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A Smart Gift – by Sara (Tri-Valley Haven Grant-Writer)

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Not too long ago, the Haven received a small card from a former client. She was writing us to let us know she was okay, and to thank us for all the support she received from our agency. With her card, she’d enclosed a small gift to support Tri-Valley Haven.

I work in fundraising. I write grants and appeals, which means I am sometimes buried in paperwork. But every once in a while, I take out this card and read it again to remind myself what I’m working for—this success: Someone who has overcome crisis, healed, and gone on to thrive to the point that she feels able to give a little back. It doesn’t matter the size of the gift; it’s her act of giving that speaks volumes.

So I’m writing here to ask you to make a similar act and sign up to become a monthly donor to Tri-Valley Haven. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount; even a small gift made regularly can add up to a meaningful success.

Giving monthly is smart. Steady donations allow the Haven to plan ahead so we can use your support most effectively.  It’s also efficient. Once you sign up we’ll remove you from our appeals list, saving more time and money. We’ll only contact you to tell you what’s happening at the Haven.  And it’s easy! You can sign up on our site and your donation will be deducted automatically each month on the date you choose. You can modify the date your gift will be deducted at any time.

When people like you join together, the impact of your giving is magnified. We hope you will join us in reaching our goal of $4,000 in monthly donations by the time Tri-Valley Haven turns 40 in June of 2017.

Thanks to the mmail-thank-you-card-235x300any donors who’ve already stepped up, we’re half-way there!  Please help us reach this important goal! Make this smart gift remembering the times people helped you, or when you helped someone else, or wanted to but couldn’t. Or think of this little card of thanks that we received in the mail. With your gift, you can help create more success stories like hers.

DonateNow

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

40th-anniversary-tvh-logoTri-Valley Haven works all year long to raise awareness about domestic violence, but each October we make a special effort to get the community involved in our efforts because that is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

For nineteen years, we have kicked off the month on the first Saturday in October with our Pace for Peace, a 5K/10K walk-run in Livermore. The Pace began as a modest effort that would draw about thirty staff members and volunteers who collected pledges to raise funds as well as awareness. We were thrilled when the first Pace raised over $1,000. Over the years the event has grown to attract serious runners and families with their children and pets, who learn about our agency and support our mission with their registration fees as well as our own family of staff, volunteers and individual and corporate supporters who continue to collect pledges. This year was our most successful Pace for Peace ever, with more than 280 registered participants, and pledges and registration fees that netted over $15,000 to support our programs.carolyn-iphone-photo-dump-october-2012-1054

Please join us as we close out the month’s activities on Friday, October 21, when we gather in Pleasanton for our annual Candlelight March. We will meet at 7:00 p.m. at Civic Park at Main Street and Bernal in Pleasanton. Candles and glow sticks will be provided to participants. We will march to the old Pleasanton Hotel and back with our Tri-Valley Haven banner and handouts with our contact information for interested onlookers. When we return to Civic Park, there will be refreshments for all and recognition for the graduates of our recent 65-hour training class for volunteers.

Your support in breaking the silence is critical to ending the cycle of domestic violence. Together we build a world without violence.

 

Vicki Thompson

Director of Domestic Violence Services

Geographical Isolation and Serving Diverse Populations – Taking on the Challenge

cropped-map-2Tri-Valley Haven is located in Eastern Alameda County, one of the wealthiest and least diverse areas of the county. Geographically isolated from the rest of the county by the Dublin Grade, our shelter population is vastly more diverse than the area in which we are located. Because of this isolation, shelter residents often tell us they feel especially safe from their abusers in the Tri-Valley.

It is an ongoing struggle for us to attract and retain a diverse shelter staff at a nonprofit salary rate that does not support someone who is living alone or a single parent in our immediate service area. Most of our new staff members live out of the area, either “over the hill” in less expensive parts of Alameda County, in the Brentwood/Antioch area or in Stockton. Staff turnover is more frequent than we would like, most often because these staff members find employment closer to home.

obj40-1Despite these challenges, we are pleased that we have been able to increase the diversity of our staff to try to better reflect the population we serve. When we have a job opening, we advertise widely, and share the job listing with statewide coalitions such as CPEDV and CalCASA in order to reach all of our sister organizations.

