16 Female Role Models: Transforming Personal Pain into Positive Action « The Pixel Project

16 Female Role Models: Transforming Personal Pain into Positive Action « The Pixel Project.

Here are 16 of some of the most awesome women in the movement to end violence against women. We hope that they will inspire you as much they do The Pixel Project team:

Female Role Model 1: Anuradha Koirala – Nepal

Anuradha Koirala, CNN Hero 2011 and human trafficking activist, founded Maiti Nepal, a nonprofit which saved more than 12,000 women and girls from sex trafficking and prostitution, when she escaped an abusive relationship that left her with three miscarriages. After the relationship ended, Koirala used a portion of her $100 monthly salary to start a small retail shop to employ and support displaced victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence. Maiti Nepal was her brainchild for giving voice, legal defense and rehabilitation to victims of sex trafficking. The group also takes in rape and domestic violence survivors, as well as abandoned children. “The hardest part for me is to see a girl dying or coming back with different diseases at an [age] when she should be out frolicking,” Koirala said. “That’s what fuels me to work harder.”

Female Role Model 2: Betty Makoni – Zimbabwe

Betty Makoni is the founder of Girl Child Network Worldwide and a CNN Hero. As a survivor of child abuse and rape, Betty founded GCNW to educate and empower Zimbabwean girls. Her work has forced her to flee Zimbabwe for the United Kingdom where she continues to run Girl Child Network Worldwide, bringing her model of empowering girls from the ground up to numerous countries across the world. Betty’s incredible story has been captured in a poignant documentary, Tapestries of Hope, by Michealene Risley. Betty said: “We focus on girls to transform them from being like a passive victim to the “masculine” qualities that we want because… it’s all about standing tall. This is what we teach boys: a man is strong. We can say to the girls the same: a girl is strong”

Female Role Model 3: ‘Bibi’ Ayesha – Afghanistan

18-year-old ‘Bibi’ Ayesha had her ears and nose chopped off by her abusive husband and was brought to the United States to undergo facial reconstruction surgery. While in the United States, she bravely shared her pre-surgery face with the world by going on the cover of Time magazine. Aisha’s portrait is a powerful and visual Teachable Moment that inspires and galvanises all of us to work towards eliminating violence against women wherever we are in the world and with whatever skills and tools we have at hand.

Female Role Model 4: Brenda Isabel – Kenya

Brenda Isabel, a young Kenyan survivor of sexual violence, turns her personal tragedy into communal good by starting a centre to help other young Kenyan women house their dreams and is working to make it self-funding by starting a business to make eco-friendly sanitary pads. Brenda wants to help change things by empowering other young women like her with education and life skills. She recently launched her own programme called The Human Relations Trust. What an inspiration and a great example of being able to move beyond the pain and to turn pain into a force for good! To learn more about Brenda and her amazing initiative, you can watch a video about her work here.

Female Role Model 5: Esther Chavez Cano – Mexico

The late Esther Chavez Cano began her distinguished work against violence against women in Mexico after she retired as an accountant. Profoundly shocked by the lack of police attention to the brutal killings of the women of Cuidad Juarez, she founded the March 8 Organisation to bring together campaigners protesting at the violence perpetrated against women in the area. She collected articles on the murders from local papers for several years, and distilled the reports into facts and figures that could be used to hound the police services and embarrass politicians. As her list of victims grew, so did her tenacity. In 1999 she opened the Casa Amiga shelter and rape crisis centre, which now helps thousands of women each year, free of charge.

Female Role Model 6: Holly Kearl – United States of America

For ten years Holly Kearl has addressed gender-based violence and women’s equity issues, starting with volunteer work at a local domestic violence shelter during her senior year of high school. Tired of strange men whistling and honking at her, calling out to her, following her, and grabbing her when she was alone in public, Holly wrote her master’s thesis on gender-based street harassment and how women were using online websites to combat it. In 2008 she founded an anti-street harassment website and blog and began working on an anti-street harassment book. In Aug. 2010, her book came out and it is available online: Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women

Female Role Model 7: Iana Matei – Romania

Iana Matei is Romania’s leading advocate and activist for the end of the sex-trafficking of girls and women. Until a few years ago, Ms. Matei’s shelter here was the only one in Romania for victims of traffickers, though the country has been a center for the trade in young girls for decades. In 1990, as Romania was emerging from Communism, she participated in daily street protests and eventually fled to and resettled in Australia where she earned a degree in psychology and worked with street children. In 1998, she moved back to Romania where she began working with street children and eventually rescuing underaged girls from prostitution and sex trafficking under dangerous conditions.

Female Role Model 8: Julia Lalla-Maharajh – United Kingdom

Julia Lalla-Maharajh, founder of the Orchid Project, was volunteering in Ethiopia when she came across the scale and extent of female genital cutting there. She was determined to do something about this. When she returned to London she volunteered with FORWARD to discover more about organisations working in this field.  She was able to appear on the Plinth in Trafalgar Square spending her hour raising awareness about FGC, putting on and taking off 40 t-shirts to represent countries where FGC is practised and cutting the petals of 40 red roses.  Following this, she entered the YouTube/World Economic Forum competition, the Davos Debates. In a global vote, she won and went to Davos, to hold a dedicated debate with the head of UNICEF, Amnesty International and the UN Foundation.

