Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Illinois Man Pleads Guilty to Stalking ESPN's Erin Andrews

As Stalking Awareness Month is just around the corner, this story illustrates the fact that stalking remains an important issue that needs to be addressed. On December 15th, Michael David Barrett, an Illinois insurance executive, pled guilty to stalking ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews. “More specifically, Barrett admitted to buying information about Andrews over the internet; traveling to follow Andrews; staying in three hotel rooms next to hers (the hotels told him which room was hers); twice filming videos of Andrews while she was naked through the door's peephole; posting those videos online; and trying to sell the videos to TMZ.”

As a female sportscaster, Erin Andrews is faced with a struggle against sexism and misogyny that male sportscasters do not experience. Andrews is now devoted to advocating for changes in the hotel industry to protect female travelers from becoming victims of stalking in the future. She says, “I live in hotels because of my job, and every time I check in, I look around, constantly thinking he is there.” Victims of stalking are forced to live their lives in fear, and this is something Andrews is dedicated to putting an end to. “I have a responsibility to other women,” she says. “If I back down or shy away, what kind of message does that send to other women and other guys who may be doing this?” We all have the opportunity to work with Erin Andrews and support the many victims of stalking this January. Stalking is not a joke, and it is important for everyone to understand the horrors that it entails. The full story can be found here: http://bitchmagazine.org/post/illinois-man-pleads-guilty-to-stalking-espns-erin-andrews

Friday, December 18, 2009



For anyone who is interested, here are the dates for SAPAC's winter training.

Thursday, 1/21
Saturday, 1/23
Sunday, 1/24
Thursday, 1/28
Saturday, 1/30
Sunday, 1/31

Applications are @ www.umich.edu/~sapac

Friday, December 11, 2009

NPA Quoted in the Michigan Daily

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to make point out that an NPA volunteer is quoted in one of the articles in today's issue of the Michigan Daily!

Check it out!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SAPAC & Relay For Life

SAPAC volunteers have started the process of creating a team for Relay for Life 2010! Thanks to Erin Donker, a PE (Peer Education) volunteer, SAPAC volunteers have already started raising money for the cause!

Thanks Erin!

NPA Continuing Ed: Slavery Still Exists

On December 4th 2009, police in Mexico City raided a factory hidden inside a building posing as a rehabilitation center known as the “Institute for Rehabilitation of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction”. Over 100 Mexicans had been kidnapped and enslaved there – working 18 hour or longer days without pay. Even more disturbing than the fact that these people (as young as age 14) were malnourished and suffered from severe physical abuse is that city police were aware of the situation but bribed by the kidnappers not to act

Human rights activists believe the Mexican police knew about the abductions since June, but considered it to have a POSITIVE effect on the city because it was “a way of cleaning vagrants off the streets”. Such roundups are not uncommon to the area as part of what they call a “social cleansing” campaign.

Slavery and human trafficking are not merely aspects of the past. People in North America are right now being denied basic human rights without any recourse from local authorities. How corrupt could police possibly be to allow this to go on for more than 6 months?! Because those who were taken are mostly poor and homeless, they’re completely powerless in seeking help. The fact that kidnapping was seen as a benevolent act of “social cleansing” is absolutely sickening. This is eugenics – the same ideas that lead to genocide in Germany during the Holocaust, Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, etc. If people continue to hold these prejudicial beliefs, deny entire groups of their basic civil liberties, and no one in charge makes any effort to prevent it, slavery will always exist.

What is the point of law enforcement if they only reinforce what those in power want?

- Laura Campion

5 Unnecessary Deaths?

I was following the news story about Anthony Sowell, the man who
was recently arrested for the slayings of 11 women.
I happened upon this story that really upset me,

indicts_anthony_sow.html.To summarize it quickly, a women
named Gladys Wade ran out of Sowell's house, bleeding
and begging for a phone to call the police. She said that
she had escaped being strangled and
raped. All of the neighbors refused to let her use their cell phones,
and pointed her down the street to use a public phone.
However, she ended up chasing
down a cop car, and they took her to the hospital where
she was treated and received stitches.

However, since Wade had a pending assault charge, she wasn't
seen as a viable source, and they didn't investigate even though
Sowell was convicted of attempted rape and
robbery in 1990. Only after another rape complaint, did the
police investigate him, only to find the decomposing bodies
of 11 women in his backyard and in his crawl
space, 5 of which are thought to have been killed after
Wade filed her complaint to the police.

