Archive for June 11th, 2008

July 8 -11, 2008
Boston, MA

We’ve had overwhelming interest in scholarships to the summer institute on Media Madness. In order to accommodate as many people as possible, we are offering a two and a half day training as an alternative to the full institute. This training is free, though if you can give $50 we would appreciate it.

We will start on July 9th at 1PM and go until July 11th at 4PM.We will be covering many of the same things as the full institute but focus more on fighting the porn culture and hands-on training in giving the anti-porn slideshow. Though we will be using space at Wheelock, there is no college credit available for this training. You can sign up to stay at the dorms, which are $45/night for a double and $35/night for a single.

If you are interested in attending this modified version, we need to hear back from you ASAP.

PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT call Wheelock as they are not handling this training. Contact us here are at the SPC email account.

If you want college credit, then you have to register and pay for the full, four-day Media Madness institute through Wheelock. If you want to attend the four-day Media Madness institute without credit, then you will also need to pay and register through Wheelock. There are NO scholarships available for the four-day institute.

Full details at

We hope that one of these options will work for everyone. Feel free to email if you have any questions.


See also:

I will be racing in the 2008 Coeur D’Alene Ironman, a distinguished athletic event – one day, one race: swim, bike, run, 140.6 miles. I will be racing in an effort to raise money for Stop Porn Culture, a pioneering non-profit organization of which I am a cofounder.

Stop Porn Culture is dedicated to challenging the pornography industry and an increasingly pornographic pop culture by working to end sexual exploitation, sexism, and sexist portrayals of women and girls in the media.

Stop Porn Culture coordinates and presents social research grounded in feminist analyses of sexist, racist, and economic oppression.

Stop Porn Culture affirms a sexuality rooted in equality, free of exploitation, coercion, and violence, and brings attention to the loss of the sacred in real life everywhere.

Stop Porn Culture insists that we face this assault with courage, that we see it, feel it, and live it in such a way that creates transformation.

Dominique Bressi

Go to

Corporate drive for profits is damaging girls, women and eroding healthy relationships

College-age women often come to Professor Gail Dines in tears after she lectures about how popular culture has become poisoned with a hyper sexuality that demands women offer themselves to any man who asks.

The young women feel isolated and alone because they refuse to degrade themselves in exchange for male companionship, said the professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston and founder of the Stop Porn Culture movement. It’s time to end a corporate-driven effort to promote “slut culture” in the United States, Professor Dines said.

The oppression and misuse of women is not new to America, or American culture, but many see a crisis of misogynistic and racist elements that are damaging the soul of the nation and hurting children, women and men in the process.

Black women, in particular, have historically been portrayed as sexual objects to justify slavery, rape, sexual abuse and denial of respect and opportunity, advocates and scholars say. Negative messages solely concerned with “hotness” and sex appeal are also being pushed on adolescents and younger girls in a dangerous way, advocates warn.

Adolescence is the time when girls form an identity based on messages from society, said Professor Dines. If the messages focus on physical attributes and access to men, the young girls are not growing in a healthy way, she said. Professor Dines will be featured at “The Sexualization of Childhood” symposium, June 13-14, at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

The American Psychological Association, in a study released last year, reported that girls and young women suffered intellectual, psychological and physical problems as a result of messages that push sexualization, which is defined as a “person’s value coming only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics; a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy; a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making, and/or; sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.”

Researchers looked at a wide form of media—television, music videos, music lyrics, magazines, movies, video games and the internet as well as advertising campaigns and found messages in advertising, merchandising and products aimed at girls.

According to the research, the sexualization of girls and young women:
* undermined feelings of confidence and comfort with their own bodies, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety;
* was linked with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood;
* had negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.

Marketing sex to children

“A lot of very sexual products are being marketed to very young kids,” said University of Iowa journalism professor Gigi Durham. “I’m criticizing the unhealthy and damaging representations of girls’ sexuality, and how the media present girls’ sexuality in a way that’s tied to their profit motives.”

“The body ideals presented in the media are virtually impossible to attain, but girls don’t always realize that, and they’ll buy an awful lot of products to try to achieve those bodies. There’s endless consumerism built around that,” she said.

When a teen TV sensation was pictured nearly nude in a Vanity Fair magazine controversy erupted. “Although Disney’s ‘Hannah Montana’ franchise was reportedly one of the most prolific in the industry, following Miley Cyrus’ recent photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz in which she is pictured with her bare back, covered only by a piece of fabric, looking sensually at the camera, audiences for the latest episode of the show dropped 14% from the previous fresh episode, which aired just under two months earlier, New York Daily News reported,” according to writer Chris Georg of The piece was headlined “Miley Covers Up As ‘Hannah Montana’ Ratings Drop.”

“Compared to the first original show of the year, which aired in January, viewership for Sunday’s show was down 26%. An estimated 3.1 million viewers tuned in for ‘Hannah’s’ 7 p.m. Sunday edition, which aired out of the network’s usual pattern for fresh episodes,” wrote Mr. Georg.