Female Role Model 9: Kathleen Schmidt – United States of America

Kathleen Schmidt survived a childhood and brutal first marriage full of abuse to go on to a happy second marriage and a full life dedicated to helping others. Kathleen tells her story in the book, Escaping The Glass Cage as a way of sharing her strength and experience with others to show them that there is hope. She is also the founder of Project Empowermenta weekly Blogtalkradio show where she interviews experts, survivors and leaders in the movement to end violence against women and domestic violence about their work and solutions to this seemingly intractable problem.

Female Role Model 10: Layli Miller-Muro – United States of America

Layli Miller-Muro is the Executive Director of the Tahirih Justice Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting women from human rights abuses through the provision of legal aid and public policy advocacy. Miller-Muro founded the organization in 1997 following her involvement in Matter of Kasinga, a high-profile case that set national precedent and revolutionized asylum law in the United States. Fauziya Kassindja, a 17-year-old girl who had fled Togo in fear of a forced polygamous marriage and a tribal practice known as female genital mutilation, was granted asylum in 1996 by the US Board of Immigration Appeals. This decision opened the door to gender-based persecution as grounds for asylum.

Female Role Model 11: Lisa Shannon – United States of America

Lisa Shannon founded the first national grassroots effort to raise awareness and funds for women in the DR Congo through her project Run for Congo Women. They have sponsored more than a thousand war-affected Congolese women through Women for Women International. These women are raising more than 5000 children. She traveled solo into Eastern Congo’s South Kivu province for five and half weeks in January- February 2007, and again in May 2008. Prior to Lisa’s travels through Congo, was named a “2006 Hero of Running” by Runner’s World Magazine and O, The Oprah Magazine wrote, “Lisa Shannon read our report—and started a movement.” Lisa presently serves as an ambassador for Women for Women International.

Female Role Model 12: Olivia Klaus – United States of America

Filmmaker Olivia Klaus spent nine years creating “Sin by Silence,”a documentary on women in the United States sentenced to prison for killing their abusive partners. Klaus volunteered to work with the group Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA)—the subject of the film—after a friend in an abusive relationship turned to her for help. She named her film after something Abraham Lincoln once said, “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men.” She said: “This is my way of protesting and breaking the silence.” Klaus believes that anyone can get involved with stopping violence against women – from being there for a friend to volunteering for a shelter to protesting for legislation.

Female Role Model 13: Rana Husseini – Jordan

As a Jordanian woman journalist writing for The Jordan TimesRana Husseini focused on social issues with a special emphasis on violence against women, as well as the brutal crimes that are committed against Jordanian women in the name of family honour. Her coverage of and dedication to ending this unjustified practice against women helped raise national awareness on a topic that is traditionally considered taboo. Until The Jordan Times began reporting on so-called crimes of honour, the local press shied away from addressing the issue. The government responded by introducing legal changes that suggest tougher punishments for perpetrators of such crimes.

Female Role Model 14: Roya Shams – Afghanistan

Roya Shams is a 16-year-old Afghan girl who walks to school every day to get her education, regardless of threats of violence from her neighbours and community. Roya is not only determined to learn and to finish high school, but she intends to go on to university and get a degree. She then plans to stick her neck out even further: in a country where a woman is easily cut down for having the nerve to speak up, the burning ambition of Roya’s young life is to become a politician. “We have to study,” she insists. “We have to show them the way.”

Female Role Model 15: Sunitha Krishnan – India

Dr. Sunitha Krishnan, born in 1969, is an Indian social activist, a gang rape survivor and Chief Functionary and co-founder of Prajwala, an institution that assists trafficked women and girls in finding shelter. The organization also helps pay for the education of five thousand children infected with HIV/AIDS in Hyderabad. Prajwala’s “second-generation” prevention program operates in 17 transition centers and has served thousands of children of prostituted mothers. Prajwala’s strategy is to remove women from brothels by giving their children educational and career opportunities. Krishnan and her staff train survivors in carpentry, welding, printing, masonry and housekeeping.

Female Role Model 16: Waris Dirie – Somalia

Waris Dirie is a Somali model, author, actress and human rights activist working to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Waris underwent FGM as a child and at the age of thirteen, she fled her family to escape an arranged marriage to a much older man. In 1997, Waris left her modeling career to focus on her work against FGM and was appointed UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of FGM. In 2002, she founded the Waris Dirie Foundation in Vienna, Austria, an organization aimed at raising awareness regarding the dangers surrounding FGM. In January 2009, the PPR Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights’, was jointly founded by Waris and French tycoon François-Henri Pinault (CEO of PPR) and his wife, actress Salma Hayek. Waris has also started the Desert Dawn Foundation, which raises money for schools and clinics in her native Somalia.

Just came across this a few months later… Just as relevant as ever. If you do nothing else, see Asmaa’s video clip.

