Friday, April 30, 2010

In History: Emily Stowe

This is the 23rd post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Emily Stowe was the first woman doctor to practice in Canada. She was also a suffragist, possibly born out of the fact that twice she was denied entry to a college (first as an undergrad, then as a med student) just because she was a woman. According to Wikipedia, "Stowe was a prominent early suffragist, considered by some to be the mother of the movement in Canada. In 1877 she founded the Toronto Women's Literary Guild, a suffragist organization, and campaigned for professional, educational and occupational opportunities for women. When the Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association was founded in 1889, Stowe became its first president and remained president until her death." She was also on trial for an abortion case in 1879, which you can read about here. Ultimately, the judge decided there was no case against Stowe, who had prescribed drugs to a woman that could have caused an intentional miscarriage.

Stowe died on this day, April 30, in 1903. You can read more about her here, here and here.

This plaque is in Norwich, Ontario, Stowe's birthplace. It reads:

The first female physician to practise medicine in Canada, Emily Jennings was born in Norwich Township to Quaker parents. For some years she taught school, then, in the early 1860s, she decided to pursue a career in medicine. Refused admission to an exclusively male institution in Toronto, Stowe enrolled in the New York Medical College for Women. She received her degree in 1867 and, returning to Canada, established a successful practice in Toronto. A passionate advocate for social reform, Stowe campaigned vigorously for increased educational opportunities for women, effectively challenging the right of Canadian universities and medical schools to exclude female students. As first president of the Dominion Women's Enfranchisement Association (1889-1903), she also contributed significantly to the advancement of women's voting rights.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Read and learn: Sandra Bullock kept her own name and won the Oscar!

This story from the Globe and Mail, "Married women should say ‘I don’t’ to changing their name, study suggests," has me all sorts of annoyed.* Among other things, it says:
Women who take their partner’s name are regarded as more caring but less intelligent, less competent and less ambitious, researchers from the Netherlands discovered. Moreover, they’re less likely to be hired for a job and are perceived to earn much less at work than those who keep their own name.
Let's work on the assumption that that is true. How messed up is that? "Oh, if I'd only not changed my name, I would be more competent and intelligent and ambitious and make more money because other people would view me differently even though it's just a name."

But then the story says:
In a four-part study titled “What’s in a Name?”, social psychologists at Tilburg University found that Dutch women who adopted their partner’s name actually possessed different characteristics than those who kept their own, supporting previous U.S. research.

On average, those who had changed their name were older, had lower educational levels, had more children and held more conservative family values. And although they tended to display a stronger work ethic, they also worked fewer hours per week and earned a lower salary than those who did not change their names.
So it's not really about the name then, is it. It's about the women. As in, some women are different from others! And they do different things! And even think differently! And all of those things can lead to outcomes that aren't exactly the same!

WHY do we constantly see study after study about trivial bullshit like this regarding women? Is there a study in this world that looks at how people perceive men who marry women who do or don't change their names? How about the men who change their names to their wife's last name? (It happens.) I mean, I get that the name decision in marriage can "say something" about you. I also get why people do and don't change their names. There are so many reasons to do it and to not do it. It's a personal decision, and I hate the idea that there's some stupid "study" out there that says "hey, don't do it because you'll be perceived in this negative way." As if there are no negative perceptions about not changing your name. Just ... ugh. Let people be.

As an aside, for the love of our raised fists, how do we do away with the term "maiden name"? Is that not one of the most outdated terms still used in everyday life? (And, you know, for security purposes? WHY is that?)

NOTE: This is reposted from my Tumblr blog.

*Disclaimer: I am not married.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

EVE: Here's a project I can completely support

Maybe I'm completely late on this (chances are, yes), but if I am I'm guessing others are too, so let's all catch up together! You know how sometimes you hear about something or learn about something and you're just like YES this is something that is so true and/or so needs to happen? That's how I felt when I first came across EVE's website.

EVE stand for Equal Visibility Everywhere. You can read the EVE factsheet (PDF) and the "who we are" for more details about the group, but basically they are working to "achieve gender parity in the symbols and icons of the United States. We're taking on statues, stamps, street names, currency, national holidays, and more." And it's just like ... yes please can we change some of this. Ya know? Can you even imagine a woman on a form of currency in this country that is actually used on a daily basis, and not just in a vending machine? Or for a complete OMG moment, think about a national holiday that involved a woman. And isn't it just shameful we don't have either? Check out these numbers, from EVE:
  • There isn’t a single national holiday named after a woman.
  • Not a single woman graces our paper currency.
  • Only nine of the 100 statues in National Statuary Hall are of women.
  • Less than 25% of the postage stamps issued by our government to commemorate individuals are of women.
  • The overwhelming majority of streets are named after men.
  • In New York City there are 150 statues of people: 145 are men and 5 are of women.
  • The overwhelming majority of schools are named after men.
 Read about this Gertrude Stein statue here.

And read up on what they have to say about the private sector. It ain't pretty, as they say. (The Time magazine fact is especially mind boggling.)

When you get a chance, I recommend exploring EVE's site. It's put together well and has great information. There are also polls you can vote in and ways to get involved. One of the current projects is the National Statutory Hall; Ohio is voting on a replacement statue for Gov. William Allen (whose pro-slavery views are apparently just now embarrassing), and three of the 10 possible replacement statues are women. The list:
  • Thomas Edison, inventor
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and author
  • Jesse Owens, Olympic gold medal winner
  • Harriet Taylor Upton, women’s suffrage activist
  • James M. Ashley, Toledo congressman and abolitionist
  • Wright brothers, Dayton aviation pioneers
  • William McCulloch, Piqua congressman and civil rights supporter
  • Judith Resnik, Akron astronaut who died on the Challenger
  • Albert Sabin, developer of the oral polio vaccine
  • Ulysses S. Grant, 18th president and Civil War general
Being an Ohioan, I know how proud this state is of the Wright Brothers and Grant, and I have a hard time believing one of those two won't win on name recognition alone. (Edison is wildly famous, of course, but if I remember correctly he didn't really live in Ohio, he was just born here.) From this list, Upton would be my personal choice. Only Ohioans can cast a vote on what statue will go up, but a group like EVE can play a big role in pointing out why women should be considered for honors such as this one.

