One of those funny things that’s sometimes forgotten about being young is that you’ll pretty much take what you see at face value. Not that we don’t question the world around us, but if something is happening all around young people, every weekend, and people call it hooking up or they call it dancing or they call it flirting, it’s pretty easy to simply believe them.
So when I was 18 and dancing with a boy at that party and he moved quickly to put his hands up my skirt without even showing me his face, I thought that’s just what happened when you “accepted” (read: didn’t reject) a dance partner. When at age 19 a guy I worked with got me alone and asked for “just one touch,” then grabbed my boobs (hard) and ran off, I thought that maybe that was his way of flirting with me. And at age 20 when I smiled at a guy and he followed me home, harassing me for my number, I thought that maybe he just really thought I was pretty enough to fight for. [...]
Our Untold Stories
Jackson Katz in his TED talk about violence against women explains that the problem of discussing sexual violence is that it’s often framed as a “women’s issue that some good men help out with.” Granted, everyone is probably a little hesitant to have a man talk about sexual violence fearing that men often derail the discussion to focus on themselves. Well, I think discussing men’s role in sexual violence is a crucial conversation that needs to be had.
More often than not, dominant groups with privilege fail to examine their power and privilege. Though a harsh reality, white adult males often have their voices heard over women talking about the same issue. Using their positions of power to create an open dialogue is important when men are the main perpetrators of sexual violence. Just like how white folks need to interrupt racism, straight cisgender folks interrupting homophobia and transphobia, we need men to break that silence about sexism and rape culture. [...]
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 the sheer number of memories that have come together in my mind from my early college years and the sexual harassment that spanned from campus to workplace.
Just a few memories: [...]
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 our regularly planned meeting to host a discussion/ranting space about the article instead. We were having a complex, honest conversation about alcohol, sexual assault, and consent when DudeBro 1 spoke up. [...]
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. [...]
The United States suffers from an unfortunate epidemic known as abstinence only programs. These sex after marriage talks are a common procedure in awkward health and sex-education classrooms around the country. For LGBT folks, abstinence only programs do us no good because, you know, we can’t really get married, and if we have to wait until after married, we’re going to be on a dry-spell for quite a while. Some advocates of abstinence only programs believe it is the right of the parents to have that conversation with their children, but for the API community, that is never a conversation we ever have.
The API community is very private and though I’ve never been a parent myself, I honestly believe our parents don’t want to encourage the ideas of “promiscuity.” Well mom and dad, you two are successful and capable adults who had sex and created me, so I think we’ll turn out just fine. [...]
Being a second semester college senior, I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a morning person. My earliest class starts at 9:30am and Tuesday/Thursday mornings are struggle city. So when I saw that the panel I’d be speaking on started at 7:45in the morning (!!) I was a bit nervous. Would I be ready to have important conversations at that hour? Would others?
Luckily for me (and for those who attended my session) the answer was yes.
“Uniting Leaders of Tomorrow’s Reproductive Justice Movement with Providers of Today” was a short panel discussion centering around issues that are important to the reproductive justice as a whole movement from a variety of angles (including activism, organizing, policy, and education) and the MDs in the room were completely engaged. We presented the panel at the National Abortion Federation Annual Meeting mainly to professionals who provide abortion services as well as those who support them and researchers. [...]
The thing about “ideal masculinity” is that we will always fall short. I didn’t even stand a chance growing up, playing with my sisters’ Barbie dolls and gossiping with the girls during recess. I was also sexually attracted to other men, and although I wouldn’t claim the word gay until the age of 18, I knew that my attraction didn’t fit what a man should be.
This tension between my masculinity and sexuality became the centerfold of a very arbitrary process concerning what I could and couldn’t do. I could think about men, I reasoned, as long as I didn’t date one or admit it out loud. Just as I could watch Disney movies, but not wear the color pink. Internalizing this impossible standard of masculinity, I didn’t have the freedom to explore my own identity. I didn’t feel safe asking myself questions like Who am I? or Do I feel comfortable expressing myself this way?, because even when others weren’t policing my behavior, I learned to police myself. [...]
There’s been a lot of talk about equal pay and the gender wage gap the past week and half. It was widely reported last week and the days leading up to it, that President Obama would sign an executive order that would ensure equal pay for a large sector of the workforce. According to NPR, the executive order will 1) prevent federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries with each other and 2) federal contractors would also be forced to give the Labor Department data about their employees’ pay along with their race and gender, under new rules the president is instructing the agency to adopt.
This executive order is important. The gender wage gap exists and it’s hurting a lot of women and families. This order won’t completely eliminate it but it will make it easier for women to compare their wages and see if they are being paid unfairly. There are a lot of reasons why some women never find out about the fact that they are being paid less than their male co workers for doing the same job. [...]
The biggest parts of my identity consist of being API, queer, and a sweet southern gentleman. Never in my life did I think these three communities could possibly come together. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA
Southern Summit launched its first of five regional leadership conferences this weekend! Being from red states and located in the Bible belt, it was important to hear about the political momentum necessary to overcome being such a small community. For the first and only time in my life, I felt at home. Everyone says y’all and complains about the weather just the same and southern hospitality has never been more comforting than warm fried rice and catered Indian cuisine. [...]