Posted by Katie Feifer on 05/21/13 at 11:17:22 AM
Our friends at WAM (Women, Action & the Media) have written an open letter to Facebook, and have prepared an Action Page, calling on all of us to contact advertisers whose ads appear next to gender-based hate content to demand that they withdraw their advertising from such pages.
For years, advocates for women have been complaining to Facebook about the pages they host which condone and promote rape and other violence against women. Facebook has a policy in place that allows them to take down pages that are racist, homophobic, Islamophobic and Anti-Semitic. Its moderators are on the lookout for hate speech and pages that don’t fit their community guidelines.
And yet…despite protests and complaints, pages like Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus, Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won't make you a Sandwich, Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs and Raping your Girlfriend are allowed, because they fall into the category of “humor."
We urge you to contact the advertisers yourself and complain to them. And add your voice to those of us who continue to complain to Facebook itself.
Posted by Katie Feifer on 03/12/13 at 11:30:13 AM
Posted by Katie Feifer on 02/10/12 at 05:14:13 PM
In 2011 The Voices and Faces Project launched "The Stories We Tell," the country's first testimonial writing workshop for survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence and trafficking. Created by writer R. Clifton Spargo, a founding member of CounterQuo and currently an Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the program brought together a diverse community of survivors, each seeking to write and speak out about sexual violence.
Over the course of the reading and writing focused two-day program, which debuted at the Chicago Cultural Center, workshop participants engaged in an innovative series of writing exercises that emphasized fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, and poetry. During one such exercise, participants were asked to write about sexual violence from the perspective of someone of a different sexual orientation or gender. At that time, workshop participant Christa Desir conceived the idea for a YA (young adult) novel, written from the perspective of a male high school student whose girlfriend is raped at a party - a scenario that those of us working on sexual violence issues have encountered all too often.
When Christa read her piece out loud during the workshop, we knew that she had written something special. What we did not know was exactly how special: coming out of the workshop, and with the encouragement of the Voices and Faces Project team, Christa expanded that initial writing exercise into a novel, and subsequently sold her book to Simon Pulse (a division of Simon and Schuster that targets the young adult audience). "TRAINWRECK," a compassionate and candid exploration of the gang rape of a high school student and the responses of her friends, boyfriend and community to that tragedy, is an important and much-needed book - one that will reach high school students "where they are" with a message that they very much need to hear. It will be published in fall, 2013.
Books like Christa's have the potential to do more than engage. They have the power to create change by showing the heartbreaking and all-to-human costs of sexual violence. In a world in which the media too often celebrates violence against women and girls, we believe that TRAINWRECK will provide a very different perspective - one that can lead to a more compassionate and activist public response to sexual violence.
To read more about The Voices and Faces Project Testimonial Writing Workshop, visit: http://www.voicesandfaces.org/emails/aug2011/index.html
To read Christa's blog post about the Publisher's Weekly announcement of the forthcoming publication of TRAINWRECK, visit http://www.christaramblesandwrites.blogspot.com/2012/02/my-simonpulse-book-deal.html
Posted by Katie Feifer on 12/14/11 at 07:33:23 PM
Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study entitled "The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey" (NISVS) that provides reliable data about many forms of sexual violence. Among its key findings:
- “One percent, or approximately 1.3 million women, reported being raped by any perpetrator in the 12 months prior to taking the survey.”
- “Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration. “
- “More than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance…”
- “Approximately 1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else during their lifetime…”
- “More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime…”
The findings from this survey are already prompting questions about why these statistics are so dramatically different than others that have been used by the government, advocates, academics and others for years.
You might be asked to explain why the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) says fewer than 272,350 Americans were raped in 2010, while the new NISVS study says 1.3 million women were victims of rape in that same year.
We know the reasons why and we encourage you to refresh your knowledge so that you can smoothly and effectively address these questions when they come up. If you want to study up, we suggest consulting the CounterQuo Rape Stats White Paper, as well as a Legal Momentum article co-written by Lynn Hecht Schafran that is also available in our website references section under "Statistics on Sexual Violence".
In a nutshell, the biggest difference boils down to what was asked. Two other big issues also impact results.
What was asked? Quoting from the CQ Rape Stats White Paper, "In the past, this (NCVS) survey asked participants whether or not they were raped within the last 12 months, and definitions were only provided if the respondent asked for them." You will get dramatically different results if you ask someone "were you raped?" versus questions that ask about behavior that we define as rape or attempted rape or sexual assault (as was done in the NISVS), like "has anyone used physical force or threats to physically harm you to make you have vaginal sex? Make you perform oral sex?" Etc.
Quoting again from our Rape Stats paper: "An example of how methodology impacts results: One researcher asked one sample of college students using the NCVS methodology and another sample using standard social science methodology and found the prevalence rates to be 11 times higher using the latter methodology compared to the NCVS."
