Weekly Feminist Happenings June 21st-27th

life on the border

Tuesday, June 21st

Screening of Hedwig and the Angry Inch: The Tower launches its Summer Late Nights series with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” the rock opera about a transgender East German rock star (played by John Cameron Mitchell, who also wrote and directed). A live cast will perform with the 11 p.m. screenings. Details: Screening at 11 p.m. at Tower Theatre (876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City).

Using Sport To Promote Gender Equality: How Boys And Girls Can Create Social Change Together: Join sport and gender expert Sarah Murray from Women Win and a panel of local Olympians, coaches and sport and gender educators to explore obstacles girls face around the world today, how sport can be a useful tool to overcoming those barriers and why boys are an important part of the conversation. Add your voice to the timely discussion of gender equality and sport; examine the unconscious biases women still face today in America and in developing countries. Lastly, learn how Olympic values, coaching, mentorship and increased awareness between boys and girls can create real social change at home and abroad. Details:  RSVP recommended.

Women Love Movies at Brewvies: Women Love Movies at Brewvies is a monthly movie night hosted by Utah Women in Film. Every month the non-profit streams a new feature or series of shorts based on a theme for that month. Details: From 7-9:30 p.m. at Brewvies Cinema & Pub (677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City). Because the event is held at Brewvies, attendees must be 21 or over and bring valid I.D. Visit here for more information.

Wednesday, June 22nd

Screening of the Documentary Life on the Border and Panel Discussion: Co-hosted with Utah Health and Human Rights, with speakers Mara Rabin, UHHR Medical Director, Brent Pace, UHHR Clinical Director, and Nawres Al Saud. Details: From 7-8:30 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Library.

Sustainable Startups Workshops: In our last workshop of the summer, come support 1 Million Cups and Sustainable Startups to learn how to help your ideas make a global impact. Details: From 9-10 a.m. at the Sustainable Startups Building (340 East 400 South).

Solidarity: Conversations about Refugee Trauma: Learn about the profound impacts that exposure to traumatic events can have on refugees, and how Salt Lake City can help ease these challenges in this series with the Library, the University of Utah College of Social Work, and Utah Health and Human Rights.

At the June 22 event will be a screening of the documentary ‘Life on the Border’ and panel discussion co-hosted with Utah Health and Human Rights, with speakers Mara Rabin, UHHR Medical Director, Brent Pace, UHHR Clinical Director, and Nawres Al Saud. Details: From 7-8:30 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Public Library Marmalade Branch (280 W 500 N, Salt Lake City, Utah). 84103

Thursday, June 23rd

Saturday’s Voyeur: Salt Lake Acting Company will present “Saturday’s Voyeur,” June 22-Aug. 28, 2016. With its rich 38-year history, Saturday’s Voyeur has firmly established its place not only as a raucous, riotous musical comedy, but as an integral community event for anyone who lives and loves the strange dichotomy of being a Utah liberal. Details: Visit Salt Lake Acting Company for information or call 801-363-7522 for tickets.

Friday, June 24th

Day of Action: Every June, more than 150,000 volunteers in hundreds of cities nationwide participate in United Way Day of Action. Day of Action brings people together to harness the volunteer spirit and improve the conditions in which they live. Locally, United Way of Salt Lake creates and supports a fun volunteer event to engage companies, community groups, families, and individuals in service that benefits UWSL community schools and neighborhood centers. Details: From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hillcrest High (7350 S 900 E, Midvale, Utah 84047).

Sunday, June 26th

Commemoration Of The Genocide Against The Tutsi In Rwanda: Genocide Survivors in Salt Lake City will present the 22nd Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Speakers include genocide survivors and their friends. Details: From 4-7 p.m. at Hilton Garden Inn (277 W. Sego Lily Drive, Sandy).

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Why Brock Turner Believes He Isn’t a Rapist

Brock Turner

This week, the Internet has been abuzz with controversy surrounding Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer who received a light prison sentence for a brutal rape. After forcing himself on an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and running from the scene after two passersby intervened, Turner still insists that, at most, he is guilty of drinking too much and partying too hard. His father and a friend also maintain his innocence, minimizing his criminal actions as a “Steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” Even after unanimous conviction for sexual assault in a criminal court, why can so many people, including Turner himself, not understand that he is a rapist?

 Because his actions are far too common to seem criminal.

