In solidarity with the Center for Women's Global Leadership, the UCSD Women's Center is proud to celebrate the 2009 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Each day between November 25-December 10 we will be featuring articles from the community addressing various topics surrounding the issue of gender violence.

11th December 2009



Thanks so much to everyone who contributed, read, and passed on this blog, we really appreciate it!

10th December 2009

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Silence is Violence

I’ve always understood that if someone is silenced, if they’re not allowed to be heard, their voice, and their contribution to society, gets lost.  But what I am just beginning to understand now are the total implications of this silencing.  When a person is silenced, whether by their parents, their government, their friend, their significant other, whomever, a power structure is created, one which has the silencer dominating the silencee.  You are wrong. What you have to say is wrong.  You are a lesser human being.

By not speaking of rape, of domestic violence, of homophobic slurs, it is easy to pretend like they don’t exist. When we don’t talk about something, we erase the greater implications of it.  And this doesn’t always have to be about a physical act of violence- it can incorporate a child scared to come out to his/her parents in fear of their response, or a woman unwilling to speak about the psychological and verbal violence she experiences at home.

Silence is violence.  When something remains quiet, it doesn’t get validated, and therefore the issue remains personal, and the silencee a victim.  If a person is too scared to say something because they fear it will harm their well-being, that is violence.

We need to create outlets for sharing stories.  We need to make our society an open one, that is willing to admit their mistakes, learn from them, and move forward.  We need to create a safe environment in which we tell victims and survivors and allies you will be silenced no more, we validate you, your story is important and we want to hear it.

—Joeva, Women’s Center intern


What do you think?

9th December 2009



this is for

you mom

this is

for you

the nurturer

the provider

the giver

the lover

the mother



i still see in you

for the


you carried

for my


you married


bringing your

own mother

your loved ones


big oceans


to build

a family


no food to eat

trying to fit in

and getting used

to these NY city streets

raising 2 children


worn down

and beat

holding down

a job






so he can stand

on two feet



took him

away from us

and there you



for all of us


to all of us

because that

was your just”us”


we were your must

we were your must

but now

I am

my own MUST

I am a must

to survive

a must

for my children

a must to lead

a must to learn

from the mistakes

so my



can be mothers too

so this is for you


this is for the


i saw inside of you

that you never seemed

to notice

this is for her

this is for she

she is the sometimes mom

I never wanted to be

this is for the strength

i never saw in you

for the woman

i needed

to see


i questioned


I am

Who I was

Who I wanted to be

this is for my own mother

who once told me

I’d never make money as a writer

So, instead I find myself

as a broke freedom fighter


fires after fire

burnin the trees

forgettin the struggle

lifting me higher

And higher

And high

So high…..