Cellar Door

We are, each of us, functions of how we imagine ourselves and of how others imagine us, and, looking back, there are these discrete tracks of memory: the times when our lives are most sharply defined in relation to others’ ideas of us, and the more private times when we are freer to imagine ourselves. […] it occurred to me that if others have so often made your life their business — made your life into a question, really, and made that question their business — then perhaps you will want to guard the memory of those times when you were freer to imagine yourself as the only times that are truly and inviolably your own.
— We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch

The passage above from Philip Gourevitch’s gorgeously written book about the 1994 Rwandan…

View original post 744 more words

How I Was Blocked From Facebook

This week, a Facebook friend published a record of how she was detained by Israeli security, held, and questioned for hours. Her crime? Political activism on behalf of Palestinians and against Israel’s occupation of that nation. Not surprisingly, some of the responses she got were belittling ones, “boo hoo, you’re quite the martyr, having spent three whole hours in security!”, blatantly ignoring the fact that she was being intimidated, threatened, sexually harassed, her freedom curtailed… Also (as she alluded to in her article) she has had other more intrusive run-ins with Israeli security.

As a matter of fact, she is well-known to Israeli security forces because of her activism, but as long as her politics are on the “wrong” side, she is to be belittled, and reduced to a whining little girl, rather than the intelligent, political woman she is.

Well, this story has moved me to do a little whining of my own.

I must admit that while I am also an outspoken, strong, intelligent, and political woman, I have never been arrested for it, or threatened, or tear gassed. I’ve had shouting matches with police, been shoved by them, threatened as part of a group… But so far, I’ve escaped their notice as a focal point. Until, that is, the dreaded FACEBOOK police.

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This week, the Tel Aviv Pride Parade campaign kicked off. Lo and behold, it is entirely based on nationalistic ideas and imagery. Homonationalism is a problematic concept anywhere, but in Israel it takes on special significance, given the sharp divides between Jews and Arabs (whether citizens or not) and the treatment of other marginalized groups.

The reproduction of hegemonic power structures into the “LGBT” community is an ongoing issue. I am fond of calling the LGBT center the “gay-white-man center”, that’s how obvious and blatant the marginalization is. All the men in positions of power there are quick to deny it, and point at the one or two women in the room (somehow, never named, never quoted, never heading up any important projects…). But even the two token white lesbians, does NOT an “LGBT” community make. Nor does it encourage any idea of commitment to equality when Ethiopians, Palestinians, any non-Jews (unless they are cute European gay guys), trans folk of any ethnicity, and others are continually made to feel unwelcome.

So back to the Pride campaign. Based on and inspired by the ultra-nationalist idea of celebrating Israel’s independence, just using the rainbow flag… A white-Jewish-male-gay-guy-spokesman felt obliged to note that “this is not meant to promote nationalist sentiments, and community members from minority sectors are included and invited to participate in the parade.

Well, um. Yeah. Minority sectors = Arabs, right? How kind of you!! I mean, it doesn’t really matter how unfriendly you make it for Arabs, as long as you then add a disclaimer in the small print.

(To put this in context, Arab supreme court justice Salim Joubran was excoriated by Knesset (parliament) members and the public recently for not singing the national anthem (which calls for the *Jewish* national state), and as this is being written, the latest outrage around Arabs (and other minorities) being entirely excluded from Israel’s upcoming Independence Day ceremonies.)

So, back to me, and Facebook. I made a poster/caricature of the Gay Center similar to this one:

It’s not about the WHITE, it’s about the PRIDE, dummy!

Israeli Gay Pride Welcomes Minorities!

Having gotten carried away with my own annoyance at the Center, and my desire to point out the ridiculousness in their assertions of inclusion, I disregarded the fact that Facebook runs bots on your pictures, and can pick out certain symbols. They immediately flagged the klansman, and blocked me indefinitely, putting a dent in my political activism as well as my social life!

So now I know what it feels like to be singled out by the police for my activism for social justice. And just for kicks, here is another draft of the idea.

Israel Gay Pride -- Minorities Welcom

Transphobia is NOT Feminist!

Until recently, I hadn’t encountered transphobia from feminists. Call me lucky 🙂

In my feminist community, a key part of our world view is a commitment to equality for all oppressed groups, according to the idea that there cannot be justice for only some — justice means justice for ALL. So there is a connection between oppression of women, oppression of Palestinians, oppression of queer folk… And so on.

Most of the women I know in this context use the term “radical” to some extent or another — in their feminism, politics, or elsewhere. Because we believe in changing societal power structures, from the root (the word radical is from the Latin radix (gen. radicis) “root”, meaning “going to the origin, essential”). On the face of it — Radical Feminism.

Contrast this with my newly found experience with North American radical feminism (sometimes called RadFem). If I understand their position correctly, they claim that gender — as a *whole* — is entirely a cultural construct, and therefore, there is no such thing as gender dysphoria, because your body, or chromosomes are the only thing that make you a man or a woman. Anything else is decoration. RadFems will often use dismissive and demeaning language saying things like “a man who puts on heels and make-up magically becomes a woman, yippee”, totally disregarding the trans experience and identity issues trans people describe.

In the past few months I have come across Facebook groups, blogs, and online warfare, carried out by RadFems, regarding trans women, especially on the topic of trans women’s acceptance in women’s spaces. While I had been generally aware that there is not universal acceptance of trans women in women’s spaces (take the well-known example of the Michigan Music Festival and the womyn-born womyn movement). What I did NOT expect was outright hatred and demeaning of trans women. Call me naive.

