On Monday I attended the 2nd annual meeting of the National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH). Having participated last year, I was thrilled to welcome several new partners to the table, including PreventConnect partners, National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Our presence at the meeting, and as integral members of the coalition, reflects a growing trend of partnership-building to close the gap between the traditionally siloed sexual health (teen pregnancy prevention, STI prevention…) and sexual, domestic, and dating violence prevention movements.
At this year’s meeting, I was most impressed with the commitment to addressing and including the prevention of gendered violence. Amongst discussion about avoiding assumptions, media messages, and more, members frequently brought up the topic, linking it to key sexual health indicators and outcomes. I’ve participated heavily in many sexual health committees and efforts throughout the years and the NCSH is one in which I feel our expertise and presence is highly valued and included.
As I’ve posted in the past, the NCSH released a sexual health guide this year, and you can look forward to more publications and resources coming soon. For now, learn more about sexual health in this online course and listen to podcasts about the connections between sexual violence prevention and sexual health promotion.
PreventConnect is conducting a brief survey of its participants and would like to hear from you! Your feedback will help PreventConnect understand its impact and how it can improve its activities to better meet your needs. Upon completing the survey, you have the opportunity to enter into a drawing to win an Apple iPad mini.
If you have any questions, please contact Jenine Spotnitz (email@example.com).
Please complete the survey using the link below by Tuesday, August 12, 2014:
Read the latest newsletter from PreventConnect here, featuring a summer prevention program empowering girls, the CHAT consent campaign, and a community-campus partnership evaluating prevention programming. Full link address: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=e6bbd275-b023-466f-8123-33bca2a968da&c=48cf3e40-40d5-11e3-908b-90b11c3522c5&ch=4aa6e470-40d5-11e3-9180-90b11c3522c5
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Read the latest newsletter from PreventConnect here, featuring an online activist and feminist blogger, an online youth outreach and engagement project, and discussion on elevating new public narratives in Alaska. Full link address: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=bbedf6ca-2b01-4e60-958a-d8cf578173a0&c=4698f2c0-40d4-11e3-bdb1-90b11c3522c5&ch=48a03470-40d4-11e3-be6c-90b11c3522c5
Prevention Sessions is a series that feature conversations about recent prevention-related happenings, prevention hot topics, and their implications. In this session, Ashley Maier, Abby Sims, and Sari Lipsett, CALCASA colleagues, discuss common prevention strategies focusing on consent. How and why do prevention practitioners choose and use these strategies? What are some important considerations? The conversation mentions a recent PreventConnect blog post, We talk about consent A LOT.
Yesterday I participated in the PreventConnect web conference PEER LEARNING FORUM – Shaping perceptions of sexual and domestic violence for prevention: The power of public narratives. The web conference, led by Dave Mann of the Grassroots Policy Project, explored the power of public narratives and how they may be utilized in IPV/SV prevention work. (Full disclosure-this was part 1 of a 3 part series, so I am still wrestling with the concepts, but I will not let that prevent me from blogging about it.) In this context, a public narrative was described as a story that can shape public consciousness, particularly around commonly held values and beliefs. There exist dominant public narratives (those that reinforce or reflect a dominant worldview) that can support or hinder violence prevention efforts. Unmasking these dominant narratives and offering an alternative, a different way of seeing things, can change the way people think about violence.
The web conference got me thinking about various prevention efforts and where they fit into this concept. Do we implement prevention activities that may be effective on an individual level, but support a harmful dominant narrative on a community or societal level? Bethany Pombarfrom the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence raised this question around gender-segregated groups. She noted that segregation by gender identification or always having men talk to other men and boys can send the message that, “Only men can engage other men and that men won’t listen to women.” It got me thinking about the other ways in which some efforts can reinforce the dominant public narrative and the real world effects that may have. Ashley Maier recently wrote a blog about how we engage men in sexual and relationship violence efforts.
Of course we need to engage people of any and all genders to end sexual and relationship violence. The question is, how do we do that in the most effective and ethical way possible?When we exclusively engage men to work with/speak to/ market to men in our practice, what are we saying to men (and women)? This practice can reinforce the beliefs that:
- Women can’t lead or influence men. (How does that effect expectations when women are in positions of power in the workplace or educational setting?)
- Men and women can’t trust one another and men won’t be honest about certain beliefs in a mixed gender setting. (How may that effect all our promotion of healthy mixed gender relationships? Do we want to create spaces where people can espouse sexist (racist/ageist/homophobic/ablest/classist) beliefs without having to be accountable to the targets of those oppressive beliefs?)
- There are attributes that legitimize belonging to a gender class, and that the lack of these attributes disqualify you from membership. (Is it helpful to use the dominant narrative around masculinity to police gender in a “good” way?)
I know that such beliefs are not included in my vision of a world without sexual and relationship violence.