We’re at the end of another week, which means a new roundup. This week: sexual harassment in schools and work, some (unsurprisingly) ridiculous comments from Rush Limbaugh, Michigan’s anti-bullying law, more on women and mentors, and some new developments in the race for the next president of Egypt.
This week, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) released a new report on sexual harassment in schools, titled “Crossing the Line.” Their research reveals some disturbing revelations: like nearly half of students in grades 7 - 12 reported being subjected to some form of sexual harassment in the 2010-11 school year and just a fraction of incidents of sexual harassment are reported to an adult. And with the on-going allegations against certain prominent public figures and the attempts to dismantle the credibility of alleged victims, is anyone really surprised that the reports of sexual harassment in school is so low? It’s enough of a problem that women and men are being harassed in the workplace. It is perhaps more disturbing to hear that in middle and high schools “the most common [type of harassment] was unwelcome sexual comments, gestures or jokes, which was experienced by 46 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys.” Sometimes we don’t think of kids this way, or don’t think they’re capable of things like these. AAUW’s report shows otherwise.
On November 15, AAUW will host a panel discussion on sexual harassment and their new report at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. For more information on the event, click here. You can read the full report here. AAUW has also put together a compilation of blog posts related to the report, which you can read here.
This brings me to my next item – here’s some groan-worthy news: this is a clip that I can describe as nothing short of repulsive from Rush Limbaugh’s radio show this week. He was discussing the women accusing Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment and the possibility of some speaking out together. In a moment of overwhelming refinement [please note: read last statement with intense sarcasm], Rush asks, “What’s the big deal with the panel here? Do they want to synchronize their menstrual periods? Why appear together?”
Oh, Rush. It’s going to take more than sitting on a panel at a press conference for these women to synchronize their periods. Trust me. I lived in a sorority house with 32 other young women for a year and a half, and contrary to popular belief, we were not all synched up. Maybe it’s because they’re looking to feel more confident standing up to people like you who belittle them and to support each other? (That’s something I learned in part from being in a sorority, Rush: women are good at supporting each other. And when tested, we will.)
Sadly, I’ve got some more groan-worthy news this week: Michigan recently passed an anti-bullying law. But wait, there’s more! At the last minute, the clause “prohibit[ing] expression of religious or moral viewpoints” from being defined as “bullying” was added. Many lawmakers in Michigan fear that this could mean LGBTQ students could be bullied for their sexual orientation and the clause could “be used to exempt a student who tells a gay classmate he is going to go to hell.”
Kevin Epling, the father of the young man for whom this law was named, was dismayed to see the bill altered in this way. He took to his Facebook page to say, “I am ashamed that this could be Michigan’s bill on anti-bullying. For years the line [from Republicans] has been ‘no protected classes,’ and the first thing they throw in…was a very protected class, and limited them from repercussions of their own actions.”
In 2002, his son Matt was the victim of a hazing assault. Four days later, Matt killed himself. Over on the People For The American Way’s blog, they feature a video of Michigan State Senator Gretchen Whitmer speaking out against the changes to this bill – it’s worth watching.
A few weeks ago we learned that nearly one in five women has never had a mentor, despite widely held beliefs that having one is important. Over at Jezebel, they took a look at the lack of female mentors on TV and in books and movies. While they note that there are some examples of women mentoring women out there, it seems that a “woman's mentor is normally a male, either gay or a potential love-interest.” Is it wrong for men to mentor women? Certainly not. But would it be nice for more women to mentor women, and for young women to seek out women established in their careers as mentors? Yes. Women are still up against some frustrating odds in the workplace these days and it might be beneficial to all of us women to seek a strong female mentor to help guide us. Seeing examples like these in modern media would help.
And lastly, here’s something a bit more hopeful: Egypt has its first female candidate for president. 49-year-old Bothaina Kamel, a woman who was critical of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, has entered the race, saying she wants to “show the world that Egypt is a modern country, in which women are afforded the right to vie for the highest positions of state, which – like the right to vote – is a basic human right.” Kamel will likely face resistance from groups who do not believe it is acceptable to have a female head of state. However, Kamel is not letting this stop her. She says, “I’m fully aware of the patriarchal nature of Egyptian society. But I believe I’m capable of leading the country’s more than 80 million people; of leading a county of Egypt’s longstanding political and cultural weight.”
The timing of the election still remains unclear; Egypt’s first parliamentary races since Mubarak was overthrown will take place next month and officials are determined to hold the presidential race by 2013.
Anything you’ve seen this week that you want to share? Remember to leave a link in the comments!
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