Blogger and Author Speaks on the Importance of Feminism

Jessica Valenti on the Importance of Feminism

In the world we live in, we are reminded daily of why feminism is important.

For blogger and author Jessica Valenti who spoke Monday at Grand Valley State University, she cited a few recent examples: the story of an Arizona State University student raped by a man who was kicked out for rape accusations but was allowed back into school to play football, an ad using women’s bodies to sell shampoo, and the media’s publishing photos of pop star Rihanna after being the victim of domestic assault.

For Valenti, these are just a small sampling of the many reasons why she calls herself a feminist. She said that the common stereotypes of feminism–from man-haters to bra burning–are cultivated by groups who want to benefit from keeping women in subservient positions.

However, Valenti said that the fact that so many seek to discredit feminism is proof its power. and Young Feminism

Back in 2004, Valenti started the blog while working at a national feminist organization. At the time, she saw few outlets for young feminists online and had experience the marginalization of their ideas within the major feminist organizations.

She took a new approach with and worked to make feminism “fun, cool, and edgy” to extend its appeal to a new group of women. The site thrives based on its community (readers interact extensively through comments and blog posting) while at the same time it works to move blogging away from simply being commentary and towards activism. She cited examples of getting lawmakers to pull patriarchal legislation and pressuring companies to stop selling offensive clothing. The website also engages in media watchdogging and highlights examples of sexism in the media.

Valenti emphasized that the site has been able to attract thousands of readers by being informal and funny. She said that if you talk “to” and not “at” young women, they are quite receptive and that they understand the importance of feminism. Moreover, she also said that it is critical to make feminism accessible to anyone and not just college-educated people reading feminist theory.

The Purity Myth

Valenti’s work on has led to three books–Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, and the forthcoming The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women.

Over the past few years, she has begun to take an interest in how women’s sexuality is being portrayed in the media and how that relates to notions of purity. This led to The Purity Myth. She cited examples of media coverage that express fear of women’s sexuality, books that argue sex leads to depression, and rightwing groups that charge that female students will become dropouts with STDs if they have sex. At the same time, she noticed a parallel trend of legislative policies that have emphasized abstinence only education, banned access to Plan B, and other such policies. This has created a situation in which a moral panic, conservative organizations, and traditional gender roles are pushing women to choose between an unattainable purity myth and a hyper-sexualized version of femininity.

Optimistic about Feminism’s Future

Despite the daily outrages of a patriarchal society, Valenti said that she is optimistic about the future of feminism. She said that she sees more people getting involved and is inspiring by the steady stream of victories and activism ranging from girls pressuring Abercrombie to pull sexist t-shirts to rock camps for girls.

Aquinas Nixes Vagina Monologues, Allows Jane Doe Project

Aquinas The Jane Doe Project

On Thursday night, an original play titled The Jane Doe Project was performed at Aquinas College. The play was written by Aquinas student Cheyna Roczkowski in December after the Aquinas administration would not allow The Vagina Monologues to be performed on campus due its controversial sexual content.

In response, Roczkowski chose to write a play based on the experiences of Aquinas women (students, faculty and alumni, shared with the student writer and included anonymously in the play), meant to raise awareness about the issue of violence against women.

The play was part of a week of events, including a movie night and letter writing campaign on Aquinas’ campus. Before the performance was a cupcake sale, in which $381 were raised. The proceeds will be divided between several women’s organizations in the area. There was a high turnout, including members of the Aquinas Administration.

The Performance

The play was a series of monologues performed by eight female students dressed in black, all of whom entered the stage saying “I am Jane Doe,” who was established to be a “New Feminist,” a faceless person to represent all women. Silence as the enemy was the theme of the play–its goal to open up conversation about violence against women, and “fight the system” through education.

The stories varied in style and topic: a woman raped by her brother at a young age, a diary entry of a lesbian degraded and raped by a male, a series of letters burned on stage detailing an abusive relationship, a mother and daughter grappling with the daughter having been conceived by rape, and a woman whose sister had to have reconstructive surgery during an abusive relationship. In between were comedic sketches about happy relationships, bad pick up lines, and working out at the gym. There were also various derogatory phrases from around the world highlighted throughout the performance (“Words are for women, actions are for men.”)