We have also greatly benefitted from participation in learning collaboratives such as the Fostering Cultural Competency project, funded by Blue Shield. Through this project, we made connections with other organizations outside of our service area that have expertise in working with specific Asian populations who shared information with us and remain a source of support that we can access when working with a client from a culture we are unfamiliar with. We also had the opportunity to learn about more resources in our own community when each agency in the project convened a panel discussion of representatives from local Asian communities to discuss how domestic violence is viewed and addressed within these communities.1

We look forward to participating in the Next Generation project in which we will share  our experiences with other agencies, and further develop our support system .

Vicki Thompson

Director of Domestic Violence Services

Tri-Valley Haven

A Greater Community – The National Sexual Assault Conference from One Advocate’s Perspective

All over the United States, there are people hard at work to end sexual assault and rape. We work full-time or part-time. Sometimes we volunteer. We go to hospitals to be with survivors at midnight after an assault. We are there beside victims as they talk to the police. We are the counselors and group leaders who support trauma survivors as they recall grueling memories. We are the educators who work with teens and the schools to stop rape and harassment on campus. We advocate to local, state, and federal government officials to make our society more just. We visit jails and prisons when someone is victimized while incarcerated. We hear heartbreak. We see tears, courage, and strength.

We listen. We believe. We are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

All over the United States, there are people working to end sexual violence. And once a year the people who support sexual assault victims get the chance to come together in one place. We learn and exchange wisdom and ideas; we support each other. We challenge one another to reach further, create change sooner, and spread sexual assault awareness wider.

NSAC GroupThis once-a-year event is at the National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC).

This year, it was hosted by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) in Los Angeles, California. I and a couple coworkers from Tri-Valley Haven’s Rape Crisis Center were fortunate enough to be able to attend the event. The theme was “Inspired by Progress, United by Purpose.”

We were definitely both.

I am sure that anyone who attended the conference would have many stories to tell about what they learned. I am only one person, so I will just talk about what I experienced. And what I experienced was… WOW!

I met the most amazing people at the conference…and amazing barely covers it. Participants included survivors who have become teachers and healers in the NSAC Plenarymovement; people who have been fighting the anti-sexual violence fight for their entire professional lives, and people who have just begun; people who work with survivors individually and people who carry on the anti-rape movement to the White House itself. There were young people, lighting the sky on fire with their passion and their vision, and older people who have contributed to decades of change and know there are still mountains to overcome.

The most wonderful part, for me, of going to the conference was that it embodies the same affirmation that means so much to survivors of violence themselves: You are not alone. For those of us working in the Rape Crisis Movement across the country, our world can seem very small sometimes. We work in cities or suburbs or rural communities. We know everybody in the field near us and rely on them for connection and support. To step into a greater fellowship of human beings all working together to make the world a better, safer, and more just place is just plain moving; humbling.

We had a number of topics this year: building safer college and campus communities, fighting back against rape culture, educating our young men and women to bring change now that will echo for years to come.

Another spotlight was put on ending sexual violence in the military. A recent study shows that sexual violence in the military is far higher than previously reported (new data released by the U.S. Defense Department). Collaborations between rape crisis experts and the military to address sexual violence are so very important. Our soldiers in active service and our veterans both deserve better.

NSAC Forge BoothOther topics included serving survivors of sexual assault in detention, working with male survivors and LGBTQ survivors, preventing child sexual abuse, and much more.

At the conference, I concentrated on the Prison Rape Elimination Act “PREA track”. This training dealt with stopping rape and sexual assault in detention – for example, jail or prison, juvenile detention or an immigration facility.

I have spent the past two years working as a Tri-Valley Haven Sexual Assault Advocate and Crisis Counselor, responding to our local county jail when an inmate calls and requests support after an assault. I am glad to say that the jail staff has been universally welcoming to me, good partners with the Haven, and committed to making their jail safer. Even so, responding to the jail carries with it an emotional weight. I felt that I had already heard some arduous stories. With that being said, the stories I heard from survivors at NSAC stayed with me at night.

Sometimes, society seems to think that anything that happens to a person who is behind the walls of a jail or prison is deserved – they broke the law; they’re getting what is coming to them. Here is a truth: Rape is never part of the sentence. Allowing rape to happen to the people we put in detention, turning a blind eye to it, condoning it in society through jokes…does not make our country safer, quite the opposite. It adds trauma on top of trauma, and ultimately makes us all lesser.

