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UC Berkeley

OPINION

UC BERKELEY - While walking on Sproul last week, I was met with one of Cal’s famously spirited protests. The men circled in front of the student store chanting their overwhelming distaste for the brutal “War on Women,” and though I didn’t have time to stop and speak with them about their ideologies, the encounter did remind me of one of the glaring hypocrisies of our day: new-age feminism.

For the sake of conciseness, I’ll summarize feminism’s roots in one brief sentence: Feminism began as a means to an end of women receiving equal status in the eyes of the law and, consequently, equal status in the eyes of society as a whole. It stemmed from the denial of women’s rights to vote and work for equal pay, and, from an unbiased standpoint on humanity, it made perfect sense and was a long time coming. Today’s so-called “feminism,” though, is another beast entirely.

Women today march around kicking and screaming in a stubborn refusal to be “subjected to men’s will” any longer. They demand insurance-covered contraceptives, cite statistics of inequality in wages of the genders and claim that putting on heels and earrings for a night out is giving in to our subjugation by men.

Quite frankly, this is all a load of crap. Instead of reflecting our feminist foremothers’ passion around being seen as humans rather than being defined by gender, these displays of animosity toward males do nothing more than destroy the credibility of the equality argument altogether. Feminism has become a clever disguise for the idea that we women, not men, “run this shit.”

Take, for instance, the outrage over the wage gap. My feminist friends will not relent when it comes to the fact that women’s salaries — depending on their age groups — are between 75 and 85 percent of men’s. This statistic, however, is sadly misleading. First of all, women comprise almost 60 percent of the population in both undergraduate tracks and graduate schools. And though I typically hear the argument that this should lead to higher women’s salaries, my fine-feathered friends neglect that the more time spent in school, the less time spent slaving year after year for the same company (and slowly climbing the payscale ladder). Education is definitely a wise investment, but every extra year of school can delay the job search. And though having more degrees may lead to faster, more lucrative promotions, you’ll initially earn less than colleagues of the same age who began working at the company sooner.

Secondly, we women possess the miraculous gift of giving birth to our world’s future generations. It’s somewhat difficult for a company to continually promote an employee who can take three- to four-month (and typically longer, by choice) lapses from the job at really any time. Women can’t expect to take up to 10 years off from their careers and still come back and earn as much as male counterparts of similar ages.

Those who cry complete unfairness in the wage gap seem to forget that men and women lead completely different lives. The natural deviation between the genders’ lives is bound to lead to discrepancies between salaries, which don’t necessarily point to inequality. Though yes, the world isn’t perfect, and yes, various forms of inequality do exist almost everywhere we look, we need to stop placing every issue into gender-versus-gender terms and see that we can be equal without being exactly the same.

The only true feminist in mainstream media anymore is Nicki Minaj. Yes, I said it. Nicki, in all her wig-clad glory, is the prime example of seeing oneself not as a man or woman but as a person. She herself has said, “I’m trying to entertain, and entertaining is more than exuding sex appeal … I’m trying to just show my true personality, and I think that means more than anything else. I think when personality is at the forefront, it’s not about male or female.” Nicki — who also refers to herself as a king and runs in the heavily male-dominated rap industry — is solely out to prove her own worth, not her worth in comparison to a man’s. She represents everything genuine about traditional feminism — in a nontraditional way, that is. We ladies could learn something from her.

So, the next time you’re looking to rail against the “War on Women” and complain about how oppressed we’ve been for far too long, ask yourself: “Am I a real feminist?” Because if you are, you’ll feel no need to worry and whine about everything you’re missing out on that men might have. You’ll simply pursue whatever it is you want to do, expect nothing to be handed to you freely and avoid constantly comparing your situation to someone else’s. You are powerful, and you are equal. And so am I. And so are men.

College Fix contributor Claire Chiara is a student at UC Berkeley.

This column originally ran May 2013 in UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian and has been reprinted in its entirety with permission.

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Explicit National Condom Week events showcased on same day young students – and UC President Napolitano – tour campus

Hundreds of elementary and middle school students who recently toured UC Berkeley got an early lesson in sex education when they witnessed a guy in a giant penis costume walking around handing out condoms, as well as a variety of condom-inspired games, an undergrad at the university told The College Fix on Wednesday.

The schoolchildren were on campus last week at the same time that the public university hosted National Condom Week observances that, in addition to the giant penis, included an assortment of sex-themed activities such as a vagina-anus condom toss, a vulva and anus “pin the tail,” and a condom water-balloon game.condom2

“There were kids walking by and looking and being confused,” UC Berkeley student Claire Chiara, who witnessed the situation, said in an interview with The College Fix. “It’s just really inappropriate.”

The campus’ health services division hosted the National Condom Week events, which also included an “insertive condom fisting activity to show how stretchy these sexy condoms can be.”

