Month: February 2015

Becky’s Fund Welcomes Kathleen

Kathleen Huang Portrait copyKathleen Huang is an undergraduate student at Georgetown University majoring in Government and minoring in Theology. She is from California and has a strong interest in women’s issues. Learn more about Kathleen here. As a undergraduate at Georgetown University majoring in Government and minoring in Theology, women’s issues and domestic violence haven’t been my focus. Since these issues are important to me, I have decided to gain knowledge through outside the classroom experiences in the form of internships and volunteering. What sparked my interest in domestic violence and dating violence was the increasing amount of negative publicity college campuses started to get after their poor handling of dating violence cases last year.

Those events prompted me to develop an interest in the field of women’s health. As a result, I ended up interning for Break the Cycle, a non-profit that focuses on issues of dating violence and providing resources for providers. As I became more knowledgable about the issues of domestic and dating violence, I became more vocal and more determined to help survivors and leave a positive impact. After finishing a semester long internship at Break the Cycle, I continued my advocacy through working as a Youth Advisory Board Member for Loveisrespect in combating dating violence. As a board member I work with other like minded youth throughout the nation in promoting awareness for the issues of dating violence and domestic abuse.

Currently I am volunteering at Becky’s Fund and my projects include domestic violence research and working on presentation material. I am excited to be working with a non-profit so dedicated to helping survivors and spreading awareness about the dangers and prevalence of domestic violence. I hope to continue to broaden my knowledge of domestic violence issues and support methods so that I may find better ways to communicate with survivors and help my own community.

The Super bowl: Sex Trafficking, Domestic Violence and Objectification of Women

image6image for articleThis year’s Super Bowl was one to remember, not because of what happened on the field but rather in the commercials. This year for the first time in the history of the Super Bowl the NFL took a firm stance against domestic violence by airing a 60 second PSA on the issue during the Super Bowl. Domestic violence advocates have for decades been trying to link the Super Bowl to the physical assault of women. Advocates say that Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most dangerous days of the year for women and claim that there is a correlation between the outcome of a televised football game and rates at which women are admitted to the emergency room after the game.

