Tag Archives: Take Back The Night

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)

5 Apr

Hello to my powerful, dynamic readers! Did you know? It’s April aka SAAM aka a great time to attend free events that are open to the public that provide information and insight about the social problem of sexual violence. And you KNOW I’m gonna be at those Madison, WI events!! Here’s the… I hope you’ll join me!

Chimera Self Defense Designed for Women – April 11th from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Madison East High School.

Chimera teaches women of all cultures, ages, backgrounds, and physical abilities that they have the right and ability to protect themselves from violence. Space is limited in this FREE workshop. Call (608) 251-5126 x10 to register or email Chimera@danecountyrcc.org. Sponsored by the .

Excerpts from Film “Very Young Girls” – April 13th at 6:30 p.m. at Lussier Community Education Center.

Excerpts from the film “Very Young Girls” features the Director of G.E.M.S. (Girls Education Mentoring Services) in New York City as she works to help girls who are victims of sex trafficking. Producers of this documentary hope to change the way law enforcement, the media and society as a whole view sexual exploitation, street prostitution, and human trafficking that is happening right in our own backyard. Light dinner served before viewing. Post-film viewing discussion facilitated by Annette Sallay of . April 13, 2012, dinner at 6:30 p.m., film viewing at 7:00 p.m. at the 56 South Gammon Road, Madison, WI. For more information contact annette@respectmadison.com, or (608) 283-6435 x10. Sponsored by Project Respect.

 SAFE (Yes! I will be teaching this!) Self-Defense Class Fundraiser for Lilada’s Livingroom- April 15th from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at Monona Terrace.

A women’s empowerment event to raise funds and awareness about sexual assault and violence against women. In this fun and dynamic class, women will learn to recognize and avoid dangerous situations, communicate assertively, escape various grabs/holds and strike with power and accuracy in a safe, women-only space.
• Great Entertainment!
• Fabulous Door Prizes!
• Women of all ages and stages!
The proceeds raised from this event will help to fund healing services to young survivors of sexual abuse and our Teen Mom Empowerment Programs.
Suggested Donation: $5 for students, $10 for adults
ADDITIONAL DONATIONS WELCOME!
Please make donations via:

Sponsored by Lilada’s Livingroom.

 Keynote Speaker, Jaclyn Friedman – April 17th at 7:00 p.m. at UW Memorial Union (TITU).

, editor or “” (and one of my heroes!) will be speaking about her new book “What You Really Really Want“. Her interactive presentation discusses the mixed messages that women receive daily about sex and safety, “separating fear from fact, decoding the dangerous message all around us, and discovering a healthy personal sexuality.” (I will be there as a representative of the Dane County RCC!) For more information email uwpaveoutreach@gmail.com.Sponsored by UW PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment).

Cover art from

(I will be speaking at this!) Take Back the Night – April 19th at 5:00 p.m. on UW Madison Campus

A broad-based community event that will focus on violence in our communities. It will include a march to the state capitol, speakers, a candlelight vigil, and a speak out. For more information visit Sponsored by UW Campus Women’s Center.

Speaking at Take Back The Night rally, April 2010

 Healing through Art and Movement – April 20th from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at 16 N. Hancock Street, Downtown Madison.

Come to an open house and explore creative experience that promote creativity and vitality. Art therapist Laura Teoli will talk about experiental treatment for depression, anxiety, and eating disorders at Rogers Memorial Hospital. Grace Valentine and Tara Rollins, dance/movement therapists at Hancock Center, will talk about the importance of grounding, finding reconnection with the body, and experiencing the joy of movement. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP appreciated but not required. For more information, please call (608) 251-0908 or email grace@hancockcenter.net.

 RCC Spark – An Online Auction to Benefit RCC - April 23rd

A group of concerned Dane County residents are hosting an online auction, , to help the RCC. Local goods and services, memorabilia from national celebrities (Elton John, Lisa Loeb, Kenny Rogers, Cheap Trick) plus many fun experiences and meals with local VIPs (Rep. Peter Barca, Matt Rothschild) will be up for bid. Winning bidders donate their high bid amount directly to RCC. All items/services will be revealed and open for bidding for one week, beginning April 23rd at noon. Auction ends April 30th. For more information, please contact Meg Rothstein at megrothstein@gmail.com.

