With the staggering statistic that 20-25% of college women report surviving rape or attempted rape, (according to this report,) the news that a bar in Spokane, Washington- home to a large student population- has chosen to name a drink “Date Grape Koolaid” is the latest appalling example of how rape culture is continually perpetuated.
The Daiquiri Factory’s Facebook page is filled with disparaging comments by the administrators targeting those who express their disappointment at the bar’s decision to make light of something as serious as date rape. (Warning: these comments are incredibly insensitive and offensive.)
The internet is rife with articles showing the shocking and distasteful manner in which the company is defending its name choice. Buzzfeed and Feministing have covered the story on their respective websites, check out their coverage to see just how far the Daiquiri Factory is taking this outrageous attempt at humor. The most terrible part? The company continues to defend the name “Date Grape Koolaid,” and even mock anyone who attempts to explain what seems to be a glaringly obvious point: rape is never funny. Sign the petition started on Left Action to try and convince that dropping the name is the right thing to do.
It’s so great to be back at Breakthrough after an incredible semester abroad in Buenos Aires! It was definitely an exciting time to be in the Argentine capital— I was there for the madness as the nation celebrated only its 30th year of uninterrupted democracy, and it was really wonderful to get the chance to live amongst such passionate and engaged people. With some unforgettable adventures behind me I’m ready to get back to work and focus on the exciting stuff Breakthrough is planning!
“As we remember Nirbhaya on the first anniversary of her death, we must continue to learn from what happened. We must remember that for every Nirbhaya, there are countless girls and women whose names do not become symbols of courage or justice. We must remember that what killed Nirbhaya was not a group of horrifically misguided individuals, but a culture with scant respect for girls and women. Hopefully, she will be the one who shows us the way to a world in which girls and women are valued and boys and men are not violent – or silent.”—by Breakthrough founder, president, and CEO Mallika Dutt for Reuters.
Pakistani workers from NGOs perform during an anti-rape protest in Lahore on September 14, 2013. Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images
Reading up on the horrific news about the rape of a 5 year old girl in Lahore, Pakistan, I came across this really interesting photograph at the top of an article. Having spent the earlier half of my life in Pakistan, I have seen many rallies about different issues, many of which lead to destruction of other people’s private properties, burning and looting of shops, breaking car windows and burning effigies or tires on main roads.
This is the first time I have seen an element of creative theatrical performance as a way to protest physical and sexual violence against women and girls. I think part of the reason is that people in that region are very much tired of seeing violence in daily lives, and so they adopt more and more peaceful means of protesting. Another more interesting part is that the demographics of politically engaged people are changing. Unlike 10-12 years ago, more urban, middle and upper class youth are becoming politically and socially active now.
I believe that is a good sign, because it means a whole generation of people that was perviously detached from social and political change is now engaged. There is more pressure on the old structures, politicians, political parties and rulers to listen to younger (and fresher) perspectives. It means that there is hope for change, and perhaps a more peaceful future.
I’ve always been interested in music as a tool for changing people’s thoughts, behaviors, and identities. That’s why I loved Mann ke Majeeré, Breakthrough’s very first project, which used music to break the silence around violence against women. Here are some other musicians who use music to change society and end violence.
Liberian musician Takun-J writes songs that speak to people’s experiences in his country, and has been a strong advocate for women and girls. He worked with PCI Media Impact to produce a transmedia campaign against gender-based violence, including “Song for Hawa,” based on the true stories of sexual violence survivors. He continues this work as a Gender-Based Violence Reduction Ambassador for Liberia.
Recording artist Morley works with youth using music for conflict resolution and dialogue facilitation. She also spreads a message of global women’s empowerment through songs like “Women of Hope” and through promoting organizations like A Call to Men, GEMS, and V-Day.
Know more musicians or music projects that are creating positive change? Leave a comment!
Check out the Women’s Campaign Fund, an awesome organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in elected office in the United States! WCF speaks to Breakthrough’s mission of taking bold action for equality by helping women run for office at all levels, to be the change they wish to see. WCF supports women candidates from all parties, at all levels of government, and focuses especially on candidates who support reproductive health choices for all. Take a look at some of WCF’s powerful programs!
Ms. Representation is WCF’s sassy, tell-it-like-it-is email news brief that distills the latest news about women in politics. Read the latest issue and sign up to stay current on the fight for equality!
I’ll be working at WCF this fall with a Political & Programs Fellowship. I’m excited to contribute to their work, as I have to Breakthrough’s!
She Who Tells A Story: Women Photographers at the MFA
Newsha Tavakolian, Listen
Last week the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston opened “She Who Tells A Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World,” an exhibition that showcases the work of twelve contemporary Middle Eastern women photographers. The photographs range from composed images to photojournalistic explorations, and were taken from Lebanon to Iran.
According to the MFA website, the artists “have tackled the notion of representation with passion and power, questioning tradition and challenging perceptions of Middle Eastern identity.” While this is certainly true of the women in the exhibition, whose work can be previewed here (http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/she-who-tells-story), the act of questioning one’s own identity and representation can be tacitly commonplace.
Newsha Tavakolian, a photographer based in Iran whose work appears in the exhibition, explains to the New York Times, “The obstacles I have faced are not so special, nor have they been overall specific to me: my sisters, my friends and even my mother and grandmother all have to deal with limitations written up in laws or demanded by culture.”
As the photographers focus their lenses on the quotidian female experience, the small ways in which women challenge their prescribed roles emerge. For viewers in the United States, perhaps this is one of the most pertinent takeaways: What complications, injustices and compromises are lurking under our daily female roles? What are we doing to challenge them?
I’m Anita SenGupta, a recent graduate of New York University, where I studied Economics and Chinese language. My curiosity drives me, and has taken me from New Delhi to New York, college classes to the New York literary scene, and now, from economic development work to an internship at Breakthrough.
What caught my eye about Breakthrough was its unique, modern, and wholly important approach. Breakthrough puts the heart at the center of human rights issues, and its work reminds us all to do the same. It’s an inspiring philosophy, and I’m excited to learn from everyone here!