Monthly Archives: June 2014

Romanticizing violence in pop culture

Robin Thicke’s video: further evidence that we’re romancing the stalker-esque, via The Guardian:

A woman drowning, a bloodied face, a man turning his fingers into a gun and pointing it at his own head: not exactly the stuff of romance! Yet this – along with a bunch of private text messages – is the imagery that makes up the music video for Get Her Back, the lead single from creepy crooner Robin Thicke on his followup to his number-one selling album Blurred Lines. And this is just one song on an entire record dedicated to winning back the affection of his estranged wife, the actress Paula Patton. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned chocolate and flowers?

Thicke’s new album, titled – what else? – Paula, features tracks called You’re My Fantasy, Still Madly Crazy, Something Bad, Whatever I Want and Lock the Door, among others. The disturbing video, released on Monday, features real SMS messages sent between Thicke and Patton, interspersed with images of violence, and ends ominously with a shadowy figure walking off into the distance with these words: This is just the beginning. So far, the video has been called “vulnerable” and“emotional”; album write-ups call Thicke “repentant” with this “romantic gesture”.

I think a more accurate term would be stalker-ish.

The US Department of Justice defines stalking as “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact … that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” That definition explicitly includes the repeated sending of unwanted presents and flowers, waiting for a woman at home or school, or making indirect threats. Does selling a music video with a look-a-like of your wife drowning count?

None of us know the ins and outs of the Patton and Thicke’s relationship outside of what’s public – they were high school sweethearts and they have a child together. But romanticizing the creepy and potentially harassing efforts of a man obsessed with this ex sends a dangerous message to young men about what “romance” really is. Hint: it has nothing to do with haranguing and publicly shaming us back into a relationship.

Thicke is hardly alone in his interpretation of what constitutes a grand romantic gesture. Stalking or behavior bordering on such is a huge part of the narrative around romance, especially in pop culture: the boy keeps trying to get the girl until she says yes. You need to look no further than the outrageously popular Twilight series – books and movies – to know that the stalker-as-romantic lead looms large in our cultural imagination. From There’s Something About Mary to Groundhog Day, the guy who would do anything to land the girl is supposedly the stuff women’s dreams are made of. (Of course, there’s no room for female protagonists or celebrities doing the same, like, say, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. She’d be called nuts in less time than it takes to get through the YouTube ad before a music video.)

It doesn’t surprise me that a man whose hit song sounded like an assault anthem and featured a video full of naked models would attempt to get back his wife via public pressure and a threatening music video. And the Get Her Back video is threatening. From the drowning to the finger gun (threatening suicide is a common signal of an abuser), the video sends a message that Thicke won’t take no for an answer. And that’s not romantic – it’s just downright scary.

Title IX

“Red tape won’t cover up rape”: The silent protests that are sweeping college campuses, via Think Progress

The academic year has wound to a close, but student activists aren’t slowing down. In order to keep attention on sexual assault policy reform — an issue that has recently captured national headlines and inspired White House action — graduating seniors at elite universities are using red tape to make a big statement.

Red tape isn’t a new symbol for sexual assault reform. But it’s made a comeback at several colleges this commencement season, where students are placing it on their mortarboards as a symbol of solidarity with rape survivors whose cases may have been mishandled by their administrators. Some students used the tape to spell out “IX” as a nod to the federal gender equity law Title IX, which requires colleges to maintain a safe environment for students by addressing sexual assault.

The visual tool first originated at Columbia University in 1999 and 2000, when the students there were attempting to pressure their administrators to update the school’s inadequate rape policy.

“Throughout that school year, hundreds of Columbia students started wearing red tape on their wrists, their backpacks, and any other items they’d carry with them frequently,” Tracey Vitchers, the communications coordinator for Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER), a group that was first formed at Columbia, explained in an interview with ThinkProgress. “It was supposed to symbolize the bureaucracy of the old policy, to symbolize administrators really shutting students’ voices out of the reform process, and really call attention to the issue at hand — the college is putting all this red tape in front of students.”

