In July 2009 the San Jose Museum of Quilts launched a new program called Quilts as Women’s Shelter in partnership with Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence and the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association (SCVQA). This popular program is designed to provide participants with new skills and the sense of accomplishment and confidence that comes from the creative process and successfully exercising new skills.
The quilts are currently on display at the San Jose Museum of Quilts. For more information, click here.
During a recent interview with the hip-hop magazine XXL, rapper Too $hort encouraged teenage boys to “turn girls out” by pushing “her up against the wall.”1 The 45-year-old rapper continued, graphically urging his audience to put their hands inside the underwear of middle school-aged girls in order to achieve what he called “mind manipulation.” The magazine packaged the disturbing monologue under the headline “Fatherly Advice From Too $hort.”
Rhetoric like this has real effects on girls in our communities. A new study reveals that a staggering three out of five Black girls experience sexual assault by the time they turn 18.2 So why did the XXL staff, led by Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten, allow this video to appear on its site?
Join us in calling on Harris Publications Inc., publisher of XXL, to fire Satten and explain what steps they’ll take to make sure that sexual violence directed at girls and women is not tolerated at their magazines and websites. When we do, we’ll send a message to the entertainment media industry that we won’t be silent while one of its companies demeans and endangers our children.
Please click below to sign the petition, and ask your family and friends to do the same. It only takes a moment:
It’s hard to read the words above, let alone watch a 45-year-old man say them while “upbeat, child-themed music plays in the background.”3 But that’s exactly what the XXL staff allowed to go live on its site — which attracts about 25,000 unique visitors a day — late last week. Satten has tried to excuse herself by saying that she didn’t see the video before it posted.4 But she presides over a workplace culture that allowed such a grave misstep, and she has failed to respond appropriately as a chorus of voices calls her on it.5
There’s a longer story to tell about the objectification of women in magazines like XXL and King (both of which are owned by Harris Publications) and the misogynistic lyrics and images that bombard young people every day. Thankfully, a long line of thought leaders have been discussing that and larger issues facing hip hop and the music industry for years.6,7,8 We also know that the degradation of women of color extends beyond hip-hop culture, as we saw recently when a Dutch lifestyle magazine published racist and inflammatory remarks about the singer Rihanna. As a result, that magazine’s editor was forced to resign.9
But this latest incident — XXL publishing a video of an adult rapper talking an imagined audience of boys through an aggressive encounter with an underage girl — goes too far. Too $hort’s rhetoric implies that hypersexuality and manhood are one and the same and that consent isn’t required for sexual contact. When our boys believe this, they help create a culture that breeds staggering statistics: Nearly a third of sexual assault and rape victims are between the ages of 12-17, and 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.10
The apology the XXL staff issued is insufficient.11 In it, Satten throws one of her subordinates under the bus, refusing to acknowledge that as editor-in-chief, she is responsible for everything that appears under the XXL brand. If Harris Publications refuses to fire Satten, it shows that they’re willing to leave one of their titles in the hands of someone who is unable and unwilling to lead.
Hip hop is a rich and complex culture that was born in Black and Latino neighborhoods. Moments like these highlight problems that exist in some aspects of the culture, but for decades it’s also been a source of political education and empowerment for people worldwide. We can’t sit back while a media company uses hip hop as a cover to demean and endanger our children. Please join us in calling on Harris Publications President and CEO Stanley R. Harris to fire Vanessa Satten, XXL’s Editor-in-Chief. We also demand that he explain what he’ll do to make sure his company’s publications stop promoting sexual violence directed at girls and women. Please join us, and ask your friends and family to do the same:
Thanks and Peace,
– Rashad, Gabriel, Dani, Matt, Natasha, Kim and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
February 17th, 2012
Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU—your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don’t share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way. You can contribute here:
1. “Rapper Too Short, in XXL column, gives boys advice to ‘turn girls out,’” The Grio, 2-13-12
2. “STUDY: More Than Half Of Black Girls Are Sexually Assaulted,” NewsOne, 12-2-11
3. See reference 1.
4. “Too Short, XXL apologies are too little, too late,” The Grio, 2-15-12
5. “Petition Calling on XXL Mag. to Fire Editor Surpasses Signature Goal,” Colorlines, 2-15-12
6. “Joan Morgan: Hip Hop and Feminism,” Rap Sessions, 6-2-09
7. “Beyond Chris Brown and Rihanna,” Ill Doctrine, 2-14-09
8. “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” Independent Lens, 6-2-09
9. “Dutch magazine editor resigns following race row with Rihanna,” The Guardian, 12-21-11
10. “Who are the victims?,” The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
11. “Too $hort and the Anatomy of a Weak Apology,” Ebony, 2-14-12
This is one of an occasional post from Margaret Epperheimer, a seven-year member of Next Door’s Board of Directors.
Okay. So, it’s no surprise your teenager is not as forthcoming as you’d like. There are secrets, to be sure, and even things you don’t want to know. But certain behaviors in the world of teen dating should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It did mine.
- Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, according to research done by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
- A Liz Claiborne Inc.-sponsored survey revealed 57 percent of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually or verbally abusive in a dating relationship.