More reading:
  • Ms. Blog: "How About Sojourner Truth on the $5 Bill?"
  • Washington Post: "U.S. needs to face up to sexism on its paper money."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Get tested! It's National STD Awareness Month

Many thanks to the good people at for contributing this guest post on such an important topic. Be sure to check out their site!

April is National STD Awareness Month, an important annual observance to raise awareness about sexually transmitted diseases. With April coming to an end, the CDC and other various sexual health organizations are encouraging everyone who is or has been sexually active to get tested.

Sexually transmitted diseases are a growing concern in this country, with an estimated 19 million new cases of STDs each year and climbing. The latest statistics of reportable infections from 2008 found that chlamydia infections rose 9.2 percent, topping off at a whopping 1.2 million cases in 2008. Syphilis rates increased 18 percent between 2007 and 2008. One in five people have genital herpes and one in four people have HPV, which has been found to cause cervical, anal, penile and throat cancer. With such high infection rates, it's important to get tested regularly.

In observance of the holiday, many health organizations, state health departments and clinics are offering free testing to uninsured patients. You can find a list organized by state of free clinics here.

The month is almost over and it may be harder to get tested for free, so make an appointment today and be sure of your status.

And be sure to practice safe sex!

Help Ohio Rep. Betty Sutton fight sexism

This is one of those stories that you almost can't believe. We all know statements like this are said all the time, all over the country, about all kinds of women, and followed up with "and make me a sandwich" (I'm guessing). But this really happened: the Medina County Republican Executive Committee sent out a flier -- 15,000 of them -- in which the Medina County GOP said "Let's take Betty Sutton out of the House and put her back in the kitchen!"

They are referring to Rep. Betty Sutton, who was elected to serve in the House in 2006, who spent eight years serving in the Ohio House, and who is an accomplished lawyer.

Why the kitchen, and not just, say "let's take her out of the house, period"? Well, because a woman's place is in the kitchen! Duh. Even though Bill Heck, chairman of the committee, later said the wording was in poor taste, he stands by the flier. He offered up this bullshit "apology":
"This piece of rhetoric was certainly not meant to be offensive." Heck noted that he has two daughters and his wife had previously run for elective office. "So the words themselves weren't intended to be offensive or sexist."
"See," he says, "I know women! Three of them! And at least one of them has done something outside of the kitchen! Obviously I'm not sexist and neither is that statement!" I mean really, is there anything worse than when someone says something completely offensive and sexist, and then says "it wasn't meant to be offensive or sexist." Just what was it meant to be then, if not sexist and offensive? How is there possibly any other way to interpret that statement? Bill Heck, would you ever say "Let's take Some Man out of the house and put him back in the kitchen!" NO. No you would not, ever, and here's why: It doesn't make any sense because the kitchen is where women belong. Not men. See how that works, Bill Heck? Also? If Betty Sutton should be put back in the kitchen, should all women be there? Or just her?

Here is Sutton's statement on the flier:
“The statement in the mailer is an insult to all women regardless of whether they work within the home raising families and managing households or work beyond the home, providing for themselves and others. Women play a vital role in every facet of this great nation from nurturing our children, caring for their families and aging parents, managing households to managing small businesses, protecting our communities and nation, and everything in between. The comment made in the flyer not only devalues women and all that they contribute to the strength of our nation, but it is also an unconscionable statement of belief about the potential of our girls and young women. A young woman who brought me the mailer shared her pained disappointment about it, saying, ‘I can’t believe that this is how some people value women. And, even if they do, I can’t believe that they would feel comfortable promoting it in a flyer like this.’

“The statement in the mailer devalues the tremendous breadth of talents of women and girls, be they Republicans, Independents, Democrats or none of the above. I call on Republican candidate Tom Ganley to unequivocally denounce the comment immediately and for Medina County Republican Party Chairman Bill Heck, who continues to defend the belittling comment about the women to step down.”
Another story says that "[Medina County GOP] party officers have agreed to more closely supervise newsletter content" and quotes Heck as saying "We will do much better in the future." We'll see.

If you would like to help Sutton fight sexism, you can donate to her campaign here. You could also let the Medina County GOP know how you feel about this flier. Contact information is here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sex discrimination case against Walmart moves forward

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that a class-action lawsuit against Walmart is permissible. This lawsuit is about sex discrimination and pay; it was filed in 2001 on behalf of six (or seven, reports vary) women. The suit "alleges that the women employed by the company face systemic sexism -- that they're paid less than men in comparable positions, receive fewer promotions and wait longer for promotions." The class-action status means that more than one million women could be part of it. I believe it could include any woman who worked at Walmart from Dec. 1998 to the present.

Now, obviously I'm no expert on this case, or in the field of law, nor do I have any crystal ball to say how this will turn out. So all I can offer here is my entirely unqualified opinion. I do, however, think there is something to this statement from Judge Sandra Ikuta, who wrote the dissenting opinion:
“No court has ever certified a class like this one, until now. And with good reason. In this case, six women who have worked in 13 of Wal-Mart’s 3,400 stores seek to represent every woman who has worked in those stores over the course of the last decade.”
It does seem kind of drastic, right? Then you see this a statement like this:
"Since it does not have a companywide policy of discrimination, Wal-Mart argued that women asserting gender bias should file individual lawsuits against individual stores."
Umm, of course you don't have policy of discrimination. That's illegal. That doesn't mean you don't have a companywide problem of discrimination.

Two things strike me here: One is the sub-headline on the ABC story, which says "Walmart Fears Suit Could Cost The Chain Billions." I get that money is always the bottom line for a company, especially a huge one like Walmart. But for one second can we entertain the possibility that these women's jobs cost the women money, in the form of lost wages? Perhaps paying them and promoting them properly in the first place would have saved Walmart money in the end?

