This past January, a Toronto police officer told a group of citizens
that the key to women avoiding sexual assault was to not dress like "sluts."
The remark sparked justified outrage; Slutwalk Toronto
was born, and on April 3, over 1000 protesters took to the street
to spread the message that "being assaulted isn't about what you wear...but
using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an
environment in which it's okay to blame the victim."
When navigating the exciting choosing-a-college process, few parents or students likely take into
consideration the number of sexual assaults reported by that university; bottom line, we trust our institutions to keep us and our loved ones as safe as possible. But recent events at
other institutions raise the question: are schools looking out for
their own best interests or their students when it comes to reporting
sexual assaults and other related incidents?
Support and encouragement can be one of the most helpful
things to a survivor of sexual violence, and YWCA makes it their goal to
do just that. Offering many support services Jeanette Castellanos Butt
and her team at YWCA Metropolitan Chicago work to give survivors the
resources they need to rise above sexual violence.
Angela Rose is a crusader for victim's rights. As founder of PAVE (Promoting
Awareness Victim Empowerment), a
multi-chapter, national non-profit, she transverses the country on a mission to
shatter the silence that surrounds sexual assault.
Fighting for women and their rights can at times be an
uphill battle, but this is the battle that Kaethe Morris Hoffer
, Legal Director
at Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
(CAASE), fights every day. She
gives a voice to the women and men who have survived sexual assault.
Denise Rotheimer's daughter, Jasmine, was 11 years old, she and her 14-year-old
cousin went to a sleepover at their aunt's house. There, their 22-year-old
cousin, Michael DeSario, lured them into a game of truth-or-dare, spiked their
juice with hard liquor and committed an act of sexual violence against them.
This past Saturday in Detroit, audience members who paid $150 to see Charlie "Tiger Blood" Sheen take the stage turned against him within 20 minutes, booing his attempts at entertainment. The 5,100 seat Fox Theatre went from sold out to only a few hundred patrons as Sheen paraded his "goddesses" around and shouted, "I've already got your money, dude," in response to hecklers.
I'd like to say that guests who left the show had the good sense to abandon a sinking ship; unfortunately, they already had the bad sense to buy tickets in the first place. So let's call it a wash.
One could be fooled into thinking the negative Detroit reaction signals a turning of the tides against Sheen. But I'm not really holding out hope.
Today is the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month
, founded in 2001
to "promote a degree of national unity in voice and action regarding SAAM
activities, to encourage interaction and feedback from across the
nation, and to build momentum based on previous years' activities."
Ten years later, the statistics are still shocking:
Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day
; it's also the eighth day of Women's History Month. Following these two topics on Twitter over the past week, the response can basically be broken into two camps: celebration of the day by sharing informative links and wishing one another a happy International Women's Day; and skepticism for why a "women's" history month and international "women's" day are necessary.
Ostensibly, my recent chat with Tamara Kreinin
, executive director of Women and Population at the United Nations Foundation, was supposed to be about International Women's Day
. And while it was, we also got sidetracked into talking extensively about Tamara's recent trip to Haiti. Her observations were too insightful not to share. (For more background on the issues faced by women and children in Haiti, read my interview with CARE President Helene Gayle here
.) Here, Tamara talks about how the earthquake has impacted gender-based violence, maternal health and education for girls, as well as how the women of Haiti are increasingly taking matters into their own hands to improve their situation.
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In a hospital in the Northern Nigerian city of Kano, a woman has given birth to twins behind a flimsy sheet curtain. The second birth was severely delayed; with only four doctors employed by the entire hospital, no ob-gyn saw her during the delivery.
She hemorrhages blood onto the floor, a red pool slowly spreading beneath the metal frame of her hospital bed and creeping toward the toes of her caregivers, exposed in their flip-flops. The nurse midwife, Aisha Bukar, paces, while the woman lies expressionless on the bed. Despite the massive blood loss, there's nothing the Aisha can do for the patient, Sakina. In Murtala Mohammad Specialist Hospital, which sees 30 delivers every 24 hours, there is no blood for this mother, and so her husband, Muhammed, has left on his moped to procure her rare blood type from another hospital or a private blood supplier at the price of $68 per pint--or about three-quarters of his monthly salary. Precious minutes tick by as the stain of blood spreads with no source to replenish it.