It’s not unusual for elementary and middle school students to tour the campus – it happens all the time. But on Thursday, things really came to a climax, because the young schoolchildren visiting the university were actually hanging out and playing games on the same quad area where the condom events took place, Chiara said.

“There were hundreds of middle school and elementary schoolchildren doing tours and activities on the lawn,” Chiara said. “They were told explicitly, ‘You can’t give condoms to a 10-year-old.’ We had little lines of children walking down Sproul (Plaza) next to all the demonstrations, the guy in the penis suit, everything.”

“Why on Earth would they plan this on the same day we have demonstrations on how to use dental dams?” Penisman1

What’s more, all this took place under the nose of UC President Janet Napolitano, who was at UC Berkeley on Thursday for a campus visit of her own.

According to the National Condom Week agenda at UC Berkeley, “Hot-DAMn Monday” offered a look at “commercial and do-it-yourself barrier methods such as dental dams, gloves, and finger cots. What barrier method would be complete without its best-friend lube? This day will also look at different types of lube and how each may enhance your next sexual experience.”

On “Insert-It Tuesday,” students were taught how to “properly use insertive condoms in a vagina or anus.”

“There are some super fun activities planned for this day including insertive condom hacky sack, Vulva and anus “pin the tail,” and an insertive condom fisting activity to show how stretchy these sexy condoms can be,” the agenda stated.

On “Wear-One Wednesday,” the events focused on “traditional condoms commonly worn on a penis, toy or phallus.”

“Fun activities include traditional condom demos, creating your own condom lollipops, and testing the durability of traditional condoms by filling them with water and tossing them at a consenting opponent. You like how smooth I worked consent in, don’t you?” the agenda stated.

And on “All-of-the-above Thursday” – the day in which Napolitano and school schildren were on hand – the events included a little bit of everything: “Will combine all of the safer and sex information and activities and bring them to you on (one) exhilarating day! If you missed a day, or an activity, or loved something so Condom1much you want more this day is for you!”

PHOTOS: Claire Chiara – The College Fix

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Robby Soave reports for The Daily Caller about a controversy erupting out of UC Berkeley this week:

Students in Professor Hatem Bazian’s class at the University of California at Berkeley are required to publicly denounce Islamophobia on Twitter while designing strategies to help Islamic groups improve their outreach efforts.

Bazian is a founder of “Students for Justice in Palestine” at Berkeley, where he teaches in the Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies departments. One of his classes, “Asian American Studies 132AC: Islamophobia,” requires students to tweet about Islamophobia, according to Tarek Fatah, a columnist for the Toronto Sun.

Fatah wrote that he received an email from a student in Bazian’s class who claimed: “I’ve been told by one of my professors I will be required, as part of my grade, to start a Twitter account and tweet weekly on Islamophobia. I can’t help but feel this is unethical. This is his agenda not mine.”

Read the full story here.

(Image: JeffHester.Flickr)

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UC Berkeley students enrolled in an Asian American Studies course called “Islamophobia & Constructing Otherness” are required to create Twitter accounts and Tweet about Islamophobia, author and Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah reports.

Islamophobia is defined as a hatred or fear of Islam or Muslims.

“Two weeks ago, I received a panicked message from a student enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley,” Fatah explains. “He wrote: ‘I’ve been told by one of my professors I will be required, as part of my grade, to start a Twitter account and tweet weekly on Islamophobia. I can’t help but feel this is unethical. This is his agenda not mine.’”

Fatah asked the student to elaborate, and the undergrad went on to explain that the professor wants the class to survey “people of color on the impact of some ads put out by (anti-Sharia blogger) Pamela Gellar.”

“Now I’m no Pamela Gellar fan, I think she’s nuts, but I feel … between the Twitter stuff and the final project he’s basically using us as unpaid labor to work on his agenda,” the student told Fatah.

According to the UC Berkeley website, the class is taught by Professor Hatem Bazian and closely examines the “frameworks employed in discourses of ‘otherness’ and the complex social, political, gender, and religious forces entangled in its historical and modern reproduction.”

Fatah, author of the books “Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State” and “The Jew is Not My Enemy,” reached out to Bazian for comment.

I wrote to Prof. Bazian, who co-founded “Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)” at Berkeley, asking why he was using his students to pursue what appeared to me to be a political exercise meant to propagate a specific message to the Twitterverse.

Bazian replied, without referring to Islamophobia:

“My course is designated as an American culture community engagement scholarship class … Students are asked to send at least one posting per week on something related to the course content, be it from the actual reading or anything they read or came across.”

When I asked him why all the tweets by his students so far are about Islamophobia, he replied:

“The class is titled De-Constructing Islamophobia and the History of Otherness … (Students) are asked to post based on … examining Islamophobia through looking at earlier historical examples.”

Examples of some of the tweets from the class include: “How difficult it is to be a Muslim woman in America” and “One perspective of Islam is to view it as inferior to the West. Where does this notion of cultural superiority come from?”