Second, and it's kind of related, is Walmart's stance that each of the original plaintiffs should file individual lawsuits against the individual stores they worked for. Well of course that's what Walmart wants, because those are cases that can be cast aside in the press as "isolated incidents," and because every woman who faced discrimination probably doesn't have the time or money or other resources to file her own lawsuit, saving Walmart even more money and face. So the fact that this case is granted class-action and can move forward is huge. (And personally? I don't know how many lawyers there are out there who are willing to take on Walmart in a class-action suit this big who aren't pretty confident in their evidence. Thoughts on that?)

We'll just have to see how the court case goes to find out if Walmart discriminates and to what extent. Bad part is this case was filed in 2001 and it will probably still be years before the actual trial gets under way. Walmart is already saying it might appeal the circuit court's decision to the Supreme Court.

I know we just had Equal Pay Day, and I know I've written about Equal Pay Day twice in the last week. But I'm going to remind you, dear readers, one more time (and let's be honest, it probably won't be the last time) about the Paycheck Fairness Act. Read more about it here and here (PDF, contains great information) and then urge your representatives to pass it. The National Women's Law Center has a super easy form you can fill out and send. And if you're curious about the wage gap in your state, check out the AAUW's state-by-state map.

Lane Bryant lingerie ad vs. prime time TV

So, clothing retailer Lane Bryant has a line of lingerie they would like to promote, and they've made a commercial to do so. Submitted it to some networks, and Fox and ABC said "omg no, that is way too much skin for our prime time audience." You can view the ad at the end of this post, by the way.

Okay, that might not be an exact quote. But it's the general sentiment. You can read about the ad and the controversy at Jezebel (good timeline of what happened), on Lane Bryant's site and from Reuters. (And many other places; I might be the last person who hasn't written about this yet.) There seems to be two big points of contention, from the more business side of this story: 1. Lane Bryant wants to buy time during Dancing with the Stars and American Idol (they were rejected at first, but now it looks like the ads will eventually air on those shows), and 2. Victoria's Secret ads air during both those shows. There is also the other side of this, which is the more abstract "bigger women can't be sexy/are too sexy" side. They go hand-in-hand; if this were a VS ad, no one would be talking about it and it would be on the air. However, the Lane Bryant ad shows the same amount of skin a regular VS ad does: both feature women in bras and underwear. So why the big deal? Cleavage? Except VS ads have plenty of cleavage. The only real difference is the models' body types. VS model = traditional model body. Lane Bryant model = so-called plus size model. Let's be real though, the model in the Lane Bryant ad is hardly "big." Yes, she has bigger boobs than some people, and she isn't a size 2. But that alone can't be the reason for two networks saying no to the ad, can it?

 Well, it can be, and it probably is. I'm at a loss for any other reason for the network to air VS ads during prime time while simultaneously saying no to this Lane Bryant ad. If you have an explanation, now is the time to offer it up!

Meanwhile, let's just take a look at some of the images you might see on the two specific shows mentioned in this story, Dancing with the Stars and American Idol:


So, to be clear, all of the above is fine when it's part of the shows. After all, women's bodies sell, and while that's not always a big part of American Idol, "revealing" costumes have always been a big part of Dancing with the Stars. It's okay for a network to profit off that, but it's not okay for a clothing retailer to feature a "plus-size" model in a bra and underwear, when they are trying to sell bras and underwear.

Here is the Lane Bryant ad:

How dare she be sexy and not extremely thin at the same time! 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Suggested Sunday reading (4/25/10)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with me on Twitter or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

You're probably aware by now that April 20 was Equal Pay Day. If you missed it or would like to read more about it, has compiled a list of blogs that participated in Blog for Fair Pay Day, and others who wrote about the wage gap. You can see it here. There are so many good articles on the subject I can't begin to recommend them. Any on the list will do! (My post on the subject is here.) I will say Jezebel has a good explainer on the wage gap, in "Does the Wage Gap Really Exist?"

In other reading:
  • New York Times: "Promises the Pill Could Never Keep." The pill turns 50 years old soon.
  • RH Reality Check: "KBR’s 'Facts' About Rape Case Are No Such Thing."
  • Yes Means Yes: "Big Ben and the Emerging Pattern." About Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And here's a truly awful, victim-blaming column from the Baltitmore Sun. I'm including this just as a reminder of how media can treat women who sexually assaulted. There's also this op-ed from the NYT, "Nike's Women Problem," about what it takes for Nike to drop an athlete. They have not dropped Roethlisberger.
  • CNN: "10-year-old's pregnancy fuels Mexican abortion debate."
  • Shakesville: "But it's all OK because Obama is protecting Roe ..." This is about the anti-abortion bill passed in Oklahoma, and includes this: "I'm not even going to mince words on this one: Compelling a woman to undergo an unnecessary vaginal probe to acquire a legal medical procedure is fucking rape." Anyone have an idea on the chances of this law being able to remain a law? There has to be a legal challenge coming, right? UPDATE: Two of the bills have been vetoed by the governor!
  • Washington Post: "Virginia legislature restricts abortion funding." Ugh.
  • Ms. Blog: "10 Worst Abortion Myths–and How to Refute Them."
  • The Times: "China tries to sterilise 10,000 parents over one-child rule."
  • Salon: "Female athletes score: Title IX gets whipped back into shape after the misdeeds of the Bush years."
  • Racialicious: "Some Basic Racist Ideas and Some Rebuttals, and Why We Exist." Must-read stuff here.
  • "Earth Day: Green Revolution Can Be a Women's Revolution, Too."
  • Salon: "Why I Won't Be Joining the 'Boobquake.'"
  • Pandagon: "Stupid can't be cured with a degree." It's not often I include political stories in Sunday reading (unless they pertain to women and/or feminism), but this one is too good not to include.
  • The Pursuit of Harpyness: "Farewell, Bridget Jones." I love this, from the article: "Society treats women as though it’s our highest calling to make a man want to marry us—even if that requires giving up on education, career and financial security. It’s never his responsibility to drop everything to find the right woman, or to accept her for who she is. Nor does anyone expect him to be tormented by the possibility of winding up alooooone."
  • Women and Hollywood: "Sex and the City 2 – Hype and Backlash Begins."
  • Tattooed and Pierced: "The Boy Culture of Record Stores." Loved this.
  • AP: Dorothy Height, civil rights activist, dies at 98."
  • Variety: "Film pioneer Dede Allen dies at 86."