cause it seems like

no matter

how hard I try

i can’t ever reach the sky

cause the reach seems too far

and the chase ain’t ever enough

and the work ain’t ever done


Used to make me

Feel like

I was the only one

with dreams

dreams too impossible

to set free


momma woulda

told me how hard it was gonna be


I could tell her

to just love me


i could say to her

that I can’t ever be too perfect

that I can only be me

That I don’t care about

Being too fat

Or too thin

To fall in love with

My own brown skin

My momma’s

internalized racism

and america’s imposed


has got me hating

my own self


brought me insecurities

caused me to be blind

because there are times

I wish

I could be you


when it gets so lonely

I do

think of you

back then


everyone used to

have a

rainbow and

a unicorn

Holding me close

And in your arms


I used to say

you were my best friend

but friends listen

and got your back

when you feel the world’s

comin to an end

so why didn’t you

come to my rescue

save me

from the beats

and the


you never knew

I used to

Never eat the

School lunches


I wanted

To be perfect

Like you


when I finally told


he used to

try to lie down

right next to me

tried to hold

down the best of me

why didn’t you

hear me

when I said

there were too many

people in this house

I didn’t feel

I was shouting so loud

Where’s my mother

When I needed


Right now

Right now…

Right now…

I can’t even blame you

Just like the rest of us

the system

Has got you in lock


Caught up

our women

of color

in these

Physical and mental

Head blocks

The media

Spittin at women of color

With the hard rocks

there’s a reason

why women has grown

to more than 48%

in cell-blocks

I do a head-knod

In shame


my heart beats

when I see

a sister

is in defeat

even on tv

flavor of love

got you


on you

on her,

on her,



and she

and she

and she

and me

the media

is another


to hate




like you and me


over a man

who doesn’t


a woman

is the mother





to just breathe

and we wonder

why we



a sister in need

a sister

in pain

a sister in vein

a sister

can’t be blamed

because we

can’t even love



we’re told

to live in shame

I just wanna hug

the little kim’s

britney spears

cause these


record labels

and corporations

are to be blamed

cause this short skirt

Is not an invitation

to rape me

hate me

blame me

I am ashamed

I am ashamed

the shame

is on them



too many

of my sisters

in a brothel

a woman’s


is really

in the struggle


planting the fields

to doing the 9 to 5


the ABC’s



everyone to see







I look to







up to


And asks why

tell me



if God


a woman

she’d know


i feel

afraid to



to my


little girl


to bring her up

in this world


to hear


call her

a b*tch

or a h*

or for her

to watch a



a sister



reality show

every ad and


and every


she flips

a magazine



woman of color

on a


Or a YM teen



to be



to what

they think

should be seen







so by the time

she’s old enough

she’s putting him above

she’s in a codependent love

physical beat

fronting she’s strong

but inside she’s weak

and now sh’es

just an alcoholic

just another heroin addict

just another statistic

another reason

for another child

to say

she has no mother

just cause

she’s “too in love”

to recognize

a real

life time partner

this is


I need

to be a good mother

to raise my son

to be a good brother

teach my daughter

to be the mother

the world

needs for you

and me to be

ready to fight

ready and right

ready for the

front lines

ready for the open minds

ready for

cause everyone knows


every leader was a

Corretta Scott King

holding it down

putting it down

raising the family

serving the people

passing it down

carving the stone

bringing it back home

to be our own


from Africa to the Philippines


this is the dream

I wish

this for you

lead me the way

so I can be the


and mother

I need to be

raise my


to be a

someday mother and queen

—Kuttin’ Kandi


What do you think?

8th December 2009


Ending the Violence

Homosexual acts became legal in some states in the USA in 1962. It did not become a federal law until 2003.  Prior to 2003 it was legal to IMPRISON and/or FINE someone for participating in a same-sex sexual interaction. At the same time that America elected its first black president, three states including my home state of California banned same sex marriage by means of a democratic public vote.


“It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that every sexual act except sexual intercourse between a married couple using the missionary position in the dark has been criminalized in at least one U.S. state at one time during its history.” ( There have been so many state laws throughout U.S. history restricting and marginalizing the LGBT community that it is no wonder there is violence against people identifying as LGBT. This hatred has been institutionalized! Whether the source of this violence is religious, cultural, legal, or by any other means the effects are devastating. To be guilty of homophobic violence there need not been any physical damage. Harassment, emotional/psychological abuse, abusive language, denying legal rights, restricting legal rights, housing discrimination, employment discrimination, the military” don’t ask don’t tell” policy, and many other forms of hatred all constitute homophobic violence. Martin Luther King once said, “Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.”

We need to tear down the laws that separate people from one another so we can learn from and understand each other. If there is hope for ending the violence, we must change these laws and give all people the right to the pursuit of happiness. If you are someone you know is affected by homophobic violence’s there is a large community of LGBT peoples and allies that you can turn to for support. Find laws regarding  LGBT right, support, information, and help for survivors of homophobic violence at one of the sites below.

