Victim Blaming Among Peers

During Week Of Welcome at Marshall University, incoming freshman were required to go to an improv show called Sex Signals. Sex Signals featured a guy and girl who acted out different dating scenarios. They asked for audience participation and wanted to hear our views on what was happening in the scene.

In one particular scene, the guy was playing the role of a popular boy who claims it wasn’t rape. The girl started talking to him, she invited him over, he brought beer and they got drunk. The boy brought the beer without her asking for it but she drank it. She said stop several times and he did but she’d start it back up to something innocent like tickling or wrestling. The actors asked us if it was the boys fault, the girls fault, or both. An overwhelming amount of my peers boldly announced both. I was one of the few standing firm that it was the boys fault. They had us comment on why we believe what we believe and many said that the girl shouldn’t have gotten drunk or been alone with him.

This attitude appalled me. It doesn’t matter what the girl did, just because she was drunk doesn’t mean she wanted it. She said stop which shows her hesitation. I was relived when the actors talked about what the correct answer was. They said that the boy should have read the signs and could tell that she wasn’t into it. I’m glad that the actors handled the victim blaming in a gentle yet necessary manner. They eased into the serious subjects with humor that wasn’t offensive but informative.  Read More »

Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

From Nigeria to Iraq: The on-going failures to protect women and girls in armed conflict

 Flickr ©

Cross-posted from TransConflict

Over 100 days have gone by since rebels of the Boko Haram armed group kidnapped almost 300 girls in Chibok, Nigeria. The world rapidly found out about the outrageous and dangerous conditions Nigerians were living under the Boko Haram threat. The #BringBackOurGirls campaign -which spread across the globe, gathered dozens of important public figures along with thousands of global citizens demanding the Nigerian government to take all possible actions to find these women and girls. Although some of those girls managed to come back home after escaping, others continue to be held hostage and media’s attention to this issue has significantly decreased.

Unfortunately, the story repeats today in Iraq as the government has confirmed that hundreds of Yazidi women were kidnapped by the Islamic State (IS) fighters and it is feared they are now being used as slaves. These women are part of a Kurdish-speaking ethno religious minority living in northern Iraq, which historically has been accused of devil worship by orthodox Muslims. Due to pre-Islamic beliefs, the Yazidi have been oppressed by Muslim neighbors and have been victims of harsh treatment since the ruling of the Ottoman Empire during the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries. They have been subject to 72 genocidal massacres and the Ottoman Turks and Muslim Kurdish, managed to almost wipe out their community in the 19th century. Persecution of Yazidis continued in communities bordering modern Iraq under the rule of Saddam Hussein and the Sunni Muslim. In 2007, almost as 800 Yazidis were killed as a spate of car bombs ripped through their stronghold in northern Iraq, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent.  Read More »

Tagged | Leave a comment

Expert’s take: Bringing light to the darkest places

Cross-posted from UN Women

Blerta Aliko

Gender and Humanitarian Advisor Blerta Aliko.
Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Every year on World Humanitarian Day my mind returns to memories of a dark day, 19 August 2003. I had just finished a three-month detail assignment in New York as part of the team working to close down the “Oil for Food Programme”. I was with my colleagues in the office when we received news of the bombing of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad and that one of our coworkers had been caught in the blast. It had only been a couple of days since I had last seen him and that happy event was to congratulate him on the birth of his son.

I pay tribute to him and to all the other hundreds and thousands of humanitarian workers who dedicate their lives to the noble cause of making this world a better place for everyone. I salute those who are on the front lines working to distribute life-saving aid – be it water, food or vaccinations for thousands of children and adults – to ensure the safety and security of those in need while putting their own lives at risk. Those serving in Syria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Darfur, Somalia, Iraq, the Philippines, Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gaza, Pakistan and all the other places facing humanitarian crises, often faraway from media eyes. There,  those who believe so strongly in what they do remain despite the pandemics, conflicts or natural disasters that wreak havoc on thousands of lives and sometimes even their own.  Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vagina Wars

It was in March of this year when Jenny Block, celebrated author of Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, wrote a counter argument in Huffington Post to my article titled My Vagina Smells Like Shame.

‘If you think there is something wrong with the way a vagina smells, you need to get your head rewired.’ she said.

My Vagina Doesn’t Smell Like Shame ~ Jenny Block

Her piece hit me where it hurt. In my own insecure vagina. The way that it would if one of your revered pin-ups told you that shame was – well – something to be ashamed of. That self-hatred was to blame for making ‘women feel like they were worth less’. That just by feeling shame you were, despite your unrelenting struggle to combat your own sex-negative attitudes, participating in an ‘insane war on pussies’.

I didn’t expect someone who was so open minded, someone who believed in such similar philosophies, to be so naive and lacking in understanding about the fight for emancipation that so many women face. I shouldn’t have assumed. My bad. But my assumptions weren’t formulated out of thin air.  Read More »

Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Things Go Haywire, Send in the Women

I’m obsessed with female leaders and their portrayal in entertainment. Are great women leaders seen as ruthless? Sexy? Brittle and sarcastic? Or are they kind, but firm, leading through inspiration instead of intimidation.

For me, creating a compelling female character is tricky. Too many portrayals of women in popular culture repeat outdated stereotypes or reinforce negative images. Recently, I shared a rough draft of book two in my Dark Horse trilogy with a few beta readers. The feedback about the protagonist Olivia – a woman coming to terms with an unknown past, while being groomed to lead a secret society – was interesting. Through their eyes at times, she was too weepy, too callous, too discombobulated and even disloyal. Although they liked the book, they clearly wanted Olivia to behave differently.

These are smart readers and I’m making some tweaks accordingly – but I also took their comments as validation that I’d hit on something with the way I’d written Olivia. That is to say that Olivia is imperfect: human, a work in progress, striving to become someone better. Their responses also got me thinking about some other deliciously complex female characters. Herewith are my top five favorites. I’ll add five more in an upcoming post.  Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
167 queries. 0.351 seconds