Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Television Premiere of Very Young Girls

Hi everyone!

Life has been twisty-turny lately, and blogging has unfortunately taken the blow. Not to worry, it won't be forever...

While you're waiting for What's Good for Girls to get back on schedule, check out the GEMS co-produced television premiere on Showtime TOMORROW..

Three ways to do it:

Live in New York City:
White & Case LLP In New York
1155 Avenue of the Americas, 29th Floor
Thursday, December 11th, 2008
6:00pm - 8:00pm

To register: click here

Admission: Gift card or movie tickets for one of our members

On Showtime:
Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Organize a home screening party:
Check out details at gems

Monday, September 15, 2008

Teen Birth Control Advocate

Kudos to City Limits for picking up a story from Youth Communication entitled, Sarah’s Choice: After her abortion, my friend became a birth control advocate One teen tells the story of how she got an abortion at age 15, then realized how little people around her knew about birth control.

Youth Communication is a fantastic org that focuses on the real life challenges of teens (no Gossip Girl fantasies here)in their own words. Check it out.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Girls Write Now Mentor Training Today

Lots of very interesting things have happened since I last posted, but I'm going to let the big headlines pass for the moment (Don't worry I have thoughts on Sarah Palin queued up, by special request) and focus on mentoring, as I just got home from facilitating a segment of Girls Write Now Mentor Training.

Mentoring is one of those hot trends in programming for youth and adults and I have been involved in my lots of mentoring programming. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't, but when it does it can create lasting relationships that never would have existed otherwise. This week I talked with two women who were both involved in a mentoring program I ran a few years ago. A mentor in the program emailed to bounce some ideas around about a new mentoring program she is starting in DC through a professional organization; another was a mentee in the program looking for some advice about a fellowship she is applying for. Their calls reminded me why I loved that program so much and why I was so sad when it ended. The program had its flaws, but its greatest strength was the caliber of women who joined the program, who are still changing the world and who still rely on each other, now years after the program has ended.

At the end of the call with the mentee, she said, " I hope I am in the position to be helpful to you in the future." And I was so happy and teared up at the same time-- the young women I worked with there were so phenomenal, I can't wait until *I* am working for *them*.

It was a great moment to carry with me today as I went to the Girls Write Now Mentor Training to train on new and returning mentors. I shared my definition of mentoring and I'll post it here for comments: Mentoring is a purposeful intentional relationship that often starts out very artificially and when it works progresses towards being a meaningful relationship for both parties.

Girls Write Now does a fantastic job of nurturing new mentors and today's training was a perfect example of that. Each segment was designed with mentors' needs in mind, and the team that put the training together did a fantastic job. I left energized about the new program year-- the training was fantastic, the new group of mentors *gets* it, and I can't wait to see how their relationships develop.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What do you know about Teen Sexual Behavior?

I love Child Trends-- in this issue they take on the misconceptions adults have about teens and their sexual behavior. The Child Trends quiz gives you a chance to test your knowledge-- what do you think teens are doing? How does that match up with the realities?

Take the quiz , check out how you did compared to others who took the quiz, read the fact sheet and pass it on...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Are You Ready to Rock?

Posting has been light due to lots-o-work, but I lifted my head up from my budgets and contracts long enough to pass on this great opportunity. I was a volunteer for rock camp in 2006. It was a phenomenal experience to be around so many women and girls who were so creative. It's inspiring. No musical experience necessary.
(Trust me-- if there was, they would have never let me in!!!) I emerged from my volunteer experience feeling strong, independent and like new things were possible for me as well as for girls growing up today. Who doesn't want to be a part of something like that???

All the deets:
This is a full-day, full-week commitment for the week of August 18-22 that involves arriving at camp around 8:20 each day and leaving around 6. It's incredibly rewarding and generally awesome.

Counselors serve as mentors for assigned groups of girls, which involves checking in with them every morning, making sure the campers are where they need to be at all times, and offering advice and help throughout the day. Since the most important parts of the job are ensuring the campers' safety and giving them support and encouragement, non-musicians are welcome in this job. Counselors who are musicians, however, are often called upon to coach campers on their instruments.
*Must be available Monday-Friday of camp week 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.

If you or someone you know is available to do this job, please get in touch with Emily below:

Emily Moeller
Program Director
Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls
632 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(p) 212-777-1323
(f) 866-789-7864

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Girls for Gender Equity-- Stop by This Saturday

3rd Annual Gender Equality Festival
Saturday July 19, 2008
10 am – 3pm, FREE!
Von King Park (Tompkins Park), Bedstuy, Brooklyn
Between Tompkins + Marcy at Lafayette

Please stop by this free public event open to all New Yorkers – over 100 community artists, organizations, and local politicians - inspirational performances, resource sharing, and the arts! Bring your family and friends to celebrate a day of Singers, Dancers, Poets, Community, Raffles, and more! I wish I could make it but I'll be working that day....

If you can't make it, (and I hope you can!) please support the latest GGE project below:

The Sisters in Strength School Safety Collaboration girls are seeking students (of all genders!) who attend school in NYC to fill out a Sexual Harassment Survey, which is available online. click HERE to download.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rockin OUT with Willie Mae.....

This just in from the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls. The Rock Camp Showcase is a fantastic event. I can't quite figure out why watching girls rock out on stage strikes such an emotional cord for me, but it does. Go check out the new bands and if you get a little jealous at all the fun the girls are having, don't dismay-- sign up for Ladies Rock Camp and do it yourself. LRC is one of the most fun crazy experiences I have ever had. If you are even a little bit curious about what it would be like to be a rock star, you owe it to yourself to do it. All the proceeds of Ladies Rock Camp benefit the Rock Camp for Girls, so SERIOUSLY, what are you waiting for....

Rock Camp Showcase

Saturday July 12th
Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 N. 6th btwn Kent & Wythe, Brooklyn)

12pm doors, show at 1pm SHARP, all ages
$6-10 sliding scale
or $35 for a "booster" ticket (includes a Rock Camp Merch Pack!!)

**Please note that there is no seating at this show**

What is a Rock Camp Merch Pack & how do I collect it?
The Merch Pack includes a 2008 Rock Camp t-shirt, a calendar, a DVD, and a sticker. To collect your Merch Pack, bring the receipt from your Booster Ticket sale to the Merch table on the day of the show.

Info on Ladies Rock Camp

**We still have spots in Ladies Rock Camp!**
Ladies Rock Camp I: July 18 - 20
Ladies Rock Camp II: August 8 - 10
Registration forms available at willie mae rock camp

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mixing Fun and Philanthropy

So, I went to Bar Nine last night for two reasons--
1. Proceeds went to Girls Write Now
2. I thought Simon would like to hear Lucy Wainwright Roche so you know, it was all about mixing in some good fun with my philanthropy.

Given that I had spent all day working on budgets (June 30th being the end of many non profit's fiscal years, including mine) I thought this was a great idea.