We’re sociologists, and our talk about current events remains purely scientific, but as we discussed this case, our conversation turned into an exchange of stories of sexual aggression that seemed so painstakingly ordinary that we had never told each other about them before. For Nicole, there was the guy who refused to leave her apartment until she had sex with him, even after she told him at least six times that she didn’t have any interest. He used to intern for Bernie Sanders and now works at a non-profit in DC. There was also the guy who claimed he was too drunk to drive home after a second date and asked to sleep over, promising he wouldn’t try anything. He pinned her down and humped her for half an hour as he tried to get hard, and as she repeatedly told him that she wanted him to stop. That guy is a sex educator at a middle school. And she couldn’t forget the guy whose Hail Mary for a bad date was forced kisses, grabbing at her shirt, and then pulling down his pants and repeating, “You can’t leave because I really want to have sex with you.” He works for CNN.

For Saswathi, there was the guy who complained that he drove a long way to see her and insisted that “[she] would be lucky to have [his] babies” when she refused to have unprotected sex with him. He graduated near the top of his class and now works for Ford. And there was the guy who blurted out, “Why don’t you just kiss me?” after she refused his physical advances and then went in for the kiss anyway after she still said no. He’s a Duke graduate. Most recently, there was the guy who followed her from an event at an alumni weekend, grabbed her, and only stopped forcibly kissing her after she said, “You need to learn how to take NO for an answer” in front of someone passing by. He’s also an Ivy Leaguer, but he never introduced himself before making his physical advances, so Saswathi doesn’t know anything else about him.

For both of us, all of these events took place within the past six months.

Neither of us would call any of these individual encounters particularly traumatizing. It’s not because they aren’t terrifying or didn’t leave us feeling violated, but because they’re so common that the easiest response is to take a shower, grab a glass of wine, and binge Netflix while trying to summon up the courage to go on another first date. We don’t have the time to go to the police with each gross encounter. And if we did try, we know we would get a reputation as women who cried wolf. Besides, we’ve seen worse and—as disgusting as it is—we feel lucky that this is all of what we’ve had to face.

But what we should point out is that all of these encounters include a completed sexual assault. It is illegal to expose yourself, rub your naked genitalia against someone, pressure someone into sex, or force someone to make out with you without consent. And in all cases, we made it perfectly clear that these actions were unwanted. If we hadn’t been hyper-vigilant, had maybe a couple more drinks, or been somewhere more secluded, these encounters could have escalated further. But since these encounters aren’t rapes, and these are allegedly nice guys with promising futures, we know what happened to us wouldn’t be taken seriously– so we try to let everyday sexual abuse roll off our backs.

We aren’t alone in feeling this way—and this is where we can put our sociology hats back on to understand our own experiences. Researchers have found that it’s exceedingly common for women to mislabel their sexual assaults as “bad dates” or other types of unfortunate experiences,[1] especially if they have some relationship with the perpetrator, as most victims do.[2] The phenomenon is especially pervasive among teenage girls who are extremely likely to normalize illegal sexual abuse as a typical part of dating or flirting.[3] As the title of one study suggests, managing men’s gross attempts at sexual contact is “Just How It Is” and women have become used to fending off unwanted and often illegal sexual advances.[4]

What Brock Turner did isn’t actually that different from what all of the “nice guys” have done to us on “bad dates.” He just took things one step further. Instead of finally accepting “no” as an answer or reacting to physical resistance before forcing vaginal penetration, he hid his unconscious victim behind a dumpster and completed a rape.

If Brock Turner’s actions stopped at kissing and groping his victim, she still would have been incapacitated by alcohol, and he still would have committed a crime, but no one would have batted an eyelash. He probably even could have gotten away with raping her if he’d chosen somewhere more private like a bedroom. Turner’s intention to initiate a hook up with a woman while disregarding her wishes is (unfortunately) perfectly normal. His friends probably do it every weekend. The latest research suggests that as many as 10% of college men[5] and 50% of male college athletes[6] admit to acts of sexual violence.

Turner doesn’t think he should go to prison because the real injustice is that he is the only one he knows held accountable for illegal sexual actions that usually go unpunished.

For rapists like Brock Turner to take responsibility for their actions, we need to take all sexual assault seriously, not just the sensational cases that end in a bystander chasing down the rapist. The men in our lives need to reflect on their own behaviors and recognize that they have almost certainly crossed at least one romantic partner’s boundaries in a way that could have left them feeling scared and violated. Instead of minimizing experiences like ours as “bad dates” or blaming women like us for picking “bad guys,” it’s time to believe the victims, call out the aggressors, and set a higher standard for acceptable sexual behavior.

