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Welcome to the Dearborn, MI Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW)!

AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Founded in 1881, AAUW is open to graduates with an associate or higher degree from an accredited college or university, as well as students currently enrolled in college.  Dues support the operations of the Dearborn-Michigan branch, founded in 1933, as well as the state and national organizations.

Meet Rumana Ahmed, Advisor to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes

rumana_0I was born and raised in Maryland, not too far from D.C. Growing up, I played basketball, loved traveling and hanging with my family and friends, just like any other kid. But after the heinous attacks on 9/11, being a head-covering 8th grader would no longer be the same. There were days when my identity as a Muslim American became a struggle – I was glared at, cursed and spit at in public and in school. It was the tenets of my faith, the ideals of this country, the encouragement of those around me, and the determination to have my voice heard that carried me through and gave me the courage to pursue public service. I learned through hardship, that every challenge is in fact an opportunity to become stronger. Never would I have imagined as a young girl who was once mocked and called names that I’d end up working at the White House wearing a hijab in the West Wing.

That kind of ability to overcome any challenge is the attitude I take toward the level of anti-Muslim rhetoric we’re seeing today. This country has overcome and continues to strive to overcome every challenge, no matter how long it takes. The Civil Rights movement proves that. People had to struggle and suffer to work together and raise their voices to bring about change. Hearing the political discourse and hateful language certainly has negative consequences, but it is also the spark that has empowered me and others like me to speak up and work together in ways we may not have before. My passion has always been in global social entrepreneurship and empowerment of women and their voices and I am proud to have been able to work on these issues here at the White House. It was the President’s message of hope and change that inspired me to pursue an internship at the White House, and it was interning in Correspondence and reading letters that made me realize how important every voice was, including those of Muslim Americans.

I believe if you work hard and if you play by the rules, you can make it if you try in America — no matter who you are or how you pray. It’s how a young girl — once mocked and called names — can pursue her dream and proudly serve her country as a head-covering Bengali Muslim American woman in the White House.

Happy Seventh Anniversary!

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Seven years ago, a newly elected President Obama signed his first legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to help employees seek redress for pay inequity.

On its seventh anniversary, he pushed ahead on requiring companies to report what they pay employees by gender, race and ethnicity. The President declared: “Women are not getting the fair shot that we believe every single American deserves. What kind of example does paying women less set for our sons and daughters?”

Since Congress has resisted acting upon the issue, the President is using his executive authority to mandate that companies with one hundred or more employees add salary information to a form being submitted already that reports gender, age and job classifications. Two years ago, the President issued a similar order to federal contractors to submit salary information by gender. Those rules have yet to be completed! It is anticipated the first reports will be due in September 2017.

Jenny Yang, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, adds: “Too often, pay discrimination goes undetected because of a lack of accurate information about what people are paid.” President Obama’s new requirement is intended to assist the government in penalizing corporations that use discrimination in pay practices. Ideally, businesses will begin to check themselves and correct disparities.

Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the President, stated that, “Bridging the stubborn pay gap between men and women in the work force has proven to be very challenging.”

President Obama wants Congress to pass legislation that will allow women to sue for damages for having endured pay discrimination. Republicans argue that such a law would lead to frivolous lawsuits. They feel gender discrimination is illegal now and that the President’s additional steps toward pay equity are superfluous.

Our Initiatives Make a Difference

Sometimes members grouse about why they have to pay dues to the national organization. It’s worth remembering how effective the national organization is in coalescing the efforts of members nationwide to effect changes in legislation. Advocacy is one of the four goals in our mission. (The others are research, education and philanthropy.) So here is a brief summary of some of the national organization’s accomplishments in advocacy this past year. Visit the national website for more detailed information.AboutBIPP580px

  1.  Our Action Network members sent over a quarter-million emails to legislators.

2.   Our Capitol Hill Lobby Corps made over 1,300 visits to senators and members of Congress.

3.  The U.S. Department of Education published a guidance letter and manual to reinforce the authority of Title IX coordinators.

4.  Lisa Maatz, AAUW’s top policy adviser, testified at the House Education and Workforce Higher Education Subcommittee Hearing on “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on College Campuses.”

