November, 2010

Strap up with Sir Richard’s!

500_Nogloveforthelove
I’m sure every one of us, particularly us girls have walked into our local Duane Reade and been eyeballed by a disapproving older person for browsing in the condom section. I personally subscribe to a no-shame, grab-and-go philosophy of condom purchase, but I have friends who can’t buy condoms without also grabbing a kit kat, or a bag of gummy worms, or even nail polish, if they’re feeling rich. As if putting another item on the counter somehow dilutes the horrifying impact that an attractive young woman buying condoms would have on the fragile sales clerk.

I’m of the firm belief that no one should feel ashamed of buying condoms, of course. But it certainly doesn’t help that they come in these tacky packages in weird pastel or neon colours, adorned either with heteronormative outlines of a man and woman, or some weird masculine 70s pattern. Ew.

Sir Richard’s Condoms has the remedy! Run out of London run by a team of eclectic and we’re sure, sexy individuals, Sir Richard’s have preempted our need for hip plaid gender-neutral UK packaging for our rubber love. They see that choosing to be safe should be sexy, and totally non-discriminatory.  Most impressively the company firmly believes that safe sex is a basic human right, and pledges that for every condom purchased, another will be donated to non-profits in the developing world, helping promote safe, consensual sex for individuals in countries where demand is high, and increases every day. We love their blog, too.

We’re proud that Sir Richard’s will be joining us as sponsors for Hot Safe Spring Break, providing these smart, ethical products for similarly smart, discerning individuals willing to think about the world we live in, engage in dialogue about how we can make things better, and DIY grassroots change, even when it comes to established culture. Attitudes and the way they shift count –a principle we certainly believe in, and one that Sir Richard’s certainly demonstrates.

Doing good never felt better. We feel it too

“This is What Rape Culture Looks Like”

When the men’s ice hockey team used objectification and sexual language to advertise for a sporting event, the feminist group on campus didn’t sit idly by. In fact, they didn’t even sit busily, talking or complaining. They didn’t even ask for help.

They just painted a new sign, a sign that did all the talking. And it worked. Discussion was provoked, people were intrigued, and a shift in the campus understanding of rape culture’s impact on women’s lives occurred. Kudos to the masterminds behind it!

Feminist Students United at UNC said:

While it can certainly seem daunting to attempt to change harmful cultural norms, remember that cultures (ours included!) are composed of individuals who can choose to act in ways that either reinforce or challenge sexism.  Although it’s clear that we still have a lot of work ahead of us, hard-working students, faculty, and staff have already made important steps in fighting rape culture and creating a safer and more equal campus community.

Moving forward, we need to unequivocally shift the focus of the conversation from how to deal with the problem of violence against women to working to change the fact that men overwhelmingly perpetrate violence in the first place.* Women don’t need more self-defense classes, more canisters of pepper spray, more advice about not walking home alone at night, or more blame when men perpetrate violence against them despite all of their precautions.  Everyone needs to speak up and refuse to allow actions/advertisements/jokes that promote men’s violence against women. We’re glad that our cube has generated so much buzz about the problem of rape culture—let’s keep the conversations and the actions going!

*Although most men do not commit violence, 95% of sexual violence is committed by men.

Read more at their kick-ass blog!

We’re Thankful for…

This, obviously....

This, obviously....

It’s been a great year for THE LINE Campaign. We’ve made great friends, screened around the world, and started countless discussions. Our sticker collection is building up- and you can see all of it here on tumblr – and our impact has only grown from all of the countless love and support we’ve received.

So aside from the things we’re thankful for because we can’t live without them: our team, our partners, and our supporters, what are we thankful for? Well…

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TSA Screeners and bad behavior

Photo via Eric Jusino on flickr.

Photo via Eric Jusino on flickr.

This article originally appeared here.

Listen, we know the TSA’s been unpopular lately. But are they really so bad? What about this time a TSA screener pulled down a woman’s blouse while frisking her? And then laughed about it? Yes. Yes, they are that bad.

The incident occurred during the spring of 2008 at Corpus Christi airport, and has (shockingly!) prompted legal action on the part of the victim. And yes, she was a victim: “As the TSA agent was frisking plaintiff, the agent pulled the plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing plaintiffs’ breasts to everyone in the area,” say lawsuit documents. “As would be expected, plaintiff was extremely embarrassed and humiliated.”

The woman, highly upset, proceeded to leave the screening area to collect herself. You know, after forcibly going topless in the middle of airport security. And when she came back? A display of class about on par with a fraternity basement at 2 am: “One male TSA employee expressed to the plaintiff that he wished he would have been there when she came through the first time and that ‘he would just have to watch the video.’” Right on brah! Topless travelers! Molestation! Betraying your obligation to protect public safety!

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You CAN End Violence: TODAY!

The last time you were harassed on the street, what did you do?

