Music & Gender with Dr. Spilker from Gender Studies minor Eoghan Hartley

As a Gender Studies minor, I was looking forward to taking Music & Gender a lot. But I had no idea how many diverse topics that we were going to cover. I was under the impression that the entire semester was going to be talking about women’s representation (or misrepresentation) in music videos and how female artists are being objectified. Within our first several weeks of classes, we had done reading and had invigorating discussion about women’s involvement in the music and social sphere all the way back to the Middle Ages. Yet, even in this discussion, our class of young undergraduate students from all different interests was able to make enlightening connections to modern day music culture.

One of the elements of this course that I enjoy the most is that I get to hear other people’s perspectives from outside the sphere of gender studies. Some students who may not have the most previous exposure to these topics sometimes surprise me with the most interesting observations. During our discussions, I am wide-eyed and eager to take in as much of other people’s observations as I can.

One of the most invigorating discussions that we had recently was about drag culture and examining videos from popular drag queens such as Willam, RuPaul, and Lady Bunny. Within this discussion, we covered all sorts of topics such as drag queens and sexuality, drag culture within the public sphere, and even the portrayal of LGBT culture within popular television shows and movies.

As always, I look forward to hearing about what other people are observing, which makes me especially excited for listening to my fellow classmates make presentations about their research topics that they have picked for their final course project. The only main requirement that Dr. Spilker gave us in choosing our topic was to have some relation to gender studies. My research is dealing with sexual fantasy and gender roles, including specific analysis on the messages portrayed in Lady Gaga’s new single “G.U.Y.” Within our course, we have a broad range of topics including: Greek sexual culture, development of masculinity within female prisons, women’s participation in sports, and the representation of female artists within jazz music. Needless to day, I am simply thrilled to be listening to my fellow classmates educate us about this broad range of topics.

For the record, I am working towards a B.F.A in Directing. The information that I am gathering throughout this course is going to prove to be very beneficial as I guide projects and facilitate another growing source of media to our culture. If there are any students who are interested in any aspect of gender studies, sociology, or even music itself, I would highly suggest this course. Never be afraid to dive deeper. Who knows what you may find!

– Eoghan Hartley


Capitol Hill Internship Program Deadline April 1!

The experience I had in Washington D.C. as a Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP) student was a once in a lifetime experience. Interning at Amnesty International USA taught me more that I could have imagined about violence against women, women’s rights, the government, international activism, networking, and working in a very professional setting. CHIP is not just for political science majors and those interested in getting involved heavily in politics. Washington D.C. offers a wealth of options of organizations, nonprofits, and government groups. I urge anyone who is considering to apply! It will be the most educational and fun semester. 

Applications for the Capitol Hill Internship Program for the fall semester are due April 1st to Meghan Winchell. The application and eligibility guidelines can be found on the NWU Political Science web page.

?’s mwinchel 

When Feminism Becomes “Popular”


In the newest Hollywood attempt to be a feminist, J-Lo tries to reverse the age old women being objectified by men in music videos theme. Watch her music video here for “I Luh Ya PaPi” (weird name) and decide for yourself if this does anything for feminism. I really agree with one of my favorite PolicyMic feminist authors, Elizabeth Plank, when she says that J-Lo was just as bad as the rappers she is criticizing and to, “tear down gender stereotypes, we need to think outside of the box.”


Male vs. female rape…an argument that should not exist

I have dedicated my life to promoting equality for all. I will always be passionate about working to end injustices facing all groups of people.  But saving the entire world is a lofty goal, so I have decided to do what I can to make the world a more beautiful and safe place for women in poverty, a group that around the world faces many barriers. As a women’s rights activist I have faced much criticism for not taking a broad approach that is more inclusive of male survivors when addressing issues such as rape.

This article from the Women’s Media Center discusses the consequences of creating a competition between male and female rape. The author reminded me that this is NOT an argument that should exist, that there are many males around the world who face unwanted sexual contact and rape. BUT the facts still show that women face rape in the US and around the world at a much higher rate. Here are some of these facts:

  • According to The Guardian, between 2009 and 2012, annual rape cases in England and Wales were estimated at 78,000, of which 69,000 had a female victim.
  • A 2004 study by Statistics Canada found that “sexual victimization rates for females were almost 5 times the rate for males. … Similarly, police-reported data for 2007 indicate that female rates of sexual victimization were 5.6 times higher than male rates.”
  • A 2010 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that in the Democratic Republic of Congo, about 40 percent of women and 24 percent of men reported being exposed to sexual violence.

I could go on and on with facts that show the dangers women face compared to men. Another important thing to remember is that these numbers are low because rape goes unreported. The author wrote, “While the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that about 54 percent of all assaults in the U.S. go unreported, a study by the University of Rochester found reporting rates to be as low as 16 percent.” The message I want to leave you with is that the rates at which rape occurs around the world to both women and men is terrifyingly high and we ALL need to play our part to stop it.

Happy International Women’s Day!

ImageToday is International Women’s Day! My favorite day! When addressing the United Nations on Friday, Hilary Clinton said that gender equality is the “great unfinished business of the 21st century” and that “no country in the world, including my own, has achieved full participation.” I could not agree more! There is no way the world can develop when half of the population is not given the same rights and opportunities as the other half. Today I remind you to consider the grave inequalities that keep women around the world from marrying who they want, living free from violence, getting an education, and earning their own money. Consider what you can do to contagiously promote equality. But I also remind you to pay tribute to the important women in your life. I cannot imagine the woman I would be if it weren’t for my strong grandmas, my beautiful mother, my role model of a sister, or my inspiring friends. 

P.S. also make sure you watch today’s Google logo video

“People should stop believing that Robin Thicke song…The lines really aren’t that blurred.”

In a interesting new study done by the University of Toronto and the University of Washington, it was found that sexual aggression in men does not have a correlation to their own alcohol level. Instead, it is related to the intoxication level of women. By observing the bar scene they found that “25 percent of all incidents involved sexual aggression and 90 percent of the victims of sexual aggression were women being harassed by men.” The lead researcher, Kate Graham stated, “the fact that men were more likely to take advantage of intoxicated women shows that most of these incidents aren’t well-intentioned.” I am glad that this research was done in bars because  there are different perceptions of what actions are okay when you consider this atmosphere.   I also agree with the researchers as they shared their concern on bar staff not being trained to step in and stop the acts of sexual aggression.  

Read more here from NPR

“In New York City, Making Strip Clubs Go Dry, Then Go Away”

Now that I am done with my pop culture heavy related posts (for now) ….I read an interesting article about successful attacks against strip clubs in New York. I am very interested and involved in the work against human trafficking. Thanks to guidance from my NWU Gender Studies courses and professors, I have looked into the connections between trafficking and prostitution. I understand that many see prostitution, and other sex industry institutions such as strip clubs, as a legitimate business that women can chose to take part in.

I see it differently.

While I understand there may be a few women who honestly decide this to be their line of work, the facts are that the average age of entry into the sex industry is between 12 and 14. There is also a strong connection with the women involved in prostitution to a history or childhood of violence. Can one really say a woman selected this line of work if she was introduced into it as a child? In New York many strip clubs are being closed or are under attack by way of liquor licenses. This has shown to be quite effective in closing these businesses; take away the alcohol and they loose clients. Complaints to Liquor Authority and restrictive zoning laws have made it hard for new strip clubs to survive. I would have liked to see a mention about the dangers that strip clubs bring but am glad to read that communities are going after the tolerance of the sex industry in the US. 

Read more here in The New York Times