Nicole Bedera is a doctoral student in the Sociology Department at the University of Michigan who studies gender and sexuality with a research emphasis on college sexual violence and masculinity. Saswathi Natta is a doctoral student in the Sociology Department at the University of Maryland who studies social stratification and demography with a focus on factors like race, caste, and gender.

[1] Schwartz, Martin D., and Molly S. Leggett. 1999. “Bad Dates or Emotional Trauma? The Aftermath of Campus Sexual Assault.” Violence Against Women 5(3): 251-271. http://vaw.sagepub.com/content/5/3/251.abstract

[2] Boyle, Kaitlin M., and Ashleigh E. McKinzie. 2015.”Resolving Negative Affect and Restoring Meaning: Responses to Deflection Produced by Unwanted Sexual Experiences.” Social Psychology Quarterly 78(2): 151-172. http://spq.sagepub.com/content/78/2/151

[3] Hlavka, Heather R. 2014. “Normalizing Sexual Violence: Young Women Account for Harassment and Abuse.” Gender & Society 28(3): 337-358. http://gas.sagepub.com/content/28/3/337

[4] Tolman, Deborah L., Brian R. Davis, and Christin P. Bowman. 2016. “‘That’s Just How It Is’: A Gendered Analysis of Masculinity and Femininity Ideologies in Adolescent Girls’ and Boys Heterosexual Relationships.” Journal of Adolescent Research 31(1): 3-31. http://jar.sagepub.com/content/31/1/3.abstract

[5] Swartout, Kevin M., Mary P. Koss, Jacquelyn W. White, Martie P. Thompson, Antonia Abbey, and Alexandra L. Bellis. 2015. JAMA Pediatrics 169(12). http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2375127

[6] Young, Belinda-Rose, Sarah L. Desmarais, Julie A. Baldwin, and Rasheeta Chandler. 2016. “Sexual Coercion Practices Among Undergraduate Male Recreational Athletes, Intercollegiate Athletes, and Non-Athletes.” Violence Against Women 30 May. http://vaw.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/05/30/1077801216651339.abstract

Why One Post Stopped Me From Writing

Offensive Christmas Card

Back in December I uploaded the picture above to the SLC Feminist Facebook page and wrote a few words, “This is a card I came across online. I do not know the family. I know that this picture is disturbing on so many levels though.” I received a lot of interaction from fellow feminists within the first hour or so after posting, but a few hours later it became clear that the post had gone as “viral” as something ever had on the page. My phone started blowing up. I had to turn off notifications.

Over the next few days the post would reach 325,340 people, be shared 1,430 times, liked 579 times, and receive 707 primary comments. 

Unfortunately, the notifications weren’t from fellow feminists anymore, but racist, misogynistic trolls (some memes that stood out are at the end of this article). For the next few days I watched in horror as people sent me violent images, vulgar private messages, and repeatedly called me “what’s wrong with America.” All because I said a few words about a picture that I found distasteful.

I later learned that the photo made international and national news, which helped explain the traction on my page. I admit that I couldn’t help but look at a lot of the comments. As a qualitative researcher, my immediate thought was, “How can I export these comments and code the data for emergent themes?” (Any Facebook wizards out there know if this is possible? Asking for a friend.)

At the end of the day, the post and its accompanying vitriol made for lively conversation with my best friends, and I moved on. Or so I thought for a while.

But the reality is that the entire incident has impacted my writing. It has impacted the way I share things on the internet. The way I was attacked online made me afraid of speaking up, because I know of too many activists who have posted their thoughts online only to have their lives threatened and their personal addresses and phone numbers shared. While the post was still bringing in hate, my phone rang from a blocked number, and I remember looking down and thinking, “Fuck, it finally happened.” I was terrified that someone found my phone number and shared it with the world. It turns out that wasn’t the case, but the fact that it crossed my mind was too much.

The hateful messages and memes had more of an impact than I wanted to admit. They made me afraid, but after a long time processing, and some serious introspection, I’ve decided enough is enough. I’m going to get back to my regular writing schedule, because if there are still people in the world who will threaten a writer with violence over three sentences, then there’s still writing to do.

So thank you to everyone who is still following. Thank you to everyone who is still sharing. Let’s ruffle some feathers together on and offline.

