Sexism

Could Oprah Be Elected President?

I’d like to say celebrate it with a HUGE, YES!

Oprah is one of the most successful moguls of our time.

A self made billionaire who did it all without her daddy’s money.

She’s an icon who has great sway over millions of people across the country, especially in areas where Democrats performed poorly in 2016.

Some even say she’s the reason why Barack Obama became President.

A ubiquitous celebrity with a successful business record?

Sounds like the perfect person to take down Donald Trump in 2020.

But while it sounds like a good idea, there are reasons why it probably will never happen.

We are the same society who lets a rapist off with a slap on the wrist because he also swam on the Stanford swim team.

Then there’s the President.

President Trump had 20+ allegations of sexual assault come out while he was running to be president.

Many people in this country did not care.

America voted for a man with dozens of allegations of sexual misconduct because Hillary Clinton had a private email server.

It is just harder to do it as a woman in this country.

Oprah is everything Trump lied about being, but it still wouldn’t be enough. Photo Credit: aphrodite-in-nyc/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

So the American people spoke and chose the person who has the characteristics and personality traits of a racist, misogynist, xenophobe, homophobe, etc.

So when I’m asked if I think Oprah could ever be president I unfortunately have to think that we as a country have a problem with women in powerful positions.

Not to mention black women in positions of power.

Remember how long it took to confirm Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General?

The United States is not ready to be blessed by Oprah.

She’s a humanitarian who actually gives a great deal to charity unlike our current President who just pretends to.

The country has spoken on how qualified one must be to be President and Oprah certainly fits the new qualifications.

Of course anyone does as long as they were on a middling reality show and are willing to “grab it”.

Many people spoke up and made it very clear they did not like President Barack Obama, of course what specifically they didn’t like about him was never made clear.

The moment President Trump was inaugurated it was clear that President Obama’s blackness was the problem greatly affecting our nation.

The moment he was sworn in “we took our country back” and America became great again.

In their eyes, Obama could never be truly American due to his blackness.

Even for those who don’t take it that far, the idea that Trump and Obama have been treated equally is laughable.

The Trump administration has what is an alarming amount of ties to Russia- not a conspiracy but a fact.

“Fired up and ready to O?” Ok, on second thought, that probably won’t work as a slogan. Photo Credit: aphrodite-in-nyc/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Had this been President Obama he would have been impeached already, and have had 20 different investigations on his involvement with Russia.

So it doesn’t take much stretching to say that Hillary Clinton lost because she was not the right gender for the job, and President Obama’s so called horrific job was due to him being a black man.

So unfortunately, America is not ready for an African-American female president- not even one who was forged in the same 1980s daytime television/ tabloid milieu as the current White House occupant.

The double standard has proven itself true too many times in the past few years for us to ignore it.

Someday, hopefully in our lifetime we are able to see that diversity siting in the oval office.

But it won’t be in 2020.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Alan Light/ Flickr (CC By 2.00

For All The People That Think “Locker Room Talk” Is No Big Deal- Just Read This

The following piece was originally posted on Facebook. We have republished it here with the permission of the author. 

By Ashley Draper Sanchez

Many people who know me now, don’t know about or have only heard me tell of my days as a teenager with extremely large breasts.

My first memory of realizing my body was different than others was in the 5th grade.

My teacher handed me a note and told me to give it to my parents, and not to read it. Of course the very first chance I got, I tore it open.

It was a letter from my teacher, asking my mother to please take me to get a bra as my playtime in PE had become “distracting” for everyone else.

I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was excited to need a bra! Even at the age of eleven I knew that a bra meant womanhood-maturity!

I was always an older soul in a little body and thought that this would be a step towards being taken more seriously. That night we ventured to the local department store, and I’ll always remember the size of my very first bra; 32 B. I remember my mom being shocked. My physical development had seemed to happen overnight. I blame the hormones in the milk

We drove home and as soon as we got there, I ran to my room and put it on. I turned to face my baby pink full length mirror hung on teddy bear wallpaper.

I looked at myself, thinking “I look like the ladies in the magazines!” I smiled widely. As a 5th grader I felt a sense of worth in my appearance.

I want you to let that sink in and think about it for a moment.

It didn’t take long for that feeling to go away. Just one short year later (and one full cup size bigger) I entered the world of Junior High.