1. Gay Straight Alliance Network International (International)

2. Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute (USA)

3. Gay Marriages: Equality For All Americans (USA)

4. GLAAD - Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (USA)

5. Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (USA)

6. Gay Rights Watch (USA)

7. Human Rights Campaign (USA)

8. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (USA)

9. Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (USA)

10. LGBT Political Investment Caucus (USA)

11. CultureWire (Daily news)

12. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

13.         Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund

There are so many resources available. Find out the laws in your state to see how you are protected by the law.  Checkout the GSA resource locator for local hotlines and resources. Wherever you are, you can get the help you or your loved one needs! Over 1,300 cases of homophobic violence are reported in the united states each year. It is estimated that 80-90% of these types of crimes go unreported each year! Be a survivor of the violence, not a victim. Be a supporter. Be an Advocate. Stand up for yourself! Most of all learn about the people around you. Until all oppressions end, no single oppressed group is truly free.

—Claire, Women’s Center intern


What do you think?

7th December 2009

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Institutional Violence Against Migrants: Gender, Deportation, and Families

I began to do community service at Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico with a group of ladies from the UCSD campus. Casa was one of the few places that allowed us to actually provide our services and labor, and we were really excited to have been allowed in. We craved direct experience and actual service for others. We cooked for the Casa (it was a lot of people), helped sort out the pantry and the laundry, and cleaned when needed. And as naïve as it may sound, I do not think any of us expected to have encountered the people, the life stories, the journey stories, the grief of so many that move across a border for the sake of life opportunities. I personally did not think I’d come to see the extent of institutional violence against migrants to this country and their families.

I had already had several not-so-great international migration experiences in my lifetime, but I know that at Casa, I came to realize the terrible consequences of border and enforcement and immigration policy. Among some of the memories I have of my work at Casa are my conversations with some of the migrants, especially the 1.5-generation migrants who had been deported back to Mexico. Most had been born in Mexico, but were brought very young to the United States by their parents in an attempt to keep the family united rather than splitting it up by the migration of a single individual (usually the dad). So whole families take on the journey to ‘el norte’ . These “1.5s” come as young as newborns. Their parents chose to bring them to the US, so they grow up here. They learn English, they learn about Halloween and Santa Claus, they go to George Washington High School- they develop and socialize in American culture and a bit of the home culture they left behind.

From my conversations with some of them at Casa, some of them hit their 17 years of age and realized that the whole time they’ve been living in the US, they were undocumented. They stay in the US because that IS their home. That’s where they’ve raised their own US-born children. At heart they belong, but law denies them: “But how was I to know that? I didn’t choose to go there, I was brought there. And even though they don’t want me, I still grew up there. I don’t even know Spanish, what will I do in Mexico? My family is all on the other side, my mom, my daughter. What’s gonna happen to her, you know. All because I don’t have some papers.”

And so during my time at Casa, I had several conversations with 1.5-generation men, some of who were fathers. And so in the context of fatherhood (as in this case), deportation becomes an issue of institutional violence against the family (and against the genders, invariably). These men are separated from their children and their partners, they are denied the right of every parent to see their child play, grow, live. They are denied the opportunity to be with their partners. The children are denied their parents’ presence, their assistance, their affection. Women left alone are made to take on the role of both parents. Families fall into financial hardship and into poverty. Families are denied a sense of completeness and a sense of being. Deportation is violence- it is institutional violence against migrant women, men, children. A person need not be physically struck to experience violence because violence is not simply physical- it is also emotional and psychological. If families are of great impact in people’s emotional and psychological states, then policy or a law or an institution that denies families their emotional or psychological wellbeing is also committing violence against them.

We learn about these things at the university (institutional violence, for example), but most don’t think about the real life implications of these. Casa made me realize it. And others should also strive to become aware.

—Lizette Solorzano, Women’s Center intern


Human Rights Watch






What do you think?

