Textual Harassment

It seems that I’m on a bit of a video kick lately. Below is another great campaign for addressing cyber bullying and textual harassment. As technology changes and becomes more of the norm in young people’s lives, it also becomes more commonly used tool for spreading hate. We definitely need to address the root causes of bullying and peer violence when we address root causes of intimate partner violence since they have many of the same risk and protective factors. In plain speak – the skills and methods developed to bully an individual are the same ones used to put down or abuse an intimate partner.

While I really like the ‘A Thin Line’ campaign, I think this particular video lacks something for the viewer to do. Great way to raise awareness and define the problem… but now what? Maybe that’s where we can step in. What can we do to prevent cyber bullying?


Miss Representation Documentary

One of the many ways we work to address root causes of intimate partner violence is through media literacy. The media, as we’ve discussed time and time again, is one place where we receive so many messages about… everything. It is a powerful tool, but also one of the mechanisms that perpetuates violence and unhealthy relationship skills and ideas. A 2010 Sundance Documentary, Miss Representation, explores this mechanism and offers some very critical and powerful glimpses into how the media influences our lives and world.

How do movies and films such as this effect your perception?

Monsters in the Closet

Check out this new PSA put out by the Verizon Foundation. Just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October). The video does a great job discussing the cycle of violence and the effects witnessing violence in the home has on youth.

What are your thoughts? What are other ways of raising awareness?

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.

Examining Our Privilege

Something we encourage all people doing social change work to do is examine their own privilege(s) and how it effects how their relationships. Check out this youth created and produced video about first world ‘problems’.

Note: the ‘first world’ is a term used for ‘developed’ or ‘industrialized’ nations. The counter is usually the ‘third world’ which refers to ‘developing’ nations. Another great exercise for examining racial privilege is Peggy McIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack“. Also a great place for starting conversations on intersections of oppression and racism.

What privileges do you have? In what ways does society make life easier for you due to your race, class, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, education level, gender identity, etc?

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!

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