And as soon as I crossed the threshold of my middle school, the lie I believed (that looking like a magazine cover would make me happy/loved/respected), melted away into the ugly truth behind a very real rape culture driven by female objectification and misogyny.

I spent the majority of those middle school years in the counselor’s office, and made excuse after excuse to not have to face my classmates on a daily basis. I was shamed by my classmates male and female alike for the way I looked.

By the time I was in eighth grade I weighed barely 100 lbs, but wore a DD cup bra. I was assaulted and tormented on an almost daily basis. Let me just recount some of the incidents I clearly remember:

The boys would whisper and plot…and then “accidentally” bump into me and grab my breasts. This was almost a weekly occurrence.

Sitting in the courtyard, a group of eighth grade boys took turns throwing stuff in my direction to see who could score a “basket” in my cleavage. My worth that day was relegated to “3 points”.

An older student approached me, and asked if I could settle a bet with him and his friends, “How big are your nipples?! They must be huge!”

Many boys claimed to have made out with me, slept with me, and felt up my breasts. Some said they were fake, others said they were real. No one cared I had hardly ever held a boys hand in real life.

On what I am guessing was a dare, a boy leaned over in algebra and undid my bra in the middle of a test.

I got a special note from my doctor that I wouldn’t have to participate in PE, because during my first semester I was traumatized as I had to run a lap around the gym to the audience of boys in the stands cheering me on and catcalling as I jogged by.

The author (L) with her husband.

The author (L) with her husband.

In the cafeteria in 6th grade, I was asked by a boy if I could squirt some milk into his cup because the lunchroom was all out. He then offered to let his black friend do it so that the milk would be “chocolate”.

In 7th grade a group of girls would whisper the word “slut” whenever I walked by. I didn’t even know what that word meant.

In 7th grade I had a guy ask me if he could see how many pencils he could stick in my cleavage. I let him, and then cried for 30 minutes in the bathroom afterwards. My worth that day was 7 pencils.

I was offered $25 to let a group of boys see my boobs.

One day I wore a graphic t-shirt that said 49 on it. The rest of the day I was called “49 DD”.

From that day forward (much to his shagrin) I wore my older brother’s oversized shirts to school.

I cannot count the times my bra straps were snapped, or the many incidences in which I would look over a see a group of boys making “motor boating sounds” or even the amount of times males would lose their filter all together and yell out something like “damn girl! Your tits are huge!”

I moved schools and states in 10th grade. It didn’t take a full day at my new school for the rumor of me being “a stripper in downtown Atlanta” to take hold.

My breasts were fondled, mocked, ogled, hit, objectified…and as they were all of those things, so was I.

By the time I was in high school, I looked in the mirror and had the same thought I had that day I tried on my very first bra, “my worth is based on how I look” but this time there was no smile. I was so much more, wasn’t I? Wasn’t I funny…and kind? Wasn’t I smart? I thought I was. I was failing many classes because I spent them crying and hiding.

From the time I was 11 until I was 18, even adult men would ogle me in public. My sweet grandma on my mother’s side, who has a pretty severe case of dementia, can still recount with gusto being with me in the grocery store when I was 13 and hearing a grown man make a loud comment about my breasts. My sweet grandma went off on him, and then I consoled her.

My father was a minister and I recall finding a letter written to him from a member, about me being a “distraction” at the church.

Now I was keeping people from God. What kind of foul creature was I?

I had money thrown at me out of cars.

Grown men in cars would roll down their window and ask me how much for a “titty f***?”

This is just a sampling for you. A “locker room talk” pupu platter, if you will.

I graduated high school weighing 105 lbs with FF breasts. The moment I turned 18, I submitted a claim to insurance to have a reduction done. I was told over the phone it would take 30-60 days to hear back but to please fax my photos and documentation. They called me back two hours later with a fully funded approval for surgery.

I have physical scars that remind me of that time in my life, but the emotional scars are far more prominent. I struggle daily with self worth.

It’s something my husband and I are working through together, but it affects me and my marriage every single day. The only reason I made it through as in tact as I did is because I knew Jesus, so I ultimately knew I was loved and had worth in who I was in him.

Sometimes the assault was physical, sometimes it was verbal but let me tell you the damage is the same.

For those of you who don’t think “locker room talk” has lasting effects, watch my face when I receive a compliment and witness my inability to comprehend your sincerity.

For those of you who don’t think it’s “that big of a deal” watch my breathing get faster when a male approaches me without my husband near.