Examples include refusing to refer to trans women using female pronouns (to the extent of changing the text in blog responses), calling trans women “rapey men” who are all about the sex, and trying to get “into the panties” of (cis) lesbians, to terms such as “stealth men” trying to “take over”,  to horrible caricatures and jokes and demeaning representations in quotes and images, meant to denigrate and humiliate and erase the existence and legitimacy of trans women. Well, of all trans people, but particularly trans women. One site went so far as to troll the Internet for pornographic images of trans women and post them against the intention, desire, and permission of the women involved — once again, in an attempt to vilify, objectify, and humiliate. And promote hatred and bigotry, of course.

As an activist who deals daily with multiple forms of oppression against multiple groups, both outright direct oppression, and the hidden forms as well — I’m not generally surprised by the levels of hatred, bigotry, stupidity, meanness, violence, and other negatives humans are capable of. But I guess my naivete shows when people ostensibly committed to such ideas as equality and social justice do it.

I will do more research on this, because my experience with radical feminism in the US has more to do with ideas about sexual violence by men, and anti-pornography, than an obsession with gender identities per se, but then — when I left the US many many years ago, there was a whole lot I didn’t know about a lot of things. (And there still is 🙂 ).

Also note that unlike my usual practice, I have intentionally avoided linking to RadFem blogs, sites, or discussions. Several of the most hateful among them have cleverly pushed their sites up in Google search through extensive cross linking. My goal here is to include several trans links explaining some of the key issues from a trans perspective, while avoiding giving more of a stage to the haters. I will be posting more about this topic, and am also happy to answer questions or point you in the “right” direction if you want to read more.

Meanwhile, here are some links that are must-reads if you want to understand more about the dialog between transgender women and cis-gender women:

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Pretty Queer is one of my favorite sites. It covers a range of issues from a frequently “heretical” perspective — such as calling out privilege and transphobia and transmisogyny within queer communities.

It was here I first discovered Savannah Garmon, who wrote this post:

Requiem for a Dialogue

In the post she discusses her experience in how she is accepted (or not accepted) by cis women, and how trans and cis women came together in a workshop called “No more apologies: Queer trans and cis women, coming/cumming together!”, in which the foundations were set for a wider dialogue about trans woman inclusion in queer women’s spaces/communities and social settings.

Her blog leftygirl is also on my blogroll. Check her out!

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Monica Maldonado — responding to the outlandish claims that trans women are demanding cis women “make themselves sexually available” to them:

The Cotton Ceiling Ain’t About You

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This blog post by Jade Pichette discusses identity erasure, cis-privilege, and consent:

Hey Lesbian Transphobes!

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This event in Ottawa — No More Apologies Ottawa/ Pas Plus d’Excuses Ottawa — has been drawing a LOT of transphobic attacks. See the event on Facebook.

Thursday Round-Up

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Don’t you just hate when “real life” takes over? Of course, my real real-life is right here… But time is short, so this one is quick and dirty 🙂

Today is all about the ongoing war on women — in advertising, on the street, and in politics. In short, everywhere.

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Media

Shall we start off with some patriarchal misogyny in an advertisement? (Shocking, right?)

Amy Tennery, in The Jane Dough, writes about this one:

That’s so weird. I had no idea Reebok had zero female customers.

At least it would appear that way.

In a move of promotional wizardry, Reebok has released an offensive ad targeted at men, which reads “Cheat on your girlfriend, not on your workout.” It’s the kind of ad you might see on “Mad Men” — if the executives on “Mad Men” were subjected to sensitivity training from Larry The Cable Guy.

It isn’t clear if the ad is in Germany, or has wider distribution. But a big “Boooo!” to whoever approved it at Reebok.

Israel SlutWalk

I am so proud that THREE SlutWalks are scheduled in Israel’s three major cities: The Tel Aviv SlutWalk is today, Haifa tomorrow, and Jerusalem in late April.

Lots of positive reactions: Karin Kloosterman of Green Prophet draws a line between green sustainability and women’s rights. Tinamarie Bernard explains why Slutwalk is good for religious women, too.

Jerusalem Slutwalk Facebook Page

Haifa Slutwalk Facebook Event

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Which doesn’t prevent the media — ostensibly covering the issue of women’s rights and freedoms — from jumping in and objectifying the women. Ansamed, for example, warns that “A horde of half-naked women is about invade the streets of Israel, first in Tel Aviv (on Friday), then Haifa, and finally, even in the holy city of Jerusalem.” Nice, guys. (Nice GuysTM?)

War on Women

It’s impossible to round up all the woman-hating statements, legislation, videos, speeches, etc. coming out of the United States lately, whether laws allowing doctors to hide health information from pregnant women if they think she might terminate her pregnancy, to enabling employers to fire employees who use birth control, rape by ultrasound, to personhood amendments, to anything Mitt Romney has to say. (No need to mention Rush Limbaugh, right?)

Made me glad to find this:

And Doonesbury gets a special mention here, with a week-long series of the comic strip on the rape-by-sonogram and general humiliation the GOP wishes to visit on women and our bodies.