Documentary alert: "Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking" will be shown online on April 27. Details here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

In History: Ethel Smyth

This is the 22nd post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com. 

Dame Ethel Mary Smyth was born on this date, April 23, in 1858. She was a composer and a suffragette, and I believe it's worth noting she was a lesbian. Smyth, born in England, was part of the Women's Social and Political Union, and spent two months in jail after joining more than 100 women in breaking the windows of politicians' offices. Smyth also composed "The March of the Women," which became an anthem of sorts for the suffragist movement. When Thomas Beecham went to visit Smyth in prison, he reported that "I arrived at the prison and found that noble group of martyrs, as they then marched up and down in your heart and with their war song 'March of the Women' sang, while the composer was watching benevolently from a high window and with the bacchanalian energy tact with a toothbrush beat." My understanding is she was leaning out a prison window, conducting a group of women protesting in front of the prison, using a toothbrush as her baton. (Is that not a fantastic visual image?) Her work is still available for purchase today. Her autobiography, "Impressions That Remained - Memoirs Of Ethel Smyth" is said to be one great. (I haven't read it, but I'm intrigued.)

If you'd like to hear "The March of the Women," here's a video (well, photo slideshow) set to the Rainbow Chorus singing it in 2009.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Today: Sexual Assault Awareness Month Day of Action

That's right, today is Sexual Assault Awareness Month Day of Action. Just wanted to take a quick minute to make sure you're aware of that and point you toward some resources, namely this article at Read the whole thing, but while you're going about your business today on the Internet, keep this in mind:
Utilizing social media is another effective way to participate in the SAAM Day of Action. Who doesn't have 30 seconds to change their Facebook status to a message of sexual assault awareness or to tweet rape statistics? If you have a blog or other website, RAINN has a variety of multimedia tools (banners, videos, etc) that you can add. Speaking of RAINN, SAAM is the perfect time to give: during the month of April, every dollar donated will be matched, up to $25,000. Why not spread the word tomorrow and see how much you and your Facebook/MySpace/Twitter/etc friends can raise?
With that in mind, here are some statistics you can post on your social networking sites (via):
  • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).
  • 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
  • 9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.
  • While about 80% of all victims are white, minorities are somewhat more likely to be attacked.
  • About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
  • 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
  • 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.
  • 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
And there's this (via):
Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.

Here's the math. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey -- the country's largest and most reliable crime study -- there were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007 (the most recent data available).

There are 525,600 minutes in a non-leap year. That makes 31,536,000 seconds/year. So, 31,536,000 divided by 248,300 comes out to 1 sexual assault every 127 seconds, or about 1 every 2 minutes.
Anyone is welcome to repost this in its entirety. Spread the word to help put an end to sexual assault!

Previous posts:

(h/t Padaviya)

Today: Equal Pay Day 2010

It's April 20, and that means we've come to another Equal Pay Day. So women, "happy" day to you! You've now earned the same amount of wages, from Jan. 1 2009 to April 20 2010, as men earned from Jan. 1 2009 to Dec. 31 2009. Three months and 20 days later, we're all caught up!

I don't want to rehash everything I wrote on Equal Pay Day last year (but you're welcome to read it!), so I am going to say this: Isn't it more important now -- now that women make up the majority of the workforce and more and more women are becoming the "big" or sole wage earners for their household -- isn't it more important now than ever that women earn equal wages? During this recession we're going through, more men than women lost their jobs. I don't have any evidence at hand to back this up, but don't you think it's possible/probable that more men lost their jobs because they cost more to employ? Women earning less money than men doesn't just affect women. It affects everyone, in all kinds of ways.

So what can you do? Work to get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed. It's designed "To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes." It passed the House in 2008, but was never even voted on in the Senate. The good people at the National Women's Law Center and at American Association of University Women both have easy-to-fill-out forms that you can use to send a letter to your representatives. Takes two seconds, so go do it! You can also sign the NWLC's Fair Pay Campaign pledge here. You can also write letters to the editor at the newspaper of your choice, and of course, spread the word all over the Internet.

Some Equal Pay Day facts you can share (via PDF):
In 2007, the gap between men's and women's earnings was 22 cents. The gender wage gap changed by less than one percent from 2006 to 2007 narrowing slightly from 76.9 to 77.8 percent. Median earnings for women of color are generally even lower. In 2007, the earnings for African American women were 68.7 percent of men's earnings; Asian American women's earnings were 89.5 percent of men's earnings, and Latinas earnings were 59 percent of men's.

Over a lifetime of work this loss adds up. On average, the families of working women lose out on $9,575 per year because of the earnings gap [or $10,622, according to the above graphic]. Women may lose $434,000 in income, on average, due to the career wage gap.

Wage disparity persists across all educational levels and in all states. Women with the most education lose the most in earnings. Women with a college degree or higher lose $713,000 over a 40-year period versus a $270,000 loss for women who did not finish high school.
The theme of this year's Blog for Fair Pay Day is "What would it mean if there weren’t a $10,622 wage gap?" Obviously, it could mean countless things: money for health care (preventative, even!), or child care, or a car, or a better living situation, or access to healthier food, or tuition of some kind, or new clothes, and on and on. For me, if that were my wage difference (see below), it could mean something like more money in my savings or retirement account. It could also mean a good portion of a down payment on a house. It could mean that my student loan debt might actually be paid off someday. What would it mean for you?

(Side note: One question I have about equal pay: How does one go about finding out if they are getting paid equally? Say that I suspect one of my male coworkers makes more money than I do. I have no idea how to verify that. Any suggestions?)

More resources:

Monday, April 19, 2010

WTF, New York Times? You cannot be serious.