Back then, “red tape won’t cover up rape” became somewhat of a rallying cry for student activists staging protests on campus.

This year, tensions over campus sexual assault came to a head once again. A group of 23 Columbia students filed a federal complaint against their school, accusing administrators of failing to address victims’ needs and doling out lenient punishments to rapists. Frustrated with administrators who didn’t appear to be doing enough to keep students safe, some activists started writing the names of accused rapists on bathroom stalls. An anti-rape group tried to protest at an event for prospective students and was quickly shut down.

According to Zoe Ridolfi-Starr, a junior at Columbia and one of the students who participated in filing the federal complaint this spring, current activists wanted to figure out how to keep putting meaningful pressure on the university officials. So they went back and looked at the way that sexual assault reforms had played out in previous years — and decided to bring back the red tape.

“We wanted to really claim that visual symbol and capture the contrast between our goal, which is the safety and well being of the whole student body, and the administration’s approach, which is more red tape,” Ridolfi-Starr told ThinkProgress. “Even now, they’re forming committees to review the committees, and they’re writing proposals on how to reform the committee to reform the committee, and nothing is changing for students. You haven’t fixed anything. It’s frustrating.”

Students started using red tape to hang up fliers with demands for administrators. They put up big red X’s in prominent places on campus. They taped over the mouth of the statue in front of the library. And then they put out a call for students to wear the tape on their graduation caps.

“By placing a piece of red tape on your cap (ideally parallel to the right side), you will demonstrate and signal to the University that you do not accept your degree lightly, that you understand the culture that they have been complicit in perpetuating, and that you will not stand for it, and that you demand justice and support for all survivors, even as a graduate of this institution,” student activists, who formed a direct action group called No Red Tape,wrote in an open letter to the campus last month.

Soon, activists at Brown, Harvard, and Dartmouth reached out to coordinate a media strategy for staging their own red tape protests. Hundreds of graduating seniors participated. Stanford University, which held its commencement this past Sunday, was the latest elite institution where seniors donned red tape. According to Miranda Mammen, one of the students who participated in the protest at Stanford, about 100 people put red tape on their caps and there was “a lot of student support even among those who didn’t wear red tape themselves.”

“People were really excited about it, and it was very cool to see that replicated at other campuses,” Ridolfi-Starr said. “I’m confident that red tape will continue to be a symbol.”

“We’re really excited to see that students are taking the steps at their graduation to have a silent protest,” Vitchers said, pointing out that the recent activism surrounding commencement ceremonies could signal some positive momentum for the sexual assault reform movement as a whole. “I think we’ll start to see some of these students who are graduating starting to engage more as alumni in this process, which we’re looking forward to seeing. Alumni can be really powerful in helping to support student advocacy on campus.”

“Even as graduates of this institution, everyone has a responsibility to continue to fight for a safe Columbia,” Ridolfi-Starr agreed. “Graduation is an important day for people, and I think some felt like this day is sacred and should be free from protest. But I actually think that it becomes even more important on special days, and on ceremonious days, to continue to fight for what we know to be right. It’s important that we do it even when it’s hard.”

Two things you can do to prevent child abuse, via Bangor Daily News:

Last week, I attended the National Children’s Alliance Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. During several interesting sessions about child sexual abuse and conversations with colleagues from around the country, I again was thinking about how to respond to the inevitable question of, “But what can I do to help prevent and respond to child sexual abuse?”

When people learn that I work for the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, they generally ask two questions: “Does sexual violence really happen in Maine?” and “What can I do to help?” Especially when there are children or older adults involved, people tend to pay a particular amount of attention.

The first question is easy to answer: Yes, sexual violence happens in Maine. About 1 in 5 Mainers will experience rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime. It’s easy to talk about numbers because people are comfortable with numbers.