What is the statistic about? A corollary to the issue above. Make sure you know whether the statistic refers to "rape", "rape or attempted rape", "sexual assault" etc. Does the stat refer to annual or lifetime prevalence (number of people)? Or incidence (number of incidents)? The two are different
Who was asked impacts statistics also. Both these surveys - and many others relied on by government and advocates - were done by telephone and among non-institutionalized people. Many of the types of people we know to be particularly vulnerable to sexual violence were, therefore, not counted because they don't have a telephone (the studies are biased toward landlines) or don't speak English or Spanish. People institutionalized in prisons, nursing homes, mental health facilities, drug-treatment facilities. People who are homeless. People living in college dorms and on military bases. Immigrants from countries where sexual violence is even more normalized than it is here but who do not speak the survey's language.
We urge you to note when discussing the statistics from NISVS that as high as these numbers are, they most likely under-estimate the true prevalence of sexual violence, as they don't include data from many vulnerable populations that other studies have shown are at high risk for sexual violence.
Indeed, in the very back of its report (p.84), the study authors make the point: "Even though the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey captures a full range of victimization experiences, the estimates reported here are likely to underestimate the prevalence of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence for a number of reasons." And then they list and explain a number of reasons.
At our founding CounterQuo meeting, we agreed that it was critical that we learn to speak clearly and consistently about our statistics (and that we get more reliable statistics from methodologically sound studies). We’ve just gotten a new better study. Let's make sure we're all doing our best to avoid sloppy slinging around of statistics. Dig into study methodologies, or consult articles that explain why different studies yield different results. Only use data that come from methodologically sound research.
Posted by Katie Feifer on 10/24/11 at 06:13:56 PM
We're pleased to announce the launch of Jaclyn Friedman's new book, "What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl's Shame-free Guide to Sex and Safety". Jaclyn, a prominent author, activist and a founding member of CounterQuo, is also the co-editor of "Yes Means Yes", a wonderful anthology of essays about sexual violence and envisioning a world without it. Her current book - facts, wisdom, insight, anecdotes and a workbook - is the next necessary step for sexual freedom and liberation. It stemmed from Jaclyn's insistence that "authentic sexual liberation is both compatible with and necessary for combatting the systemic sexualization and violation of women."
Already getting rave reviews, we know this is a book you'll want to read and make sure others read. As Anna Holmes, Washington Post columnist and founder of Jezebel.com says, "“Jaclyn Friedman’s new guide — detailed, intelligent, and fun as hell to read — is a sorely needed addition to my bookshelf. Think of it as the anti-Cosmopolitan: A 21st century primer on fearlessly discovering and owning your sexuality while staying true to yourself without cutesy gimmicks, absurd tips and patronizing assumptions. It’s not an understatement to say that I wish WHAT YOU REALLY REALLY WANT had been around when I was first coming into adulthood. Actually scratch that: It’s as relevant to me now that I’m in my late 30s as it would have been in my late teens. Everyone can benefit from Jaclyn’s personable, progressive perspective on female sexuality and feminism.”
Posted by Katie Feifer on 08/15/11 at 10:03:01 AM
On July 19, 2009, Isaiah Kalebu entered the apartment where Teresa Butz and her partner Jen Hopper, were sleeping. He brutally attacked them, raping both and killing Teresa and wounding Jen. Two years later, on the eve of his sentencing, Jen Hopper wrote an article for the Seattle Stranger, "I Would LIke You to Know My Name." She eloquently describes how it has been for her to live her life in the wake of such violence and the loss of her great love, Teresa. We get a glimpse, through her words, of her journey of healing. She writes "At the end of the day, there is nothing that can make this wrong right again. No final words or punishment can undo what's been done. As I prepare to close this campter... and begin my walk into the next chapter, I want to look, as much as I can, toward the positive, toward the future." We wish Jen some peace, and more healing, as time goes on.
Jen doesn't mention in her piece that she has contributed her voice to the Angel Band Project, a benefit cd in honor of Teresa Butz created by her friends and family, including Tony-award winning actor Norb Butz. Proceeds from the cd go to The Voices and Faces Project. Learn more of the story behind the Angel Band Project and future Angel Band Project events, and hear some of the beautiful music on their site.
Posted by Katie Feifer on 08/15/11 at 09:42:46 AM
Our good friends at CAASE (Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation) have spearheaded efforts to change the way Chicago and the state of Illinois view and treat the victims of sex trafficking and the perpetrators. Recently, Illinois passed new legislation, the Illinois Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes act. The law enables people who were coerced into sex trafficking to clear their records of prostitution convictions. The law is one in a series of steps that aims to right some terrible and skewed wrongs. CAASE, through its End Demand Illinois campaign, and others, are helping the public and lawmakers recognize that prostituted women and girls and victims, deserving of support. They are not the criminals. Instead, those who prostitute and abuse these women and girls, particularly pimps, should be arrested and imprisoned for the crimes of prostituting and trafficking people, often starting as young as 10 or 12.
