Eight Ways to Support Awareness of Gender-Based Violence


So much has happened this year, even this month, it’s difficult to see Domestic Violence Awareness Month come to a close and be satisfied with the public’s level of awareness until next year. From Ray Rice and other athletes to Gamergate, violence against women is seeping out of every corner of our culture. And it’s got to stop.

Anyone, of any gender, can be a perpetrator or a victim of violence. But women and LGBTQAI folks (compounded of course by race, ability, language, immigration status, class, age, etc.) experience harassment, sexual assault, stalking, dehumanization, intimate-partner violence, and structural violence at an astoundingly higher rate than men. Women can’t be in public without being subjected to street harassment and violence.

Until we take violence against women seriously, whether that’s on the street, or on the internet, or in their own home, our society will not grow, will not be equal and will not benefit from the full strength of its members. What can you do about it? Here are eight simple things:

1) VOTE. Mid-term elections are crucial to electing members of our democracy who represent our interests at the local and state levels. If you fail to vote you are letting those who are most vocal speak for you. I live in Texas, I know how dangerous that is.


2) Encourage your employer to partner with Safe Horizon to help survivors of domestic violence get the help they need, and not lose their jobs in the process.

3) Demand that all survivors of sexual assault and rape who have a uterus have the option to take emergency contraception if they so choose. I truly don’t understand how this is even up for conversation. Along the same lines, contact your representatives about the backlog of rape kits in your area.

Molly Ivins

4) Give to your local sexual assault and/or domestic violence shelter, or national organizations like No More, RAINN and Love Is Respect. You can also text WNYPASSTHEPEACE to 41444 to donate to putting an end to domestic violence.

5) Remove language from your vocabulary that suggests, makes light of, or condones sexual or domestic violence. Replace excuses with conversations, like how come Michael Vick (who served jail time) was more vilified than Ray Rice? I think that warrants a new hashtag- #AintThatSomeVictimBlaming? If you don’t follow my train of thought let me know in the comments and I’ll clarify it for you.

6) Fight for affordable housing. Not only does it help your community in general, it helps survivors of domestic violence in particular.

7) Speak up in social media.
-Follow @SayNO_UNiTE, @PixelProject, @StopStHarassmnt, @Hollaback, @GlobalFundWomen, @WomensLaw, @BreaktheCycleDV, @RAINN01, @NuestrasHijas, @NDVH, @loveisrespect and others like them on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram.
-Give 669-221-6251 to the person who will not stop asking for your phone number.
-Take on violence, threats, stalking and general misogyny on the Internet with hashtags like:
-Others can be used to call for an end to sexual violence, victim blaming, and general awareness of DV like

8) Take your battle into the streets.


Earning a Living Making a Life


As longtime readers will know, for the past two years I have worked for two different causes I am equally passionate about. People who aren’t my co-workers are often surprised by how much I love the work I do. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to pour themselves into doing what they love, and fighting for something they believe in, so with that in mind I’ve compiled a list of not-for-profit organizations, both in Austin and elsewhere, so that any of you, dear readers, who want to commit yourselves to working for change, can have a starting block from which to do so. Keep in mind a lot of non-profits or non-governmental organizations may only have volunteer positions or internships, but it’s a great way to gain experience and get your proverbial “foot in the door.” Don’t forget to check your local Craigslist and Idealist listings too. In no particular order, here’s a partial list (come back soon for more!) of organizations I have bookmarked on my computer to get you started:

Survival International- The global movement for tribal peoples’ rights

Native Planet- Preserving Cultures, Empowering People.

Minority Rights Group International- Working to secure the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples.

International Women’s Tribune Center- Connecting women globally for social change

Population Action International- Healthy Families, Healthy Planet

PeopleFund- Creating economic opportunity and financial stability for underserved people

Equality Texas- Envisioning a state where all Texans are treated equally, with dignity and respect

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation- Transforming the lives of urban children living in poverty through better health and education

Foundation Communities- Creating housing where families succeed in Austin and North Texas

Guttmacher Institute- Advancing sexual and reproductive health worldwide through research, policy analysis and public education

Fellowship of Reconciliation- Working for peace, justice and nonviolence since 1915

CARE- A leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Travis County- Speaking up for children who have been abused or neglected

Open Democracy- Free thinking for the world

Transcending Boundaries- Providing education, activism and support for persons whose sexuality, gender, sex, or relationship style do not fit within conventional categories

National Network to End Domestic Violence- Dedicated to creating a social, political and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists

Colorlines- News for action

Women’s Information Network- Democratic. Pro-choice. Women.