The Joint Economic Committee
has released the top 10 facts central to understanding how American women have been affected by the economy in 2010, pulled from it's report, "Invest in Women, Invest in America" (December 2010). To anyone familiar with these topics, none of this comes as much of a surprise, but it's a good refresher nonetheless. Read on for unemployment stats, wage gap updates and more.All stats and information from JEC report.
The other day, I had a conversation (via Facebook, of course) with a college friend about our favorite Disney movies, and how our views of them changed as we grew up. She argued for the strong female lead in "Pocahontas," but I have a hard time getting over the many cultural issues in the film's portrayal of "pilgrims and Indians." I love "Beauty and the Beast" for its book-worshipping, nerdy Belle, but her true love does, at one point, imprison and hold her captive. We both once adored "The Little Mermaid," but, as my friend pointed out, Ariel was both pantless and voiceless when she met the prince. "A half-naked woman who can't talk back," my friend cracked. "Talk about every man's dream."
In light of the Senate's plans to hold a cloture vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act
this week, WGN-720 AM radio and Mike McConnell
invited me on this morning to discuss the bill's implications and the reasons for the gender wage gap.
Well, folks, it's over. Rallies summoning somewhere between
87,000 and 600,000 people (depending who's counting), accusations of witch-craft, whore-dom, lies and socialism, a few slaps, and the mid-term elections have come to an end. And mostly I feel....tired.
the Senate waffles on whether or not to take a vote on the Paycheck Fairness
Act before the November elections, we can expect to see (and have
already seen) much rhetoric on the issue from both supporters and opponents.
In the House, which voted on and passed the bill in 2009, the 256-163 vote was
divided down party lines,
with only 10 Republicans voting in favor.
perhaps unsurprising, but nonetheless counterintuitive: the Paycheck Fairness
Act is, after all, as "pro-family" piece of legislation as we've seen in recent memory.
When a crime is committed against you or a loved one, you expect justice. At the very least, you expect that those in the position to pursue justice -- the police, the city, the state -- will do everything in their power to do so. Trained on decades of Law & Order
, we expect nothing less than the full, furious force of Mariska Hargitay or Jerry Orbach working doggedly to bring our case to rest and our mind to peace.
As we know, life is not directed by Dick Wolf, and not every crime ends so succinctly. And if that crime is rape, the odds are stacked against you. Nationally, about 22 percent of rapes lead to an arrest
; in Illinois, which boasts one of the lowest arrest rates, that number is 11 percent. The reasons for this are vast, but a chief cause is likely the 4,000 untested rape kits currently sitting, until recently forgotten, on the shelves of Illinois police departments.
Welcome to the life of a rape case in Illinois.
Last Tuesday, I posted Part 1 of my thoughts on "how to break into publishing," where I talked about the importance of networking, freelancing and gathering information. Let's move on to Part 2, shall we? Again, feel free to leave questions or additional thoughts in the comments.
As the managing editor of Today's Chicago Woman and a woman under 30, I'm often asked by people, most often college students and other young women, my secret to success in the industry. How did I "make it" at a young age? How did I get my break? What advice would I give other aspiring writers and editors?
The truth is there is no secret, but what I usually say is this: Getting your "break" in the publishing industry is a trifecta of timing, connections and preparedness. That is:
began, "New data shows that, despite feminists' best efforts, women have still
failed to reach equality in the job market."
You just knew it couldn't go anywhere good from there.
Time and time again, conversations about women entering -- and succeeding in -- the workplace are framed as strictly "women's issues." It's a world where, if women haven't gained parity in the workplace, it's the women who have failed, not the workplace.
I call shenanigans.
This week was pretty exciting, readers: I'm happy to debut three new TCW bloggers for your reading pleasure. Please welcome Pat Pulido Sanchez, Chris Ruys and Kathryn Born.
After what feels like a forever of waiting, summer, in all of its sun-soaked, sweaty glory, is here. In Chicago, there's only one place to head when the heat index just won't stop rising: the beach. And next to your beach blanket, SPF and sunglasses, there's one thing without which any lake-bound tote would be incomplete. I'm speaking, of course, of the summer beach read.