People, however, are less comfortable with behavior change, which makes the second question more difficult to answer. It involves examining our own behavior, acknowledging our own discomforts, and knowing when to ask for help. A few thoughts I had during the conference and conversations with various colleagues:

Recognizing a child’s body is her/his own. When I say this to people, their immediate reaction is, “Of course my kid’s body is his/her own!” Sometimes, though, in an effort to make auntie so-and-so feel included, we say things like, “Give Aunt Cara a hug and a kiss goodbye!” What if Sally doesn’t want to give Aunt Cara a hug and a kiss goodbye? This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but what this inevitably says to Sally is, “You have to hug or kiss someone even if you don’t want to because a grownup said so.”

Now, if Sally happens to be spunkier than the average kid, she may flat out deny the hug/kiss request and go on playing with her Legos. However, some kids may not feel so spunky. Saying to Sally, “If you don’t want to hug Aunt Cara, that’s OK, but let’s say goodbye,” helps to teach her manners but doesn’t put her in a position of having to hug or kiss someone she doesn’t want to hug or kiss. It helps children like Sally recognize and respect boundaries – their own and others. We don’t make the teens in our lives hug or kiss people they don’t want to. In fact, we actively tell them they don’t have to! Why is a 3-year old any different? This small aspect of our behavior with young children can help address the broader issue of child sexual abuse.

If you see something, say something. A lot of folks get into a “not my business” frame of mind when it comes to sexual abuse. This frame of mind, often called the bystander effect, is why we read stories about people who witness a violent crime and don’t intervene or call the police.

The thing is, any type of violent crime is everyone’s business. And when it relates to those who can’t speak up for themselves, it’s even more important that if we suspect something, we say something.

This is an especially important point for those who work with children on a regular basis. During the week of July 14, St. Joseph’s college is hosting an education symposium about child sexual abuse signs, symptoms and reporting. Speakers include Sen. Bill Diamond, Attorney General Janet Mills, Maine State Police Lt. Glenn Lang, former Assistant District Attorney Alan Kelley, and others.

I’ll be speaking about child sexual abuse response, prevention, and the importance of services such as Children’s Advocacy Centers and sexual assault support advocates. The information presented is intended for teachers and administrators and will include topics such as mandatory reporting and best practices for addressing a student/child who may be a victim. The symposium will be helpful for educators who have a chance to intervene in a potentially abusive situation. Both graduate and continuing education credits are available. For more information, or to register, click here.

The culture of silence around child sexual abuse still exists, though it’s getting better. For more information on how to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse, visit the Maine Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers, a program of MECASA.

SAPARS Board President receives an award from the New England Patriots!

William Lowenstein (our Board President) of Auburn, Maine wins second place award of $10,000 for SAPARS in the Myra Kraft and New England Patriots Community MVP Charitable Foundation!

SexualAssaultPrevention_BillLowenstein_Field (Small)











Here is the official press release:

“FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’s Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards place a spotlight on those who give their time to help others and exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving their communities through volunteerism. Annually, the Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation host the awards program as part of the ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative in honor of Myra Kraft’s example of being a lifelong volunteer.

On June 9, 26 volunteers were recognized for their contributions at a luncheon and awards ceremony at Gillette Stadium. Each Community MVP received grants for their respective nonprofit organizations. Fifteen New England based organizations were presented with $5,000 grants in honor of their volunteers’ work. Ten others received grants of $10,000 and one grand prize winner was presented $25,000.

‘Every year, we ask New England nonprofit organizations to nominate one volunteer who they consider their MVPs,’ said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. ‘This year, we received a record number of nominations from over 400 nonprofits. Their stories are heartwarming and inspirational and narrowing the field to 26 winners gets more difficult every year. As a lifelong volunteer herself, this was always Myra’s favorite event. I am so glad that her legacy continues to live through the great work of all the Myra Kraft Community MVPs.’

On hand to congratulate the award winners was Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, New England Patriots Charitable Foundation President Joshua Kraft, Pro Football and Patriots Hall of Famer and Patriots Executive Director of Community Affairs Andre Tippett, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo and Patriots alumni and three-time Super Bowl Champion Joe Andruzzi.

William Lowenstein of Auburn, Maine was one of ten $10,000 second place winners.

