Monthly Archives: March 2011

Nightmare on Puberty Street

Join us on April 6, 2011 for “Nightmare on Puberty Street”, a live performance for teens and youth that discusses puberty and emotions. The event is co-sponsored by Next Door, TAG, and Kaiser Permanente. Bring the family, enjoy the free dinner, and have fun watching the performance!

Football Legend’s Fall from Glory

Lawrence Taylor, a Hall of Fame Giants linebacker, was sentenced this week to six years of probation for sexual misconduct and soliciting a 16-year-old whom he believed was a prostitute. As a result of his guilty plea, he must register as a sex offender but avoided any jail time.

Although the judge in the case refused to allow the young victim to testify against Taylor, she told reporters that she felt he should have gone to jail. She refuted claims that she was a prostitute and shared that she was repeatedly punched in the face by her pimp and forced to escort Taylor into his room. The victim said she thought Taylor could see how young she was and that he was aware of the injury marks on her face.

After entering and accepting his plea, Lawrence Taylor appeared on Fox News to share his side of the story. When asked about the girl’s age, he said:

“I didn’t go pick her up on no dag-on playground. She wasn’t hiding behind no school bus or getting off some school bus. This is a working girl that came to my room and I don’t know what her age was… You can only ask. I don’t card them. I don’t ask for a birth certificate.”

This is not the first time Lawrence has solicited such services, either. He goes on to state that paying for intercourse is preferable for several reasons:

“I don’t have to worry about your feelings. It’s all clean. I’m not saying it’s right but it’s the oldest profession in the world… I have used the services before, you know. And I guess it is one of those crimes and you never think you’re gonna get busted with, because everybody does it until you get busted for it. And then it’s just more embarrassing than anything else.”

When the young woman claims she is not a prostitute, she is absolutely right. She did not voluntarily have sex with Lawrence, as evidenced by the cuts and bruises on her face. Rather, she is a sex-trafficking victim who was forced to engage in sexual acts for money. Her pimp, a man named Rasheed Davis, pumped her full of drugs and alcohol, beat her into coercion, and pushed her into Davis’ room against her will. Did he really not know that she was there against her will? Or did he know and just didn’t care?

In his post-sentencing interviews, Taylor has shown zero remorse whatsoever. Rather than apologizing for his actions, he justified them by saying men pay for sex all the time and that he couldn’t be held responsible since the prostitution trade existed long before he participated in it. His attitude was disrespectful and smug, almost as if he believed he got away with it.

Maybe Taylor is right… Perhaps he did get away with it. Sure he was caught but the consequences are laughable. His punishment in no way fits the crime he committed- six years probation and a $1,400 fine is far from the sentence he truly deserves.

Allowing this man to receive such a lenient sentence is sending the wrong message. It’s telling women and children that the crimes committed against them aren’t worth convicting. It teaches men not to worry about getting caught by the law because the consequences are minimal. The court system is not taking sex-trafficking seriously enough and until they do, women will continue to be sexually abused and exploited. What he did is NOT okay. His attitude is disgraceful and to say I’m disappointed in the judicial system that sentenced him is quite frankly, an understatement.

The Status of Women: Where Do We Stand?

To honor March as Women’s History Month, the White House released a new report entitled Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well Being. This is the first comprehensive federal report on women since 1963, when the Commission on the Status of Women (which was chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt) produced a report on the conditions of women.

Women in America traces the advancements of women in this country and while they have made progress in several areas, there is still a lot of work to be done and achievements to be made.

The report focuses on five specific areas: people, families and income, education, employment, health, and crime and violence.

Highlights from the report include:

Health: Women live longer than men but are more likely to face certain health problems, such as mobility impairments, arthritis, asthma, depression, and obesity. Additionally, women engage in lower levels of physical activity than their male counterparts. Many women aren’t receiving the preventative care they need and the percentage of women ages 18-64 without health insurance has increased.

Education: Women have not only caught up with men in terms of college enrollment, but younger women are now more than likely than men to have a college or master’s degree. Unfortunately, these gains in education have not yet translated into wage and income equity.

Employment: The number of women and men in the workforce has grown to equalization in recent years. As the number of women working has increased, their earnings constitute a growing share of a family’s income. At all levels of education, women earned 75% of what their male counterparts earned in 2009. In other words, women earned 75 cents for every dollar a man made.

In part because of these lower earnings and in part because unmarried and divorced women are the most likely to have responsibility for raising and supporting their children, women are more likely to be in poverty than men.

Crime and Violence: Women are less likely than in the past to be the target of violence crimes, including homicide. But women are the victims of certain crimes, such as intimate partner violence and stalking, at higher rates than men.

You can find a fact sheet with more information here.

