Author Archives: Elizabeth

Save Women Not Ta-Ta’s: A Perspective on National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Save Women Not “Ta-Ta’s”: A Perspective on National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
By Elizabeth Kilgallin

Photo Credit: Marie Claire Magazine

In October, Breast Cancer awareness month, pink becomes widespread as people from potential First Ladies to NFL players sport the color. In the 20 years since the pink ribbon became the official symbol of breast cancer awareness, commercial sponsorships and merchandise have become a focus during October. During the pink-crazed October, those who wish to support awareness can buy pretty much anything pink. From snuggies to cocktails, breast cancer pink is boasted all over the country. At Sweet Briar College, a small women’s College in southern Virginia, young women shared their observations on the pink-filled October.
The Save the Ta-Ta’s” Foundation is a national foundation for Breast Cancer Awareness that is very visible every October. This month, there have been Save the Ta Ta’s sponsored internet ads, but some of these ads do not show the heads of the women talking, only their breasts. Olivia Smith, a Sweet Briar Junior, said: “These advertising campaigns are misleading and I find it deeply disturbing that our culture has become so focused on a saving the breasts mentality that we forget that breast cancer effects the lives of real women, not just their breasts.” Catherine Freeman, a Sweet Briar Junior, agrees with Smith, she said: “Breast Cancer awareness month would be more effective if the focus was save the women or save the mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, etc.”
Sarah Lindemann, a Sweet Briar Senior, said “While I think it’s a step forward that every October, this country is awash in pink to highlight the impact of breast cancer, it’s also misguided. Breast cancer impacts so many women, but through advertising campaigns and viral marketing campaigns, the focus has become only about their breasts.” Lambda Green, a Sweet Briar Junior, believes that the importance of raising money trumps the misguided Save the Ta-Ta’s mentality. “No one can deny that money raised for research through Breast Cancer awareness month has been influential in the fight against breast cancer, even though there are more than a few issues with the advertising,” she said.
Amanda Wager, a Sweet Briar Junior, said, “When I walk into stores during October, I see pink everywhere. Although I want to support the cause, I want to be sure that the money from say, a pink Beanie Baby, is going to the right foundations.” Murphy Owen, a Sweet Briar Junior, agrees with Wager: “Sometimes I choose not to buy anything, for fear that it is a charity scam.”
To check out what to buy or what not buy during the next pink-filled October, check out “Think Before You Pink:”