5.  The U.S. Department of Justice released guidance to identify and prevent gender bias in response to sexual assault and domestic violence.

6.  AAUW released the Fall, 2015, edition of The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap.

7.  AAUW released Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s’ Success in Engineering and Computing.

8.  President Barack Obama supported policies including 1) Healthy Families Act, to allow working Americans to earn up to seven days a year of paid sick time; 2) help for states to create paid leave programs; 3) a memorandum to ensure federal employees access to six weeks of paid sick leave when a child is born.

9.  The U.S. Department of Labor prohibited federal contractors from retaliating against employees who ask about or share salary information.

10.  The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 includes safety provisions which are now supported by regulations that require colleges and universities to take new steps to end sexual violence.

11.  AAUW’s annual Title IX anniversary celebration on Capitol Hill exceeded expectations as a bi-partisan event attended by 45 congressional and committee offices, 25 advocacy and civil rights organizations, and AAUW members.

12.  AAUW public policy priorities were included in the 2015 State of Union Address.

The Status of Women in Michigan

jpegThe Institute for Women’s Policy Research has calibrated that women in Michigan have made considerable advances in recent years but still face inequities that often prevent them from reaching their full potential.
In the last decade, the gender wage gap in Michigan has narrowed. A higher percentage of women have bachelor’s degrees, and women are more likely to work in managerial or professional occupations.  Yet, as in all other states, women in Michigan are less likely than men to be in the labor force and more likely to live in poverty.
Women continue to be underrepresented in the state legislature.
If current trends continue, women in Michigan will not see equal pay until the year 2086.
Women hold 20.9% of seats in the state legislature.
Michigan women who work full-time, year-round earn 77 cents on the dollar compared with similarly employed men.
Approximately 26.5 percent of those working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in Michigan are women, compared with 28.8 percent nationwide.

There are no women of color in statewide elective executive office and only one woman of color from the state in the U.S. Congress.
Women who are unionized earn $219 more per week, on average, than those who are not represented by a union.
Approximately 26.9 percent of women in Michigan have a bachelor’s degree or higher, an increase of about 7 percentage points since 2000.
In 2012–2013, 35.5 percent of Michigan’s four-year-olds were enrolled in state pre-K, preschool special education, or state and federal Head Start.
Heart disease is the biggest killer of women in the United States. Michigan ranks 42 of 51 with a mortality rate of 160.4 per 100,000.

REPORT CARD ON THE QUALITY OF
WOMEN’S LIVES IN MICHIGAN
C  for political participation
C- for employment & earnings
D- for work & family
C- for poverty and opportunity
D  for reproductive rights
D+ for health & well being

www.statusofwomendata.org


U.N. Delegation Alarmed by Gender Inequality in U.S.

Three human rights experts from Costa Rica, Poland, and the United Kingdom recently toured the United States to prepare a report on the quality of women’s lives here. Simply stated
the delegation was shocked by how we lag behind international human-rights standards in:
1. our 23% gender pay gap
2. maternity leave
3. affordable child care
4. abortion treatment and
5. violence toward women.

The U.S. is one-of-three countries in the world that does not guarantee women paid maternity leave, according to the U.N. International Labour Organization. The U.N. suggests that countries guarantee at least 14 weeks of paid parental leave. The delegates suggested that the lack of accommodation in the workplace to accommodate women’s pregnancy, birth and post-natal needs is unthinkable in one of the richest societies in the world. The general lack of affordable child care shocked them as well.

In most European countries, abortions are performed at doctors’ offices and hospitals that offer all kinds of other health services; so protesters do not heckle the women who enter.

The final concern was violence against women — particularly gun violence. Women are eleven times more likely to be killed by a gun in the United States than in other high-income countries! Ironically, most of these murders are perpetrated by an intimate partner. Although some states have introduced gun control laws that deny perpetrators of domestic violence the right to possess firearms, it should be consistent national policy!

Federal law does prohibit those convicted of misdemeanor, domestic abuse from purchasing a gun, but the law does not require surrender of guns already owned. Also, domestic abusers who are not married to their victims are exempt from the law! Finally, people with temporary restraining orders issued against them for domestic violence are not included in the law!