‘It is a privilege and an honor to be recognized by the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and with being entrusted with carrying on the legacy of Myra Kraft,’ said Lowenstein. ‘Volunteering has provided opportunities for creating personal growth and provided me with the chance to create positive change in my community while trying to establish a safe environment for sexual assault victims.’

As a founding board member, Lowenstein has been volunteering tirelessly to support those in need for thirty years. Being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, he willingly opens up about his experiences to other male survivors. Lowenstein is able to build trust with victims and has made himself available to speak with other survivors while also serving as a community advocate, educating the public about sexual assault. He is able to touch upon a topic that people have trouble discussing and does so with heartfelt compassion. Despite being diagnosed with leukemia several years ago, Lowenstein continues to play a key role in shaping the organization’s prevention programming.

‘Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services is proud and grateful that Bill Lowenstein is being honored with a Myra Kraft MVP award,’ said Marty McIntyre, Executive Director of the nonprofit. “The award not only recognizes and honors Bill’s 3 decades of work with and for our agency, but it also provides an opportunity for us to continue to raise awareness about sexual assault, including that it happens to males and that males can have a powerful role in helping to end it.’

The 2014 MVPs represent all six New England states, a variety of nonprofit organizations and range in ages from 13 to 93 years old. Nominations open each spring and for the most up-to-date information, visit”

(Congratulations, Bill!)

All Of The Things Women Are Supposed To Do To Prevent Rape, via Think Progress

Increased attention to the issue of sexual assault, both here in the United States and abroad, has led to larger conversations about how best to prevent rape. But often, those conversations have a misplaced focus. Instead of coming up with ways to encourage a culture of consent and respect, and crack down on the assailants who violate those boundaries, most of the advice for preventing sexual assault involves coming up with things for women to do to mitigate their risk of being attacked.

Here are just a few of the things that responsible women are supposed to keep in mind, if they don’t want to become a victim of a sexual assault:

1. Get married.

A piece published on the Washington Post on Tuesday argues that in order to prevent violence against women, more women should “get hitched to their baby daddies.” The site quickly changed the headline to slightly reframe the issue, and it now reads that women would be “safer with fewer boyfriends around their kids,” but the underlying message remains the same: Preventing rape is related to women’s decisions. If women allow boyfriends around their kids, they’re increasing their kids’ chances of becoming the victims of abuse. It’s victim parent blaming.

2. Take a self defense class.

The idea that women can prevent rape by learning to physically defend themselves is a deeply entrenched trope that emerged again this week, after a contestant for Miss USA suggested that young women need to take more self-defense classes. When asked a question about the campus sexual assault crisis, Nina Sanchez responded that she’s a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and more women need that training. “You need to be confident and be able to defend yourself,” Sanchez said. She went on to win the pageant, and her comments sparkedfierce debate about placing the onus for rape prevention on women instead of men.

3. Drink less alcohol.

Like the call for more self defense classes, the argument for less alcohol consumption has become one of the most common reactions to the epidemic of rapes on college campuses. The assumption is that college students are simply drinking too much, and if girls avoid getting too drunk, men won’t prey on them. But that’s actually a fundamental misunderstanding of the way sexual assault occurs. In reality, the research into rapists’ behavior has found that alcohol is simply one tool they use to accomplish their goal of assault — and if alcohol isn’t available, they’ll just use a different coercive tactic. On top of that, it’s not even clear that there’s an epidemic of binge drinking among young women in the first place.

4. Wear more clothing.

Women’s bodies are considered to be so inherently tempting to men that it becomes impossible for men to control themselves. So women are frequently told to cover up so they don’t tempt predators into taking advantage of them. This concept starts young, as female students are told to adhere to strict dress codes that won’t “distract” their male peers. The international Slut Walk movement has pushed back against this concept, as topless participants march down city streets and demand to know if they “deserve” to be raped for baring so much skin.

