Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hey, Shorty!

Hey, Shorty! A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment And Violence in Schools And On the Streets by Joanne N. Smith, Mandy Van Deven & Megan Huppuch of Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) 2011
Feminist Press

IQ "Sexual harassment is a normalized behavior within the school environment, therefore while students see it happening, they do not believe that is a problem, and they do not report it." pg. 124

Hey Shorty! chronicles the founding of GGE, its mission, its projects and its goals for the future. September 11, 2011 marks its 10 year anniversary. Girls for Gender Equity' goal is to end sexual harassment (especially sexual harassment that ends in violence) by teaching teens what it is and how it can be prevented. This book is a guide for anyone who wants to raise awareness and end sexual harassment of all kinds (on straight and GLBT people). The organization is headquartered in Brooklyn.

Before reading this book I had thought Title IX only had to do with sports but it actually covers gender discrimination in schools period. So that's the first new thing I learned but reading this entire book was quite an experience because actions I took for granted as part of going to high school could actually be considered sexual harassment. I remember in 8th grade some guys used to throw pens at my chest to see if they would bounce off, I was a little hurt by this but also kinda flattered. Which is twisted if you think about because that's just rude but I shrugged it off, no big deal. According to Hey, Shorty! that would be sexual harassment. I think, overall, sexual harassment is a very tricky topic because for many teens it's just an accepted fact. I laugh at some jokes that feature sexual innuendos and I've gotten used to the (few) guys who make potentially lewd comments to me. Honestly, I am flattered because I used to have 0 self confidence, at the same time I've never experienced real sexual harassment (in my opinion anyway) where guys tired to actually grab me and followed me for blocks at a time. That's awful and completely unacceptable. And I do have friends who are creeped on by older men (as in 40s!) and that's just unfathomable to me as to why guys would think that's ok. I found it disgusting and annoying that when students reported cases of sexual harassment in New York City public schools nothing was done, they were ignored by the teacher and their fellow peers might accuse them of 'asking for it.' Um no one ASKS to be raped (in the most extreme case) or to be bothered all the time with gross comments.

I really liked this book wasn't a dry step-by-step explanation of how to end sexual harassment. It was fairly serious but it is a serious topic. However it was never a monotonous story because there would be excerpts from poems written by Sisters in Strength interns (an organization that is under the umbrella of GGE that offers paid experience in return for work on addressing social justice issues) or stories told, this made the statistics offered seem all the more real. I also appreciated the fact that the surveys given to students to fill out were featured so readers can see for themselves the type of questions being asked. I was also pleased that this book considered bullying of those who identified themselves as GLBT as sexual harassment. I wouldn't have initially but I totally agree now that is indeed sexual harassment.

Hey, Shorty really got me thinking and that's always a wonderful thing. The statistics are chilling and it's interesting to read how students don't sexual harassment is a big issue but incidents they describe fit the definition quite clearly. I started (much like the brave girls featured in this book) reflecting back on past events in school that could technically be considered sexual harassment. However based on my own personal experiences they are not something I would report because what's happened to me is not that serious. If on the other hand you've been touched inappropriately then that DEFINITELY needs to be reported or even if it made you uncomfortable in any way. Please do check out the great work this organization is doing and help in any way you can. They are still only based in New York but if a big enough movement begins, the Girls for Gender Equity campaign could rock the nation.

Disclosure: Received for review from publisher for blog tour. Thank you!

Reading in Color is part of the Hey, Shorty! Virtual Book Tour. Check out this link to see other Tour stops and spaces that are supporting this project and find out how you are able to support it too!