The delegates suggested needed legal reforms:

  • Campaign finance reforms could assist more women to be elected to office, because the networks that raise money for political candidates in this country are mostly dominated by men.
  • Raising the minimum wage, which disproportionately affects women, could help ameliorate some of the wage gap.
  • Passing federal law to stop new abortion restrictions could prevent, particularly Southern, states from shutting down women’s health clinics.
  • Introducing Federal gun-control laws to deny perpetrators of domestic violence the right to possess firearms.
  • The U.N. experts met with the White House and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Justice, to share their recommendations. The full report is scheduled to be shared with the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2016.

Information source: Laura Bassett,The Huffington Post

“Elect Her” Once Again Building Success

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DSC_0343Only 20 percent of the United States Congress, 6 percent of governors, and 24 percent of state legislators are women. Yet women constitute more than half the population of the United States of America. In political empowerment, measured by women’s representation in decision-making structures, America lags behind 53 other nations! This lack of political parity impacts women’s health issues, economics, education and the world of work.

 
“Elect Her,” a half-day program, sponsored by the American Association of University Women, is designed to encourage more college and university women to run for student-government positions with an eye to building a pipeline for their future participation in seeking elected offices. Subsequently, three-quarters of attendees who report running for student office win. This may well be due to the pragmatic approach and concrete tools provided in the training.

 

When women actually throw their hats into the ring and run for office, they succeed in being elected as much as men do. The problem seems to be that women just do not feel as comfortable and confident about running for office as men do. Irrational fears may stymie their participation as much as anything. They are less likely to feel they are qualified. They may feel consumed by familial obligations. They are less likely to expect they can raise the necessary funds to run for office. Those who do run usually wait to be recruited before even considering seeking office. Lack of role models also factors into women’s reluctance to run. Also, gender expectations and body shaming can complicate campaigns. (Consider Donald Trump’s arrogant condemnation of Carly Fiorina’s face!) Lack of prior political experience at every level of education also contributes to feelings of inadequacy among many women. So in a conscious effort to quell such anxieties and to push women toward the daunting goal of growing political parity in America, AAUW is investing in training bright young women to become change agents.

 
According to the Global Gender Gap Index, America lags behind in political leadership. In political empowerment, America ranks 54th, behind Nordic nations, Canada, South Africa and France. It is ahead of the United Kingdom and Australia however. At the World Economic Forum last January, Sheryl Sandberg declared: “In the developed world, we have an ambition gap at the personal level.” Even though women earn more bachelor’s degrees than men, snag more entry-level jobs, and are promoted to more managerial positions every year, they are stalling at the decision-making levels of politics.

 
Society still expects them to do most of the housekeeping and child-rearing. Have you ever heard a male candidate questioned about the effects his potential political office will have on his children? The B-word, not “bossy,” is alive and unwell. Such damnable and damaging dog-like imagery persists and prevails. The glass ceiling still slices and dices lots of women. So many women learn to close off potential dreams and set their sights lower than men. The ambition gap stops a lot of compelling and talented women from taking a political leap. All in all it is a complex-systemic problem.

 
Lee Savage, AAUW-MI College/University Liaison, facilitates the annual AAUW event, “Elect Her,” on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus along with her colleagues in the Women’s Resource Center. Students from other schools (such as Henry Ford College, Madonna University, Schoolcraft College, and Wayne State University) attended last Friday’s session as well.

 

Topics included the importance of women running for office, how to make an impact, the nuts and bolts of running for student government, the importance of communication and how to create and deliver an effective elevator speech, a short pithy statement about one’s mission and purpose. State Representative Stephanie Chang and Kim Trent, Wayne State Board of Governors, shared insights by telling their unique personal narratives about working for others in the political arena prior to seeking and holding political offices themselves.

 

What was gained? Participants left feeling more confident. Participants left valuing their singular life experiences and perspectives. Participants left with a greater desire to give back to their educational institutions, workplaces and communities. AAUW-Dearborn members left feeling better about the future, after having encountered so many bright, creative, determined, future activists.