Fatah concluded his column by saying he believes “Bazian appears to be using his position of authority to make 100 students — mostly non-Muslims — tweet about Muslim victimhood in America, irrespective of how it’s defined or whether it exists.”

IMAGE: FirasMT/Flickr

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Can one be both homosexual and a devout Jew? A student club launched at UC Berkeley this semester suggests it isn’t an either-or question.

“Q-Jew” is a club started in August at the public university that aims to “offer members of the LGBT community a space to explore more religiously or spiritually focused experiences so no one has to prioritize one identity over the other,” Sophie Needelman, one of the club’s co-directors and co-founders, stated in an email to The College Fix.

So far the club has about seven active members and meets at Hillel, the Jewish student center on campus, which now displays a rainbow flag as a show of solidarity with their Jewish-queer peers.

Although religion and homosexuality are subjects that typically are not combined – unless done in an adversarial way – Q-Jew aims to “address the intersection of these identities, not just the casual happening of their sometimes mutual existence,” Needelman says.

The group hosts weekly meetings and joins in larger student activities on campus. Members hope to grow their ranks, but Needelman says it’s not about the numbers.

“It is important for us to be present as a space for people to be a part of in their own time and in their own ways,” she stated. “Not everyone feels the need to actively engage with their queer identity in Jewish spaces; for those that do though, we exist to support them and share in that desire.”

So far, the group has been enthusiastically welcomed by many on campus.

At a student senate meeting Oct. 30, for example, a resolution was passed “recognizing and applauding Q-Jew for making inroads in creating a safe space for students with intersectional identities, and encourage this to serve as a catalyst for other such discussion.”

“UC Berkeley is a queer-progressive campus,” Needelman said. “The American Jewish community is also very progressive and is generally aligned with the human rights perspective of the LGBT community. … Q-Jew aligns not just with Jewish theology, but also Jewish standards of spirituality, community, and leadership.”

Whereas Orthodox Judaism does not condone homosexuality, the Jewish Reform movement has evolved to an accepting viewpoint.

Rabbi Victor Appell of ReformJudaism.com explains this shift in ideology based on the principle that “all human beings are created b’tselem Elohim (in the Divine image), as it says in Genesis 1:27, ‘And God created humans in God’s own image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them.’ ”

The director for The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi David Saperstein, further supports this viewpoint, stating: “Regardless of context, discrimination against any person arising from apathy, insensitivity, ignorance, fear, or hatred is inconsistent with this fundamental belief. We oppose discrimination against all individuals, including gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, for the stamp of the Divine is present in each and every one of us.”

Q-Jew aligns with these perspectives, hoping “to give voice to students who feel marginalization or exclusion by more institutionalized manifestations of traditional Judaism,” according to Needelman.

What’s more, she claims other student clubs at Berkeley mix religion and the LGBT community.

“These sort of places exist not only just to tolerate queer individuals within religious spaces,” Needelman said, “but to actively engage with and support those individuals by using queer experiences to enrich religious practices and experiences.”

Fix contributor Julianne Stanford is a student at University of Arizona.

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Mark Agather, a leader within the Montana Tea Party movement, shares his recent experience dealing with a UC Berkeley student:

Sometimes it is hard to believe what’s going on in our world. For example, I had a call from a 31-year-old male who was attending UC Berkeley who wanted to talk to a person involved with the Tea Party. He apparently found my name on the internet. To my knowledge, he wasn’t doing any sort of formal research, but he was very reserved relative to his purpose. However it was soon apparent he did not want a true dialogue, but rather a validation of the preconceived prejudices he had learned from his professors at that university. The conversation ended up confirming the huge bias existing in our university system today.

Our discussion quickly established the built-in misconceptions this gentlemen had been taught, such as the Tea Party equaled racism, that it was for big business, and finally that its members promoted anarchy. The caller was startled when I told him it was quite the opposite, in that liberals today are for big business, are the most intolerant of opposing viewpoints, and who are working toward their own form of fascism.

The caller was shocked when I pointed out that he was a parrot unthinkingly expressing not his well-thought-out viewpoints but instead those of his professors from the “bubble land” of the university he was attending. I stated it was apparent that he was not exposed to any conservative thought or philosophies and as such he could not develop any true perspective. He laughed and said “Of course not! Conservative professors and lecturers are not allowed at UC Berkeley.” Most frightening was the fact that he thought this was fine and the way it should be. This should give us all pause.

People, the prejudice and discrimination in our country’s university system against conservatives in general and against the Tea Party in particular is well-known, widespread, virulent, and ultimately anti-American. Our university system in Montana is infected as well. If we allow it to continue we will be left with a generation of college students who will be indoctrinated in a liberal agenda which promotes the notion that discrimination and prejudice against conservatives is justifiable and even preferred. For the sake of our students, our country, as well as our universities, such trends should be stopped.

This originally appeared as an op-ed in The Daily Interlake on Saturday and was republished in its entirety with permission from its author.

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