The bar turned out to be packed and very few folks seemed to care much about either NY Tyrant or Girls Write Now. When Lucy started singing a cappela, I thought it would calm down but no, people continued talking, drinking and whooping it up, as if someone were not trying to perform folksy-type music in front of them.

Everyone except the 7 of us (6 from Girls Write Now and 1 who has a cartoon in the new NY Tyrant) who smiled encouragingly as she sang, by herself with only her guitar to help her. She got us to sing along to her version of Hungry Heart, which I did, not that it made any difference above the din.

She called out to us-- "Who are you guys-- you know the ones who are listening?" and we yelled back "Girls Write Now" which was kind of fun, and she said she'd come chat with us after two more songs. It was lovely to meet her and I now big pink puffy heart her. Mostly though, I felt bad for her having to sweat it out up there for 7 friendly folks out of a sea of a hundred or more party-goers. I don't think it was a good time for her at all.

The experiences raises some thoughts for me on mixing fun and philanthropy. Bar nights for non profits are considered to be a good way to appeal to a younger donor who might not give through other ways. The prevailing idea is that young adults are going to pay a cover anyway, so why shouldn't it go to a non profit?

To make this strategy work, non profit organizers should consider the following:

1) Fit of venue to activity (folk singing and Saturday night bar crowd might not have been the best fit)
2 Promotion at the door (Everyone should have to pay the cover-- if you think people won't pay the cover-- go back to step 1, maybe this crowd is not the best for your event)
3) Emcee the event (Let people know who is benefitting from the event
Opportunities to sign people up for the mailing list)

And while I am at it, drink tickets for the non profit benefitting from the event wouldn't hurt, but I may be biased...

Have you run a great Bar Night? Add your comments.....

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Celebrate All Women's Issue of NY Tyrant with Girls Write Now

Party for Girls Write Now on Saturday. WOO HOO!

Celebrate the all-women issue of the New York Tyrant on Saturday June 28th, featuring a female artist and a female-fronted band, with a portion of the proceeds going to Girls Write Now , which all WGFG readers should know is a nonprofit devoted to encouraging NYC public school girls to develop as writers.

Saturday, June 28th, 9 pm
Bar Nine
807 Ninth Avenue, between 53rd and 54th Streets
C,E to 50th Street; NRQW to 57th Street

A $10 cover includes a copy of the latest issue, featuring work from:
S.G. Miller, Cezarija Abartis, Leni Zumas, Paula Bomer, Jessica Anya Blau, Nadxieli Mannello, Rachel B. Glaser, Elizabeth Koch, Leigh Newman, and Deb Olin Unferth, among others.

10 pm: Lucy Wainwright Roche
Lucy Wainwright Roche grew up in Greenwich Village, New York City. She is the daughter of two performing musicians, Loudon Wainwright and Suzzy Roche (The Roches). Her childhood was spent living out of a suitcase, either on the road, with her parents or being ferried around to different relatives in her big musical clan. Described by The New York Times as having the best qualities of both her parents and a voice "clear as a bell", Lucy is a refreshing, pure, alternative to the jive pop culture, alarmingly straightforward and unadorned. In the past year Lucy has toured the US doing solo shows and opening for many musicians from Dar Williams to her brother Rufus. In 2007 Lucy released her first recording, an EP entitled "8 Songs", and in the spring of 2008 she released her second EP, "8 More".

11 pm: The Choke
NYC's punk 'n' roll darlings The Choke filter the influences of 60s Motown, soul, and garage rock through the attack of 70s anthemic punk. Since its debut in May of 2005, the band has already performed for large audiences throughout New York and London, toured with the UK's legendary Buzzcocks, enjoyed regular rotation and performed a live set on WFMU 91.1 FM (NYC/NJ), performed for a special NYC Animal Rescue Benefit opening for The Beastie Boys, completed 2 UK Tours, and also 2 US tours of the Midwest. Punk Magazine has called them "One of the most explosive and original acts to hit these parts in years". The Choke is currently in the midst of finishing a full-length album with producer Tony Barber (bass player/producer of Buzzcocks).

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Girls Write Now:
GWN provides at-risk New York City high school girls with emerging writing talent an opportunity to be custom-matched with a professional woman writer who serves as her personal mentor and writing coach, meeting with her weekly for the duration of an entire school year, and for up to four years. Founded in 1998, GWN was the first organization to ever present this combination of powerful services, and it continues to be the only program of its kind in the eastern United States.

We believe in the power and urgency of the story and the story's ability to describe and illuminate the interior and exterior landscape: we believe in the power of narrative and its ability to make life more astonishingly alive.
New York Tyrant

Friday, June 20, 2008

3rd NYS Day to End CSEC

Today is the Third Annual New York State Day to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. Make a stand against the exploitation and trafficking of children:

11 AM Rally at City Hall
6:30 PM Youth survivor panel
7:30 PM Screening of Very Young Girls (all deets in a prior post).

Also-- check the Editorial in this morning's New York Times Help for Exploited Children

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sex and the City Revisited

Nikki from Give Me Space to Rock pointed me to this articlee in Venus Zine Sex and the Purse Pumps and Penthouse as a follow up to my SATC post.

In the article, Nona tackles the issue of race in this paragraph:

Perhaps the most unnerving storyline of all is that of Carrie’s personal assistant, Louise (Jennifer Hudson). Clearly the point was to throw in a woman of color, but unfortunately the only one in sight is at the beck and call of an emotionally distraught white woman, resulting in one of the most blatant Mammy figures since Queen Latifah in that Steve Martin movie. Louise coos, jokes, and nurses Carrie back to health, all the while never receiving any of Carrie’s writing expertise in return. In the end, all she really gets is a Louis Vuitton bag as a souvenir before she heads for St. Louis to marry the nice black boy she left behind.

Also-- gets a sense of what others are saying across the country at GirlDRive

Go Nona Go!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Screening of Very Young Girls this Friday June 20th

This Friday GEMS is hosting a special screening (before it airs on Showtime) of Very Young Girls, with a Survivor Led Panel discussion on domestic trafficking/commercial sexual exploitation of children

Free tickets available, RSVP to or 212 926 8089 extension 56

Screening of VERY YOUNG GIRLS & Youth Leadership Panel

6:30 Panel/7:30 Screening

In partnership with the Fordham Institute for Women and Girls*,GEMS will host a special screening of the SHOWTIME/Swinging T documentary VERY YOUNG GIRLS. This documentary highlights the experiences of the girls that GEMS serves. This compelling film provides an opportunity to hear the girls' tell their own stories in their own words.

Join us at 7:30pm at the Fordham Graduate School of Social Service.
FREE TICKETS available: or 212 926 8089 ext 56

Come early at 6:30pm and hear directly from the members of GEMS as they discuss their leadership role in the movement to end CSEC. All attendees will receive a copy of GEMS White Paper on Youth Leadership in the Movement to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation, funded generously by the Ms.Foundation

Fordham University
113 W. 60th Street @ Columbus Avenue
Pope Auditorium, 1st Floor

GEMS will also host a Rally at City Hall Park from 11am-12pm on June 20th!
Stand with us in the fight to END Commercial Sexual Exploitation of children!