The efforts in Illinois are being closely watched by those in other states. The campaign and the legislation that stems from Illinois' efforts to shift the paradigm about prostitution and sex trafficking are serving as a model for other states.
The New York Times recently featured CAASE in its coverage of the new Illinois legislation.
We encourage you to learn more about the realities of sex trafficking and prostitution in this country, and join CAASE and CounterQuo in spreading the awareness and education, urging your state and local governments to right the shameful wrongs in the way we deal with domestic sex trafficking and prostitution.
Posted by Katie Feifer on 08/08/11 at 12:13:37 PM
Helen Benedict, professor of journalism at Columbia University, founding member of CounterQuo, and an award-winning author of five previous novels and five books of non-fiction, has just published her latest, "Sand Queen." This novel, based on the research Helen did for her non-fiction book "The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq" explores the lives of two women, a 19-year old Iraqi and an American solider, dealing with the effects of all the complexities this war throws at us. Helen, an outspoken advocate for women in our military, has used both fiction and non-fiction to raise awareness about the realities women in our armed forces face, including sexual violence. Her latest novel is another call to action for military leaders, legislators, and all of us who care about the women who serve in our armed forces.
Posted by Morgan Springer on 07/22/11 at 03:35:31 PM
Last Monday, June 20th began the two-day event, Workshop to Change the World. Led by Laurel Lipkin and Leslie Thomas of Art Works Project, the workshop closely followed their organization’s model and vision of art as a powerful tool to promote global change. Students ranging from 6th to 12th grade gathered at Marwen in artistic pursuit of a social issue they were passionate about. The students at Workshop to Change the World chose issues ranging from domestic violence, gang violence and homelessness to environmental and water issues. Through their art, they aimed to raise awareness about and call attention to their particular issue.
Each student was paired with creative advisors and issue advisors. Alisa Roadcup, Director of Strategic Initiatives of The Voices and Faces Project, and Morgan Springer, TVFP’s communications intern, worked with student Afiya Hudgens, brainstorming ideas of how to tackle issues surrounding domestic violence in the social and public sphere. Afiya aspired to create ideological change around domestic violence amongst the public.
"Permanent" painted by Afiya Hudgens
Afiya’s verbalization of social stigmas and domestic violence victim’s experiences was powerful and thoughtful. She utilized the word “Permanent” using a subtle technique in her painting as a provocative way to both draw attention to the victim’s long-term struggle with abuse and to highlight the ability/power to change a sense of permanence by raising awareness (see Afiya's painting above). Afiya’s target audience was children and parents, addressing the fact that family loyalties often stand in the way of internal promotion of healthy family relationships. She hoped that her painting would encourage family members to stand up for and protect one another, realizing that abuse does not have to be their family norm. She encouraged people to see the every day stranger as an individual with a history –often an unknown history– and to exercise compassion when interacting with all people.
From left: Leslie Thomas, Alisa Roadcup, Morgan Springer, Afiya Hudgen, and Deborah Boardman
Leslie and Laurel created an incredibly valuable experience for these students. To hear both creative and issue advisors encouraging the children to imagine and pursue large-scale distribution of their artwork in order to effect large-scale change was remarkable. Never would I, as a teenager, have thought that my art could effect change beyond being displayed to a limited number of people vis-à-vis school or home decoration. These students were encouraged to pursue national and international organizations' support, enabling them to envision a world in which they could actually effect change with their art by utilizing such networks of support. These students had the opportunity to think about how they can create art that will produce effective change and how they can market their idea and reach a broader audience.
This workshop calls attention to the power of the visual. No matter the medium, a provocative piece has the ability to grab attention, nurturing thoughtful discussion, and inspiring others to pursue the cause each piece speaks to.
Here you will find images of the students at work, images and videos of their final products, and the continued post-workshop dialogue. Check it out. It’s pretty amazing what these students produced in only two days! We hope to see this become an annual workshop; the work done here is much needed.
Posted by Katie Feifer on 02/11/11 at 07:07:47 AM
On February 17th, notable Chicago actors will come together to read award-winning short fiction that addresses violence against women. Co-created by The Voices and Faces Project's Anne K. Ream and Stories on Stage founder Kathe Telingator, and directed by ensemble member Michael E. Myers, this unique public performance is part of the programming series for “Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art,” an international contemporary art exhibition. The event is sponsored by Soroptimist International and co-presented by the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media.
Featured Stories on Stage writers will include Sandra Cisneros, author of the critically acclaimed book The House on Mango Street, Jonathan Franzen, winner of the National Book Award, Barbara Harman, whose work is included in the definitive anthology of fiction on domestic violence, Women in the Trees, and R. Clifton Spargo, a recent finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award For Short Fiction whose work has been praised as “marked for permanence” by esteemed literary critic Harold Bloom. The poetry of Mary Simmerling, which has been featured at the International Museum of Women, will also be included in the performance.
For more information about the event, please click here.