Editor’s Note: The following essay by Dr. Susan M. Blaustein, Founder and Executive Director, WomenStrong International, discusses the transformational potential of #MeToo to empower change locally and globally.
In their remarkable new book Awakeningabout the global #MeToo movement, feminist scholars Rachel Vogelstein and Meighan Stone have shined a light on the courage, creativity, and resilience of women all over the world who have alchemized their pain as survivors of sexual violence into fierce, undaunted activism.
These brave women, from Brazil to Tunisia to Nigeria to Sweden and myriad places in between, have harnessed available digital technologies to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, connect with other women, sound the alarm loudly, and press for change. They’re fighting not only for victims’ safety in reporting these crimes and accountability for their perpetrators; enraged and emboldened, they’re aiming to institutionalize legal protections and disrupt the prevailing cultural and religious moraes that have long sanctioned violence against women in the first place.
Editor’s Note: The following commentary on domestic violence is by Debbie I. Chang, MPH, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation.
Throughout a career advocating for the health and well-being of children and families, I thought I knew a lot about domestic violence and its impact. I knew that trauma, including exposure to domestic violence in childhood, has a deep and lasting effect on health. Like many people, I thought what happened in people’s homes was a private matter. In fact, some would narrowly say, “It’s not my business.”
Now I know domestic violence is all of our business. It is truly a public matter. And it is preventable.
Work being done abroad by Synergy for Justice and its executive director Christy Fujio is enhancing justice and accountability for sexual violence and torture.
The conflict in Syria has been going on for roughly ten years now, with little sign of it ceasing. American media coverage has more or less moved on from shedding any light on the topic. Although the general populace has moved on, certain organizations and individuals remain hyper focused on what they can do to help ensure that survivors are supported and justice is achieved.
Synergy for Justice is one such organization. For more than six years, the organization has been working with local partners and lending a hand to the crisis. At the height of the violence, torture and detention in 2015, the organization was founded by Christy Fujio, Dr. Ingrid Elliott and Dr. Coleen Kivlahan.
As our young women come up in the world, they face a deluge of information online, much of which is contributing to their sense of safety, or lack thereof. A new report from Plan International helps to break down the ways that online disinformation is impacting the lives of girls ages 15 to 24 around the world.
The report, The Truth Gap, helps to explain how girls and young women in 33 countries are experiencing information they find online. The report discovered that one in five girls (20%) feels unsafe due to false information that comes from the internet.
“The ugly truth is that more people are still motivated by the desire to prioritize men’s income-generating and reputations than they are by the desire to ensure women’s rights and safety.” — Soraya Chemaly, Rage Becomes Her
Prioritizing women’s rights and safety in today’s world is not easy, and it won’t become any easier as long as our culture puts men’s earnings and men’s reputations first, which it almost always does. Think of any number of powerful men whose reputations and money-generating capacities completely undermined women’s rights and safety: Harvey Weinstein, R. Kelly, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein….and the list goes on and on. It’s a list that defines our culture, a culture of men and money first, and women and safety last, in our public and private lives, in government, business, and the non-profit sector.
Amid growing online violence toward women in journalism, the IWMF launched the Online Violence Response Hub to aid victims.
The Coalition Against Online Violence today launched an Online Violence Response Hub to aid women journalists with the rising threat of violence online. The Coalition is led by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) with funding from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Emerson Collective, Jigsaw, Knight Foundation, and the Luminate Group. This first-of-its-kind suite of support will provide women journalists with ways to fight back against online violence while protecting their privacy, accessing trauma support, pursuing accountability, and continuing to work without self-censorship.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 19, 2017 and has been updated to include more organizations and funders addressing sexual assault prevention.
In the age of #MeToo, it will probably come as little surprise to learn that I am also a survivor of sexual assault. I don’t want to go into the details here (if you want the full story on that, you can watch this video). When I became a social worker, I chose to build my professional life around helping survivors both heal and fight for justice. Over the past 25 years, I have treated hundreds of sexual assault survivors and their families. I have helped people achieve justice, and I have also seen many survivors choose not to engage with the justice system for fear of being further traumatized. Sadly, that fear is not unrealistic.
Editor’s Note: the following post was originally published on February 3, 2021.
Here at Philanthropy Women, we started a series called Feminist Giving In Real Life (F-GIRL) to provide a platform for women leaders at all levels who are giving in a feminist way. This giving can happen through donations and funding strategy, through professional excellence, and/or through leadership efforts in the community. Feminist giving is a form of leadership that has special impact because it often combines deeply personal experience and significantly political thinking and acting.
Yesterday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez performed what I would call a supreme act of feminist giving. When AOC spoke out against the January 6th riots and connected these riots to her experience of being sexually traumatized, she simultaneously stood up for every human who has experience sexual assault, and challenged the largest political body of our country to acknowledge how the January 6th riots are part of a continuum of pervasive violence against women, people of color, and other marginalized groups.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Dr. Anu Kumar, President and CEO of Ipas, an international reproductive health and rights organization.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
That the issues that I have chosen to work on, reproductive health and rights including access to abortion, are ones that will take generations to resolve. I naively thought that since Roe v. Wade was decided well before I came of reproductive age and the public health data were so clear about the health benefits of contraception and abortion for women, families, communities, and countries that logic would prevail and I would simply be running programs to scale up these programs. Little did I know that I would become a warrior for abortion rights!
Over 200 faculty and alumni at Old Dominion University have signed a statement denouncing the school’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct by Blake Bailey. UPDATE: Since this post was written, Old Dominion has announced they will do an independent investigation of Blake Bailey’s alleged sexual misconduct while holding the Mina Hohenberg Darden Chair for Creative Writing at Old Dominion University from 2010 to 2016.
From 2010 to 2016, Old Dominion University in Virginia hosted a visiting professor by the name of Blake Bailey. In addition to being a teacher, he was an author and the biographer for several esteemed male literary figures including John Cheever and, more recently, Philip Roth. But upon publication of his biography of Philip Roth, much has come to light about Blake Bailey’s history of alleged sexual misconduct, both during his time as a professor and in his professional life outside the school. As a result of some of these accusations, Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth was removed from print, his literary agent dropped him, and the biography’s original publisher, Norton, has pledged six-figures for sexual assault survivor advocacy.