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Awareness

The Importance of Positively Talking to Your Kids About Sex

The thought of sitting your child down for the “birds and the bees” conversation can be terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be and is necessary for a healthy understanding of sex. The best sex education strategy is beginning the conversation about sex early and continuing that conversation as the child grows older. This will help your children understand the body and help them feel more positive about their own body. And don’t worry, younger children are typically interested in pregnancy and babies, rather than the mechanics of sex. Here are 5 more reasons to talk to your child about sex: 

 

  1. Body Positivity.  Talking to your children about their bodies openly and honestly shares the message that there is nothing about their bodies to be ashamed of. Your children will more likely be happy with the body they have instead of what they don’t!
  2. Healthy Gender Identity. Gender is different from sex. Sex is something assigned at birth, whereas gender is something based more on how we feel. Sex Education includes conversations about gender so children can grow up understanding who they are and being okay with it.
  3. Recognize Boundaries. Early Sex Education will allow children to recognize what type of behavior is appropriate and  what is inappropriate.
  4. Safer from Sexual Abuse. Learning appropriate boundaries will help children recognize unsafe situations and provide them with the confidence to disclose to a trusted adult if something negative occurs. 
  5. Safe, Consensual Sex. Sex Education teaches children the importance of consent and provide the tools to make smarter decisions. Teaching children positive sexual values provides a framework to make good decisions when faced with the opportunity to have sex at a later age.

There are many more reasons to start the conversation now with your child about safe, positive sex. Becoming a sex-positive parent means knowing your children will grow into autonomous, sexually active adults and supporting children’ s individual sexual identities no matter what. And remember, the process of speaking to your children about sex can seem more daunting than it needs to be. If framed as a series of conversations over time you can avoid the potentially stressful or awkward singular conversation and ensure your child’s future health and safety.  

 

Learn more:

Sex Education for Children: Why Parents Should Talk to Their Kids about Sex by SickKids Staff

Sex Positive Parenting: Rethinking the Sex Talk with Your Kids by Stacey Winconek

How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex at Any Age by Brit + Co

13 Really Good Reasons to Talk to Your Child about Sex by Cath Hakanson

The Sex-Positive Parent by Airial Clark

 


Written by Brigit Dunne, Grants Manager.

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email kjones@zcenter.org.

SAAM Spotlight: Sexual Assault among Indigenous Communities

Throughout history, people have faced oppression in multiple forms. People of color, and more specifically women of color, have dealt with sexual assault at a higher rate than others. Today I want to talk about women with Indigenous backgrounds and their experiences with sexual assault and the legal system.

To start, here is a bit of background information on Native American history. At the beginning of European colonization, Native tribes were forced off of their lands and given unfair trades without a full, clear explanation of those trades. Large bursts of European immigrants arrived in the 1400s and again in the 1600s. Meanwhile, Spaniards were colonizing Mexico and South American land. Often times the Native people were forced to leave, either with threats or violence. They continued to be massacred and enslaved while immigrants took over the land (Mark, 2020). In a different stage of history, many Indigenous people were forced into American boarding schools to assimilate to EuroAmerican culture. In more recent years, mascots have started to be rebranded from depictions of Native Americans to other logos. The original goal was to eradicate Native American culture so there would be no threat or competition. Ultimately, this attempt by the government failed. 

Poverty is widespread throughout Native American communities. “In 2017, more than 90% of Lakota residents on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation—the second largest Native reservation in South Dakota, run by the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council—were living below the federal poverty level” (Bruce, 2019). Initially, in the 1800s, the government had a ‘welfare’ program, but it was not welfare. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) did not include tribe members in decisions and held a lot of control over these Native communities. Over time, the plan was to eradicate and assimilate these ‘foreign’ cultures. 

There is a highway in Canada called ‘The Highway of Tears’. Many women, especially Native American women, go missing along this road. Hitchhiking is quite common because there is a lack of resources. That hitchhiking can lead to terrible things, but for some, it is the only way to get to where they need to be. One article explained the language found on billboards. The billboards depict Native American women and have phrases that go against the idea of hitchhiking. However, many of these people do not have a choice. 

There are also staggering statistics that show people of Indigenous origin are assaulted at higher rates than others. For example, 4 out of 5 Alaskan Indigenous have experienced violence, and 1 in 2 have experienced sexual violence (Clairmont, 2021). While statistics are always changing and sexual assault is an underreported issue, it shows how big of a problem it is in Native communities. 