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I'll admit I've had fun, over the last few weeks, reading the rake-it-over-the-coals reviews of Sex and the City 2
. I certainly haven't suffered for lack of options. The critics, once they universally decided that the movie was worthy of their derision, embarked on a contest of one-upmanship for who could come with the cleverest insult puns. Sure, they were entertaining. And as someone who loved the series, hated the first movie and is a little sickened by the idea of the second film, I enjoyed reading them. But as I read, I discovered a pattern. Critiquing a film for its flaws is one thing. But when did the reviews get so....personal?
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Recently, I interviewed Mika Brzezinski
, MSNBC anchor and co-anchor of "Morning Joe," for TCW's May issue
. Given that the title of her memoir we were discussing was All Things at Once
, a ode to the challenges and rewards of pursing both a demanding career and motherhood--and learning to be okay with the reality that, sometimes, children would take a momentary backseat to work--I was expecting a rather progressive discussion. And while it was, at times, for most of the interview Mika seemed reluctant to fully embrace her thesis.
"If I could go to the poorest country on earth and ask only one question to see if they have a chance, it would be this: 'How do you treat your women?'"
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The highlight of the CARE National Conference
was Hillary Clinton's keynote address. It's hard to imagine a more visible or appropriate figure to take the podium for this speech. Introduced by CARE President Helene Gayle as someone who has "established herself as one of the United States' greatest secretaries of state," Secretary Clinton took the stage to a standing ovation from a group of men and women clearly thrilled to be in her presence.
It's the end of Day 1 of my adventure covering and attending the
CARE National Conference
. If you've been following my Tweets
, you know it's been a whirlwind day. I've learned a lot about maternal mortality, childhood marriage, food stability and other issues surrounding global poverty (and have the two notebooks worth of notes to prove it), so for now, I wanted to share a few glimpses of the day:
Later today, I'll be leaving on a jet plane for Washington, DC to attend the CARE National Conference
.* If you've read this
, you know I'm a big fan of CARE and the work they do to empower women and eliminate poverty around the world. I'm looking forward to having my mind and eyes opened at the conference, and invite you to follow along with me.
I've written here before
about the excellent book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
by wife-and-husband duo Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof. If you haven't read the book, I'll just say: read it. Now. I promise it will be one of the most eye-opening books you will ever read.
As a huge fan of the book, I jumped at the opportunity to speak with Sheryl when she spoke last month at Loyola University Chicago's Lakeshore campus. The fact that I interviewed her in the building adjacent to my freshman year college dorm--where I first decided to study political science and women's studies alongside journalism--was just a coincidence, but a wonderful "full circle" moment nonetheless.
Loyal readers of our Today's Chicago Woman blogs here on ChicagoNow may have noticed things are looking a little different. And, as more than a few have pointed out to me, we're not coming into your inbox as often as we used to. That's because, though only a few months old, our blog team has been expanding rapidly, and we decided it was time for a little facelift.
I just got back from the annual Young Women's Leadership Charter School
's Girl Power luncheon
and find myself, as per usual whenever I interact with this school,
feeling so uplifted. Part of that was from the amazing public speaking
skills of the young students at the school; part of it was from their
incredible success rate (100% of the class of 2010 will graduate, and
89% are headed to college); and part of it was from a fantastic speech
delivered by Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson
Mellody's speech centered around quotes that have inspired her
throughout her career, and I found them so insightful that I couldn't
resist sharing them.
It's a double-whammy, folks: Today we're welcoming bloggers Susan Carr-Templeton and Erin Carpenter to the Today's Chicago Woman team. And I'm pleased as punch to have them!
Back in January, I wrote
about the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, and the importance of helping women and children in such crisis situations. In early March, I had the chance to speak with Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE, an international poverty-fighting organization that has been working in Haiti for decades and was among the first on the scene after the earthquake. Dr. Gayle was on the ground in Haiti at the time of our scheduled interview, a fact that, while informing our conversation, presented a logistical difficulty: cell phone reception is spotty at best there, and so it took a few hours, and emails and phone calls between a combo of people here and in Haiti, for us to even make contact. Once we did, though, I found her insight both sobering and hopeful.
Click through to read my Q&A with Dr. Gayle about the continuing situation in Haiti, as well as view a slideshow of CARE's work post-earthquake (all photos and captions courtesy CARE).
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