For additional questions contact:

Girls Educational and Mentoring Services'(GEMS) mission is to empower young women, ages 12-21, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. GEMS is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Net Neutrality

SOOOOOOOOO, I had a long discussion with my husband over beer this week about the blocking of child porn sites and in return I got an earful on net neutrality.

hmmmmm. So he says the comparison with ISP's and websites (if I have all of this right) is like the phone company and phone calls, do you want the phone company blocking content of phone calls?

Good question. So perhaps the libertarian vitriol as gotten to me. However, if folks have opinions I would love to hear them.

I'll be light on posting for a few days, as I am out of town for my grandmother's memorial's service. Lots to say when I come back!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Child Porn Sites Blocked!

Glad I took a quick glance at the New York Times while working on a grant this morning to find out:

Three internet providers have agreed to block access to web sites and bulletin board to child pornography

Now lets all brace ourselves for the First Amendment arguments and libertarian vitiol.

SO, what about the boys?

How about this?

Monday, June 09, 2008

I am.....Girls Write Now

If you missed Sunday's Girls Write Now Annual Spring Reading, you missed A LOT!!! Amanda Diva was an incredible guest speaker, our emcee Penny Wright was delightful and the girls' writing was on fire! I was shocked by their honesty, candidness, and their sophistcated points of view. Congratulations girls on another great year! And lucky for you, you can still get a glimpse into the magic of our work with our new video I am Girls Write Now....

Are you Girls Write Now? You can be! Find out more about how to get involved, pick of our anthology to become a part of our community by donating at Girls Write Now

Many thanks to Kathleen Sweeney, author of Maiden USA: Girl Icons Come of Age and Advisory Board Member for her vision, commitment and hard work to make the video!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The First Woman I Voted For

Today I write a long post about a topic I've been thinking about for a long time, which frames my point of view in the work I do with women and girls. I hope readers will endulge me in such a long post and comment on The Answer...--Patti

Hillary Clinton acknowledged yesterday that she changed the landscape of politics forever by running for office, but also that the barriers and biases around gender and race still persist. As I log on to my laptop to read the commentaries and editorials this morning, I keep clicking to articles pointing out how landmark, how historical both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s campaigns are, discussing the difference they will make over time, how significant their runs are.

While we are sighing and expressing our gratitude to Hillary and Obama, I am wondering --how significant are their campaigns? Have they changed things forever? I’m thrilled to live in a time where these are my choices in my party. But still I wonder, does a single female candidate, or a single black male candidate, even running at the same time, change things forever about what we as a country think a woman or a black person can do? What is it that changes prejudice and breaks down barriers? How will we get from one single viable female candidate or black candidate (or can you immagine, a black female candidate!?) to ballots filled with people of different races, ethnicities and gender identifications?

A trip to Baltimore last week got me thinking about the first black woman I ever voted for, Susanne Gray Rice. When she ran for office, she was minus the "Rice" and we were both teenage girls at the time. Together with Truemenda Green, they ran for class president and vice president of our senior class at Western Senior High School. Over 20 years later and much to Susanne’s amusement I reminded her over crab cakes that she ran with the slogan "Gray and Green: The Colors of Success."

But I do remember it clearly, and as I think about it, having the opportunity to vote for a team of two black female candidates in high school was significant for me as white teenage girl growing into a white adult woman. What seemed normal and natural to me, voting for two black females in high school probably didn’t to many of peers across the country who never got the opportunity. And in this way, I do think that Hillary’s long run through all the primaries was worth it, and was landmark, because she provided the opportunity for so many people to drop the lever for a female presidential candidate. As was Obama’s for the opportunity to drop the lever for a black presidential candidate.

As significant as this is, I don’t think it’s enough to change things forever. I was 13 when Geraldine Ferraro’s made her historic run for Vice President and Reverend Jackson’s his run for President in 1984. There was this notion then, that they were opening the doors for women and minorities everywhere, the floodgates are open, the political landscape has changed forever. Optimism overflowed and at 13, I was certainly inspired. But the floodgates didn’t really open. And now here we are 24 years later talking about the historical significance of Hillary and Obama’s run for office. And yes, Obama does have the nomination, and that makes it different this time. But we also heard quotes from voters about how they can’t vote for Obama because he might be a Muslim and comments far worse. So, perhaps it’s the Gen X pessimist in me that has heard all this “significance stuff” before, what is really changing right now?

How do we move from the concepts of equality to as Hillary Clinton stated “an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us”? A glimpse back to high school reminds me that I had more than the opportunity to vote for a black candidate in high school, I had the experience of seeing and knowing black females as leaders, as scholars, as individuals.

As a graduate of Western Senior High School's class of 1989, I attended a prestigious, rigorous high school which was also one of two of the country's all girls' public high schools. In the late 80's the majority of the students at Western were either black/African American, which meant I was surrounded everyday by smart black girls as classmates. This does not mean that all of my friends were black girls or that we lived in some kind of Sesame Street racial harmony. To the contrary, as a first year high school student, I quickly found a group of friends of whom the majority were white. But it did mean that in class and on graduation day, I saw black girls doing well, succeeding across all kinds of coursework, with multiple interests, living against the stereotypes on television, every school day for four years. The girls I knew weren't a white girl's side kick (Hello Dionne in Clueless!) or the token black girl at a private school (Tootie in Facts of Life, anyone?) or any other TV stereotype. In my world in high school, they were the lead in the play, the winner of the Latin Scholar Award, my team mates on the JV volleyball team, lab partners in chemistry, the girls I sat next to on graduation day, and yes, class president. As a result, it’s not a big ol’ surprise to me to see women and people of color in positions of power and authority. I don’t think I am free of prejudices—I am of the school that it’s impossible to be without them. But I do think that my real life experiences give me the basis to challenge my prejudice when it arises.

We live in a country still segregated in many places, with racism and sexism clearly alive and while, and where the barriers, whether concrete or glass, are still real. I know that my personal experiences as a racial minority as a white person was part of the anecdote to prejudice for me, it’s clearly impractical to suggest it is The Answer for everyone.

What is The Answer? I admit I don’t know it; people far smarter than I am are working on it. But I do know, that we must be vigilant in finding it, that we must watch how long this sigh of gratitude stretches, how significant we make two individual candidacies, and focus with intention on fighting racism and sexism head on. We should not get too caught up in the glow of the race and the gender of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In 24 more years, I’ll be 61 and I hope I’ll be writing an article on how we used this time to turn the tide on racism and sexism, not reminiscing about the choices we once had.

(Susanne Gray Rice pictured above is now a guidance counselor at Western, triathlete, mother, and all around inspiration-- Go Lady Doves!)

Beat the Heat with Girls Write Now and Amanda Diva

Come join me at my favorite Girls Write Now event of the year, the Spring Reading at the New Tribeca Barnes & Noble on Sunday, June 8 from 4-6PM.