 ”The Purity Myth” – April 26th at 7:00 p.m. at UW Memorial Union.

A based on‘s hit book, ““, is a critique of society’s obsession with virginity and how it affects girls and women. For more information, email uwpaveoutreach@gmail.com. Sponsored by UW PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment.

 Sexual Health Fest – April 27th from 10:00am-4:00 p.m. at Library Mall.

Resource fair with tables from many organizations. I’ll be there repping the Dane County Rape Crisis Center from 12:30-4pm! Sponsored by .

 Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon – April 28th from 12:00-2:00 p.m. at Bethel Lutheran Church located on 312 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison.

The Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon recognizes the extraordinary work being done throughout Wisconsin and honors the outstanding work of individuals and organizations that have exceeded the highest standards in their efforts to end sexual violence and support survivors. Tickets are $20.00 per person. For more information, please visit the event page at . Sponsored by .

 Wrap Around the Capitol – April 28th from 2:00-3:00 p.m. at the North Hamilton entrance of the Capitol, Madison.

Wrap Around the Capitol, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Saturday, April, 28th North Hamilton entrance of the Capitol building, Madison. We will encircle the Capitol to show our support for survivors of sexual violence in the observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We will meet at the North Hamilton entrance immediately following the Voices of Courage Award Luncheon. For more information, visit .

 Big Read, selections of “What You Really Really Want” by Jaclyn Friedman – April 30th (I’ll be there!) and May 1st at 7:00 p.m. at UW Memorial Union (TITU).

Using research, reality-based advice, revealing quizzes and creative exercises, “What You Really Really Want” will show readers the way to separate fear from fact, decode the dangerous messages all around us, and discover a healthy personal sexuality. For more information, email uwpaveoutreach@gmail.com. Sponsored by UW PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment).

On SlutWalks And Sisterhood

13 May

Slutwalks, Sisterhood and Safety: Divided We Fall

I am relatively new to Twitter, and my head is SPINNING following the discussion around #slutwalks.

The Background: What is a SlutWalk?

In January 2011, a Toronto police officer addressed law students at a safety presentation saying “You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Although he after a massive public outcry, his comments are part of a larger problem—1) That people mistakenly believe that rape has anything to do with what the victim is wearing, 2) That victims are routinely blamed for crimes committed against them while perpetrators are routinely defended and 3) That we as a society have consistently used words like ‘slut’ to shame women and attempt to control female sexuality to ever-changing standards of what is seen by whoever speaks loudest as ‘normal’ and ‘appropriate’.

In response to these issues, activists   on April 3, 2011 in the first SlutWalk, an international movement. Many activists have identified SlutWalk as an updated version of (TBTN) rallies.

TBTN marches (since the first in Philadelphia in 1975) demand an end to rape, so that the streets and the night will be safe for all. Many in the sexual assault prevention field have criticized TBTN as out of date because we now know that the VAST majority (75-85%) of sexual assault is perpetrated by someone the victim knows, often in a home and often involving alcohol use on the part of the perpetrator and/or the victim. The scenario rarely involves a strange attacker jumping out of the shadows.

SlutWalks, in contrast, aim to communicate that rape is part of a rape culture– and that culture needs to change. More specifically, a culture that says that women who dress “a certain way” are “asking for it”. A culture in which the media reports on what an 11-year-old girl was wearing at the time of her gang rape, and adds how difficult the aftermath was for the perpetrators and their families.  A culture that perpetuates the idea that men are animals with no self control who can’t and won’t hear the word no if a woman is ‘dressed like a slut’ because she is too attractive or, more accurately, because she is not worthy of respect.

Since the recent , in which Jaclyn Friedman gave a truly poetic and inspiring which is quickly becoming a part of the history of this movement, there has been a backlash against SlutWalks as a form of activism, including from some feminists.