5. Stop taking public transportation.

After a fatal gang rape that occurred on a New Dehli bus sparked international outrage, an Indian political leader made matters worse by suggesting that women simply shouldn’t take buses at night. That enraged women across the country, who pointed out that they shouldn’t be forced to hide in their homes for fear of being sexually assaulted. Women ended up launching a Board the Bus campaign, coinciding with International Women’s Day, to reclaim public transportation.

6. Make it seem like less fun to be a rape victim.

Earlier this week, Washington Post columnist George Will provoked a backlash after he published a column suggesting that the focus on campus sexual assault has ensured that victimhood is now “a coveted status that confers privileges.” More college women are reporting rape because they want that status, Will argued. Sexual assault survivors were quick to mobilize around the hashtag #SurvivorPrivilege to point out that becoming a rape victim doesn’t actually come with any special perks, and isn’t something anyone would choose for fun.

7. Buy special underwear.

One company made waves last fall by marketing a pair of special “anti-rape underwear” that promised to give women peace of mind when they go out in public. Like a modern chastity belt, the underwear is intended to be difficult for a sexual predator to remove, allowing women to feel safer when they’re “going out on a blind date, taking an evening run, ‘clubbing,’ traveling in unfamiliar countries, and any other activity that might make one anxious about the possibility of an assault.” It was widely panned. Nonetheless, it’s hardly theonly product that’s hoping to corner the anti-rape market.

8. Download a GPS tracking app.

In addition to anti-rape products, there are anti-rape apps that are intended to help women feel safe by allowing their movements to be tracked by family members and friends. Some apps allow women to quickly alert first responders. Others allow guardians to check in on women’s location when they’re out on a date. “Safety is in your hand,” one app promises, rather optimistically.  [Note:  This article previously included a link to one of the “anti-rape” apps mentioned in this section.  We have since removed the link, as the website now appears to have been infected with malware.]

9. Carry a gun.

In response to the controversy over rape on college campuses, guns’ rights enthusiasts argued that female students would be safer if they were allowed to bring concealed weapons on campus. That proposal isn’t very popular among rape crisis counselors or college presidents, who point out that introducing a gun into that type of encounter between students could actually end up being dangerous. Indeed, some victims of sexual violence end up getting shot with their own gun.


Of course, keeping individuals safe from violence and rape is an admirable goal. But when women are constantly told about the rape prevention strategies that they’re supposed to follow, they’re sent a clear message: It’s their responsibility to avoid becoming a victim, and if they fail at that task, it must be their fault. If you’re a rape victim who keeps an anti-rape checklist in your head, it’s all too easy to assume that there must have been something you should have done differently before your consent was violated. That attitude is exactly what leads society as a whole to blame survivors — instead of placing the blame squarely where it belongs, with the perpetrators of the crime.

Sexuality in America

8 things America gets totally wrong about sex, via Salon:

We get many things right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. We were the first to put a man on the moon (Neil Armstrong), the first to achieve flight (the Wright brothers), and we came up with the greatest television phenomenon ever: Shark Week. But when it comes to sex, we are all mixed up. For all of America’s cultural pornification—we can’t even sell a router or a chicken sandwich without a bikini-clad model dry-humping it—we still haven’t let go of a lot of the puritanical values our country was founded on. Here are a few of the things our otherwise great nation gets wrong about sex and sexuality.

1. Sexual healthcare is not a priority.

Unless we get pregnant, a raging case of crabs, or need erection pills, it’s pretty rare for Americans to schedule an appointment with a doctor for sexual health reasons, even though the World Health Organization tells us that sexual health is “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity.” Since Americans barely get any kind of health care at all, and the tiniest amount of sex education in school, it’s not surprising that people only visit doctors for sexual reasons under the most dire of circumstances, and not equally important concerns such as sexual ethics, consent, gender identity, trauma care, and desire. It’s also not surprising that we have the highest STD rates in the industrialized world. A recent report called our rates an “epidemic.” We’re number one!

