Tag Archives: Violence against women

Day 7 of 16 Days of Activism: Jamaica

#Day7 of #16Days falls on World AIDS Day. According to UNAIDS Jamaica’s current strategy to combat HIV/AIDS is “Making Human Rights Real” but despite huge successes from the program–“Since 2004, with the introduction of antiretroviral treatment, AIDS-related deaths in Jamaica have dropped by 41% and mother-to-child transmission of HIV has fallen from 25% in 2004 to below 5% in 2011”–budget cuts from the government could hinder that progress. And despite being slightly out-of-date the Ministry of Health does advertise free HIV & Syphilis testing at mobile clinics and is working to empower women to be “smart women” and have condoms at hand.

youth theatre

The smart women of Jamaica are banding together in many ways. Jamaica Youth Theatre has crafted a two-minute video in the hopes of helping to Stop Violence Against Women to add to their repertoire of socially conscious flicks on everything from unintended pregnancy to sexual assault to HIV. Do Good Jamaica is a network of non-governmental and community based organizations (like Women’s Media Watch Jamaica and the Association of Women’s Organizations in Jamaica) that help in all kinds of ways.

In March Jamaica had the honor of hosting the second annual Caribbean Conference on Domestic Violence and Gender Equality. The conference looks like it was a fantastic learning and networking opportunity as it had clinical training for healthcare providers, training for activists using social media, a workshop on “Gender and human rights-based programming to address gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV in LGBT communities,” and discussions on the historical roots of gender-based violence in the Caribbean, disaster and violence against women, best practices in gender mainstreaming, the challenges of dealing with police officers who are abusive to their partners, the role of male engagement in ending gender-based violence, and much more.


Popular Jamaican dancehall artist Ishawna made headlines in October when she disclosed to the public that her well-known ex-fiancé had been physically abusive, and to the surprise of many the country rallied around her, empowering other men and women to speak out against domestic violence. The unfortunate level of violence in Jamaica is not limited to intimate partner violence but violence against children and other community violence is rampant as well. Jamaica’s domestic violence law can be found on the Ministry of Justice website but the Bureau of Women’s Affairs seems to be much more 21st Century as it “is mandated to mobilize the Government to address the problems that confront women, given the impact of patriarchy and sexism.”

wi-logoOne group fighting ferociously to update Jamaica’s laws regarding domestic and sexual violence is the 30-year-old Woman Incorporated. They also operate the country’s national Crisis Center Hotline at 929-2997 for survivors of domestic or sexual violence, and participate in advocacy and public awareness campaigns. This article explains how the laws surrounding rape within marriage have changed over the years, but at the time of publication marital rape is still not criminal in Jamaica. Other laws they are working to change include the definition of rape/sexual abuse of a child, as well as laws regarding parental rights when accusations of child abuse are at hand. 

current jamaica laws


Women’s Resource and Outreach Center is another organization in Jamaica promoting gender equality and combating violence against women; one way they do this is by advocating for quotas through the 51% Coalition. They also organize trainings to empower women in leadership roles:

Under a programme funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), WROC executed a training programme ‘Strengthening Women’s Leadership in Jamaica (SWLJ)’, which was designed to address concerns highlighted in a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded gender research project that showed that little progress has been made in the last decade for women serving on boards and commissions in Jamaica. Training sessions were conducted with ninety three ladies for appointment to public and private sector boards and commissions as well as school boards. A database with the profiles of the 103 ladies trained was later developed and a printed publication was presented to key public and private sector organizations/leaders.

Though there aren’t a huge number of organizations or resources in Jamaica dedicated to ending gender-based violence, it looks like the ones who are there are doing great work. Let’s hope many more future leaders get a head start soon too!

Day 6 of 16 Days of Activism: South Africa

#Day6 of #16Days explores the help available in South Africa, the callously misnamed “rape capital” of the world. Certainly South Africa has an abhorrent track record of sexual assault, especially so-called “corrective rape,” (whereby some misogynist tries to rape lesbians into heterosexuality,) but most countries have embarrassing rates of sexual assault. Hell, any sexual assault is embarrassing.

With a history like theirs though South Africans have taken to the streets and created an astounding number of organizations aimed at bettering society for everyone. The Gender-Based Violence Prevention Network has member organizations in numerous cities throughout the country. The Advice Desk for Abused Women may be reached at 27 31 204 4922. The National Network on Violence Against Women may be reached at 27 012 312 7541. The Women’s National Coalition of South Africa may be reached at 27 11 331 5958 / 331 5958 and beijing@wn.apc.org.