Others appear less worried about public opinion and more obsessed with profits from pushing adult-style products on children. According to Ms. Durham, Abercrombie & Fitch sold little girls thong underwear tagged with the phrases “eye candy” and “wink wink.” Young readers of the magazine Seventeen were offered “405 ways to look hot” like Paris Hilton.

The sexualization of ‘tween girls, girls between the ages of 8 and 12, is a growing problem fueled by marketers’ efforts to create cradle-to-grave consumers, Ms. Durham explained.

“The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development,” said Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, chair of the American Psychological Association Task Force and associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Years ago there used to be separate worlds for children. Now they are exposed to the same things adults experience. Today we have very young parents and we aren’t protecting our children. Popular psychology said that this was OK,” explained Dr. Tarshia Stanley, a Spelman College English professor.

“As a result, we have really high rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, twice that of the U.K. and eight times that of Japan,” added Ms. Durham.

The increased sexualization of young girls coincides with the increase over time in teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and single parent households. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Black women have the highest teen pregnancy rate (134 per 1,000 women aged 15-19), followed by Hispanics (131 per 1,000) and non-Hispanic whites (48 per 1,000). Although the pregnancy rate among Black teens has decreased 40 percent between 1990 and 2000, more than the overall U.S. teen pregnancy rate declined during the same period, it still remains the highest in the country.

A March report by the Centers for Disease Control found Black teenage girls had the highest prevalence of sexually transmitted disease at 48 percent compared to 20 percent among both Whites and Mexican Americans. “Moreover, one in four girls in this country have had a sexually transmitted disease. We are not doing it right; we are not giving these girls what they need,” said Dr. Stanley.

Oppression, racism and Black females

La Vida Davis, of the Chicago-based Asha Group, sees the use of sexual and harmful images as part of the historical degradation of Black women and oppression. Her group co-sponsored a Mother’s Day campaign in Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles that gave radio stations an approved playlist of alternative songs to counter corporate driven and sexually-oriented songs. She also quickly points out that music is only one part of the problem.

Historically women across all races have been seen as property, but Black women have been especially debased, she observed. During slavery, the Black woman’s value was connected to how many children she could bear and servicing the sexual needs of slave owners, Ms. Davis said. The current situation is consistent with America’s sad history and a White patriarchal society, she said.

Another problem is Black internalization of oppression, which is borne out in the “pimp and hoe” culture and even support for singer R. Kelly, who is accused of sexual crimes against a child, she said.

Singer Beyonce is talented, but her clothing line, which doesn’t show skin still sells lip gloss and grown folks clothes to children, Ms. Davis said. It’s unsettling that clothes are sold to children that look like clothes made for adults, she said.

“It says you are valuable for how you look,” said the activist and community organizer. Little girls are taught to trade their bodies for benefits and acceptance, Ms. Davis said. Their only value is what they can be used for and for boys the question is how many “hoes” do I have, she added.

“Boys as well as girls are put in boxes to play out this foolishness,” she said.

Professor Dines, of Wheelock College, believes the aggressive sexual culture and negative images of Black men promoted by White corporate execs is undermining Black male and female relationships. The Black community is the most besieged community in America and if you break down and undermine the relationships, just like Whites did in slavery, it allows for control of Blacks, she said.

The hyper sexual image of the Black woman was used to justify raping Black women in slavery, Professor Dines said. The self image of Black girls that traditionally rose during their teen years is being chipped away and all girls are engaging in more indiscriminate sex, she said.

“They are capitulating because they don’t know any alternative,” Professor Dines said.

Overall relationships are suffering as men find it difficult to have healthy relationships with women because of exposure to pornography, she added. These men are often very upset because they are experiencing real problems, Professor Dines added.

“While people protest the images they see on channels like BET, people are rewarded for these images. Girls see that the ones who do this get money, glamour, fame and power. The anti-BET message is just one in a whirlwind of thousands of messages about sex that girls receive,” said Dr. Stanley of Spelman College.

“Music is now all about sex. In order to groove to a beat, the body is moving, but what you are doing is the sex act standing up,” said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in a lecture at Mosque Maryam, where he talked about the value of women.

‘Let girls be girls’

In Ms. Durham’s new book, “The Lolita Effect,” she identifies the myths of sexuality that are believed by many in society. Sexual representations of children are getting younger with images of girls as young as 11 or 12, Ms. Durham said.

Chris Richburg, writing on took on Beyonce and ads for her new House of Dereon kids clothing line, Dereon Girls. “The ads apparently show seven-year-old girls wearing feather boas, leopard hats, full make-up and high heels as they pose in front of the camera. … I know you got to make that money, but having a bunch of mini-yous on display may not be the best way to go. Tone it down and let the girls be girls.”

Black men and women need healthier relationships that are not so focused on looks and appreciate individual gifts everyone has, said Ms. Davis.

Blacks must become conscious consumers and parents must communicate with children about messages in the media, music and society, she said. “We got talk about it, it’s not enough to say this bad and censor it,” she said.

Alternatives in music, books and movies and need to be supported, Ms. Davis continued. Teen actress Raven Symone, who also has a show on the Disney Channel, has had an amazing career, she said.