For those who’d call it harmless, if you could only see how many tears I shed some mornings as my husband consoles me while I breakdown about my “worthlessness” and inadequacies.

These boys and men, they felt a sense of ownership over me and my body. A seemingly innate dominance, and what’s worse, I was dehumanized through the process in which they exerted their false sense of ownership.

Where did they learn that this was okay? Who told them this was acceptable? There are so many answers to this question.

But the biggest one is; American Culture. The porn industry, the media, the President (yes, Bill Clinton was president at the time and I was compared to Monica Lewinsky more than once). A women’s worth lies in their sexuality, and the men get to assign that worth.

The scars of youth don't heal as quickly as we would want. Photo Credit: Chad Cooper/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The scars of youth don’t heal as quickly as we would want. Photo Credit: Chad Cooper/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

That is what our children are being taught on a daily basis.

“Boys will be boys!” Do you know how many well intentioned people told me that to console me? Guess what affect that had? It set up a pattern of “settling” from me that led me into some unhealthy and abusive relationships.

Last night when I heard Donald Trump brush off his comments as “locker room talk”, there was a feeling of desperation and panic that rose up in me that I hadn’t felt for 15 years.

My 5 year old daughter lie asleep in her room mere feet away from my TV screen. In one moment I could see her closed door, behind which she slept peacefully unawares, and his face on the screen at the same time. And I was angry.

By elevating and looking past this type of behavior you are saying it’s okay.

You are telling young boys that degradation is normal, that assault is okay, that you can tear down half the human race and still rise to the most powerful and venerated position in the world.

This is not progress. There is no policy, no bill, no appointment that is more important to me than stopping the evil that is rape culture.

Because that’s what this falls into. I don’t subscribe or adhere to any type of excuse that allows humans to brush off reproachable behavior. This idea that “it’s just the way they are” or “they’re going to do it anyway” has to go away.

We have to start expecting and demanding more of ourselves as human beings, and a big part of that is NOT electing someone who engages in the verbal or physical assault of someone else.

Many people would say Hillary has verbally assaulted victims, and that’s fine if you believe that. Don’t vote for her either.

This isn’t an endorsement of a candidate. It’s a denouncement of behavior we’ve clearly approved of or settled for, to bring us to this place in history.

Real, good, amazing people exist out there. Unfortunately none of them are running for president.

It’s a broken system, it’s a broken country. But can we come together and agree that our daughters deserve more?

Can we teach them to raise their standards and not tolerate behavior or treatment that diminishes their worth as human beings?

Can we start by raising OUR standards as a country? By demanding and raising up leaders who have vision, experience, plans, AND integrity? No more excuses. No more “boys will be boys” and “politicians will be politicians”.

America, all I can do is tell you the same thing my sweet amazing husband has to tell me almost daily, to get me into the right frame of mind when I doubt my worth and tears fill my eyes. And hope you believe it.

“I love you. You are the standard by which I measure everyone else. I struck gold when I found you, and I’m the luckiest person in the world to call you home. You deserve the best”

You do. I do. WE do. My five year old daughter does. STOP the madness. Don’t settle, America.

No matter what happens on November 8th, I will teach my daughter and my sons that it’s not okay. It’s not the way it is or the way it’s supposed to be.

And even if we can’t get there now, maybe the next generation of voters will demand more from each other and God willing, more from their leaders.

My first and last political post of the season. Carry on.

This was originally posted on Facebook by Ashley Draper Sanchez.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Jenni C/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Acknowledging Our Built In Biases Can Make Us Stronger And More Tolerant

By Zac Head

My name is Zac,

I am not a person of color. I am not female. I am not a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

I have not truly experienced poverty. I will likely never know what it is like to be a member of any of these groups.

I am a straight, white male, whose household income is significantly above the poverty line.

I grew up with happily married parents who were always very supportive of me.

I have broken laws, and been sent away from at least two encounters with law enforcement with “warnings”.

I have benefited from biases of others based on race, gender, social class, and sexuality.

I am privileged.

While I value all human life equally, recognize the sacred worth of every individual, and know that we are all God’s children, made in the image of God, and equally loved by God,

I have biases that affect the way I perceive people of color.

I have biases that affect the way I perceive females.

I have biases that affect the way I perceive people with different religious and political views than my own.

While these biases are most often subconscious, I am aware that they exist and that they cause damage in relationships and the lives of others.