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Weekly Feminist Happenings May 10th-16th

hope and healing gala

Wednesday, May 11th

30 Women to Watch: Utah Business is proud to announce the annual 30 Women To Watch! The 2016 30 Women to Watch event celebrates Utah’s most successful and influential women as selected by their peers giving us all the opportunity to commend them for giving so much devotion to their profession. Mark your calendars now and join us for what’s sure to be an annual can’t miss celebration of extraordinary talent! Details: From 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Grand America Hotel. Purchase tickets here.

Thursday, May 12th

Welcome to the Second Century–Liberty Luncheon: In 2016, Planned Parenthood celebrates 100 years of providing high-quality, affordable, and compassionate information and health care to young people, women and men across the nation. Here in Utah, the last year of our first century saw political attacks, a high profile lawsuit, and the largest Planned Parenthood supporter rally in a long time. At the dawn of our second century, we ask – what will the future hold for Planned Parenthood? What will we do to usher in an era of reproductive justice for all Utahns? What will our fight be here at home? Details: Join Planned Parenthood Action Council for our Welcome to the Second Century Liberty Luncheon on May 12th from 11:30 – 1:00 p.m. Location information available upon ticket purchase. The cost of Liberty Luncheon is being underwritten by an anonymous donor and all donations will go to our PAC. You can buy individual tickets at $75 or bring your friends and sit at a table for eight for $750. If you are a student and wish to attend, please email heather.stringfellow@ppau.org for a free ticket.

How to Be Fearless: Join Fearless Self Defense for their signature self-defense training that focuses on fundamental self-defense skills, awareness and personal safety. Covering topics such as setting and enforcing boundaries, using your voice as a weapon, identifying key vulnerable points on an attacker’s body and actualizing your personal power. Details: From 6:30-8 p.m. Purchase tickets here.

Friday, May 13th

Hope & Healing Gala: The Hope & Healing Gala is the Rape Recovery Center’s largest fundraiser, with all proceeds going directly to fund the programs and services of the center. The Gala includes a silent auction with art and baskets full of local goods available for purchase. Guests will enjoy elegant Hors d’Oeuvres and a cash bar. The evenings program includes the Pillar of Hope Award, an opportunity to honor an individual leading the charge toward a safer, kinder community for survivors of sexual trauma in Utah. Details: From 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Emma Eccles Conservatory at Westminster College. Purchase tickets here.

Saturday, May 14th

Harvey Milk Celebration: It’s time for a block party! In honor of civil rights leader and LGBTQ icon Harvey Milk, 900 South in Salt Lake City has been approved by the SLC Council and the Mayor to be named “Harvey Milk Boulevard”.

We will celebrate this historic occasion, dedicate the street, and gather as a community on May 14th at the 9th and 9th District in SLC. There will be a DJ, a short dedication program, entertainment, food, and fun for everyone. This event is from 900 E to 800 E on Harvey Milk Boulevard from 11am-3pm on May 14. Come celebrate and dedicate! See you there! Details: From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the 9th and 9th District. This event is sponsored by Equality Utah, and for an ADA accommodation, contact Turner at turner@equalityutah.org.

Food Truck Face Off: The Food Truck Face Off for charity is back with 25% of food sales going to charity. Do good while having fun with Utah’s largest food truck rally including over 20 of Utah’s best trucks… and counting! Your food purchases will be supporting Utah’s homeless and low-income youth and families. The non-profit that sells the most tickets will win a cash grand prize and the winning truck will become the 2016 Food Truck Face Off winner! Details: From 6-10 p.m. at Liberty Park.

Submit your event here! 

Weekly Feminist Happenings May 3rd-9th

Composite of Calendar Pages and Clock

Composite of Calendar Pages and Clock

Thursday, May 5th

Screening of How to Change the World: This film chronicles the adventures of an eclectic group of young pioneers who set out to stop Richard Nixon’s atomic bomb tests in Amchitka, Alaska, and end up creating the worldwide green movement. Refreshments Served. Free & Open to the Public. Details: From 7-9 p.m. at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art  (650 N 1100 East).

Friday, May 6th

Utah Women Supporting Women: Come meet other women who are daring to step into their dreams of being self employeed! Let’s set some goals, celebrate our success, and support each other! Details: From 6-8 p.m. at High Pointe Coffee (1735 W 7800 S).

Submit your next event here!