Another aspect to consider is how the laws differ between reservations and the United States. According to RAINN, “Non-indigenous perpetrators cannot be prosecuted for rape by tribal courts for crimes committed on tribal land and against indigenous people”. Someone who is assaulted on a Native American reservation by someone from a State will have a long, difficult journey in court- if they get that journey at all. In turn, this can prevent people from reporting if they feel nothing will be done. “By their own account, between 2005 and 2009, U.S. attorneys declined to prosecute 67% of the Indian country matters referred to them involving sexual abuse and related matters” (Indian Law, 2021). This goes to show how much work must be done to bring more awareness to sexual assault cases. Rather than focusing on the struggles of Indigenous people, we can work on bringing social justice and support.

How can we support these communities? Several organizations work with Native American and Indigenous populations in the United States and on reservations and independent creators linked below! It is important that we support Native American businesses and advocate, as well as educating ourselves. See our other blog post about Elizabeth Peratrovich, who made waves in the political system for Indigenous rights. 

How to Support

Organizations:

National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

First Nations Women’s Alliance

Businesses:

She Native

Trickster Company

Bedre Chocolates

 

References

Bruce, A. (2019). When Your Colonizers Are Hypocrites: Federal Poverty “Solutions” and Indigenous Survival of Sex Trafficking in Indian Country. National Lawyers Guild Review, 76(3), 140–182.

CBS News. (2016). Highway of Tears. https://www.cbsnews.com/video/highway-of-tears-3/

Clairmont, B. (2021, accessed). Culturally Appropriate Responses for Native American Victims of Sexual Assaulthttp://www.tribal-institute.org/download/NativeVictimsSexualAssault.pdf

Daily Motion. (2015). Highway of Tears: Documentary on the Unsolved Murders on Highway 16. https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2h7la5.

Indian Law Resource Center. (2021, accessed). Ending Violence Against Native Women.  https://indianlaw.org/issue/ending-violence-against-native-women

Mark, J. (2020). European Colonization of the Americas. https://www.ancient.eu/European_Colonization_of_the_Americas/

Morton, K. (2016). Hitchhiking and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: A critical discourse analysis of billboards on the Highway of tears. The Canadian Journal of Sociology / Cahiers canadiens de sociologie. Vol. 41, No. 3, Special Issue: Canadian Mobilities/Contentious Mobilities (2016), pp. 299-326.

 


Written by Olivia Stueben, Outreach Intern

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email kjones@zcenter.org.

Staff Picks: Books and Films

 Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm.

-Ceridwen Dovey

Can Reading Make You Happier? 

 

With titles that support survivors like Maximize Your Super Powers, Nothing Is Louder than Silence, Living for Today, and Find Your Voice, it’s hard to believe that reading is anything but empowering. Why are books critical for survivors? What do they bring to those seeking a secret formula about how and why we’re feeling the way we do? 

Books allow us to see ourselves in stories, normalize our feelings, and not feel alone. We resonate with characters and appreciate the stories that show hope and healing. We receive insight into moving forward or hearing that being stuck right where we are is okay. Books can be a portal to connection with others, sharing their suffering as well as joys. These stories and poems help us experience multiple realities and give language to thoughts and feelings some of us cannot put into words. Books like Grief Day by Day can expand our understanding; it can feel as though someone is walking hand in hand with us as the book taps into the hidden places where we may not want to look.

Reading makes us laugh, get angry, or cry. It is a personal and visceral experience and it can be incredibly uncomfortable to see yourself in black and white, for everyone to see. At the same time, books dare us to grow and help guide and solidify the goals we have around healing and who we want to be. Books remind us that words like transcending, allies, and courage need to be part of our lexicon; these are powerful terms that we aspire to have and to emulate. Reading also can reduce stress, be soothing, and cause one’s mind to shift gears to a positive or more open state. Let’s be patient with ourselves as we move through pages and remember the books were not written about us but for us. Soak it all in and remember wherever you are on your journey; you deserve this healing process, however that may look for you.

Some people who have experienced sexual assault and abuse have found ways to collect their memories and compile these soul-searching experiences, so others can benefit from their strength and courage. They’re willing to allow others to actually see their story in black and white. We appreciate them and their courage. Although we can highlight some of those books here, maybe it’s not only about the books themselves, but the importance they play as life preservers, an escape from where we are, and finding the truth, your truth.  – Wendy Ivy, Associate Executive Director

 

