Category Archives: Rape Culture

Why Did Mellie Say She “Fought” When Talking About Her Experience of Rape?

Trigger Warning: Content regarding sexual assault.

Scandalmellie

 

It has been a really busy past couple of weeks so only today did I get around to watching the season finale of Scandal. Throughout this season we have found out more about Mellie including that her father-in-law, “Big Jerry” raped her. Several times throughout the season Mellie alluded to the rape, saying things to her husband President Fitz, along the lines of “You have no idea what I’ve been through for you.” In the season finale, Olivia Pope told Fitz that Mellie had been raped.

When Fitz approaches Mellie after finding this out, he kisses her on the head and she says, “I fought him.” Why did she say this? Would this trauma have been less real or valid if she had not fought him? What does this say about how we teach survivors/victims/experiencers* of sexual assault how to feel about trauma that occurred to them?

We live in a society that overwhelmingly does not believe individuals who have experienced sexual assault or trauma. When Mellie said, “I fought him”, it sounded to me as if she did not see her trauma as valid without taking a physical action against the perpetrator of rape. This expression appears to confirm this notion that rape is always easy to identify and notice. When I say rape in a noticeable way, I mean extreme violence and often an inclusion of yelling, pushing or screaming. Rape is inherently violent though; all sexual assault is violence.

All sexual assault is violent but we are not taught a full explanation of what consent, assault and violence looks like. As I write this, Sexual Assault Awareness Month is ending, the White House just released this PSA regarding men intervening and standing up against sexual assault. When it comes to this work, I see men as absolutely vital and central to ending sexual assault. I also understand that our work needs to start at much younger ages; we cannot expect to have a thorough understanding of assault if we do not begin until the adult age. This teaching also needs to go beyond simply “no means no” and into discussing what we often call “gray areas”, what we often do not categorize as assault.

Since I do not believe that our society overwhelmingly understands what consent means or how to label assault; I also believe this can impact the psyche of victims/survivors/experiencers. If we do not teach what can be considered assault, this lacking is impacting both perpetrators and those who experienced assault.

When our understanding of consent is limited to acts of extreme violence, it makes sense that Mellie felt the need to say she fought Big Jerry. Individuals might find it more difficult to blame themselves (not saying blame does not still occur) when they put in as much physical effort as possible; this however disregards the shock, trauma, numbness and confusion that overcome individuals in times of panic. After the experience I had, I told a friend about what happened, I shamed myself for not being more firm and physical. She said so poignantly that when in situations of panic we often do not want to be too dramatic. We do what we need to do to get through that moment.

On television though, there is seldom time and space for this type of nuance and coping. Scandal is not a perfect television show, however it does bring up topics along the lines of sexual assault, racism, homophobia, image and sexism that mainstream media often does not. In the case of Mellie and the trauma she experienced, this was an example of something we can fairly easily identify as rape. I am glad we are having these conversations about sexual violence in dominant spaces. I hope that our understanding of the widespread impact of sexual assault expands and that we can create a society where sex is not so often connected to violence and trauma.

*I use all three of these labels as some individuals do not like the term victim or survivor and some individuals like myself, hesitate to label their experience in any specific way.

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Friday Funday Links

consent-panties

6 reasons female nudity can be powerful: how Lena Dunham and other women are using their bodies to break the status quo

If you haven’t seen it already, read this powerful open letter from Dylan Farrow about her abuser Woody Allen (trigger warning). Unfortunately, however, Nicolas Kristof’s introduction to the article is another example of rape culture at work.

A Yale Law Professor argues for a new definition of rape that includes sex-by-deception.

A ‘spinster’ photographer poses with a mannequin family to depict the American Dream

A bar in Spokane, Washington created a drink called “Date Grape Koolaid.” And what’s worse, their horrifically offensive responses to complaints on their facebook page are an extreme example of the very rape culture they deny exists.

“In defense of twitter feminism”: a great analysis of how gentrification, race, and feminist discourse play out on the Internet

Black Girl Dangerous creator Mia McKenzie shows you 4 ways to not just to acknowledge your privilege, but instead to actively push back against it.

Need new underwear? Think about investing in some “consent panties”!

Reflections on Violence Against Women in Guatemala

I have a lot more reading and writing to do on the subject of violence against women in Guatemala, but for starters, I can say: 1) that the state of fear women here face is historically rooted (thank you, colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism, for the destruction of a people and continued institutional corruption and violence) and 2) that the collective embracing of individual sexual liberation – of women, especially – can help dismantle the culture of fear (alongside policy change, of course, such as better sexual education and more transparent spending on public services and infrastructure).