6th December 2009

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Violence & Borders

In this time in our history of increased globalization, borders have become more permeable than ever before.  Not only can gender roles be challenged in these border regions, leading to a backlash that can negatively impact women in these communities, but any legal protections for women experiencing violence can also be inadequate or nonexistent. Gloria Anzaldúa has described the United States border with Mexico as “an open wound where the Third World grates against the First and bleeds.” Border areas are often seen as places where legal norms are absent and crime and corruption are rampant. Like in places such as Ciudad Juarez, women are often the targets of violence in these areas. As Anzaldúa’s work so poetically describes, the border is not only a physical, and constructed space, but also an “in-between” psychological space that for women, particularly Chicanas in the case of the US/Mexico border can be a dangerous place on both sides. So in bordertowns, women are negotiating the pyshical borders along with the borders of race, class, sexuality and what a “women’s place” is on each side. Anzaldúa wor women the borders are clearly marked with large signs that read “Do not enter, trespassers will be raped, maimed, strangled, gassed, shot”

—Marnie, Women’s Center Assistant Director


What do you think?

5th December 2009


Leymah’s Ascent

In desperate slashes the broken glass bit into her chest, urged by her hand, ripping through the white dress and then the dark breast. Warm red, sticky life flowed from her as her spirit was released from its earth-bound trap. She lay on her back in the sun, brown eyes rolled to the back of her head, open wide to the sun. Eyes brown orbs encased in reddened yellow-whites, arms and legs spread open, askew. The rest of the dress faded into a deep brownish-red. Her spirit floated up towards the sun.


Pounding was the last thing Leymah remembered hearing. The hasty pounding and pounding of her heart pounding the walls of her rib cage with its fists, screaming, begging to be let out. To be let out before they reached her. She had lain crouched under her covers, holding a little brown boy named Badawi. His small head of tightly curled dark hair scratched softly against her white cotton dress. His breath warmed a spot on her chest in little puffs. The bed began to vibrate with the poundings. Thump thump thump of heavy black boots on thin wooden floor. Small shakes stirred Leymah and Badawi and the bed with every one of their steps. Pounding, pounding, pounding they knocked the door. When no one answered, she heard the pound of thick black combat boots against the door splintering wood. She heard the heavy thud of their boots approaching. Closer and closer. Pounding and pounding and pounding. “EY! Anyone der?! Open up!!” Her heart lept out of her chest and through the window. Her brain froze and rolled out of her head.

Pounding against every door. “Anyone der? Open up!” More crash, splinters, crash, pounding, and the black holed barrel of a gun poked rudely through the splintered doorway. Then more pounding, waterfalls of pounding footsteps fell to the floor, clattering together like an army of boots. “Oh, der you are!” A voice from behind the black gaping muzzle of a gun ordered her to get out of bed, or else, and to hand over the little boy. She had no brain with which to think, to answer, to protest, to speak. It was the black barrels of guns’ turn to talk. Her lips were sealed in a grim downward arcing line, a twisted parenthesis. Her arms hung limp, softly brushing against her white dress. Her brain and her heart had already left. They couldn’t take anything else from her. She got up, releasing the young boy to him. One of the guns grabbed him and arms growing out of the pots of a pair of black boots tugged him out of her sight. He was too scared to talk. They promised him candy and guns, and a new soldier’s outfit. He beamed. They told him that if he stuck with them, he could get whatever he wanted. She never saw Badawi again.

A black gun jabbed her softly protruding breasts through her white dress. She tilted slightly and drifted back upright again like a thin weed in a brief breeze. It pointed below her waist. It told her to get down on her stomach. It prodded her when she stared blankly ahead with no expression. It smashed sharply against the side of her face and asked her what was wrong with her. It told her she was lucky, she should be honored. It jabbed her middle yet again and yelled louder to her to get down. Her deep brown eyes stared ahead blankly as she crouched down, and then lay flat on her stomach. Then a gun clattered at her side and a tremendous clay chunk of the ceiling fell on top of her. The pounding of those black boots had finally broken the thin wooden house. She felt a fallen beam shove into her while the house rocked from side to side. It ripped her apart, legs flailing toward opposite walls. Searing pain shot above and below. It spread to her legs and to her skull. She imagined herself to be a rag doll with a pencil sticking through its middle. That’s when the red started to spread against her white dress.

