In the News: September 2019

Our Think items this month are about breaking ground on Breaking the Silence, fighting bigotry with literacy, a perspective on guns and abortion rights, and sexism in space exploration.

Breaking Ground on Breaking the Silence

Photo by Sarah Whiting

Sarah Super, the founding force behind the nation’s first permanent memorial to sexual violence victims and survivors, said this at the groundbreaking ceremony in August: “Silence supports the perpetrators and never the victims. Survivors deserve a response, and we deserve that response to be validating, compassionate, trauma-informed, and victim-centered. This memorial is a community response to sexual violence, rape culture, and injustice. It will be a place for truth-telling, a place that validates our experiences, our suffering, and our courage. Together, we are creating a permanent, public, beautiful symbol of solidarity with victims and survivors.”

SOURCE: Find the full text of her talk at sojo.net/articles/nations-first-permanent-memorial-survivors

Excerpt of Sarah Super’s Talk


Davina Baldwin ad

Sexism in Space Exploration

An analysis of NASA history has shown a pattern of sexism that made it impossible for women to partake in moon expeditions and space exploration. As NASA prepares to send the first woman to the moon (dates have yet to be finalized), a New York Times reporter found that: “In the 1950s, Dr. Randolph Lovelace wondered how women would fare as space travelers. He had designed the tests for the Mercury astronauts and proceeded to put 19 women through the first round of assessments. Thirteen passed. In fact, from testing the ‘First Lady Astronaut Trainees,’ Dr. Lovelace discovered that women might be better suited to space than men.

“They were smaller, which would reduce the weight of payloads. They had better cardiovascular health and lower oxygen consumption. And they tolerated higher G-forces and outperformed men on isolation and stress tests. (One of the women was a mother of eight, and I imagine her looking at the tests and wondering when things would get difficult.) Despite all this, the tests were stopped.”

SOURCE: “To Make It to the Moon, Women Have to Escape Earth’s Gender Bias,” Mary Robinette Kowal, The New York Times


Fighting Bigotry with Literacy

White supremacists targeted BookBar, a Denver bookstore, during a Drag Queen Storytime. After reporting the incidents, the store received many negative comments via email, social media, and phone calls. BookBar responded with a post on its blog saying: “We took the time to answer your questions and reply to your comments. We’re including some book recommendations because we are booksellers and Just. Can’t. Help. Ourselves.” One comment, for example, had been: “This is the devil’s work.” BookBar’s response: “Funny story about that. When the devil first brought in his resume we were dubious but, being an equal opportunity employer, we figured we’d give him a chance. Turns out, he has some really great eventideas and is surprisingly very well-read.”

SOURCE: “BookBar’s Extremely Official Response to Extremely Negative Comments,” by bookbarblog.com


Shifting the Narrative

This viral social media quote has often been misattributed to Gloria Steinem. The original author is unknown. Regardless of who originally posted it, the message is clear:

I want any young men who buy a gun to be treated like young women who seek an abortion: a mandatory 48-hour waiting period, written permission from a parent or a judge, a note from a doctor proving that he understands
what he is about to do, time spent watching a video on individual and mass murders, traveling hundreds of miles at his own expense to the nearest gun shop, and walking through protestors holding photos of loved ones killed by guns, protestors who call him a murderer.

It makes more sense to do this for young men seeking guns than for young women seeking an abortion. No young woman needing reproductive freedom has ever murdered a roomful of strangers.