PREA SLIDE 2Roxane Gay summarizes what many people feel about victims of sexual assault in her piece, Bad Victims. “People who have been sexually assaulted know there are good victims and bad victims. Good victims, of course, do not exist but they are an elaborate ideal. They are assaulted in a dark alley by an unknown criminal who has a knife or a gun. They are modestly dressed. They report their assault immediately to law enforcement and submit, willingly, to a rape exam. They answer all questions about their assault lucidly and completely as many times as is necessary. They are adequately prepared for trial. They don’t pester the prosecutor as he or she prepares for trial. When they testify, they are modestly dressed. They are the girl next door. They deserve justice because they are so righteous in their victimhood.”

“Good victims” are never prostitutes. They are never men. They are never gay or transgender. They are never drug addicts. They are never mentally ill. Those are allNSAC PREA slide “bad victims.” The worst victim of them all? Someone who is already in detention.

But when it comes right down to it, we are all human beings with flaws and mistakes and dark sides. None of us is perfect. None of us is a “perfect victim.” And nobody, NOBODY, deserves to be raped or sexually assaulted. Not even someone in prison.

It was good to meet other people who believe that.

It was inspiring to be at the conference with many people who are passionate about this intersection between the world of detention and the world of advocacy. It was also inspiring to see how many of us were at different levels of this journey, from the pioneers, to those who have gotten their toes wet for a few years but are still just beginning, to the people who wish to help and to learn how to do so… and whose journey is about to unfold.

The takeaway for me was that there is no such thing as a perfect survivor of rape. All human beings deserve to live in a world where there is zero tolerance for sexual assault – out on the street, or in a jail or a prison or in an I.C.E. (immigration holding facility). What we do as advocates is to connect with the strength and humanity of every survivor. We remind them of their own assets. We validate that they did not deserve what has been done to them. This is a fact, regardless if we spoke to a victim at our office, in our shelter, at a hospital… or from behind bars.

CALCASA’s National Sexual Assault Conference reminded me that there is a greater community of people working to end sexual assault; my work going into the jail to support survivors reminds me that there is an even greater community than that…the community of humanity itself.

Together, we build a world without violence.

Why Will You Rise? Valentine’s Day! One Billion Rising 2015… flashmobs, catchy songs… and a very serious message

1br_rev_landscape_stack_w.date_whiteOne Billion Rising is the biggest mass action to end violence against women in human history.  The campaign, launched on Valentine’s Day 2012, began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS.

 

 

On 14 February 2013, people across the world came together to express their outrage, strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women.

823490_588096431218669_772961687_oIn 2013, Tri-Valley Haven was among the multitudes of individuals and organizations rising up to demand that these857261_588096311218681_434111015_o issues be looked at unflinchingly and changes made globally. 

Last year, on 14 February 2014, One Billion Rising for Justice focused on the issue of justice for all survivors of gender violence, and highlighted the impunity that lives at the intersection of poverty, racism, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. Events took place in 200 countries, where women, men, and youth came together to Rise, Release, and Dance outside of court houses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, work places, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not. The campaign was covered widely by media in all corners of world including The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, and many more.

One Billion Rising 2014 - Group 002Again, Tri-Valley Haven was a participant, sharing the reasons all of us as staff and volunteers stood by this cause and helping to spread the message.

This year in 2015, One Billion Rising is rising for Revolution and again, Tri-Valley Haven rises too. We invite you to join us as we gather for a flash mob in downtown Livermore!  For more information on the flash mob, come check out our Event Page on Facebook, and if you want to join us we even have links to HOW TO DO THE DANCE and we have PUBLIC DANCE PRACTICES THIS WEEK AT OUR COMMUNITY BUILDING!  (Tuesday at 3 PM and Thursday at 4 PM at our Community Building at 3663 Pacific Avenue in Livermore.)

We had a great time in 2013 and we can’t wait to Strike, Dance, Rise again.  Be there.  Be the change you want to see in the world.

(And dance, dance, dance…!)