Meet and hear New York City's most talented teen female writers, along with celebrity host Amanda Diva (Def Poetry Jam, HipHopNation, MTV2, Floetry), as they read their original works from the theme Becoming Women. Pick up the anthology (our largest ever), a t-shirt from SIC (Smart is Cool!), and buys some summer reading material, and proceeds will go to Girls Write Now. As always, you can skip the loot and make a donation.

Barnes and Noble is located at 97 Warren Street in Tribeca, New York, NY 10007

(Complete disclosure-- I'm Board Chair of Girls Write Now, so I'm heavily biased about their awesomeness and deeply committed to their success. Come out on Sunday and you'll see why!)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sex and The City Revisited

Nikki from Give Me Space to Rock pointed me to this articlee in Venus Zine Sex and the Purse Pumps and Penthouse as a follow up to my SATC post.

In the article, Nona tackles the issue of race in this paragraph:

Perhaps the most unnerving storyline of all is that of Carrie’s personal assistant, Louise (Jennifer Hudson). Clearly the point was to throw in a woman of color, but unfortunately the only one in sight is at the beck and call of an emotionally distraught white woman, resulting in one of the most blatant Mammy figures since Queen Latifah in that Steve Martin movie. Louise coos, jokes, and nurses Carrie back to health, all the while never receiving any of Carrie’s writing expertise in return. In the end, all she really gets is a Louis Vuitton bag as a souvenir before she heads for St. Louis to marry the nice black boy she left behind.

Also-- gets a sense of what others are saying across the country at GirlDRive

Go Nona Go!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Womens Studies Conference focuses on Girls Culture

Hi everyone! I love when Women's Studies focuses on Girls' Studies!

(H/T to my friends at the Willie Mae Rock Camp)

Submission Deadline: Thursday, June 12, 2008
The 18th Annual Women's Studies Conference
"Girls' Culture & Girls' Studies: Surviving, Reviving, Celebrating Girlhood"

To be held on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University Friday and Saturday, October 17 and 18, 2008

The 18th Annual Women's Studies Conference at Southern Connecticut State University
explores girlhood. What does it mean to be a girl? Who defines girlhood in an age when puberty and sexualization are happening at younger ages? How do girls assert their own identity in an increasingly medicated and consumerist culture which targets girls as a prime audience?
Why are U.S. girls preoccupied with perfection? What challenges do girls across races, classes, religions,nations, and cultures face in an ever more globalized world? What is the relationship between girls and feminism? What effect can feminism have on constructions of boyhood and masculinity and how in turn can this affect girls?

In the 18th annual SCSU Women's Studies conference, we will take a close look at girls' culture and girls' studies, among the most vibrant areas in women's
studies. The Conference Committee invites individuals, groups, scholars, feminists,
activists,girls and all to submit proposals that address topics related to all aspects of girlhood.

Proposal Format: Faculty, students, staff, administrators, community activists from all disciplines and fields are invited to submit proposals for individual papers, complete sessions,panels, or round tables. Poster sessions, performance pieces, video recordings, and other creative works are also encouraged.

For individual papers, please submit a one-page abstract. For complete panels, submit a one-page abstract for each presentation plus an overview on the
relationship among individual components. For the poster sessions and art work, submit a one-page overview. All proposals must include speakers' name(s), affiliation(s), and contact information(address, E-mail, and telephone number). Please also indicate preference for Friday afternoon, Saturday morning, or Saturday afternoon; all attempts will be made to honor schedule requests.

Panels: Each 75 minute session usually includes three presenters and a session moderator, but individual presenters may request an entire session for a more substantial paper or presentation.
Presenters are encouraged, though not required, to form their own panels. The conference committee will group individual proposals into panels and assign a moderator. Please indicate inyour contact information if you are willing to serve as a moderator.

Posters, Art Displays, and Slide Presentations: A poster presentation consists of an exhibit of materials that report research activities or informational resources in visual and summary form.
An art display consists of a depiction of feminist concerns in an artistic medium. Both types of presentations provide a unique platform that facilitates personal discussion of work with interested colleagues and allows meeting attendees to browse through highlights of current research. Please indicate in your proposal your anticipated needs in terms of space, etc.

In keeping with the conference theme, suggested topics include but are not limited to:
Girls and Pop Culture
Construction of Girlhood
Media and Girls' Culture
Girls & Cutting/Self-Mutilation
Politics of Girls' Studies
Girls & Leadership
Women's Studies & Girls' Studies
Girls & Child Labor
Race & Class in Girls' Studies
Girls & Performance
Coming of Age Globally
Gender Research & Girls
Body Image and Girls
Girls & Disabilities
Girls & Sexuality
Girls & Ink.
Human Trafficking & Girls
Girls & Religion
Indigenous Women and Girls
Human Rights of Girls
Girls & Sports
Chick Lit
Girls & Resistance
Globalization and Girlhood
Race, Ethnicity, and Class in Girls' Studies
Construction of "Tween" Agers/Girls
Violence against Girls & Women
Girls and Gangs
Girl Power and Politics
Transnational Adoption of Girls
Girls' Studies in Academe
Girl Power and Feminism/Anti-Feminism
Growing up Incarcerated
Girls and Grassroots Activism
Girls across/between Worlds
Parenting/Raising Girls
American Girls and Beyond
Girls as Parents
Reviving Ophelia, Surviving Ophelia, Resisting Ophelia
Representations of Girls

We also invite your ideas and suggestions. Conference sessions will juxtapose cultural, generational, and geopolitical perspectives in order to construct feminist renditions of girls' cultures, histories, and representations. Expect fun through meals, performance, and poetry slam, with girls and their allies speaking of their struggles and power.

Please submit proposals and supporting materials to:

Women's Studies Conference Committee
Women's Studies Program, EN B 229
Southern Connecticut State University
501 Crescent Street
New Haven, CT 06515

Or via email to: with attention to Conference Committee. If you have any questions, please call the Women's Studies office at (203) 392-6133.

The Annual Women's Studies Conference at SCSU is self-supporting; all presenters can
pre-register at the discounted presenter's fee, not exceeding $110.00 for both days, $60.00 for one day. The fee includes all costs for supporting materials, entrance to keynote events, and all meals and beverage breaks.

Submission Deadline:
Postmarked by Thursday, June 12, 2008

Notification of Committee Decision:
Mailed by Friday, July 18, 2008

Sex and the City and the Teenaged Girl

I may be one of very few women in New York City who does not care about the Sex and the City movie opening. When pressed to rate my interest in seeing the movie on a scale of 1 to 100, I gave it a 13, meaning maybe I will watch it on cable when I'm home sick from work and everything else on tv requires concentration. Of course, I have watched the series on HBO, but without the intensity and interest that I have watched The Wire. If there were a movie about The Wire, I'd be there.

All of the media hype around the event just shows how very alone I am as women and girls across a spectrum of ages line up for tickets. Friday's Wall Street Journal article focused on the movie's appeal to teens who missed SATC on HBO, but have been watching a watered down version on TBS and want to go see the R rated movie, but are too young. Shelley Zalis CEO of a consumer research firm is quoted in the article "Sixteen is the new 20" despite the fact that the characters are now pushing 40 and even 50.

