By Gillian Schaps
This is part two of a series reflecting on Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I’m looking at news and social media portrayals of sexual assault cases and how they affect rape culture on a larger scale. For part one of the series, including my work as a teacher & the backstory about Real Life Athena (RLA) and their response to a controversial music video, click here.
Fighting Fire with Fire
Social media is an easily accessible – and therefore powerful – tool, as Sarah Brammer-Shlay and the other contributors at Real Life Athena can attest. Youtube and Facebook were responsible for the original dissemination of the DAVIDBLAYNE’s music video, a verbal sexual assault on women. Because anyone could view the video, RLA was worried about the audiences it could reach. Brammer-Shlay debated whether or not she should even comment on the Facebook post, but decided she couldn’t go to bed without speaking out.
By Gillian Schaps
Every Tuesday and Thursday, I stand in front of fifteen middle school boys and teach them about dating violence. We discuss power and control, respect, consent, and bystander intervention. Each week, I struggle to counteract the stories ripped from headlines: Yeardly Love, Chris Brown and Rihanna.
But last month–sexual assault awareness month–I couldn’t keep up. I went to work to fight against sexual assault and taught young males how to prevent sexual assault, all while news outlets continued to report stories more despicable than the last. Retaeh Parsons, Stubenville, New Delhi, Dartmouth. A quick search of the Washington Post’s website brings up stories of a Metro bus driver sexually assaulting a passenger, the rape of a five-year old girl in India, and the case of Audrie Pott (which bears remarkable similarity to the more-publicized story of Retaeh Parsons).
By Emily Feder
“Where would you go to get a free computer?”
I got this question in December in the course of my job as a community resource specialist at Inspiration Corporation in Chicago, where I work to connect individuals facing homelessness and poverty to necessary and critical resources such as shelter and free health care. I do so by using the computer and relying on Internet access. If my clients were computer literate, then my job would be nearly obsolete; clients would be able to find the resources they need by looking online and networking with their peers. I’ve met hundreds of low-income individuals through my position, and many of them do not know how to use a computer. By becoming more computer literate, they would be more successful at obtaining employment, housing and learning how to avoid scams. Continue reading
By Sarah Brammer-Shlay
“She’s not white, she’s Jewish.” Ever heard this before? Sometimes I would like to say this about myself, but it is untrue. I am an Ashkenazi Jew, but my European heritage is much less central than my Jewish heritage. I am a proud Jew but a proud white person; that’s not so easy to say. Is there reason for white people to be proud of their race after this country’s legacy of racism? Am I white or am I just Jewish?
AVODAH co-sponsored “We Were Slaves: The Jewish Community Unites Against Sexual Trafficking.” Couldn’t make it to the event? Corps member Tova Markenson interviewed panelist, Rachel Durchslag.
By Tova Markenson
At the first delegate assembly for the League for Jewish Women Bertha Pappenheim said, “Under Jewish law a women is not an individual, not a personality; she is only judged and recognized as a sexual being.” It was 1907, and Pappenheim was fighting for women’s equality in Jewish-German communities. In particular, she sought to mobilize Jews to alleviate the economic and social factors that created the conditions for prostitution and sex trafficking in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Today, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) carries on Pappenheim’s mission through addressing the culture, institutions and individuals that contribute to or benefit from sexual exploitation.
By Stephanie Cohen
Ever since I was a child, Passover has always been my favorite Jewish holiday and — despite an aversion to horseradish — I always look forward to my yearly Hillel sandwich, marror and all. While Hanukkah seems like an obvious choice for most (jelly donuts, miracles, and eight nights of presents), nothing could replace the beautifully set table, hunt for the Afikomen, my grandma’s chocolate flourless cake, and four cups of Kedem grape juice. The Passover Seder’s appeal stood in its comfortable ritual, a chance for family and friends to come together with food and drink and laughter as we celebrated our Jewish past and present.