Lifelines has a Gender Based Violence Helpline- toll free line 24hrs/7days per week for more information and counselling: 0800-150-150; an AIDS Helpline: 0800-012-322; and a National Counseling Helpline: 0861-322-322. Women’s Net is another organization that has information about violence against women, as well as many other topics from gender budgeting to governance to HIV/AIDS.

There are some very specialized programs in South Africa.

Agenda Feminist Media is “committed to giving women a forum, a voice and skills to articulate their needs and interests towards transforming unequal gender relations. We aim to question and challenge current understandings and practices of gender relations.”

African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town “is a feminist research unit, committed to political work on the African continent. We focus on writing, publications, research processes and partnerships, network-building and participative learning.”

The Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation has a gender-based violence program which “seeks to understand the root causes of gender-based violence in all its forms in society and to develop strategies of violence prevention for use by civil society and government.”

Childline–08000-55-555–is “an effective non-profit organization that works collectively to protect children from all forms of violence and to create a culture of children’s rights in South Africa.”

Paralegal Advice for Family Law and Violence Against Women. They have information on everything from abortion to marriage, divorce, and custody to death.


Rape Crisis is an organization dedicated to ending the shame surrounding sexual assault. “Rape Crisis has a vision of a South African criminal justice system that supports and empowers rape survivors in all of its interventions. Until such time as this vision becomes a reality we provide that support and empowerment. We believe that the rape survivor is the key to a successful conviction and that her empowerment is based on safety, respect, support and the ability to make informed choices as she embarks on this difficult and challenging journey.”


The Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development provides counseling, training and pubic awareness and advocacy. The Institute “provides counselling through three mediums face-to-face being the most prominent, but telephonic and e-mail counselling services are also used. We thus reach a wider spectrum of people.We are able to provide these services to women and their children for free.”



People Opposing Women Abuse is a “feminist, women’s rights organisation that provides both services, and engages in advocacy in order to ensure the realisation of women’s rights and thereby improve women’s quality of life.” They use a multi-faceted approach to reach their goals.


As an organisation that has been in existence for 29 years, we recognise the need to increase the knowledge and capacity of women’s groups in rural and peri-urban areas where traditionally, access to services such as the Criminal Justice System and clinics are a major challenge.
Due to requests for POWA to open offices in their communities by women’s informal groups, we resolved to empower women within their own communities through the concept of ownership. As an organisation, we therefore provide training, education and mentorship for women’s groups to understand the women’s rights discourse as well as formalise and develop services that respond directly to their particular needs in regards to violence against women.
We currently provide this service to 6 women’s groups in 5 provinces (Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Northwest and Gauteng)


A critical part of engaging in improving the rights of women is influencing national, regional and international policy. As an organisation, we have therefore developed a department that actively writes and makes submissions to parliament on issues that relate directly to our core issues. In addition, we provide expert support to government institutions regarding creating gender sensitive spaces for all women.
From the grassroots perspective, we actively engage in rights education to women’s groups and organisations thus mobilising women’s voices to create the appropriate attention to women’s issues and cause the desired effect of reforms for better laws for the protection of women.


Part of the responsibilities of all branch offices is to engage with their surrounding communities in rights education. This process is done through community meetings , community conversations and formal workshops on understanding Human rights with specific focus on women’s right and access to justice.


POWA recognises that South Africa has a comprehensive constitution, a good legal framework and numerous agreements and policies that are set out to protect women’s rights. These agreements are not only national, but regional (SADC), continental and international.
Part of the failings regarding the protection and access of women’s rights is the limited knowledge of the document framework, capacity and skills to implement and domesticate the substance of the agreements set out by the state.
POWA conducts preparatory workshops and information sessions to enable organisations to learn and choose to engage in the regional strategy. We also work towards creating report back or feedback sessions on activities of such meetings and thirdly, we work towards creating round table discussions for strategies of calling for state accountability on emerging issues.


As an organization, we provide individual face-to-face counselling, group counselling and telephonic counselling to women whom have experienced violence. In addition, we provide child play therapy for children who reside in our shelters of safety with their mothers.
Women can access our counselling through our branch offices. We currently have 6 satellite offices and 2 confidential shelters. Our offices are strategically located in areas for women from economically disadvantaged communities and women from the Johannesburg inner city for easy to access services.
As we provide free services to all women in South Africa, we ensure that access is not an additional challenge to the already overwhelming challenges for women to access their rights. This approach assists with the reduction of women’s vulnerability due to economic/financial dependencies that play a huge role in violence against women. Our activities address issues of safety and security that are fundamental to rights for all in South Africa.

With all of these fantastic organizations working so hard in South Africa, hopefully a violence-free future is awaiting all South Africans regardless of sex, gender, race, age, dis/ability, sexual orientation, or religion.