- Locally, an informal survey conducted by teens at Los Altos High School, under the auspices of Next Door, found 50 percent of respondents at that school said they knew someone who was involved in a teen dating violence situation.
- Dating aside, a survey conducted during the 2010-11 school year by the American Association of University Women found student-on-student sexual harassment is pervasive in America’s middle schools and high schools. Of students in grades 7-12, fully 48% experienced some form of sexual harassment in person or electronically via texting, email and social media.
What’s going on? The experts say – despite our intellectual and societal orientation toward gender equity – our youth are exposed to messages through popular culture which often express ambivalence or inevitability regarding violence in intimate relationships and perpetuate traditional gender roles that hold girls and women as subservient to boys and men. Teen cultural icons exert powerful influences on our plugged-in youth, and a few well-publicized incidences can make relationship violence appear tolerated and without serious consequences for the abuser. Girls take on a disproportionate burden.
Somebody better do something, right? Well, they are. Locally, Next Door has an innovative program called Teen P.O.W.E.R (Proud of Wanting Equal Relationships). The program recognizes teens are more responsive to and influenced by attitudes and beliefs of their peers than they are to yours and mine. The program, supported this year by a generous grant from the Verizon Foundation, uses a peer-lead, multi-year, long-term approach designed to implement teen dating violence outreach, prevention and education campaigns for their high school and middle school peers in Santa Clara County.
Just the same, you and I are not off the hook. February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness month. The best thing to prevent dating violence is to be informed. It may seem intuitive to you what an unhealthy relationship looks like, but it’s not as clear to a teen. You can insist your local middle and high schools take this issue as seriously as the elementary schools now take bullying. It takes all of us to change the perception of teen dating violence from acceptable and inevitable to unacceptable, preventable and avoidable. If you need guidance on how you can take action, make an impact or provide help, contact Next Door (408-501-7550). Crystal Talitonu-Naea (email@example.com) is Next Door’s youth program coordinator. She’ll know how to direct you.
Six of the finest choruses are coming together on Saturday, February 25 to lift their voices so that battered women have options!!!
Saturday, February 25th at 7:30pm
Campbell United Methodist Church
Tickets: $20 (sold at the event only)
100% of the proceeds go to Next Door
Come feel inspired, uplifted and feel the love!
For more information, please visit http://www.nextdoor.org/
You’re invited to an Orchard City Community Chorus sponsored event, and all proceeds will be donated to Next Door!
Enjoy the music of the Orchard City Community Chorus, Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus, Joyful Noise Gospel Singers, Rainbow Women’s Chorus, Mission Valley Chorus, and Ladyesong.
The event will be held Saturday, February 25th at 7:30pm @ Campbell United Methodist Church.
This is one of an occasional post from Margaret Epperheimer, a seven-year member of Next Door’s Board of Directors.
Is it just me, or are we getting less and less tolerant of domestic violence? What was once labeled a “private family matter” now gets the appropriate label of “domestic violence” and a big headline – especially if the accused abuser is an official entrusted with public safety.
San Francisco’s new sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi, has been charged with domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after allegedly roughing-up his wife during a New Year’s Eve argument. Mirkarimi called the episode a “private family matter,” and we went berserk.
It wasn’t just domestic violence advocates who called foul, even though Mirkarimi’s wife said she had no complaint against her husband (not an unusual victim response). San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon declared: “Whether this was the elected sheriff or any other San Francisco resident, this type of behavior is inexcusable, criminal and will be prosecuted.” Regardless of whether the victim supports a prosecution, he said, it is the state’s and the DA’s obligation to ensure the safety of the victim. Right on!
Interestingly, it was a neighbor who had the wherewithal to call the police when Mirkarimi’s wife sought help next door that night. That brave, astute neighbor was not meddling. She recognized what she believed to be spousal abuse, a woman and child in danger, and she took action. What would you have done in the same situation? What if the abuse wasn’t as blatant as a fresh bruise and a cry for help?
Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence recognizes most of us are ill-equipped to know what to do if we have a neighbor, friend, relative or colleague who is being abused. We may have witnessed the violence, heard it, seen the physical signs of it, or merely suspected for various reasons. Most of us would know to call 911 if we witness violence and someone is in immediate danger. But, what if we just suspected, or someone took us into her confidence and sought our help?
Next Door gives this plain-spoken advice, which is available on a handy pocket card, which you can request in quantity if you’re willing to spread the word:
● Listen without judging. Don’t rush into providing solutions.
● Make sure she knows she is not alone.
● Let her know you support and care about her and that the violence is not her fault.
● Tell her help is available. It is free and confidential.
● Tell her you are worried about her safety and the safety of her children.
● Tell her you are there for her and that she deserves better than this.
● Refer her to Next Door: 408-279-2962.
We all have responsibility for breaking the silence and taking action. Ever wonder where Next Door got its name 40 years ago? It was a brave woman in San Jose who opened her door, providing shelter and comfort when intimate partner abuse was considered a private family matter. Thank goodness domestic violence has moved out of the shadows. Thank goodness we as a society and as individuals will no longer tolerate it.