BY RAVEN NICOLE WILLIAMS
Today I witnessed one of the worst and most blatant abuses of a woman’s human rights ever caught on live national television.
During an episode of Discovery Channel’s “Lockdown” a male corrections officer is seen sexually assaulting a young woman in custody. The clearly distressed female is heard pleading “stop touching me” and the guard is seen groping her breasts twice, after the second grope the officer appears to be smirking.
The assault can be seen between 1:25 and 1:34 on the YouTube footage and it is clear that the guard touches the victim’s breasts twice intentionally. Look at the video below to judge for yourself, there is no question that he is committing a crime:
This is not right.
Prisoner or not, no one has the right to touch you inappropriately on your body; not a police officer and not a prison guard. Official procedure exists stipulating how to pat down a prisoner. As a former security guard for the port of New Orleans, the way that woman was violated is unacceptable. It is impossible that any of the officers were permitted to touch her like that. From my experiences with the prison-industrial complex, the only time a pat down is warranted is if the prisoner is being accused of a felony or has been found to have drugs in her/his possession.
Sadly, the sexual abuse of women, from my experiences with the jail system, as well as the countless other women who have been locked up in the prison industrial complex, occurs all too often. It is allowed because of prejudiced attitudes towards those, who in many cases have either never been found guilty and/ or accused of survival crimes, that are deemed no longer human or worthy of respect because they broke the law.
In most cases these types of victims do not feel that they have the voice to speak out, but today I ask you to join with me and give this woman a voice by signing the petition below:
Please help in the campaign to see that this woman gets justice by ensuring that this officer, who clearly committed a crime, is prosecuted for his offence and a strong message is sent that no officer is above the law.
BY SARA SUGAR
Go ahead ask me. Ask me when my last breast or pelvic exam was and watch my face go blank. Now ask my partner the same thing and watch a similar expression appear on her face. We admit; we’re long overdue and it’s not ok.
In a month that is colored pink for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’ve started to think about how many strong, smart and educated women I know who consistently avoid seeing a doctor. When I think of my friends who also admit to being long overdue for their exams, the majority of us have one thing is common: we’re gay.
But what none of us can or should avoid is that one in every eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, and according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual women and transgender people have a greater risk of breast cancer than other women.”
This increased risk for lesbians and bisexual women developing breast cancer is not related to sexual orientation, but to specific risk factors that are more often found within the gay community. According to Liz Margolies, LCSW, founder and executive director of The National LGBT Cancer Network, the four mostly commonly cited risk factors for lesbians and bisexual women developing breast cancer include: a higher rate of cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and obesity, as well as gay women being less likely to give birth before turning thirty.
But there is also a fifth factor: lesbians and bisexual women are less likely than heterosexual women to have yearly gynecological exams. So why don’t we go? The reasons are endless, but it very often comes down to one of two things: a lack of health insurance or uneasiness with healthcare providers.
It is not a secret that the majority of healthcare professionals have little to no experience when it comes to interacting with the LGBT community, and depending on where you live in the world, very often it falls on the lesser end of the spectrum. No one likes encountering the infamous blank stare from a nurse after she inquires whether you use protection as you awkwardly squirm in your gown saying, well I’m a lesbian so, uh, it’s kind of a little different… It is also not a secret that finding affordable LGBT sensitive healthcare is not the easiest of feats and very often it is overwhelming.
But we know we can’t hide from the fact that not having yearly exams and regular mammograms puts us at a higher risk for the second most deadly cancer for women: breast cancer. We don’t hide in the streets, so let’s not allow cancer to hide from us: let’s Hollaback! to cancer! Check out the links below to find out where you and all the badass women in your life can find resources and information about the prevention and detection of breast cancer.
2.)Need help finding a doctor? Go to the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) to find LGBT sensitive healthcare providers.
3.)Find out more information about the LGBT community and cancer at the National LGBT Cancer Network.