World Pulse- Connecting women’s voices to transform our world

Mama Cash- Giving grants to women’s girls’ and trans rights groups that are working to change the world

The Peace & Collaborative Development Job Board- one of the premier sites in the world focused on international development, peacebuilding, humanitarian relief, social entrepreneurship, international affairs and more

The Center for Health and Gender Equality (CHANGE)

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development- an international, multi-generational, feminist, creative, future-orientated membership organization committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and women’s human rights

The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault- to create a Texas free from sexual violence

The National Domestic Violence Hotline- Over 17 years of advocacy, safety planning, resources, and hope


Judgment Day


Woohoo! I STILL HAVE A JOB! (For now.) Eat $#!+ Rick Perry.

Thank you Judge Lee Yeakel!!!

Champion for Women's Health

Champion for Women’s Health

#LaLuchaSigueYall #StillStandingWTXWomen #TX1YearLater #WeWillNotYield #ThankYouJudgeYeakel #NOHB2 #ProChoiceTX #TangerineVagilantes #UnrulyMob #ComeAndTakeIt


Modern Family, Modern Masculinities

modernfamily photo

If you’re not already watching Modern Family I hope that I can convince you that it’s worth your time. The family friendly prime time comedy highlights three branches of a modern family through the spoofed lens of a European reality show. No laugh track, no forced audience applause and the occasional deadpan look straight into the camera make for a comedy that is a lot more realistic, and therefore lovable, than other shows on TV. Now, I’m not one to watch a lot of television but from the first episode of MF I saw I was hooked. Of course there are the issues around only showcasing traditionally attractive, nondisabled, (mostly) white folks, and for a long time showing the unrealistic portrayal of families where one parent, usually the women (can afford to) stay at home with the kids, which very much deserve to be addressed, but today I’d like to focus on one of the things Modern Family is getting totally right: its portrayal of the complexities of modern masculinities. I’ll try not to spoil anything if you haven’t seen the show/episodes yet, but no promises.

Jay and StellaJay Pritchett: The oldest member of the family, portrayed by Ed O’Neill of Married… with Children fame, Jay is a “man’s man” who golfs with his buddies, tells fish stories and remarried a gorgeous Latina woman half his age after divorcing the mother of his adult children. Jay is still a member of the old guard when it comes to masculinity, there are some things he thinks men just shouldn’t do, but he has definitely matured through his gradual acceptance of his gay son Mitch and his partner Cam. He rags on his son-in-law Phil regularly but it’s mostly out of love, and sometimes we get the feeling that Jay wishes he could be more like Phil. Jay tends to motivate by raising his voice, gets out of trouble with his wife Gloria by buying her gifts, and shows his family his love by buying them vacations too. Through the five years MF has been on air Jay has learned to show affection, even if it is only to his French Bulldog Stella. O’Neill does a fantastic job bringing to life the struggles of an older man starting over again, trying to get it right the second time around as a (fantastic) step-dad with a new baby in his 50s, and adds heart a the character who has few opportunities to be vulnerable. Throughout the series though we have seen this tough guy cry, sing Gladys Night to his grandkids, be embarrassed and achey and oh so human. Jay Pritchett is a character we all know, and it’s good to see that our influence is boosting his tolerance of the changing world around him.

Jay Mitch and Cam

LukeLuke Dunphy: Played by real life genius Nolan Gould, Luke is often thought of as a dumb, sweet kid. He shares many of his father Phil’s tendencies towards invention but is sometimes thwarted by his own criticism. As he’s grown up he has rebelled slightly against the very close bond he and his father shared for the first four seasons, but it’s clear he’s still Phil’s favorite. Some of his harebrained ideas really are quite genius though, like hiding his sister’s college acceptance letter because he’d miss her. As the youngest child in the Pritchett household he is quite independent yet occasionally shows a deep love and need for his family. In many ways Luke is a typical boy/young man, just trying to figure out how to skate by but have fun doing it. He often pairs up with his oldest sister Haley to rib the sister between them, Alex, for being a nerd but is usually grateful for her help with school projects. As he grows up Luke becomes more and more witty. Let’s hope the fact that he’s good with electronics, while academic overachiever Alex can’t even figure out the remote, remains one of the only hyper-masculine pigeonhole he’s written into. In fact Luke actually expressed discomfort with being selected by one of two twins based on physicality alone, but that didn’t stop him from making out with her. I’ll be very interested to see how his character develops as he goes through high school.