Sexual Violence Round-Up

Today, a different round-up. Gender violence is a “pet” topic of mine, so I always want to post about it. But I usually don’t like treating it in a shallow manner, which means a great deal goes unsaid. Recently, there have been lots of discussions about this in my life again, which led to another 30 tabs being open in my browser… So rather than an in-depth post on one topic, I’m including several. Because they were all good enough to stay open on my desktop until I gave in and posted them.

Rape Culture

Rap, I mean, rape culture and Black women

In January, rapper Too Short appeared on XXL, where he gave various bits of advice to boys, regarding girls – including pushing a girl up against a wall and inserting a saliva-wetted finger up her vagina.

Inundated with protests, XXL eventually removed the video from their site, and both XXL and Too Short issued very minimal apologies (too little too late), neither of which actually took any responsibility for statements encouraging violence against girls, or acknowledged the danger of the attitudes underlying Too Short’s statement.

Professor, activist, and blogger Mark Anthony Neal writes that

In a society that continues to assert its familiarity with the bodies of Black women and girls… Too Short advising boys to “take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens… is, unfortunately, not all that surprising; seems more like the status quo for Black women and girls.

He adds that girls and women are not the only ones harmed by perpetuating this attitude:

And this is not simply about political correctness; besides advocating rape and sexual violence against Black women and girls, diatribes like Shaw’s also further criminalizes Black boys, within institutions—our schools—in which Black boys are always, already criminalized.

Neal calls for new strategies other than protest/petition/outrage leading to minimal, too-late apologies and content removal after the damage is done. I’m not sure he has found that alternate solution yet – I’ll be waiting.

Meanwhile, I just found this song — Your Revolution — by Sarah Jones and I found it stunning and somehow appropriate:

Feminist Looking Glass says,
This song is a really clever take-off on Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Sarah Jones sings that “your revolution will not happen between these thighs,” and invokes just about every famous sexist hip hop lyric of the past decade to make her point. → lyrics

UK’s Uni Lad Promotes Rape

Yes, it was a busy week for rape proponents… Huffington Post reports this story from the UK:

The National Union of Students (NUS) has called for the website UniLad, which claims to be the “number one university student lad’s magazine and guide to getting laid” to be pulled down over the article.

In an article titled “Sexual Mathematics” it stated:

“If the girl you’ve taken for a drink… won’t ‘spread for your head’, think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported.

“That seems to be fairly good odds.”

The writer then adds at the bottom of the piece: “Uni Lad does not condone rape without saying ‘surprise’.”

Though the article has been removed, the battle is still ongoing on twitter, where women daring to criticize Unilad are verbally abused, including lesbophobic use of the term “dyke”.

Critics point out that the issue is far greater than this one article; that Unilad is filled with misgynistic content that reflects, and contributes to, a corresponding misogynistic attitude on UK university campuses, and largely unreported and unpunished violence against women in the UK as a whole.

And still – the Twitter campaign has made waves, and provided critics of Unilad with a great deal of support. (I found this illuminating article via Twitter: Laurie Penny writes how Uni Lad’s “banter” is based on exclusion. And Another Angry Woman wrote them this open letter, and provided the image below, so funny :/ )

Which just goes to show we need to keep our voices out there. All the time. As frustrating as it often is.

Victim Blaming

Victim blaming is still all too common. When questioned about who gets raped women answer that women that dress a certain way, act a certain way, drink, are out late, or… are those who get raped. Their assumption is that it is women who are directly or indirectly responsible for the violence perpetrated against them. There are also indications that men are even more likely than women to blame the victim.

See for example the case of the Pennsylvania Liquor Board campaign, which first blames the victim (because she was drinking), then her friends (because “Calling the shots starts with you. What if you didn’t watch out for your friends during a night of drinking?”), and at no point blames the rapist.

Feministing wrote this powerful post about why victim blaming is not a good way to prevent binge drinking.  Some of the points to think about include:

  • These campaigns are aimed at women, and limiting women’s behavior. That is more palatable somehow than limiting men’s behavior.
  • However, a third of sexual assault perpetrators are intoxicated at the time of assault, so clearly there is a case to be made for redirecting attention – away from women, and onto the attackers.
  • The use of sexual assault as a scare tactic to prevent binge drinking demeans both the very real dangers of alcoholism, and the issues faced by survivors of sexual assault.
  • These types of campaigns reinforce rape culture. “We’re basically telling rapists they can get away with it when the lines of consent are hazy, that they should target drunk people.”

Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan wrote of the ad, “Rape is not just a bad thing that happens to someone after drinking too much. It’s a deliberate act on the part of the rapist, a violation of another person committed solely because the rapist wanted to rape. The sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we’ll be rid of stupid, finger wagging ads like these.”

Ebony magazine, for one, thinks that enough is enough – that public service ads aimed at women telling them how to prevent rape are misguided and harmful, and that men should be better educated instead.

Holding women and girls accountable for preventing sexual assault hasn’t worked and so long as men commit the majority of rapes, men need to be at the heart of our tactics for preventing them.  Let’s stop teaching ‘how to avoid being a victim’ and instead, attack the culture that creates predators in the first place.