 

Every dream can be anchored in reality and grounded in a place to start. Decades from now, some of the attendees will surely be role models for other young women. Perhaps those future female students won’t have come of age doubting their qualifications and capabilities. By helping young women, AAUW works to achieve more equitable communities, states and nations. Surely everyone in America can agree that no country can afford to squander the talents and abilities of half of its people.

 
Pictured in the foreground, to the left of the poster, is the AAUW facilitator from Portland, Maine, Katie Shorey. Thanks to Judy Monroe for providing these photographs of some of the student participants, UM-D staff from the Women’s Resource Center, as well as members of AAUW-Dearborn. In attendance from AAUW-Dearborn were: Kim Foo, Anne Gautreau, Sarah Lebrell, Diana Marx, Peggy Mazzara, Judy Monroe, Melinda Reeber, Lee Savage and Dr. Andrea Smillie.

Supreme Court Cases

th-3This year, The Supreme Court will hear challenges to:
affirmative action,
contraceptive access,
and reproductive rights —

Under the University of Texas’ admissions policy, Texas high school seniors who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class are automatically admitted. That 10 percent fills most slots in each entering class. For the small number of spots that remain, Texas uses a race-conscious admissions policy. Abigail Fisher, the plaintiff, is white. Because she was not in the top 10 percent of her Texas high-school class, her application was evaluated under the race-conscious admissions policy. Denied admission, Fisher attended and graduated from a different school. Still she filed suit against the university for using race-conscious admissions.  Advocates for educational access are concerned that the court’s hearing Fisher v. The University of Texas suggests that some justices may want to further limit the use of race-conscious admissions.

In last year’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held corporations can’t be required to cover contraception through their employee health insurance plans. As part of the Affordable Care Act, the government created an exemption to the contraceptive care requirement for religious organizations and an accommodation for religiously affiliated nonprofits. Religiously affiliated nonprofits fill out a form that explains their religious objections to contraception; then the government arranges for coverage of employees’ contraceptive care. A small number of religious nonprofits filed lawsuits objecting to the accommodation. Even filling out the accommodation form is seen as an infringement on their religious liberty because it triggers contraceptive coverage for their employees. Consequently,  more employers could restrict employees’ access to contraception.

This term the court could also decide access to abortion care and the right to choose.
In an attempt to restrict and even eliminate women’s access to legal abortion, some states have passed TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws. Designed to prevent doctors from performing abortions altogether, TRAP laws have been passed under the guise of protecting women’s health, even though provisions do nothing to increase the standard of care. Two challenges to TRAP laws, from Texas and Mississippi, could become the most direct challenge to reproductive rights that the court has heard in years.

Read more at <aauw.org> in “For Women and Girls, an Important Year at the Supreme Court” by Mollie Lam, Legal Advocacy Fund Manager.

New Leaders Emerging from NCCWSL

IMG_1556IMG_1565Next June, University of Michigan-Dearborn students and peers will be heading to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders at the University of Maryland for the eighth time! NCCWSL—the acronym is pronounced “Nick Whistle” — is the premier event for college women who want to seek leadership roles. Participants represent more than 280 institutions of higher learning. They’re diverse. They’re ambitious. They’re activists. After attending, the vast majority of participants reported feeling more confident about taking initiatives to improve their campus or community.

Dr. Monica Porter, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Success, stated that the first year UM-D became involved, 2009, just she and two students attended. Impressed by what she saw taking place, she returned from the conference determined to grow student involvement. She was determined to send a busload of students. This year UM-D sent two buses with sixty students, representing 13 colleges and universities to the conference! That’s pretty phenomenal success. What is even more astonishing is that UM-D students did not have to pay any registration fees this year! Donations from AAUW-MI, AAUW-Dearborn and various faculty and campus initiatives, along with student fund raising, took care of the costs.

After Dr. Porter’s initial foray, Lee Savage, Program Manager for the Women’s Resource Center, accompanied students to NCCWSL for the next six years. She has seen tremendous changes occur in the students who attend. “It is so impactful that it can actually improve students’ academic achievements.” She adds that one participant indicated she had found, “the confidence to know she could follow her passion as an undergraduate. It’s seeing that kind of spark that makes NCCWSL so significant for me.” For some students, it is their first trip out of state. It is their first experience on the campus of a residential college. It is thrilling to visit the nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C., with all its grandeur and iconography.

