stories VS stories

today i was back at facilitating workshops, which i have not done in almost one year. i was so burned out by teaching every day that i wanted to run as far away from it as possible, but it felt good to get back into it.

this morning with beyondmedia , the organization i am working with/for, we put together a workshop for high school kids that are focusing on journalism. the particular project i am most involved in is chain of change, which aims at reducing/preventing violence by using media as a tool of resistance and organizing.

i really did not want the workshop to just be about what violence is, and how pervasive it is in our lives/community/society. i wanted people to be able to think about how violence can be prevented, resolved ans stopped.

this is the activity

Activity- ask open ended questions about personal experience with violence resolution-

    Did you take action to stop interpersonal violence? Did someone you know?
    We are looking for stories that:
    * Address, end or prevent interpersonal violence
    * Involve family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, community members
    * Do not rely on social services, police, or child protective services
    Interpersonal violence may include:
    * Domestic violence or intimate partner violence
    * Sexual violence
    * Family violence including child abuse
    We ask that storytellers have detailed knowledge of the story and can include:
    * Survivors of violence
    * People who helped or intervened
    * People who did harm
    * People who are close witnesses to actions taken to address, end or prevent
    Please include:
    *Brief description of action taken
    *Whether or not social services, police, or child protective services were involved and how.

    people totally responded, which is always surprising.

    here are a few of the stories that were written:

    The following story was written by a Chicago Public High School student during a Chain of Change workshop hosted by Beyondmedia Education at the McCormick Foundation High School Media Awards 18th Annual Scholastic Press Association of Chicago Conference on March 16th, 2010 at Roosevelt University.

    A friend of mine has been a victim of sexual abuse. Her stepfather began raping her at the age of 6. Her mother knew but did not do anything about it. He had PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, from being in the war and he had a past of violence. Not only did he rape my friend for most of her life, he was also violent to her mother and her brother, who has autism. Her mother finally left him after he beat her and my friend’s little brother and crashed her mothers car purposely. I don’t know where he is now, but thankfully he is out of the picture.

    It was a normal day after school when I was walking to the nail salon with 2 of my friends and we decided to take a shortcut and go through the alley. As we were already halfway down the alley I noticed this guy kind of walking fast towards us with a smirk on his face. The walking fast turned into him running towards us as he was unzipping his pants.I was kind of unsure what he was planning on doing, so I just continued to walk. Then all of a sudden he starts coming towards me while he was trying to take his privates out of his pants. He didn’t succeed at it though so he continued to run and who knows where he went. I was in so much shock I didn’t even know what to do. All I could keep on thinking about was how someone must be really messed up in the head in order to try and do that.

    // if you want to read more go to:

open fire
August 7, 2009, 2:11 am
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oona and florence came back from italy today, and they are enormous, overgrown children, smallish adults. talking different, walking different, but also the same.

they are exiting kid and entering the amorphous zone in which a lot of things feel uncomfortable, including me. florence’s body is changing already – bumps sprouting and all, and it is so scary, and also great. 

this week a man killed three women in pittsburgh in a premeditated murderous spree that he outlined on his blog, a morbid pathways to his mind, and a source of endless fascination for the sensationalist media in the past couple of days. he opened fire because he hated women. simple as that.

he hated women because they would not sleep with him or have a relationship with him. a relationship he felt entitled to have , an entitlement that brought him to believe that women were at fault from holding back what was righteously his.

this was going through my mind as i sat across the dinner table from my daughter today. not a kid anymore really, not protected by the lack of sexualization of childhood, but a very soon woman to be. a target.

thinking that i moved across an ocean to give them more space, to let them and me become more than just what an overly sexist society was allowing us to be. now i look at them, and i am not so sure that we are safer here, or have more choices, or freedom. 

maybe the acceptable roles are different, but american society is not one were equality exists, not for women, not for people of color, or poor people or queer folks. but sexism is what seems to be so pervasive that it becomes invisible. it is ridiculed and trivialized, co-opted by ad companies, ignored by the media, even though a man living in such society felt it was ok to kill women, because he hated them. he is dismissed as a maniac, a deranged individual, no matter the fact that gender violence is happening all the time. 

i want to take my daughters and find somewhere safe, somewhere i know no one will cause them harm, but it’s impossible. i know that the only way for them to be safer is to change the conditions that would bring someone to have a sense that women are less then, that they are disposable, and that they exist to fulfill men’s needs or else they deserve to be hurt.

i feel engulfed by it sometimes, i see it all around me, and i have to force myself to remember that so many people are doing so many things to create a less fucked up world. they just don’t make the news