Tri-Valley Haven Thrift Store Victim of Weekend Theft

On the first weekend of January, the Tri-Valley Haven Thrift Store at 116 North L Street in Livermore was victimized by a burglary involving the loss of $7,000 and property damage to windows and doors.  Police investigation of the incident is ongoing.

The Tri-Valley Haven Thrift Store has been in the midst of upgrades, generously donated by members of Asbury United Methodist Church, and the thefts were a shock to staff, volunteers and shoppers at the store.

The real tragedy is that the Tri-Valley Hav10420788_882823058412670_6207162463202371478_nen Thrift Store’s purpose is to support the community in two ways – the first by directly benefiting patrons of the store, who can purchase gently-used goods at low prices to help support low incomes. Secondly, the Tri-Valley Haven Thrift Store is positioned to financially support all of the Haven’s programs for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness.  With the theft, the lost revenue, and the resulting repairs and upgrades needed to safeguard against subsequent break-ins, the Haven Thrift Store itself is now struggling to survive and the programs it supports are struggling even harder than they were before the new year started.

Members of the public interested in donating can go to the Tri-Valley Haven website at www.trivalleyhaven.org.  For questions or concerns, contact Ann King, Executive Director, Tri-Valley Haven.

Art for Healing – All This Month at the Livermore Public Library

My Two Roads

My Two Roads – Acrylic on Cold Press Watercolor Paper

There are times in all our lives, where we reach a turning point. 

These turning points can come in moment of great joy, but often they come at darker times – times of stress, confusion, pain or grief.  The women who come to our domestic violence shelter are all facing uncertainties and fears, and the memories of past trauma.  During these times, talking about experiences, hopes and dreams can be healing.  But sometimes, speaking the words can be stressful in and of itself.

What do you do, when words are not enough?  Or too much?AWBW quotations

Tri-Valley Haven has an Art for Healing program at our domestic violence shelter.  Every Wednesday evening, the women in residence gather together for an hour of art, music, and healing.  The projects we do can vary from classical art techniques like watercolor, to mixed media like collage, and to the more light-hearted like using Shrinky Dinks (did you do those as a child?), beads, clay and other creative outlets.

During the whole month of December, over 80 pieces of artwork created in this program are on display at the Livermore Public Library, at 1188 South Livermore Avenue, just off the cafe.  If you are in the area, we urge you to take the time to drop by and see these in person (and I can assure you that the coffee at the cafe is really good – we had some while we were setting up!).  In addition to the artwork, there is more information about our programs and about the art projects themselves.  I think you will be moved by what you see.

If you live farther away, I want to share with you a few pieces of work from the exhibit, and also to share with you some quotes by women who participated in our program.

If you would like to help support this program, donations of new art supplies are greatly appreciated and very useful.  Please call (925) 449-5845 if you’d be interested in helping to keep the program going.  You would be changing lives for the better.

A Source of Strength and Courage - Collage and mixed media.

A Source of Strength and Courage – Collage and mixed media.

A New Life - Body Paint

A New Life – Body Paint

A Candle Against the Dark - Oil Pastel on Cold Press Paper

A Candle Against the Dark – Oil Pastel on Cold Press Paper

The Tree of my Grandchildren - Watercolor on Cold Press

The Tree of my Grandchildren – Watercolor on Cold Press

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. - Inside/Outside mask, mixed media

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. – Inside/Outside mask, mixed media

Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Tri-Valley Haven Races Ahead!

20141011_065953The Tri-Valley Haven’s main awareness-and-fundraising event for the month of October was our Pace for Peace, a combination 5k/10k race that left from our very own little cul-de-sac in Livermore near the arroyo and sent our runners and supporters off across a beautiful fall landscape.  The morning was beautiful and clear, the racers enthusiastic, and the air cool.

In previous years, our Pace for Peace had evolved and changed in various ways.  It started as a very small race originating at the HaIMG_2518ven and coupled with an equally small “Family Fair” with some kids activities and other attractions.  Then, for a number of years, we migrated with it to downtown Livermore and began the race in front of the Panama Red Coffee Company – a great independent coffee place that has long been a fabulous supporter of ours.  In conjunction with that move, we got a bit more ambitious and combined our Pace for Peace with a Block Party.

All of these events were successes in their own way.  But this year, we decided to bring the Pace back home to its origin point at Tri-Valley Haven, and poured our effort into just plain making it the best race we’d ever hosted.