Teens in the article mention ordering the series up for marathons on HBO on Demand and debating which character they are most like. This makes a lot of sense to me-- given that most teens "aspire up," that is, they spend a lot of time thinking/fantasizing about what life will be as adults. With all the freedom and disposable income the women on SATC seem to have, they make easy fantasy figures. And with the emphasis on sex and relationships, the show can satisfy some natural teen curiosities.

Still though, I wonder, what it's like to be a 16 year old where the life you fantasize about is also the one that your 50 year old mother and neighbor dream about too, especially when most of the content is so materialistic. It's not SATC that is the problem, but the notion that both 16 and 50 can be the new 20 is permeating the rest of the culture. These are the trends that when multiplied across media and its sister marketing rob girls of their girlhood. Should 16 year olds and 50 year olds really aspire to the same things? And how does this play out in terms of each demographics expectations of what adulthood should look like? To me, this is what leads to women in their early 20's using anti wrinkling cream as a preventative tool, and women in their 50's using botox, so that the notion of what it means to look like a woman becomes more and more stereotypical.

And this doesn't event begin to touch that this is all based on white ideals of femininity or that the 20-something character added to the movie is black..another post perhaps?

Huff Post dialogue between a 50-something British Mom and her 20-something daughter on expectations for young women

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tonight's NOW-NYC Event

If you are in the NYC area and want to hear more about GEMS and our work on the Safe Harbor Act, come on out to tonight's event:

EVENT: Mean Streets: NY Teens Caught in the Sex Trade
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, May 28, 2008, 6:30 PM -8:45 PM
LOCATION: LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th Street

6:45-7:45 PM Showing of the Oxygen Network's episode on commercial sexual exploitation Who Cares About Girls?

7:45 PM-8:45 PM Panel Discussion including:
Patti Binder, Deputy Director of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS),
Lori B. Iskowitz, Senior Trial Counsel, Assistant Deputy Borough Chief in the Family Court Division of the NYC Law Department,
Katherine Mullen, Attorney, Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Division,
Jo Rees, Deputy Executive Director of Friends of Island Academy,
Lise Zumwalt, Producer of the film.

The discussion will by moderated by NOW-NYC President, Sonia Ossorio.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Girls and Sexism

Bloggers across the intertubes covered the release of the study "Perceived Experiences with Sexism Among Adolescent Girls" now in the May/June issue of Child Development, (Vol. 79, Issue 3) Of course Feministing, Our Bodies Our Blog , a blog in LA on sexual harassment attorneys covered the news, but so did WebMD and in their news section, no less, not in their blog.

So to girls and former girls everywhere, the news that girls experience sexism is not really news, but the stats about the way girls experience it across race and age are definately worth checking out (all links above go to the relevant stats).

Further, the study finds that
Girls who had been exposed to feminist ideas, either through the media or an adult such as a mother or teacher, were more likely to identify and report sexist behavior than were girls who had no information about feminism.

Many girls' programs provide girls with an opportunity to experience feminist ideas, although I'd say that the ideas are not always explicitly labeled as feminist, but certainly the notion that harassment is wrong, or that girls should be confident, should be a staple of good girls' programming. And my favorite programs address harassment and sexism head on.

Make your travel plans now for these upcoming A$$kicking events:

Third Annual Gender Equality Festival on July 19th in Brooklyn

The 5th Anniversary GiRL FeST Hawaii
Nov. 7th - 15th 2008!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Opinions on the Texas Polygamy Ruling

Yesterday I posted about the Appeals Court in Texas overturning the custody decision. In response, I received some great comments from WGFG reader and friend, Ben. I only have a quick minute to post this morning so please check out what Ben has to say below:

I am conflicted about this whole case. I absolutely condemn the sexual abuse that is occurring in this community, as well as the mental, emotional, and (in all likelihood) physical abuse. As the survivor of a cult, I know firsthand how damaging such an experience can be. Thankfully in my case the worst things that were physically done to me in the name of religion were not getting immunized until I was a teenager, and a couple of hard spankings.

However, I do think that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services responded poorly to the situation. They have a history of mismanagement; and I'm not surprised, though I am disappointed, that they screwed this up too. Essentially, TX DFPS ran afoul of some of the core beliefs of this nation.

In this country we have decided that religious freedom permits almost any behavior. We also have decided as a nation that parents may raise their kids in whatever way they deem appropriate, short of actual physical or sexual abuse. It seems to me that trying to argue that, while child X has not yet been abused, their environment is conducive to abuse is likely very difficult to prove under current law. Yet that seems to be exactly what TX DFPS has argued, in most cases. The impression I get from the news is that the sexual abuse of FLDS girls does not really start until they are married too young. Of course one should recognize that the mental and emotional abuse of both girls and boys starts much, much earlier. Yet for the most part this early abuse does not concern the state, under our current system of law (as I understand it).

Remember also that Texas allows children as young as 16 to be married with their parents consent (easily given in this situation), and even younger with a court order. If the FLDS controls an entire town including the courts and law enforcement, as they did in Hildale Utah, how difficult would it be to legitimize these marriages (leaving aside the polygamy for the moment)?

I think this case is a very good argument for changing the way we think through these sorts of cases. But I won't pretend to know how best to formulate our response. Religious freedom is one of the ideas that have made this nation great, and consenting adults should be free to do whatever the heck they want. But when vulnerable populations are affected, who cannot consent to what is done to them, then I believe some restrictions on religious freedom are necessary. That belief is the first step. I'm not sure what the second is.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oh No! Bad News for Girls in Texas!

I just got this news from the New York Times:

Appeals Court Overturns Sect Custody Decision

Child welfare officials had no right to seize hundreds of
children from the polygamist sect, a Texas appellate court

Read More

I am in complete disagreement with the Appeals Court. I think that going into the sect was one of the boldest moves for children, especially girls, that have been made in a long time. This is not about polygamy or freedom of religion, this is about child sexual abuse that is institutional and criminal if done under any other circumstance.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Contribute New York!

Check out in the January/February issue of Contribute New York Magazine: the people and the ideas of giving. Not only does What Good for Girls get a shout out (wahoo!)under the column Benefit Blogs but the issue is packed with articles on women, girls and philanthropy-- swoon worthy stuff!

Find articles on the whether the Dove campaign is cashing in on self esteem, human trafficking in Cambodia and the Harlem based girls organization Groove With Me .

Crawl through their website for nuggets like a forum on youth and philanthropy and an interview with Abigail Disney and the Women Moving Millions campaign.

New York Womens Foundation breakfast Strikes Again

Today I had the privilege to attend the New York Womens Foundation breakfast as a grantee partner representative for the second year. Given how I felt about last year's event, I wondered what they could possibly to do to top it. And I wondered-- how much will they raise? As a result of Abigail Disney's pitch, they raised over 2.65 million dollars through the event and her challenge grant.