However this statistic has long been disproven. If this is the case then why did the NFL air this PSA? This PSA is a direct response from the NFL to the Ray Rice incident in early 2014. But why Ray Rice? Despite there being domestic violence cases in the NFL both before and after the Ray Rice incident no case in recent history has gotten the amount of attention that the Ray Rice case has. This is because Ray Rice was caught in the act assaulting his wife by an elevator camera in the casino which he and his wife were visiting. The release of the elevator footage by TMZ sparked national outcry and put the NFL under a microscope when it came to issues of domestic violence involving their players.
In the aftermath of the Ray Rice case the NFL made it so that any player charged domestic violence would receive a six-game suspension without pay upon their first offense and be immediately banished from the league upon their second offense. While the NFL’s new position on domestic violence is admirable it is also reactionary. These changes were made as clear reactions to the mishandling of the Ray Rice case by the NFL in an effort to preserve their image.
Nonetheless they did take a firm stance on the issue, which is more than they have done for other social issues related to the game of football. One major issue which has yet to be publicly address by the NFL is the rise in sex trafficking activity correlated with the Super Bowl. Sex trafficking advocates say that Super Bowl weekend represents the peak in sex trafficking activity in the U.S. Data from previous Super Bowls has shown that prostitution activity has doubled and in some cases even tripled during the Super Bowl weekend.
This year was no exception, approximately 570 “johns” and 23 sex traffickers were arrested in part of a two week sex trafficking sting operation which culminated on Super Bowl Sunday. The operation also lead to the rescue of 54 adult and 17 juvenile sex trafficking victims. While there are those who deny the connection between the Super Bowl and sex trafficking the facts of Super Bowl weekend are undeniable. With nearly 600 “johns” arrested and 71 individuals rescued it is hard to deny that there is some connection between sex trafficking and the Super Bowl.
The NFL was also touched by prostitution scandal over the Super Bowl weekend. NFL sports analyst and hall of famer Warren Sapp was also arrested over the Super Bowl weekend on one count of soliciting a prostitute and two counts of assault against a woman. Though the NFL has fired Sapp for his involvement in the solicitation and assault of prostitutes they fail to address the issue which may have brought the prostitutes there in the first place. Even when they did take measures to reduce the occurrence of sex trafficking during the Super Bowl the NFL only mentions their efforts briefly in the FAQ section of the Arizona NFL Super Bowl page. Outside of the sting operation Arizona State has recently passed a series of laws meant to address issues related to sex trafficking including laws which increase maximum sentences for sex traffickers and give victims of sex trafficking more protection from prosecution on prostitution charges. The Department of Homeland Security has also partnered with the Arizona Human Trafficking Council in order to create measures to identify and report suspected sex trafficking.
Several local and national agencies have also joined in the fight to prevent sex trafficking over Super Bowl weekend. Airline Ambassadors, a national organization which trains flight attendants to recognize signs of individuals being trafficked on planes has begun training Arizona flight attendants on what types of behavior they should look out for in anticipation of the big game. Safe Action Project manager Kimberly Klein has also been working with Valley hotels and motels in order to train their staff to recognize and report signs of sex trafficking.
Although it is a huge issue, sex trafficking is only one of the issues which surrounds Super Bowl Sunday. Another issue which has been getting a lot of attention from feminist scholars and now increasingly the general public is the representation of women in advertising, specifically the limited portrayal of women as sex objects and the lack of diversity casting for these ads. Women have been misrepresented in ads as sexual objects for decades and Super Bowl ads have been no exception.
Web hosting and domain registrar site Godaddy.com has been one of the most notorious Super Bowl offenders with a long history of objectifying women in their Super Bowl ads. It came as a surprise to see them take a different route in advertising this year even after their original Super Bowl ad got pulled from the air. The Super Bowl ads this year seemed to be very tame in comparison to recent years. There was a greater focus on family, happiness and more kid friendly ads in general. The Super Bowl ad which sparked the most discussion this year was actually an ad by NationWide Insurance which brought many viewers to the verge of tears when they discovered the boy in the commercial had died because of a preventable accident.
Whether this was a conscious move by advertisers to change their selling tactics to reflect social change or a reaction to the Ray Rice incident and an unwillingness to attract negative Super Bowl press we will never know. The reality of advertising is the objectification of women in advertising is nothing new. Jean Killbourne has been documenting the objectification of women in advertising for decades through her documentary film series Killing Us Softly. In her film series she discusses how through advertisements women’s bodies have been reduced to parts and objects designated for the use of others. And that once someone becomes reduced in such a way it becomes easier to commit acts of violence against them because they are no longer people but things to be used and discarded at the whim of those doing the objectifying.
Unlike domestic violence or sex trafficking the objectification of women at the Super Bowl is a much harder problem to solve. A clear stance that denounces domestic violence and sex trafficking should be taken by the NFL because it is in agreement with general public that both those activities are morally wrong, the NFL and its affiliates only stand to gain popularity from taking firm stances on these issues. However the objectification of women is an issue which is pervasive and permeates our society at many levels. Women are objectified to sell everything from cars to fast food. To publicly denounce the objectification of women would mean denouncing the advertising industry as a whole. Which when considering the profit networks make from advertising dollars seems very unlikely.
So then what can be done to stop the objectification of women in advertising and by extension the Super Bowl? We need to educate individuals on how the systematic objectification of women makes it easier for us to inflict harm upon them, and we need to teach them how to identify the objectification of women in advertising. Only then will there be a shift in the ways in which consumers believe it is acceptable for them to be marketed to and thus changing the ways in which advertisers market.

