The biggest classroom distraction isn’t girls’ skin, it’s…

The single biggest distraction in pretty much every classroom? Boys.

If our children’s educational experience is being compromised, it isn’t because of what the girls are wearing or how much of their skin is showing. It’s because the rambunctiousness of many boys measurably reduces teachers’ ability to teach and students’ ability to learn.

Boys tend to be more disruptive and therefore have more negative interaction with teachers as a result of their misbehavior. Because of this, boys in classrooms with girls often results in negative effects on girls’ academic engagement and achievement.

This post isn’t a testimonial for single-sex classrooms, it’s merely to point out that if school administrators’ true intentions are to protect the learning process, their time and effort is better spent focusing on boys’ behavior.

Because the immature antics of boys is far more distracting—to themselves and to everyone else—than the amount of a girls’ skin that’s visible.

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#YesAllWomen Was Great. Now What? Seriously, Now What?

yesallwomenA lot of great experiences and insights have been shared via the #YesAllWomen hashtag, and we really loved that females were able to connect in this way. And we’re encouraged that some males were able to gain a deeper understanding of the plight that all females face every day right here in America.

But we can’t overlook one critical fact: thousands of tweets won’t change the status quo that is gender discrimination and the harm it does to everyone—males included—in America. And since girlsCAN! was created expressly to stamp out sexism, this fact matters to us. A lot.

All female were already aware of all the endless ways in which males discriminate, subjugate, denigrate, and persecute them on a daily basis. And the males that don’t care about female equality still don’t care. #YesAllWomen did open the eyes of some of the more enlightened males, as evidenced by a number of, “I had no idea!” tweets posted by males, but that won’t be enough to effect meaningful, lasting change.

#YesAllWomen was and continues to be important, but it won’t—and wasn’t meant to—eliminate sexism. We need to move to the next logical step, which means we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing. To have a measurable and demonstrable effect on the level of sexism we must use different tactics, ones that actually convince males to view females as equals.

girlsCAN! has an answer. While it’s not the only answer, our system of sexism-busting techniques have been proven effective at helping girls stamp out gender bias in their daily lives. But we need your support—and the support of lots of other people—to make changes happen.

Thanks so much to you and everyone who supported @girlsCANorg during the #YesAllWomen extravaganza of tweets! Please encourage the rest of your gang to follow us on twitter so we can really make a difference for America’s girls!

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How the Isla Vista Tragedy is Related to Our Society’s Emphasis on Violence in Male Gender Roles

isla-vista-victimsOnce again we’re faced with a tragedy involving a male targeting females because of an unmet expectation of his perceived right to get, well, pretty much whatever it is he believes he has a right to get from females.

It’s easy to write this type of event off as merely the crazed actions of an individual. To be sure, the man responsible for this tragedy was suffering from mental issues, but it would be a mistake to end our analysis at that because it would overlook an underlying cause of these types of tragedies.

The reality is that there is a direct and undeniable (although many will manage to do so) link between many male-on-female killings and our society’s tendency to conditioning us to associate violence with masculinity.

Soraya Chemaly’s article, Why Won’t We Talk About Violence and Masculinity in America?, written following the Sandy Hook tragedy, really lays out the connection well and, unfortunately, is once again relevant.


Posted in Gender equality, Gender relations, Social norms | Leave a comment

Sex or Sex Assault: The 5 Ws Checklist

sexual-assault_1The American Judicial system has once again sent a clear message to America’s girls: sexual assault—even rape—is no big deal.

In this case there was no question of wrongdoing. The 18-year old boy (at the time of the assault) admitted to the police that he forced the then 14-year old girl to have sex.

The boy faced up to 20 years in prison but instead got 45 days in jail, 5 years of probation, and 250 hours of community service (to be spent at a rape crisis center (!) but the center nixed that idea).

So why no lengthy prison sentence?

The girl had agreed to have sex with the boy off school grounds, but the boy initiated sex on school grounds. When the girls said “no”, the boy forced her to have sex.

As a result, the (female) judge decided that since the girl gave the okay on the ‘Who’ (that boy) and the ‘What’ (having sex), it was a mitigating factor when the boy decided to force on the girl his desire for the ‘Where’, and ‘When’, and ‘Why’ (on school grounds, right now, because he wanted to!).