But they did top it. Sitting proudly between my fellow grantee representatives from Fierce and Girls for Gender Equity, when I wasn't downing the coffee (7AM start!!!) I was I wiping the tears from eyes. A sucker for all things that demonstrate the connectedness among women, I was amazed at the way this event makes a room full of 2500 women, most of them who outearn me by multiples, made me feel like I was in the companion of people who care about the things I care about.

From the all girl marching band to grantee speeches to awards to Marie Wilson and Christine Amanpour, the program was incredibly moving. But the most touching was the award to the Acholi women from Meeting Point International in Uganda. In Uganda, they make their living by breaking stone into gravel. When they heard about Hurricane Katrina, they raised $1,000 and sent to displaced victims in Houston. When a few of the women received the award this moring, they said that we are all of one heart, that we belong to them because they belong to somebody. As someone loved them, they love us.

I travelled to Tanzania the July before Hurricane Katrina to work with women from Ukewere on the Girls Talk! Tanzania conference. Making a living wage through manual labor is a hard life anywhere but in rural Africa, the women I met come home to build a fire, cook a meal, feed their children with no electricity and a baby on the hip. I met an elementary school principal during my visit who told me about the hard time they have attracting and retaining teachers. When I told him, "Oh us too!" He waited a moment and chose his words, saying "I never thought that you and I would share the same problems."

Living in Manhattan, it's easy to forget that we are all connected, not by the internet or text messages, or the ability to teleconference, but by our ability to give. This morning's breakfast reminded me not why I go to work every day (that's easy for me) but why I give money and time to the organizations I love and why it's so vitally important that I do, especially when its hard and I feel stretched thin.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Romona Moore's Mother Fights for Herself

It's a profoundly sad Mother's Day for Elle Carmichael, whose daughter, Romona Moore, is dead. She left for Burger King 5 years ago and instead was kidnapped, brutally tortured, killed and left under a van. The Village Voice covered her story about what it means to be young, black, and missing, and how her mother, Elle Carmichael, fought to find her.

I wish I could say that I am surprised that a young black woman can get kidnapped and that no one will notice, or that she could be seen by a visitor, and not reported, or that her mother could go to the cops, and they would not take her seriously. I am not.

Although Romona Moore was 21 when she was killed-- her story is a cautionary tale for teen girls of color, and for those who care about them. When white girls go missing, there are Amber Alerts and media frenzies. What happens when girls of color go missing? The Village Voice story is one of very few I've seen providing in depth coverage. The realities of life for girls of color, particular those in low income neighborhoods, is often drastically different from their white counterparts. When and how does girls programming take this into account? I'm interested in feedback from folks working with girls about how you handle the real differences between girls.

For more about girls and women who are black and missing
and for commentary, check out what about our daughters

And props to my own Mom, who instilled in me a sense of a social justice at a very early age. I know she'll be outraged about Romona.

Additional coverage: Elle Carmichael won the right to sue the NYPD

Check out the New York City Council briefing from 2004 on the NYPD's handling of missing person's cases which centers on Romona's case.

NY Times 2006 coverage notes Romona's case didn't draw the same media interest as Svetlana Aronov or Imette St. Guillen. It's worth noting that neither Svetala or Imette were under 21 (one of the criteria for missing persons cases as noted in the above Council briefing) but that the media covered their stories, leading to increased pressure to pursue their cases.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quick Hit: Girl Scouts release study on Girls and Politics

One of my favorite things about the Girl Scouts is the Girl Scout Research Institute (cuz I am geeked out like that) The institute goes to directly to girls and asks them their thoughts on current topics-- from what girls think about healthy living ("We want to be healthy-normal") to this report on what girls think about politics.

So timely!

Check it out here -- and watch for my comments in an upcoming post.

Or you could kick off a conversation by hitting the comments section, like my friend Ben did.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More Girl Magazines to Love

Go Canada Girls! Shameless is a three times a year magazine for girls who need an alternative to the traditional magazine fare doled out to teen girls. Best thing about it-- other than its independent nature-- is its teen editorial collective.

According to the Shameless site:
Shameless is guided by a teen editorial collective who give us feedback on the magazine, share ideas, help plan events, inspire us and give us a window into the lives of real teenagers. They make sure the magazine is relevant, interesting and engaging.

Current members of our collective include: Nadia Alam, Sarah Chepesiuk, Heidi Cho, Elliot Carol Chow, Genevieve Flavelle, Lex Gill, Laura Hope, Maddie Lee, Kristin Li, Nevena Martinovic, Olivia Mussells, Linda Paolucci, Julie Sadler, Samantha Williams.

In past issues they have tackled housing, rape, equity in education, and whether the Dove Campaign for Beauty does more than sell soap. The current issue looks at size and fashion . While many girls' magazines might not think these issues matter to girls, clearly they do.

Keep Shameless up and running and keep girls' voices at the helm:

Subscribe and encourage girls you know "who get it" to submit writing

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Very Young Girls at the IFC

I've been working at GEMS for almost a year and a half and my time there has been life changing. We serve girls who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. Many people aren't aware that US born girls are involved in the commercial sex industry and many get involved as early as 13. Prior to working at GEMS, I certainly didn't know. The girls are bought and sold by adult men and subjected to violence beyong my worst imagination. Say what you want about teen girls and the right to express their sexuality-- being bought and sold on the streets, in brothels, or on Craigs List is just wrong and should be criminal for the adult men who do the buying and the selling. Yet, most often its the girls who are crimininalized. I could go on, obviously, but I'd much rather you come learn about it first hand from the girls themselves.

If you are in the New York City area and you want to learn more, come check out the documentary Very Young Girls at the IFC on Tuesday April 22. The doc follows girls who have been involved in the commercial sex industry, under the control of pimps, as the struggle to get out and stay out. This screening will be followed by a Q and A with Rachel Lloyd and Carolina Cruz as well as the filmmakers.

Check out what Girlbomb author Janice Erlbaum wrote after seeing the film at our fundraiser.

Learn more through and interview with one of the filmmakers Priya Swaminathan .

Want a sense of the what the demand and the marketing of young girls is like in the US? Try googling the words "very young girls" and tell me how many porn hits you get.

From Workshop to Action

Every once in a while an email comes my way that makes me happy. This week the email was from an attendee at the "Battling Backlash" panel at WAM that I participated in with Miriam Perez , Carmen Van Kerckhove and moderated by Jessica Valenti .

She noticed that so many of the comments and questions during the session were from young feminists who felt isolated and lacked a community of like-minded people. In response, she is creating a dinner party and invited her feminist friends to attend. And even better, she is asking everone to bring a guest who they consider a mentee or mentor to make the event intergenerational and to widen the circle of feminists. I'm impressed with her intentionality around making the event inclusive and inviting to people.

I think she would have done this anyway, but I am thrilled that she named the workshop as part of the impetus to start bringing together women in her life.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Big Pink Puffy Heart Love Orb 28

With the tagline "Share Your Voice, Change the World, Be the Girl Revolution" Why wouldn't I love them?