Luke and Phil

Mitch2Mitch Pritchett: Mitchell, like his other half Cam, both falls into and extinguishes gay stereotypes regularly. Jesse Tyler Ferguson (a gay man playing a gay man?! *gasp*) brings Mitch to life and makes you want to loosen his tie and take him out for a drink. His high-strung legal mind and organized manner stand in stark opposition to Cam’s flamboyancy and that of their gay friends Pepper, Longinus, Crispin and Jeaux. He has moments of queenliness too though, like when he and Cam ask their daughter “Who wore it better?” or when reminiscing about his childhood days of figure skating. He regularly jokes that his sister Claire is the son his dad Jay always wanted, but over the years they have grown closer through their trials and much of Mitchell’s success can be attributed to the pragmatism and work ethic he picked up from dear old dad. Mitch is the one who holds the family together, not in an emotional rock kind of way, but in a he’ll-make-sure-all-the-paperwork-is-correct way. Although his demeanor is consistently more masculine than Cam’s, because this stands in such stark opposition to the ways society thought of gay men for so long the character of Mitchell is even more challenging to heteronormative ideas of masculinity. He may not be as affectionate or fun as his partner but MF does a great job of showing how much Mitch and Cam rely on each other in myriad ways as they parent together and work to keep the spark alive. Mitch sums up their relationship to the gay community nicely when Cam is trying to figure out a way out of attending a wedding: “We’ll just make an excuse. We could say ‘We’re not going to any more weddings until the gays can get married.’” To which Mitch replies “Oh, now we’re political? We leave town on Gay Pride Weekend because we don’t like the traffic.”

Claire Jay and Mitch

ERIC STONESTREETCam Tucker: Cameron Tucker is a super interesting juxtaposition of superstar jock and star of the musical. Having grown up on a farm in Missouri he’s not adverse to hard work but is comfortable with his partner, Mitch, being the breadwinner. As a straight man Eric Stonestreet has said he based Cam’s mannerisms and demeanor on his mother, and the result has been Emmy Award winning. Even conservatives have learned to love this gay man. From shrieking in a crisis to destroying the kitchen making French toast with his adopted daughter Lily, Cam definitely can fall into the flaming stereotype. But for every instance where his portrayal of a gay man as partner and father is predictable there is a gentlemanly masculine counteraction. And then there’s Fizbo…. From coaching football to directing the choir to “punkin chunkin” Cam is a gloriously complex example of how human traits are pigeonholed into masculinity or femininity. The best thing about Cam, and Mitch, is that they are both aware of their strengths and their shortcomings, so much so that they often acknowledge their need for each other to be balanced. They squabble and diet and get into fender benders and gossip, but both as individual characters and as a couple they are so amazingly human and lovable you always find yourself rooting for them.

Mitch and Cam

mannyManny Delgado: Native Texan Rico Rodriguez gives voice to Manuel Delgado, who may be Colombian by heritage–he’s not afraid to wear a poncho to school or play his pan flute–but is mostly just an old soul who’s grown accustomed to the finer things in life. From sipping espresso to writing poetry Manny is a hopeless romantic and started out completely fearless (except butterflies). As he’s grown up his character has realistically become more self-conscious, yet retains all the charm and class he’s always had. Though he’s forgetting Spanish, to his mother’s dismay, Manny intuitively understands things that would go right over most boys’ heads. He’s not athletic, he’s not tough or strong, but he debuts a whole new understanding of what coming-of-age masculinity can look like in America. He’s stylish and sophisticated and just wants to find someone who will love him for who he is. I have high hopes that he will continue to be respectful, insightful and open-hearted.

Jay Manny Gloria

and finally

PhilPhil Dunphy: Phil, portrayed by Ty Burrell, is the reason I wanted to write this post. As an affluent, straight, white, able-bodied man he doesn’t sound too challenging to the typical discourse on hegemonic masculinity in the US, but he so is. Phil regularly says things that people interpret the wrong way such as “It’s Luke’s career day. I thought I’d offer the kids a chance to put their face on my body.” He was a cheerleader in college, is a self-dubbed “cool dad,” and has his feelings hurt when his wife Claire doesn’t realize he’s trying to look nice for her. Successful realtor by day and magician, tightrope-walker and inventor by night, Phil’s whimsical, creative side is never put away. Phil loves his dad, his wife and his kids, is not ever afraid to cry and just wants to earn his father-in-law Jay’s respect. He’s impulsive and reckless and always tries so hard. He’s hands down one of the most loving characters, let alone men, on television. Vasectomy or not I hope that nothing ever changes all the soft, fluffy manliness that is Phil Dunphy.