IT WORKED.

We had over 155 race participants and together they, and the people who pledged to support them, raised $12,000 for Tri-Valley Haven’s services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness.

20141011_072457Work on setting up began before the sun had fully risen – putting out the EZ Ups, getting water and snacks ready – and the all-important balloon arch!

The more people arrived to pick up their runner-numbers or register for the race, the more excited we volunteers and staff became!  We could tell this was shaping up to be our biggest race ever.  And the people…just kept coming!  T-shirts were distributed, with20141011_073442 the first-place winning design on them created by Inna Goiubchik, an 8th grader at Thomas Hart Middle School in Pleasanton. Her vision of a world family, united in peace, won our hearts and her design was so popular that – for the first time ever – we completely ran out of shirts!

P4PArtwork2014 WinnerNot only was the winning shirt design extremely popular, but we had so many great submissions that it was hard for us to narrow down our choices – as a result, we also had a second place winner and three third-place winners in a close tie.  All the kids and teens who placed in the contest came to the race to receive applause and certificates in recognition and gratitude.

Pace for Peace Race Start

At last, it was time for the opening horn to sound, and the runners were off!  First through were the 10k-ers and fastest racers, followed by a stream of laughing and talking walkers.  It seemed like everybody was in a great mood, and there was a fantastic combination of racing teams – some with hilarious names like “Run to Eat” and people on their own, in pairs, or competing as families.

The race took our supporters out into the beautiful fall air and along arroyos and beside beautiful sycamore trees.  When they came back to Water Table 3the Haven, it was to applause, snacks, awards, and a huge amount of gratitude from us at the Haven.  That $12,000 raised will go toward general funds, which means wherever we have the greatest need in our programs, 20141011_093939that’s where the money will go.  Everybody who participated in the Pace for Peace has guaranteed that life can be a little bit safer, a little bit less hungry, a little bit brighter for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness in our community.  Thank you, everyone, so much for all you do!

So, I am trying to imagine a world where college women love to report false rapes because…

…they are getting really cool privileges out of doing so.  This is what George Will, columnist for the Washington Post, claims is going on in his recent spew of… um… opinion. Bpu-GTiIgAA_s6_

“…when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.”

He helpfully puts quotation remarks around sexual assault to make it clear that, it’s all, you know… lies.

“Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. ‘sexual assault.’ … Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.

Let’s break this little quote down into some component parts, just for fun.  (Warning… I use bits of colorful language.  Because this is a blog based out of my work, I will be kind enough to insert an asterisk in key locations of the word.)

A.  Rape, a.k.a “sexual assault.”  So a rape is otherwise known as a sexual assault.  Okay.  Except actually, according to him, rape is otherwise known as sexual assault with a knowing, eyebrow-waggling, “we all know this is just bullsh*t” set of quotation marks around it.  Sort of like talking about lynching, a.k.a. a hate crime.  Except it’s in George Will-ese: Lynching: a.k.a. a “hate crime.”  Because really, that’s overstating the matter, right?

(False reports of rape are rare, according to the FBI, occurring only 8% of the time.)

B.  Ambiguities of the hookup culture:  In other words, kids these days.  All they do is scr*w, scr*w, scr*w all day long.  And presumably all night.  Those slutty women.  Those randy, well-meaning fellas.  There are no sexual assaults in colleges, just irresponsible kids.  Except, of course, when guys are irresponsible, it’s just guys being guys and when women are, they are sluts and dressed too provocatively and drank the wrong thing and gave him blue balls and he Just. Couldn’t. Stop.  Right?  So it’s not rape.  He was just defending himself from an epic case of sexual frustration caused by that crazy girl.

(We are all conscious of and able to control our own actions. Perpetrators have the ability to decide not to violate another person. They just choose to do it anyways, and use this as a rationale for their behavior.)

C.  “Cocktail of hormones, alcohol…”  Because young men can’t help themselves, and really the whole problem is just alcohol.  Alcohol makes people do crazy things.  Why, just the other day, I was drunk on my couch and afraid I might get up and stagger into the kitchen and stick a fork willfully into my own eye. That happens to all of us, that terrible fork/eyeball incident, right?  Wait, it doesn’t?  Because it would never occur to me in a million years while sober to deliberately stick a fork in my eye?  Just like it would never in a million years sober occur to someone to stick their sexual apparatus into someone else who was unwilling?  It was just the alcohol?  Uh…hmmm.  Something’s off here.

