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Cover of book You Throw LIke a Girl: The Blind Side of Masculnity with pciture of authro Don MsPherson, African AMerican man with beared wearing blue shirt and darker blue sweater

You Throw Like a Girl

“How do we raise boys to be whole men without degrading our daughters in the process?” asks Don McPherson in his newly released book You Throw Like a Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity.  This former National Football League and Canadian Football League quarterback proceeds to explore how to do speaking not only as a man, as an African American and as an athletic, but as a person dedicated to preventing gender based violence. McPherson tells his story of becoming and being a prevention practitioner.

The book’s title is a common insult from men to other men.  In these pages, McPherson calls to men to explore what they can become. He insists that “we should be asking more what boys and men can become and asking less what they should or shouldn’t do.”

Drawing on his experiences as a boy, as a son, as an athlete and as person working to prevent men’s violence, he provides many examples of how to challenge men to move away from sexist, homophobic and misogyny.  Similar to what another Syracuse University football star Joe Ehrmann wrote in his book InsideOut Coaching, McPherson demonstrated how sport can go beyond reinforcing negative and destructive male norms, and help shape positive behaviors.

He credits those whom have help teach him, from Mentors in Violence Prevention founder Jackson Katz, to Oakland Men’s Project development of the “Act Like a Man Box” to his father’s examples of loving his family. I was moved by his stories of how he learned to be a man from our culture, and how he had to relearn how to become the man working to be a healthy man actively engaged to prevent men’s violence.

We need more examples like Don McPherson of how to work to create a world without violence.

Check out RALIANCE’s Sport + Prevention Center on strategies to engage sport to be part of the solution to preventing sexual and domestic violence.

#MeToo voters matter

It’s been two years since Alyssa Milano’s #MeToo tweet helped bring light to a movement and call for solidarity trumpeted first by Tarana Burke and the Me Too Movement. In a recent TIME op-ed, Tarana reflected on the importance of accountability in the upcoming 2020 elections and urged all the presidential candidates to address sexual violence in their platforms. Survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse have long been silenced in their communities, companies, and institutions, but we can’t forget that their votes and voices matter.

Candidates need to champion a comprehensive policy platform for addressing sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse to create real and lasting change for survivors. What do these policies look like? Below are some key highlights that RALIANCE recently published in Guide for Political Parties and 2020 Candidates: A Policy Platform to End Sexual Violence in One Generation.

Bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act including increased investments in prevention, enhanced protections for Native women, strengthened housing provisions, homicide reduction tools, and improved criminal justice approaches.

Resources to meet victims’ most basic needs. It’s critical that Congress fund the Sexual Assault Services Program at the Office on Violence Against Women at $60 million and the Rape Prevention & Education Program at the CDC Injury Center at $100 million.

Stronger workplace harassment protections and accountability.

“We, as survivors, aren’t just people looking for services. We are a constituency looking for change. We are working people, taxpayers and consumers who push through our trauma every day, despite being triggered and erased by a world that tells us our healing isn’t important. It’s been only two years since the movement began to shed light on the behavior of wealthy and powerful predators, but we’ve already witnessed many of them return to and continue their daily lives without much consequence or repercussions.

Tarana Burke in Time Survivors of Sexual Assault Are Voters Too. So Why Aren’t t he Presidential Candidates Paying Attention to Them?

To candidates and elected officials, we say: Your leadership on addressing sexual violence is needed now more than ever. Don’t underestimate the power and voices of survivors. We are strong in numbers and will never be silenced again.

RALIANCE releases Parent 2 Parent Toolkit

We spend so much time as parents trying to protect kids from outside harm that we sometimes forget the importance of teaching kids the skills they need for healthy sexual development and behavior. No parent or caregiver wants to believe their child is capable of causing harm. Children and youth with sexual behavior problems need compassion and services; and parents and caregivers need help to reduce the silence, stigma, and isolation families can experience.

Leading the way on this important conversation was NEARI Press & Training Center – which unfortunately closed their doors on October 1. As a RALIANCE impact grantee, NEARI undertook an important project to create and archive resources that empower families to support each other as well as their children with sexual behavior problems. Beyond the silence, fear, and stigma are children who need adults with knowledge to act and support healthy sexuality and behaviors.

These important resources have become a part of the RALIANCE series of toolkits. We are proud to offer these resources and further the conversation about this important aspect of preventing harm.

If you are a parent or caregiver concerned about your child’s behaviors, you aren’t alone. RALIANCE’s Parent 2 Parent Toolkit can help. Explore the toolkit at: https://www.raliance.org/parent-2-parent/

Lessons learned from NBC’s approach to allegations against Matt Lauer

Photo by David Shankbone. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

It’s been almost two years since MeToo became a household phrase globally, and we’ve begun to talk quietly about redemption for high-profile figures whose harmful behavior was spotlighted. Aziz Ansari came back this year with his own Netflix comedy special. Louie CK was back on stage less than a year after his MeToo moment. And news reporter Matt Lauer was predicting his own return to TV. That is, until information from an advanced copy of journalist Ronan Farrow’s much-anticipated book Catch and Kill detailed allegations of Lauer raping a former NBC News employee in his hotel room while covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Lauer moved quickly to the defense, releasing a letter to Variety emphatically saying the allegation is “categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense” while discrediting the survivor by describing a mutual and consensual extramarital affair. Despite the survivor confirming she was too drunk to consent, despite the power differential that meant Lauer could make or break her career in news.