Shareia Carter, Director of the Women’s Resource Center, added that one of the most gratifying aspects of the experience is that the participants become well aware of the importance of “giving back to campus and community. It is always refreshing to see theory transform into practice in higher education.” For example, one group of returning students started an American Association of University Women Student Organization on the UM-D campus, the first in the nation!

At a luncheon designed to illuminate the NCCWSL experience this past week, four student panelists who had attended this year were the featured speakers. All four participants did an outstanding job articulating issues and attitudes involving gender equity today. Clearly, their experiences were valuable and transformational! Members of AAUW who were present felt genuine pride as the realization dawned that programs sponsored by their organization are making genuine changes in this country and across the globe when it comes to expectations of equity for women.

Gay Johnson, a middle-aged, non-traditional student at UM-D, was the first panelist to speak. A natural-born storyteller, she regaled everyone with the challenges of staying in a dormitory with communal bathrooms and modest furnishings when her life experience has been being educated on primarily a commuter campus. In a more serious vein, she shared how impressive the addresses and awardees were. All were inspirational women leaders in business, politics and academics. Gay relished the practical advice shared about learning how to manage career goals and job searches. Her own aspirations shifted at NCCWSL when she realized that working for the State Department could provide fascinating, challenging employment, along with the opportunity to travel to different parts of the world to live and work.

Dalya Hazim is a student at Schoolcraft College majoring in biology. She plans to attend medical school eventually. She noted her gratitude to the AAUW-Northville branch for providing her a scholarship to attend NCCWSL. Her favorite part of the conference was listening to the two keynote speakers. One spoke about sexual assault, and Dalya indicated that it awakened a realization within her, “If this is not happening around me does not mean that it is not happening. We have an obligation to others who have endured such things.” Dalya Hazim has already proved that she has been empowered and has ramped up her leadership skills. Upon her return from NCCWSL, she applied to become a member of the national AAUW Student Advisory Council.

According to the national AAUW website, “Each year, 10 college student leaders from all over the country are chosen to serve on the National Student Advisory Council (SAC) based on their leadership potential and commitment to gender equity. Throughout the year, the SAC members advise AAUW on the needs of college students and organize feminist activist projects on campus. They also serve as peer leaders at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) and play an integral role in planning and promoting the conference. The 2015–16 SAC are a unique group of passionate volunteers, mentors, and world travelers, but most important, they’re fierce advocates for social change. They are committed to women’s leadership and empowerment through their work to spread body positivity, demand reproductive justice, and end sexual violence. The multilingual, multifaceted SAC are our future physicians, policy makers, community organizers, and leaders in business.

“Dalya Hazim was born and raised in Iraq, which gave her the opportunity to
compare the advantages and struggles women face both in the United States and
abroad. Hazim believes in giving opportunities to young women to lead in their own
communities. She currently attends Schoolcraft College in Michigan, where she
volunteers with service projects that support underrepresented populations through
the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.”

Mawj Mohammed is studying political science and philosophy at UM-D. She is active in politics on campus. She was grateful to receive a full ride for the conference as she would have had to take time off from work and suffered loss of income too in order to attend. In witty fashion, she said that perhaps the hardest part of attending was suffering “jet lag from the bus.”

One anecdote she shared was about gaining a new insight into diction and how it affects individuals in unique ways. In one session, the moderator asked everyone to indicate whether or not they were feminists. Mawj indicated that about 98% of the attendees considered themselves to be so, while another 2% felt the word negated themselves in some fashion. Some participants preferred the word, “humanist.” Some persons of color indicated they felt a measure of dictation about choices that should be freely made, i.e. the freedom to wear attire that others might judge negatively. She explained, “Feminism is a very broad term that I didn’t know people take so personally.”

Mawj Mohammed’s family moved to this country from Iraq. She has become a naturalized citizen and said, “It was weird being in Washington, D.C. as a refugee from Iraq, now a citizen, surrounded by all that power and decision making.”