The judge further decided that, since the girl was not a virgin and had previously given birth, she wasn’t really the victim she claimed to be and that the boy wasn’t really a typical sex offender.

The problem is that the boy did rape the girl, which means the boy is a typical sex offender, and therefore should have been treated as such. While he didn’t avoid punishment, he did avoid the punishment deemed appropriate for a rapist.

For years we’ve been telling males that “No means no”, but this decision significantly undermines that message because it clearly says “no” doesn’t really mean “no”. Instead, it means “sorta, kinda ‘no’, but feel free to use force to subvert a female’s wishes because we won’t send you to prison”.

Is that really the message we want to send our boys? Just as importantly, is that the message we want to send our girls?

Posted in Rape, Sexual assault, Social norms | Leave a comment

Women Bullying Women…And Letting Men Get Off Scot-free

couple-arguingThe old phrase “She’s a homewrecker” has taken on a whole new meaning thanks to a website that allows women to expose other women they allege are having affairs with their partners.

While this may seem like a fair way to deal with infidelity, women bullying other women because of something a man is responsible for represents everything feminism has been fighting against.

The goal is to destroy the reputation of the ‘other woman’ while not holding  the man responsible for breaking his vows of fidelity. In other words, the shaming is all on the woman and not at all on the man.

As feminists, this horrifies us! Not only does this site make it easy for women to bully women, but it’s designed to let men shirk responsibility for their role. It’s a double-tap to the head of feminism.

Now, cheating is a human thing, not a guy thing, so it’s not inherently sexist. But it is sexism when a man betrays his partner and then stands off to the side to let the women do battle over something that he was directly responsible for, as if his infidelity is a problem for women to deal with.

And while we get that it sucks to be cheated on, women need to be clear that the contract that was broken is the one made between them and their husband or boyfriend, not between her and the ‘other woman’.

Our cynical streak has us thinking that the site was created by men as a misdirection ploy: give women an easy platform to tear each other apart so they’ll be too preoccupied to hold their men accountable for their transgressions. How convenient is that!

If we’re going to see true gender equality in our daughters’ lifetimes, we need to hold men accountable when it’s appropriate. It undermines the fight for gender equality when women attack other women when men should be taking responsibility for their behavior.

So, women, please don’t resort to bullying the other woman on ‘She’s A Homewrecker’. Instead, hold your man accountable.

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NFL Cheerleading: All-American Fun or Sexism?

pompomsA long-running debate hits the headlines again: a CNN article explores whether NFL cheerleading represent all-American fun or gratuitous sexism.

One of the key components of the girlsCAN! program is having female athletes as Mentors, so we’re careful to keep an open mind when considering whether or not a program that employs female athletes deserves to the sexist label.

Continue reading

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Urging female college party-goers to take responsibility for their safety: sound advice or victim blaming?

women-partyEmily Yoffe’s article of October 15, recommending female students attending college parties avoid getting so intoxicated that the odds of falling victim to sexual assault increases, has polarized feminists responding to the article. Some viewed the article as reiterating practical, sound advice, while others viewed it as victim blaming and nurturing rape culture.

Our support for her advice, both here in the girlsCAN! blog and on Twitter, has also received a bit of backlash from some tweeters. It’s proven impossible to clarify our point in 140-character chunks, so we’re taking advantage of the unlimited space this blog offers to clarify our position and also comment on some critical points. Continue reading

Posted in Gender equality, girlsCAN!, Sexual assault, Social norms, Women's issues | Leave a comment

Emily Yoffe’s Personal Safety Advice Slammed By Many Feminists

women-drinkingEmily Yoffe, better known as Slate’s Dear Prudence, is receiving a thrashing from many leading feminist writers for an article she wrote advocating that college girls and women avoid getting so drunk they can’t protect themselves from predators that rely on alcohol to facilitate committing sexual assault, outlined here on the girlsCAN! Headlines page.

It’s a safe bet that all feminists agree that the behavior of sexual perpetrators is the problem, not the behavior of their targets. But based on the uproar, not all feminists agree on what to tell our girls regarding the well-documented dangers of getting drunk at parties.

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