If it happened recently, you may have thought about Hollaback!, the global movement to end street harassment. The epidemic, one that especially affects LGBTQ persons and women around the world, is being challenged by Hollaback!’s chapters in cities across the world. The movement started in New York City and has since been transformed from a blog full of civilian submissions of stories and images of street harassers to a full-frontal campaign against one of the most pervasive forms of violence against women that incorporates mobile technology, the mapping of street harassment on ihollaback.org, efforts to increase dialogue and education in communities about street harassment and why it happens, and the empowerment of people everywhere to take action. The message and role of Hollaback! has remained: don’t just walk on, hollaback! Tell your story and expose your harasser.

What has also remained is you.

When Hollaback! NYC launched and began posting stories from women in New York, it was about you. And when Hollaback! Launched a successful Kickstarter campaign last summer to fund their expansion into a global non-profit organization creating new technologies and working on new strategies, it was you they counted on to show support and take that step toward changing the world with five or ten dollars. When Hollaback! posts stories on the website and tweets people’s experiences tagged with @ihollaback, it’s about you.

And now, with my.ihollaback.org, it’s all about you. The new website allows activists to create personal fundraising pages that feature their fundraising efforts and goals, a letter to potential supporters, and their own personalized URL and images. Hollaback! has been expanding and experiencing great success- including a recent mention in the New York Times and the release of the iPhone and Droid apps to make reporting street harassment faster, easier, and more effective. The more Hollaback! expands, the greater their successes: street harassment is now an issue of discourse in the mainstream media and a focal point for leading feminist blogs and activists. The campaign has created a vision of a world without street harassment, and now that we’ve all seen it, there is no other choice.

So get involved today. Small contributions make big changes, and big contributions make waves. Tell your family and friends with a simple click of a link and post your fundraising page on your Facebook and Twitter so that even your classmates can see that vision. The fundraising campaign (with a goal of 25,000 dollars) ends in under seven days. The time to start talking is NOW!

And when they ask what you’re doing, the answer is simple:

I Hollaback.

“Advance Consent” In The Courts

Photo via Ell Brown on flickr.

Photo via Ell Brown on flickr.

Jezebel’s recent piece “The Slippery Slope of ‘Advance Consent’” is, to say the least, complicated. The story can be summarized with this excerpt:

The woman has been locked in a custody battle with the man, who also has a history of domestic violence convictions. The two had agreed to try erotic asphyxiation and had discussed anal sex, but the woman said she hadn’t consented to what she woke up to, which was anal penetration with a dildo.

The man was convicted of sexual assault, but then a higher court overturned his conviction, saying she had essentially consented to sexual activity before she blacked out. They framed it as an issue of not criminalizing adult activity, which is confused to say the least.

The questions coming out of this case are many: is advance consent a real, legitimate, and legal concept? Does advance consent work if you aren’t in the right state of mind to think about taking it back or talking it out? And it brings up issues that are more familiar and easier to delve into: No, consent for one sexual activity is not consent for another. No, sex with an unconscious person is not okay.

According to the court decision and transcript, the act of anal penetration was something the two had discussed at a previous time when they were “experimenting,” and no final decision was made:

A. Well, as I had said before, we had done the choking before, so yes, that had already been discussed. The tying up, that was almost common routine at the time, so yes, that was also discussed, and we had discussed other – yes, that other final point matter with the butt, and we had both expressed, I guess, a certain interest in what it would be like.

Q. Okay. When you said you discussed what was allowed and what was not allowed, what did you indicate to him was not allowed?

A. That was something we had discussed long before the events in question, so it wasn’t like we sat there that night and stated what was going to happen and what was not going to happen. I mean, it was quite spontaneous what happened that evening. Certain things not allowed, just silly things like, when I say let me go or we are done, then we’re done. Just certain things like that, basically stating ground rules.

When cases like this are “debated” the consequences belong to all of us. The longer it is considered “questionable” to commit sexual acts with unconcious people, or commit acts you do not have explicit consent for, and the longer judges “deliberate” about whether women consented to acts they define as rape the longer all people will suffer from a culture and society that doesn’t care about their sexual health, emotional well-being, or physical safety. This case of “advance consent,” and the idea that it is unclear whether this act was okay, is more than a “slippery slope.” It’s a large slide backward.

DIY Frat Culture.

Photo via Goldberg on flickr.

Photo via Goldberg on flickr.

The recent slew of sexual assaults on my own campus, and THE LINE’s own Hot Safe Spring Break program have gotten me thinking about fraternity culture and its representations. Often, the media portrays fraternities as a hotbed of high-risk behavior, including unsafe sex, excessive alcohol consumption and most horrifyingly, as an incubator for a generation of youth socialized into rape culture. Sometimes, I worry this is true –think about the recent events involving DKE at Yale.

However, as a woman who’s been involved in the ongoings of a fraternity throughout my college career, I beg to differ. The word ‘fraternity’ should not send tremors of fear through the bodies of young women, nor through the minds of their terrified teachers and parents. The word ‘fraternity’ simply means a community, regardless of whether brothers prefer playing beer pong, or sitting around making scary puppets out of cardboard. It is the unfortunate consequence of normative cultural beliefs and masculine ritual that they have become unsafe places for women, homosexual, trans and queer individuals.

