January 25, 2018
Consent trainings have been a valid resource for during my fourteen-year career as a violence prevention educator. These trainings have consisted of national “best practice” standards that include a generic definition of consent that includes a freely given, sober and enthusiastic verbal YES. While this guideline helps to set the stage, I fear it is providing a false sense of security for these institutional leaders and workshop participants, mostly men. Rather than be concerned with what is legal and illegal, we can teach young people what are respectful and disrespectful behaviors. These individual acts can be contemplated by the participants in our workshops to determine what their own values around sex and relationships are. And, as an adult man, it is my responsibility to model these behaviors in ALL of my relationships. Young people hear what I say and they are certainly watching what I do. My interaction with all female identified people provides a road map for the young male basketball players I coach and those in the workshops I facilitate. Role modeling humanness is just as important as reciting a definition of consent.
As I reflect on these trainings, I fear that my facilitation may lead men to actively seek a “Yes” without cluing into one powerful means of communication, non-verbal body language. By placing value on the spoken word, I omitted from the conversation the power of folded arms, darting eyes, stiff body or requests to “slow things down.” This can lead men to seek a “yes” only as permission for a transaction (i.e. sex) rather than asking what their partner wants too. Seeking consent alone does not encourage the individual to ask questions about what their partners enjoy about sex or what intimacy looks like for themselves. Instead, only seeking a verbal “yes” becomes the quest for a transaction to build a shaky level of trust; just enough to not get a no and believe it was the same as a yes. It also damages someone who didn’t say “no” and didn’t feel comfortable about what was happening in the moment. Coercion goes beyond what is “illegal” and we should expect better from men. What is missing from these trainings is the opportunity for men to share their fears of rejection and for not matching up to the impossible statement of “be a man.” In my experience, many men have questions about intimacy, sex, and sexuality that are rarely asked, leaving them with only their “man box” training to rely upon for guidance.
As an adult, father and husband, I reflect on the many ways I have caused harm to others. As a member of the Idaho Coalition and an educator, my journey towards connecting my head to my heart has led me to visit memories that are painful, ugly and shameful. These looks into the mirror have me twisted in how I treated women as a young adult. Now, as someone who spends time with young men, part of my journey is to share some of these stories not as fuel for the fire, but signs for pause. Seeking consent means more than four guidelines; rather it is seeing value in the other person. My own “man box” lessons as a youth led me to see women as objects, as a transactional vehicle rather than human beings. These actions don’t define me as a man, yet it is my responsibility to teach and model different ways of manhood; one’s that include respect and value in women and permission to forgive myself in moving forward as a life-long learner.
Inaction is still a choice. If we choose to not do anything, we are supporting the violence with our silence. We all deserve different, more, better. #TimesUp and what are we all going to do?
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Ending sexual harassment and all the other acts of abuse and violence requires all of us to change our attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. The Advocates in Hailey is working to provide people in the Wood River Valley with the tools to engage people in this culture shift. The majority of us working in the field of relationship violence prevention were not surprised when women started coming forward publicly in large numbers to report sexual harassment. When a local resident called and asked The Advocates to do something, we responded and developed a Sexual Harassment Demystified workshop. The workshop defines sexual harassment, discusses what to do if someone is harassed and answers questions.
The workshop debuted on January 10 to a group gathered at the Limelight Hotel in Ketchum. The presentation was well received and has several unique elements that help engage the audience. In addition to using generic statistics, participants generate their own statistics about the issues at hand. Everyone present was asked to answer two questions anonymously via PowerPoint polling clickers. The results indicated that over 80% of people present had been sexually harassed and that only 20% of them reported the harassment. This is a powerful way to bring the message home.
Another unique aspect of the workshop is the use of connection slips. Participants are invited to write down their connection to the issue. One participant wrote, “Recently my supervisor, an older man, on the first night of a job, made a joke about groping me and other young women. We all felt very uncomfortable with him for the rest of the night. Also, because we did not know him and we were worried about what else he might say or do.” The Advocates has thousands of connection slips from adults and students. We use them to highlight the pervasiveness of abuse, neglect, and harassment . These are real problems that happen in our communities and need everyone’s involvement to end.
The workshop also points out that marginalized communities, experience harassment at much greater levels and that many of the societal influences that perpetuate and allow for acceptance of sexual harassment be addressed. A Boise attorney, Marla Henken, added the legal perspective and spoke about sexual harassment in the workplace. She discussed Title IX and Title VII, which both may cover sexual harassment allegations and other resources that are available. The workshop wraps up with a call to action using #TIMESUP: Time’s up on silence. Time’s up on waiting. Time’s up on tolerating discrimination, harassment and abuse. The Advocates is refining the workshop as many organizations, employers and other groups are requesting the education for their staff and employees.