The stories were powerful, for their content and the knowledge that they had actually happened to women in the Aquinas community. Although none of the students in the play were experienced actors, all of the parts were read passionately and effectively.

Pro-Choice Advocacy

The Jane Doe Project occurred during the second Pro-Life Awareness Week of the academic year at Aquinas. The abortion issue came up, as one student defiantly stated that being pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion.


A running theme throughout the play was the idea of a “New Feminist,” similar to third-wave feminism – the idea that wearing revealing clothes and make up (“high heels, red lipstick, curve accentuating jeans and showing a little cleavage”) should be empowering. Many who identify as feminists, however, would argue that societal pressure to cover their faces with products and wear clothes that reveal their body is extremely disempowering, and prefer not to consume these products.

The play was also hetero-normative, as every romantic couple portrayed (notably the positive, healthy examples as well as the abusive) was heterosexual.

Overall, The Jane Doe Project brought up an important issue, but its message was convoluted by some mainstream societal ideas.

The Porning of America: The Rise of Porn Culture, What It Means, and Where We Go from Here

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The Porning of America: The Rise of Porn Culture, What It Means, and Where We Go from Here takes us on a dark journey through the intriguing history of pornography in the United States. Chronologically, the text details the birth of pornography beginning with the good ole “innocent” days of the 1950s to the current state of what is termed “violent porn”.

Looking back at soldiers returning home after World War II, Sarracino and Scott explain the era’s mantra of purity as being anything but. A culture saturated in post-war patriotism and the strongly divided gender roles of heroic men and June Cleaver women, paints a stereotypical backdrop of how most people picture this era. Though many of these stereotypes prove to be overwhelmingly true, this book debunks every myth of this time period as being just good old fashioned innocence.

Starting with the explosive trend of comic books amongst all ages and groups of people, their pictures and stories transition from super hero themed to young blonde women bound to a stake with breasts large and protruding, being saved from torturous Nazi villains (to reinforce patriotism and emphasize who were our enemies at the time) sets the stage for the desensitization of violence toward more (again at that time) scantily-clad women. Comic books paved the way for the mass production of MAMs (Mens Adventure Magazines) which included far more graphic and violent themes of torture. They also were a portal of sorts for the advertisement of sex manuals, lingerie, and hardcore porn.

MAMs can be thanked for their ability to enter the homes of Americans and begin raising what Sarracino and Scott call the “shock bar” by creating each issue more and more extreme. This extremeness is what the authors consider to be more closely related to porn in the present, rather than such tame porn (by comparison) as Playboy and pinup girl photos like those of Betty Page.

The importance of examining the history of pornography might help answer the big question the book asks: when did our society begin to accept violent porn, entailing largely violence toward women, and all of its many haunting facets (which are generously spared in this review, however not in the book itself)? While many clues lie in the history of pornography, pinpointing when we accepted pornography is far less chilling than pondering whether or not we will stop accepting it.

The authors do an amazing job of analyzing violence and sexualizing ingrained in our culture through media. Hot and current Internet sites such as MySpace and Facebook may well contribute to part of our desensitization and underline the peculiarity of how we view people and ourselves. In vain and comodifying ways, we have become addicted to looking at other people on the Internet. We are, in fact, obsessed with looking at screens that display other peoples’ lives, or updates of our own. In the same manner, many Americans are addicted to viewing pornography for its quickly paced “outdoing” of itself – in other words, raising the shock bar.

Sarracino and Scott, grippingly explain this obsession of seeing other people as being obsessed with taking pleasure in other peoples’ misfortunes. The text references Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears. We sexualize these two women whether they want to be or not, because of their identity as women. We extract any humanness from them and view them only for their sex. We take this further and we ridicule them for their body size, delight in their breakdowns, and get off on their mistakes. Though this is a mainstream example, it precisely parallels the flavor of pornography.