Sources

Avila, Jim. “Super Bowl Is Largest Weekend in US Prostitution, Advocates Say” January 29, 2014

Bellare, kim. “Hundreds Of Johns Arrested In Sex-Trafficking Sting That Culminated On Super Bowl Sunday” The Huffington Post. February 3, 2015

Brand, Natalie. “Phoenix’s plan to fight sex trafficking ahead of Super Bowl” www.azfamily.com June 19, 2014

Crouch, Ian.“The N.F.L.’s New Domestic-Violence Rule”, The New Yorker, August 28, 2014

Endsextrafficking.gov.az. “Recent Laws”. http://endsextrafficking.az.gov. Accessed February 3, 2015

Goldberg, Eleanor. “Super Bowl Is Single Largest Human Trafficking Incident In U.S.: Attorney General” The Huffington Post. February 3, 2013

Kelly, Caitlin. “No More Excuses” The New Yorker, February 1, 2015

NFL.com, “Sapp fired from job at NFL Network following Phoenix arrest” ww.nfl.com February 2, 2015

Red, Christian. “Warren Sapp fired by NFL Network following arrest for soliciting prostitutes, assault” The Daily News, February 2, 2015

Becky’s Fund Welcomes Tori

Victoria
My name is Tori Ortiz, I am from San Antonio, TX but am currently a senior at the University of Maryland studying Psychology and Sociology. I became interested in working with Becky’s Fund after taking a course that explained domestic violence and the effects on victims and their families. During this course students were chosen to go to a nearby shelter and work with the children there educating them on healthy lifestyle choices such as ways to deal with anger, healthy food choices and much more. After my time in the course I realized that working with survivors of domestic violence was something I wished to pursue further.

Becky’s Fund appealed to me given the work done with students in the area. I have a strong belief that educating youth is an essential step in preventing domestic violence. So to be a part of a program that was actively reaching out to the youth community was important to me.

I look forward to interning this semester here at Becky’s Fund. I hope to learn more about the daily proceedings of a non profit and gain experience that I can take with me to graduate school.

Becky’s Fund Welcomes Helen

helenHello, my name is Helen Conway and I am the Programs and Communications Intern with Becky’s Fund for Spring 2015. I am a senior at Georgetown University, studying Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies.Originally from DC, I grew up in rural Maine on the water. I come to Becky’s Fund with experience in education and community mental health. While I have always been engaged with women’s health issues, I became keenly aware of domestic violence issues following a class last semester. Through my internship with Becky’s Fund, I look forward to learning more about the cultural, political and economic systems that lead to domestic violence while also supporting and empowering survivors. I am particularly excited to help with the development of educational programming that empowers young people to be leaders in the movement to end interpersonal violence.

Upon graduation from Georgetown, I plan to pursue a career in social work, working with the most underserved populations to empower them through quality mental health care. In my free time, I love singing with the Georgetown University Concert Choir, improving my cooking skills, practicing yoga and reading.

Becky’s Fund says Goodbye to Chrisanthe Theodorakakis

chrisanthi becky's fund
Over the past four months at Becky’s Fund I have learned many valuable lessons about nonprofit work, domestic violence issues, and about myself. When I first began working with Becky’s Fund I knew that domestic violence was an important, under-discussed issue in our society. After spending time researching current issues, working directly with several survivors, and getting involved with the educational programs Becky’s Fund offers, I understand that domestic violence is one of the most complex, emotional, frightening experiences an individual can go through. The most important thing I have come to understand, though, is that domestic violence is preventable and that it will take more than just a few passionate individuals at a nonprofit to stop it.

This is the reason I have so thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Becky’s Fund. Although some days were emotional or tiring when working with survivors, it was extremely rewarding to know that I was one part of an incredible force of good. Of course, the work Becky’s Fund does with survivors is amazing. I was able to see several women make great progress over several months through finding their own new homes, coming out of homelessness, becoming financially independent, and gaining the confidence to say that they were no longer a victim, but a true survivor. This aspect of my role at Becky’s Fund truly warmed my heart. But I believe that the most important way that this organization makes an impact is through the educational programs that help to shake our society’s old standards and attitudes.