Think Before You Pink

First Year Swimmers Make a Splash

First Year Swimmers Make a Splash
By Elizabeth Kilgallin

With nine new swimmers, Sweet Briar’s pool is now over-flowing with new talent. The upcoming 2012-2013 swim season will see the largest freshmen class enter the pool since Jason Gallaher became Head Swim Coach four years ago. After Charlotte Greenwood, Brittany Fox, and Emily Jones graduated in May of 2012, the team was left with only eleven returning swimmers, the lowest amount that Gallaher has experienced as head coach. According to Gallaher, “this presented a huge challenge to the team and made the recruitment process more vigorous.” The large group of freshmen that joined the team this season has made the loss of these three standout swimmers more bearable.
During the first week of practice, Gallaher said that the first years “Are all…very eager to be a part of this positive program. They fit in well with our returning swimmers and they will add a great deal of strength and depth to the team. I’m looking forward to working with this group over the next four years.” With a team now made up of twenty strong swimmers, the veterans of the team, the coaches, and the first years all share high hopes and expectations for this season. One goal for this season is to beat Bridgewater, Sweet Briar’s closest rival in their conference. Last season, Bridgewater dominated Sweet Briar in the duel meet but Sweet Briar retaliated by beating them in the ODAC Conference Championships. Sweet Briar alum and recent Sweet Swimming graduate Charlotte Greenwood said, “losing the dual meet to Bridgewater was tough. I hope the new recruits will help defeat them this upcoming season.” Returning swimmer Vida McCahey said “I cannot wait to get back in shape to help the team defeat Bridgewater like last season. Hopefully this time we will also win the duel meet.”
First years hope to help the alum and veteran swimmers achieve this goal. One such freshman is Lydia Fleck. Fleck has been swimming since she was only eight years old and has been swimming on a Club Team since she was ten years old. She is an accomplished swimmer and led her high school swim team as captain. As captain, Fleck successfully brought her team to the states championships. When asked about this upcoming season, Fleck stated, “The girls on the team have all been welcoming to us [first years], making it feel like a whole other family. It’s going to be a really good year.”
Junior swimmer Bridget McGinley’s career is very similar to Fleck’s. McGinley has been swimming competitively since she was six and swimming for her club team since she was nine. McGinley was also a co-captain of her high school swim team. She led their team to National Catholics, the highest level of competition for Catholic schools on the East Coast. When asked about her new teammates, McGinley said “Even though the pool is more crowded than usual, it’s comforting to know that it is full of new potential for Sweet Swimming.”
Catherine Gumpman is a Sweet Briar College swimming alum, the Assistant Director of Admissions at the College, and the assistant swim coach. Gumpman began her service as assistant coach last year. She is loved by the swimmers for her “humor and encouragement throughout the many tough practices and meets of the swim season,” according to McCahey. Gumpman said that she is “thrilled to have such a large group of swimmers representing the class of 2016. I’ve been very impressed with them thus far, and I’m excited to start working with them in the pool. They are going to add a lot of strength and depth to an already strong program.” When asked about the reason for her positive impression of these swimmers so early in the season, she said, “The beginning of the swim season is always difficult. Getting back in shape after the summer can be very tough. These first years are positive and all-smiles even during difficult workouts.”
To see Sweet Swimming in action, check the schedule of meets online:

Sweet Swimming Schedule

In Search of Feminism

In Search of Feminism
By Elizabeth Kilgallin

Amanda Wager, Olivia Smith, and Bridget McGinley are each in their third year at Sweet Briar College, a women’s college of 800 students nestled in the in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each of these young women is politically aware and socially active. Each professes to be a feminist; none agree on what that means.
Feminism, as a movement addressing women’s rights, has a rich history which is often discussed in terms of its “waves.” Societal interest women’s rights began in the time of the enlightenment. 1792 saw a landmark event with the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Demands for full legal equality with men arose at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, which featured historic women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Among the rights demanded for women were the rights of equal compensation and full educational opportunity. After the Seneca Falls Convention there was increased activity in what became the Woman Suffrage movement; some thought this long battle ended in the United Kingdom in 1918 when women gained the right to vote and in the United States in 1920 when that right was finally won. The battle, however, continued and is still being waged today.
After that first “wave” of feminism, a second wave arose in the 1960s and continued into the 1990’s, a period that witnessed the anti-war and civil rights movements. This wave was more radical. Martha Rampton, of Pacific University, has written that this wave was increasingly theoretical, based on a fusion of neo-Marxism and psycho-analytical theory, and began to associate the subjugation of women with broader critiques of patriarchy, capitalism, normative heterosexuality, and the woman’s role as wife and mother.” A third wave of feminism arose in the late 20th century. This wave fought against what was considered limited objectives of what they considered middle-class white feminists; these third wave feminists wanted to include equal rights for all people regardless of race, creed, economic or educational status, physical appearance or ability, or sexual preference among the goals of feminism. To confuse matters, today we also hear of “post-feminism,” a term used to describe a range of viewpoints. While not “anti-feminist”, post-feminists believe that women have achieved second wave goals while being critical of third wave feminist goals. The evolution of feminism thus continues. Today we have what some refer to as three types or categories of feminists: equity feminists, gender feminists, and third-wave feminists.
The first group, “equity feminists,” believes that there are differences between men and women, and fight for reform to remedy what they consider unequal treatment of women in society. They support issues like “equal pay for equal work.” These equity feminists are somewhat similar to the “first-wave” feminists who fought for woman’s suffrage and supported efforts to get women into the workforce. These feminists are generally more conservative in their application of feminism to society.
The second group, “gender feminists,” wants to eliminate all distinctions between men and women in all aspects of society. Gender feminists blame the oppression exerted by the modern patriarchal society for whatever differences exist between men and women. They believe that this patriarchal society is built on a structure that requires women to be less valuable than men. By ending patriarchy, they believe society can have total egalitarianism between the sexes. These feminists tend to align themselves with the second-wave feminists of the 1960s.
The third group represents the so-called “third-wave” feminists of today. These feminists are not as radical as the feminists of the 1960s women’s movement, but they are not as conservative as the equity feminists. They fight on behalf of liberal causes such as abortion on demand. As Amy Richards of feminist.com notes, these feminists believe that a feminist is someone who simply “believes in the full equality of women and men”. This group believes the goal of feminism is equality and, to Richards, that means both that women do what men have done (be fire fighters and corporate executives) and that men do what women have done (be stay-at-home fathers and secretaries).
To confuse matters even more, some feminists do not accept the above categories. They object to these terms and consider them expressions of anti-feminist rhetoric. Despite numerous efforts, it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify a single and fully satisfactory definition of feminism. This is largely due to the fact that people who consider themselves feminists disagree greatly in their philosophical and theological beliefs and the application of their feminist principles in actual life. As the Oxford Companion to Philosophy notes, “The strands of feminist thinking in relation to philosophy have been and continue to be diverse and do not necessarily present a unified point of view.” So where does this leave the Sweet Briar women? What is a feminist? Who is a feminist?
Amanda Wager is a Biology major at Sweet Briar College. While in high school she followed politics closely and generally supported candidates from the Democratic Party. Since arriving at Sweet Briar College, Wager has been active in the SBC College Democrats and was a fervent supporter of Barrack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. In a recent interview, Wager identified herself as a feminist and explained that the liberal platform and agenda of the National Democratic Party was aligned with her principles as a committed feminist. Wager took sincere offense to reports that the Republican presidential candidate “needed binders” of information to find a qualified female candidate for a cabinet position when he was governor of Massachusetts. She also firmly believed that the Republican Party represented an “affirmative threat to women’s rights in general and to reproductive rights in particular.”
Olivia Smith is a Government major at Sweet Briar College. While in high school she followed politics and generally supported Republican Party candidates. Since arriving at Sweet Briar College, Smith has been active in the SBC College Republicans and was an ardent supporter of Mitt Romney in the recent presidential election. In a recent interview, Smith identified herself as a feminist and explained that the conservative platform and agenda of the Republican Party was aligned with her principles as a committed feminist. Asked about feminism at Sweet Briar, Smith opined that while the student body was clearly in favor of women’s rights, some students who claimed to be feminists were “doing more to harm the cause than help it.”