She didn’t scream because she had forgotten how to. And because houses break all the time. It was a common occurrence.

There was more pounding of heavy black boots. Cruel laughs sputtered out from some gaping black muzzles. More shifting had the first ceiling piece shifted away from her and then another piece fell. Another splintered beam of the house spiked into her. Painful shoving and spreading wide flames of pain ate alive. By this point the red was growing, spreading in a wide arc up her dress, red life energy, her spirit in liquid form. She had no more.

There was another pounding of black boots and laughing and deep-throated noises. A pool began to puddle and spread between legs. She heard the rips of white fabric. The dress became a rag the black barrels of guns were scrubbing the floor with. There was more pounding and crashing, more of the ceiling fell. Faintly the smash of a glass bottle against the house. And then there was nothing. Silence. The heavy beam had moved but her entire body, her entire being, was throbbing with pain. Her breath came in shallow, hollow slurps. Her chest rose and fell, barely perceptible. She let the heavy weights of her eyelids fall.


After some time, she regained consciousness. She got up to go find Badawi. She went outside. The rough open doorway that had been splintered by the guns and pounded by the black boots brushed her as she walked, almost dreamlike. Her eyes were still heavy. She wandered out, dreamlike, to the porch. “Badawi,” she called. Just a whisper, her voice barely brushed against the moist air and left a little wrinkle. “Badawiii!” more insistent. She tumbled outside, and planted her dark, strong feet into the soil. She gathered up the last of the spirit energy in her, whatever was not already soaked out through her middle, and called, “BAH DAH WEE!” and then collapsed, a dark brown heap melted into the earth.

When she woke, the smells of death and dirt reeked from around her. She was curled in the fetal position, nestled in baking mud, lying in the full face of the sun. Mother sun called to her, stroked her dark brown skin, beckoned her spirit to rise, to join, to become one forever, leave the world behind. The birds in the tall thick trees had only the view of a crumpled brownish red dress thrown in the dirt, blown off someone’s clothesline and forgotten.

The front and back of Leymah’s tattered white dress were covered in heavy splotches of blood. Her molten chocolate face squinted in agony against the light while her hand reached out to find something, anything, sharp. Her hand grasped, through sticky dirt and trash, fingers curled and raking through the soil to get to anything that would provide salvation. At last, her index finger bumped into something small and hard with a sharp edge. She picked it up held it to the sun. The sun filtered through its textured border, was magnified, and at once was everything, everywhere she needed to be. She felt a tug at her heart. In desperate slashes the broken glass bit into her chest, urged by her hand, ripping through the white dress and then the dark breast. Warm red, sticky life flowed from her as her spirit was released from its earth-bound trap. She lay on her back in the sun, brown eyes rolled to the back of her head, open wide to the sun. Eyes brown orbs encased in reddened yellow-whites, arms and legs spread open, askew. The rest of the dress faded into a deep brownish-red. Her spirit floated up towards the sun.

Leymah was twelve years old.

—-Manvi, Women’s Center intern


What do you think?

4th December 2009

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Gender-Based Violence Within Reproductive Rights

Reproductive Rights are always a controversial issue as the abortion debate grows increasingly deafening and ineffective, and the chasm between the “pro-life” side and “pro-choice” side grows wider each year. I had never been challenged to reconsider this strained dichotomy until my Critical Gender Studies class read a short piece by Camille Paglia on the abortion issue.

Paglia wrote about how evolutionarily and socially, women are often viewed solely for their reproductive purposes, and how this greatly undermines women’s autonomy. She concedes that, “I recognize that abortion is killing…abortion is an aggressive act, that it is a form of extermination,” but later writes, “I support unrestricted access to abortion because I have reasoned that my absolute right to my body takes precedence over the brute claims of mother nature, who wants to reduce women to their animal functions as breeders. Women who want to achieve are at war with nature…in nature’s eyes we are noting but milk sacs and fat deposits.”