A kiss on a cheek is a typical greeting here in Guatemala. A kiss on the edge of the mouth is not, yet I’ve gotten several of those. I’ve received lingering handshakes with a squeeze at the end, vivid stares, and pushy requests for my phone number. These experiences are not Guatemala-exclusive, though they have been happening to me more often and more audibly here. And while it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between cultural norms and abuse, there have been moments of obvious harassment. Whose business is it if I have a boyfriend? What do you care if I’m traveling alone? Why am I expected to respond to a ts ts ts from across the street? As a friend of mine and fellow Latin@ poet said, “words and actions can both be sexual violence.”

I typically move on from these uncomfortable experiences without much thought. However, a friend here described a recent and nasty verbal attack. She mentioned her resulting fears about where the line between words and actions is drawn. I reassessed my own emotions after certain experiences on the street, and decided that I, too, have been pushed to places of fear, tension, and distrust. Some of my experiences may be unique, being a foreigner, but I can confidently say that living in a constant state of fear is a very real oppression faced by all women here.

Many Guatemalans I’ve met have described Guatemala as having a culture of fear or a culture of silence. Anthropologists have used the phrases “death as a way of life” and “fear as a way of life” to describe Guatemalan existence. In her book Fear As a Way of Life: Mayan Widows in Rural Guatemala, Linda Green quotes Cynthia Enloe: “Wars don’t simply end / And wars don’t end simply.” While Guatemala’s Civil War ended over two decades ago, death and violence persist. According to the World Health Organization, 10 or more murders a day per 100,000 people is classified as an epidemic. Guatemala qualifies, along with 10 other Latin American countries. Violence has been normalized, as a legacy of ingrained intimidation, residue of the war, stubbornly persists.

What is the connection between a history of violence, current violence, and mindsets of fear? To be always afraid is to be truly oppressed. Seeing the fear that my dad manifests often evokes anger for me – I find his distrust unreasonable. But I must remind myself that he lived through a war. For him, distrust meant survival.

I hope that, through education, we can little by little dismantle the fear in which we live, replacing it with strong community ties and respect for women. Projects such as Colectiva Siluetas’ show AFUERA, about being a lesbian in Guatemala, and Rebecca Lane’s music (like this song about liberation and self love) are great first steps. Also check out this documentary about sex workers in Guatemala who started a soccer team and joined a league in order to call attention to the violence and abuse they faced. My friend also told me about a radio show on which Guatemalan women described their experiences masturbating. Revolutionary! Maybe we can even get a good burlesque class going here so women can go straight to positive pride in sexuality and self-confidence.

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The Lies They Tell Us

When I was 14, I read a lot of magazines. I had a subscription to YM, and when that ran out of business, to Teen Vogue and Seventeen. Each month when these magazines arrived at my doorstep, I would take them to my room and read them cover-to-cover, devouring every word. I would take every personality test, rip out pictures of all my favorite celebrities (mmm…Orlando Bloom), and comb through every tidbit of relationship and style advice.

By that time, I had already heard all about the media’s negative representation of women. I was familiar with words like self-esteem, anorexia, body image, Photoshop. Even at 14, I knew, on some level, that I was being spoon-fed a deep and intricate lie about what it means to be a successful and beautiful woman in this country.

Despite knowing what these magazines were really saying about women and girls—about me, really—I still bought in. I still asked my mother to renew my subscription for years. I still read each issue cover to cover every month. I can’t say why exactly, but something in those magazines always got to me. Maybe it was because there, in those endless pages of workout regimes and mascara application tips, I found a perfect road map for how to belong.

10 years later, I am happily well beyond my teen magazine days, however, the narratives and messages these magazines continue to perpetuate are alive and well. And I know the messages they send are seeping into the next generation of 14-year-old girls in much the same way they affected me. Recently, I skimmed through a few issues of Glamour and Cosmo while waiting in doctor’s offices and airports. Below is just a very small sampling of some of the content I came across. It’s always amazing to me to find such adverse messaging in media primarily produced by women, for women. These are the lies our culture tells us, and that we sometimes tell ourselves.