Bridget McGinley, a Philosophy major at Sweet Briar College, related that despite many hours of reading and discussing the issues, she had undecided feelings during the recent presidential election. McGinley also considers herself a feminist. “That is why I am here. During my visit as a high school senior I was very impressed by the strength and vitality of the feminist presence at Sweet Briar. I don’t mean students were protesting or barricading themselves in buildings to demand things. Rather, I was impressed by opportunities for women to lead, by the encouragement given to students to excel, and by the high expectations the school had for its student body.”
It is clear that Sweet Briar College is home to diverse opinions on the nature and definition of feminism. The reason behind these strong and diverse opinions may well be Sweet Briar itself. The women who attend this small college have affirmatively chosen to attend a school of eight-hundred women. According to McGinley, “Sweet Briar is not a second choice school. Students don’t think, ‘If I don’t get into William and Mary I’ll go to Sweet Briar.’ It is a totally different experience that women choose for themselves. It offers women an experience they will not get elsewhere.” McGinley’s observations correctly note the historical background of women’s colleges, which were founded with a mission of education and advancement of women. The Women’s College Coalition, an association of 47 women’s colleges, reports that research has shown that when private 4-year women’s colleges were compared with all private 4-year institutions by their Carnegie classification, the women’s colleges awarded women equal or larger proportions of bachelor’s degrees in traditionally male-dominated fields (which include mathematics, computer sciences, and physical sciences) than co-educational private 4-year colleges did.
Regarding role models, the Coalition reports that women were over 70 percent of all executive, administrative, and managerial positions at women’s colleges and were over half of all full-time and part-time faculty, much higher percentages than the norm for private 4-year colleges within each Carnegie classification. These factors appear to have contributed to the successful accomplishment of women’s colleges. They have created a climate where, according to Wager, “women are taken seriously, where they are encouraged to realize their potential, and where academic expectations and demands are high.” It appears, to the students of Sweet Briar, that the mission of women’s colleges is being achieved. More importantly, it seems that in doing so, women’s colleges like Sweet Briar are contributing to the achievement of significant goals of the feminist movement.
The Sweet Briar women interviewed for this article share a common understanding that women did not always have such opportunities. Smith said, “few students in college today fully realize how far women have come in the area of education.” Women were once excluded from education. Myths prevailed about the danger of educational pursuits by women. A professor at the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Edward H. Clarke, in 1873 claimed that a woman’s body could only handle a limited number of developmental tasks at one time, and that girls who spent too much energy developing their minds during puberty would end up with undeveloped or diseased reproductive systems. He argued that “dire consequences — physical weakness, emotional breakdown, sterility, even death — awaited young women who put their intellectual pursuits before their unique physiological needs.” Others argued that educating women would encourage their independence, thereby presenting a risk to the institutions of marriage and the family. Given this cultural barrier to the education of women, it is not surprising that while Harvard was established in 1636, it was not until 200 years later that women were first allowed to attend college. Oberlin College was the first college to admit women; it became co-educational, in that they allowed women to attend. But attending college was not a panacea.
There is a great difference between just allowing a woman to attend college and creating a place where women are respected, have role models, and can learn and grow in a supportive environment with opportunities to lead and excel., The early co-educational schools did not recognize a woman’s right to pursue any academic field. They had no female faculty or female leadership. These colleges admitted women; they were no institutions where women would be treated equally. For example, Barbara Solomon, author of In the Company of Educated Women, notes that at Oberlin women were required to darn the socks of their male classmates. The Sweet Briar students interviewed understand that they attend a women’s college – one that is committed to preparing them to confront the challenges of an often male-dominated world. They embrace the school and its mission, yet they disagree mightily on which among them is a “true” feminist. How can a woman who believes that as a feminist she must fight for the very liberal planks of the Democratic platform find common ground with a woman who believes that as a feminist she must fight for the very conservative planks of the Republican platform? One must be wrong and one must be right. Right? Perhaps not. Regardless of political perspective, feminism is commonly understood as a philosophy or practice that supports the rights and interests of women. It seems, therefore, that feminism is, or should easily be, a unifying issue; that men and women who support the political, economic, and social equality of men and women are all feminists.
Sweet Briar’s Olivia Smith explained that her father, who she describes as “only slightly right of Genghis Khan on the political spectrum,” considers himself an almost militant feminist. Smith recounted her father’s declaration that: “Of course I’m a feminist. I pity the fool who tries to tell me my daughter she can’t do something or be something because she is a woman.” Is that all it takes? Need one only be a woman or someone who cares for a woman to be a feminist? Can Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, men, and women all be feminists?
Perhaps defining a feminist is like defining a Christian. All Christians recognize one Jesus Christ and dedicate themselves to actions in furtherance of their faith. Sounds like it should be simple for all Christians to agree on the definition of a Christian. However, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there are nearly 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations in the world. With this as a template, perhaps it is not unusual to experience such difficulty in agreeing to an all-encompassing definition of a feminist. Perhaps Sweet Briar’s Wager, Smith, and McGinley can together realize that they are all feminists.

