Tag Archives: sexual harassment

Surviving Sexual Abuse: A Tribute to the Quietly Amazing Victims In Our Lives

This piece was written on August 5th, 2011.   I intended to post it on Tisha B’Av, but the week before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement [and Reckoning] will have to do instead.   I have changed only a few words here and there, to clarify a few statements.   My awe and respect haven’t changed an iota.

A recent conversation with someone who is probably not reading this got me thinking about strong women, femininity, and what it takes to face abuse.

I did promise a response [to Christina] on DSK and the rape case, especially regarding the role of Judaism in France as a political AND ethnic identity, but the more I think about it, the less interested I am in writing it down.  You’ll have to catch me in person if you want to know more about my thoughts on that.

Rather than “picking a side” and accusing either DSK or his accusers, Nafissatou Diallo (New York) and Tristane Banon (France), of any crime, local or international, legal or moral, I would rather talk about what we as a society can do to support victims of sexual and domestic abuse. Now, I am not trained as a rape victim’s advocate nor do I particularly want to be.  I am an activist by passion and vocation, but fighting rape on the front lines is not what I do best, nor what I want to get better at doing as a career.   Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk about it as a feminist and as a moral human being.

Before I begin rambling:

  • The National Domestic Abuse Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

1-800-787-3224 (TTY)


  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline



  • The Trevor Project



  • National Jewish resources seem to vary state by state.  Please Google for them!

 Please, please, please call for help if you need it, or you think someone in your life does.   If you don’t know what kind of advice or support that person needs — or how to give it — call these numbers and ask.

If you take anything away from this post, please know this:


And so many people around the world, from all backgrounds, care so much about YOU.   Yes, really.

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Sex and the City

I’m going to take a break from the rationalist analysis (in addition the break I’ve taken from blogging in general – sorry!) to share a series of personal experiences that have made me think more about feminism, and my feminism and more generally about what it is to be a woman in this world. Major caveat: this does not represent all possible viewpoints or opinions, not even all of my own. But it is still an important one.

I spent the summer in New York City, where I walked and took the subway to and from work, and also around the city. For the first week or so, I noticed getting more street attention than usual, but I thought little of it. It had been part of my life before, in Miami, in the Midwest, in positive and negative ways, so I took it as an unfortunate consequence of city life that I would learn to ignore. Which was fine when it was occasional, something to be attributed to rare bad apples or at least apples with a sense of entitlement where their sense of self-control should be. But then it got more, and worse. Somewhere around three times a day, a man would whisper “sexy” into my ear as he walked past, or stop me and tell me how beautiful I looked, or ask me to smile, or holler at me from a car, or honk at me from a cab. “Isn’t it a compliment?” you might ask. Or perhaps, “Well, what were you wearing? Did you look unhappy?” I was, in fact, asked all of these things and more whenever I complained or pointed out the problematic aspects of my experience. Not that it matters, but for the record, I was wearing all sorts of things. I was wearing a miniskirt and heels; a knee-length skirt and a t-shirt; a business skirt and button down; dresses; jeans; work pants and flats. Sometimes jewelry, sometimes not. Sometimes with a swagger and confidence in my step, sometimes rushed, sometimes exhausted, trudging home. It happened in the morning, in the afternoon, at night.

More stories and thoughts about the sheer weight of the burden of Existing While Female

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