Now, we are left to wonder what would have happened had
the police believed and followed through on the obvious assault
and attempted rape of Wade. Would these 5 women have been
saved? I believe that yes, these 5 women were killed by
a man that could have been stopped if
the police had simply believed Wade. This case shows
the injustices facing women in the
criminal justice system. The only reason we know about this
specific fall through of the police
is because there were extremely negative consequences that
followed. If this man hadn't been
a serial killer, but a gym teacher or a friend,
how would we know that a women who was
raped wasn't believed by the police?

This story brings a sad reality into light that must be
changed. Rape is a crime and
needs to be treated and investigated like one.

Monday, December 7, 2009

NPA Continuing Ed: Sex Slaves in Suburbia

I recently saw an episode about sex slaves in suburban Detroit on MSNBC. This is a clip that summarizes what the show was about:

These women were promised a life of education and better work in the United States if they came over from Ukraine. Instead, they were forced to be strippers at Cheetahs in Detroit and sexually assaulted by their captors.

I was surprised about how the lawyer for the men responded. He said the men would not deny laundering the money the women made and were forced to give them but the fact that the women were held against their will and sexually assaulted was false. He claimed they could have left the club they were working at any time and they were not barricaded into their apartment and could have left there at any time. He seems to be ignoring the fact that the men took the women's documents and had threatened their families in their home countries.

The women's attorney, as I was told, was on campus last year and talked at one of the PE events. It is nice to hear her support of the women's story at a time when the men's lawyer can be so uneducated about the methods of control these men used to keep these women working for them.

What do you think about the existence of sex trafficking and sex slaver going on in the United States?


Friday, December 4, 2009

Twilight/New Moon--Innocent Love Story or Dating Violence?

I recently came across this blog about the Twilight and New Moon Saga that argues that Bella and Edward's relationship is characterized by dating violence. At first I was skeptical, especially considering my fondness for the love story, but as I read through the author's reasoning, I too started to recognize the unhealthiness of their relationship. Twilight is a story of all-consuming love, which at first glance, appears to be romantic, but in actuality, is not. It is not healthy to feel the need to spend every minute of every day with one person. In the tale, Edward is portrayed as extremely jealousy, overly protective, threatening, and controlling, all of which are characteristics of an abusive partner.

I realize that the story is fictional, especially since vampires do not exist in the real world, but this does not mean that adolescent girls are not influenced by Bella and Edward's relationship; I know that a million and one girls out there now want an Edward to call their own. And if Edward is controlling, overly protective, jealous, threatening, etc. is that what young girls are now looking for in a partner? All in all, the Twilight books and movies romanticize behaviors that are characteristic of dating violence, which further promotes an acceptance of relationship abuse. Not only is this disturbing, it is scary to think that one book or movie has the power to influence a generation's views on dating values and norms for the better or worse.

What are your thoughts?

Check out the blog, as well as the author's follow-up post at: http://kar3ning.livejournal.com/545639.html

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

“Boy” Toys versus “Girl” Toys

Upon venturing from my home in the early hours of Friday, November 27, or “Black Friday”, as the day after Thanksgiving have been so appropriately named, I was met with a vision at my local Toys ‘R Us store that was more disturbing than the hundreds of parents fighting to take advantage of the huge sales and markdowns on holiday presents. The store had been divided into two segments – “Boy World” and “Girl World”. “Boy World” was filled with toy cars, action figures, and sporting goods. “Girl World” was a pink wonderland of pastel colors, princesses, dolls, and stuffed animals. The message was clear; certain toys are for boys, and certain toys are for girls.

Defining such gendered expectations in the world of children’s playthings is problematic in that it only serves to “other” those who may differ from what is expected. Nevermind if you are a boy who enjoys playing with dolls or a girl who likes doing tricks on her skateboard. By labeling some types of toys as “for boys only” and others “for girls only”, stores like Toys ‘R Us are conforming to hegemonic gender roles. Further, by pushing these gender stereotypes, children who may be unsure of their gender identity are being completely ignored and further alienated.

And just to point out, the gendering of certain consumer products doesn’t stop after childhood. Plenty of objects marketed to adults are gendered, too. Cell phones, cameras, computers, even earplugs are constantly being released in pink versions designed to appeal to women. Oftentimes, these products “designed especially for women” will come in smaller versions of the original product with less features and “dumbed down” instructions. To appeal to women, advertisers seems to be following the “shrink it and pink it” mantra. If you’re interested in seeing examples of this blatant marketing practice, check out these articles:




- Katey Sill

Monday, November 30, 2009

NPA Cont Ed

Reported Rapes Reach 20-Year Low

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Rapes reported nationwide are at a 20-year low, according to new FBI figures showing close to 89,000 women reported being raped in 2008, down by almost one third (30 percent) since 1992.