While the text intertwines stories, commercials, and highlights the lives of very influential people such as Madonna and Snoop Dogg, the authors also include astonishing statistics of how this process of sexualization influences young girls and women and the horrific ramifications of growing up in a “porned” culture will have on them for the rest of their lives. While the book argues that women will mainly suffer from these ramifications, it also emphasizes how other groups of people are affected. Devoting a large portion of the book to the Abu Grahib prisoner torture, the authors conclude that many of the acts and torture methods implemented were extracted directly from violent pornography.

The treatment of women and other people, for example Abu Grahib prisoners, mainstreams what porn has been doing all along. The beginning of the book discusses the notion of not noticing something when it becomes part of our everyday lives. This disturbing revelation is what is argued needs to be eradicated completely before it is embedded so far in us, that we do not even see it anymore.

A criticism one could make of the book is that when Sarracino and Scott discuss the mildness of amateur porn and porn made for women, they term this as being more erotica than actual porn. While this may be the case, the notion that people demonstrating sexual acts on camera or in photos still sexualizes them. And while the storyline of this form of erotica may be more enticing with emphasis placed on the realness of the partners (i.e. natural body shape, couples that are actually in a relationship with each other in real life), the fact remains true: these people are sexualized and are only viewed for their sexuality, no other reason. However, in looking at the broad scope of pornography, this small discrepancy is in fact not a target to attack. The authors themselves emphasize to the readers the gargantuan realm of pornography and make clear what we should prioritize for the removal of in our society: violent porn.

Carmine Sarracino and Kevin M. Scott, The Porning of America: The Rise of Porn Culture, What It Means, and Where We Go from Here, (Beacon Press, 2008).

Blog for Choice Day

Blog For Choice Day 2009

Today is the 36th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. As a commemoration of the event, it is the third annual “Blog for Choice Day.” Blog for Choice is an effort launched by NARAL Pro-Choice America to promote the idea that “a woman’s right to choose is a core progressive value that must be protected and advanced.”

This year, hundreds of bloggers–including–are participating in the third annual “Blog for Choice” day. The topic is “What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?

Of course, even broaching this subject may be odd to some. What can I add to the debate as a male who has all of the privileges that come with my gender? However, I do think it is important that men identify as pro-choice and state clearly that we support a women’s right to chose. It’s a critical right and as men, I believe our position is to be allies in the struggle and support women’s rights (I think it’s also important to not use our status to cast “legitimacy” onto the issue–i.e. if men support it, it must be valid). We should step back and acknowledge that fact that the choice is a woman’s alone. Moreover, we should accept responsibility and be pro-active about birth control and not push the issue off on women as is done so often.

For far too long, men–even in progressive circles–have stood silent on the issue. In the worst cases, men have taken paternal roles–such as those taken by political and religious leaders–and purposely undertaken efforts that have stripped women of their autonomy and control over their own bodies.

In that spirit, I’d hope that Obama–as one who pledges to support reproductive choice–uses his newfound power to advance those rights. Pro-choice advocates have been on the defensive and have had to fight tooth and nail to stop further restrictions on abortion. Time has been spent fighting unconstitutional bans, challenging rightwing politicians, and debating whether or not progressives need to “moderate” our views on abortion.

It just so happens that there are some immediate steps that Obama can take to stop some of these attacks on reproductive choice. Moreover, these steps have ongoing campaigns attached to them, making it easier for us all to jump on and support these efforts without simply hoping that the new president takes action:

  • Repeal Bush’s Last Anti-Choice Regulation – As one of his last attacks on the right to choose, President Bush issued a regulation through the Department of Health and Human Services that allows healthcare providers who receive federal funding to “redefine abortion to include the most common forms of birth control” and then refuse to provide those services. This allows healthcare providers to decide what is appropriate for women.
  • Repeal the Global Gag Rule – The Reagan-era global gag rule mandated that no U.S. family planning assistance funding can be given to organizations that provide abortion services, offer counseling and referral for abortion care, or advocate legal abortion access in their own countries — even if they do so with their own funds. President Clinton overturned the rule, but President George W. Bush reinstated it – now it’s time for Obama to overturn it.