2. Billions of dollars wasted on abstinence education.

Abstinence-only education—that is, teaching children, primarily girls, that the only way they can preserve their self-worth is to wait until they are married to have sex—has been a popular pastime in the U.S. for roughly the last 20 years, despite the fact that it’s been repeatedly proven not to do a damn thing to prevent teenagers from having sex. In fact, it does the exact opposite by negatively impacting condom use and sexual health.

Some lawmakers are still trying to pass legislation to end federal funding for abstinence-only programs, which mushroomed under George W. Bush, and which Obama later eliminated, only to have Republicans restore them as a concession to social conservatives under Obamacare. Thus far, however, lawmakers have been unsuccessful at ending the insanity. If only conservatives practiced abstinence as much as they preached it….

3. Discrimination against LGBT people is rampant.

In 2014, you can still get fired for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual in 29 states. The number increases to 33 states if you include transgender people. The stigmatization of sexual minorities also leads them not to seek sexual healthcare (and general healthcare) as often as their straight counterparts, leading to poorer health overall, mental health issues and long-term problems. Many don’t even feel comfortable coming out to their doctors, potentially putting them at higher risk for more serious illnesses.

And don’t even get us started on how many Americans believe bisexuality doesn’t exist.

4. We have seriously warped body images.

The only naked bodies we see (unless you are one of the rare breeds who come from a nudist household) are found in porn, and hence, we think of the porn body as the “ideal,” even though very few people’s bodies and genitals look like that without severe modification. A few brave souls are attempting to normalize the diversity of genitalia, Betty Dodson, for instance, but by and large Americans have a lot of shame surrounding their bodies and private parts, leading to such horrors as anal bleaching, labiaplasty, vaginal rejuvenation, and vajazzling, also known as turning one’s vagina into a glittery disco.

5. We’re obsessed with penis size.

We recently watched Unhung Hero on Netflix (it’s not bad!) about our cultural obsession with penis size, and one man’s hilarious and at times depressing attempts to increase his schlong’s length and girth. What with the countless pills, penis pumps, surgical enhancement opportunities, and porn-penis obsessions, it’s obvious that America is hung up (sorry) on the idea that having a monster penis is the only way to be a fully actualized human man. This obsession is generating a lot of money for penis-enhancement companies, but in terms of effectiveness, the “gains” such enhancements produce are often in the realms of insecurity, doubt, loss of sensation, and discomfort.

6. Our popular magazines offer the most bizarre sex advice.

What country besides ours would suggest women fellate a pastry in order to be more sexually satisfied? Thanks to the likes of popular magazines like Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health, Americans are taught the most absurd things about sex, such as the notion that snorting pepper to increase orgasm intensity is a fine idea, presenting your lady with a dick dipped in Nutella will get you an “enthusiastic blow job,” and the smell of toast is an incredible aphrodisiac.

7. Rape culture and the sexual double standard.

Ugh, the fact that we even have a term for it is depressing, but if anything can be gleaned from the recent atrocities of the Santa Barbara massacre and the #yesallwomen campaign, it’s that the way our country views women, sexual violence and female sexuality is seriously skewed. Women are routinely blamed, stigmatized and called names for the sexual harassment and assault they experience.

In addition to the fact that rape culture attempts to normalize sexual violence, the virgin-whore dichotomy also contributes to our warped views on female sexuality. As Ally Sheedy’s character in The Breakfast Club noted about America’s views on female sexuality almost 30 years ago, “If you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you have, you’re a slut. It’s a trap.” Sadly, America’s views haven’t changed much.

8. Ridiculous anti-sex laws still on the books.

It’s illegal to sell sex toys, a.k.a. “obscene devices” in states such as Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Louisiana. If you’re busted for promoting a dildo in Louisiana, you face a fine of up to $5,000. In Alabama, it comes with a fine of $10,000 and a year of “hard labor”!

Lest you think this is just the wacky South, Cleveland has a law against showing underboob, defining “nudity” as a “female breast with less than a full, opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple.” Having premarital sex is still considered a “crime” in Massachusetts(comes with a $30 fine and up to a three-month imprisonment), Idaho ($300 fine and up to six months jail time), and Utah (class B misdemeanor). And of course the South doesn’t smile upon unmarried sex either: Mississippi promises a fine up to $500 and six months jail time, North Carolina law says you can’t “cohabit together,” and South Carolina sex packs a whopping fine of up to $500 and up to a year in jail.