By working with the Men of Code program, in particular, I was able to see success and progress from two important perspectives. Seeing the Men of Code students in their art workshop, opening up to their peers and mentors about their deepest feelings and expressing themselves through creating art was inspiring. Working with Becky’s Fund has changed the way those boys think about themselves, their peers, relationships, and respecting women. Additionally, the Men of Code Mentorship Program showed me that there are men of all backgrounds, ages, and interests who are willing to spend time investing in the lives of these young men. When I saw these two groups come together, it made me hopeful that people do care and are ready and willing to make a difference.

I believe that Becky’s Fund has touched the lives of many people, from the participants in the educational programs, to the attendees of fundraisers and events that promote awareness, the staff and volunteers, and the survivors themselves. The most important thing I learned here is that the more people we can get involved through talking and thinking about this issue, the greater our chances are of achieving the goal of seeing a world free from domestic violence. I am so fortunate to have had this eye opening experience and will continue to be an advocate for this issue in my daily life.

Becky’s Fund Welcomes Christina

christina
My name is Christina Covello, my interest in women’s issues was sparked during my college experience when I minored in Gender Studies. I have always wanted to pursue a career in which I could advocate for social issues I feel passionate about. I wanted to intern for Becky’s Fund because of the Fund’s approach to combating Domestic violence. Becky’s Fund is working not only with victims but with young men to instill the importance of positive relationships and respect for women. This is a unique and I believe extremely productive approach to combat domestic violence.  I also believe that the program that Becky’s Fund implements in colleges around the country is vital to combating domestic violence as well as sexual violence. Women in high school and college are particularly vulnerable to falling into violent and unhealthy relationships, if more awareness is brought to students and people in this age group I believe that domestic violence can be stopped.

What I want to gain from my experience is an inside look into how non-profits work. I also want to better understand the issues surrounding domestic violence and domestic violence advocacy. The beauty of Becky’s Fund is that the Fund is involved with many different aspects of domestic violence prevention so it is rich learning environment where I am trying to absorb everything.  In the future I am interested in applying to law school and pursuing a career advocating for women’s issues.

Becky’s Fund Welcomes Patrick

patrickHi, my name is Patrick Noel and I am a senior at American University in Washington DC. I am double majoring in Public Health and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) and I was born in the Caribbean island of St.Lucia. For as long as I have ever seriously considered a career I knew I wanted to work in the health field. I chose public health because the area is broad yet somewhat defined at the same time. Nutrition, epidemiology, mental health, all those things fit under the public health umbrella.

It wasn’t until halfway through my college career that I realized the intersection of sex, sexuality and sexual victimization on the public health sphere. Suddenly there was completely new way to examine the profession I chose, new challenges, new goals and new destination. After this realization I took on a minor, which turned into another major in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS). I wanted to combine my knowledge of public health with the ideas and theories of WGSS in order to fully understand the stigma certain marginalized groups face when dealing with the health care system.

I chose to intern at Becky’s Fund because of their Men of Code Program. Through my coursework I became very interested in the idea of reforming the current state of masculinity into a force for progressive social change. I saw the ways in which negative portrayals and enactments of masculinity adversely affect the health outcomes of both women and men. I think Beck’s Fund saw this as well and their Men of Code program was a way of responding to that. I hope to use my knowledge to further their the Men of Code program in order to help create a generation of men with healthy, positive outlooks on their masculinity.

I hope to use the knowledge and experience I gain at Becky’s Fund to continue developing programs for young men so they can come to understand themselves as men and decipher what really means. To teach them that their status as men does not depend upon the subordination of anyone else and that they can use their power for positive change across the board. Other than that I do see an MPH in my future.

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