Phil with the girls

A Wing & A Prayer

So much has gone on in June I can’t even keep up with my emails, let alone blog to you about all of it. But, while watching a female fan of Costa Rica sob in the stands of the World Cup after Greece scored, it struck me that many of you don’t know the grizzly truth behind the World Cup, and many other high-stakes sporting events: they’re hotbeds of domestic violence and sex trafficking. There are certainly a number of programs and organizations that are seeking to utilize sports to spread peace, but the current state of affairs is a sad one for victims of interpersonal violence.


Back in 2011 a study was published, Beware, win or lose: Domestic violence and the World Cup, and its findings were shocking. When England lost in the 2010 World Cup domestic violence rates rose by 31.5%, and when they won, they rose by 27.7%. But no one seemed to notice this study, so Lancaster University completed a similar study, and found similar numbers. After analyzing the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups, rates of domestic violence in England rose by 38% when the national team lost, and by 26% when they won. These figures prompted English police to issue warnings to high-risk offenders of domestic violence leading up to the World Cup and lead Tender to create this chilling PSA.  With the World Cup raging on another two weeks, gun violence rampant in the US, and minor celebrities like Robin Thicke stalking his estranged wife on the most public of scales, what I ask of you is to pray to #GetHerBack to safety. All people – regardless of gender/identity, sexual orientation, age, race, religion, dis/ability, language, class, education or location – deserve to be treated with respect in their relationships. Period.


So the Wing is the Football/Futbol link, and the Prayer is where you come in, dear reader. What I ask of you is to pray for all survivors of domestic violence, pray for the lovers in Nigeria and Algeria today whose partners lament their teams’ losses, and pray for the lovers in Germany and France whose partners are voracious in their teams’ victories. Pray for all the people in all of the countries who are experiencing domestic violence, and then go act in your community. Donate your time or money or supplies to your local DV shelter. If you hear something that concerns you call the police. This life is all we’ve got, everyone deserves for it to be as safe and long and healthy as possible.

1 goal

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence call 1-800-799-SAFE within the United States 24/7 for help.

Misogynist Mass Shootings

In light of the misogyny fueled murders in Isla Vista, California on May 23rd I wanted to share a paper I wrote for graduate school back in 2011. It’s all still sadly true. Rest In Peace kids.


Students mourn the loss of life at UCSB

Analyzing Misogyny as a Challenge to Peace

Every year in the United States thousands of people are murdered by someone with a gun. In 2005 alone the number of shooting-related homicides exceeded 10,000.[1]  In 2003 a full 50 percent of women killed in homicides, where the weapon could be identified, were killed by guns, in single female victim/single male attacker scenarios.[2]  In 92 percent of these cases the women murdered knew their attackers. Periodically in the United States a number of women are killed all at one time, by one attacker with multiple guns (or one semi-automatic gun). While faulty gun-control laws and a broken judicial system are certainly challenges to peace, this paper will focus on misogyny as a major obstruction to peace in the USA and the ways in which peace education can combat the hatred of women.

On March 3, 1998 Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, stalked their classmates outside the Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas and shot 15 women and girls, killing one teacher and four students.[3]  On September 27, 2006 Duane Roger Morrison, 53, entered Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado and sexually assaulted the six female students he had taken hostage. After releasing four of the hostages Morrison killed one girl and then himself as police rushed in.[4] Five days later, on October 2, 2006 Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, entered a schoolhouse in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, sent the boys and adults out of the room, lined up the remaining 10 girls, aged six-to-13, along the wall and shot them, killing five, before killing himself.[5]  On August 4, 2009 George Sodini, 48, entered the LA Fitness gym in Collier Township, Pennsylvania and shot 12 women, killing three, before turning the gun on himself.[6] This list of heinous hate crimes committed by men and boys from adolescence to middle-age against women and girls does not include the numerous other mass shootings that have taken place in which the perpetrators were men and the victims men and women. Young men in America are taking their anger out by shooting women but there is no public outcry against hatred of women because “we have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence against females is more or less to be expected.”[7]

