Monthly Archives: October 2017

4 posts

Scouts Honor: It’s Wrong To Discriminate Against Girls

If I’m remembering correctly, this determined young woman who started the petition drive to allow girls to become Boy Scouts attended NOW’s 2016 national conference in Washington, DC — CT NOW President Cindy Wolfe Boynton. Check her out!

A statement of national NOW President Toni Van Pelt:

Washington, DC – That old glass ceiling continues to break, but the cracks don’t run deep enough.

NOW welcomes the news that the Boy Scouts of America have once again admitted to their long history of discrimination, this time against girls, and are taking steps to correct it.

For more than a century, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts have been an integral part of our society. But girls have been left to wonder, why were they left on the sidelines when boys got to earn badges, participate in scouting activities and be Eagle Scouts?

But there’s an even bigger question that remains unanswered. Why are Girl Scouts not afforded the same level of financial support on the federal, state and local levels and recognition for their fine work in supporting and providing opportunity? The fact the Eagle Scouts award is considered by some as more prestigious that the Girl Scout Gold Award speaks to this financial discrimination.

Are the Boy Scouts of America truly going co-ed, or are they setting up a parallel scouting experience that defined as​​ “separate but equal?” ​even as​ we know the practice usually plays out as separate and unequal in quality and opportunity.​

If this decision means that the Boy Scouts will be offering segregated activities and providing girls with fewer opportunities, or activities of lesser quality, there’s much more trailblazing needed from the Boy Scouts of America. We’d rather see​ a cultural shift of​ more respect and ​funding for the Girl Scouts as is their due.​

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NOW calls on the Academy to Revoke Harvey Weinstein’s Membership

A statement from national NOW President Toni Van Pelt:

Washington, DC – NOW is calling for sexual predator Harvey Weinstein to be removed from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. After decades of abusing his power to prey on women, the last place he should be is in Hollywood’s most powerful club.

This week the New York Times reported that Weinstein silenced numerous women who accused him of sexual harassment–and many more came forward after the article’s publication, including actors Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.

We are witnessing the downfall of a powerful man at the hands of empowered women. It took tremendous courage for these survivors to come forward, in spite of the looming threat of personal and legal retribution from Weinstein, and the fierce shame that so many survivors experience. I am deeply grateful to these women. Their bravery has inspired others to share their story–squelching the toxic culture of silence around sexual assault, and potentially sparing other women the same fate.

Weinstein has proven himself to be the worst kind of workplace monster: powerful and predatory. This week’s reports reveal Weinstein’s cold, calculated pattern of sexual harassment and assault–with his own employees used as pawns to manipulate women. Taken together, these accounts illustrate a disgusting abuse of power, wielded by Weinstein as an individual and with the weight of his company.

A sexual predator doesn’t deserve the privilege of an Academy membership–and all the opportunities to wield outsize power that come with it. If Weinstein has power in Hollywood, women are at risk. Stripping his membership is the obvious next step toward achieving justice.

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‘What are they asking for? Trouble.’

Last night before I fell asleep, I read Donna Karan’s remarks on the sexual harassment claims levied against Harvey Weinstein. I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t shocked. I didn’t think or feel anything was out of the ordinary.

This morning I read her comments again, and I was enraged.

Why the change of emotion? Because last night I was tired. I had spent my day being assaulted by all of the micro aggressions our society allows the powerful to lob at girls and women on a continual basis. Last night, I just thought to myself “another woman coming to the aide and defense of a powerful man.” No, actually. I thought “another white woman doing the bidding and heavy lifting of a rich and powerful white man in an attempt to stay in his good graces and bathe in his golden light and privilege. What’s new?”

I see and hear this behavior in all of the spaces I occupy. I see and hear it on television when women make derogatory remarks about the appearance and dress of girls and other women. I see and hear it in the dress codes and standards that girls and women are expected to adhere to, while boys and men are not shamed and policed for their bodies and dress style.

I see it and hear it when women confront sexual harassment and sexual assault, and they are immediately grilled on what they were wearing, doing, saying, and thinking when they think they were unjustly assaulted.

I see and hear it in all of the self-described “liberal” and “enlightened” spaces that I frequent.

It’s common to have a man attempt to insert himself into a conversation and then drive it to his desired location, which is most always a white male-centered destination fueled by the emotional labor of the women in the conversation. When women push back, the men attempt to end the conversation on their terms, making statements intended to silence any and all critics and then declaring “this conversation is over.”

Routinely, a woman will come into the conversation and tone-police the women who called out the man or men who inserted themselves into the conversation, demanded free emotional labor, and attempted to reframe it in a white male-centered perspective.

She will talk about how nice this guy is, or how she likes to hear his comments because they are always so enlightening and impactful. She will make excuses for his behavior and attempt to remove any ownership or accountability the man needs to take for his words, actions or micro-aggressions that created a hostile environment for women. She will then try to shame the women that pushed back by stating that the other women were mean to him; that this is supposed to be a “safe place” for all voices; that we need to respect the man; and that we need to focus on “unity” and the common goal.