Orb28 is New Moon Girl Media's \online experience for girls ages 13 - 15+. And of course you know New Moon Media-- the magazine that brings girls voices to the world. Swoon! In addition to being a great ads-free magazine for girls (I don't know how they do it--even mags with ads have a hard time staying in the business) they were the very first publishers of now well known author Courtney Martin

Here's an example of their great work. Go check them out and share with the young teens you know!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Womens E News recognizes Teen Girl Accomplishments

Womens E News 21 Leaders for the 21st Century will recognize 15 year old Iman Belali for her work starting the American Moroccan International Exchange for young women, when she was only 12!

One reason I love this event is that Womens E News has made a commitment to recognizing the work of women of all ages, including teen girls and young women in their 20's-- often left out of the running for more traditional awards.

Read more about Iman and Womens E News

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Writing Girls Make the News

The girls and mentors of Girls Write Now were featured in yesterday's New York Times . The article glimpses into a few of the relationships that develop between mentors and mentees and their shared passion for writing.

I'm excited that the article highlights one of the reasons for an all girls program:
Samantha White, 17, from Brownsville, Brooklyn, said the all-women environment makes a big difference in what gets talked — and written — about. “We had a workshop where we wrote about breasts and the experience of getting our first bra,” she said. “That would have never happened if there were boys in the room.”

Watch one of the mentor-mentee pairs share their bra sharing stories at the winter reading:

Want to see more? Come out to the 10th annual spring reading at the Barnes & Noble in Tribeca on Sunday, June 8, from 4-6PM. I'll be there! (Full disclosure-- I'm the Board Chair!) Click here for the details.

And while we're on Writing Girls-- check out the guest post on Deborah Siegel's Girl with Pen by 14 year old Samantha French.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Teach Girls to ASK!

This book Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide changed my life. Reading example after example of research demostrating that many women don't ask for what they want, and therefore don't get what they want, helped me get over the trepidation I was feeling about negotiating for a salary for a position that I was being offered. And, I successfully negotiated for a higher salary, despite my nervous stomache, over my cell phone in the parking lot of a Dunkin Donuts, no less. Further, the woman who hired me still calls me a savvy negotiator.

I've told many women in my life to buy the book. Author and researcher Linda Babcock details how women are socialized not to ask and then shows us the startling results-- the heaps of money we'll never earn, because we did not ask. Asking is one behavior we can change-- and should-- to help us achieve financial independence and parity in the workplace. Fantastic-- as a result the individual women who start to ask (and the men and women who respond in the affirmative) will bask in the glory, all the way to the bank. But our individual successes will not change the world in which nice girls (and women!) are expected to take what's offered and not ask for what they want and deserve and penalize the girls and women who do.

Luckily--Linda Babcock is tackling some of this too. The New York Times covered her work with Progress a Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society at Carnegie Mellon University. Progress has created a pilot badge for Girls Scouts ages 8 - 11 will learn the steps to negotiation.

From a girls' programming perspective-- this is exciting stuff that can lead to real world change for the girls involved. If girls hear a competing message to the nice girl stuff, they have a chance at developing the skills that will serve them well as they grow into teens and adults. So often girls' programming can stuff girls into the nice box, that it's good to see a partnership that actively fights against it. I hope it goes national-- with girls and women everywhere asking for better starting salaries, raised and becoming formidable negotiators in all avenues of their lives.

Progress is also taking a stab at teaching negotiation through the video game Reign of Aquaria which is a valiant attempt at reaching more girls with the negotiation message but it's a little too puppies and clouds for me. I hope some fantastic folks interested in making change through video games can lend them a hand and some dinero for an upgraded version so they can make a huge impact.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Changing the Culture: Ending Violence Against Girls and Women (of Color)

Last week, Black and Male in America hosted a screening and discussion of Aishah Shahidah Simmons NO! A documentary about rape, sexual assault, and violence against women and girls.

Melissa Harris-Lacewell writes in The Root that the discussion was "astonishing." According to Harris-Lacewell-- a diverse audience across all kinds of spectrums of the human experience held an open and public discussion about rape and race. Ms Harris-Lacewell writes:

Black women raped by black male perpetrators often remain silent because they are alone. They don't want to confirm white racial stereotypes; their own families and communities tell them to shut up; they have little reason to think that authorities will take their cases seriously; they fear the devastating ramifications of a manhunt in black communities if they are believed; and in the history of lynching white women have been adversaries, not allies, on the question of rape.

Recovering from rape is burden enough without having to shoulder this vicious legacy.

I am sad and ashamed that the only solution for so many women and girls of color is to silence themselves when they need and deserve a path to recovery and healing. Thw legacy Harris-Lacewell describes won't stop without the open and honest discussions that put race and gender at the center for everyone to see and reckon with. We can't prevent new girls and boys of color inheriting the legacy without talking about it.

White women and men often overlook both the legacy and the burden of carrying it. However socially conscious some white people may be (myself included) it can be easy to gloss over the differences among us when violence is at hand. It's easy for white women to think that the trauma associated with violence bonds the victims together. Perhaps there's some truth to that. But if I, as a white woman feel I can call the cops and seek justice, and a woman of color does not because she is living the legacy, the bond I think I feel with her is one she cannot return to me.

Take Jessica Hoffman's heavy duty piece On Prisons, Borders, Safety, and Privilege: An Open Letter to White Feminists . Ms Hoffman hits on why some white people (and especially white feminists) can ignore the legacy of the race/gender combo on issues like rape and violence. I won't summarize here-- go read it.


These are the real life issues that affect the girls we work with in girls' programs. As issues with violence and violation come up in girls' lives, our programs should be able to respond to them, provide a space for them, an honest dialogue, and the opportunity to organize. My experience as an adult woman is going to profoundly affect the way I listen and the suggestions I make and are going to influence the actions the girls' take.

I don't know that I have seen this discussed in a training or discussion among professionals or volunteers working with girls.

Have you?

Many thanks to Racialicious where I originally read The Root piece.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I love Star Wars as much as the next gal

As a Star Wars fan, this ad is pretty funny.

Honestly, how many times did Natalie Portman whine "Oh Ani' in the last one? (Please don't hate me Natalie-- your work on microcredit is amazing)

But is it necessary to insinuate that calling a guy a girl's name often enough will result in him wanting to destroy the goodness in the universe?


Hey! I'm trying out some new background for the blog and generally just classin up the joint a bit.

One thing I am looking for is a new header that represents the tone and topic of Whats Good for Girls but I haven't found it yet, and I'd like to move beyond what's in blogger's template. I've added the pic above temporarily, but the notion of budding flowers seems a little more Tampax commercial than WGFG.

I love Deborah Siegel's header and I am all about Feminist Gamers . Both headers represent what they discuss on their blog.

If you have any ideas, I am all eyes, I guess.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Scary Conversation at Feministing

Courtney Martin posted about a man masturbating in front of her while she was meeting with her mentee. Scary and unpleasant, for sure. Courtney knew how to take action in the moment.