Local Senior Resources Fairs

Photo: Friends will you wear Purple on 15th June, Let's Do It !!!  this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day #weaad #inpea #elderabuse  #weaad2014

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Sunday, June 15th, there will be Senior Resource Fairs in all three counties with representatives from SAPARS at each location.

Androscoggin County: Thursday, June 12th, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, at the Green Ladle, 156 East Avenue, Lewiston. This event is FREE, but registration is required (Please call Kelley at 207-795-6744). There will be insight, information, and resources from local organizations that provide services to seniors, plus speakers on the following: personal safety, fraud prevention, health and wellness, services for seniors. Keynote presentation: Prosecuting Crimes Targeting the Elderly. FREE lunch will be included! (This event is brought to you by Androscoggin County’s Elder Abuse Task Force, and sponsored by: Maine Family Federal Credit Union, Community Credit Union, United Ambulance Service, Seniors Plus, Auburn Housing Authority, Aging Excellence, AARP).

Franklin County: Tuesday, June 17th, 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM, in the Bass Room of Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington. Gather insight, information, and resources offered from local agencies that provide services to seniors. There will be speakers to address the following topics: financial scams and exploitation, safeguarding your home from invasion, consumer rights and fraud prevention, and services for seniors. Keynote presentation: Prosecuting Crimes Targeting the Elderly. This event is FREE; community members, elderly caregivers, and providers are encouraged to join us. There will be door prizes, breakfast, refreshments, and a volunteer video project to participate it! Please call Stacie at 207-778-6297 for more information. (This event is brought to you by the Franklin County Domestic Violence Task Force, and sponsored by: Franklin Somerset Federal Credit Union, Mt. Blue Drug, Otis Federal Credit Union, Sparkes Hearing Service, Senior Planning Center).

Oxford County: Thursday, June 19th, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, at Oxford Federal Credit Union, 225 River Road, Mexico. There will be giveaways, snacks, resource tables, and speakers! This event is FREE, but please RSVP by June 16th by calling Diane Gallagher at 207-364-9908. (This event is sponsored by Oxford Federal Credit Union).

#NotAllMen #YesAllWomen

Not all men: How not to derail discussions of women’s issues, via The Slate:


The following article is a discussion about violence, violence against women, and the oppression women face every day. Have a care if these topics disturb you. Note too: I am a cisgender male, and the hashtags I discuss below deal with the issues in binary men/women terms, so I do as well. Trans and other folks may well have very different feelings about these issues, and I welcome their input.

On Friday, May 23, 2014, a man killed six people (and possibly himself). The manifesto he left behind stated he did it because women wouldn’t sleep with him. I won’t recount the details here; they can be found easily enough. I also won’t speculate on the controversies involving his mental health, or about the NRA, or the police involvement in this. I want to focus on a narrower point here, and that has to do with men and women, and their attitudes toward each other.

The murderer was active on men’s rights fora, where women are highly objectified, to say the very least. They are seen as nonhuman by many such groups, and at the very least lesser than men—sometimes nothing more than targets or things to acquire. What these men write puts them, to me, in the same category as White Power movements, or any other horribly bigoted group that “others” anyone else. While it may not be possible to blame the men’s rights groups for what happened, from the reports we’ve seen they certainly provided an atmosphere of support.

Of course, these loathsome people represent a very small percentage of men out there. Over the weekend, as the discussion across Twitter turned to these horrible events, a lot of men started tweeting this, saying “not all men are like that.” It’s not an unexpected response. However, it’s also not a helpful one.

Why is it not helpful to say “not all men are like that”? For lots of reasons. For one,women know this. They already know not every man is a rapist, or a murderer, or violent. They don’t need you to tell them.

Second, it’s defensive. When people are defensive, they aren’t listening to the other person; they’re busy thinking of ways to defend themselves. I watched this happen on Twitter, over and again.

