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BY VICTORIA FITZGERLD
20 years ago this month Anita Hill courageously thrust the issue of workplace sexual harassment into the American public consciousness when she spoke out about the inappropriate behavior of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
To celebrate the profound impact made by Hill’s appearance at the all-white, all-male congressional hearing in 1991, The Nation has brought together a whole host of inspirational women, including playwright Eve Ensler, the Domestic Workers Alliance’s Ai-Jen Poo and our very own badass Chief Executive Emily May to discuss the implications of Hill’s legacy. This awesome troop of ladies not only discuss how Hill orchestrated a change in the workplace but also what remains to be done. In particular, there is a legal loop-hole that alienates domestic workers. To be protected from workplace sexual harassment or discrimination there needs to be a minimum number of employees, in many instances at least five, which excludes workforces of one. This has to change. Watch the video so you yourself can inspire change!
In 100 years of IBM’s existence the company has never had a female CEO, until now, cue Virginia “Ginni” Rometty. As of January 2012 Rometty will step into the shoes of current CEO Sam Palmisano. The news comes hot on the heels of Meg Whitman’s appointment last month as CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co.
It is so refreshing to see these trailblazers of female equality and empowerment, women that we can look up to and say that we want to be just like them. In the immortal words of Marie Wilson of The White House Project, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” And this is absolutely the case, seeing the likes of Rometty and Whitman’s rise to success sets a sterling example to the next generation of kick-ass feminists.
We are now seeing not one but TWO long-overdue examples of women in positions of power. It will follow that more women will pursue such high-power positions with fewer impediments; women’s power will become normalized and more people will come to believe that ALL people can operate in all fields at all levels! Pink-collar jobs no more!
Rometty is being touted as successful, passionate and inquisitive by a friendly environment of fellow IBM-ers. This is great news for our equality-seeking world but it certainly isn’t enough to have two female CEOs of major technology companies. New leadership is needed. Step to the fore!
Although this is noteworthy step for female equality, it is common knowledge that females in America make up over half the work force, but still only make 70 cents to every male dollar and as of 2011 only 12 of Fortune 500 companies have women CEOs, none of whom make the top ten. In fact, the highest raking female, Patricia A. Woertz of Archer Daniels Midland, only made it to number 39.
As we continue to stand up against street harassment and reach for high-ranking positions in all sectors we can all take on the methods of activist work. And I would say visibility is key. We have to be able to see ourselves represented, or else we’ll be commodified, mythologized and used for other peoples’ purposes. Many of us were taught to be meek and unseen so male supremacy could rein. To combat that old oppression, let’s be passionate, steadfast and BAD-ASS leaders so equality can supersede patriarchy.
Scroll to the bottom of The Village Voice’s homepage and you will find a bland, colorless gray box labeled backpage.com. The last sentence of the disclaimer preempting sections of the gray box listed under “Adult” reads:
“I also agree to report suspected exploitation of minors and/or human trafficking to the appropriate authorities.”
But no disclaimer is going to put right the wrong done to children victimized by sex trafficking.
Village Voice Media, owner of 13 alternative newspapers including the Village Voice and LA Weekly, is also owner of the online classified site Backpage.com, which has been severely criticized for refusing to do away with its adult advertising on the site.
In September of 2010, 21 State Attorney Generals requested for Backpage to remove its adult services sections stating that they “believe that ads for prostitution—including ads
trafficking children—are rampant on the site.” Backpage declined the request of the attorney generals stating:
“Censorship will not create public safety nor will it rid the world of exploitation.”
This past September, Village Voice Media was again urged by a group of 45 attorney generals to help end the use of their site as a “hub” for trafficking minors.
On Tuesday, the Groundswell movement, a new multi-faith coalition took out a full-page New York Times advertisement. The advertisement was an open letter to the CEO and Chair Jim Larkin and Board of Directors of Village Voice Media, urging them to follow the lead of Craigslist (which removed it’s adult services section in 2010) and shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com. Again, Village Voice Media refused, instead pointing out on the Village Voice blog that criminals use cell phones and no one is blaming Verizon or AT&T!
The Groundswell Movement is now urging clergy and concerned citizens (THAT’S YOU!) to sign a petition demanding that Village Voice Media shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com. Make a difference and sign the petition today!
While waiting for my fiancee to exit a retail establishment, I was standing on the sidewalk at this intersection somewhat a ways back from the street and close to the entrance of a residential building. It was nighttime and dark out, although the area seemed safe.
A man approached to enter the building and told me how pretty I was making the entrance area appear. I’m ashamed to admit that I snapped at him and told him “that’s a rude thing to say.” I’m ashamed because he was paying a compliment, but even though he said it in a nice tone his intentions to hit on me were very clear. That’s why I snapped.
I feel very conflicted about the encounter. On one hand I did not desire this man’s attention and it was not appropriate for him to just come out and say this especially to a lone female at night. However, he said it in a nice way and was, at the end of the day, complimenting me and there was no tone of contempt there as there would be with a catcaller or harasser.
