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On Thursday, Nov. 29, Congresswoman-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez began livestreaming on her Instagram Live Feed. She showed her 978,000 followers one of the many rooms in the Congressional office buildings, nondescript except the fact that most citizens would never have seen it otherwise. She and Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar leaned into the camera and discussed how cold it was. “The AC is set to man!” Ocasio-Cortez quipped, while Omar agreed, pulling her hijab around her face. The next day, the same Instagram Feed showed the process by which Congressional representatives pick their offices. She joked, “Someone light a vela and someone palo santo for me.”
As the results of the midterm elections have settled, voters have begun to appreciate the remarkable number of historic firsts that took place on election night this year — so many, in fact, that the implications of each individual victory pale in comparison. The importance of this election for the future of American politics, especially for college students who represent the next phase of this wave, cannot be overstated. Increasing the number of women in politics has a compounding effect, meaning that the results of this midterm election suggest not a blue wave but instead a pink one. Conflating the two obscures a crucial takeaway from the midterms — women are the future of politics, and the Democratic party in particular. Looking ahead, party officials should be tapping women for the biggest races in 2020 — especially in the race for the presidency.
Among those who identify as liberal, a certain type of man has emerged: he calls himself a feminist, has many female friends, and has donated to Planned Parenthood. He prides himself in his interest in gender, and shakes his head when another prominent man is revealed as a sexual harasser. He also interrupts the women in his precept, warns against going “too far” with believing sexual assault victims, and mansplains feminism.
Millions of voters voted by absentee ballot in the last midterm election. Given that most Princeton students aren’t from the surrounding area, the large majority of eligible student voters will also be sending absentee ballots and ballot requests through the Frist mail center this month. While there has been a vocal criticism of college students for our historically low voter turnout rates, not much attention has been paid to how difficult it is for college students to actually get their ballots to the voting box. It is important that college students increase their voter turnout, yet absentee voting is antiquated and prevents college students from fully participating in the electoral process.
The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 was intended to support victims of domestic violence legally, financially, and culturally by raising awareness of the issue and strengthening the judicial response to violent crimes against women. Current amendments attempt to limit gun access to abusers, increase funding to rape-prevention programs, and offer eviction protection to victims of domestic abuse. Despite its myriad benefits, Republicans don’t want to reauthorize the bill.
Legal and accessible birth control has been a perennial topic of debate between the feminist movement and its opponents. Reproductive health access is often treated as a binary — you either can access it, or you can’t. In reality, each woman’s experience navigating an insurance and medical system that demonstrates anywhere from casual disregard to active hatred of women falls along a dramatic spectrum. In some cases, access is circumstantial, stressful, or unduly expensive. Yet, this variation in birth control accessibility is ignored in most discussions of women’s reproductive rights.
The precept system is a central aspect of Princeton’s educational philosophy, one that is designed to allow discussion of lectures and readings with our peers and to deepen our understanding of the relevant class topics. Considering the goals of precept are to hear other perspectives and to think critically, it is understandable that some have criticized precepts for becoming echo chambers where students speak only to appear knowledgeable or gain credit for participation, ignoring other voices to focus on their own insights. However, this criticism ignores another problem with the current precept reality — in practice, female students struggle to express a thought at all without being interrupted, ignored, or overshadowed.
On March 23, marchers around the country and the globe gathered for the “March for Our Lives” to protest for gun control in light of the shocking number of recent school shootings. I attended the march in Los Angeles, walking with an energized crowd in the area surrounding City Hall. I have marched in other events before, but this was the first time when young people made up (in my estimate) almost 50 percent of the crowd. The protestors I saw seemed to be generally middle school-aged, but I also watched young children and toddlers carrying signs they had made begging politicians to implement gun control. One notable sign I saw, carried by a boy who seemed to be in fifth grade, said “When I said I’d rather die than go to math class, I didn’t mean it literally.” The humor of the sign and the age of the boy carrying it made the overall message, a statement about the boy’s fear of death at school, even more heartbreaking.
In a recent Letter to the Editor on Feb. 8, The Princeton Pro-Life group outlined why they participated in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. The theme of the march was “love saves lives,” which they emphasized while protesting Roe v. Wade. The letter made some compelling points, but the overarching goal of denying women the right to choose regardless of circumstance belied a misunderstanding about the meaning of “love saves lives.”
“If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” However, whoever is guiding that education is as important as the education itself. Female teachers have a significant positive impacts on their female students, so much so that it can change the course of their academic futures. The dearth of female faculty at Princeton is preventing this guidance from occurring, reinforcing the pattern of male academic dominance.
Foreign Policy leaked a report last month revealing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has established a new designation within their conception of the current terrorist landscape — the “Black Identity Extremist” (B.I.E.) movement. This horrifying label is based on the FBI assessment that “it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (B.I.E) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” They theorize that “incidents of alleged police abuse” have caused a “resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity.” The only problem with the FBI’s report? It is entirely false.
Last semester, Princeton Students for Gender Equality (PSGE) and Princeton Students for Reproductive Justice (PSRJ) hosted the first Menstruation Celebration, a festive event in Frist Campus Center meant to both infuse joy into a discussion of a stigmatized topic and raise awareness about problems of access to menstrual products for those who need them. Additionally, sponsors of the event emphasized the acceptance of all uterus-owners and the disconnect between biological function and gender expression.
A brief background on current events regarding sexual assault in Hollywood: Harvey Weinstein was exposed for rampant, repeated sexual predation that had been allowed for decades because of his money and influence — color me shocked. After an initial exposé published by the New York Times, other actresses have come out and revealed their own experiences with sexual predation by Weinstein, or with dozens of other men who got away with this behavior not-so-secretly. Op-eds about sexual harassment and assault in film have been written (or dredged up from the last time an incident like this became newsworthy) and the fury has trickled down to social media.
It’s Friday, and a Princeton freshman is preparing to brave Charter. It’s cold, but the basement will feel like a sauna. She doesn’t see herself doing laundry any time soon, so she doesn’t want to wear something she isn’t comfortable letting soak in sweat and other liquids for the foreseeable future. She decides on boyfriend jeans, an oversized tee shirt, and Converse.
During orientation week, Princeton administrators emphasized the importance of a balanced lifestyle. They pressed the Class of 2021 to sleep seven hours a night, participate in extracurriculars, and seek out resources to manage stress. Many Princeton students struggle to balance the different facets of their lives, so this advice seemed well-meaning.