Staff Picks

  • Christine Berry, Director of Services, suggests Mean by Myriam Gurba. The reason this book is so important is because it highlights how intersectionality plays a role in trauma. In addition, it really shows how added trauma negatively impacts those who are already marginalized. 
  • Anna Lehner, Director of Development, recommends watching Allen v. Farrow, on HBO. This documentary highlights some of the systems, wealth, Hollywood culture, and misogyny, that often protect perpetrators and influence the public views on sexual violence. 
  • Kristin Jones, our Outreach Supervisor, urges viewers to watch the documentary Rewind, directed by Sasha Neulinger. Viewers learn about how a survivor of childhood sexual abuse continues to move forward in the healing journey and how he started a Child Advocacy Center that sparked a movement of more centers like it opening nationwide.
  • Sarah Brennan, our Activism and Volunteer Coordinator, suggests reading Chanel Miller’s Know My Name. Chanel shares her journey to healing and uses her voice to take back ownership of her body and of the narrative. Readers learn more about the process of medical advocacy, the legal process, and what survivors can expect emotionally when going through similar situations. 
  • Haley Olson, a ZCenter BSW Intern, recommends the documentary The Hunting Ground, directed by Kirby Dick. Viewers of this documentary learn about the high prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses by following survivors’ stories and recoveries as they chase justice. The film also deep dives into the academic bureaucracy that seems to prioritize protecting institutions over working towards justice.

 


 

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email kjones@zcenter.org.

Stormé DeLarverie: Stonewall and Beyond

It was a rebellion, it was an uprising, it was a civil rights disobedience – it wasn’t no damn riot.

— Stormé DeLarverie

This Women’s History Month, we celebrate the life of Stormé DeLarverie, and although recounts of Stonewall are uncertain of whether Stormé threw the first punch, she was extremely influential in fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights throughout her life. Stormé was born in the 1920s; at the time, her mother was a Black servant in the home of her white father; the two eventually married and moved to California.

Stormé was the Master of Ceremonies for Jewel Box Revenue, a group of 25 men and Stormé which entailed a gender-bending performance where Stormé presented as a cisgender man in the first integrated drag show in the U.S. in the 1940s. Stormé was a butch lesbian who fought fiercely for the rights of all individuals. While living in New York City, Stormé became a motherly figure within the LGBTQIA+ community, being sure to handle any “ugly” she saw. She used the term ugly to define bullying, abuse, or intolerance of people within the LGBTQIA+ community. This fearlessness afforded Stormé the nickname of being the “Rosa Parks of the gay community” (Windy City Times, 2014). Throughout her life, Stormé was also a bouncer at Cubby Hole’s bar in New York, where she worked until she was 85. For Stormé, this was not a movement but fighting for a lifestyle where everyone could live their life freely as they wanted to.

In the New York Times obituary remembering Stormé, one of her legal guardians, Mrs. Cannistraci exclaimed, “She literally walked the streets of downtown Manhattan like a gay superhero; she was not to be messed with by any stretch of the imagination.” We hope to emulate the same fierceness that Stormé had throughout her lifetime in our work supporting survivors and ending sexual violence against all individuals.

 

Works Referenced: 

Brownworth, V. (2015). The Herstory Pride Archives: why recording our lesbian history is important. Curve (San Francisco, Calif.), 25(3), 16–.

HELLER, M. (2020). The “First Punch” at Stonewall: Counteridentification Butch Acts. In Queering Drag: Redefining the Discourse of Gender-Bending (pp. 115-151). Bloomington, Indiana, USA: Indiana University Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctvtv93wm.8

Iconic activist storme DeLaverie passes away. (2014, Jun 04). Windy City Times Retrieved from http://flagship.luc.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/newspapers/iconic-activist-storme-delaverie-passes-away/docview/1538315297/se-2?accountid=12163

https://theriveter.co/voice/it-wasnt-no-damn-riot-celebrating-stonewall-uprising-activist-storme-delarverie/


Written by Sarah Brennan, Activism and Volunteer Coordinator

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email kjones@zcenter.org.

Forgotten Voices: Women Writers throughout History

*We at ZCenter recognize and celebrate Women’s History Month, but we do offer all of our services to all individuals regardless of how they identify. We acknowledge the use of womxn as an inclusive term, but choose to maintain the use of women, as many do not feel included in the use of womxn. We believe transgender women are women, which is why choose to continue the use of women.

 

In honor of Women’s History Month, the March blogs will focus on forgotten voices of major women figures throughout history. This week, we highlight only a few women writers who too often go unnoticed in a literary world dominated by the cisgender white male voice. 

Enheduanna, two millennia before the Christian messiah, grasps the lapiz lazuli around her neck, takes in the night sky, and writes her soul into poetry as she honors the goddess Inanna. She gazes toward the Gate of Wonder as hymns to the Queen of Heaven and Earth flow onto her clay tablets (De Shong Meador, 2000). A woman, writing praise to a goddess, suspends her own place as one living under the shadow of her father Sargon. In an ancient world dominated by warring men, Enheduanna, the first known female poet and first known author by name, writes her own world.