We believe we are on the verge of a cultural shift created by many courageous women speaking up and telling their stories about sexual harassment and assault. We certainly do not know how many community members it will take before we reach a critical mass and actually bring about the cultural shift of no tolerance for sexual harassment, that it is safe to report it and that perpetrators will be held responsible.
The work we all do changes lives and often saves lives – from simply believing victims to providing safe housing, to educating young people how to safely intervene to stop an assault from taking place. Oprah said it well and it is a message we all can spread near and far through our work. “Speak your truth and let’s work together for change. For a day when nobody ever has to say MeToo again.”
– Darrel Harris, Social Change Coordinator and Tricia Swartling, CEO; The Advocates
This weekend, millions of people across the country took to the streets to march, rally, and lift the voices of women, girls, and people who are gender non-conforming, to talk about the experiences we face in every day life, and to start challenging the socialized narrative that leads to the devaluation of women, girls, and people who are gender non-conforming. Movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp were highlighted in marches, including here in Idaho.
The Idaho Coalition joined the nearly 3,500 folks who gathered in front of the Idaho Capitol Building this last Sunday, January 21st, to support the movement for an equitable and just world, and to support Coalition Youth Organizers Fanisee Bias and Bukky Ogunrinola who were invited to speak. We are so proud of them!
Fanisee eloquently showed how much we all have been impacted by a culture that devalues women, girls, and people who are gender non-conforming, when she asked the crowd to raise their hands if they have ever experienced sexual harassment, or sexual assault or violence at some point in their life (only if they felt comfortable doing so). It was overwhelming to see the sheer number of people who raised their hands, and in that moment, were in solidarity with one another. And it was a clear example of why we must challenge that culture as it exists.
Bukky lifted her mother’s voice, and the need for our work to be intersectional, to ensure that the work we do centers the communities that exist on the margins and are too often forgotten, too often are invisible in our work. Bukky’s call to action, for us to #SpeakLouder, to demand space when it’s not given, to ensure our issues are present and are centered, is an exemplary reminder for us of the importance and need for us to continue our work of focusing on the Last Girl in our communities, to create societal level change, to transform the toxic culture we have been living in for far too long.
In Ketchum, The Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault led the way for the Women’s March on Saturday, January 20th. With over 650 marchers, The Advocates were intentional in the way they opened the march, by inviting Marisol, a student at Wood River High School, to kick off the event and read her opening statement in Spanish. They demonstrated what beloved community looks like, when our full humanity is taken into consideration. We are so proud of the leadership they have shown in their community.
We had so many people stop by our booth to learn more about the work we and all the programs are doing across the state. We had #MeToo buttons and signs that just flew off the table! It was a great experience for us—we want to hear about any Women’s March events you may have attended or helped lead. Send us your thoughts and any pictures you may have taken!
– Jennifer Martinez
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We are excited to bring in Sandra Henriquez, Executive Director California Coalition to End Sexual Assault to share her experiences on the prevention and response to sexual assault.
SAVE THE DATES!
Registration will be open in early February.
Trauma-Informed and Culturally Specific Practice for Latina Survivors
Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 10 am – 11:30 am MST
Casa de Esperanza is hosting a webinar titled, Trauma-Informed and Culturally Specific Practice for Latina Survivors. The presenters will be Dr. Josephine V. Serrata, Director of Research and Evaluation, and Dr. Rebecca Rodriguez, Manager of Research and Evaluation, with Casa de Esperanza. Through this webinar, participants will:
Pushout: A Conversation with Monique W. Morris on the Criminalization of Girls of Color in Schools
Thursday, February 8th 2018
BSU, Student Union Building, Special Events Center
Free and open to the public
Monique Morris, Ed.D. is an author and co-founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute and an award-winning author and social justice scholar with nearly three decades of experience in education, civil rights, juvenile and social justice. Dr. Morris is the author of Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (The New Press, 2016).
Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) regional training
In an effort to assist victims of sexual assaults in confinement settings, the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association would like to invite advocates to attend free Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) regional training funded by STOP Violence Against Women Grant 2016-WF-AX-0044 PREA set-aside. The 6 hour course will be held twice in each location.
Registration information is available on the website www.idahosheriffs.org.
Building Collaborative Responses to Trafficked Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
March 6-8, 2018 in Atlanta, GA
Learn More and Apply Here (Deadline January 31)
This 2.5 day training will provide participants with effective skills on how to identify and assist domestic violence and sexual assault victims who may also be human trafficking victims/survivors.This training will focus on improving collaborative responses to adult/youth foreign-born trafficked victims/survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Presented by: Futures Without Violence, in partnership with U. S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.