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Gender Issues

Monday, July 9, 2018

Nerds unite at Challengers for Women’s Comics Night

Posted By on 07.09.18 at 06:00 AM

The June edition of Women's Comics Night - ANDREA THOMPSON
  • Andrea Thompson
  • The June edition of Women's Comics Night

When the owners of Challengers Comics decided they wanted to put on more events, they knew they wanted some of them to focus on women, but they had no idea what that would look like. But when they asked for organizers, Samantha LaFountain volunteered. She knew what she wanted to see.

"I wanted it to be like a party, that was the main idea," LaFountain said. "And to build friendships between women, nonbinary individuals, however you identify. Between people who aren't normally seen."

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Alicia Swiz wants to make you a better feminist—by taking her online course

Posted By on 06.21.18 at 01:00 PM

Alicia Swiz hosting Feminist Happy Hour Galentine's Day 2018 - STEPHANIE JENSEN
  • Stephanie Jensen
  • Alicia Swiz hosting Feminist Happy Hour Galentine's Day 2018

Alicia Swiz is a feminist. She's also a writer, a performer, and an educator who uses her various platforms to initiate conversations about women's issues, intersectionality, and the representation of gender in media. Now, thanks to her recently released online course, potential students don't have to be enrolled in college to learn from her.

After receiving her master's degree in women's and gender studies from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Swiz began teaching at Alamance Community College in Graham, North Carolina. In 2010, she moved to Chicago intending to find more opportunities to perform and to explore more creative ways to create dialogues about issues related to gender.

Since then, Swiz has become an important figure in the Chicago feminist community. Her writing has been featured in a number of local outlets, including a roundtable discussion on the importance of intersectionality in feminism for the Reader. She's also the cofounder of Chicago's local chapter of Shout Your Abortion, a network created to empower people to share their experiences with abortion, and the creator of SlutTalk, an organization that raises awareness of slut shaming and encourages sex positivity through performances, workshops, and social media.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

When a gun was considered a girl’s best fashion accessory

Posted By on 05.10.18 at 06:00 AM

Author Paxton Quigley and the oh-so-fashionable .38 - SUN-TIMES PRINT COLLECTION
  • Author Paxton Quigley and the oh-so-fashionable .38

Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

The early 80s were a dangerous time for women. Actually, every time is probably equally dangerous for women, but in the early 80s, the media decided to make a Thing about it. But the other part of the story was that women who were imperiled decided to take matters into their own hands. Dolly Parton was the first famous woman who admitted to owning a gun. "One good indication of how times are changing occurred last year," Marcia Froelke Coburn wrote in 1981, "when Nancy Reagan admitted to owning 'just a tiny little gun. . . . I don't know anything about it.'" In a survey, 65 percent of readers of Glamour magazine reported owning guns. According to the New York Times, the most popular model among women was the .38 revolver. "The reason all these women in these articles cited for turning to handguns and survival shooting lessons: self-defense," Coburn wrote. "For many, a poster of a smoking gun barrel says it best: 'No one ever raped a .38.'"

Coburn decided it was time to become a modern women and learn how to use a gun herself. Then as now, Illinois law prohibited carrying a loaded handgun outside the house. But Coburn could take shooting lessons. Which she did, at Bells Gun & Sport Shop in Franklin Park, from a woman named Barb Mueller.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

How the Reader reviewed Exile in Guyville when it first came out

Posted By on 05.07.18 at 06:00 AM

The greatest album cover ever shot in the photobooth at the Rainbo Club
  • The greatest album cover ever shot in the photobooth at the Rainbo Club
The Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

In a just world, that is to say, the kind of world where journalists are able to identify and write about things that people will actually remember and care about 25 years in the future (to the point of getting excited over a remastered rerelease and demo tapes), the debut of Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville in 1993 would have been marked in this paper with a full-blown classic Reader 5,000-word profile. Someone would have written a long essay about how Exile in Guyville and PJ Harvey's Rid of Me, which had come out around the same time, marked a breakthrough: now women were singing about sex in public the way they'd always talked about it in private, that they wanted it, that they wanted to decide who they had it with, that they didn't always feel sad when things went to shit—instead they felt pissed.

But instead, the release of Exile in Guyville was marked in the Reader by an 800-word preview/interview by Bill Wyman.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

The Sugar and Spice Summit is one college student’s attempt to empower her generation of women

Posted By on 04.27.18 at 06:00 AM

The first Sugar and Spice Summit - LETA DICKINSON
  • Leta Dickinson
  • The first Sugar and Spice Summit

The outcome of the 2016 presidential election left Lauren Goldstein shaken and worried, like many others. A junior at Northwestern at the time, she was studying abroad in Copenhagen. When she woke up the morning after the election, she says, "I felt like the rug had been ripped out from under me and my generation of women." She wanted to do something to empower her generation, and while she was trying to decide what that would be, she remembered interviewing women in the food industry for the Northwestern chapter of Spoon University, a food publication written by college students.