Note: This is reposted from my Tumblr, rosie.tint.

Someone actually got paid (presumably) to write that Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Nancy Pelosi are in a very exclusive “sorority” because they are 1. women in politics who 2. have five children.

What. The. Fuck.

And seriously, WHAT IS THIS:
What does it say about this country at this moment that, of the small handful of women who have achieved highly visible political roles, three are matriarchs of such very large families? Could it be that the skills of managing sprawling households translate well into holding office? Or that such a remarkable glut of mom cred makes a woman’s bid for external power more palatable to voters? Or are they just related to more voters, which translates into a mysterious edge at the polls?

Whatever forces may be at play, taking a look at present dynamics, any American woman with long-range political ambitions might do well to also look to her nursery.
Couldn’t it just possibly be, I don’t know, a COINCIDENCE? And to say that Bachmann is a political force anywhere outside the Tea Party would be false. Palin is at that level as well — she doesn’t even hold an office. Pelosi is Speaker of the House. Quite a different level of power than a House member or a speaker-for-hire.

And the last line of that quote? I have no words. I don’t even know what this author is trying to imply. Having five kids is better than four? Or six? More is better? You have to have kids to be in politics? Something else altogether? One thing is for sure: PLENTY of powerful women in politics do not have five children. So basically this means nothing at all, but could serve as yet more “you better have kids!” or “you’re better off with kids!” propaganda.

(And remember how much crap Palin has received over the past couple years for “not being home” with her kids? All the times people have implied she’s being a bad mother while she’s out traveling and whatnot? Yeah. Having five kids and being a woman politician is just win-win for everyone. Right.)

Also, can you IMAGINE an article like this about men politicians? “These men all have five children! That must mean something!! Men who want to be in politics, you better look to your nurseries!”

Male politicians that have five or more kids (off the top of my head): Mitt Romney, John McCain (including adopted children), George Bush Sr., John Kerry (including stepsons) and RFK, who had 11 kids. What does this mean? Nothing!!

New York Times, you should be ashamed for even posting this under your flag.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Presidential Proclamation: National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Yes, I am a little late on posting this, but all of April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, so there is still time to read up on it and take action! Is anything going on in your community? Are you working on a specific action? Let us know in the comments. Meanwhile, here is President Obama's proclamation on the subject:

"Our children are our most valuable resource, and they need our support to thrive and grow into healthy, productive adults. During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we renew our unwavering commitment to protecting children and responding to child abuse, promoting healthy families, and building a brighter future for all Americans.

Every child deserves a nurturing family and a safe environment, free from fear, abuse, and neglect. Tragically, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse threaten too many children every day in communities across our Nation. Parents, guardians, relatives, and neighbors all share a responsibility to prevent these devastating crimes, and our government plays a critical role as well.

My Administration is committed to helping future generations succeed. We are focused on engaging parents in their children's early learning and development, ensuring the safety and well-being of all families, and creating opportunities for all Americans. We are also partnering with Federal, State, and local agencies to better coordinate early childhood services and improve the lives of young children and their families.

Together, we can ensure that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment, free from abuse and neglect. I encourage all Americans to visit: to learn what they can do to stop child abuse in their communities.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2010 as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities that help prevent child abuse and provide for children's physical, emotional, and developmental needs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


(image via)

Suggested Sunday reading (4/18/10)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with me on Twitter or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

First up: A petition you might be interested in signing. The Women's Rights blog at has partnered with the Feminist Majority Foundation and RH Reality Check to launch a campaign against Crisis Pregnancy Centers' false advertising: "Don't Be Fooled By Fake Clinics." The petition, which can be found here, "tells Congress to support legislation that would stop CPCs’ deceptive advertising practices, require that accurate medical information is provided, and eliminate ALL federal funding for CPCs." Need more info about those false advertising practices? You can start here.

In other reading:
  • Feministe: "We Are the Dead: Sex, Assault, and Trans Women." A guest post that's part of a series about National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
  • San Francisco Chronicle: "Bill would increase sex-crime penalties."
  • New York Times: "Maternal Deaths Decline Sharply Across the Globe." Perhaps they have declined sharply. Even so, about 342,900 women died in 2008 from pregnancy or childbirth. That is not an acceptable number.
  • Washington Post: "'Baby Emma' case puts state adoption laws between father, child." This article raises all kinds of questions (like why does Utah has such a problem with single fathers?) and exposes a number of problems with adoption in this country. I really feel for the father in this story.
  • Ms. Blog: "In Prison, Toilet Paper Is the New Tampon." I'm not exactly sure how any prison can get away with not providing any pads or tampons.
  • AP: "NJ school: We didn't tell your boys to cross-dress." Ugh.
  • USA Today: "Working at home: Family-friendly? Technology may not be so liberating after all." I get what they're saying, but OMG guess what? Parents have to work. Sometimes just one parent, sometimes both (sometimes there is only one parent), and raising kids costs money, and you get money by working. Yes, it might suck, for everyone involved. But there's nothing anywhere in the future that's going to allow people to have kids and not work.
  • Washington Post: "Obama extends hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners of gays." Baby steps.
  • National Partnership for Women & Families: "Va. Faith-Based Pharmacy Closes Due To Financial Losses."
  • Reporters without Borders: "Iranian journalist Jila Bani Yaghoob wins "Freedom of expression" award." (I wish I could read her blog.)
  • The Guardian: "Nawal El Saadawi: Egypt's radical feminist." This is must-read. She's inspiring.
  • Slate: "Nebraska Feels Your Fetus' Pain: The real problem with the new Nebraska abortion ban."
  • McClatchy: "Supreme Court takes up religious group's rights on campus." I, for one, am very interested to see how the justices rule in this case.
  • "British Clothing Chain Pulls Padded Bikinis Aimed at Young Girls." I can't come up with one reason that young girls need padded bikinis. Or padded bras. Or a pole-dancing kit.
  • Techland: "DC Comic's First Openly-Gay Character Gets Her Own Series."
  • Salon: "The Tina Fey backlash." I completely agree with this. I even wrote a much shorter comment along these lines on Tumblr.
  • On a related note, from Newsweek: "Leslie Knope, Liz Lemon, and the Feminist Lessons of NBC's 'Parks and Recreation.'"