She is Inanna

Bearer of Happiness

Whose strapping command

Hip-dagger in hand

Spreads radiance over the land

-excerpt from Lady of Largest Heart by Enheduanna (De Shong Meador, 2000)

 

As male Babylonian warriors siege Jerusalem, Sappho centers the 6th Century BCE Mediterranean world on Helen, Hera, Hermione, Hékate, and Aphrodite (Sappho, 2007). Sappho’s poems remind us that we can re-center the narrative; the story becomes what we choose.

But stand before me, if you are my friend, 

and spread the grace that’s in your eyes.

– (Sappho, 2007, p.34)

Hékate, the shining gold attendant of Aphrodite…

Like a child to her mother I have flown to you.

– (Sappho, 2007, p.41-42)

 

In 17th Century Mexico, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was a prolific writer in her matricentric world, even referred to now as a protofeminist and ecofeminist (Yagar, 2014). Centering her poetry in the Nahua people’s cosmic worldview, Sor Juana challenged the gender inequalities of her time. Of particular interest is her poem Hombres Necios, in which she describes the hypocrisy of men who demand that unmarried women are virgins, when it is the same men who take that virginity.

Hombres necios que acusáis

a la mujer sin razón,

sin ver que sois la ocasión

de lo mismo que culpáis

 

Foolish men who accuse

women without reason,

without seeing that you’re to blame

for the very thing that you accuse

– excerpt from Hombres Necios (Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, 1997)

 

As we work to end sexual violence, we carry a torch that was lit many millennia ago by brave, autonomous women like these three writers. In their poetry, may we find the inspiration to continue to fight oppression for all.

 

Works Referenced:

 

De Shong Meador, B. (2000). Inanna: Lady of Largest Heart. University of Texas Press.

Sappho. (2007). Poetry of Sappho (J. Powell, Trans.). Oxford University Press. http://www.projethomere.com/ressources/Sappho/Poetry-of-Sappho.pdf

Yugar, T.A. (2014). Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Feminist Reconstruction of Biography and Text. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. (1997). Obras completas (México, D.F.: Porrúa, 1997), 109.


Written by Kristin Jones, Outreach Supervisor

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email kjones@zcenter.org.

Denim Day 2017

Denim Day 2017

Join ZCenter on April 26th to make a difference and a statement!

We wear denim because…

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before they turn 18 years old. Because every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, and every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Because only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison and most sexual assaults are never reported.

How can you make a difference?

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month! Join ZCenter as we raise awareness of sexual violence by having your workplace host a “Denim Day” at your office where staff donate $5 to ZCenter’s comprehensive services in order to wear jeans for the day. If you would like informational materials and pins for participants in your office, please email Rachael Josephsen at RJosephsen@zcenter.org.

Twenty-three years ago a convicted rapist in Italy was set free when a judge argued that, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.” A worldwide movement was spawned and still continues to combat victim-blaming stereotypes. At ZCenter, we are constantly working to create a community of zero tolerance for sexual violence and a community where survivors know they will be supported by compassionate peers and leaders. Given the staggering statistics on sexual assault, there are great odds that someone we care about, whether we know it or not, has been affected by sexual assault and abuse. Will you be a part of showing them they are surrounded by friends and community members who believe and support them? There is no way our work would be possible without the support of our community – please join us this year as we continue to take steps to end sexual violence!

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Denim Day 2017

Denim Day 2017

Join ZCenter on April 26th to make a difference and a statement!

We wear denim because…

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before they turn 18 years old. Because every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, and every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Because only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison and most sexual assaults are never reported.

How can you make a difference?

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month! Join ZCenter as we raise awareness of sexual violence by having your workplace host a “Denim Day” at your office where staff donate $5 to ZCenter’s comprehensive services in order to wear jeans for the day. If you would like informational materials and pins for participants in your office, please email Rachael Josephsen at RJosephsen@zcenter.org.

Twenty-three years ago a convicted rapist in Italy was set free when a judge argued that, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.” A worldwide movement was spawned and still continues to combat victim-blaming stereotypes. At ZCenter, we are constantly working to create a community of zero tolerance for sexual violence and a community where survivors know they will be supported by compassionate peers and leaders. Given the staggering statistics on sexual assault, there are great odds that someone we care about, whether we know it or not, has been affected by sexual assault and abuse. Will you be a part of showing them they are surrounded by friends and community members who believe and support them? There is no way our work would be possible without the support of our community – please join us this year as we continue to take steps to end sexual violence!

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