And  in Salon.com, Tracy Clark Flory injects some reality into the dialog in How to Prevent Rape Without Blaming the Victim.

Here’s an ad campaign that gets it:

http://www.mencanstoprape.org/

And then there’s this public service ad from Scotland:

Survivors

This is one of the most amazing, emotional, difficult, painful, and necessary projects I have ever seen.

Project Unbreakable

About Project Unbreakable, from the project blog:

In October of last year, Grace Brown began a photography project called Project Unbreakable. Grace uses photography to help heal sexual abuse survivors by photographing them with posters that hold quotes from their attackers. Rape survivor and advocate for victims of sexual abuse, Yvonne Moss, describes the project as a way for victims to take the power back of the words that were once used against them.

Grace plans on photographing survivors for as long as she possibly can. Her goal is to spread light, awareness, and healing for those who have been affected.

If you are interested in participating by either being photographed or sending in your own image, you may send her an email at projectunbreakable@gmail.com with the subject line “Photograph Me” or “Submission”, depending on the circumstance.

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Project Unbreakable Facebook page

Thursday Round-Up

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Last round-up got a bit long, and I still had so much to share… So here’s more fun! Is Thursday Dysphoria recognized in DSM-5? Are all women mentally ill? Stuff you (maybe) didn’t know about women’s sexuality and health.
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Women's Health

Are menstrual symptoms a sign of mental illness?

The American Psychiatric Association wants to add PMS — or what they’re calling Premenstrual Disphoric Disorder — to the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5.

’cause women are not stigmatized nearly enough by PMS….

Admittedly, when they say it, it sounds kinda worse than plain-old PMS. But basically, what they are saying is that if you feel depressed or irritable or anxious or tense, or otherwise have mood swings before your period starts, you have a mental disorder.

Which essentially means that being a woman who menstruates is pretty much equivalent to being mentally ill.

 Read the proposed DSM addition here.

Could DSM-5 Be Harmful to Your Mental Health?

The DSM, which has never been particularly free of controversy, is coming under increased attack, especially in view of many proposals and modifications that are more and more widely being viewed as detrimental to the health of children, women, and the elderly.

The DSM is a strange kind of double sword: Its largely unscientific definitions can be used as a basis for taking away people’s rights — such as forcing them into institutions, onto medication, stigmatizing them, etc. On the other hand, when they recently redefined what autism is, for example, they ensured that a whole lot of people would now be excluded from being able to receive care.

Among the changes to expect in the next DSM:

  • Gender Identity Disorder will become Gender Dysphoria.The revisions are intended to address concerns of social stigma while still protecting insurance coverage. The proposed update is getting mixed reviews in the transgender community.“We support the change of name,” says Lin Fraser, president-elect of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). “WPATH believes that gender variance is not in and of itself pathological, and that having a cross-gender identity does not constitute a psychiatric ‘disorder.’” Others feel that no matter the name, a diagnosis that casts one’s identity as an illness should not be in the manual to begin with.
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  • Binge Eating Disorder is now a recognized disorder, as is Hoarding Disorder; and Hypersexual Disorder is listed in the appendix.
  • Mental Retardation will now be renamed Intellectual Developmental Disorder

In this article, Elayne Clift discusses why DSM-5 might be bad for our health, and talks about the calls to boycott it.

The Female Orgasm

And to a topic that is much more fun… This French documentary attempts to explain the intricacies of the female orgasm, which apparently remains a mystery to many (too many… 🙂 )

And I find it particularly cool that the video was made available for viewing by passengers on Qantas flights!

Clitoris Mapping

Until 2009, no one in medicine or science had mapped the human clitoris. (In spite of extensive mapping done of the male sexual organ since the 1970s.) In effect, no one really knew what it looks like, how it functions, or much at all, and that’s the point. Cuz what you can see and probably know as the clitoris is really just the visible tip of quite an amazing organ.

 Read all about it ♥

The Weekly Trope

So, this isn’t really a trope. But it’s a cool website in spite of the genderized name: Fametracker’s Hey! It’s That Guy shows you who all those actors are that you recognize on TV but are not famous enough to know their names. Well, it’s an old site, some have become quite famous since…

And many of these actors do represent popular tropes.

Thursday Round-Up

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Two notable campaign successes: Planned Parenthood vs. Komen, and “gay cure” clinics in Ecaudor are OUT; Do women really suck at math?; Funky art stuff; And more… It’s another round-up!

(Yes, I know it’s not Thursday. I missed a Thursday. Meh.)

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From the Queer 'Sphere

Ecuador President Announces “Gay Cure” Clinics to Shut Down

After campaigns launched by All Out, Change.org and CredoAction went global — and local human rights defenders kept the pressure on in closed door negotiations with the Ecuadorian Health Ministry — the government just announced they’ll be investigating — and shutting down — hundreds of abusive and illegal “gay cure” clinics.

Read more, and sign a support petition to President Rafael Correa

Gender

Surprise! Gender Equality Makes Everyone Better At Math!