Friday, April 16, 2010

In History: Harriet Quimby

This is the 21th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.
On this date in 1912, just days after the Titanic sank, Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly solo over the English Channel. Quimby, in fact, was the first woman in the United States to earn her pilot's license. She took part in tours and flying exhibitions -- including one just outside Boston, on July 16, 1912, for which she was paid $100,000. (This seems a large sum to me, even by today's standards, but I think Quimby was something of a novelty and people wanted to see her, so she was probably a big draw. She even had a signature flying suit -- and it was made of purple satin. I wish there were color photos!)

Sadly, that air show was Quimby's last: as she was flying in it, with a passenger, her plane lurched and both of them were ejected (open cockpit) and fell to the ground. They both died. Quimby, who was born in 1875, was just 37 years old.

Quimby was also a journalist and a theater critic, and she wrote five screenplays that were made into silent films. She was memorialized in 1991 on a postage stamp. Because I often urge the readers of this blog to write to their representatives in Congress, I am particularly fond of this piece of Quimby's writing, published June 8, 1911:
For forty years we have been smarting under the national disgrace of the wicked slaughter of American bison. If something is not done, and done quickly, we will be smarting under the disgrace of having looked calmly on while our American birds are being slaughtered and gradually annihilated ... The great trouble is there are twenty times too many men and boys who shoot according to law. If killing (wild game) goes on as it now is going, our grandchildren will see a gameless continent…there are already extinct the great auk, passenger pigeon, Labrador duck, flamingo, Carolina parakeet ... and threatened… are the whooping crane, trumpeter swan, …American egret, wood duck, ... and prairie grouse…” But what can we do? ... The layman can write his protest and forward it to Congressmen and Senators before whom the bills for the protection of birds in various States will appear...”
More reading:
  • PBS: "Chasing the Sun," includes archived video.
  • U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission: "Harriet Quimby"
  • This sight is full of great information. It even has excerpts of some of the articles Qumiby wrote, from which the above excerpt was pulled.
  • There are images of the two newspaper articles about Quimby. One is a report of her flight over the English Channel. The second is a report of her death.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

15th annual Day of Silence

Tomorrow, April 16, is the 15th annual Day of Silence. Not sure what that is? Here is the description of the day from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:
The Day of Silence is the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. On the Day of Silence, students across the country will take a vow of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Hundreds of thousands of students across the country will take part in this student-led action to educate their schools and communities and to encourage others to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior in schools.
Hundreds of thousands. That is a lot of people silently protesting, and I give all who are participating kudos. And while this is a day of silence, I hope that the young people who take part in this day also speak out when they hear someone harassing or bullying or name-calling.

There are tons of ideas and resources available at this two site:
Day of Silence
Day of Silence blog

Here's the image of the poster being used this year:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Isn't banning the face veil just as oppressive as requiring it be worn?

There's a number of countries or parts of countries -- France, Belgium and Quebec, off the top of my head -- that are considering or have considered banning the niqab, or face veil, which is traditionally worn by Muslim women. How many times have you heard this discussion: "Did you know that in some parts of the world, women are required by their religion to completely cover their faces and bodies? OMG that is so oppressive," possibly followed by talk about how "we" are so "lucky" that "we" don't have to "deal" with that. Sound at all familiar?

Guess what? Now "we" have to "deal" with that. And here's why: making it illegal for a woman to wear something, especially something related to her religion, is also oppressive. Just take out the religious aspect of this altogether, and you're left with governments telling a certain segment of the population what they can and cannot wear. Um, no. This is wrong, all the way around.

Look at this, from a story about Belgium's impending ban (emphasis mine):
"The face-covering veil is set to be banned within weeks in Belgium, making it the first country in Europe to make the wearing of Muslim clothing illegal. Women who flout the ban will face from one to seven days in jail or a fine of €15 to €25."
How is that any different than women in stricter Muslim countries being punished (jailed, lashed, etc.) for wearing, say, pants?

And then there's this reason given for the ban, from MP Daniel Bacquelaine:
"Wearing the burka in public is not compatible with an open, liberal, tolerant society. The burka is contrary to the dignity of women. It is a walking prison."
Maybe that is true when women are forced to wear them. But guess what? Some women CHOOSE to wear them! And they should be allowed that choice. Just like women are able to choose to wear "revealing" clothing. (I mean really, if we're talking about clothing dictating the "dignity" of women, aren't a good number of us not "dignified" at all? I dress in jeans and a T-shirt about 80 percent of the time. It's a ridiculous concept to say that being fully covered is "contrary to the dignigty of women," especially when it's that woman's choice.)

Of course, some governments offer reasons besides gender and religion to support why such a ban should be made: In France, it's complicated, as the kids say, and has to do with things like secularism and freedom and religion and how Muslims view freedom (France's words, not mine.) I'd recommend this Salon article for a better understanding of France's explanation. Other excuses offered up involve identity/security concerns, and "integrating Muslims into society." Seriously.

Because she said it better than I can, I'm going to generously quote Alanna Shaikh's piece on the UN Dispatch about this subject (but please read the whole):
Veiling creates a barrier to assimilation only if mainstream culture chooses to treat it that way. If everyone in France talked to women in veils just like they speak to everyone else, the veil wouldn’t be a factor in marginalizing women or preventing engagement with classic French culture. It would just be a piece of cloth. Stigmatizing the veil, and the people who wear it, creates the very alienation that the French government is trying to combat.

Making the face veil illegal takes that stigma to the ultimate level. Women who wear the veil by choice will take it off, true. But women who are trapped in oppressive patriarchal structures won’t get to remove their veils and go out in the world. They’ll be kept from going out at all by the same men who force them into the veil in the first place.