My mind often feels threatened by those who are different than myself.

My mind often feels threatened by black masculinity.

I am aware of my biases and constantly fight against them.

I pray for deliverance from my biases.

Through prayer and conscious effort I have experienced deliverance from bias bit by bit, but if I am being honest I may never completely leave these biases behind.

All I can do is try each day to only see people for the children of God that they are.

Until we can acknowledge our biases we will continue to teach these biases to our children.

Until we can acknowledge our biases, it should be no surprise that those against whom we are biased will suffer.

Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, black men will continue to die from violence (with and without police involvement) at a higher rate than white men.

Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, little black boys will continue to grow up being told by the media that they are more likely to be violent than their white counterparts.

Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, we should not be surprised when this cycle continues.

I can never know what it feels like to be black, a woman, or someone who grew up in poverty.

All I can do is try my very best to listen to others who have those perspectives, acknowledge the worth of these perspectives and individuals, and live in such a way that teaches my daughter to move past biases while doing my very best to keep certain biases from forming in our household.

Today, I acknowledge my biases.

Today, I pray for deliverance (my own and that of our society) from these biases.

Today I am proud to see so many young people standing up for what Is right and am filled with hope for the future.

Forgive us, oh God of grace, for failing to see your image in one another.

‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬

Zac Head is a pastor at Mount Hebron United Methodist Church in Beaverton, AL. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

For Women To Be Truly Empowered, We Have To Do More Than Just Tweet

By Carolina de la Fuente

Women make 79 cents to a man’s dollar every time they are paid. To many, 21 cents is chump change, but for women all around the country, these 21 cents speak volumes about the state of gender equality.

I recently participated in a research project at my college and it helped me understand feminism a little bit better and I’d like to share my newfound insight with you. 

But first, a quick statement on terms: Feminism isn’t about women alone, it’s about equality of the sexes.

In this project, I specifically focused on women in the field of communications, but this information can be relevant to any woman in any field. There’s a greater picture here.

In 2013, TIME magazine stated “For three decades more women than men have graduated from college, but that academic dominance has not led to corresponding business or political success.”

There is a sort of stereotype embedded in society that tells us that women are “the softer sex” and that men are the leaders.

Sometimes, we are naturally partaking in this narrative and we don’t even notice it. The mere fact that women make up only 5 percent of CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies makes this a very big concern of mine.

So how can we fix this? Calling ourselves feminists and tweeting things like “MY P*SSY, MY CHOICE” can only go so far. Though, there is some valid rationale behind that concept.

The most important thing we have to do is empower women.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, said in a 60 Minutes interview: “Women play it too safe. They must aim high and fight the instinct to hold back.”

It’s a matter of identity. We have to reiterate the narrative that it’s okay for a woman to be outspoken and assertive without having to be perceived as a “bitch.”

Women need to identify and become comfortable with all their aspirations and not let this stereotype come in the way or shy them down.

Like this? You can write for us too

Mindy Marques, the Executive Editor and Vice President of the Miami Herald, reinforced this notion in a recent talk she made at Florida International University.

“As women, we tend to dwell on our weaknesses, and men I think focus more on their strengths,” Marques said. “We often bring that self-criticism to the workplace as well, and so we’re dissecting our abilities; second-guessing ourselves.”

Photo Credit: Charlotte Cooper/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Charlotte Cooper/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Besides issues of identity, there is a whole system that also needs to be tapped into in order to change this disproportionate number of women leaders.

In this case, it is leadership training that could be the big fix.

In order for women to become empowered, we must train them and provide them with resourceful skills to go out on their jobs and be able to ask for that pay raise, or speak up about an unpopular opinion in that business meeting.

Kathy Fitzpatrick, Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Communication at American University, suggests colleges should implement a standard curriculum for leadership training in communications.

“We can learn a lot from schools of business and other schools who have taken a lead in attempting to identify the core content and objective of leadership training,” Fitzpatrick said in a recent speech at FIU.

Leadership training is a crucial skill that needs to be held as a priority in this field whether it be through curriculum reform or mentorship programs.

As fun as it is to angry-tweet when you want to feel empowered, it’s important to understand the root of the problem and the solutions we can present to our institutions.

And it is even more important to remember that a big chunk of the responsibility is on the woman herself, to feel empowered and to continue empowering.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Ian Clark/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Scroll to top