I was walking to my bus stop when I noticed a car driving slowly by me. I only glanced over to see what it was. This guy just fervently waving at me. I wasn’t rude and didn’t want to get into any sort of situation, so I just looked away and kept walking, but he made it a point to turn around so he could flip me off and spit at me. Because that is obviously going to make me want to talk to him more!
I used to get a lot of verbal harassment in the neighborhood where I lived, off of a major highway. I moved to a smaller, nicer, residential neighborhood where harassment isn’t really a problem.
I was walking back from the library. It wasn’t late, maybe 7:30 or so, but it’s getting darker earlier now so the sun was already down. The speed limit is very low, so cars drive slowly, but I noticed one coming towards me was slowing way down. It had heavily tinted windows, so I couldn’t see who was driving it, but it pulled into a space next to where I was walking and I heard someone inside say “hey, ladyy.”
I was already in a bad mood, so I bellowed “Fuck off!” as loudly as I could and the kept walking. I heard the car pull away behind me.
I’m glad my harassment reaction skills haven’t atrophied, but it still really, really made me angry.
For more than a year now I have passed the same guy on my walk to work at least once if not multiple times a week. He’s a middle aged man who wears dark rimmed glasses and flamboyant brightly colored suits always walking west on Lake Street. He also makes a very obvious point to look me (and every other woman in a one block radius) up and down every time I walk by him– sometimes I will have walked 10 or 15 feet past him and I turn around and he is walking with his head turned all the way around still looking at my behind. He always tries to lean in way too close with a “Hey baby” or a “Looking fine, girl” or making that awful kissing noise– that’s his favorite. This is the way you call a dog, dude. It does NOT make me want to sleep with you. In fact, it makes me want to kick you in the groin.
Normally I am pretty good at ignoring idiots like this, but the fact that I experience this on a regular basis from the same person– that I can spot him from a block away and know what is coming– totally infuriates me. I have given him the dirtiest looks I can muster, stared him down, told him he is disgusting, but I’m pretty sure he gets off on that because his behavior never changes… if anything, he gets a little braver and lingers a little longer and he’s still the same awful creep that I can expect to run into almost every morning.
I was enjoying an early evening (7:30pm) in New York City’s Madison Square Park on Wednesday 03 August; when I walked to the northwest corner of the park (near 26th Street & 5th Avenue) a man started yelling out obscenities to me; I walked away and took a seat further south (near 25th Street). I could still hear him yelling…and so could the other twenty or so people on the benches between this man and me. Eventually I stopped hearing him.
I kept my eyes open for a Park Employee thinking to report the man, but saw none in the area. I didn’t hear nor see the man and at 8:00pm I finished a cell phone call and decided to walk back to the exit at 26th Street & 5th Avenue.
Suddenly I heard the man again and saw him get up from his seat (in the dark shadows on the north side of the park) as I turned down the exit path. There were others still seated near the exit; even a man walking his dog whom I had to walk around to make my turn to the exit path.
The man was about 6 foot 2 inches (two inches shorter than me); but heavier than me; yelling “faggot” and slurred threats my way. He sped up to intentionally cross my path at this narrowed point (because of the man with the dog). Passing within a foot of me, he yelled “faggot” again and threatened to beat me over the head with a bottle he had in his hand.
I said nothing and hurried away from him toward the exit. He was still yelling obscenities.
The frightening thing to me is that this could happen in clear view and proximity to so many other people who were in the park. It was still relatively light out, as dusk was still falling.
It was a disturbing experience for me, which I still think of days afterwards as I walk the streets of New York, even in these “good neighborhoods.” This Madison Square Park is normally very safe and family-oriented.
It just reminds me that hatred and bigotry are still ever present in our world; no matter the “advances” we in the Gay Community believe we are making, and no matter the “acceptance” we seem to be seeing from the general population; we still have to be vigilant and cautious as there will always be people out there meaning us harm.
Thank you for reading my story.