(Although alcohol consumption and sexual assault frequently co-occur, this phenomenon does not prove that alcohol use causes sexual assault. Thus, in some cases, the desire to commit a sexual assault may actually cause alcohol consumption (e.g., when a man drinks alcohol before committing a sexual assault in order to justify his behavior). Moreover, certain factors may lead to both alcohol consumption and sexual assault. For example, some fraternities encourage both heavy drinking and sexual exploitation of women…) – (Study done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.)

D.  “especially privileged young adults”:  Spoiled kids will say anything for attention.  Rapes don’t really happen.  It’s just young women who want lots of attention.  Tons of attention.

(According to studies, 42% of rape survivors told no one about the rape.  So much for wanting attention and “privilege”…)

Anyway, I am digressing.  Sorry.  I was getting carried away with other aspects of this idiocy.  Let’s get back to the idea that college women are falsely claiming they’ve been raped to gain special privileges.  My mind spins with possibilities.

  • Special discounts at the campus bookstore – just present a copy of your police report or evidence of a rape kit being done on you!
  • Sit at the front of the class in specially designated “I’ve been raped!” seats, where you can get the best note-taking vantage in the university!
  • Get special attention by all those dreamy, hot campus police officers who will sit you down in a room and demand you recount your sex life to them in detail!

Just what are these privileges he thinks women who report rape are getting?  And let alone any MEN who report, god forbid?  Here’s a look at some of the more real-life “privileges” of being raped (taken in part from the National Women’s Study on the Mental Health Impact of Rape):

  • Of those rapes reported to the police (which is 1/3 or less to begin with), only 16% result in prison sentences. Therefore, approximately 5% of the time, a man who rapes ends up in prison, 95% of the time he does not.
  •  30% of rape survivors contemplate suicide after the rape and rape survivors are 13 times more likely than people who have not experienced rape to attempt suicide.
  • Almost one-third (31%) of all rape victims developed PTSD sometime during their lifetime; and more than one in ten rape victims (11%) still has PTSD today.
  • 30% of rape victims had experienced at least one major depressive episode in their lifetimes, and 21% of all rape victims were experiencing a major depressive episode at the time of assessment: By contrast, only 10% of women never victimized by violent crime had ever had a major depressive episode; and only 6% had a major depressive episode when assessed.
  • Seventy-one percent of all victims and 66% of victims within past five years are concerned about relatives finding out about the rape.

In conclusion, the study summarizes:  “The stigma of rape persists. Victims are greatly concerned about others discovering they were raped. Service providers and criminal justice officials should endeavor to maintain the confidentiality and respect the privacy needs of victims.”

Stigma.

Of.

Rape.

Does this really sound like something college women would lie about in order to get the privileges listed above?

Really?

Really?

How much of this idiocy has to be spouted before everybody throws their hands up in the air and says, “Okay, enough.  Just… enough.  Go sit in a corner and think a bit about what you’re saying.  Try not to be a jerk.”

For more articulate and succinct responses to this, check out the hashtag:

#SurvivorPrivilege

As one poster succinctly put it:  “my is PTSD, flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares, and shame…. almost 6 years later”

Yeah.  That kind of privilege.

———————————————————

* While I am an employee of Tri-Valley Haven, the views in this blog and the sarcasm with which they are presented are my own.  🙂

#YesAllWomen Blog Roundup…

yesallwomen_largeYou know, I’ve been pondering so many blog posts related to the #YesAllWomen hashtag  (Yes, all women experience feeling unsafe because of their gender, yes all women have experienced harassment, etc.) that has grown out of the Santa Barbara shootings and the discussion of cultural misogyny that has grown around it.  I keep searching Twitter and reading the tweets from thousands and thousands of people, men and women, and their links to articles and blog posts.  It’s been an obsession the last few days.  And every time I think I have something to say… I find a post that says it better, more cogently and more coherently than I could.