With so many incidences of deadly gun violence perpetrated by men in the United States, many people wring their hands wondering what is to be done to prevent such large-scale tragedies from occurring again. The problems faced are complex, and while it may seem easier to label each of the perpetrators of these gruesome crimes as mad men, “the vast majority of homicidal violence is perpetrated by men who have severe disorders of personality or character, but who are not technically ‘insane.’”[8] The non-fatal violence committed against women on an everyday basis–beatings, rape, assault–are individual examples of the overwhelming misogyny drowning American society. Commentators in mainstream media incorrectly identify mass shootings not “as different by degree, but by kind, because unlike most men who commit this kind of hate crime”[9] [domestic violence] the shooters overwhelmingly did not know their victims. In reality the mass shootings of women by men are merely magnified instances of violence against women and “few if any voices in mainstream media have discussed the connection between guns, violence, and American ideals of manhood.”[10] In 2005 alone 1,181 women–an average of more than 98 women per month–were killed by their partners.[11]  As a society, America must do some serious moral revamping if it wants to abolish its culture of misogynistic mass shootings and violence against women. To end the structural violence of misogyny, many institutions will have to undergo massive shifts in thinking, including the education system, the legislative system and the media, among others. This essay will focus on the institution of education.

Misogyny functions within the sexist system of patriarchy in the United States. To clarify, sexism is “systematic discrimination against women. Misogyny is the hatred of women that allows men… to feel entitled to beat women, discriminate against them, and control them. The patriarchy is… the overall system of male dominance that’s aimed at controlling women… and funnel[ing] women into social positions that are in servitude towards men. The patriarchy also has set roles for men, and a pecking order for them.”[12]  These explanations form the reasoning behind many definitions of feminism and are the motivation for the extensive number of gender studies programs cropping up in high schools, universities and graduate schools around the world. While feminism–the belief that all people, regardless of gender/sex/sexual identity/expression/orientation, should be equally valued and have equality of opportunity–is not taught in most schools across the country, strict gender roles that reinforce male superiority over females are. No ideology of hatred or inferiority should be taught in school but they are ingrained elements of the education students receive in the US.

All of the men and boys who have committed mass shootings in the United States were educated by this same institute of patriarchy. “It is impossible to separate those men’s feelings and their chosen response to them from their societal context, which includes how we define manhood, how we socialize boys, and yes, how young men learn – how we as a culture teach them – that blowing people away with guns represents the ultimate assertion of manly resolve, competence, and reclaimed honor.”[13] In the United States education system, in addition to performing poorly in literacy tests, it “is boys who are more likely to quit school early, to be in special education, to have behaviour problems and be suspended or expelled. Boys are far more likely to skip their homework, arrive at school without books or pencils and cause a disturbance that gets them kicked out of class. Boys are more likely to commit suicide or to be arrested.”[14] And boys and men are considerably more likely than girls or women to be the perpetrators of violent crimes like assault, rape, and murder. Given these bleak facts, it is obvious that America’s socialized gender roles are harmful to boys and girls alike, and it is imperative that the education of youth in America be revamped.

“There are many risk factors for violent behavior – family patterns of behavior; violent social environments; negative cultural models or peers; alcohol and/or drug abuse; and availability of weapons. Addressing some of these factors directly in school can inoculate children against risky behaviors.”[15] Peace education is the key not only to ensuring that boys and girls learn the materials taught in school, but also to stamping out misogyny and violence for future generations. In traditional teaching methods, such as the “banking method,” teachers project “an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression….” Within this ideology “the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects.”[16] This “us versus them” mentality generally proves to be harmful.  Whenever someone is made to be the “Other” s/he suffers for it. When children are the “Other” they are subjected to the demands and ideas of the teacher – whatever they may be. This method of teaching “serves the interests of the oppressors, who care neither to have the world revealed nor to see it transformed.”[17] Because most educators are not aware of their own misogyny it can be very difficult to explain to them how their everyday behavior is supporting systematic sexism and hatred of women.

