Inspiration Station

I know it’s a bit old (from 2007), but a colleague sent this out on the Prevention listserv. It’s wonderfully uplifting and inspirational. The entire basketball team and school show us what compassion and a culture of love and support can do.


Did ‘Family Guy’ go too far?

Last week, the hit FOX show, Family Guy, satirized a case of Domestic Violence. The show has come under very heavy criticism for taking it ‘too far’ (See ‘Showbiz Tonight’ Clip), and after watching half of the episode (I couldn’t really handle watching the entire thing), I would have to agree. While the writers of Family Guy have pushed the envelope on many issues and topics, flirting with that fine line between satire and profane, this time they not only perpetuated many myths about domestic violence (abusers are alcoholics, uneducated, jobless deadbeats and the victim is a stupid, weak person that enables such behavior or ‘likes it’), but they also fail to offer any real or useful tools for bystanders to intervene or offer support in a safe way.

The episode begins with Quagmire in the hospital. His sister, Brenda, and her abusive boyfriend, Jeff, go to see him. The verbal abuse and put downs begin immediately and the rest of the group simply looks on. Later in the show, the other characters try to offer support, but end up only victim blaming. The end solution is to kill Jeff (because abuse isn’t a learned behavior and people can’t unlearn the controlling behaviors – sarcasm). What was most disturbing to me was that through out the episode, Peter made jokes that not only continued to reinforce stereotypes and perpetuated myths, but were also abusive and derogatory towards the victim. While I know being upset and outraged will not accomplish anything, I still am. The advocate in me says there’s a teachable moment here, and an opportunity for a dialogue. But where to start?

When you see a piece of media that is particularly outrageous, how do you break it down? Where can we begin dissecting this web of opportunity?

Want more thoughts on the Family Guy episodes? Check out Opt4!

Advertisements or Child Pornography?

I couldn’t help but notice the startling trend in several articles lately. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe there’s something in the water. Regardless of if there is some catalyst or simply my increased awareness, I can’t help but feel queazy at this increase and hyper-sexualization of girls. Not just teens and tween that’s been the trend for several decades, but young girls. Prepubescent girls who want nothing more than to play and learn (like all children). While I know this has been an issue plaguing our culture and is one of the many mechanisms in which young girls are trained, conditioned and socialized on proper gender roles, I can’t help but to continue to feel outraged and downright nauseous.

There are two articles that have been glaring red spots on our radar, one reports of a mom making her 4-year-old wear fake breasts for a beauty pageant, and the other is a new French line of lingerie for girls. Both make the startling statement that girls can (and should) be viewed in a sexual manner and it is ok to objectify them for an sake of selling your product. Jean Kilbourne has been discussing the objectification of women in advertisements since the 1970s. One of her main arguments bringing to light that this objectification and dehumanization of women and girls makes it ok to enact violence against them. Think about it. If we don’t see women and girls as human, but instead a collection of body parts and pieces, then we don’t need to treat them as such. This type of break down brings with it several things, but most importantly clear messages to both adults and youth. It also reinforces very rigid gender stereotypes about females and males. Especially what their roles and interests should be. It takes the Disney Princess hoopla to an entirely new level – above the pink and frilly to the seductive and sexual.

How do these examples contribute to violence against women? Do they? What other messages can this be sending our girls?


Big Win for Women’s Healthcare

Last week, a new law was passed in efforts to make preventative healthcare more accessible to all women. The law requires that health insurance providers must provide birth control for no co-pay. In addition, health insurance providers must also cover breast pumps for nursing women, annual “well-woman” physicals, screenings for viruses that cause cervical cancer and diabetes during pregnancy, counseling services for domestic violence survivors, and other services without co-pay. The law is based on existing scientific and medical literature which harps on the benefits of preventative health care. While the monetary value will be made up by spreading the cost of other insurance holders and result in higher premiums, it ultimately helps ensure women are able to access the necessary resources for preventing unintended pregnancies and other preventable illnesses/diseases.You can read more about the piece of legislation here.

Through preventing unintended pregnancies and providing the access to necessary contraceptives and information, we are empowering the women in our communities. We know that unintended pregnancy is often the reason girls drop out of school or don’t pursue additional educational opportunities. It also allows women to plan and space births allowing their bodies to recover after a pregnancy. Access to birth control and reproductive services through health insurance is even more important as we see free or cost-reduced providers (such as Planned Parenthood) come under attack and lose funding. In addition, providing easier access to counseling services is another huge win! Not only will this allow survivors access to much needed counseling services, but it could also allow providers easier access or leverage to obtain necessary specialized training on domestic violence.

However, there are a few additional items to consider. Since the cost will be made up elsewhere or in higher premiums, this could limit who is able to afford health insurance. This also does not provide any additional access to the almost 53 million uninsured Americans. In short, the new law is a huge win and step in the right direction. It’s a testament to what can be achieved if we continue to work for equality for all walks of life. We will celebrate this victory and use it as motivation to keep moving and working for change.

How to Help Teens Recognize Teen Dating Violence

NPR’s Talk of the Nation ran a segment on teen dating violence called “How to Help Teens Recognize Teen Dating Violence”.The piece discusses some of the barriers teens have to reporting and what adults can do to help. Great segment! Check it out!

Female perpetration of dating violence on the rise

For the past year, we’ve been seeing a lot of studies and heard  anecdotal claims of females more commonly being the perpetrators of dating violence. This is highly concerning since much off the current focus has been on curbing male perpetration of violence. While these new studies have informed our focus and development, we’ve taken them with a grain of salt since the studies primarily relied on self-reporting or self-disclosure from youth. However, recent local crime stats are confirming what the conclusions drawn from the national studies. See this article from the Gainesville Sun about the rise in female perpetrated crimes.

Given this developing trend, how can we address violence against women AND by women without reinforcing stereotypes or creating new, unhealthy ones? How can we use this as an opportunity for growth? Where’s do you see the silver lining?

LGBT Pride Month

June 29th, President Obama spoke on LGBT issues at the White House for Pride Month. You can read the transcript here or what the video below.

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