Info Graphic Analysis: Pinterest for Business

Pinterest for Business

This info graphic makes the business side of Pinterest easy to understand. As the third most popular social network in the world, businesses cannot underestimate the potential influence of Pinterest. This info graphic makes it clear that Pinterest is growing in users each year and that it generates more than 27% more revenue per click than Facebook. It aso allows businesses to consider advertising on the most popular websites that are sources for Pinterest. Many businesses, such as Madewell, have taken advantage of these facts. Madewell sells clothes and accessories, yet they have incorporated DIY/crafts, recipes, and quotes into their website and blog precisely for the reasons this info graphic states. This info graphic clearly, colorfully, and successfully captures the attention of readers.

An Evaluation of Journalistic Principles in “The Klavaliers Ride to a Fall” by Stetson Kennedy

In Stetson Kennedy’s article “The Klavaliers Ride to a Fall,” the principle of journalism that he best follows is one from Kovach and Rosentiel. The principle is that journalists must have an “independence from race, ethnicity, religion, and gender.” (Kovach and Rosentiel, 132) Throughout the article, Kennedy successfully lacks any bias on specifically race and gender. Even during the early 1950s in the deep South when African American men could not pick up white women in taxis because of the law, Kennedy looked beyond the laws and the prejudices to write this article. During this time period, Kennedy could have also shown a bias towards the woman in the article; possibly blaming her less because she was a woman. He shows no bias towards her and states harshly:

I looked, and saw a buxom peroxide blonde of the sort generally found in third-rate bars.” (Shapiro 255)

The successes of Kennedy’s articles are due to his lack of bias towards anyone in his article.

Kennedy was not as successful at a second journalistic principle that Kovach and Rosentiel mention. While going undercover in the Klan, he did not “maintain an independence from those that [he] cover[ed]” (Kovach and Rosentiel, 118) Kennedy should have looked deeper into the evil of the clan to see men that were also victims of wrong teachings and centuries of prejudice. He could not help but show a strong bias to the African American man that was killed, which is understandable but not the best for his writing. He also was extremely deep into his story, so deep that his independence from the Klan could be questioned. Although he tried to make a call to warn of a possible harm doing, he made the decision to keep his cover.

Kennedy also successfully follows stylistic journalistic principles in this article. He is very successful with, what Knight calls, “separating the craft from the profession.” (Knight, 118) For example, near the end of this story after Kennedy includes the obituary of James Martin, he concisely and powerfully concludes the article:

I wondered how many Negroes had died similarly violent deaths in the South, only to have one-inch obituaries bury the atrocities as “accidents.” James Martin, I swore to myself, was not going to be buried that way.

Kennedy is a legendary journalist because of his ability to “make the most economic use of words without losing [their] meaning or flavor” (Knight, 118)

The Importance of Word Choice in Ledes

D.C. police shut down a block of Connecticut Avenue north of Dupont Circle for nearly three hours on Friday after authorities said a bank robber dropped a suspicious package while making his getaway.

Whenever I come across an article about a bank robbery, it always captures my attention. Bank robberies make me think of Hollywood versions of robberies like those in the “Ocean’s Eleven” series. In these portrayals of robberies, the robbers are always handsome and the banks are seemingly impossible to break into, complete with laser beams and complex safes. This is why any lede with the words “bank robber” is interesting. While this lede in the Washington Post is attention grabbing, it could have been more successful. The words “bank robber,” “suspicious package,” and “getaway” are all good quality word choices that make the reader want to finish the article. However, the geography and time explained in the first sentence should have been saved for a later part of the article or the lede, in my opinion. There were a few word choices later in the article that should have been used to make the Lede have more of a punch. For example:

Officer Araz Alali said the holdup occurred minutes before noon at the TD Bank in the 1700 block of Connecticut Avenue NW.

If the word “holdup” had been used, I think the lede would have been more successful. “Holdup” has connotations to guns and cowboys that Americans can not resist. If I were to rewrite this lede, it would say:

A bank robber in the DC area dropped a suspicious package while making his getaway. DC Police were forced to shut down a block of Connecticut Avenue north of Dupont Circle for nearly three hours on Friday to investigate the holdup.