If Sarkozy actually wanted to help Muslim women in France, he’d support things that actually improve their lives. Better educational opportunities. Employment programs. Quality housing. Instead, he’s grandstanding to further marginalize the women who need help the most.

More reading:
  • Bitch: "Feminist Intersection: The Niqab Ban IS a Feminist Issue."
  • Racialicious: "Quebec Niqab Ban: No/Non to Bill 94!"
  • Muslim Media Watch: "Niqab by Numbers: Quantifying the Overreactions."
  • IBN Live: "Niqab ban gets unanimous support in Canada."
  • Reuters: "Committee backs banning veil in public."
  • RTT News: "France Advised Against Enforcing Total Ban On Islamic Face-Covering Veils."
  • Feministing: "Designers in Paris Veil Models in Protest of Proposed Burka Ban." 

Monday, April 12, 2010

A quick note about the latest Ben Roethlisberger case

So, the news came down today that there would be no charges filed against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the latest case of him being accused of sexual assault. The district attorney, Fred Bright, said the victim's accusations "could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

Okay, that's pretty common. A lot of times prosecutors will not move forward with a sexual assault case because of lack of evidence. There might be, say, evidence that there was intercourse of some kind, but not evidence that it was forced. Then it's a he said-she said case, and overall prosecutors don't like that because prosecutors don't want to lose (hurts their W-L record), and he said-she said cases can be lost. (On this subject, do read the Cleveland Plain Dealer's report "Records show sexual assault cases in Cleveland are unlikely to get to court." Seventy percent of these cases in the last five years did not make it to court. Seventy percent. [Be sure to read to the very end, which might just stop you from breathing for a second.])

But there's something that needs to be pointed out here: According to the New York Times,
Bright received a letter from the accuser, whose name has not been revealed, several weeks after the incident saying she did not want to proceed with prosecution. In the letter the student’s lawyer made it clear she was not recanting her accusation.
So, the woman did not want to go to court, and that's her right ... sort of. Because if this case went to court, it would be The State vs. Roethlisberger, not The Woman vs. Roethlisberger. It's technically up to the DA to decide to move the case forward, not the victim. (And that happens across the board with crimes, like if someone got beat up, it's not That Person vs. The Person Who Punched Them, it's The State vs. The Person Who Punched Them. This is not specific to sexual assault or rape.) I would hope, though, that most prosecutors would withdraw the case if the victim doesn't want to proceed. But in this case, the DA continued investigating the case for at least a couple weeks after receiving that letter.

Also, in every story I've read about the DA not pressing charges is this news: The woman was drunk! “Everyone agrees that the victim was highly intoxicated,” Bright said. Do the stories say specifically that her intoxication is why there won't be any charges? No. BUT. Every story mentions it. Just to make sure we all know.

In light of all this, I think this piece of advice (from a rather old article, but still relevant) is important:
Rape can be hard to prove. You should understand that if the district attorney declines to prosecute, if the case is thrown out of court, or if your attacker is found not guilty, it doesn't mean you weren't raped or that you did something wrong. A "not guilty" verdict doesn't prove the rapist's innocence; it simply means the prosecution didn't have enough evidence to meet the level of proof required for a conviction.

Dug up from my (closet) archives

In cleaning out my closet yesterday, I came across a big stack of some old T-shirts, hidden up on a shelf. For instance: a Harry Connick Jr. shirt from a concert of his in 1992. A concert I attended, I should clarify. (What was I doing at a Harry Connick Jr. concert in 1992? It's all Memphis Belle's fault.

Anyway, there were more interesting shirts in the stack: two from Lilith Fair and two from Take Back the Night marches. Which is a big coincidence, because I was just wondering the other day where my Lilith Fair T-shirt had gone, and because I'm going to a Take Back the Night march soon. Behold the (very wrinkled) shirts!

First up, this from 1997, the first tour of Lilith Fair (showing the shirt, a close-up and the back):

Second, this from Lilith Fair, 1999 (the front, close-up of the sleeve, and the back). I guess I didn't buy a shirt in 1998? Oh, and if you want to know who was on the tour that year or any year, the lineups are here. (One of my favorite Lilith memories: being up in the front row for K's Choice, who I love. Only time I've ever seen them live, and it was perfect.)

Then there is this from Take Back the Night, 1996 (love the front!):

And from Take Back the Night, 1997 (the front just had this small logo on it; the back is great):

If you can't make out what that says, it's "To dance into the night, strong and shameless."

I wish I could make it to Lilith Fair this year, but chances are it's not going to happen. The closest show to me is two hours away, on a day I work. I hope tons of other people manage to go, though! All the dates have been announced, and you can find them here. If you have any interest in a Take Back the Night event, check here to see if there's one listed in your city.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Suggested Sunday reading (4/11/10)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with me on Twitter or Tumblr as well. Also, if you haven't yet, consider signing up to Blog for Fair Pay Day 2010.

If you read anything from this column today, read this, from The Sexist: "Test Case: You're Not a Rape Victim Unless Police Say So. This is the story of the night Hannah was not officially raped." It's long, and worth every second it takes to read it. I will warn you, it is upsetting and infuriating and still so important.