Tired of hearing that tired old argument that women are inherently less capable of excelling at math, physics, or other sciences? This delightful article explains the whys and wherefores of why that’s total CRAP. (And I’m sure you’ll have no trouble whatsoever with all the charts 🙂 )

Art & Culture

Photographer Hal’s Vacuum Packed Couples

In his “Fresh Love” series, Japanese Photographer Hal photographed couples in vacuum-packed nylon, representing the “ultimate union”. The couples actually stayed without oxygen long enough for Hal to snap three photos.

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Tampon Crafts

And this is a whole different kind of interesting   → 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Irina Werning’s Back to the Future

Argentine photographer Irina Werning takes subjects from around the world back to the future — recreating old photos quite amazingly!

     

See also Back to the Future 2

Women's Health 

Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project

Continuing with art for a moment, here is art for breast cancer awareness.

The project Facebook page.

An all Breast Cancer Survivor project for awareness, fundraising, inspiration and healing worldwide… So far 25 brave and incredible women have selflessly stepped forward and been painted for the project.

Susan G. Komen Foundation vs. Planned Parenthood

Last week was all about the furor caused by Komen’s announcement that they would no longer provide funding to planned parenthood for breast cancer exams and screening, as a result of right-wing pressure opposed to PP’s abortion services. It was heartwarming to see the support that quickly arose for PP — from petitions, to blogs, to news coverage, and of course to donations that came pouring in and the increased awareness of both the need for breast cancer services and Planned Parenthood’s activities in general. The Komen Foundation’s top director resigned, and their site was even hacked. Now, Komen has announced that it has reversed its decision, and PP will remain eligible for funding. This campaign was the second great victory of the past week… Don’t let women die in the name of being “pro-life”… Keep the good news coming!

Thursday Round-Up

Slavery in the Georgia school system, and teaching about sexism in the civil rights movement — (almost) just in time for MLK Day; Saudi women take baby steps toward political empowerment; Roe v. Wade celebrates its anniversary; Huxtables — hot or not? Who is your favorite Manic Pixie Dream Girl? And if YOU TOO blame the patriarchy, have I got a blog for you…

It’s a new Thursday Round-Up!

Education

Slavery Examples Used in Georgia Schools

A few weeks ago this hit the interwaves — A Georgia elementary school teacher was using slavery in math questions (really!), and when horrified parents turned to the school district, their concerns were basically dismissed.

♦ See videos and read more about it

“Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”

“If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?”

What the hell is going on in the US, people??

Discussing Sexism in the Civil Rights Movement

In the Internet age, high school kids are no longer limited to the by-the-[text]book material about key figures they learn about. If they look up Martin Luther King, for example, they will likely read about his infidelity, chauvinism, and other not-so-nice stuff in addition to his activism and struggle to promote civil rights and end segregation.

Teaching Tolerance, a project run by the Southern Poverty Law Center, published this guide to dealing with the complexity of multi-dimensional.

What do you think? Good? Bad? Excuses?

Politics

Activist Language

Last time, I wrote about microaggression. Only then did I find this site: http://microaggressions.com/

Saudi Women to Vote Without Male Permission

Recently, Saudi King Abdullah announced that women in his country would be allowed to run for office and vote in municipal elections without male approval. While widely lauded as a step in the right direction, Saudi male-guardian laws remain largely unchanged: women cannot drive, work, travel, marry or even go to hospital without the approval of their male guardian.

Roe v. Wade – What does it mean to you?

January 22 was the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision. Planned Parenthood launched this interactive site where everyone can write what Roe v. Wade means to her.

Gender and Socialization

Mansplaining

Why “Yes But” is an inappropriate response to misogyny

Trust Women week

January 20-27 is Trust Women Week!

Culture and Media

Huxtable Hotness

I have to admit I never really liked the show… But when I came across the Huxtable Hotness blog, it really cracked me up. Some weird form of nostalgia?

The Weekly Trope

From the TV Tropes entry on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope:

“Let’s say you’re a soulful, brooding male hero, living a sheltered, emotionless existence. If only someone — someone female — could come along and open your heart to the great, wondrous adventure of life…

It’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the rescue!”

Coined by Nathan Rabin in his review of Elizabethtown for the A.V. Club’s My Year In Flops, the manic pixie dream girl is that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

If she’s hot, “quirky” and exists only as a means-to-an-end plot device, you’ve got yourself a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. (From one guy’s take on MPDG)

Natalie Portman in Garden State Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown

Blog of the Week

I Blame the Patriarchy

Not for the timid 🙂

This is from the About section:

You are reading I Blame The Patriarchy, the patriarchy-blaming blog that has been advancing the radical feminist views of Jill Psmith and/or Twisty Faster, a gentleman farmer and/or spinster aunt doing the butt-dance in Cottonmouth County, Texas, since 2004.

I Blame The Patriarchy is intended for advanced patriarchy-blamers. It is not a feminist primer. See Patriarchy-Blaming the Twisty Way for details.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Mansplaining


I probably don’t have much to add that hasn’t been said before about mansplaining, but I’m always amazed how many people don’t know the term. However, most people (women) I know *do* recognize the behavior. It happens to me every day at work, in a male-dominated industry. Because part of what I live for is calling people out on privilege they are not aware of, I’m writing this post. And because another thing I live for is waking people up to internalized oppression. Like women who shut up when the man is talking. I also want to draw a straight line to the more extreme forms and effects of mansplaining. They are not negligible.