Third, the people saying it aren’t furthering the conversation, they’re sidetracking it.The discussion isn’t about the men who aren’t a problem. (Though, I’ll note, it can be. I’ll get back to that.) Instead of being defensive and distracting from the topic at hand, try staying quiet for a while and actually listening to what the thousands upon thousands of women discussing this are saying.

Fourth—and this is important, so listen carefully—when a woman is walking down the street, or on a blind date, or, yes, in an elevator alone, she doesn’t know which group you’re in. You might be the potential best guy ever in the history of history, but there’s no way for her to know that. A fraction of men out there are most definitely not in that group. Which are you? Inside your head you know, but outside your head it’s impossible to.

This is the reality women deal with all the time.

Before what I’m saying starts edging into mansplaining, let me note that also over the weekend, the hashtag #YesAllWomen started. It was a place for women to counter the #NotAllMen distraction, and to state clearly and concisely what they actually and for real have to deal with. All the time.

Reading them was jarring, unsettling. I have many friends who are vocal feminists, and it’s all too easy to see what they deal with for the crime of Being a Woman on the Internet. But this hashtag did more than deal with the rape threats, the predators, the violence.

It was the everyday sexism, the everyday misogyny, which struck home. The leering, the catcalls, the groping, the societal othering, the miasma of all this that women bear the brunt of every damn day.

Those tweets say it far better than I ever could, for many reasons. The most important is because I’m a man, so I haven’t lived through what they have. I can’t possibly understand it at the level they do, no matter how deeply disturbed I am by the situation and how sympathetic I may be to what they’ve gone through.

This is not a failing, or an admission of weakness. It’s a simple truth. I’m a white, middle-class male, so I can understand intellectually what black people have undergone, or what women have dealt with, or what Japanese-Americans suffered in America in World War II. As someone raised Jewish, I may have more of an understanding for what an oppressed people have withstood in general, but I’ve never really been oppressed myself. That puts me in a position of—yes—privilege.

All that means is that I can only speak from my own point of view, and try to understand others as best I can. When it comes to sexism, to my shame, that took me a long, long time to figure out. I had to have my head handed to me many times in many embarrassing situations to see how I was participating in that culture, that everyday sexism. It was like air, all around me, so pervasive that I didn’t see it, even when I was in it and a part of it.

What made that harder was coming to an understanding that I will never truly understand what women go through. I can’t. So I listen to what women say about it, try to understand as best I can, and try to modify my own behavior as needed to make things better.

I’ve done a lot of modifying over the years. And there’s still a long way to go.

Over the weekend, I retweeted a few of the #YesAllWomen tweets I thought were most important, or most powerful, and saw that again and again they were misunderstood. In almost all the cases I saw, the men commenting were reacting to it, being defensive about the hashtag instead of listening to what was being said.

Earlier, I mentioned that the conversation is about the men who are the problem, not the ones who aren’t. Well, at this point, a conversation needs to be had about them, too. Even though we may not be the direct problem, we still participate in the cultural problem. If we’re quiet, we’re part of the problem. If we don’t listen, if we don’t help, if we let things slide for whatever reason, then we’re part of the problem, too.

We men need to do better.

Part of this problem is the mislaying of blame, and the misdirection of what to do. When it comes to legal action, to the enforcement of rules, to societal pressure, it all comes down on the women and not the men.

Which leads me to the best tweet using this hashtag that a man put up.

That is exactly right. We need to change the way we talk to boys in our culture as well as change the way we treat women.

And one final word on this. As a man, having written this post I expect there will be comments insulting me, comments questioning my manhood (whatever twisted definition those people have of such a thing, if it even exists), and so on.

But you know what there won’t be? People threatening to stalk me and rape me and kill me for having the audacity to say that women are people, and that we should be listening to them instead of telling them how to feel. Yet that is precisely what every woman on the Internet would face if she were to write this.

And that is, sadly, why we so very much need the #YesAllWomen hashtag.