I’d also argue that a key issue is getting everyone access to low-cost birth control. There is a bill in Congress that would require insurance companies to cover prescription birth control in the same way that they coverage prescriptions for drugs such as Viagra. This–along with expanded sex education that focuses on birth control rather than abstinence (and that makes it clear that contraception isn’t simply a women’s responsibility)–are also essential areas on which Obama should act as it relates to reproductive choice.

Review: The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships

The Price of Pleasure–a new documentary airing this week at the Wealthy Theatre–offers an important look at the pornography industry and the impact it has on people’s lives.

The Price of Pleasure - Pornography, Sexuality, and Relationships

Pornography is one of those issues that either becomes framed as a matter of free speech or morality. Those who oppose it often are labeled as anti-sex feminists. However, there are new voices and new perspectives that are trying to draw attention to the violence in both the production and consumption of pornography.

In a new documentary The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships, the directors provide a fresh look at an industry that now has an estimated 420 million websites, produces 13,000 new DVDs every year, and is completely intertwined with mainstream media. The Price of Pleasure does not necessarily draw strong conclusions, but it does raise important questions about the pornography industry and what impact it is having in the US.

The documentary begins with a look at how pornography went from being a marginal business that tended to be viewed with scorn to a multi-billion dollar industry that boasts its own lobby. The porn lobby, known as the Free Speech Coalition, challenged legal rulings and some significant cases in the 1990s, particularly cases that paved the way for the power that the Internet would provide the industry as a mechanism for distribution. Now pornography is part of the capitalist landscape with media companies like Time Warner and NewsCorp profiting off partnerships with the porn industry.

Other issues raised in the documentary are how pornography makes commodities out of women & men, the racist elements of pornography, and new trends in pornography, such as “Dorm porn.” Dorm porn is a growing phenomenon where college students are making porn as a way of paying for tuition.

One of the most revealing aspects of the documentary was a study done by students and faculty of the New School, where they looked at the most popular porn videos to make some determinations about the content. Pornography defenders have long argued that anti-porn activists always use the “worst” porn examples and make it look like this is all porn. However, as Robert Jensen and Gail Dines have shown in their research, the bulk of porn produced now is what might have been called “extreme” years ago. This is exactly what the researchers from the New School discovered, that the most popular porn videos that were being rented in the US had extreme content. The researchers found that in 89% of the videos they viewed, verbal and physical violence was central to the production.

The documentary includes voices from those in the porn industry, former porn industry workers, researchers, and activists. It is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to understand what the industry is and what impact it can have on our lives.

You can view the trailer online and come to a public screening this Wednesday, January 7 at the Micro-Cinema in the Wealthy Theatre at 7pm.

He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know

Jessica Valenti’s most recent book is an entertaining and enraging expose of the double standards that perpetuate patriarchy.

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Women are bombarded with sexist double standards everyday that perpetuate patriarchy. Women are not able to walk freely down the street–was most men are able to–without being harassed in many and varying forms. We live in a culture where it is acceptable behavior for men to holler or “cat-call” childishly at women about our appearance when we are simply walking down the street just as it is not unlikely to be touched or groped in any fast-paced public setting such as a subway and get away just in time.

Jessica Valenti’s book He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know will fire up any woman who is sick and tired of being placed in a subordinate role through ridiculous stereotypes and double standards–and to have the confidence to effectively smash these standards. The title of the book and Valenti’s quick remarks tells it like it is and leaves out nothing when it comes to discussing our society’s and the media’s insane expectations of women.

For example, in one of her 49 passages entitled “He Walks Freely, She Gets Harassed” Valenti comments on her own experiences with street harassment and explains the absurdity of men thinking it’s appropriate to be sexual toward any woman they choose at anytime and anywhere. She debunks the obvious myth that it flatters women and enrages readers with the simple analysis that street harassment takes away women’s most basic right to just be while most men are not subject to such dehumanizing treatment.

Beyond street harassment, Valenti’s writing covers oppressive social standards that women face. From obligatory last name changing, to shaving our legs, readers will learn to peel away at these layers of tradition and see nothing but a sexist foundation that upholds these unnecessary and harmful standards which are passed down from generation to generation.