Day 5 of 16 Days of Activism: Mexico

#Day5 de los #16Days of Activism es sobre nuestro vecino al sur, México. Sabemos que la violencia contra mujeres allá es una vergüenza, pero el país no es sin recursos.


El Instituto Nacional de Mujeres, del gobierno, tiene esta pagina con líneas telefónicas para casi todo el país, estado por estado, porque tod@s merecen una vida sin violencia. La Portal Víctimas de Maltrato Abuso y Hostigamiento Sexual también tiene muchas números de teléfono donde puede conseguir ayuda. Una de las organizaciones más importantes en la lucha contra el feminicidio es Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, que lucha para todas las hijas y mujeres desaparecidas y asesinadas de Juárez, y todo el país. Sus objetivos incluyen:

  • Acompañar y orientar a las familias cuyas hijas han desaparecido.
  • Reclamar la justicia jurídica y social para las familias afectadas, a través de diferentes acciones.
  • Promover programas de rehabilitación ocupacional para atender la salud física y afectiva de integrantes de las familias que lo soliciten.
  • Impulsar la modificación, elaboración y revisión de artículos de la ley contenidos en el Código Penal del Estado de Chihuahua que permiten estos y otros hechos violentos.
  • Informar oportunamente a la comunidad nacional e internacional acerca de los asesinatos, desapariciones y violaciones a los derechos humanos de mujeres en el Estado de Chihuahua.
  • Promover entre ciudadanos y ciudadanas de cualquier país, organismos internacionales, los gobiernos y las ONG´s, que se pronuncien en contra de los asesinatos y desapariciones de mujeres y a favor de un alto a la impunidad de que gozan actualmente estos crímenes.
  • Demandar que desde la comunidad nacional e internacional se obligue a las autoridades locales, estatales y federales de México, a que destinen las personas y los recursos materiales necesarios para la búsqueda de la solución a esta problemática.
  • Difundir pronunciamientos, informes y diagnósticos que organizaciones e instituciones nacionales e internacionales hagan en relación con la situación que viven las mujeres en el Estado de Chihuahua.

mujeres asesinadas

Otras organizaciones en México incluyen Ya Basta de Violencia Contra la MujerEl Centro de Orientación y Prevención de la Agresión Sexual, El Centro Virtual de Derechos Humanos, El Dirección General de Igualidad y Diversidad Social, La Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CONAM y La Unidad de Asuntos Internacionales de la Mujer. Hay mucha violencia en México, contra las mujeres, contra l@s hij@s, contra el medio ambiente, y contra derechos humanos en general, pero también hay muchas personas en México trabajando día por día, para hacer el país más seguro por tod@s.

Day 3 of 16 Days of Activism: Australia

#Day3 of #16Days explores another English-speaking country with a history of English subjugation and genocide against Native people. Just like in the United States 1 of every 3 women in Australia will experience sexual or domestic violence. Available in 28 spoken languages as well as Auslan–Australian Sign Language, 1800RESPECT is the Australian National Sexual Assault, Family Violence Counselling Service. They offer free help to survivors of violence and their friends and family by phone and through chat 24/7. You can learn more about the work they do from their YouTube Page. They also have a map of organizations throughout the country that provide help to Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander women, children and families. Additionally they provide help to service providers from dealing with vicarious trauma to webinars on cultural issues to working with people with disabilities. From their website:

While living free from violence is everyone’s right, reducing violence is everyone’s responsibility. Reducing all violence in our community is a priority. All forms of violence are unacceptable, in any community and in any culture.

Domestic or family violence and sexual assault are the more pervasive forms of violence experienced by women; they can also happen to men. These forms of violence cause significant personal, social and economic costs for all in our community.

The Australian Government Department of Social Services website has crisis line numbers for each territory, as well as the national Mensline Australia–1300 789 978– (a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men) and explains domestic violence and sexual assault this way:

Domestic or family violence can include any behaviours used by one person to establish and maintain power and control over their partner or another person in his/her family, including:

  • physical abuse – including direct assaults on the body, use of weapons, driving dangerously, destruction of property, abuse of pets in front of family members, assault of children, locking the victim out of the house, and sleep deprivation.
  • sexual abuse – any form of forced sex or sexual degradation, such as sexual activity without consent, causing pain during sex, assaulting genitals, coercive sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease, making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly, criticising, or using sexually degrading insults.
  • emotional abuse – blaming the victim for all problems in the relationship, constantly comparing the victim with others to undermine self-esteem and self-worth, sporadic sulking, withdrawing all interest and engagement (e.g. weeks of silence).
  • verbal abuse – continual ‘put downs’ and humiliation, either privately or publicly, with attacks following clear themes that focus on intelligence, sexuality, body image and capacity as a parent and spouse.
  • social abuse – systematic isolation from family and friends through techniques such as ongoing rudeness to family and friends, moving to locations where the victim knows nobody, and forbidding or physically preventing the victim from going out and meeting people.
  • economic abuse – complete control of all monies, no access to bank accounts, providing only an inadequate ‘allowance’, using any wages earned by the victim for household expenses.
  • spiritual abuse – denying access to ceremonies, land or family, preventing religious observance, forcing victims to do things against their beliefs, denigration of cultural background, or using religious teachings or cultural tradition as a reason for violence.