I am holla’ing for my friend Brooklyn. We were walking in Union Square the other day when a man bumped into her. I thought he had actually just bumped into her, but when we walked away, she mumbled “Wow, I feel kinda violated.” I asked why, and she said “That man grabbed my vagina.” I told her to point him out so we could call the cops, but she didn’t want to; she said that she couldn’t point him out.
My mom warned me earlier that day about the large amounts of perverts and pedophiles in Union Square, and I didn’t really believe her at first.
A guy with a leaf-blower was out in front of this building – it’s not a church, but it has a steeple. I was just going for a nice morning walk, and noticed that he was walking alongside of me for a little while, a few feet away. I looked over at him, and he gave me a really creepy smile. A cop car drove by, and I told him to leave me alone. I started walking faster, and he did too, but then eventually turned and started leaf-blowing again. I can only imagine he was on the job. What was even more infuriating was that there was a nice-looking guy presumably walking to an office nearby, and I looked at him with a look of frustration trying to say with my eyes ‘can you believe how awful he’s being?!’, and that guy just gave an ‘it’s none of my business’ grin and walked away. Come on, bystanders!
I was walking my dog and my step-mother’s dog on the lawn. My dog was on a leash and I bent down to pet him. As a vehicle drove by, a male voice shouted “Bend over!”
I was so shocked that this was happening in a residential neighborhood in Winthrop Maine that I wasn’t able to react. As the vehicle drove off (I can’t even remember what it was), I flipped my middle finger, but it didn’t make me feel better.
By REBECCA KATHERINE HIRSCH
20 years ago this month College Professor Anita Hill took to the witness stand at the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Despite being accused of “flat-out perjury,” Hill courageously revealed to the world that whilst working under Thomas’, the Supreme Court nominee had not only pressured her for dates, but, had boasted of his sexual prowess and regularly, with great detail had described pornographic films to her.
Two decades later on October 15 prominent scholars, attorneys, journalists, activists and our very own Emily May came together for New York City conference “Sex, Power and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 Years Later” to celebrate the controversy that not only launched modern day public awareness but redefined stock assumptions of exactly how sexual harassment manifests itself. And I was lucky enough to bag myself a ticket.
Anita Hill gave a wonderfully casual and gracious talk about her experiences regarding intersectional racism-sexism in the wake of her 1991 hearing. Amidst the rejuvenating hullabaloo a poignant moment stood out to me. Hill referred to polls revealing that 70 percent of Americans felt that she had been treated fairly by the all-white, all-male Senate Judiciary. I asked myself how is this possible? Largely due to gender stereotyping and the myth of manipulative women. The severity of such stock perceptions is their impact on an honest woman’s testimonial. I believe that this form of sexism survives by condoning the “boys will be boys” attitude, whereby a male is above the law by virtue of his boyhood. A woman, particularly one of color with all the historical baggage of colonization and slavery, is seen as sexually available by default. To protest sexual harassment, in this instance, is ridiculous because “boys will be boys.”
Anita Hill made no apologies for audaciously confronting her attacker and celebrating her tenacity 20 years on will hopefully educate and inspire the next generation of empowered women. The conference yielded the notion that education starts from the ground up. Actively speaking the truth is the first step to enacting legislation against any type of harassment to create an environment where people take women seriously because women take themselves seriously. I encourage women to speak up and defend themselves! If you hear:
Take him on:
“Oh hey, you think I’m sexy? Well, geez! I just feel like I’m walking home! But tell me about that…”
Issues of gender-based stereotyping, violence and sexism in general should not be a taboo subject, bring it up at family dinners, in friendly emails, on Facebook or Twitter, at school, in the park or at the store. Being a kick-ass, sassy and change inspiring feminist is a fun and full-time job and it pays off to be empowering yourself and those around you. Show people that the stereotypes are wrong all we want is gender equality and mutual respect.
“We, as activists and saboteurs who seek to upset the status quo, are in a place of danger and we need to protect ourselves. And yet, we are about to be free and we are not going to stop.”