Obviously this is news that deserves to be cheered. And most researchers are cheering it. The majority of experts credit the drop to changes in the criminal justice system and more widespread use of DNA evidence. One would hope that means rape is now a much tougher crime to deny responsibility for, or to get away with false denials.

Meanwhile, victims' rights advocates add that prosecution of rape cases is taken much more seriously than it was in the past. They also say victim-blaming is passé (as in, "She wore a short skirt and walked down a dark alley alone at night, so she deserved it.") The hope is that these changes have inspired women to be more likely to report rape crimes to police or military authorities.

There's only one possible flaw in this logic. Criminologists insist we will never really know just how many rapes go unreported each year. So the long-odd possibility exists that rapes may actually be increasing even though reported rapes are dropping. Let's hope that's not the case.

I love to hear that we're moving in the right direction, but what this really brings me to think is how long until we can live in a society in which these crimes are no longer a part of life? We shouldn't have to celebrate the fact that reported sexual assault is decreasing as it should not exist at all. Nonetheless, this decline is awesome. Let's keep up the fight.

Much love,

Stephanie K

PS: I also just read this story about Indian farmers in debt that give their wives to their lenders, essentially making sexual violence permissible. It's disturbing how a woman's body can be used as a form of payment. The story's here: http://www.usnews.com/blogs/erbe/2009/10/23/halting-violence-against-women-in-india-and-elsewhere-a-win-win.html

US Senate's Response to Backlog of Rape Kit Evidence

The Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009 was introduced to the Senate on November 5, 2009 by Senator Al Franken. Also called the Franken Bill, the purpose of this proposed act is to eliminate the backlog of evidence in rape cases. Unlike popular TV shows like CSI or Law and Order SVU where rape kits are used to collect evidence and sentence perpetrators in a matter of days or weeks, the real world is starkly different; thousands of rape kits sit collecting dust on shelves for months, or even years, when they are needed in the courtroom. The news story, Testing Justice: Rape Kit Backlog in Los Angeles City & County, is just one prominent example of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9Ir-DZoC_M.

While this bill is a move in the right direction to minimize this backlog of rape kit evidence, will it be enough? Rather than outlining penalties for states that do not eliminate the backlog, the act offers monetary incentives to states that can reduce the amount by 50%. I do not think that this sends a strong enough message that rape is a serious and pervasive problem throughout our society that needs to be stopped. In addition, the bill is only now being reviewed by the committee--a stage that many bills and resolutions will never move forward from.

What are your thoughts on the backlog of evidence or the nation's response to it?


Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I'm thankful for...

Three hours into Thanksgiving and I have a two things to be thankful for:

Precious (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5FYahzVU44) tells the story of a sixteen year old girl in the seventh grade and pregnant for the second time with her biological father's baby. She suffers from physical and emotional abuse by her mother, she is on welfare, and she cannot read above a second grade level. Clareece "Precious" Jones's story is based on the novel Push by Sapphire and is a fictional one - just like Victor Barrenechea's THE RAPE TUNNEL (http://www.artlurker.com/2009/09/the-rape-tunnel-by-sheila-zareno/), where Barrenechea, in his "apparent" stroke of art blogging genius, conceptualizes a criticism of modern art by using sexualized violence as his platform. In Barrenechea's fabricated exhibition, his fictional artist, Richard Whitehurst, intends to literally rape every person who walks down his rape tunnel: "I’m not necessarily concerned with the positive or negative effects of this project so long as there is some effect on people’s lives. I’ve merely set up a situation where there is potential to impact people in meaningful ways." Meaningful, huh?

As I said before, both stories are fictional - but I'm thankful for them nonetheless. Initially, I felt pure hatred in watching Precious and reading about THE RAPE TUNNEL. I felt like they were so awful and twisted that neither of them could reflect reality. But here's the thing - while these stories are fictional, there are millions of people with stories just like Precious and million more like Victor Barrenechea who think rape is a joke. We should feel angry about these realities - and even angrier that they exist together as one sick contradiction: the frequency of sexualized violence together with the humor and insensitivity of it!

