ChoiceWords Blog

Posts Tagged: violence

Sexual Harassment in the Lives of Working Students

by Moira Bowman, Deputy Director, Forward Together I saved up money to go to college by working in restaurants–and continued working at restaurants my first year of school. Some days I sat fancy people at fancy tables and served them fancy food and cocktails. Other days, I slung what felt like hundreds of plates of deep fried fish cozied up to big steak fries and counted the hours till I could shower off the coat of grease from my face and arms. I haven’t thought back on those experiences for many years–but recently my organization, Forward Together, began working on a research project in collaboration with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) to look at experiences of sexual harassment and assault in the restaurant industry.  And I’ve been taken off guard at… Read more »

“But What About False Rape Accusations”: ‘Ally’ Derailment and Gender-Based Sexual Assault

A while back, a dude started coming to the feminist student group that I’m the president of. He was cisgender and heterosexual (cishet). I’ll call him DudeBro 1. Now, while unfortunately, dudes coming to feminist clubs to talk about dismantling the patriarchy isn’t terribly common, it’s not like DudeBro 1 was the first. And at first, he seemed to genuinely be a dude who, despite not knowing much about it, was interested in learning about feminism, gender equity, and so on. A few weeks after DudeBro 1 started attending meetings, this article featuring alcohol, my campus, the University of Kansas, and sexual assault was released. It rocked my campus pretty hard (you can read my article about it here) and following the release of the article, my feminist group canceled… Read more »

Seeking Justice for Victims while Dealing with an Unjust Prison System

Trigger warning: sexual and domestic violence I will be honest: I hate focusing on perpetrators of sexual assault. I like to focus my energy to make sure that the victim is working towards restoring themselves and that their needs are not ignored. At the same time, we have to think about perpetrators of sexual violence because without them, this issue wouldn’t exist. As a person who works in domestic violence, I often see the brutal effects of sexual violence on victims. I know personally, I struggle with the desire to dehumanize perpetrators of violence. When I hear about horrible violence, I want to send that perpetrator straight to prison.

No More “White Knights”: On Plans for a Steubenville Movie and Silencing Survivors

Circling the feminist and progressive blogosphere the past few days has been the news that Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B Entertainment, is apparently making a movie about Steubenville—from the perspective of Anonymous, not Jane Doe herself. There was a considerable amount of dissent over the notion of a survivor being silenced in her own narrative, and it’s been discussed in detail about why making the members of Anonymous who raged a social media onslaught concerning the case the “heroes” (the subset of anonymous which the work operated under is known ironically as the “white knight operation”) is problematic. Yet there were afew voices that considered the angle of “White Knights” to be an acceptable one.

3 Things You Can Do for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is sexual assault awareness month. If you are a college student, you might be aware of this because April is when campuses host Take Back the Night. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “the month of April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.” This year’s SAAM campaign is about “healthy sexualities and young people.” Studies have shown that young people are not immune to sexual violence. The 2013 NO MORE Study, which “explored attitudes toward, and experience with, dating abuse/violence and sexual assault among teens aged 15 to 17, and among young adults aged 18 to 22”… Read more »

#WhatWomenNeed, Valentine’s Day and Beyond

I loved All Above All’s Valentine’s Day twitter campaign. The simple #WhatWomenNeed was a great way to raise awareness about abortion coverage. It got me thinking about the big picture. What women need, for Valentine’s Day and beyond. Narrowing the list down to 5 was difficult. This is certainly not comprehensive. But I think it’s a good place to start. 1. Sexual assault needs to be taken seriously: Sexual assault is an epidemic. Ms. magazine reports that “1 in 5 women will experience a rape or an attempted rape at some point during college.” Activists, students, women and their allies have been campaigning for decades in the hopes of getting the public and our government to take sexual assault seriously. There have been many articles and books and blog posts written… Read more »

Project Unbreakable and New Young Organizing

Sometimes social justice can be exhausting. Trying to convince the general public that issues like abortion, birth control, and sexual violence aren’t only important for women, blogging consistently, attending meetings, organizing protests – a social justice advocate’s work is never over. This work can be emotionally draining and every once in a while, I find my commitment wavering. I’m tired, I’m busy, and I’m stressed about my future so why should reproductive justice be one of my priorities? At times like that, when I feel tired and unsure and dare I say uncommitted, I turn to blogs like Project Unbreakable. The site, founded in 2011 by then 19-year-old Grace Brown, features pictures of survivors of sexual assault holding one or more posters with the words of their attacker. These startlingly… Read more »

Navigating Masculinity on the Fence of the Gender Binary

I got up this morning and left my house, fully intending to get to the office and start working on a development plan for the new year. That’s what I should be doing right now. I should be working on a development plan. Instead I’m writing this thing. I’m writing this thing because sometimes, for my own sanity – to slow down my crazy swirling brain – I just have to write stuff down. And because this morning, as seems to increasingly be the case since I moved from the country into the big city, I crashed into myself yet again. I crashed into the reality that my perception of myself – my inherent knowledge of myself, really – doesn’t always match the way(s) I’m perceived externally. And once again… Read more »

I Am A Woman

Trigger warning: this post contains references to sexual assault and victim blaming.  It was in the back pew of a church where I first learned the universal truth That because I am a woman I am made to be raped, whether it’s with a wine bottle, or that thing between your legs, or even by a state sanctioned invasive medical procedure to tell me that I am not my own but a thing to be ruled and oppressed A woman I was taught through too close bodies and far too anxious hands that “no” means “yes” and “yes” means “whore” I was told that I should be thankful because fat girls don’t get attention, especially black girls, and boy was I lucky They threw words at me like bricks “Situational” and “boys… Read more »

On Being A Woman and Afraid

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them.  Women are afraid that men will kill them.” – Margaret Atwood I’m pro-choice. I believe in a woman’s right to choose all kinds of things, things like: what she wants in a partner what she wears what she studies (or if she wants to study at all) what she does for a living whether or not to have children and with whom where to live how to live what to eat who to love how to present herself what strangers she wants to talk to how much alcohol she wants to drink what she values who to sleep with and when and how and why where to be and at what time