Below, you can watch President Obama address some of the report’s findings and reiterate the point that equal pay for equal work is not just a woman’s issue.

Presidential Proclamation–Women’s History Month, 2011




During Women’s History Month, we reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women and honor their role in shaping the course of our Nation’s history.  Today, women have reached heights their mothers and grandmothers might only have imagined.  Women now comprise nearly half of our workforce and the majority of students in our colleges and universities.  They scale the skies as astronauts, expand our economy as entrepreneurs and business leaders, and serve our country at the highest levels of government and our Armed Forces.  In honor of the pioneering women who came before us, and in recognition of those who will come after us, this month, we recommit to erasing the remaining inequities facing women in our day.

This year, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future.  International Women’s Day is a chance to pay tribute to ordinary women throughout the world and is rooted in women’s centuries-old struggle to participate in society on an equal footing with men.  This day reminds us that, while enormous progress has been made, there is still work to be done before women achieve true parity.

My Administration has elevated the rights of women and girls abroad as a critical aspect of our foreign and national security policy.  Empowering women across the globe is not simply the right thing to do, it is also smart foreign policy.  This knowledge is reflected in the National Security Strategy of the United States, which recognizes that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when their female citizens enjoy equal rights, equal voices, and equal opportunities.  Today, we are integrating a focus on women and girls in all our diplomatic efforts, and incorporating gender considerations in every aspect of our development assistance.  We are working to build the participation of women into all aspects of conflict prevention and resolution, and we are continuing to lead in combating the scourge of conflict related sexual violence, both bilaterally and at the United Nations.

In America, we must lead by example in protecting women’s rights and supporting their empowerment.  Despite our progress, too many women continue to be paid less than male workers, and women are significantly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  By tapping into the potential and talents of all our citizens, we can utilize an enormous source of economic growth and prosperity.  The White House Council on Women and Girls has continued to remove obstacles to achievement by addressing the rate of violence against women, supporting female entrepreneurs, and prioritizing the economic security of women.  American families depend largely on the financial stability of women, and my Administration continues to prioritize policies that promote workplace flexibility, access to affordable, quality health care and child care, support for family caregivers, and the enforcement of equal pay laws.  I have also called on every agency in the Federal Government to be part of the solution to ending violence against women, and they have responded with unprecedented cooperation to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence and enable survivors to break the cycle of abuse.

As we reflect on the triumphs of the past, we must also look to the limitless potential that lies ahead.  To win the future, we must equip the young women of today with the knowledge, skills, and equal access to reach for the promise of tomorrow.  My Administration is making unprecedented investments in education and is working to expand opportunities for women and girls in the STEM fields critical for growth in the 21st century economy.

As we prepare to write the next chapter of women’s history, let us resolve to build on the progress won by the trailblazers of the past.  We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and no remaining ceilings to shatter.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2011 as Women’s History Month.  I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2011 with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women.  I also invite all Americans to visit to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


New York Times Blames Child for Her Own Sexual Assault

This week, the New York Times published an article about the gang rape of an 11 year old girl in Cleveland, Texas. She was sexually assaulted by a group of 18 males, ranging from boys in middle school to a 27-year-old man. The Times reports that “a rape had taken place” and that the young girl was “ordered to disrobe and was sexually assaulted by several boys”. Additionally, “she was told she would be beaten if she did not comply.”

This is not an alleged crime; this is an irrefutable fact. The act was recorded with one of the perpetrators cell phones and shared with school mates. So why does the Texas town insist on blaming the victim? And why does the  New York Times author James McKinley seem to be perpetuating this kind of thinking? You can see a strong bias in the instances below:

The word “rape” is seldom used in the article. Instead, the reader is told that the girl was threatened with violence if she didn’t comply and that she was sexually assaulted. Nowhere in the article does Mr. McKinley acknowledge the fact that an eleven year old girl cannot consent to sex. This was clearly rape.

—  In the fourth paragraph, the author reports the community as asking “If the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?” He later attempts to answer his own question by accusing the young victim of “Wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20’s”. In other words, she asked for it.

—  Throughout the entire article, there is a not-so-blatant sense that the community wants the reader to actually feel sorry for the perpetrators and their families. “The students who were arrested have not returned to school, and it is unclear if they ever will.” A neighbor was quoted as saying “It’s just destroyed our community. These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”

Does nobody understand that the victim also has to live with this for the rest of her life? This day will replay in her head over and over and yet the author wants us to feel compassion towards the town and its perpetrators? The boys were not “drawn into this”. They made a conscious decision to rape a child and now, they must face the consequences.

You can read the original article here.

Too often, victims are blamed for the crimes committed against them. While the town does it in an obvious way, is the author also partially to blame? Should McKinley simply report the facts, or should he try harder to portray what happened to this young child as the tragedy it truly is?

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