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This was from an article about how to give a successful Maid of Honor speech. Because, you know, nothing endears you to your audience more than a healthy dose of insecurity and self-deprecation. Also, heaven forbid you let people see your ugly-cry face…

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Don’t even get me started on this one. There is this eternal myth in our society that the more a woman pulls back, the more desirable she’ll seem to a potential boyfriend. In actuality, this framework perpetuates rape culture by sending the message that “no” really means “yes.” For more about this topic, read this great article in Feminspire.

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And, here we have an exciting new announcement about disposable cups designed to protect us from date rape drugs. Along with the notorious anti-rape underwear that came out this year, companies continue to profit off of women’s legitimate fears of rape by creating products that teach women it is their responsibility to protect themselves against rape, and that if it does happen, it’s because these women didn’t take the adequate precautions. Women’s magazines continue to advertise products that promote victim-blaming by placing the burden of responsibility for preventing rape on potential victims rather than potential rapists.

Have you seen anything particularly oppressive in a magazine lately? I’d love to hear your thoughts–good and bad–about women’s magazines and their influence in American culture.

An Open Letter of Apology to My 10th Grade Health Classmates: It Wasn’t Her Fault

It would have been a typical day in my tenth grade Health class if we did not have a visitor that day.

I remembered looking at her confusingly as I tried to figure out why she was there. After she introduced herself and where she worked, she read a story to us…a story about a sophomore girl who went to prom with a senior guy who she had a crush on. As you can expect, she went on talking about how he persisted to pour drinks for her and how many drinks she ended up having that night. They went to somewhere private and he started to take her clothes off. She hesitated, said no, but they ended up having sex that night anyway. Another rape lesson, I thought.

After the story ended, she told us to organize ourselves and pick a table according to how strongly we feel about whose fault it was. The tables were arranged as “entirely the guy’s fault”, “mostly the guy’s fault”, “both parties’ faults equally”, “mostly girl’s fault”, and “entirely the girl’s fault”.

Majority of the class sat on the table that labeled “entirely the guy’s fault” with some disparity among other table, except for one table. The table I sat on was for “entire the GIRL’s fault”…and I was the only one.

The guest then devoured me with questions about why I felt so strongly that it was the girl’s fault. What I remembered is that other tables were not being asked the same questions I got asked. Regardless of how unfair I felt, I explained to her with my best knowledge of what I had been taught my entire life on the subject: if a girl is raped, she asked for it. Here is a background story that might help you understand my view a bit. I was born and grew up in a conservative small town outside the U.S., and I had only been in the United States for less than two years when this all happened. All my life I have seen how media and parents taught us that a good girl will not dress “slutty”. She will not speak to guys in a flirtatious way. A good girl will not go out with a guy alone, and if there is any alcohol involved, she is definitely the one to blame for no self-control. Therefore, if she had an unwanted sex, it is all her fault for not following those good-girl-guidelines. I was taught that sex is a natural thing for guys and they will always find ways to sleep with you…and girls are responsible for making sure that the unwanted sex situation does not happen.

So, I took my stance on this subject firm and proud I categorized myself as “a good girl” and blamed the girl in the scenario for losing her self-control.

There were many things happened in class that I did not understand. First, why did the guest asked me so many questions for saying that it is entirely the girl’s fault? Why did people on the opposite end were not being asked anything. I did not understand why there were so many people at the “entirely the guy’s fault” table. Moreover, many guys at that table seems unwilling to be there, as if they were there because it was what you supposed to choose. I also did not understand what I did wrong by speaking up for what I had been taught and for being the “good girl”. I did not understand why I was attacked like that. 

I discovered answers to the questions I had that day during my years in college. I heard, witnessed, experienced similar situations. I learned that what she/he was wearing or how many drinks they had doesn’t matter. I learned that without a yes, it is a no. I learned that this subject cannot be taken lightly as the experience is not forgettable, impossible to forget, and the recovery takes years if not a lifetime. Most importantly, I learned how our education, media, and society have been “preventing” the issue by focusing on the wrong spot. They said that the more cleavage you show is like the closer you hold the meat in front of a shark; you cannot expect it to refuse and swim away. Well, guess what? Men have brains and they are capable of thinking and acting responsibly if they want to. They are not sharks and will not act out of instinct and eat the meat just because it is in front of them.

Now that I understood everything that happened that day, I felt deeply sorry for my action. Blaming the girl that day was not only disappoint the guest presenter and my teacher, I hurt my fellow classmates. I don’t know how many girls and guys in the class experienced sexual assault or know anyone who is a survivor. I cannot imagine how much damage I have done to my friends’ feelings with a small action in that Health class. How many people did I blame as a byproduct of my action and make them even more guilty for what happened to them? They were all my friends and I ruined them…I am sorry.

