Posted by Maya Paley
In the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, issued in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, “violence against women” is defined as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life." Until women are no longer threatened by physical, sexual, or mental harm, we better be learning this definition and reminding everyone we know of its existence.
What I loved about V-Day’s One Billion Rising campaign is that it used theater, dance, and music to raise awareness. Let’s face it: not many of us are going to sit down and Google the definition of “violence against women” on our Sunday afternoons. It’s a creative method of educating others on how critical this issue still is for women all over the world.
From February 14th through March 8th women’s equality and empowerment are celebrated by women’s rights activists worldwide. March 8th has been International Women’s Day (originally International Working Women’s Day) since the early 1900’s and February 14th is newly referred to as V-Day, in which the ‘V’ stands “Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.” The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1909. By 1911, over a million people demonstrated worldwide to promote equal rights for women. Nothing compared to that momentum of international scale until the One Billion Rising campaign organized by global movement V-Day on their 15th anniversary this year. V-Day is a global activist movement founded by playwright and activist Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues. The numbers aren’t out yet, but there were One Billion Rising events throughout the world on February 14, 2013, including several in Los Angeles. Women and men rose up to demand an end to violence against women through speaking, performing, dancing, and writing.
In marking the time between V-Day and International Women’s Day, I think it’s time to remind ourselves of the reasons why it’s still just as important as ever to demand an end to violence against women. According to UN Women:
• Up to 76% of women worldwide are targets of physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetimes.
• Most of the violence against women is perpetrated by intimate partners.
• Up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16.
• Around 30 percent of women were forced into their first sexual experience.
Here are some more statistics from the International Violence Against Women survey, a comparative survey of 30 countries from all continents whose findings were published in 2008.The survey clearly proves that violence against women occurs all over the world, against women of all ages and economic groups:
• Between 35-60% of women in the surveyed countries have experienced violence by a man during their lifetime.
• Between 22-40% have experienced intimate partner violence during their lifetime.
• Less than one third of women reported their experience of violence to the police, and women are more likely to report stranger violence than intimate partner violence.
• About one fourth of victimized women did not talk to anyone about their experiences.
The goals of commemorative days like International Women’s Day and V-Day are to remind us that women have yet to achieve full equality, respect, and freedom from violence and to promote the sharing of experiences between women and with men worldwide. I encourage you to use the time between now and March 8th to intentionally share these statistics and the definition of “violence against women” with people in your own community and to find your own creative ways to call for an end to violence against women.
12.9.13 at 10:54 am | Maria Suarez is the Volunteer Coordinator and a. . .
11.19.13 at 3:47 pm | Just two months ago something momentous happened. . .
9.18.13 at 1:25 pm | “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the. . .
8.21.13 at 5:46 pm | The first time I went to my high school’s. . .
8.5.13 at 1:41 pm | I did not come easily to feminism. I resisted the. . .
7.24.13 at 4:32 pm | Honestly, if I have to hear or see one more. . .
12.9.13 at 10:54 am | Maria Suarez is the Volunteer Coordinator and a. . . (95)
11.19.13 at 3:47 pm | Just two months ago something momentous happened. . . (6)
8.5.13 at 1:41 pm | I did not come easily to feminism. I resisted the. . . (4)
February 8, 2013 | 2:57 pm
Posted by Maya Paley
Let’s face the truth: most perpetrators of violence are men. This is clearly spelled out for us by the Office of Violent Crime’s 2013 Statistical Overview. Male violence, whether it’s intimate partner violence, gang violence, child abuse, or any other form, is a real problem in the United States and worldwide. Policies and laws to prevent violence and protect victims of violence are critically important. Direct services and support are vital as well. I’m in no way implying otherwise. However, laws only go so far in preventing male violence and direct services are there to aid victims and survivors, not so much to prevent future perpetrators from acting again or from perpetrating violence in the first place. What else can be done?
The term masculinities kept coming up in my courses on gender in graduate school, but it was a new concept for me then. I recall a feeling of overwhelming excitement after reading an article about a program in Ecuador that engaged male perpetrators of intimate partner violence in an intensive group program to breakdown the root causes of their violence toward their female partners. I thought to myself—wow, society has evolved.
We are finally tackling the issues. In meeting with Miguel Perez this past week, I started feeling that excitement again. Miguel is the Coordinator of the Male Violence Prevention Project (MVPP), a project of OPCC founded in February, 2010 by a group of Santa Monica-based organizations. At 28-years-old, Miguel just gets it. Growing up in Venice and attending Venice High School, Miguel watched gang violence infiltrate and take a toll on his community for years. After playing and coaching football for 15 years, Miguel realized he wanted to do something to change things. When asked to take on the role of coordinating MVPP, Miguel felt that it was the right place for him to put his experience, education, and objectives to work. “Since I had been a football coach, I felt that I had a market to engage men in non-violence in work.”
The Male Violence Prevention Project is uniquely targeting adults who work with children and youth to shift their perceptions and norms on masculinity. The program began when Dr. Jackson Katz conferred with the Santa Monica Police Chief and the Westside Domestic Violence Network in 2009 to discuss a program that would combine Katz’s “bystander approach” with the concept that the responsibility to create non-violent future generations falls on the adult men and women who influence and interact with our youth.
