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Monthly Archives: July 2012

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NCAA Makes a Statement

I’m listening to the news Tuesday morning of the NCAA sanctions of Penn State.  It’s mostly good news for those of us who work for victim rights and an end to sexual violence.  But what does this say about all the sexual assaults that go un-reported and pushed under the rug under the guise of college athletics at many, many universities?
At a conference on Title IX and sexual assault two years ago, one of the keynotes, David Lisak, a Professor at UMass Boston who researches rapists, showed us a video, which is available on You Tube, on how to get a woman drunk so that you can have sex with her.  Dr. Lisak stated that if this was a video on how to get a child to submit to sexual abuse them it would be taken off the internet immediately by the Feds. 
Do you see where I am going here?  What happened at Penn State was horrible.  The abuse of children is horrible.  And our reaction as a culture to this horrific crime is appropriate.  But rape of women is JUST AS HORRIBLE as sexual abuse of children.  Until we, as a culture, begin to change our mindset that this is the case, the statistics I will quote below will continue to be relevant and perhaps worsen.  
“The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years (Fisher 2000).”
“Also disturbing is the lack of prosecution for those who commit rape; according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) only 9% of rapists face prosecution, and a mere 3% of rapists ever spend a single day in jail. 97% odds of evading jail time are not significant enough to deter sexual violence.” span style= font-family: Georgia, serif;”>These statistics should HORRIFY the NCAA.  Imagine the cultural change that could occur should national collegiate organizations like the NCAA were to take plain-old-every-day-sexual-assault and treat it with the same concern as what happened to those boys under Jerry Sandusky.  

The Center for Public Integrity and NPR have been investigating college sexual violence over the last few years and have learned the following:
— Colleges almost never expel men who are found responsible for sexual assault. Reporters at CPI discovered a database of about 130 colleges and universities given federal grants because they wanted to do a better job dealing with sexual assault. But the database shows that even when men at those schools were found responsible for sexual assault, only 10 to 25 percent of them were expelled.
— The U.S. Department of Education has failed to aggressively monitor and regulate campus response to sexual assault. The department has the authority to fine schools that fail to report crime on campus. In 20 years, the department has used that power just six times. And the department can also find that a school has violated a law that prevents discrimination against women. But between 1998 and 2008, the department ruled against just five universities out of 24 resolved complaints.
— Colleges are ill-equipped to handle cases of sexual assault. Most of the time, alcohol is involved. Local prosecutors are reluctant to take these cases, so they often fall to campus judicial systems to sort through clashing claims of whether the sex was consensual or forced.    ~Findings of the Center for Public Integrity and NPR News Investigation
If these facts are true, and I expect they are, having worked at a university for almost 18 years, organizations like the NCAA and the Department of Education need to change their approach.  The Office of Civil Rights has recently required universities to be much more comprehensive as they address sexual violence but the movement toward change, particularly on a college campus, is slow.  State universities, do not have the funding to throw all their eggs into the sexual violence basket to quickly establish these changes.  
We need all the players, so to speak, to be at the table to end sexual violence on college campuses (and in the world).  We need the NCAA, the DOE, the OCR, and state agencies to see this issue as important, significant and horrific.  Until the culture which allows sexual violence to be quietly swept away shifts towards a world where a video on how to get a young woman drunk so she can be raped is swiftly taken off the internet and a fine or jail time imposed on the person who uploaded it, the rape of women will still remain further down the hierarchy of what is bad in our society.  And if raping women isn’t so bad, then why pay her equally for her work or provide her with adequate family leave or even allow her full participation in politics and the media.  Until women are considered equal to men, I sadly don’t think any of this will change.  

Providence Restaurant Week

So, yes . . . I consider this blog The Feminist Critic on all things pop, political, etc., however this week I thought it would be fun to critique our first outing for Providence Restaurant Week.  I may be a feminist, but I am also, most definitely, a foodie! 

To learn more about restaurant week, check out We took my husband’s parent’s out to dinner on Sunday, the kick off of restaurant week, for their 33rd wedding anniversary. We looked at numerous menus on the list and decided on four places we liked. Two of them, when we called for reservations, were not open on Sundays. So we ended up at the Waterman Grill. I had just had drinks there over a week ago, which I thought were good.

We sat inside, with a water view, because it was quite warm outside. We were given the Prix Fixe restaurant week menu and their regular menu, which also has a Sunday through Thursday Prix Fixe menu for only $24.95. Restaurant week’s price is $29.95.

They brought us water. The server came over and took our drink order.Then they brought us amazing fresh baked herbed bread. I thought that was a good sign. After fifteen minutes, he came back to take our dinner order as our drinks were still being made. Jeff and his parents ordered off the restaurant week menu and I ordered off the regular Prix Fixe menu. I ordered the mussels, salmon with beluga lentils, and the flourless chocolate cake.

Twenty minutes after we arrived we got our drinks. I thought mine was a martini so I sent it back because it came served on the rocks. The server told me I should have told him I wanted it up even after I told him that was how it was served to me a week ago. I don’t take too kindly to debates with the servers.
The mussels came and they were a little underdone, kind of slimy.  I had Jeff eat one to make sure I wouldn’t get sick.  The broth they came in was very bland, just some onions and a little butter.  Jeff’s mussels are MUCH better.  But I shall try for the sake of restaurant week not to compare everything to Jeff’s talented culinary skills.  His mom had the coconut shrimp and he and his dad had the fresh mixed greens with goat cheese.  

