Successes

Environment Matters!

At the Minnsota Summit to Prevent Sexual Violence, December 3-4, 2009, students from Professor Carolyn Levy’s class at Hamline University worked to create an entrance that captured the sexually toxic environment through which the students must navigate daily. They then created images of an alternate healthy environment for the end of the Summit. They dismantled the toxic display and put up examples of the healthy sexual environment for all to depart through.

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USI Wireless Pulls Billboards

Several people called, and many organized on Facebook to protest this billboard in Minneapolis.  Minneapolis Council woman Elizabeth Glidden pointed out that this ad did not fit with the city of Minneapolis’s commitment to ending commercial sexual exploitation. Eventually, USI Wireless agreed to pull the billboards.

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Clean Hotels

In 2008 the MNCASA Board of Directors adopted a policy to book events, including work travel, at hotels that do not profit from pornography. Recognizing this may not always be easy or possible, it still results in raising the challenge with the hospitality industry and calling attention to the perception that pornography is simply another expected hotel amenity! The MN Men’s Action Network worked with Winona County and the County Board advanced a similar county policy. In other responses, some hotels and resorts, such as Cragun’s Resort and Conference Center, have changed to meet the request for pornography free venues.

Sample policies provided with webinar materials are available here.

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Amazon.com Responds

A lot of people in Minnesota and across the country, let Amazon.com know they were not happy when Amazon.com included “The Pedophiles Guide To Love & Pleasure” among their listings. At first they responded that they believe in free speech even if it is for offensive content.  But after many people called, wrote, and media started paying attention to the details of the content and the direct links to child sexual abuse and exploitation, they eventually pulled it off their listing and off the Kindle download list.

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B***h!

A relaxed and enjoyable family card game of “Uffda” changed abruptly when the leading player’s trick was trumped; she lost the trick and the hand; her score suffered significantly; and she turned to her  husband (the trump player!), laughed, and playfully called him “Bitch!”  Fortunately for her, her mother-in-law is a sexual violence prevention advocate who responded, “Nope! Not here! We don’t call people that!”

After a lively discussion about “oh, everyone uses that in jest to needle someone,” and “it really doesn’t mean anything bad” the points were finally heard that using a blatantly negative label for a female AND  applying that to a male AND saying it is just a joke is all a part of the cultural context that negates women, increases the divide between men and women, and ultimately supports sexual violence!  It may have been meant in jest, but the ultimate meaning is not lost on those who understand how the environment normalizes negative images of women.  “Surely you can think of another playful jab to toss his way!”

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Dance, not sexual objectification or commoditization for girls

A mother complained that the dances choreographed for her 8 year old daughter at the dance studio she chose were not at all age-appropriate. Instead of showcasing the girls’ dance ability, passion for dance and physical coordination and strength, the class focused on the costumes and the dances on the girls’ looks and sexual appeal. For those reasons, the mother felt these dances and costumes would have been inappropriate for college-aged young women, but definitely not for girls in elementary school.

She struggled with how to voice her concerns. She blamed herself for not even thinking to check on whether the dance school had policies or standards about what the girls would be taught and required to perform; dances would be age-appropriate and focused on the girls’ dancing ability; and costumes allowed them to be seen as children for their ability and strength, rather than as female objects for their sexual appeal.

Expressing her concerns to other parents, she found that others thought what she found offensive, was just normal and, in fact, cute and sexy – no problem. Staff at the school pointed out that no one else had ever complained.  The mom, however, heard a session about how childhood has gone from “Dr. Seuss to Porn” and decided she could demand a change. Either the school could have a change of heart about how they bought into the idea that girls are taught to value, and be valued for, their sexuality at the expense of all else, or she would not have her child return. She would also take note of their response and post it on her Facebook page. And, she would search for a dance studio that had her child’s best interest at heart.  They wound up leaving the studio, but later learned that the school had indeed changed their policy, and increasing numbers of families and staff had a change of heart.

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Tell Us About Your Success Story

Did you demand the change or have a change of heart? Tell us about it!







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