Due to the fact that most teachers in the United States are from the US, they have been raised in a patriarchal society with the same subvert misogyny that is a root cause of violence against women as the mass murderers. Because their students are “receptacles” they too get filled with not only their teachers’ ideas of proper gender roles (i.e. men are doctors and women are nurses) but also the value judgments placed on each gender (i.e. men are more logical and women are more emotional and their respective positive and negative connotations). “Millions of men in our society – and across the world – use violence against women as a way to control them or punish them for not fulfilling some role the man wants or feels entitled to from her – or from women in general.” When boys learn that society considers them superior to girls, girls must conversely be taught that as far as society is concerned they are inferior to boys. It is imperative then that teachers do everything in their power to teach that every individual, male or female, has equal worth and equal right to bodily integrity, personal opinions, and access to information and services. Social learning theory poses that children learn from observing the behaviors of others and will adopt the behavior if there is significant motive or reward for them to do so. When boys act tough and receive praise from classmates, older students or siblings and parents, this reward is internalized. Similarly when girls are praised for being “so polite and quiet” by teachers and parents they learn that women are supposed to be nice, pleasing, and unobtrusive. To combat the negative affects of strict gender roles teachers should model respect for all people and encourage constructive problem solving. Students should be rewarded regularly by teachers and parents alike for good behavior and recognizing equality in all people. Only when children are rewarded equally for the same types of good behavior will gender differences fade away.

In “many formal schooling systems, the integration of nonviolence principles in policies, programs, curricula and teaching-learning environments has expanded in recent decades. These programs essentially promote values and practices of conflict resolution and violence-prevention to overcome a culture of violence in schools and communities (e.g. bullying; gangs; corporal punishment; assault on teachers).”[18]  This culture of violence can no longer be tolerated by teachers, administrators, students, families and society. In a way that eerily mirrors the adult world, boys perpetrate most of the violence in schools, thus, boys must be educated to deal with their emotions in a healthy, non-violent manner, and be rewarded for articulating their needs and concerns, and solving conflicts through respectful dialogue. Scholastically every child must be taught that all people are of equal intrinsic value. All children must be taught that they have the right to express their feelings and how to deal with conflict in a healthy, non-violent manner. Birgit “Brock-Unte pointed out the devastation that militarism, war and male violence wreaks on females and argued that feminism is the starting point for effective disarmament. She pointed out that societies not at war were not necessarily peaceful societies because they still had considerable domestic violence.” Thus, it is no surprise that feminists have urged “schools to change their curriculum away from a competitive to a caring focus…”[19]to work towards gender equality.

“Greater gender equality will reduce the pressures on men to conform to damaging and rigid forms of masculinity. This is likely to, for example, reduce men’s ‘violences’ (i.e. violence in all its forms), and help to improve community safety and develop peaceful conflict resolution. It will also contribute to raising the next generation of boys (and girls) in a framework of gender equality.”[20] The structural violence of gender inequality is harmful to both men and women but some sectors of the United States are in a process of peacemaking. “Critical education and empowerment of ordinary citizens to be active in the peace-building process has been vital in the successful steps towards building nonviolent societies.”[21]

One important step all educators can take to end misogyny is to mind their and their students’ language. Language that alienates people also dehumanizes them and makes inhumane actions towards them possible and sometimes acceptable. Hopefully at some point the bastardizations in the English language that allow blanket statements to be made about whole populations will disappear (i.e. men are rational). People should hold one another in high enough regard to appreciate everyone’s differences and use terminology that is in no way derogatory, disrespectful or suppresses their individuality. Likewise gender should be brought up when it is appropriate and left out when it is not. In elections across the nation in 2010 female right-wing politicians verbally castrated their male opponents with gendered epithets such as “man up.” “In a country that sees masculinity – especially violent masculinity – as the ideal, it’s no wonder that this type of language resonates. But it’s a sad state of affairs when women in politics have to resort to using the same gendered stereotypes that kept all women out of public service for so long.” In a misogynist patriarchy like the United States the worst insult for anyone is to be feminine or feminized. This leaves women, who are “supposed to” be feminine, between a rock and a dangerous place.

“In discussions about violence, it is more accurate to use gendered words like ‘men’ and ‘boys’ whenever possible, as they comprise the vast majority of perpetrators of violent crime. It is not helpful to pretend that violence is a gender-neutral phenomenon, and it does not advance violence prevention efforts.”[22] By challenging the way men and women talk about themselves, their feelings, and each other, change in their mindsets is inevitable. The language people use is a key insight into their worldviews; thus, if what people are saying is modified what they are thinking will eventually also be modified. Educators have an obligation to stop the spread of such lies as “boys don’t cry” and insults like “you throw like a girl.” While very common, these simple phrases can be very harmful, perpetuating structural violence and gender inequality, and when backed by advertisements that continually show aggressive men and passive women, the combination can be deadly. And what is not being said is just as important as what is being said. “The failure even to discuss the relationship between cultural ideas about manhood and the pandemic of gun violence in our society runs across the board politically.”[23] The media, politicians, educators, and average citizens all have a responsibility to speak out against injustice, no matter how unpopular the truth might be.