I know that I am not perfect, but I try to do my best to not hurt anyone else intentionally. If you are reading this as someone who feels that rape happens because the victim was asking for it, I beg you to give people a chance to explain to you. You will see things the way I see it now.

Sincerely,

Beau Sinchai

Anti-Rape Underwear

“AR Wear–Confidence and Protection that can be worn”

Do you think anti-rape underwear would stop a rapist/predator from sexually assaulting you?

A campaign promoting a clothing line that is offering women “protection” in the event they are sexually assaulted…AR Wear states, “We developed this product so that women and girls could have more power to control the outcome of a sexual assault”. The products are a variety of styles of running and traveling shorts and underwear that cater to the “styles of individual users”. Essentially, the main purposes of the garments are to be comfortable wear for women while being resistant to any excessive tearing, pulling, and cutting in the event of an attempted assault.

Yet again, women are responsible for preventing or lowering their chances of being sexually assaulted. In what world does this make any sense?

To say the least, I was flabbergasted when one of my girlfriends shared this campaign with me a few days ago. Even after days of processing this campaign and their efforts in “protecting” women, I am still struggling to wrap my mind around this concept…and the underwear. Immediately, I asked, why is the responsibility placed on our shoulders when we are the ones being inexplicably harmed? What ever happened to including men in the prevention of sexual violence within communities worldwide? Women should not continue to be subjected to blame and feel the need to constantly have to defend ourselves from predators.  And has the AR Wear campaign and clothing line considered the fact that the underwear and shorts are not protective of all forms of sexual violence?

Working towards ending sexual violence in our communities is a collective effort. Women and men should be included in preventing the harsh realities of sexual violence…it is not only up to us to “protect” ourselves.

To learn more about AR Wear, their campaign, and products please refer to this website:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ar-wear-confidence-protection-that-can-be-worn

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A Conversation That Never Happened

A conversation that never happened

I wanted to share this spoken word “Action” by Guante because for me, it hit home.

While listening to this piece, there were many lines that stuck out to me in a way that I could really relate to. “Action” brought to mind the teachings we were exposed to while growing up in this society, in this culture, with this media, television, music, surrounded by messages that degrade us and by “us” I mean “us” as in human beings all together.
How, might you ask? Well, for example:

“The conversation I just couldn’t start for fear of…embarrasment”

was a very strong statement in my mind. Why must we be embarrassed to stand up for another human being? Now when I say “human being” I mean whether you are a woman, a man, transgender, gay, straight, a male that is girly, a girl who is male like, whatever it is, my point is that We are all human. We are all creatures. Why do we automatically feel like we are in the wrong for truthfully stating something that is ultimately inhumane? Well, if your asking me (which I am asking myself, but I am also curious to hear feedback and thoughts from others), then I would say that society has engraved these ways into our heads since birth. I’ll admit, I used to LOVE degrading music because the beats were fun to dance to. Was I really hearing what they were saying? The messages they were letting out? The lessons my subconscious was taking in? NOPE! It took years of actually seeing these messages playing out in my own life to realize, I had to make a change for myself if society wasn’t going to do it for me.

Changes I have worked on in these past few years after these acknowledgements:
In Music-I am a listener/supporter as well as a musician/Hip Hop artist who not only lost myself in listening to horrible, degrading, violent, and drug/sexual abuse music, but I too, had been making music with bad messages. While all this was going on, I felt nasty, I felt gross, I felt guilt, and most of all, I didn’t feel like myself. After realizing I was following the crowd and fitting in to what was on the radio or what was popular, I decided to stop listening to the radio. I began to listen to music that was positive and uplifting. Soooooo, of course there was lots of Bob Marley.
In this culture-I began to realize how hard confrontation was for me. I mean simple confrontation, as little as taking a customers order at Pizza Hut and having to tell them we were out of something. Or, telling some older lady I was gay after she asked me if I had a boyfriend. Things like that. So then I came up with a saying, more like a way of living. It was “Love more Fear less”. Confrontation was scary, but I knew it was necessary if I ever wanted to treat myself like I was just as human as the people I came across. So, little by little, if I realized I was scared of something or scared to do something or say something, I would make myself do it anyway. Now, I can truly say I have come to feel more confidence and security then I have ever felt in life, although I still have a ways to go.
With SELF TALK-Self talk is the stuff you say to yourself. I never used to notice how much negative self talk consumed my mind until I began to make the above changes in my life. I started actually hearing what I was saying to myself in my mind. So, to change that I began saying self empowering affirmations daily. Some good ones are:I am love, I am in perfect health, I am my authentic self, I am surrounded by love, I am confident, I invite more loving, supportive, and caring people into my life…things like that.
People I surrounded myself with-After I began doing all these other things, I swear to you, positive changes in my whole mental state of being were going on and I was more than ok with it. After that, I began realizing what I deserved. So i began to surround myself with the people who helped me grow the most, that supported me, that truly loved and cared for me in a healthy way, I was actively showing the world that I deserved better than what I had been putting myself out to deserve all these years.
AND WAAAHHHLAAAAA! “ACTION” BEGAN TO HAPPEN. AND FROM THIS DAY ON, I ONLY HOPE TO KEEP GROWING AND ACTING ON THINGS I BELIEVE IN, BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