My version of the lede puts the more moving news first and uses the words “forced” and “investigate” which are much more appealing than the basic way that the original lede gave the information.

The article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/crime-scene/post/bank-robber-drops-package-streets-closed-north-of-dupont-circle/2012/10/05/c315943e-0f0c-11e2-a310-2363842b7057_blog.html

An Observed Liberal Bias of The Washington Post

The front page of the Washington Post’s website on September 27, 2012 shows a bias towards a more liberal demographic. Some of the headlines such as: “Medicare issue boosts Obama in 3 swing states,” “At Romney’s would-be church in D.C., ‘47 percent’ fill pews,” and “Republicans’ real problem” show this bias.  Instead of choosing more stories that are more favorable to the Republican candidate, the Post chose stories that do not put Governor Romney in the best light. Some keywords and phrases that give this bias away in these articles about Governor Romney are: “sweeping changes,” “undercutting,” “blunts,” “controversial,” and “unfavorable.” “Sweeping changes” is not something that the elderly, or even those who are middle aged ever want to hear about Medicare.  “Undercutting,” or cutting away at the base, is a negative word placed where a more positive word could have been used.  This is the same for “blunts” and “controversial.”  All three of these words create a mental picture for the reader that is not a positive one.  The keywords and phrases used to describe Governor Romney contrast with those about President Obama: “favorable,” “advantage,” “boosts,” and “support.”  These word choices create a positive mental image for readers.  “Boosts” and “advantage” also hint at words that have to do with a positive economy, which every American no matter what party is in favor of.  In the picture included in the “Campaign Finance Explorer” on the front page of the Post, President Obama’s numbers are shown and Governor Romney’s are cut off.  This is a small point yet it is more favoritism towards the President and the Liberal demographic. It is a shame that there are not more articles about President Obama’s campaign struggles as well as more articles describing Governor Romney’s positive attributes and successes.  This would allow the public who reads the Washington Post to be better educated about both candidates for the upcoming election.

Check it out: http://www.washingtonpost.com/

A Closer Look at “Choking and Beating Patients” by Nellie Bly

Considering the actual story behind, “Choking and Beating Patients” by Nellie Bly, the lede could be much more of a “hook” to the reader.  Nellie was undercover in an extremely hostile environment yet the lede calmly discusses the sickness of a woman in the asylum.  There are several lines throughout the article that could have made a more efficient lede.  One, for example, is:

She grew more hysterical every moment until they pounced upon her and slapped her face and knocked her head in a lively fashion.  They made the poor creature cry the more, and so they choked her.  Yes, they actually choked her…

This would be a much more dramatic lede than discussing the serious, yet slightly mundane cold of Miss Tillie Mayard.

The quotes throughout the article are extremely useful, as well as credible.  The horrid nurses are given away time and time again through their own words.  For example, when Miss Tillie Mayard faints because of her sickness one nurse states:

Let her fall on the floor and it will teach her a lesson.

What could have made the many statements of the nurses a bit more credible would be adding their names to their quotes, if that was possible.  Other quotes by the unfortunate women in the asylum were also ver useful to the article and more credible because their names were attached.  For example, when poor Urena Little Page cried out:

For God sake, ladies don’t let them beat me.

The quotes were, by far, the strongest additions to this article.

Nellie Bly is successful in this article because of her strong descriptions of the asylum that truly illustrate for the reader the hash treatment and conditions of the patients.  For example, when Bly describes the beating of Urena Little-Page she states:

she caught the woman by her gray hair and dragged her shrieking and pleading from the room.  She was taken to the closet, and her cries grew lower and lower, and they ceased.

Instead of stating simply the facts, Bly allows the reader to feel as if they are there in the room, experiencing these traumatic moments.  While this is a strength of Bly’s writing, it is also important to note that she has become very attached to these patients while she was undercover.  It is fair to say that she becomes extremely biased as she goes from a concerned onlooker to an actual patient herself.