In addition to overhauling the education system in the US legislation must be passed to enforce sensible gun ownership laws as well as to dole out appropriate punishment and counseling for criminals, such as stalkers, who often become more violent as time goes on. All forms of media–from TV to movies to radio and music to advertising to newspapers–must also take a stand against misogyny. Men’s sense of entitlement to and ownership of women’s bodies is fueled by the media’s sexist advertising.  Jean Kilbourne states in the third installment of her series of landmark films scrutinizing the use of women in advertising, Killing Us Softly 3, “Turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step in justifying violence against that person.”[24] The media must be challenged to find another marketing gimmick–women must not be objectified and seen as commodities. The inequalities present in modern America have been stewing for hundreds of years, if not longer, therefore it will take a considerable amount of time for the bad habits of America and Americans to be broken. The task is not impossible though: overcoming misogyny is happening, one learning experience at a time. To un-teach sexism and hatred of women all of American society will have to undertake the chore of minding its tongue, reworking the sexist ideas imbedded within our lexicon (i.e. “rule of thumb”), and acting with compassion towards all people. The education system in the United States needs to undergo a complete overhaul of values, principles and methods if it is to overcome sexism. But revamping education alone will not eliminate misogyny or prevent another hyper-masculine display of violence through the mass slaying of women.

[1]“Expanded Homicide Data Table 7.” Sep 2006. The Federal Bureau of Investigation. 9 Sep 2009 <http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_07.html&gt;.

[2].”Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Incidents.” When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2003 Homicide Data. Sep 2005. The Violence Policy Center. 9 Sep 2009 <http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2005.pdf&gt;.

[3].”Shooting at Westside Middle School.” SchoolShooting.org. 25 June 2009. Washington Ceasefire. 9 Sep 2009 <http://schoolshooting.org/attacks/westside-middle-school-jonesboro-ar&gt;

[4]Associated Press, “Details from Colo. school shooting emerge.”MSNBC 1504103728 Sep 2006 1-2. Web.9 Sep 2009. <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15041037/&gt;

[5]“Fifth girl dies after Amish school shooting.” CNN.com. 3 Oct 2006. CNN. 9 Sep 2009 <http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/10/02/amish.shooting/&gt;

[6]“Police: Gym shooter ‘had a lot of hatred’ for women, society.” CNN.com. 5 Aug 2009. CNN. 9 Sep 2009 <http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/08/05/pennsylvania.gym.shooting/&gt;.

[7] Herbert, Bob. “Why Aren’t We Shocked?” NYtimes.com. 16 Oct 2006. The New York Times. 26 Jan 2011 <http://select.nytimes.com/2006/10/16/opinion/16herbert.html?_r=1&n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists%2fBob%20Herbert&oref=slogin&gt;

[8] Katz, Jackson. “Teachable Moment in Tucson: Guns, Mental Illness and Masculinity.” Huffintonpost.com. 17 Jan 2011. Huffington Post. 26 Jan 2011. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackson-katz/teachable-moment-in-tucso_b_809963.html&gt;

[9] Marcotte, Amanda. “These crimes don’t happen in a vacuum.” Pandagon. 5 Aug 2009. 26 Jan 2011. <http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/these_crimes_dont_happen_in_a_vacuum/&gt;

[10] Katz, Jackson (ibid).

[11]“Bureau of Justice Statistics Homicide Trends in the United States: Trends in Intimate Homicide by Gender table.” Bureau of Justice Statistics. 11 July 2007. US Department of Justice. 12 Sep 2009 <http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs//homicide/tables/intimatestab.htm&gt;.

[12]Marcotte, Amanda. “Misogyny v. sexism v. the patriarchy .” Pandagon. 9 Apr 2008. 10 Sep 2009 <http://pandagon.blogsome.com/2008/04/09/7023/&gt;

[13] Katz, Jackson (ibid).

[14]Spears, Tom. “Boys’ school problems unique, severe, largely untreated.” The Edmonton Journal. 9 Sep 2009 1. 10 Sep 2009. <http://www.edmontonjournal.com/health/Boys+school+problems+unique+severe+largely+untreated/1974157/story.html&gt;.