Alright, it’s been real. I’ll leave you with a few more favorite quotes I found in the piece by Guante…AFTER I ask you one last question…
What ACTIONS will you take?

-Mystic Roots

“you tell me, she never said no, that your sorry, that you’re not a bad guy. rape culture is silence….is being able to see the future and not doing anything about it, it is believing the fairy tale platitude that there are good people and bad people, and as long as you’re not one of the bad people your job is done..” -Guante

“stand up comedians making rape jokes to sound edgy. Music portraying women as disposable sex objects. It is language, encouraging us to think of sex as violence- FUCK HIT BANG SMASH” -Guante

Blackout: On Feeling Validated

I had a dream last night. In this dream, the person I love most in this world exited a cab crying. She grabbed me, as if holding on for her life, saying “He fucked me, he fucked me in there.” over and over again. Who this he was, is unknown, but I’m presuming the driver, and presuming the tears and the emotional voice I’ve never heard her utter in reality – it was not consensual. In my dream, I held her. I told her it would be okay. A part of me didn’t believe that it would be okay in the dream – this I think stems from knowing how this dearly beloved copes with issues in reality. Dream me knew that. As I held her in my dream, I could feel that I couldn’t give her what she needed in that moment. I held her with a cold indifference, with an emotional state that was ten feet away from her. I wanted to badly press my love and warmth and reassurance upon her, but as I stood there in my dream, I couldn’t get past a hardened emotional wall.

In my dream, I felt jealousy as I stood there holding her. Jealousy that she could emote what just happened to her. The same thing that had happened to her in my dream — had once happened to me.

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I Don’t Want to be Afraid

I wrote this poem about a form of sexual harassment that happens almost everyday to many women, most of the time we don’t even think about it.  I will preface the piece by noting that it is probably one of the most mild forms of harassment, but I still wanted to shed light on the event in order to point out how little occurrences can still have a profound impact on their victims. It is not right or fair for me or anyone to accept these events as a normalized part of our culture, but often we do.  I decided to write and post this piece to describe my experience and explain how unbelievably frustrating it feels for me to accept this behavior on almost a daily basis. 

I don’t want to be afraid
September 2013

I don’t want to be afraid anymore

A man looks me up and down as I walk by
Dominates me with his eyes
He wont take them off of my body
He knows that I can see him staring

Stern fire, angered passion
All together, his stare tightens
Looks at my chest, my thighs
My fear begins to rise

He, in this moment, has the power
The power to terrify me
For a millisecond my mind wanders
To what he is capable of doing
He just told me with his eyes
That he, at the very least,
Is capable of dominating me
Without moving a limb on his body

Staring at me
As if he has the right
To use my body as he pleases
My flesh
My figure
His eyes are fixed

His eyes alone show me
That he has the power
To make me feel uncomfortable
To make me feel threatened
To make me feel objectified
For his pleasure
So that he can be pleased
Staring at me

My mind wanders
To what he is capable of doing
Wondering if he will follow me
Touch me
Grab me
Attack me
Who gave him the right?
My heart rate continues to rise

I say nothing, do nothing
I can’t look back as I pass by
Obediently
Silently
But I can still feel his uncomfortable stare
In this moment he won
Heart pounding
Chest tightening
Fear engulfing
So many emotions
In a matter of seconds