On the acknowledgment that by just letting these double standards fly ultimately allows them to exist, Valenti combats these sexist standards with more than just writing about them; she breaks down the myths, identifies the inequalities, and gives advice to women on what to do about it. Valenti’s often dirty (yet honest) mouth and witty charm lands her words in the minds of women to know what to give us guidance when we encounter these standards, while giving us the confidence to break them apart and call out what is wrong and why it’s wrong.

He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know is a wonderful collection of simple and straightforward writing on complex subjects that are very difficult to deal with. It reads much differently than much feminist writing as it is easy for anyone to understand. Valenti is wise to write this book in such a way because there is no time to waste when it comes to women’s (and men’s) ability to understand this content immediately.

Jessica Valenti, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, (Seal Press, 2008).

Interview with Suzanne Arms

An interview with birth activist and noted author Suzanne Arms. In the interview, Arms discusses the importance of changing how we view birth in our society and culture.

An interview with birth activist and noted author Suzanne Arms. In the interview, Arms discusses the importance of changing how we view birth in our society and culture.

Author Explores the Women’s Vote and the 2008 Election

Last Night, author and feminist Martha Burk gave a talk on the 2008 election and the women’s vote. While it was billed as an exploration of the issues facing women this election, the talk was vague and offered little substance.

Last night, author Martha Burk spoke at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in downtown Grand Rapids. Burk–who received much notoriety in the fight to open the Augusta National Gulf Club to women in 2003–delivered a lecture on the 2008 elections and the women’s vote. While the talk hit on some important themes–particularly the cost of the Iraq War as it relates to funding for domestic programs–much of the talk was vague largely missed its goal of convincing those who consider themselves feminists, people of conscience, or supporters of social justice to vote.

Burk began by sharing that while the anti-suffragists campaigned against giving women the right to vote by saying that they would either vote how their husbands do or would take over the world, women really did not vote in great numbers until 1980. That year Republican Ronald Reagan ran on an anti-Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and anti-abortion platform, both of which drove women to the polls. That year a “gender gap” emerged in which women voted dramatically differently then men. Since that year, women have voted in high numbers in every election.

Her insights on what are important issues for women–most based on poll data obtained while working on her new book Your Money and Your Life–were interesting. She said that the economy is a major issue for women right now, although women tend to see it more personally and are concerned more about if they are going to lose their job than the stock market. She said that women also oppose the Iraq War as many women make the connection between spending on the war and cuts in Medicare, childcare programs, and other domestic programs–many of which poor women rely on. She returned to this theme later saying that spending on the war is a major reason why the United States does not have paid family medical leave, healthcare, or federal childcare programs.

Burk said that this election women’s issues are not getting a lot of coverage. Instead, there is a focus on side issues that she called “false prophets.” These include issues related to “God, Guns, and Gays.” She said that they are popular for politicians who do not want to talk about serious issues. She stressed the importance of really looking into what candidates are saying because we are “getting so much crap” through the media. She also chided the media for focusing on issues that were not popular with voters–such as immigration–during the primaries.

Despite some interesting insights, Burk did not provide much substance. She said relatively little about where the two major party candidates stood on women’s issues, mentioning only that Obama supports stronger legislation in favor of pay equity while McCain thinks the market should decide. The talk certainly could have benefited from a detailed exploration of McCain and Obama’s positions on a variety of issues. She also completely ignored third party candidates including Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney and her vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente, who are the first all women of color ticket. She also repeatedly implored the audience to “ask candidates hard questions” about where they stand, but she seemed to ignore the fact that presidential candidates are inherently inaccessible and its difficult to ask them. Moreover, at one point she spoke about having to sift through several pages on a candidate’s website to find some mention of women, a fact which suggests the two major party candidates don’t see them as much of a priority.

Burk concluded by telling the audience that this country has been through a lot of “majorities”–the Moral Majority, the Green Majority, and the Silent Majority–but that there is one majority that has been ignored: women. She said that women have the power to control in any election if they vote for their interests as a group.

A Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman

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Outside the United States, social movements of the left have used a variety of creative techniques–posters, puppet shows, songs, and art–as popular education tools to convey their collective goals and aspirations. Unfortunately, for much of the left in the United States, we have tended to focus our efforts on producing lengthy books and dense articles that are read by only a small number of people already sympathetic, thereby limiting the left’s outreach. Sharon Rudahl’s Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman is an important piece of popular education–taking Goldman’s autobiography, reducing it from its 1,000 pages and illustrating it. Rudahl’s work, by virtue of its accessibility, should help people learn more about Goldman–one of the more inspirational figures from anarchist and left history.

Emma Goldman’s story should be common knowledge, but unfortunately, she is rarely mentioned in mainstream history books used in high school and college classes. While those books might mention her in relation to anarchists–usually involving bomb throwing–they often fail to convey her dedication to her ideals. Turning to anarchism after the Haymarket incident in the 1880s, Goldman spent years advocating anarchism, organizing, publishing, writing, and agitating for a better world. She toured the country numerous times lecturing on topics ranging from anarchism to theatre and gained a reputation as the United States’ “most dangerous woman.” She served time in prison for her beliefs and actions and was ultimately deported from the United States for organizing against World War I. Once deported, she went to her native Russia and was an early critic of the Bolshevik revolution. She continued to write and be active on the left until her death in 1940.

Emma Goldman’s story is one that should be inspirational to us all. She dedicated her life to the struggle for a more justice world and linked a variety of issues–women’s liberation, free speech, antiwar organizing, and access to birth control–under the common banner of anarchism. While the climate in which Emma Goldman organized is considerably different than the present, we continue to see the harsh effects of capitalism. There have been some improvements in the past 100 or so years that have moderated or hidden capitalism’s harshest aspects, but in many ways Emma Goldman’s critique remains vivid today. A Dangerous Woman presents Emma Goldman’s life and work in a new and exciting way and hopefully it will inspire more people to take action in their own lives.

Sharon Rudahl, Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman, (The New Press, 2007).

Grand Rapids Feminists: A Gggrrrrrrrr Manifesta


While updating the Progressive Directory of Western Michigan yesterday, we came across an exciting new organization called GR Feminists. As a small gesture of solidarity and recognition of the importance of challenging patriarchy, we are reprinting their manifesta:

Grand Rapids Feminists: A Gggrrrrrrrr Manifesta

The Grand Rapids (GR) Feminists exist as an organization to facilitate community, connections, and common ground between the diverse population of feminists residing in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the purpose of promoting solidarity and social change.

As GR Feminists, we believe that feminism upholds the following principles:

* Oppression and inequality directed toward any person or group of persons, including oppression based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, class, or age cannot and will not be tolerated.

* Any social institution that promotes said oppression and inequality should be examined, scrutinized, questioned, and changed.

* All individuals should be free to make their own choices regarding the fate and direction of their own lives.

* These choices should be able to be made in an educated manor.

* The choices of one should not overtly impact the lives of others in a profoundly negative and oppressive way.

* Voice is one of the most powerful tools each of us has. The silencing of voices is one of the biggest tools those in power have to oppress others. Such silencing cannot and will not be tolerated.

* Solidarity is vital to social change. Solidarity and social change are vital to existence.

These feminist principles will be upheld through the GR Feminists organization in all meetings, activities, and personal lives of members.

As GR Feminists, we believe in the inclusive nature of feminism, and this group is open to all those individuals who define themselves as feminists, while recognizing that defining oneself as feminist but being in direct opposition with the above principles is suspect and reason to be asked to leave the group.

We understand that different types of feminism will at times be in direct opposition with each other, but that we will remain respectful of these differences, understand that there are multiple solutions to the same problems, and thrive in the diverse nature of our group.

While GR Feminists do not speak against religion per se, and will not exclude religious feminists from our group or roster of events, we do recognize the sometimes inherent patriarchal nature of religion, and the exclusionary nature of adopting the principles of a specific religion, and thus proclaim that we are a strictly secular organization.

GR Feminists will promote solidarity and social change through activities such as, but not limited to, consciousness raising, book clubs, volunteer and activist projects, and education of both ourselves and our communities.