[15]Salomon, Gavriel and Baruch Nevo, eds. Peace Education: The Concepts, Practices and Principles Around the World. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002. Print.

[16]Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2000. Print.


[18]Toh, S.H.. Pathways to Building a Culture of Peace. 1st. Queensland, Austrlia: Multi-Faith Centre, Griffith University, 20007. Print.

[19]Salomon, Gavriel (ibid).

[20]“Man Made: Men, masculinities and equality in public policy.” Coalition on Men & Boys. 1st ed. 2009. Print.

[21]Toh, S.H. (ibid).

[22] Katz, Jackson (ibid).

[23] Ibid.

[24]Killing Us Softly 3. Dir. Sut Jhally. Perf. Jean Kilbourne. DVD. Media Education Foundation, 2000. Film.

Global Reflections on Street Harassment

Since January I and other bloggers from around the world have been writing for the Stop Street Harassment Blog. For me participating in the conversation about street harassment has been a cathartic experience, allowing me to reflect on how I deal with being harassed and how I view the men in my community who are harassing me and others. To bring Sexual Assault Awareness Month to a close, I’d like to leave you now with an overview of the past four months of the Stop Street Harassment Blog.

CreeperMove-HollabackDesMoinesIn April I wrote about the clash of sexism and racism when someone is harassed by a member of a different race. Ultimately no matter how many people of any given race harass you, they are still acting alone, and it is crucial that their sexism does not fuel our racism. Rocio Andrés of Spain also explored the individualism of harassers, but delved more into their humanity than I. She reminds us that they too are products of the society that we create, so we must try to continue to view them as human. She urges that understanding street harassers is not excusing them, but it is crucial to learning how we can prevent harassment to begin with.

In March I explained why self-care after being harassed is so important. Joe Samalin of New York listed TWENTY-NINE THINGS men can do to stop street harassment. 29! Katie Monroe of Philadelphia gave a shout out to HollabackPHILLY’s dance party and fundraiser put on by Get Lucid! which took place on April 5th. Also in March Rocio wrote about a missed opportunity to travel to Cairo as sexual assault and bombings stood in her way of exploring street harassment in the motherland. Pallavi Kamat of India wrote about the underlying causes of street harassment in Mumbai. Kriti Khatri of Nepal explained how street harassment can escalate to other, more severe forms of sexual violence. Brittany Oliver of Baltimore interviewed a woman in her community about street harassment and how it affects her. Joe also wrote in March how men’s silence in the face of harassment makes them allies to the harasser, not women. Brittany also wrote about Hollaback! Baltimore and their efforts to utilize local businesses to fight street harassment. And early on in March Katie explored how street harassment affects women cyclists in Philly.

bike womenThough February is a short month a lot was written by the Stop Street Harassment Blog cohort. Kriti looked at how using public transportation contributes to women being harassed in Nepal. Rocio contrasted the realities of sexual violence in places like Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina to the good things that are happening to combat street harassment in other places. She wrote about violence in war stating, “We love durings. As if there were neither after nor before.” Powerful stuff that! Pallavi highlighted some of the successful community engagement projects of Blank Noise in India. I dove into the link between street harassment and teen dating violence for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Sandria Washington of Chicago challenged the idea that more crossing guards would reduce girls being harassed on their way to school. Jeanette R. of California talked about racial profiling of men as a form of street harassment.  Joe explored how men can start to realize just how pervasive street harassment against women really is. February started with Andrea Ayres-Deets of San Francisco tearing open the ever-important idea that street harassment limits women’s political participation and participation in strategic nonviolent action.

In January Brittany encouraged everyone from Baltimore to Cairo to Meet Us on the Streets and give voice to the harassment that overruns society. Kriti highlighted the organization Astitwa and its success in changing how Nepali police address street harassment. Katie contrasted the differences between gender-based street harassment and bicycle-based harassment. For the anniversary of Roe v. Wade I wrote about the harassment of women seeking abortions and abortion care providers as a form of street harassment. Rocio explored how things like Scotland’s “Single Woman Policy” are just band-aid solutions to the gaping wound that is sexualized gender-based violence. Finally, back at the beginning, Pallavi reminded us that the streets are not only full of harassment, but in India they are far too often where young women go to die.

I’d like to thank the Founder/Executive Director of Stop Street Harassment, Holly Kearl, for giving me this opportunity to learn and share and grow.


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