Far too often we hear sexual assault framed as a “he said/she said” scenario – a move that seeks to blur facts and discredit or shame survivors. In fact, those who perpetrate sexual assault use alcohol in three strategic ways: to lower the inhibitions of the other person, to decrease their own inhibitions about carrying out sexual assault, and to ensure the other person won’t be believed. Lauer is banking on society’s ease with blaming victims for their own abuse – and turning the tables to frame himself as the victim worthy of our protection and sympathy. If we are ever to live beyond MeToo, then accountability cannot mean paying lip-service.        

Accountability isn’t only on the individual whose behavior is at best inappropriate or at worst criminal. Institutions, corporations, and communities must face the music and accept how our culture silences survivors and ignores them to the point of condoning these behaviors.  Farrow documents in the book a pervasive culture of complicity at NBC, and articles have come out detailing Lauer’s misconduct and behavior were well known. And central to NBC’s response was a settlement tied to a non-disclosure agreement, tying the survivor’s hands from speaking.

The lesson for companies and organizations? It’s time to step up and create workplaces that are safer, healthier, and more equitable for all employees. This starts by implementing workplace policies that emphasize transparency, clear and confidential reporting processes, and appropriate responses for addressing incidents of sexual assault, misconduct, and abuse. Employees deserve better and our corporate leaders must be part of the solution to end sexual violence once and for all.

#MeTooMedicine – How the medical field needs to change

A recent Washington Post Health Perspective article by a female medical resident brought to light how pervasive sexual harassment and misconduct is in the medical field. The author described inappropriate groping by patients, and the article uplifted the fact that faculty and staff members are the perpetrators of almost half of the sexual violence experienced by female medical students. The unspoken rule is not to report – that these experiences are just part of the job. We know that when harassment and misconduct come from a superior, there are even fewer options for recourse or safety. The MeToo movement has shown that no industry is immune to the dialogue or mirror being held up to what has been long ignored and silenced – and that includes the medical field. 

“It’s ironic, she said, that as a gynecologist she is trained to believe patients’ claims about sexual assault. In the workplace, though, it’s well known that raising such matters can backfire. She added: ‘Physicians should be setting a standard on this.’” –  Christina Jewett,  “Women in medicine shout #MeToo about sexual harassment at work”

It’s important to note the level of trust everyone – survivors and non-survivors – put in their medical providers. That’s why it’s vital the medical industry stop harm before it happens by addressing problematic behaviors in medical settings for survivors and staff members alike and working towards a culture where this isn’t the norm. ­­

From the courageous female athletes who read their victim impact statements, to Larry Nassar’s conviction, to an unprecedented $500 million settlement at Michigan State University, it’s clear that change is possible. However, the medical field is often a hierarchical space where men dominate in positions of power and authority. We must create safe spaces where female medical students and doctors feel comfortable coming forward with complaints of inappropriate behavior. Reporting, transparency, and accountability are all key to making in-roads. Advocates can also apply pressure on medical boards to address sexual assault by doctors and medical staff.

Every step counts when it comes to ending sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse in one generation. We must work toward a world where female residents do not have to write a column in the newspaper to be heard.

AHLA's 5-Star Promise: A continued commitement to put safety first.

Industry Spotlight: Hotel Industry Safety Initiative Leads the Way on Sexual Violence Prevention

Ending sexual violence in one generation requires a significant commitment to changing cultures in workplaces and within industries. We’re encouraged by our partners at the American Hotel and Lodging Association on the one-year anniversary of the 5-Star Promise, the hotel industry’s commitment to advance safety and security for hotel employees and guests.

“The American Hotel & Lodging Association is an example of how all industries can and must step up to champion healthy, safe, and inclusive workplace cultures for their employees. We commend the AHLA for proactively addressing important safety and security issues impacting their workforce. RALIANCE is proud to partner with AHLA and the hotel industry on setting the tone for real leadership on this critical issue. Together, we can end sexual violence in one generation.”

– Monika Johnson Hostler, RALIANCE Managing Partner

So what is AHLA doing? They’re providing industry-wide training and materials on safety and security. AHLA’s resources include education for employees on identifying and reporting sexual harassment and highlight the importance of multilingual mandatory anti-sexual harassment policies. They’re also working with employee safety device companies to help U.S. hotel employees feel safe on the job.

In addition to RALIANCE, AHLA is working with a wide range of national organizations including the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA), and Polaris.

AHLA and its 5-Star Promise serve as positive examples for how other industries can offer concrete and effective solutions to help end sexual violence.

[link to press release]

I’m With Them – and We’re With You.

Many companies assume they handle sexual misconduct reports by their employees effectively and have the appropriate mechanisms in place. However, I’m With Them, a nonprofit working to reduce sexual misconduct in the workplace, found that it was a lot harder to find information on where an employee could anonymously report sexual misconduct, fraud, or other ethical violations.

Although there are federal laws designed to protect employees and mandate a way to report ethics violations, systems vary greatly from organization to organization. Navigating these laws and policies can be harder for non-employees such as contractors, vendors, and suppliers.

That’s why I’m With Them’s new resource – Misconduct Reporting Directory – is a helpful and easy-to-use guide for how employees can anonymously report sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse. I’m With Them took it one step further by listing the code of conduct for over 150 U.S. organizations, a U.S. anonymous hotline phone number, an anonymous reporting website, a reporting email address, names and contact information for heads of HR and Diversity & Inclusion, and other helpful information. There is also guidance to walk you through which reporting channel is best.

As an employee: Check to see if your organization is listed. If not, encourage your company to become a part of the directory.

As a board member or part of the leadership team: Review whether your organization is listed. If not, consider sharing resources such as these with employees.  

We will improve the safety of our workplaces and communities when leaders invest in transparent reporting processes and do their part to end sexual violence in one generation.

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