"When I walked out of these interviews I always felt so inspired," Goldstein says. She was part of a community of women at Northwestern who were interested in food, but most of them didn't think it could be a career path. "That's where the Sugar and Spice Summit was born," she says, "out of a desire to connect those two communities that I was part of and had access to."

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Five classic films by Latin American women

Posted By on 04.17.18 at 11:42 AM

María Luisa Bemberg's Camila
  • María Luisa Bemberg's Camila
For certain film lovers, April is all about Lucrecia Martel. The Argentine director's first feature in almost a decade, Zama, continues at the Gene Siskel Film Center for another few days, and her acclaimed "Salta Trilogy" begins on Friday with The Headless Woman. We celebrate the return of one of contemporary cinema's great filmmakers by taking a look back at five other women directors who made a mark on Latin American cinema: Margot Benacerraf (Venezuela), Sara Gómez (Cuba), María Luisa Bemberg (Argentina), Suzana Amaral (Brazil), and Maria Novaro (Mexico).

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Dance becomes collective action in Poor People's TV Room

Posted By on 04.12.18 at 06:00 AM

  • Ian Douglas

With the ongoing kidnappings of hundreds of Nigerian girls by the jihadist militant group Boko Haram, media coverage of the country’s female population often focuses on victims rather than fighters. Choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili wants to change that narrative to highlight how women have banded together to take action throughout history. Poor People’s TV Room is a new multimedia piece from Okpokwasili and director-designer Peter Born that takes inspiration from two major events: the Boko Haram kidnappings and the Women’s War of 1929, a revolt against British colonial forces.

“The piece isn’t a documentary of these past movements, but it led me to think about the power of embodied actions and collectivity in performance,” says Okpokwasili. “Working with a cast of black and brown women, I wanted to see what happens in the room given certain prompts and thinking about the histories that are lost to us and how we recover them.”

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The XX Will Travel podcast encourages women to travel fearlessly

Posted By on 04.11.18 at 06:00 AM

  • Sun-Times Print Collection

"When you travel a lot," says Kathy Pulkrabek, one of the hosts of the podcast XX Will Travel, "and you tell people about it, you kind of see their eyes glaze over."

Pulkrabek doesn't go on typical vacations, however. One of her most recent trips was a sojourn with a friend to Sundridge, Ontario, to go dogsledding. "It was 20 degrees below zero—without windchill," she recalls."We were like, 'Are you going to cancel this? Even the Canadians are staying home!'"

The trip went on as planned. "This man owns one hundred acres and he had thirty gorgeous sled dogs. And he loves them so much—we were asking him about the dogs and he took this thing out of his back pocket and it was a keychain and it was made out of dog hair from his favorite dog!"

When her cohost Ines Bellina began traveling on her own, she says, "What I got a lot of was, 'Aren't you scared?'" And I just sat there thinking, 'Why are these people so terrified of women out in the world?' If I'm not terrified, why are you terrified?"

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The time Reader writer Kiki Yablon dismantled the logic of the Wall Street Journal

Posted By on 04.10.18 at 06:00 AM

Every girl's dream - ALAN KONG VIA FLICKR
  • Alan Kong via Flickr
  • Every girl's dream

Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

One April morning almost exactly 22 years ago, Kiki Yablon learned from a friend that the women of their college graduating class were at the center of a trend piece in the Wall Street Journal—on the front page no less!

"The women of Northwestern University's Class of 1991 are following the path of their female mentors a decade ago, graduating from an elite school, moving to big cities, embarking on careers. But increasingly, they are doing one thing their big sisters often put on hold until their 30s or later: They are getting married." The story backed up this pronouncement with an anecdote about a college acquaintance of Yablon's who realized, once she turned 26, that all her friends were married, and who felt "relieved" when her own boyfriend finally proposed. The article concluded that women were deciding to marry younger because of abject fear of spinsterhood and career burnout.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

A 1992 investigation into why men beat women shows that not much has changed

Posted By on 04.02.18 at 06:00 AM

A vigil during the 1982 Day of Remembrance for victims of domestic violence - SUN-TIMES NEGATIVE COLLECTION
  • Sun-Times negative collection
  • A vigil during the 1982 Day of Remembrance for victims of domestic violence

Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

The headline of Kitry Krause's 1992 feature pretty much says it all: "Men Who Beat Women." In this case, Krause focused on two particular men who beat women: John and Eric (both pseudonyms). Both men had found their way to Dr. Lawrence Dugo's support group after they'd been arrested for assaulting their wives.

It would be easy to dismiss these men as monsters, but nothing about this story is easy. It's apparent that Krause spent a lot of time with both John and Eric. Her extended accounts of their lives read like case studies. John grew up in an abusive household with a mother who was probably mentally ill; as an adult, he and his wife both had their own psychological issues, exacerbated by drinking. Eric, on the other hand, was a teacher, a churchgoer, a peace activist, and even a member of a men's group, where he learned about gender roles. But even though he recognized that there was a shift in the dynamic of their marriage after she became the breadwinner and he stayed home with their kids, this didn't stop him from rage and violence.

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