A brief note from my parents

Dear friends,

We are so grateful for your response to our daughter Sarah’s request for help furthering her academic future. As many of you know, medical costs and mounting student loan debt have us committed to a point beyond which we cannot go. Your generosity is truly an answer to prayer.

Many many thanks and Blessings to you all!!

Gene and Melody Jones


And from me: thank you again, everyone.



So, wow. The response to my previous post has been so much larger than I’d originally hoped, and I am so grateful. As of today (6/25/2011) I am $37. 36 over my stated need. If you donated today/late yesterday and would like a little money back since I met my goal, let me know. If not, any extra money people choose to give will be directed toward basic living expenses when I arrive in London. I’ll need a cheap cell phone, for example, and food. It’s up to the donors. Hopefully my search for a second job will be successful soon!

My parents are in the process of writing a note to thank everyone who’s helped me out. Thanks to your generosity, I’ll be the first person in my mom’s family to grad school–and as far as I know, I’ll be the first woman to do so in my dad’s. It’s a big deal for all of us. Thank you again. And in September, look for updates about school!

Help an aspiring student (or two)

And yes, I am one of those students.

I have been accepted to Goldsmiths, University of London for an MA in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy. It’s a wonderful program and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to attend. Unfortunately, getting there costs more money than I earn as a substitute preschool teacher. Thanks to an ever-mounting pile of medical bills due to a diagnosis of hereditary spherocytosis (among other factors) I’m ineligible for a credit card or a private loan. Fortunately, I qualify for student loans, and since I missed the deadlines for scholarships, that will be how I pay for my education. But I also need to apply for my student visa and purchase a plane ticket.

So far, I have saved $301. It doesn’t sound like much. But every spare bit of change I have is going into my savings, and it still won’t be enough. Total cost of plane ticket and visa so far: $878. I make about $700 a month. And I’m looking for a second job, but nothing’s come through yet.

So I’m asking for help.  My family can’t contribute due to medical bills, so it’s up to me to raise the funds to continue my education. And I would prefer not to ask for help. I’ve avoided it for a while. But my education is very important to me, and this program fills a significant gap in my international studies background. Furthermore, without an MA, I’ll be unable to move very far in the international nonprofit world. My current situation leaves me with few other options.

If you can help me out, click the donate button located on the bottom of this page. And because I’m not the only student in this situation, please consider checking out this website: http://dinagoestooxford.wordpress.com/. Unlike me, she’s ineligible for any sort of student aid and needs even more help than I do.

You can direct any further questions about the program, my career aspirations or my current work with activists to the contact info I provided in the About Me page, or in the comments. And thank you for reading.

Update: Thanks to some incredibly generous people I have been able to raise $211. That puts my total savings at $508–which means I’m only $44 away from my plane ticket, and $370 away from paying for both the ticket and the visa. My parents also send their thanks. My student loan payments have started coming due and won’t be deferred due to grad school until October. This help means I’m able to send them some extra money so they can actually make the payments. They are so relieved, and so am I. Thank you again.

Safe spaces for men: necessary or not?

The litany of abuses hurled at feminist blogs by Men’s Rights Activists are probably familiar to anyone who spends any amount of time in the blogosphere. And for the most part, the accusations are bullshit. The claims that most rape accusations are false, that women are more abusive than men, or that feminism is somehow out to curtail men’s rights out of misandrist motivations drown out actually relevant points about men’s custody rights and lack of shelters or support for male victims of abuse. Ozymandias has a really great post on those points and the overall relevance of men’s rights  to the feminist movement here, and it led me to this question: where are the safe spaces for men?  So many feminist blogs identify themselves as “safe spaces,” though my blog is not one of them, but where are similar spaces for male-identified people?

I’ve heard the argument that the entire world is a “safe space” for men, but I don’t necessarily believe that’s true. That argument ignores men who are survivors, men who are seriously questioning the version of masculinity laid out for them by a patriarchal system, men who are transitioning, or find themselves elsewhere on the non-binary spectrum. It ignores men who are victims of emotional and physical abuse, and men who feel that their body types don’t quite measure to the ideal standard. There is a need for the sort of space that acknowledges these concerns and provides  an environment where questions can be asked, experiences shared and solutions devised.

Men do enjoy privilege due to their gender. Since I come from a Christian fundamentalist background in the Bible Belt, and attended a religious university, I can assure you that I have not been “indoctrinated” with feminism the way so many MRAs have claimed. The existence of male privilege has always been evident to me, as a woman in a religion that denied me leadership due to my sex, living in the American South with a long-held interest in politics and public affairs. These three spheres are male-dominated and that fact is well documented. I really see no need to defend that here. But men can absolutely face oppression in ways that do not necessarily relate to their sex, and the feminist movement cannot truly identify itself as progressive unless it acknowledges that fact. I’m not certain if the answer is more feminism, or an equivalent men’s movement (and not the sort that has manifested itself on the Spearhead), or a broader turn toward egalitarianism.

But I’d like to see safe spaces for men. I’d like to see more feminists call for the establishment of these spaces. And I have criticisms of the concept of “safe spaces;” they’re inherently exclusionary and so have limited use, in my opinion, but their most vital contribution is the provision of a place where it is acceptable to question the conventional roles that are expected of each of us. I’d take the men’s rights movement, as it exists, much more seriously if they showed a serious interest in creating such a space. Trolling a blog isn’t activism, and it doesn’t actually improve your situation a bit.