The “bystander approach” aims to shift the culture. “Instead of people looking at each other as potential victims or perpetrators,” explained Miguel, “we look at each other as allies. How would allies speak up?” He told me of a case from the 1960’s, that of Kitty Genovese, who was brutally stabbed to death in front of numerous people who watched, but did nothing to stop the murder. Phil Ochs even wrote a song about the incident:
“O look outside the window
There’s a woman being grabbed
They’ve dragged her to the bushes
And now she’s being stabbed
Maybe we should call the cops and try to stop the pain
But Monopoly is so much fun I’d hate to blow the game
And I’m sure it wouldn’t interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends”
There have been numerous studies on why people just stand idly by at times when they know that what they’re seeing is wrong. However, bystander interventions have proven effective in reducing violence. MVPP uses the concept that bystanders should intervene and that the new generations obtain their cultural norms from older folks, so infusing the two in workshops with adults can truly make a difference.
So far, MVPP has held programs at Santa Monica and Olympic High Schools and they are open to working with other high schools. NCJW/LA is collaborating with MVPP to bring their workshops to West Hollywood and other local schools. They’ve conducted workshops with administrators, coaches, counselors, and teachers. Program attendees are both women and men and the facilitators are women and men as well. Male facilitators often start off the discussions with personal stories of violence that they’ve witnessed or been involved with in their lives and how it’s affected them.
At first I wondered why the program was for both men and women, but I realized quickly that it’s just as important for adult women to understand male violence as it is for men. Women teachers, counselors, coaches, and administrators are influencing young men and women just as much as men are.
Miguel mentioned that one of the questions program participants have had is why aren’t they talking about violent women? When I asked Miguel how they deal with such questions, he said that he would have to quote Jay Z: “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” Miguel explained: “men sometimes feel threatened by the concept of discussing only male violence because most men are not violent so they feel insulted by it. There’s some sort of push back by those who think at first that this is not their problem.” The great thing is that most of the responses to the program have been positive, with participants thanking MVPP for bringing these issues to light and for engaging them in such important conversations. Personally, I’m impressed.
February 14th is Valentine’s Day, but it’s also V-Day, and we are rising up against violence against women as part of Eve Ensler’s One Billion Rising movement. I applaud all women and men who are playing a role in shifting norms on violence, masculinity, and femininity. This V-Day, NCJW/LA hosts Miguel Perez, Patti Giggans of Peace Over Violence, Barrie Levy of UCLA, Ava Rose LCSW of NCJW/LA, and Terra Slavin of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center on an important panel titled Dating Without Danger: Teen Dating Violence Prevention & Intervention. The panel will be moderated by Lindsey Horvath, the Regional Coordinator of One Billion Rising. Visit www.ncjwla.org for information.
MAKE SURE TO WEAR RED AND BLACK in solidarity. We will be showing the One Billion Rising "Breaking the Chain" video before and after the program to dance as part of the One Billion Rising movement.
February 4, 2013 | 10:31 am
Posted by Maya Paley
I admit that I may be a little subversive. I refuse to use the word “retirement.”
Even though I stopped working full-time five years ago for the public relations firm where I had been an executive for twenty years, I never said I retired. I think of the change as just that, a change: a change in direction, a change in attitude, a change of chapters in my life. Hopefully that change is voluntary, not one where you have no control. But for those of us who decided that it might be time to stop the daily 9 to 5 (or in my case more like 9 to whenever the client was finished) we need to plan for that change. The last year or so that I was working, I had the opportunity to downsize the number of days I came into the office. Sometimes that meant crowding the work of five days into four or three, but it also allowed me to do the project that I was passionate about: writing a novel.
Here’s my advice: don’t be afraid to make that change. Think about it before you actually stop working. It is a transition, one that even stay-at-home moms will have to consider when their children leave the nest. Consider what to do with your time, how to feel productive, and what kind of contribution you might want to make to your community now that your schedule is more flexible. Not being chained to a desk allowed me to not only write when inspiration struck, but it gave me the opportunity to do the kind of volunteering that had been more difficult on a publicist’s schedule.
The key is: DON’T FEEL GUILTY.
Give yourself a little time to adjust. At first, you might enjoy just sitting and gazing out of a window for some daydreaming time or finally being able to join that weekly lunch with friends. Perhaps you want the chance to catch up on a marathon viewing of the TV series that you taped or got from Netflix without feeling guilty. You’re entitled to fritter away some time with no real goals in mind.
Eventually you’re going to want to spend some productive time doing something that gives you real satisfaction. It might be gardening, taking cooking classes, going back to school, learning a foreign language, or as I did, mentoring elementary school children in reading. There are a myriad of organizations just hoping for your involvement, such as our own National Council of Jewish Women, which would give you many ways to learn and volunteer. I was able to indulge my interest in politics and become an advocate for women and children victims of the conflicts in Sudan and the Congo. All of that plus having the chance to write two novels has been a cherished highlight.
You just have to do a little investigating to find what makes you happy and fulfilled. It might take several tries before you find the right combination. So forget about calling it retirement; make a plan before you start your changes; take it slowly, enjoy the free time; explore the possibilities; and don’t forget about the joys of volunteering.
Life continues to be an adventure. Take a chance and enjoy the new journey.
Beverly Magid is a PR Executive turned novelist who recently authored “Sown in Tears,” the story of a young Jewish woman and her family after an attack on their village in Russia's Pale of the Settlement in 1905. Visit www.beverlymagid.com for more information or to contact Beverly.