I asked for a wine list so that I could order a glass of wine with my dinner. I ordered one. He brought me the glass and over 15 minutes went by before he returned with my wine. I said to the server, “the bar services is extremely slow.” He went on to blame it on the bartender, saying something like “she’s a nice person and all . . .” I also noticed the manager stop at the table near ours, with the upscale looking foursome and ask how everything was. I turned to Jeff and said “he should ask us.”

Our meals came. My salmon was excellent . I loved the beluga lentils. Jeff had the pork tenderloin with apple slaw and baked beans. My mother in law had the linguine and clam sauce. She thought her pasta was a bit too al dente. My father in law had the pan roasted fluke. During dinner, Jeff ordered another glass of wine and it came right out.

Dessert was simple. The flourless chocolate cake had a ganache on top that I felt ruined the richness of the torte. Jeff had a banana cake with butterscotch topping. His dad had cheesecake.

When we got our bill, I saw I was charged twice for my drink as I had sent it back to have it made up. We decided not to mention it when we noticed one of our entrees was not listed. I figured it was a bonus. But the server came over and said he thought he’d charged us twice for the drink. He brought the bill back and it was exactly the same. So we paid it and left. When we looked it over at home, we were charged for the fourth entree but it wasn’t listed. And we were charged for my drink twice, so we paid $8.50 more than we should have.

All in all, the food was pretty good but the whole process was slow and the drinks took forever to get to us. I am not sure if I will go back there. It also seems like a nice place to go in the winter as they have a fireplace and a lot of wood grilling.

Feminist Intensive–Day II

Day II of our Intensive, with the theme of Media, started at The Women’s Media Center. “Founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem–it has the goal of making women visible and powerful in the media.  The influence of the media is the most powerful economic and cultural force today.

By deciding who gets to talk, what shapes the debate, who writes, and what is important enough to report, the media shapes our understanding of who we are and what we can be. The Women’s Media Center works to create a level playing field for women and girls in media through our monitoring, training, original content, and activism.”  We spent almost three hours talking about becoming media experts in our fields and having a mini-workshop which mimics their Progressive Women’s Voices training.  I hope to apply to this in 2013.  Their website is chock full of statistics on the lack of women in the media.  I’m also planning to invite their Vice-President to be part of my Feminist Media Literacy conference in Fall 2013 as part of the Zuckerberg Leadership Award I just won!

Then we went to AOL to see the trailer for the upcoming three-part PBS movie Makers.  This documentary chronicles over 100 women who were instrumental in the women’s movement (all of them alive).  Their website is amazing.  You could spend a day just watching all these interviews with amazing women.  The first one we watched was Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon.  Most of us teared up.  Her story truly is one of women pushing the boundaries of patriarchy and changing the world forever.  It was kind of cool to be in a very corporate NYC office, like AOL, although one of the members of our group called their 3 story office a “sad Google.”
From AOL we went to Women’s eNews.  If you don’t subscribe you should.  They are an excellent source of honest news reporting on women around the world.  I love the “Cheers & Jeers” section.  They cover topics related to women that one would rarely find in the patriarchal news media.  
From there we were off to dinner with at Gloria Steinem’s lovely home with Marcia Ann Gillespie, the former Editor of Ms Magazine, and random houseguest of Gloria’s, Sheila Tobias.   

“Marcia Ann Gillespie is a trailblazer in the magazine industry, a leader in the women’s movement, a champion of gender of racial justice. A provocative writer and thinker, hers has been a consistent eloquent voice affirming the human potential for good, challenging inequality, pushing herself and others to hope, dare and strive for a better world. She is the author of Maya Angelou: A Glorious Celebration, an authorized biography published by Doubleday in April 2008, and is currently writing a memoir titled When Blacks Became Americans. She has been a driving force behind two of this nation’s most important women’s magazines, as the editor in chief of Essence from 1971-1980 and most recently as the editor in chief of Ms. from 1993-2001. Marcia is the current Professor of Diversity in Residence for the Johnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute at Bennett College.” I was thrilled she remembered me from coming to campus in 1997, I think, as our keynote for Women’s History Month

“Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, editor, and feminist activist. She travels in this and other countries as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of sex and race caste systems, gender roles and child abuse as roots of violence, non-violent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples, and organizing across boundaries for peace and justice. She was a cofounder ofMs. magazine as well as Voters for Choice, the Ms. Foundation, the Women’s Media Center, the Women’s Political Caucus and many other pioneering feminist organizations. She is the author of several best-selling books, including Revolution from Within and Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.” She remembered coming to Woodland Commons five years ago and being in the strange concrete building.  

What resonated most from our talk with these amazing women, for me, was her focus on female friendship and how this is such an important aspect of organizing and feminism in general.  If we can’t support each other, how can we even begin to change the world.  


my feminist praxis

critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

The Feminist Critic

Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.