21 November 2011

Ms. Foundation Gathers Grantees Against Backdrop of Penn State Tragedy

Against the backdrop of the tragedy at Penn State University, the Ms. Foundation for Women convened our grantees working to end child sexual abuse last week in Minneapolis. Nearly 20 leading organizations from diverse regions of the country and a wide range of fields – including sexual assault, child abuse prevention, domestic violence, arts, faith, and policy advocacy – came together to discuss short- and long-term strategies.

The network represents an emerging movement to end child sexual abuse that aims to raise consciousness about the root causes of abuse and offer innovative strategies for prevention. With its ambitious goal of eradicating child sexual abuse, the network is evaluating strengths and gaps in current approaches and establishing a framework through which alternative solutions can be developed.

The network includes CONNECT, Darkness to Light, Stop It Now!, generationFIVE, Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, Massachusetts Citizens for Childrens Enough Abuse Campaign, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service, Peace Over Violence, 1 in 6, Ping Chong & Company, Prevent Child Abuse America, Prevent Child Abuse Maryland, Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, Samaritan Counseling Center, Tewa Women United and Teach Our Children. (Clink the links to read their responses to the abuse at Penn State.)

While the Penn State crisis has brought renewed attention to the child sexual abuse epidemic, network members agree that a shift in priorities to more prevention-centered solutions is necessary. We can’t turn back the clock at Penn State, but it’s not too late to prevent child sexual abuse in communities across the country. Now is the time to support this emerging movement!

08 November 2011

Sexual Harassment Begins Early

More than half of all girls in grades 7-12 experienced sexual harassment during the 2010-11 school year, according to a survey released by the American Association of University Women. The study included student-on-student sexual harassment experienced in person or electronically through texting, email or social media.

Among the harmful effects of sexual harassment, one-third of the victims said it made them feel sick to their stomachs, affected their study habits or made them reluctant to go to school. Let’s repeat that: The harassment was so upsetting that it made the victims physically ill.

Yet, only 9 percent reported the incident to an adult at their school.

Julie Zeilinger thinks she knows why. As founder of the FBomb, a blog written for and by young feminists, Julie has her finger on the pulse of teenagers. At the “Sex, Power and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 Years Later” conference, which the Ms. Foundation co-sponsored, Julie spoke about the gender conditioning the younger generation has experienced. Despite all of the progress our society has made, many boys still feel entitled to demean girls sexually. And many girls, for their part, simply shrug it off.

Thirty-nine percent of perpetrators in the AAUW study said they were just trying to be funny. But there isn’t anything funny about sexual harassment, whether it’s in the schoolyard, on the street or in the corporate environment.

Until we focus on the underlying culture that permits casual sexual remarks in our own adult daily lives, we won’t be able to protect our daughters from the attacks that so physically sicken us all.

02 November 2011

Women as Public Intellectuals: Jane Jacobs Forum Nov. 8 in NYC

Can you imagine New York City with a huge elevated expressway cutting through the East Village and Lower East Side? Well if it had not been for Jane Jacobs and a pioneering group of urban planning activists downtown, New York would now exist in the shadow of an elevated highway. The grassroots collective took on the might of Robert Moses and City Hall and successfully campaigned to preserve their neighborhood and safeguard the fabric of a living and vital city.

Jane Jacobs was an urban thinker, a public activist, and a grassroots organizer. She used her personal experience as an engaged citizen to change the way Americans think about cities, society, and neighborhood activism. Her legacy has influenced urban planners, architects, designers, engineers, activists and artists -- pretty much anyone who thinks about public space and collective responses to bureaucratic policy.

We are pleased to invite you to celebrate this fantastic legacy -- and the legacy of other similarly engaged citizens, Rachel Carson and Betty Friedan -- at the 2011 Municipal Art Society Jane Jacobs Forum, Women as Public Intellectuals. The November 8 event will feature a discussion among journalist and urban critic, Roberta Brandes Gratz; professor and MSNBC commentator, Melissa V. Harris-Perry; author, Sally Helgesen; and activist, Urvashi Vaid. The panel will be moderated by Robin Pogrebin, arts and culture reporter for the New York Times.

Without courageous women like Jacobs, Carson and Friedan, public life and activism would be a very different beast. We all owe a debt of gratitude to these intelligent, impassioned and inspiring women.

Event details:

Tuesday, November 8
The Elebash Hall
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
New York City

Learn more and RSVP.