In our newsroom on November 9th, 2021, we examined prominent news stories at a local, national, and international level through a feminist lens. The news stories included a protest regarding sexual assault at Virginia Tech, a transphobic article shared by popular author Margaret Atwood, and a sexual assault allegation against a former top Communist Party leader in China.
Local: On November 7th, 2021, protesters attended the Virginia Tech Board of Visitor meeting over the University’s current plan to address sexual assaults on and near campus. The protest was put together by United Feminist Movement, a campus group whose goal is to reform Tech’s new Sexual Violence Climate and Culture Work Group. The work group was formed in response to an uptick in sexual assault reports on and around campus. The work group is made up of 21 members with only two undergraduates and no graduate students. The protesters said that the work group needs to be diversified, asserting that it is critical that LGBTQ+ students and other marginalized groups be represented in the group. The movement has long pushed for a more effective response to campus sexual assaults.
National: Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid’s Tale recently shared a transphobic article on Twitter. The article asserts that “woman” is in danger of becoming a dirty word, and saying “person who menstruates” instead of “woman who menstruates” to honor transgender and non-binary people is erasing women. Casual trans-antagonism is prevalent in society. The article shared by Atwood exhibits the narrative that adding visibility to a marginalized community is taking away from and/or an attack on the more privileged community. Margaret Atwood is facing some backlash from fans and the Transgender community. Atwood’s book The Handmaid’s Tale has been commonly regarded as a feminist work, and many fans were disappointed to learn of her narrow view of feminism.
International: Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star, accused the former top Communist Party leader of sexual assault. Her allegation against Zhang Gaoli was muffled by blanket censorship; authorities immediately wiped any mentions of the politically sensitive scandal. It is essentially unheard of for #MeToo allegations in China to reach the upper echelons of the communist party. This sort of thorough censorship has not been seen in rape allegations against high-profile people in other countries.
An idea for a future blog post could surround the topic of TERF feminism. The Margaret Atwood news story allowed us to define TERF feminism, which is a branch of feminism that we have not yet examined in depth. Bloggers could also gain inspiration from Peng’s story by writing about how media portrays and brings light to sexual assault allegations in different countries.