While Paglia admits that abortion is an aggressive act, she argues that, “…Women inspired by the Uranian Aphrodite to produce spiritual progeny should view abortion as a sword of self-defense put into their hands by Ares, the war god. Under the carnal constitution that precedes social citizenship, women have the right to bear arms.” (Vamps and Tramps: New Essays 38-41 (1994))

This piece, even just these few quotes, really made me reconsider the format and style in which abortion and reproductive rights are discussed in society. Society’s repeated violations of women’s reproductive rights is a form of gender-based violence due to that fact that this injustice is severely detrimental to the autonomy that women have in their lives, and is also arguably a form of physical violence since forcing a woman to bear a child, preventing her from accessing birth control methods or abortion clinics, or shaming her from her community for an unwanted pregnancy or a pregnancy in general, are all undeniably violent actions, although not always overtly labeled as such.

I have always been “pro-choice” but did not previously realize this was a direct result of my firm beliefs in women’s autonomy over their bodies and lives, and in justice within the way society views and enforces reproductive rights.

Whichever side of the dichotomy your views align with, I challenge you to reconsider your own preconceptions and beliefs about reproductive rights:

Is abortion women’s “sword of self-defense” and are reproductive rights a battlefield? Is abortion a tool for women to exercise their own autonomy?

How would the abortion debate and discussions on reproductive rights be transformed if social and sexual expectations and views of women were different?

Is the current abortion debate incomplete due to its failure to address the issues of autonomy and freedom in reproductive rights?

— Melissa, Women’s Center intern



What do you think?

3rd December 2009

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Breast Cancer Action Item – Do Your Research Before you Buy Pink

Purchasing something pink to support breast cancer research?  Think again.

Since Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women in the United States it is important to take a look at who is contributing to the problem rather than solving it.  For a long time I have been unsettled by the promotion of pink products used in marketing campaigns by corporations that clearly want us to make the connection between their products and breast cancer, so I decided to do a little research.  What I found was that many of the pink products used in the campaigns either contain or expel known carcinogens into the environment.  The

Companies like General Mills, the maker of everything from cereal to yogurt,  is a former pinkwasher.  In response to consumer demand General Mills removed a hormone linked with breast cancer from their products.  Cosmetic giant Estee Lauder on the other hand continues to sell pink ribbon labeled makeup, donating a portion of the proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation while organization Breast Cancer Action uses the following term to clarify:

Pinkwasher:  (pink’ – wah-sher) noun.  A company that purports to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribboned product, but manufactures products that are linked with the disease.

refusing to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics to ensure that known carcinogens aren’t used in their products.

Please do not purchase another pink product until you check out and

—- Jessica Geipel, Women’s Center



What do you think?

2nd December 2009

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Health Care Reform & The Stupak Amendment

The Stupak Amendment poses a very real threat to women’s reproductive rights. Tacked on to the healthcare reform bill at the last minute, the Stupak Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for any abortion other than in the cases of rape, incest and life threatening pregnancy. Unfortunately, this ban on government fund use for abortion would eventually make it difficult to gain access to any kind of abortion services covered by insurance, as any institution accepting the health care funds would be prohibited from covering abortion services. It is frightening to realize that under the new health care bill, many women would eventually lose their current abortion coverage due to the Stupak Amendment—and even if they were allowed to keep their current coverage on paper, abortion services available in the community would likely disappear eventually due to exclusions in abortion coverage.

If you care about keeping access to comprehensive health services open, please take action by signing a petition at

If you are as offended and completely shocked as we are about this violent act towards women’s choice, please join us at VOX, UCSD Voices For Planned Parenthood, on Thursday, at 7pm, in the LGBT center to see what we CAN do to about this!

—-Michelle, VOX at UCSD


What do you think?