Monday, January 25, 2016

My Experience with Sexism

Having attended an all-girls' school for over half of my life, I thought I would be immune to sexism at school and in my activities until I reached college. I have been fortunate that I don’t have to deal with sex discrimination on a daily basis when it comes to my studies and in the classroom like most girls do both in school and on the athletic field. Much to my dismay, I began experiencing gender inequality during my work with Model United Nations, which is a club that thrives on collaboration of peers and being cooperative.

 For those who are not familiar with Model United Nations, it is a club that acts like the real United Nations. Every student is a delegate from a country and the delegates work together in a committee to solve international problems.  Most of the boys in my competitions are not sexist but the few who are make it exceptionally difficult for girls to win awards, work with others, etc.  The sexism has been a significant obstacle for my friends and me to be able to work together and participate as part of the is team since some of the male delegates will simply ignore our presence and important contributions and ideas.

On many occasions when I have stood up to speak and eloquently stated detailed solutions for the problem at hand, I have been met with some of my male colleagues making disparaging remarks under their breath or rolling their eyes. Often one of my male counterparts will restate what I just said, and he will be commended and praised for his idea. It is almost as if I am invisible and what I just said was completely negligible. Then when I fight for credit for ideas that I brought up, I am seen as “too aggressive” or “crazy.”

This scenario happens to me during every simulation, and it’s something very relatable for other girls who participate in Model United Nations. One of my friends was ignored while stating her stance and possible solutions.  A male then took her ideas and actually won an award for his contributions, while giving her no credit. Another time the same thing happened to another female delegate and when she confronted the boy about it, he completely denied it. In addition, when she was working on a resolution paper and did the majority of the work she was removed from the author list.  Other times female delegates like myself will get talked over or interrupted by boys, which is plain disrespectful and rude, especially in the business-like setting we are put in.

  In another instance a female delegate was  listening to a discussion trying to solve the problem at hand, and as she walked away, she heard a boy  comment about the height of her heels. This male delegate felt the right to make a very inappropriate judgment based on her heel height, not on how effective her resolutions were, etc.

All of this is immensely frustrating, and the sad thing is, for us girls, this is something we will have to suffer the rest of our lives. The infamous “boys club” of various professions, and the male superiority complex of many future bosses and co-workers, proves just how far we are from reaching gender equality, and that women will have to fight for things handed to some males. Many of my female Model United Nations counterparts and I agree that facing this prejudice now, is a good learning tool, so when we become older we will know how to make sure we are heard.


Written by: Marissa Thomas, Oakland/Macomb MI NOW Intern

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ACTION ALERT: "Yes Means Yes" Legislation

We're writing to share a legislative update concerning gender-based violence prevention in Michigan.

The Bills: Bills have been introduced into the Michigan House (H.B. 4903) and Senate (S.B. 512) that would require information regarding what would constitute consent to be included in sex education curriculum. This would teach students that consent must be an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It clarifies that silence or lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, consent can be revoked at any time, and the existence of a dating relationship or of past sexual relations does not imply consent. Including this information in sex education is necessary and important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified sexual violence as a serious public health problem and recommends prevention begin at an early age while behavior is modifiable and before students start their first dating relationships.

Call to Action: H.B. 4903 was introduced by Representative Tom Cochran (D–Mason) and S.B. 512 was introduced by Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D–East Lansing/Meridian Twp.) in September 2015. The bills were co-sponsored by over 35 other legislators but are still currently in the House and Senate Committee on Education. It is important that those on the Committee on Education, especially Committee Chairs Representative Amanda Price and Senator Phil Pavlov, hear from us. We need as many constituents as possible to ask them to support this legislation. If you have any questions please contact Michele Sedlak at oakmacnow@gmail.com.

Legislators to Call and Email

House Education Committee

Amanda Price (R-Park Township), Committee Chair - AmandaPrice@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0838 

Daniela Garcia (R-Holland,) Majority Vice-Chair - DanielaGarcia@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0830 

Mike Callton (R-Nashville) - MikeCallton@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0842 

Tom Hooker (R-Byron Center) - ThomasHooker@house.mi.gov (517)-373-2277 

Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto), Co-sponsor H.B. 4903 - LisaLyons@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0846 

Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) - EdMcBroom@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0156 

Patrick Somerville (R-New Boston) - PatSomerville@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0855 

Ken Yonker (R-Caledonia) - KenYonker@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0840 

Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Twp) - TimKelly@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0837 

Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) - LeeChatfield@house.mi.gov (517)-373-2629 

Jim Tedder (R-Waterford Twp.) - JimTedder@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0615 

Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), Minority V-Chair, Co-sponsor H.B. 4903 - adamzemke@house.mi.gov (517)-373-1792

Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) - harveysantana@house.mi.gov (517)-373-6990 

Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), Co-Sponsor of H.B. 4903 - winniebrinks@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0822 

Andy Schor (D-Lansing), Co-Sponsor of H.B. 4903 - andyschor@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0826 

Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Co-Sponsor of H.B. 4903 - stephaniechang@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0823 

Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), Co-Sponsor of H.B. 4903 - christinegreig@house.mi.gov (517)-373-1793 

   
 Senate Education Committee

Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township), Committee Chair  - http://www.senatorphilpavlov.com/contact/ (517)-373-7708


Darwin L Booher (R-Evart) - SenDBooher@senate.michigan.gov (517)-373-1725 

Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) - SenPColbeck@senate.michigan.gov (517)-373-7350 

David Knezek (D-Drbn Hts), Min. V-Chair, Co-Spsr of S.B. 512 - sendknezek@senate.michigan.gov (855)-347-8005


Talking Points for Calls
  • I am calling to ask you to support H.B. 4903/S.B. 512, which is currently in the Committee on Education. This bill would require information regarding what would constitute consent to be included as part of sex education curriculum. This would teach students that consent must be an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It clarifies that silence or lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, consent can be revoked at any time, and the existence of a dating relationship or of past sexual relations does not imply consent.(1,2)
  • Including this information in sex education is important and necessary. A CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) study found 10.5% of high school girls and 4.2% of high school boys have been forced to have sexual intercourse.(3)
  • 48% of students grades 7-12 experienced sexual harassment at school during the school year. (AAUW,4)
  • The CDC has identified sexual violence as a serious public health problem and recommends that sexual violence prevention begin at an early age before adolescents have started their first dating relationships, while behavior is modifiable. The CDC supports the widespread adoption of teen dating violence prevention programs.(5)
  • Sexual violence costs the U.S. $127 billion per year, the highest yearly cost of any crime. This includes $7.5 billion in medical care/ambulance costs, mental health care, police service, social/victims services, and property loss/damage; and $119 billion in cost to quality of life. (National Institute of Justice, 6) 
  • According to the CDC Foundation, violence against women and children is a serious global health problem.(7) Sexual violence is everyone's issue, and we need Michigan to be a leader in taking on this epidemic! 


References:
  1. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billintroduced/House/pdf/2015-HIB-4903.pdf
  2. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billintroduced/Senate/pdf/2015-SIB-0512.pdf
  3. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6304.pdf
  4. http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/Crossing-the-Line-Sexual-Harassment-at-School.pdf
  5. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6308.pdf
  6. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/victcost.pdf
  7. http://www.cdcfoundation.org/FY2012/Violence-Prevention


Sample Email Letter to Senator/Representative

Subject: Protect Our Children from Sexual Violence: Support H.B. 4903 and S.B. 512.

Dear [Legislator's Name]:

I am writing to urge you to support H.B. 4903 and S.B. 512, which are currently in the Committee on Education. This legislation which would require information regarding what would constitute consent to be included as part of sex education curriculum. This would teach students that consent must be an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It clarifies that silence or lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, consent can be revoked at any time, and the existence of a dating relationship or of past sexual relations does not imply consent.(1,2) Including this information in sex education is important and necessary.

Our children are not safe because there is a culture of silence surrounding the issue of sexual violence in the United States. No one wants to believe that sexual violence could happen to our children, but the reality is that this is occurring at a rate of epidemic proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation, violence against women and children is a global epidemic.(3)

  • A CDC study found 10.5% of high school girls and 4.2% of high school boys have been forced to have sexual intercourse.(4)
  • 48% of students grades 7-12 experienced sexual harassment at school during the school year. (AAUW,5)
  • The CDC has identified sexual violence as a serious public health problem , and recommends that sexual violence prevention begin at an early age before adolescents have started their first dating relationships, while behavior is modifiable. The CDC supports the widespread adoption of teen dating violence prevention programs.(6) 
  • Sexual violence costs the U.S. $127 billion per year, the highest yearly cost of any crime. This includes $7.5 billion in medical care/ambulance costs, mental health care, police service, social/victims services, and property loss/damage; and $119 billion in cost to quality of life. (National Institute of Justice, 7).  

Sexual violence is at epidemic levels, and we need to institute prevention efforts like we would for any other public health epidemic. The CDC recommends that sexual violence prevention begin at an early age before adolescents have started their first dating relationships, and supports the widespread adoption of teen dating violence prevention programs. To make this type of education accessible for every student, we will need a law to implement it. Sexual violence is everyone's issue, and we need Michigan to be a leader in taking on this epidemic!  For this reason, I strongly urge you to support H.B. 4903 and S.B. 512.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Address]



References:
  1. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billintroduced/House/pdf/2015-HIB-4903.pdf
  2. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billintroduced/Senate/pdf/2015-SIB-0512.pdf
  3. http://www.cdcfoundation.org/FY2012/Violence-Prevention
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6304.pdf
  5. http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/Crossing-the-Line-Sexual-Harassment-at-School.pdf
  6. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6308.pdf
  7. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/victcost.pdf

Written by: Michele Sedlak, Oakland/Macomb MI NOW Vice President