This woman is asking the aggrieved women to sacrifice their own sense of well being and safety for the brass ring.

It is routinely women doing the heavy lifting of blaming and shaming other women for pushing back against the patriarchy. Why? Because that requires emotional labor, and women are experts at providing free emotional labor on demand.

We call this internalized misogyny. The woman that is doing this doesn’t understand that she is doing unpaid work for the patriarchy.

She doesn’t realize that she isn’t garnering any additional points or affection from the men when she treats other women this way. She is simply another another tool for the misogynistic, white male-centered culture to use and abuse at their whim. She won’t receive the extra protection and privilege that she thinks she is going to earn by standing up against other women who are fighting to dismantle the patriarchal systems that hold all of us subservient and vulnerable in society.

This internalized misogyny is apparent in every economic and social class in America. Maybe we simply nod our heads in acceptance when we see and hear it from a woman with low economic and social status, as we acknowledge her challenges to simply exist in that space without the power that wealth and social privilege provide other women.

But do we call it out when we see it from women like Donna Karan?

A multi-millionaire in her own right with the privilege and power that comes from creating and running a successful apparel empire that clothed the wealthy, powerful, and beautiful for 30+ years. A woman who made her fortune by creating clothing designed to empower women, while enhancing their sensuality and sexuality in professional and personal environments. A woman who routinely dressed 14-year-old girls in the revealing gowns, lingerie, high heels, makeup, and fragrance designed for adult women to attract and retain the wealthiest and most powerful male gaze. She then took their photos, marched them up and down runways, and projected images of those sexually, and sensually, empowered 14-year-old girls all over the globe, peddling her wares and funding the lifestyle that allowed her to socialize with the likes of Harvey Weinstein and other men like him.

Donna Karan made her fortune dressing many of the women that Harvey Weinstein victimized. Donna Karan made her fortune on the backs of the troublesome girls and women she now blames for Harvey Weinstein’s downfall.

What happened when we called Donna Karan out?

Her first response was to blame the victims, blame society, and then attempt to obfuscate the issue. Only when she started to receive an enormous amount of criticism did she backpedal and provide clarifying statements. But when you read her apology, she’s not actually apologizing for her words and attitude. She merely blamed others for taking her words out of context and apologized if she offended anyone. She then stated that sexual harassment is not acceptable. That is not the apology she needed to make. Of course

This internalized misogyny is apparent in every economic and social class in America. Maybe we simply nod our heads in acceptance when we see and hear it from a woman with low economic and social status, as we acknowledge her challenges to simply exist in that space without the power that wealth and social privilege provide other women.

sexual harassment is not acceptable. Her throwaway comment at the end condemning sexual harassment doesn’t change the fact that she is operating without any ownership or accountability for her words and actions.

Karan’s apology is the textbook apology we hear from so many privileged and powerful men when they want to make a public statement to absolve themselves from the stain of bad press, but don’t want to actually acknowledge the harm they created and the pain they inflicted on the people they exploited. How are we ever going to end sexual harassment if women like Donna Karan — self-professed feminists and allies — are merely well-paid, well-dressed, more-privileged agents of the patriarchy?

Before I sat down to write this, I spent some time putting my 9-year-old son’s socks and pajamas into his dresser. I stared down at his Star Wars underwear and his Snoopy pajamas. I wondered when his clothing choices and behaviors would become troublesome and signal that he was deserving of sexual harassment. Will it happen in five years when he is 14 and wants to look like older teenagers and be a cool kid? Will it be in ten years when he is in college and desperately wants to attract the attention of the young women around him? Is there anything my son can wear, or ways he can present his body, based on traditionally acceptable, white male-centered mores that will message that he is fair game for sexual harassment? That his body and soul are open season for abuse? Of course not. That burden is placed solely on the backs of girls and women with the most impactful policing and enforcement provided by women to include the likes of the Donna Karans of our society.

Kate Hamilton Moser is vice president of Legislative Action for the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women. Email her at katehamiltonmoser@gmail.com or find her via CT NOW’s Facebook page.

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CT NOW to host screening of documentary Birthright: A War Story


The CT chapter of the National Organization for Women, in partnership with Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, will host a screening of:

BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY
Wednesday, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Avon Theatre Film Center 272 Bedford St., Stamford, CT 06901

This feature-length documentary examines how women are being jailed, physically violated and even put at risk of dying as a radical movement tightens its grip across America. The film tells the story of women who have become collateral damage in the aggressive campaign to take control of reproductive health care and to allow states, courts and religious doctrine to govern whether, when and how women will bear children. The documentary explores the accelerating gains of the crusade to control pregnant women and the fallout that is creating a public health crisis, turning pregnant women into criminals and challenging the constitutional protections of every woman in America.

A post-film Q&A with filmmaker Luchina Fisher and Ruth Shaber, M.D. — moderated by CT NOW President Cindy Wolfe Boynton — will follow. Tickets are $7, which you can purchase below. Your tickets will be held for you at the theater and available the night of the event. Questions? Email president@now-ct.org

Pay Now

 

 

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