected to fulfill) was as unique as each individual tribal identity prior to European settlement. Though each tribe possessed distinct, defined third-gender identities before European settlement, individuals which identified as third gendered became much less common as a European gender binary was either forced on Native American tribes or accepted as part of an intentional effort to seem more European. However, since the 1970s these identities have reemerged in the form of a pan-Indian two-spirit identity intimately tied to Native American activism surrounding health care, land rights, and the AIDS epidemic. In part, this is the result of LGBT Native American individuals who have been alienated from the Euro-American dominated LGBT movement in the US. This modern two-spirit identity, though outwardly similar to the traditional third genders, is actually quite different for many of the tribes: third gendered people were typically conceived of as engaged in heterogendered sexual partnership; this is not true with the modern two-spirit person. The paper concludes with a summary of the two-spirit movement as it stands, in the words of two-spirit individuals.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, the paper is available here.

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People Can Be Horrible (Also: Arrowheads!)

First off, new post at OpenStudy. Ten points to online learning!

Secondly: I spent most of this weekend at the Safe Society Zone‘s Sexual Assault in Our Schools conference. It was at times inspiring, at times depressing, and consistently heartbreaking because it is so, so infuriating that people think that it is okay to ever do that to anyone. And not even like it’s a small group of people–1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted. (Even better, 1 in 4 women in the military will be assaulted while they are in the military. And 96% of those assaults are committed by people who wear the same uniform.)

I know people who have been assaulted. They are the most amazing, most wonderful people and it makes me want to cut the asshole who did that to them because they do not have the right. It takes something that can be so, so good and it turns it awful and it hurts people and it fucks them up and they did nothing to deserve it.

So, those people can go to hell.

But it wasn’t all horrendously depressing. I learned about concrete actions I can take to help fix that. (Look out for changes in Oxford’s amnesty policy to accommodate sexual assault and an attempt to get No Zebras, No Excuses screened at frosh orientation next year.) I met the people at Central Michigan University, who have the most amazing peer advocate program. There are men and they are allies; there are women and they are strong. The entire program is well-run and victim-sensitive and just so very, very good. That doesn’t change the fact that I wish it didn’t have to exist.

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