And just as fast
I brush it off
Knowing that it will happen again

Anger comes later
I bet he never thought about what his gaze does
Lingering far too long
What power he has
What dominating culture he represents
It is unbelievably frustrating how often this happens

I am afraid
Even if it was only a moment
I was afraid
Felt like I got away
This time
It was just a gaze

I don’t want to be afraid anymore

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Rewriting our Story: The Struggle to Empower Women

Women in the Media

The illustration above showcases some of the recent organizations, writings, studies and statistics that have come to the front page of main stream news. Many previous authors have have written about how the internet has accelerated and in some ways, revived feminist organizations, movements and collaborations. I agree, with the access to knowledge and information we see the global widespread discrimination, violence, misogyny against women, as well as the successes, educational attainment, military inclusion, and role of women in the workplace.

With nearly 70% of women experiencing violence (physical or sexual) in their lifetime – this astounding and overwhelming UN Report demonstrates the need to rewrite our story.  A majority of women, girls, mothers, wives, sisters, cousins and friends encountering violence more than likely at the hands of men. This stat makes the violence experience seem inevitable. As a result, our culture incorporates “empowering” choices to help keep women safe. For example, think back, at what age did you receive or have you given the following advice:

  • Don’t go into dark alleyways or streets alone at night
  • Don’t walk alone at night, anywhere, even in your own neighborhood
  • Park under the street light or in the parking ramp closest to the exit
  • Take a taxi from a bar instead of public transportation
  • Bring friends with you if you use public transportation
  • What time are you coming or going?
  • Are friends going with you?
  • Call me when you arrive.
  • How well do you know him?

All of these seemingly helpful hints or advice are simultaneously disadvantageous to the feminist movement – because they target young women. The “advice” tells women that we can make the right choices and bad things will not happen. For some that is true, but for many of us, the choice may not be in our hands.

For many of us, it is men who make conscious, manipulative, unhealthy and violent choices that shape our lives forever.

Where are the efforts and campaigns to change men? Sure, we have heard about them, but unlike these mainstream efforts highlighted in the illustration, we are still “empowering” women. (NOTE: I am not advocating we do not have safe plans or take caution and I agree there are “sensible” things anyone can do.)

So; where are the questions to men about why would you chase a women alone? Why is intimidating her rewarding? How drunk was she — that doesn’t seem cool? Why are women the sole or primary providers in families — is this really evidence of women’s advancement in the workplace or is it because so many men walk out on women and families?

What do these organizations and statistics have in common (referenced in the illustration)? It seems that the effort of modern day feminism – to support equal rights, safety and empowerment for women – is increasingly becoming part of daily news, charitable contribution and donation efforts.

This is an applauded effort but, unfortunately, the men who rape, beat, humiliate, harass women in the world are not the strange scary psychos that we can spot, fear and lockup. They may not be the weirdos, or creepy men, the stereotypical men we avoid. They are less likely to be strangers, and most likely to be our current, former partner, acquaintance or in all simple form – a man we know.

These men are brothers, gay friends, cousins, fathers, husbands, friends, uncles, god fathers. They know us and we know them. They make conscious choices, manipulative choices, choices out of misogyny, privilege and wealth. We as a society have to recognize that with astounding numbers like 1 in 3 military women will be sexually assaulted and 1 in 5 civilian women, that there is an epidemic, a conscious epidemic, that enables men, for centuries to repeatedly abuse, manipulate, hurt and walk out on women.

Until men can identify, understand and change their choices, actions and language that routinely negatively impact women on a daily basis, and therefore, the family, the stats will remain a reality.

What does it mean? It means we have to rewrite the story. We have to think, talk, live, play and work differently with the men in our lives. It means we have to hold men accountable, at every stage – at the small jokes that seem harmless, at the movies they watch and quote, no matter how seemingly funny or “normal.” It means we cannot be embarrassed or protect the ego and the “system.” It means we must have the uncomfortable conversation with the male friends we have known for years, and even those we may admire most, like our fathers and brothers.

To rewrite our story, we need men to engage in choices, decisions and opportunities that empower women.

What are your thoughts? Check out the movements and reports in the illustration by selecting the links below.

Chime for Change

College Enrollment by Gender

Domestic Violence Hotline

2013 US State Department Report on Human Trafficking

An Open Letter to Facebook: Take a Stand on Gender Violence & Hate

The Pixel Project

One Billion Rising

Reproductive Rights for Women

Why Society Still Needs Feminism

Women in Combat: Sexual Violence

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