As I type this blog entry, I can look to my typing stand on my work desk and see a large stack of what we call “gold forms” at my office.  Gold forms are the forms we fill out whenever we receive a call or request for help from a sexual assault survivor.  Part of my job every month is to compile all the sad, disheartening, tragic, enraging statistics from these forms.  Some of these women and men I have met.  Some I have not.  But their stories are spelled out in brief and spartan handwriting on the double-sided pages.  Every month, the gold forms pour in.  Every. Single. Month.

And you know what?  While some survivors are men – and deserve the same support and and belief and resources that women do! – most are women.  Most… are always women.  And so for that reason, I also say:  #yesallwomen.  After that, my ability to speak gracefully on the topic degrades a bit in comparison to the bloggers below, and so I think what I will do here is try to link to a few of these posts and recommend strongly that you read them if you’ve not already.

There is something fundamentally destructive about the way we socialize young men and boys.  There is something fundamentally destructive about the way we socialize young girls and women.  There is something broken in our cultural dialogue around gender, gender roles, sex, sexual roles… there is something broken.  That something broken contributes to sexual assault… to domestic violence… and to the murders in Santa Barbara.*

*Please note that I am not saying it is the only contributing factor.  One article I read quite rightly points out that the Santa Barbara tragedy can focus as a looking glass, with our perspective on what “caused” it shifting as our own focus or bias shifts – one could implicate gun culture, male socialization, mental health, and numerous other factors and probably not be wrong in any of these cases and more.

Rather than focus this set of links on the mass killing itself, I would like to look instead at the very popular Twitter hashtag and responses to it, and what this all says about the current state-of-the-society.Funny-Not-all-men-are-like-that-meme-t-shirts-Hoodies

The first of the blog posts I’m linking to takes to task the common protest of “Not all men are like that!” that crops up whenever discussions turn to misogyny or street harassment or societal ways in which women are made to feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or simply bodies without minds and spirits inside them.  In fact, #NotAllMen has become a common hashtag used to contradict the #YesAllWomen hashtag.  While it is undeniably (thank goodness!) true that, indeed, “not all men are like that”… it can derail a very important and necessary conversation about how our culture expects men to behave that does and can contribute to violence.

This first post is written by a self-described white, cis-gender male.  He really gets to the heart of why “Not all men are like that!” is an unhelpful and distracting response to a very real issue.  I recommend it highly.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/05/27/not_all_men_how_discussing_women_s_issues_gets_derailed.html

Over the weekend, as the discussion across Twitter turned to these horrible events, a lot of men started tweeting this, saying “not all men are like that.” It’s not an unexpected response. However, it’s also not a helpful one.

This next blog post talks specifically about the idea of nerd-culture and misogyny, but really what it’s discussing is the way we raise boys (who, of course, become men) to feel that their role in life is expected to involve the pursuit and conquest of women sexually at the expense of seeing women as the protagonists of their own stories and their own lives, with the power and right to make their own decisions:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/27/your-princess-is-in-another-castle-misogyny-entitlement-and-nerds.html

I’ve heard and seen the stories that those of you who followed the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter have seen—women getting groped at cons, women getting vicious insults flung at them online, women getting stalked by creeps in college and told they should be “flattered.” I’ve heard Elliot Rodger’s voice before. I was expecting his manifesto to be incomprehensible madness—hoping for it to be—but it wasn’t. It’s a standard frustrated angry geeky guy manifesto, except for the part about mass murder.

yesallmenThis post by acclaimed science fiction writer John Scalzi on his blog goes into a sensitive and interesting dissection of the levels of discrimination in society and in the individual that pertains not only to sexism or misogyny, but racism, homophobia, etc.

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2014/04/17/the-four-levels-of-discrimination-and-you-and-me-too/

I’ve been talking about sexism recentlymy own and others — and I have to say I’ve found it increasingly exasperating to see the massively defensive response of “not all men are sexist” that inevitably follows. One, because it’s wrong (more on that in a bit), and two, because the more I see it, the more it’s obvious that it’s a derail, as in, “Holy shit any discussion of sexism makes me uncomfortable so I want to make it clear I am not sexist so I’ll just demand recognition that not all men are sexist so I can be lumped in with those men who are not sexist and I can be okay with myself.”

Finally, because sometimes a picture (or a cartoon) can be worth a thousand words, especially when it can connect with some humor as well as a visual, I leave you with two cartoons by Robot Hugs:

 

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