"Sex 101 Class"

Women in Liberian universities have frequently had to exchange sexual favors to professors for passing grades. Even if they report the man and he loses his job because of disciplinary action, he can usually find another teaching job elsewhere because no universal system for tracking such offenses exists.

Elizabeth Gbah, programme manager for women’s and girls’ rights at ActionAid Liberia, says transactional sex is so entrenched in university life that it’s a seemingly accepted practice. And tackling the problem is not helped by the fact that some women willingly choose to do it – knowing they are unlikely to pass their course if they don’t “pay” for grades – or believe that this is how women get on in life. Gbah says girls grow up thinking they are inferior to men, and often don’t feel able to articulate their concerns or fight back.

This is why there’s no such thing as benevolent patriarchy, or at least, not benign patriarchy.

University Of North Carolina May Expel Rape Victim For Telling Her Story

Landen Gambill has been accused of “disruptive” and “intimidating” behavior because she went public with the story of her rape by another student. She will have to attend a hearing before the school’s “Honor Court”.

Most likely, UNC’s action against the student is revenge. Gambill’s story first came to light as part of a case against the school in which a former assistant dean accused UNC of intentionally under-reporting cases of sexual assault. Gambill was one of three students providing evidence to prove the dean’s case. After it went public, Gambill publicly addressed the failings of UNC’s system, reporting that they “were not only offensive and inappropriate, but they were so victim-blaming… They made it seem like my assault was completely my fault.” The school even tried to leverage her suicide attempt, which happened after her sexual abuse, against her.

Do the people who dream up these accusations really not think about the terrible publicity they’ll get as a result, or are they just that sure they’re going to win?

Duke Offers Feminist Blogger Workshop

The Duke Women’s Center has launched Write(H)ers, a semester-long “initiative to create a community of feminist-oriented writers”. Its 23 initial members will attend four dinners with visiting feminist journalists and must contribute three blog posts during the semester to one of two Duke blogs.

Senior Sarah Van Name, a member of Write(H)ers and a contributor to Duke’s feminist blog Develle Dish, said the program serves to train young women and better equip them to be activists when they need to be.

“This program was a dream come true for me because I read a lot of feminist blogs and several of the women who write these blogs now have the opportunity to come to Duke and explain to this new community how to follow in their footsteps,” Van Name said.

I’m a little skeptical about this, for two reasons. Firstly, learning to write well and learning good feminist ideology are two different things, and I can’t tell which of those things this program is trying to accomplish. Maybe the program assumes good ideology? If so, that seems like a recipe for confusion.

Secondly, even most of the amateur feminist bloggers I know write three posts every week, not every semester. Some of them aren’t terribly good writers, but they will be soon, if they keep up that level of output. On that I feel like I can speak authoritatively; if Duke wants to develop strong feminist writers, they need to make those little feminists crank out a massive volume of content.

Still, it’s good that the university is pushing feminist activism as a valuable endeavor.

Poor Students Struggle as Class Plays a Greater Role in Success

The New York Times follows three low-income students whose strong academic performance in high school failed to compensate for their other disadvantages when they entered college:

Four years later, their story seems less like a tribute to upward mobility than a study of obstacles in an age of soaring economic inequality. Not one of them has a four-year degree. Only one is still studying full time, and two have crushing debts. Angelica, who left Emory owing more than $60,000, is a clerk in a Galveston furniture store.

Each showed the ability to do college work, even excel at it. But the need to earn money brought one set of strains, campus alienation brought others, and ties to boyfriends not in school added complications. With little guidance from family or school officials, college became a leap that they braved without a safety net.

The demise of the current higher education system can’t come soon enough for me.

Via Blue Milk.

It BELONGS in a Museum

An anonymous contributor has sent the admissions office at the University of Chicago a package containing several personal belongings of Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. Pictures accompany their Tumblr post.

Full credit to Luke Johnson for the joke (via Daring Fireball).

Dorm Resident Posts "Top Ten Ways to Get Away With Rape"

Miami University, in Oxford, OH, is scrambling to find the person responsible for posting a list that included advice ranging from drugging women’s drinks to slitting their throats in order to prevent them reporting the crime.

Kate Van Fossen, vice present of Women Against Violence and Sexual Assault, assures us the risk is very real:

“It could have been a joke, but the fact of the matter is that those thoughts are crossing someone’s mind. There are girls living in a hall where someone came up with that,” Van Fossen said. “It’s just disturbing.”

In fact, it’s almost more disturbing to think the list was a joke; the university probably doesn’t hold that many men who seriously think rape is a good idea, but it may very well foster a culture that treats date rape as a laughing matter.

"Slut Dropping"

A new misogynistic trend at British universities:

The process, they explained, involves driving around town with friends in the early hours of the morning and offering a lift home to a young woman they deem a “slut” (usually a woman in a “post-club state”). After asking her address, they drive as fast and as far as possible in the opposite direction before forcing the woman out of the car and using a camera to film her “standing by the side of the road as they drive away”.

What a good way to punish a woman for being brazen enough to go out in public and consume alcohol. Read to find out more about this and other exciting new ways for men to objectify and de-humanize women!

Via Jezebel.

Mentoring Women in STEM Fields

Women in Technology Sharing Online, or WitsOn, an open online initiative, seeks to connect women interested in pursing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics with successful, more experienced women who can provide information and support. And here’s why:

While women now earn more college degrees than men over all, they lag in STEM fields — particularly computer science and engineering, where they earn less than 20 percent of all undergraduate degrees.

Back to School!

Leaving for school and realizing that my mother would not be able to get her degree felt a lot like survivor’s guilt. I was the only one on a clear path out of poverty. She threw her support behind me, and I did the only thing I could do: studied hard to make it up to her.

Sierra of The Phoenix and Olive Branch celebrates a victory that will melt any but the stoniest heart.