Part of me takes ownership for this contradiction. Surely, I didn't make people think and behave this way. I cannot change the minds of people like Victor Barrenechea in one day, or even one lifetime - and I cannot change the lives of people like Precious in even several lifetimes. But I can take ownership of it because if I stopped pointing fingers at the abusers and the politicians and the bad role models who contribute to this reality, stopped alienating and marginalizing myself from all of the people whom I consider colluders of this reality; rather, I started listening to them, understanding them, and finally thinking with them as a whole rather than clashing as individual parts in a society bent on disagreement, maybe it could start the right dialogue to ending these violent trends and insensitivity.

This wasn't the bashing that I had hoped to do, but I guess I realized that I've been down the angry road before and what I thought would come out of it, didn't.
So today, I'm thankful for Precious and THE RAPE TUNNEL because, in a twisted way, they've helped me see a new future for ending sexualized violence and rape normalization. Go see them, and decide for yourself.

SAPAC love


Monday, November 23, 2009

Rape is not a synonym for something else....

We've all heard it. People using rape out of context... "That test just raped me" or "Our football team just got raped" are some common examples I often hear on campus.

These statements can not only be triggering, but trivializing, and they just need to stop.

Here a youtube clip of some popular media outlets doing the same thing...


University of Maryland Student's PSA

Last week, I was contacted by Shaina Wamsley, a senior at the University of Maryland. She wanted me to share a PSA she created for a group project about sexual assault awareness. Victim blaming, masculinity, and consent are just some of things mentioned in the PSA.

Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQGdJSMzADA

It's awesome to know that students all around the country are making the same effort to educate and inform their campus about sexual assault! Thanks so much, Shaina, and awesome job!


Friday, November 20, 2009

NPA Continuing Education: Florida State Women's Basketball Team

The Florida State women’s basketball team has taken a new approach
promoting its team.

Their new website, http://www.seminolehoops.com/team1.shtml, highlights a picture of the team in formal attire showing a more feminine snapshot. Then by clicking on each
team member you are brought to an individual glamor picture either stepping out of a limo or leaning up against one.

The controversy about whether or not this is empowering or degrading remains unsolved. Does the femininity emphasize a pride and liberation to women or does it reinforce the idea that women must always fit into the beauty box?

-Lauren McIntosh

NPA Continuing Education: Sexual Assault in South Africa

This is a continuing education piece from the Networking, Publicity, & Activism Program by Paige Tassie.


This link is to an anti-rape PSA by Charlize Theron was released in South Africa. In it the actress says she struggles with answering the question of what the men in South Africa are like because more women are raped in the country than any other country in the world and 1 in 3 women living there will be raped in their lifetime. She closes the ad saying that "it's not that easy to say what the men in South Africa are like, because there seem to be so few of them out there".


The second link is to a BBC article explaining the controversy around why the ad was taken off the air. Some men were offended by the ad, saying that it implied all South African men were rapists and/or unaffected bystanders with no opinion on the matter.

I can see their point. I can empathize with an upstanding and honorable father of 3 daughters watching this announcement and feeling hurt that he is being portrayed as a potential rapist by virtue of the combination of his gender and nationality. While raising awareness about sexual violence it is important not to alienate the strong allies waiting to be called upon in too often unexpected places. As feminists and defenders of survivors of sexual violence, I think we sometimes go too far and push away the men we so sorely need in the movement through unintentional insensitivity and the generalizations we fight so hard against when they pertain to women.

-Paige Tassie

NPA Continuing Ed

Hey Everyone,

I recently read a book called the Road of Lost Innocence by: Somaly Mam. If anyone has time to read these days I would HIGHLY recommend it. The book is a true story about a young Cambodian girl who is sold into sexual slavery. It was horrifying to read everything that this woman had to go through, from the sexual abuse from her “uncle” to being sold to a brothel. It is amazing to me that things like this are going on in the world today. It was also terrifying to find out that the police are well aware of the situations and yet they let it continue, and even partake in it themselves. This story truly sent me on a roller coaster ride of emotions anywhere from sadness, to anger, amazement, and happiness. It was so inspirational to read the story of this woman who despite being through so much is still so strong. She was able to finally make it out of the sexual slavery she suffered for years and set up an organization to help get more girls out. The organizations started out small, in her own home, but have since grown. Below I have attached a link to the Somaly Mam Foundation’s website:


This foundation not only rescues girls from brothels, it gives them a place to start over. The foundation offers the girls shelter, counseling, medical treatment, schooling, and classes in activities such as sewing. They do all this so that when it is time to leave the shelter, the girls have the confidence and the skills to rebuild their lives. It was a truly amazing and inspirational story. If you can’t read the book I urge you to at least look at the website. I hope that we may all be as courageous and loving as this woman, she is truly an inspiration to our cause.