Sexual violence is any behaviour of a sexual nature which is unwanted or occurs without consent. It includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse and rape. Sexual violence is an abuse of power which may involve the use of physical force, threat or coercion.

Some Australians still feel that violence against women is condoned in their country and their culture, much as many Americans do,  and reporting rates are similar as well: 64% of Australian women who experienced physical assault and 81.1% of women who experienced sexual assault still did not report it to police. While progress is being made it’s clear that Australia still has a long way to go.


Day 2 of 16 Days of Activism: USA

#Day2 of #16Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence showcases resources available in the United States to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. We are fortunate in the US to have many, many local programs dedicated to helping survivors of these human rights atrocities, and these national organizations can help you locate them if needed.


The National Domestic Violence Hotline has been highlighted here many times before. From their website:

Operating around the clock, seven days a week, confidential and free of cost, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims to find safety and live lives free of abuse. Callers to the Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) can expect highly trained experienced advocates to offer compassionate support, crisis intervention information and referral services in over 170 languages.  Visitors to this site can find information about domestic violence, safety planning, local resources and ways to support the organization.

The Hotline is part of the largest nationwide network of programs and expert resources and regularly shares insight about domestic violence with government officials, law enforcement agencies, media and the general public. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a non-profit organization established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).


The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network has been highlighted here as well. They describe themselves as:

the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.


Polaris Project

The Polaris Project which I have not had the pleasure of writing about before.

Polaris, named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., disrupts the conditions that allow human trafficking to thrive in our society. From working with government leaders to protect victims’ rights, to building partnerships with the world’s leading technology corporations, we spark long-term change that focuses communities on identifying, reporting and eliminating trafficking networks. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of all that we do — helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and gathering the data to pursue traffickers wherever they operate.

Unparalleled expertise. Relentlessness. And an innovative spirit. This is how Polaris eradicates the slavery networks that rob human beings of their lives and their independence.

Freedom happens now.

DV in the US

The United States is also privileged to host such amazing organizations as ADWAS– The Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Project, The Shalom Task Force, The National Human Trafficking Resource Center and Love Is Respect, plus hotlines for every state in the nation, plus many territories like Puerto Rico. While we still have a long way to go before we’re rid of this scourge, the ever-growing number of resources available to help survivors live free from violence is definitely something to be thankful for.

Day 1 of 16 Days of Activism: The Pixel Project

Today kicks off #Day1 of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence! Everyday I’ll be showcasing resources in different countries that help people live lives free from violence. The Pixel Project has a fantastic running library of Tweets with the contact information for various domestic violence and sexual assault hotlines around the world. Follow them @PixelProject, use #16DaysofActivism or just #16Days, get ready to #OrangeUrHood, and like them on Facebook.

Pixel Project

They have some awesome posts about ways you can participate in stopping the epidemic that is domestic violence, like:
16 Ways to Stop Domestic Violence in Your Community
16 Ways You Can Support a Survivor of Domestic Violence
16 Films About Violence Against Women
16 Ways Men Can Help Stop Online Violence Against Women
16 Ways to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter
16 Tech Innovations That Help the Movement to Prevent and Stop Violence Against Women.

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.


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.

Stop Street Harassment

Since Feminist Activism aims to be the intersection of feminism and strategic nonviolent action, it makes sense that the idea of intersectionality is deeply rooted in everything I do. Nothing exists in a vacuum, so taking one’s gender, race, age, ability, religion, location etc. into account when trying to understand a given situation is a must. This understanding of intersectionality is crucial to a feminist lens and it is with this lens that I will soon be writing in another venue. I have recently had the honor to  be chosen to blog with Stop Street Harassment for the next few months!

tlynnOnce a month from now through April I and other activist writers will contribute to the discussion of street harassment in our corners of the world and ways we can work together to stop it. I will still be writing here at Feminist Activism too, have no fear! But I will also be linking to my articles on the SSH blog. If you would like to share your ideas of how to stop street harassment or tell your own stories feel free to do so in the comments, or by emailing FeministSNVA@gmail.com. You can also tweet @StopStHarassmnt and @FeministSNVA to add to the conversation. Thank you all for your continued love and support!

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