Scarier-- read the comments section to the post. How many women has this happened to-- and how many while they were girls/teenagers?

When it happened to me, I was 16 or so and was enough of a feminist already to know it was wrong and to do something about it, even when those around me didn't believe me. (My story is under my name in the comments, for those interested.) But as a teenager I didn't have the context or perspective to understand how widespread this kind of experience was. I am sure I thought-- something is wrong with that guy. What I know now is that while harassment usually takes place on an individual to individual basis, but that if you were to add up all of the incidents of harassment-- it's like a pandemic. A single response to a single act of harassment doesn't change much.

What can we do?

One of the best ways to fight back against harassment is to talk about it and create a culture of acceptance for the harassed. Kudos to Courtney for blogging about her experience and for creating a forum for women and girls to share their stories. If you are a person working or volunteering with girls-- figure out how you might be able to open the door to talk about these experiences.

Document it. Turn the camera on the harasser. Check out Holla Back NYC. There's also the girl produced video on street harassment by girls from Girls for Gender Equity that I have blogged about before as well as a Girls Inc NYC video. How can you argue with that kind of evidence?

Start the dialogue with men and boys-- this behavior is not okay. Find a male ally to help in the fight. They are out there.

Take it to the politicans. More kudos go to the Manhattan Borough President for studying it

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Where are the Gaming Girls?

Roy MacKenzie and Naomi Clark rocked my world at the WAM Conference with the session "Beyond Croft and Cooking Mama: Expanding the Discussion of Sexism in Gaming Culture." I could have stayed there all day!

A gamer myself (not super hard core, but I've done my share of shredding on Guitar Hero II on our Playstation 2, and I couldn't total the hours I've played Civilization or The Sims on computers that have come and gone) and the wife of a gamer, I've certainly been aware of the sexism inherent in the ways women are portrayed in games, and the lack of people of color except for the most stereptypical depictions. Trust me, when my husband started playing Tomb Raider I had no shortage of commentary about Lara Croft.

But Roy and Naomi's session covered several topics about how few women there are in the industry, and if they are attractive and smart, the backlash is overwhelming for them. They covered the utter disdain for girls and women that exists in many online gaming environments. And then of course, there is the way games are marketed to girls, pink and sparkly Barbie games rule the corner game store shelves.

Why can't a girl enjoy a good adventure, strategy, or role playing game without it being dumb-downed and sparkled up, or feeling like she has to be one of the guys to be safe? As Roy and Naomi stated in the panel-- just at the age when girls should be getting interested in games, the hostile gaming environment turns them off.

Are you or do you know a girl gamer? Check out: Cerise Magazine

and read this article or anything else by Latoya Peterson

As soon as I posted this-- I read my daily email from and read the news that 69% of girls play and a story on what they play.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Army holds Annual Bring Your Daughter to War Day

wow.....with the way the war is going, you could see someone coming up with this as an actual recruitment strategy. (oops, my politics are showing!) Also, what a great send up of Take Our Daughters to Work Day!

Thank you, Onion News Network! and Happy April's Fools Day...

(Thanks Maya for sending me the link..)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Meeting the Needs of Girls in Massachusettes

“Adults should pay attention to how much they don’t know!”

This quote from an 8th grade Hispanic/Latina girl is from a new comprehensive report out of Worcester, Massachusetts sums up the viewpoints many girls have about individual adults. Her quote also speaks to something bigger. We don't know enough about what is going on with girls on the macro level-- there are so little comprehensive reports looking at the needs of girls. We should pay attention and start commissioning/funding/demanding the research.

This report--From Gaps to Opportunities: Meeting the Needs of girls in the Worcester Area fills that gap. I just received this in my in box yesterday and I'm looking forward to digging deep. At first blush-- I know its going to be good. Prepared by Kathryn Wheeler (founding ED of the Girls Coalition of Greater Boston) the work is comprehensive and is sure to be girl centered. Jessica Greenstone, co-writer of the report emailed that although the report is focused on the Central Mass region, many of the issues facing these girls are salient for a broader population.

We need more reports like this to help make the case for girls' programs and girls' needs. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few like head-- Girls Inc NYC produced a local report and the National Council for Research on Women produced a report more national in scope (although not as comprehensive in stats)

Let me know if you know of other work where girls are interviewed and stats are compiled on the needs of girls.

Read the United Way report here

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm WAMMING!!!!!!!!

Hey! I haven't been blogging (What's new?) but this weekend I have been WAMMING. I was incredibly thrilled and honored to speak on a panel on Battling Backlash with Jessica Valenti, Miriam Perez and Carmen Van Kerckhove. Read more about the panel at

I also have been learning a lot and am energized to improve the blog in lots o' good ways! Now I am on my way to a session on girls and gaming where I am going to play the WII!!


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Protection-- it's not just for the over 18's and the married folks

Many people aren't aware that domestic violence laws only cover married folks or parents. Teens experiencing violence in relationships rarely turn to adults for help (see below) and they have no protection from the law. I first learned of this problem when attending a symposium led by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. Learn what you can do below-- Patti

Day One is advocating to increase the legal protection available to teenage and other victims of domestic violence in New York State. They are looking for orgs and individuals to sign onto the New York Statewide Coalition for Fair Access to Family Court and support the passage of New York State Senate Bill S.6783, which will expand the protection available to individuals in dating relationships, cohabitants and LGBTQ victims of relationship abuse.

The New York State Family Court Act restricts access to orders of protection (OPs) to individuals currently or formerly married, blood relations, or parents of the same child. As a result, individuals in dating relationships, cohabitants, LGBTQ partners and many elderly are excluded from the protection available in the civil courts. These groups must request OPs from the criminal court, a system constructed for punishment, not protection, where victims are not provided with attorneys and face a far higher standard of proof.

Most importantly for youth, the entry point for the criminal justice system is the police, and most young people will remain at risk rather than seek assistance from law enforcement. In one study, less than 3% of students reported relationship abuse to an authority figure.

As a result, youth and others lacking access to Family Court are less prone to come forward, face more challenges, and when they do choose to seek help are less likely to obtain protection from the legal system.

The Coalition will keep you apprised of activities related to the pending legislation, and action you and let you know how organization can get involved.

Contact Stephanie Nilva at for more info

Thursday, February 21, 2008

NOW-NYC Awards Tonight!

What's Good for Girls is back!

NOW-NYC presents the Susan B. Anthony Awards tonight with three NYC girls' organizations receiving recognition. While NOW-NYC's parameters for the award are to honor grassroots activists dedicated to improving the lives of women in New York City. I'm very pleased they have chosen three girls' organizations to honor, that are all WGFG FAVES, no less.

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls
Girls for Gender Equity
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services

Film maker Rachel Fleit will also receive an award.

Congrats to NOW-NYC for recognizing three outstanding girls organizations!
Wanna come? Deets below:

Ceremony and Reception | February 21, 2008 | City Hall | 6 PM | RSVP 212.627.9895