N’Kenge Gonzalez has always seen herself as a strong, even rebellious, spirit. She is a senior at UM-D and explained that attending was like learning to unlock doors with all the skills of a locksmith. NCCWSL emboldened her so much that she is now the student liaison for another AAUW initiative on campus, Elect-Her, which aims to teach the skills necessary to assume leadership and eventually run for office. She provided a number of examples of skills she had learned, everything from crafting a succinct message to making “it” happen. Women of distinction attain their levels of achievement via clear goals, clear messages and clear plans. N’Kenge has just been named to the AAUW-MI Student Advisory Council, which is modeled upon the National Student Advisory Council.

Ellen Judge-Gonzalez, lecturer in communications on the campus as well as being Director of the Student Outreach and Academic Resources (SOAR) Program for non-traditional students, summed up the significance of NCCWSL by declaring: “It is transformative! Students return bubbling with enthusiasm. They are empowered and determined. NCCWSL changes the trajectory of their goals. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Clearly, the conference is one of the three, most significant, annual events on this campus.” Happily for AAUW-Dearborn, Ellen Judge-Gonzalez also serves as the program vice-president for the branch.

For those interested in learning more about NCCWSL, contact Lee Savage at 313-583-6445 or go to <www.nccwsl.org> .

Your assignment for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

ann-jonesGloria Steinem has written a valuable essay on Ann Jone’s  “groundbreaking, non-fiction work about battery.” It was published on the “Feed Your Need to Read: Sustenance for the Hungry Mind” website. (Check their site out too!)

 

 
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a revolution in itself. Until I was in my forties, we didn’t have a word for domestic violence, much less a month. It was just called “life.” If police were called, they might come to halt the disturbance, but their definition of success was getting the victim and the criminal back together again. And even when a woman was murdered by her husband or lover, there was some suspicion that she had been unfaithful or otherwise disobedient, and was the cause of a very gendered and inevitable event known as “a crime of passion.”
This was part of our very patriarchal legacy from English common law. A murderer who used, say, infidelity as an excuse could get his charge lowered from murder to manslaughter. Indeed, in some jurisdictions, the joke was that the wronged husband was released with $50 and a new suit of clothes.
I say this to assure you that we’ve come a long way from laws that stopped at the household door in the name of privacy, considered a husband and wife to be one legal entity, and thus deprived women of the freedom from bodily harm that was otherwise protected in law. It’s important to keep a grip on how far we’ve come as we use this month to teach such facts as these:
Add up all the deaths of Americans in 9/11, in the war in Afghanistan, and two wars in Iraq. Now add up all the American women who have been murdered by their husbands or boyfriends since 9/11. Even according to FBI statistics, the second number is greater than the first.
The most dangerous place is not in the street, on the road, or in public. An American woman is most likely to be injured or killed in her own home by a man she knows.
There have been many books written about domestic violence and they have helped to change consciousness and police practices; to pass and re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act, to lobby for state and federal funding for hotlines and battered women’s shelters; to introduce the Battered Women Syndrome as a recognized legal self-defense, and to overcome an anti-feminist rightwing position that calls shelters “Runaway Wives Centers” and believes women are either at fault for not obeying the men in their lives or are as likely to batter them as vice versa. But if you can honor this hard-won month by reading or re-reading one book, I recommend Next Time, She’ll Be Dead by Ann Jones.
For one thing, she herself grew up in a family of violence, so she knows the cycle of assault and contrition that can cause victims to believe they are at fault, or that their own good behavior might alleviate their fate, or that the bonds of love and family are more important than their own safety and freedom. As she writes, “My father was a drunk, a wife beater, and a child abuser. That’s never the whole story, of course, so he was also other things: a modestly successful businessman, a civic leader, a war hero, an athlete, a prizewinning angler, a churchgoer, a tenor, a patriot, a Republican, a baseball fan, a formidable player of gin rummy.” It’s with whole truth like this that she alerts readers to the fact that dangerous and abusive men don’t come with a sign that the victim should be able to read.
For another, she writes about the whole problem of violence inside the supposedly private world of the family, and she does, “begin at the beginning to explain where some of the sticking places are, and why—despite all our good will—we slide backwards.” She knows this extreme imbalance of power between males and females—of every race, caste or class—is buried deep within a patriarchal system in which males must control reproduction, and therefore the bodies of females. It is not going to be uprooted easily.
She also illuminates domestic violence by its parallels with other forms of physical and psychological servitude. As she writes, “The fundamental difference between marriage and slavery is that most battered women can and do leave, although, like slaves who fled, many are pursued by men who would capture or kill them. Hence the modern underground railroad.”
And she outlines the ways in which the law itself may address, punish and diminish battering, but also may contribute to it: for instance, making the victim leave her home for a shelter, but leaving the victimizer quite comfortable there, or obtaining a piece of paper called a restraining order; something that helps with a future prosecution but may only serve to enrage the batterer at the time.
Finally, Ann Jones ends with practical actions—for women and men—in understandable, spine-stiffening terms. For instance: “Stay away from a man who disrespects any woman, who wants or needs you intensely or exclusively, and who has a knack for getting his own way almost all of the time … prepare yourself as best you can with education, training, and job skills to lead an independent life … report [violence or harassment] to officials and talk about it to other women. If officials take no action, talk about that, too … volunteer to help at a battered women’s shelter … It’s important for men to take action to end male violence as well … 70 percent of the victims of male violence are other men … male violence is the problem of men … just as racism is the problem of white people …”
This is a mind-blowing, sanity-saving, revolutionary book. If you read Sex and World Peace by Valerie Hudson et al, you will also know that violence against females is the biggest indicator and normalizer of all other violence. Perhaps “domestic violence” should be called “original violence.”
Read this book as a place to start a spiral of change that won’t stop. As Ann Jones concludes: “Things change when people stop being resigned to things as they are.” Let her words enter your life, and it will never be the same.