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Hollaback! Launches Apps To Map Street Harassment

A screen shot of Hollabacks app.

A screen shot of Hollaback's app.

Here at Where Is Your Line?, we have addressed a connection between street harassment and sexual violence over and over again. The silence around gender-based violence is extreme in regards to street harassment, a pervasive and ignored form of violence against women and LGBTQ people that anyone who has ever left their homes can surely talk about. The only way to end it is to talk about it- and that is something we strive for at THE LINE Campaign through our submissions, stickers, and screenings.

On November 8th, Hollaback!, an organization leading the movement to end street harassment, announced in the New York Times the launch of their groundbreaking smartphone apps.  The apps have the capability to track and map where and when harassment happens, in real time.

“Street harassment is a gateway crime. It is one of the most persistant and pervasive forms of gender-based violence, but it is rarely reported,” said Emily May, executive director of Hollaback!. It is also a fleeting crime, committed by strangers who too often disappear before action can be taken.  With no recourse, harassers are free to keep harassing, leaving victims to believe that harassment is part of city life.  Hollaback! doesn’t buy it. “We believe that taxes are the price you pay for living in the city, not street harassment,” said May.

When users sign into the iPhone app, they will be given choice to Hollaback! with or without a picture, describing the type of harassment: verbal, flashing, groping, assault, or other. A GPS mapping feature automatically tracks where the harassment is taking place, and maps it on iHollaback.org.  The user gets an email entitled “You Hollaback’ed!” and is encouraged to tell the rest of her story when she is safely back at her computer. The iPhone app will pilot in the U.S., with plans to expand internationally and onto other smartphone platforms.

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THE LINE Election Round-Up: The Scandalous and The Sexist

Image via Humberto Moreno on flickr.

Image via Humberto Moreno on flickr.

Another election season has passed – and what has changed? Besides the major political developments and highlights- Barbara beating Carly, Reid holding on (but only real close), the unfortunate near-victory of Buck, and the switch from Pelosi to Boehner as Speaker and a coordinating, new, and more conservative House- some interesting events and victors are worth discussing.

First is the loss of “scandalous” Krystal Ball, who faced trouble in her VA campaign for a congressional seat after photos of her dressed as a sexy Santa at a college party were leaked to the media. Ball faced a lot of heat for her “controversial” (read: completely normal) college days, despite the fact that it was irrelevant to her current work and her current experience. This is an excerpt from Ball’s website:

In my professional life, I have tried to live the values of my parents and of King George County.  I helped reform the Civil Criminal Accounting system for 89 Federal District Courts to improve accountability and increase efficiency.   I also traveled to Louisiana to assist in the Court’s efforts to recover after Hurricane Katrina.  While working full-time with the Courts, I took night classes and obtained my CPA to better understand the accounting issues I was dealing with.

Somehow, it sounds to me like Krystal got over her scandalous days. (But tell that to politicians, the media, and the voters.)

While the scandalous were pushed out, many controversial winners still rode to the top. For example, Salon highlighted the following three candidates who claimed victory yesterday – featuring two major misogynists and one unapologetic racist.

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Talk the Talk: AAUW Happy Hours

The American Association for University Women (AAUW) is committed to all the things we love – equity for women through advocacy, philanthropy and research. To breaking economic barriers so women can get the education they deserve. Right now, they’ve formed a nationwide network of more than 100,000 members and donors that are committed to working to ensure that all women and girls have a fair chance. And most importantly, they believe in dialogue, the powers of peer-education and choice.

The AAUW wants to learn from you, about you – what you find important as women about the enter the professional world. Which issues – educational, social, economic, and political mean the most to you, and why? For me, dialogue among women is one of the best ways to grow as a feminist and an activist – to have to defend what means the most to you, or convince others of the fact, but most importantly to learn how to accept and understand the views of others. And if I know anything about the feminists in DC or NYC, the one common belief they all share is that it’s much better to have these conversations with a drink in hand, rather than at a debate. These are issues that affect our daily lives, so why not make the conversations about them an enjoyable part of our social lives, too?

So, as AAUW proposes – Tuesdays. ‘Not as manic as Mondays, or as relieving as hump day and certainly not as fun as Friday. Until Now’. The lovely women of the association will be running a once-a-monthly happy hour at local bars and restaurants that have either a female executive chef or entrepreneur or have previously demonstrated support for women’s issues. Furthermore, they will be raffling off items donated from local boutiques owned by women in order to spotlight women’s businesses. A multi- functional even if anything – sip discounted cocktails, meet the lovely ladies of the AAUW, bicker with feminist friends, and perhaps even buy something nice to help another girl out.

Your views are important – especially since issues of sexual assault and violence can make universities a high-risk zone, and relationships and communication have the half-lives of about a minute and keep evolving into more complex creatures. So do go! These happy hours start November 9th at Grand Central in Washington DC from 6pm to 8pm – ‘No panel, no power point, no pressure. Just cocktails and convos.’. If we were in DC, we’d be there in a second.

All Posts from November, 2010