I just want to cleanse myself from this encounter by releasing it out into the world, and saying “I’m sorry” to this gentleman, for snapping at him, but also I’m not sorry because you should not hit on a lone woman at night in passing, no matter how pretty she is making your building entrance look. It’s unwanted attention you’re paying to her, whether it’s with the best of intentions or not.
Thank you for listening.
To the man at the bus stop,
I guess I don’t know how to say, “please leave me alone” in a way that you will understand. Please stop talking to me.
“If it weren’t sacred – your relationship – would you go to dinner with me?”
No. I will not go to dinner with you. It’s not because my relationship is sacred – and it is – but that doesn’t prevent me from going to dinner with people. What prevents me from going to dinner with you is that I’m not interested.
“Not interested? How can you say that? You don’t even know me.”
Well, sir, I guess I’m not that interested in getting to know you. Because you opened this conversation by asking me how pretty I think I am. And then, while looking my body up and down, you told me how much you thought I was worth. A dollar amount. As if I could be bought. As if I would be more willing to go to dinner knowing you think I’m worth more than a car. Thanks, but no thanks.
“Would you rather go to dinner with me or do drugs? Would you rather kiss me or take a drag off a cigarette? Your boyfriend doesn’t love you, you know.”
Neither. None of those. Because your options are not real options. Because that is not the reality of the situation. Because you don’t decide what my options are. And because when you got up in my face like that and started yelling, I almost hit you and yelled back, but you aren’t even worth that. You aren’t even worth eye contact.
When you left, I felt sick with relief. But I still feel sick – with disgust – because you exist out there and you talk to women like they’re sh*t. So f*ck you, you delusional f*ck.
– The kind of girl you’ll never have
BY VICTORIA FITZGERALD
On Tuesday, the Girl Scouts of Colorado spoke out in support of transgender children. This comes hot on the heels of news that the leader of a Girl Scout troop in Denver initially told 7-year-old Bobby Montoya that, despite identifying as a girl, she could not join because she had “boy parts.” The Girl Scouts of Colorado maintained that the troop leader responsible was unaware of the organization’s policy and released this statement:
“Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members… If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout… Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them.”
The Colorado branch also emphasized that they would be reaching out to the family of Bobby Montoya as well as working to customize their training programs so that all girls would be included.
Corey Barrett of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado commented on the matter:
“I think it’s all about providing a healthy environment for them for that to happen. Everyone needs to be prepared or at least have an idea from a policy and procedure stand point how they’re going to address that.”
This is such a huge step in working towards a more inclusive society where normal is normal, rather than a crazy, archaic stereotype. We say bravo to Girl Scouts Colorado for setting such a fantastic example for breaking down barriers of prejudice. But of course, we have an even bigger and more awesome round of applause for teeny tiny, bad-ass, feminist of the future, Bobby Montoya for being herself and driving a change that will benefit so many that come after her.
I was walking with two of my friends down SoHo and we were into deep conversation about something, definitely not paying attention to our surroundings and the people in the street with us. Suddenly, we notice a man walking in our direction, rudely about to walk through us. As he was getting closer, we realized that he was determined to not change his direction and walk around us so naturally we let him walk in between us. Suddenly he creepily mumbles to us “Eat each others’ pussies…” We all looked at each other like “What did this guy just say?” We were all in shock that this just came out of his mouth. We all look back at him and he was, surely enough, looking back at us, winking. It was a very disturbing experience. And it scares me that this guy thought it was totally okay to say this to us. I don’t know what he expected to get out of saying that, but I can only imagine all of the other disturbing things he’s said to other girls.
I was walking with my friends and an old man pulls on my arm, trying to talk to me. I said immediately after, in an angered tone, “Please don’t touch me.” He then started following me and my friends for two blocks in which we preceded to walk faster. I was shocked to think that this man would have the audacity to assault me with the police less than 20 feet away, I was even more shocked that the cops did nothing about it.
I was on my way home from picking up Chinese food on 134th street. I tried to cut the corner because everyday men young and old stand outside of Popeyes talking to and eyeing every girl who passes by. I passed by a silver Escalade waiting at the traffic light and the man in the passenger side said “psst, can I talk to you.” I rushed by, hearing his words, but ignoring them. Everyday I find myself listening to music so I can avoid the catcalls from men old enough to be my father.
About a month ago, I was on my way home returning from my school’s volleyball practice. I had just gotten off of the bus, and I was walking the first of two blocks to my house. On my way, I noticed a man had gotten on at the same bus stop at me, and gotten off at the same one, too. I already felt nervous. I was walking a little faster than I normally would have, trying to make it home.
He had sped up a little bit, too. When I got to the corner of the block that my house is on, I heard him give me a catcall. I was immediately freaked out. He kept calling, and started into a jog to catch up to me, as I was half a block ahead of him. I sprinted to the fire-station next to my house. I waited in the office there with the firemen who had been next door my entire life. When he saw me run there, he turned around, and went around the corner. Just to be safe, I sprinted next door, buzzed myself in, and made sure I didn’t go anywhere alone for the next week.