Issues like sexual assault and domestic violence must also be included into larger Black agendas and not seen as separate, Ms. Davis added. The subjugation of women and girls is connected to failing education, lack of jobs and other oppression, she said. “How sisters go goes the race,” Ms. Davis said.

by Richard Muhammad and Nisa Islam Muhammad (

“ … The Final Call Newspaper is the country’s leading source for news and information about issues and events relative to the Black community. … The Final Call Online Edition was initially started as a simple promotional tool developed by Nation of Islam college students for the historic Million Man March in 1995. Receiving millions of visits since its inception, it has grown into the online companion to the Final Call Newspaper. … ”

CODEPINK Women For Peace is asking mayors around the country to sign on to a resolution against going to war with Iran. The resolution will be presented at the US Conference of Mayors on June 20 in Miami. Can you contact your mayor and ask him/her to sign on? Click here for a copy of the resolution and a sample cover letter:

1. WHEREAS, the President and members of his Administration have alleged that Iran poses an imminent threat to the United States, U.S. troops in the Middle East and U.S. allies; and

2. WHEREAS, these allegations are similar to the lead-up to the Iraq War and U.S. occupation, with the selective use of information and unsubstantiated accusations about Iran’s nuclear program and its supply of weapons to Iraqi forces as centerpieces of a case to the American people for aggression against Iran; and

3. WHEREAS, Iran has not threatened to attack the United States, and no compelling evidence has been presented to document that Iran poses a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the United States that would justify an unprovoked unilateral pre-emptive military attack; and

4. WHEREAS, we support the people of Iran who are struggling for freedom and democracy, and nothing herein should be misconstrued as support for the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but it should be understood that a unilateral, pre-emptive U.S. military attack on Iran could well prove counterproductive to the cause of promoting freedom and democracy there; and

5. WHEREAS, a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), representing the consensus view all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, concluded that Iran froze its nuclear weapons program in 2003, and an earlier NIE concluded that Iran’s involvement in Iraq “is not likely to be a major driver of violence” there; and

6. WHEREAS, an attack on Iran is likely to cause untold thousands of American and Iranian casualties, lead to major economic dislocations, and threaten even greater destabilization in the Middle East; and

7. WHEREAS, a pre-emptive U.S. military attack on Iran would violate international law and our commitments under the U.N. Charter and further isolate the U.S. from the rest of the world; and

8. WHEREAS, an attack on Iran is likely to inflame hatred for the U.S. in the Middle East and elsewhere, inspire terrorism, and lessen the security of Americans; and

9. WHEREAS, the Iraq war and occupation has already cost the lives of over 4,000 American soldiers, the maiming and wounding of over 38,000 American soldiers, the death and maiming of over one million Iraqi civilians; and

10. WHEREAS, the Iraq War and occupation has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $500 billion, depriving our cities of much-need funds for services and infrastructure; and

11. WHEREAS, except at our peril, we cannot ignore the history of U.S. government misinformation used to inspire U.S. aggression in Vietnam and again in Iraq, as embodied in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and more recently in the what we know now as false claims of weapons of mass destruction; and

12. WHEREAS, any conflict with Iran is likely to incur far greater costs and divert more precious national resources away from critical human needs,

13. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors hereby urges the Bush Administration to pursue diplomatic engagement with Iran on nuclear issues and ending the violence in Iraq; and

14. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to prohibit the use of funds to carry out any military action against Iran without explicit Congressional authorization; and

15. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that suitable copies of the resolution be forwarded to President George W. Bush and all members of Congress.

24 -26 June 2008
Waterfront Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Interesting Facts
– 95% of all direct violence is committed by men
– Wars occur more frequently where the political representation of women is lower
– Domestic violence increases in the transition from conflict
– 80% of conflict-generated refugees are women and children
– Two thirds of those seeking help from victims groups in Northern Ireland for conflict-related trauma are women
– The only national parliament to have achieved 50% representation of women is the Welsh Assembly

Armed conflict disadvantages women. In Northern Ireland, the priorities of conflict were constitutional issues, the question of national identity and equality between the conflicting groups. Issues that impacted more upon women, such as education, health, childcare, gender equality and social welfare, were less important to the conflict priorities. In addition, women were the sustainers of family and community while conflict raged around them. They were left to pick up the pieces and rebuild communities after the violence passed. Dealing with the legacy of conflict, therefore, requires the empowerment of women to make up for years of lost time, to develop and participate where the mechanisms of conflict has excluded them and take their rightful place in the design and development of a post-conflict society.

The focus of this three-day conference is to bring women from Northern Ireland, Europe and international arenas together to reflect, share, strengthen and celebrate the positive role of women internationally in times of conflict, stepping into transition and moving towards a future where women participate equally on a political, social, economic and judicial level.

After a long legacy of suffering, Northern Ireland is now emerging from 30 years of conflict. 2008 is the 10th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, an all-Ireland Agreement which commits to peace and democracy and building a society based on equality and justice.

We are inviting delegates to come to Belfast to share their own experiences and in particular gain an insight into the diversity and strength of the women’s sector in Northern Ireland and the role women have played in strengthening communities and contributing to politics and policy development.

See original posting in full on womensgrid at