In other sexual assault news:
  • The Safer Blog: "Beyond the Campus," a new weekly feature that covers sexual assault beyond college campuses. (Also links to the above story.)
  • Seven Days: "What Rape? Vermont's higher-ed institutions are underreporting student sexual assaults."
  • Tattooed & Pierced: "Schrödinger’s Rapist." Highly recommend reading the blog post that is linked in this post, too.
  • AlterNet: "Why We Still Blame Victims of Rape."
  • The Sexist: "What's in a Rape Kit?" Good information here.
  • The Curvature: "Australian Survey Shows Dangerous Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women."
  • CNN: "Argentina province OKs chemical castration for rapists."
In other reading:
  • AP: "A victory for women after a long battle," about women in Egypt (successfully!) battling to get women appointed to the State Council court.
  • CNN: "Yemeni child bride dies of internal bleeding." So awful.
  • Los Angeles Times: "No man dares sit on this Nigerian throne." Interesting story about a matriarchy.
  • Border House: "A Matter of Resources," a great satirical piece on men characters in video games.
  • After Ellen: "Has Batwoman reached the end of her Bat-line?" (image via)
  • The Daily Beast: "The New Wonder Women of Comics."
  • Salon: "Watch out women's studies, here comes male studies." See also Ms. magazine's blog post on this.
  • Zaftig Zeitgeist: "Purity, or how dieting is the new virginity." Let me just offer you a quote from the piece: "I was thinking how it seems that dieting has replaced sex as a means of trying to control women. It is as if we have gone from legs closed to lips closed."
  • G is 4 Girls: "Four Women in Space Sets Record—Maybe Someday, Events Like This Won’t Make the News."
  • NPR: "No, We're Not Going to Sit Down and Take it." A great response to this, among other things: "Chris Wallace 'Hopes' Sarah Palin Sits On His Lap."
  • Shakesville: "On Abortion Exceptions: 'Rape, Incest, Threat to Life.'"
  • This ain't Livin': "Beyond the Binary: How Shall I Describe My Body?"
  • Thus Spake Zuska: "Smile, Boys! It Would Make The World So Much Prettier For Us Women!" Having anyone tell me to "smile" is one of my biggest pet peeves, so this post is spot on for me. I cannot stand when this happens. And it happens far too often. (But I could probably count on one hand the number of times a woman has told me to smile.)
  • Salon: "Yale bans teacher-student sex." All of it, regardless of if the student has ever taken a class from the teacher or not.
  • AP: "Sex Ed Teachers Could Face Charges, DA Says." This story is out of Wisconsin.
From the "celebrities doing good" file:
  • ReelGirl: "Geena Davis’ new study on gender bias in kids’ media." Looking forward to this.
  • "Cyndi Lauper plans to open shelter for LGBT young people."
  • AP: "Green Day, N'Sync's Lance Bass among sponsors of prom for gay students in Tupelo"

Friday, April 9, 2010

In History: Wilma Mankiller

This is the 20th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

I realize most of you have probably already heard this news, but I can't not write something about it. On April 6, Wilma Mankiller died. Here is how the New York times begins its obituary for her:
Wilma Mankiller, who as the first woman to be elected chief of a major American Indian tribe revitalized the Cherokee Nation’s tribal government and improved its education, health and housing, died Tuesday at her home near Tahlequah, Okla. She was 64.
Her death was covered by pretty much every major media outlet and feminist blog, so a Google search will turn up a ton of information if you want to read more about her. For quick reference, here are some of her other achievements (via):
  • She won several awards including Ms. Magazine's Woman of the Year in 1987, Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame, Woman of the Year, the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, John W. Gardner Leadership Award, Independent Sector, and was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993.
  • Her first book, "Mankiller: A Chief and Her People," an autobiography, became a national bestseller. In 2004, Mankiller co-authored "Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women."
  • In 1994, Mankiller and the singer Patsy Cline were among the inductees into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.
And here is President Obama's statement about her death:
"I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Wilma Mankiller today. As the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief, she transformed the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the Federal Government, and served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country and across America. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she was recognized for her vision and commitment to a brighter future for all Americans. Her legacy will continue to encourage and motivate all who carry on her work. Michelle and I offer our condolences to Wilma’s family, especially her husband Charlie and two daughters, Gina and Felicia, as well as the Cherokee Nation and all those who knew her and were touched by her good works."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Actions

It's Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and you might be thinking "Duh, I'm aware of sexual assault, but what do I do about it?" So I'm attempting to offer ideas of what you can do this month. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and please contribute to it: add something in the comments or e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Donate or volunteer
There are all kinds of organizations across the country (and world, for that matter) that deal with sexual assault and its aftermath. Consider donating to them, via money or goods or your time. Take some shifts working a hotline, find out what the women's shelter near you is in need of and supply them with it (could be as simple as a couple boxes of tampons or pads), or if you can, make a financial contribution to an organization you trust.

Attend an event or participate in a project
Take Back the Night is one of the most common events during this month, but there are plenty of others. Check local media outlets and their calendar listings to see what's being planned in your area -- I know around my city there are educational seminars being held by local police departments, along with women's self-defense classes and a couple lectures on college campuses (in addition to a Take Back the Night event). There are national projects as well. Stop Street Harassment has a good list to check out, and they point out you can organize an event yourself if there's not one around you.

Write letters to your representatives and/or media
This can be members of Congress, your state legislature, or even city council. And really, it can be on anything. Like ratifying CEDAW, for example. Or the Equal Rights Amendment. (If you don't know how this relates to sexual assault, just ask!) You could just let them know that you hope they're doing everything they can to prevent sexual assault, just to bring it into their minds. Or, say your local newspaper or news station writes or reports about sexual assault victims in a questionable manner (victim blaming, rape apology, etc). Let them know! Tell them it's unacceptable, and tell them how it should be reported.

Speak out
If you have the means and time, spread the word about Sexual Assault Awareness Month. ("Awareness" is right in the name of the month!) Post about it on your social media sites and blogs. Hand out fliers. Let people know about the statistics. Explain what it is to blame victims, and how damaging that is to our society and how it invades our justice system. If you are a victim and are comfortable doing so, share your story. It's cliche, but putting a face to a problem and personalizing can help someone else understand it. "One in six" means nothing to a lot of people. If you are that one in six, however, that's something tangible that people can grasp. Also: speak out in your social circle, if you can. By that I mean, if someone makes a crude rape joke, tell them it's not funny, and why. If someone is victim blaming, let them know.

Offer support
If someone you know is a victim, reach out to them. Support them, and be there for them, however they need you to be. If they are reporting the assault, offer to go with them to the police station or hospital or, if it gets that far, court. Be their advocate. If they don't want to talk about it, that's okay too. Just hang out, or give them a phone call, or whatever helps make them comfortable.

Again, this isn't a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will give you some ideas. This might go without saying, but many of these actions can apply to National Child Abuse Awareness Month (also this month), with a couple tweaks. And! Here's another not comprehensive list, of additional resources:
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