SAPAC love,

Renee Muller

Transgender Day of Rememberance

Today, Friday November 20, 2009 is the 11th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.


The event was founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor Rita Hester, whose murder in 1998 began the "Remembering Our Dead" web project and a San Francisco, CA candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

This year, the day will be honored in 120 cities in 17 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.

Sadly, there are more than 160 transgender people who were victims of homicide this year. Most reported cases have been from Latin America and North America, with the majority from Brazil (41), Venezuela (22), Honduras (16), and the USA (13). In total, 124 transgender people were murdered in 15 Latin America countries in the last year. The Latin American countries account for 75% of the world wide reported murders of transgender people.

Transgender Day of Remembrance raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, information that is often not included in current media. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of those who might otherwise be forgotten. It also gives allies a chance to step forward with the LGBTQ community and stand in vigil, memorializing those who have died by anti-transgender violence in the face of indifference and hatred.

Please take a few moments today to remember all of the transgender people who have been victims of homicide due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

November 18th 2009 Press Release from Transgender Europe www.tgeu.org

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Diag Drama

Anyone walking on the diag can't help but miss a pro-life group's recent additions. I won't name all of the "clever" statements, but, I would have to say, the one that annoyed me most was "Women deserve better than abortion."

In my opinion, this sentence should really read: "Women deserve better than being judged for their pro-choice views."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Survivor Speak Out

SAPAC's 23rd annual Survivor Speak Out was held this past Thursday in the League Ballroom. Thank you to everyone who came out to support survivors of sexual violence. I want to especially thank the survivors who chose to spoke; your strength and willingness to share was very inspiring.

If you have any questions about Speak Out or about ways to help survivors, feel free to email npacoords@umich.edu!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sexism in Advertising--What Do You Think? GOOD or BAD?

While this advertisement positively provides support and value to the work women accomplish in the home, it also furthers gender stereotypes by implying that women's sole worth is to raise children and by quantifying that worth at $43,461.

Sexism in Advertising--the GOOD

Here, Tide shows a man, Tim Gunn, interested in fashion and clothing. This breaks common gender stereotypes that men should avoid any interest or activity deemed to be feminine, such as doing the laundry or picking out clothes. Tide is able to use a well-known male figure to show that people should be proud of their skills and abilities and that they should do what makes them happy, regardless of nonsensical gender role restrictions.

PokerStars uses a photograph of a female poker player in an ad. Not only is she not objectified, but she is positively portrayed as independent and confident. Because poker is associated with male players, it is refreshing to see a company that is attempting to show that women also have the ability to be strong and dominant. This advertisement breaks common gender stereotypes.

This advertising strategy is positive because of the ways in which Oceana portrays a woman in a very strong role. In this typical field people do not expect to see women being the ones that are willing to get up close and personal with sharks; men are usually the ones being brave. It is very refreshing to see that a woman is willing and very capable of doing this as well.

The got milk? advertisements are positive because they use photographs of strong and confident women, in particular Dara Torres. Not only is Dara a world class athlete, but she is also a mother. This ad makes a statement that women can balance a career, a family, and still be beautiful. On another note, the field of athletics is one that many people perceive as dominated by men, and it is refreshing to see a company that highlights the accomplishments of athletic women. Ultimately, this advertisement breaks common gender stereotypes.

These two Curvation advertisements show real world women with real world bodies. This breaks the distorted view that women need to be thin to be beautiful and confident. While the ads show two women in lingerie, they actually display the products that they are trying to sell and their goal is not to objectify the women's bodies, but to show women as proud, confident, and powerful in their own skin.

This Boost Mobile advertisement is positive because it portrays a female race-car driver in an ad without objectifying her, and instead makes her look confident in her athletic abilities. Because sports, especially race car driving, are often perceived to be dominated by men, it is refreshing to see a company that is attempting to show that women also have the ability to be strong and dominant. This advertisement breaks common gender stereotypes and tells women to embrace and be proud of their own athletic abilities.

The Serena advertising strategy is positive because it uses strong female role models. The women pictured in the two ads look confident, proud, and comfortable in their skin. The ads do not portray what a typical female body should look like, and the women are doing something they appear to be passionate about. This sends the message to women of all ages that being yourself is a beautiful thing. The ad encourages women not to be discouraged about things and to never use the words “I can’t.” It strengthens the message that women can do anything they set their minds to, if they just follow their dreams.