The Controversy: Why SlutWalks make many people uncomfortable

1)      Some people think SlutWalks are meant to encourage ‘sluttiness’

First of all, that is not the point of SlutWalks. The point, as one protester’s sign put it so well, is that “Sluts don’t cause rape. Rapists do.” The point is, when women get dressed to go for a date or to go have fun with their friends, they shouldn’t have to think to themselves, “Hmm, if I wear this, will people disrespect, harass and assault me?” Rather, they should think, “What do I feel good wearing?” regardless of whether or not their particular brand of personal expression is seen as acceptable by others.

Secondly, this plays into what activists refer to as ‘slut-shaming’, which Jaclyn Friedman denounces so beautifully. “Because the secret truth nobody wants you to know is that, using nearly any definition, there’s nothing wrong with being a slut. Not a thing. It’s OK to like sex … And as long as you’re ensuring your partner’s enthusiastic consent, and acting on your own sexual desires, not just acting out what you think someone else expects of you? There’s not a damn thing wrong with it.”

2)      Some feminists take issue with the word ‘slut’

I don’t think everyone involved in SlutWalks agrees on this point, but some have stated they want to reclaim or take back the word ‘slut’. Many feminists, myself included, do not believe that it is possible to reclaim words in this way, because you can’t reclaim what was never yours to begin with. Slut is a derogatory word with no male equivalent that has been systematically used to justify violence of all kinds. On the other hand, it is a word that gets people all riled up—and hey, there’s no such thing as bad press! Many activists argue that using such an incendiary word brings energy to the movement, and on this point I believe they are correct. How else did the fire spread so quickly? There are SlutWalks being organized all over the world right now. It’s been less than 2 months since the first event was organized and young activists can’t get enough. Some people may be upset, but the point is to raise awareness of the issue and boy, has it got people talking!

3)      Some people think that women only ‘dress like sluts’ because they think that is the only way to get attention and love, because they have poor self esteem, because they have been brainwashed by the media, etc.

This is not about why women dress the way they do. It’s about women’s right to dress however they wish without fearing harassment and violence. Also, I think it would be an incredibly arrogant for anyone to make the assumption that they know about a person’s inner desires based on how they dress.

4)      Some people are offended when women are not appropriately ashamed of their bodies and sexuality.

I don’t know what to say to these people other than, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

SO. This is the Twitter storm I have been following for the past week, and I’m getting so dizzy, I feel a little sick. Here’s why.

As well-known young feminist and writer Jessica Valenti asked during the : “Why don’t you spend more time attacking rape culture instead of young feminist activism?”

Indeed, anti-SlutWalk feminists and do seem to be quick to come down on the free expression of other women on this one… While I may agree that Wente and Dines may be missing the point from up there on their high horses—can’t we just agree to disagree?

I understand why activists are bristling at seeing their movement twisted in the media by those who would probably be better off doing some supportive shrugging and saying, “Hey, it’s not my thing and I don’t quite agree with the messaging, but good for them for getting young people engaged in raising awareness of sexual assault and double standards!” What I don’t understand is why the response to opposing viewpoints has often been catty and downright mean.

I’m reading posts and tweets that criticize others for making assumptions in one breath, and go on to make assumptions about that person in the next. I’d like to see some more sisterhood at play here. I’d like to see young activists reaching out to SlutWalk-opposed feminists and say, “Hey, I’m sorry you disagree with our activist expression, but I respect you for working to support women in your own way. It’s a free country and women have been silenced enough without us trying to silence you for disagreeing. Thanks for stirring up debate and upping our press coverage. Peace, sister!”

Because ever since the inception of the women’s movement, women have struggled to stand united. We’ve got more differences that we do similarities, as a group. The women’s movement struggled to include lesbians and women of color and working class women. Now it struggles to include both women who think women can dress however they want and use whatever words they want, and women who think there should be boundaries in how we dress and speak. All these women agree on equality and a woman’s right to live free from violence.

United we stand, divided we fall. Let’s get it together, sisters.

And for those of you in my neck of the woods, join me at on June 4! Stay tuned for photos and more from the event.

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