 

“The Big Read” launches on October 8, 2015!

 

cropped-poe_banner2-0
Come to Henry Ford Centennial Library on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, for the launch of The Big Read — Dearborn, a community-wide initiative that will focus upon 19th century poet and writer of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. This new initiative launches at 6:00 p.m. The Oct. 8 launch will include free activities for children and adults, inspired largely by the poem “The Raven,” Poe’s most famous work.

Craft-making for all ages as well as a screening of the 1963 film, The Raven, starring Vincent Price, will be featured. The activities planned for the October 8 launch are designed to help people answer the question, “Do You Know Poe?”, a tag line for the promotion of The Big Read.

Dearborn encourages people of all ages to read for pleasure and enlightenment. Engagement in interesting activities related to reading Poe is designed to increase interest and delight in reading.  The Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe  will serve as the centerpiece of the 2015-16 program.  Poe is also well known for “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Black Cat,” and the poem, “Annabel Lee.” Although considered the inventor of detective fiction, Poe also wrote early versions of science fiction stories. His writing has inspired many films.

During the Oct. 8 launch event, light refreshments will be served in the Rotunda area of the library, and the evening will include brief remarks from Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr., Library Director Maryanne Bartles, and a representative from DFCU Financial, which is a major sponsor (Raven Level) of The Big Read — Dearborn.

Lots of fun and intriguing events centered on Poe are planned for February and March of  2016.

The Dearborn Public Schools and many Dearborn institutions, businesses, and organizations support The Big Read. AAUW-Dearborn is a proud community partner.  Other community partners include the Dearborn Public Library, Dearborn Community Fund, Artists’ Society of Dearborn, Dearborn Education Foundation, Dearborn Public Schools, The Henry Ford, University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Mardigian Library, Arab-American National Museum, Dearborn Heights Libraries, Dearborn Inn, Dearborn Library Commission, Dearborn Symphony Orchestra, Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter, Friends of the Library-Dearborn, Henry Ford Academy, Muslim American Youth Academy, Oakwood Medical Library, and Dearborn Historical Museum.

Visit <bigreaddearborn.org> or <dearbornlibrary.org> for updates.

This is the second Big Read experience for Dearborn. In 2014, the focus was on author Jack London and his, The Call of the Wild.

The Big Read is managed by Arts Midwest, and is a One Book, One Community program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).