Archive for the 'sexual harassment' Category


just say vagina

just say vaginaVagina.  There, I “said” it.  Now that it’s out in the open, let’s talk about it.

In honor of Women’s History Month I viewed the documentary “V-Day:  Until the Violence Stops.”  This is a powerful film which depicts the V-Day movement across the world; stripping away the silence associated with sexual abuse against women.  It all started with “The Vagina Monologues” and has reached around the globe empowering and liberating women.

Why don’t we talk about it?  Shame.  Embarassment.  Fear.  Guilt.  Doubt.  Living in a patriarchal society easily instills women with the belief that they are “lesser than.”  That they too are to blame.  That they asked for it or somehow deserved.  And even if they don’t believe all that, families and friends either don’t know how or want to talk about it.  The result?  Victims remain invisible.

Though women need to rise up and share their stories in order to both liberate themselves and help others heal, I’ve heard it said that the key to stopping sexual violence against women is in educating men.  If a man learns how to respect women and see them as equal, they will not violate their human rights.  This seems like an obvious, after all, we don’t teach our little boys how to rape, do we?  So I guess those who behave this way do so due to biological factors –it’s not because they are influenced by society in any way.

Women can demand respect.  Women can protect themselves.  Women can stand united.

But until men stop seeing the vagina as a part of his rights as a man, women will not be free.

Men we ask that you respect us.  Men we ask that you protect us.  Men we ask that you stand with us.  United and free.

For more information on the V-Day movement:  V-Day Movement


sexual harassment in science

sexual harassment in the sciencesAs long as we remain silent, those in power will continue to abuse it.  No matter how many times we say it, it appears that raising our voices is not enough, as this female anthropologist learned.  We must unite and take action in order to eradicate sexual harassment and assault.

Thanks to the inspiring female friend who is also a scientist for sharing this article with me.


We need a hero?

superheroDo women need a hero or an avenger?  Or both?  For centuries women have been depicted as the helpless maiden who needs a knight to rescue her – look at Disney movies.  But what happens when prince charming doesn’t come?  What happens when those who should be “saving” start abusing, raping and killing women and no one answers the call of justice?  In the case of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a woman must rise up.

The L.A. Times reports on who they are calling a “black-clad avenger,” as killing two bus drivers in the Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.  This is a city where women have not had a voice and men, including police, have not sought justice for those voices who have been silenced.  According to the article (found at the link below), many women who work the night shift at the city’s area of industry have become victims of the bus drivers who they depend upon for transportation.  We’re not talking about a small number here – hundreds of women over the past 20 years have been attacked and killed with very few investigations turning up the perpetrators.

A note left by the supposed female avenger, identifying herself with the name of the Greek goddess Diana, the Huntress – but in this case she is the “Huntress of Bus Drivers,” reads as follows:

You think because we are women we are weak, and maybe we are. But only to a certain point…. We can no longer remain quiet over these acts that fill us with rage.

And so, I am an instrument who will take vengeance.

Why must it come to this?  In an age of superheroes, corruption and a lack of justice, it’s no surprise that society should produce an avenger or find a need to resurrect a powerful Greek goddess.  Now police are all over the murders of two men.  But what of the countless women who have been murdered over the years?  It is only because of this woman’s violent acts that attention has been brought to those who would otherwise been cast into the darkness.

Will the city respond with revenge on this female avenger/goddess?  Will justice be brought to those mothers, daughters, sisters and wives?  And if so, will it only be as a result of this equally violent incident?

Either way, perhaps this one woman has reached her goal:  justice will be served.  Or will it?

Read article at:,0,4220840.story


Seen but not heard

lips_wideweb__470x305,0Many people believe that women have reached equality.  But if you look at today’s headlines, you’ll see that this is not true.  The system continues to hold women in a place of submission to men.  How can we change the preconceived notion that women are treated as equals?

Take the case of Mayor Bob Filner.  There is so much evidence just in this one case that supports the reality of women’s oppression.  Firstly, the clear abuse of power in the male dominated system enables men to commit sexual harassment without consequences.  If the system were equal, Filner’s behavior would have been corrected immediately.  Granted, we don’t elect someone based on their character, but on what they promise to deliver once given the power and responsibility.  Unfortunately, this power continues to be a source of abuse.  How do we draw clear boundaries for those in power and hold them accountable?

Sadly, the trend continues to be scandal.  Threatening someone’s reputation, going public and endangering the perpetrator’s career seem to be the tools available for women to be heard or taken seriously.  What upsets me most is the length of time it takes for women to step forward because of the nature of the system.  Women are put into positions where if they report harassment, their livelihoods, reputations and way of life could be put at risk.  Yes charges have been filed and yes others are coming forward, but why did these women have to wait to share their stories?  These women felt that they had to compromise their self-worth in order to maintain the positions they had worked so hard to obtain.  Unfortunately, standing up in our society means challenging the patriarchal system which currently favors the perpetrator.  How many of these incidents play out just this way – behavior is swept under the rug while women are transferred or threatened to remain silent or their complaints are simply dismissed.

We’re living in a knee-jerk, reactive society where those who are in power to make the rules don’t abide by them and little to nothing is done to prevent them from doing it.  How many of you have received training at your work place for sexual harassment?  I have held four jobs in my life time and none of them provided training. Sure, they had policies for reporting sexual harassment, should the behavior occur, but little is done in the way of prevention.  So is it our job as women to prevent sexual harassment?  How can people learn what is unacceptable behavior if they are not taught?  It may sound ridiculous that someone should need to be trained about sexual harassment, but in our sex-driven society, lines are being blurred as the media objectifies women, using them to sell just about any product on the market today.

Ironically, people don’t want to talk about.  Society wants women to be seen, but not heard.  They want to flip through their magazines, go onto the internet, watch TV and movies and see beautiful women who don’t say anything about sexual harassment.  But it’s not just men who don’t want to talk about it, many women feel uncomfortable breaching the subject.  Sexual harassment is a source of shame as women have been taught to believe that they somehow asked for it, deserved it, or that it’s part of the job or even that it’s comes with being a woman.  When I was a young child, a family friend rubbed my crotch in broad daylight as I sat on his lap in a park.  As a child, I didn’t understand why he did it, but I knew it felt wrong and told my parents.  Unfortunately, they didn’t understand or know how to handle it, shocked that a friend of theirs would do such a thing.  There was no education, training or open dialogue about sexual harassment or molestation at that time.  The incident went unaddressed, like countless others in our society.  What does that teach women about their worth and position?  How did it form my view of women and men?  Have we come much further?  Awareness has improved and support for women, but until we actively pursue prevention in the form of training and increased accountability, women will continue to be victimized.

It’s just another source of control.  The root of the problem goes far deeper than sexual harassment: it’s about male perspective.  Still think women have reached equality in our society?