What is Mansplaining?

The Urban Dictionary has several definitions of mansplaining, but I like this one from Karen Healey:

Mansplaining isn’t just the act of explaining while male, of course; many men manage to explain things every day without in the least insulting their listeners. 

Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate “facts” about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.

Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!

Think about the men you know. Do any of them display that delightful mixture of privilege and ignorance that leads to condescending, inaccurate explanations, delivered with the rock-solid conviction of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation?

That dude is a mansplainer.

…………

Shakesville’s post on mansplaining gives links to some of the best posts on the topic and lists of examples (see for example Zuska’s “You Might Be A Mansplainer If…” post). SMK explains her take on why gender-neutral terms don’t work in this case, and raises the societal factors that lead to it. (Karen Healey also discusses this here.)

Mansplainer even made the NY Times list of the best new words of 2010 … Though of course the concept is not new. In 2008, Rebecca Solnit wrote an op-ed in the LA Times called “Men Who Explain Things“.

Solnit tells of an event where a man pontificated to her about a “very important book” that came out on the subject she had written about… And simply wouldn’t hear the many times it was pointed out to him that Solnit had indeed written that “very important book”… Which it turns out he hadn’t even read, just saw in the NYT Book Review.

Solnit writes that in her experience, this type of behavior is gendered.

“Men explain things to me, and to other women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about. Some men. Every woman knows what I mean. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.”

Internalized Oppression

Almost every post on the topic is accompanied by the writer’s experience in giving into self-doubt when faced with the Man Who Explains. It took Solnit a while to realize there wasn’t really another “very important book” out there — she was willing to doubt herself, if even for just a while. Jennifer Ouellette, a science writer, also faced a learning curve in taking control of mansplaining attempts, because of course, she’s “just a girl” so what can she know about physics?

These are not isolated incidents. Samhita, in Feministing, writes that part of mansplaining is that when you are confronted with even blatant sexism, you are made to believe you are imagining it. She gives a list of several types of statements/responses that can help you spot mansplaining, including:

This is not a big fucking deal: AKA, we have more important things to worry about. Yes, there is sexism out there, but this is hardly an example of it…

I need more evidence: AKA, I think you are imagining that you experienced sexism, but maybe you can prove it to me. Get in your defensive position, and I’ll be the judge… And here are all the reasons maybe that wasn’t really sexism (maybe the guy was just an asshole, not a misogynist)…

You were “just kidding”: AKA, you feminists have no sense of humor. I know all about sexism, you are just not able to appreciate my “highly nuanced, deeply political humor”.

You find one woman to claim you are not sexist: AKA, if a woman agrees with me, it doesn’t matter how many women I actually offended.

The list goes on…
(Note that the list is Samhita’s, the definitions are my own interpretation of what she wrote.)

It’s All About Privilege

Fannie, of FanniesRoom, writes:

The mansplainer’s problem isn’t so much that he’s trying to teach a woman something, but rather that he takes it as a given that she doesn’t already know whatever it is he is going to tell her. 

As someone who lives life as a female human, the sheer numbers of women in comment threads who have recounted experiences of Being Mansplained To is not at all surprising. Despite my general competence at life, dudes mansplain things to me all the time. 

The thing is, no man who does this is consciously thinking — I am a man, therefore I know more than this woman who has written books/gotten degrees/just lectured on this subject. The thing with privilege is that when you say “people” the default person is a man. In the US, he is a white man. So the default [i.e., correct] attitude is that of a white man. Any explaining that comes from that privileged status to someone is not of that privileged status, has a risk of being ___splaining. Like mansplaining to women, there is also whitesplaining between whites and people of color.

Whereas whitesplaining is the result of the white experience being “normed,” mansplaining, is the logical result of males possessing the privilege whereby they are largely assumed to be both default human beings and automatically competent at life. If white people and men, and especially white males, are not aware of this, they are incredibly likely to wrongly assume themselves to be more competent than women and people of color at pretty much everything, up to and including what it means to live as a female or person of color in society.

Here is another good example of mansplaining from Jill in I Blame the Patriarchy. (We all love it when guys tell us why we’re wrong, and if we disagree with them, it is probably because we don’t understand, and if we “honestly” disagree with them, we really aren’t feminists. Because *they* know feminism better than we do…)

The Consequences

In addition to silencing women and making it difficult for them to be heard (and therefore advance, or even enter) in their own fields of expertise, and in addition to women being socialized not to make a fuss about it, the basic attitude at the heart of mansplaining has significant ramifications.

It is the attitude that what women have to say is unimportant, or even worse — unreliable, that is at the heart of various practices that harm women directly. For example, in Saudi Arabia women may not testify in court. In the rare cases they are permitted to, their testimony is deemed “non-factual”. This is particularly onerous if a woman is the victim of a crime, or if she is raped, as the perpetrator’s testimony is deemed more reliable than hers, so she must have male witnesses to the crime, and how often does that happen?

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So every time a guy “gets” it, I feel a small sliver of hope. Here’s one who does: http://roboseyo.blogspot.com/2011/05/let-me-tell-you-about-mansplaining-ill.html.