Thursday, May 28, 2009

Graduation, vacation and ninety degree weather is here and while we have summer on our minds we can't help but reminisce about how fantastic the past couple of months have been. Spring brought many new people and places into our lives for which we are always grateful and we had the chance to go back to some of our favorite spots, like our Alma Mater. Each stop on this amazing journey holds a special significance to us but this semester in particular we went to new places that helped us grow and learn as activists, challenged us to think in new ways and is helping us to bring a stronger more sexually empowered message to each campus and community we visit.

In February, we made our way to Nashville to speak at the National Association of Campus Activities National Conference. This was a double bonus for us because not only did we get the chance to kick it with the NACA posse which we happen to be head over heels in love with, but we also got to visit with one of our closest and most adorable homies, Vanessa who recently made the Music City home. NACA Nationals also marked the official launch of SEXVERSATIONS®.

Our wonderful agents, The College Agency introduced us to a whole new world of good times and impassioned students, campus professionals and military folks when we showcased for the first time at the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA) in Atlanta this past March. While we were there we caught up with some old friends and made some new ones too who jumped right in to engage in sexually empowered speak, which is awesome as we're always looking to grow our sexually empowered posse.

In mid-April we landed in D.C. to attend the Men and Women as Allies Conference hosted by Men Can Stop Rape on the same day Bo Obama was united with his forever family. To be frank, it was a transformational experience. Even now in the last stretches of May we are still feeling all sorts of jacked up, inspired and most definitely empowered by folks like Rosario Dawson, actress and activist, Lt. Col. Nate Galbreath, Deputy Director, Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office, Byron Hurt, anti-sexist activist and Catherine Pierce, Acting Director of Office on Violence Against Women just to name a few. With Unite for Change as a co-sponsor we were privy to all the detail and care that went into this conference and it showed in every piece of the program. As soon as we know the conference dates for 2010 we will let you know so you can mark your calendar and meet us in D.C. next year.

Spring 2009 started with an anniversary celebration and is ending with one too. The beginning of 2009 marked our 19th year of friendship and while many couples may celebrate this milestone with the gift of bronze, we honored our anniversary by rock'n out with one of our favorite bands from back in the day, Cowboy Mouth. And the close of our spring semester marks the end of our first year with The College Agency. We are still feeling all the nostalgia that comes with the honeymoon phase of a new union and expect it will last for years to come.
This academic year brought so many wonderful opportunities; we visited over 50 cities and met more amazing people than we can count. This was Becca's first year traveling as a new mom and while being a parent brought a new dimension to both her work and her desire to end sexual violence she is very excited to spend the dog days of summer with her little one. Kelly was humbled to receive the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the University of West Florida. Sorority sisters, family and friends packed several tables as Kelly received this much deserved honor. It was truly a full circle moment as the space Kelly stood in to accept her award was the same place she stood along side Becca to present their first program 10 years ago. Our journey has turned into more than we could have imagined possible and we are fully aware that none of this would have been possible without each of you. So while we can never say it enough, thank you for all that you do to support sexual assault awareness and prevention, together we will transform our culture into a sexually empowered one.

Kelly & Becca looking for Bo...


Several weeks ago we posted a position for intern candidates. We were optimistic but had reasonable expectations, and boys and girls, we were blown away. Queries about the gig from talented passionate doers with unique perspectives and skills filled our inbox from multiple continents (I know, we were shocked too). After wading through our pool of applicants we interviewed our top folks and now we are honored to introduce the summer 2009 interns, Molly and Sabrina. We look forward to working with these impassioned and empowered young women and can hardly wait to see how their talent and effort will help shape our organization. We are confident y'all will dig these two visionary rock stars as much as we do. Meet Molly and Sabrina-

Molly Hays

Molly is a talented writer with a real knowledge of contemporary feminism and a strong passion for making a difference. Molly attends The University of Central Florida where she writes for the campus paper and is majoring in Journalism with a minor in Women's Studies. In addition to being smart and spunky, Molly has loads of leadership experience and will be a fantastic addition to the team.

Sabrina Sadler

Sabrina is a passionate activist who leads by example and in just two short years her volunteer work has already made a huge impact on her community. Sabrina's energy and enthusiasm are contagious which is what has helped her engage her sorority sisters and countless others in the quest to end sexual violence. We are thrilled to have this recent graduate of California State University, Sacramento join the family.


Many activists, student programmers and educators say that their greatest disappointment comes with lack of attendance at events or support from key groups on campus. Unite for Change recently shared a new resource at the Men and Women as Allies conference and it was so well received we wanted to enclose a quick link to our Successful Programs that Thrive Planning Guide. We want to help you make this year's programming your best yet. Take a peek and as always, if there anything we can do to help you reach out to your community you know where to find us.


Whatever your passion, whatever the cause, bring awareness to others by talking about "IT".

Focused, Determined and Hopeful

-Kelly & Becca

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Teachers having sex with students

After all these years you would think we would no longer be naive about so many things. I suppose, more than anything it is because we are optimists. Although it is no longer shocking, we are still surprised by sexual relations between students and teachers. The fact that is perhaps most disturbing is that a lot folks think it is no big deal. Especially if the victim is a boy and his rapist a woman. Gender should not play a role in identifying the severity of this breech of trust and abuse of power.

So that brings us to Alabama where the group, Citizens for Better Education want to make this crime more serious than it currently is and we say, right on. Regardless if the child is 15, 17 or even 18 this is rape and should be treated as such. Never is it ok for us to use our power to enter into sexual relations. Not in school, the work place or to coerce our partners. Check out the article and let us know what you think. Also, do you know what the laws is in your state? If it is not adequate what can we do to change them?


K & B

Group wants any teacher-student sex, regardless of age, to be crime
Lisa Rogers
Times Staff Writer
Published: Friday, May 22, 2009 at 9:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 22, 2009 at 10:57 p.m.

An education watch group wants to see the law changed to allow a teacher to be charged with a crime for having a sexual relationship with a student, regardless of the student’s age.Ronald Jackson, executive director of Citizens for Better Education, a nonprofit group that monitors public policy and conducts research, said an adult teacher can be charged with second-degree rape for consensual sex only if the student is 15 years old or younger.He believes the law should be changed so a teacher can be charged with rape if he or she is having a sexual relationship with any student.Jackson calls it the "Sweet 16" loophole and said the bill has failed to move forward in the Legislature."We want to launch a statewide initiative to get that changed," he said.A Gadsden City High teacher and coach was charged Wednesday with second-degree rape after it was discovered he was having a sexual relationship with a student who was 15 years old at the time the relationship began.Nicholas Keith Smith, 26, Southside, was a history teacher and assistant baseball coach at the school.Smith, a non-tenured teacher, is no longer employed with the school system. He already had been given notice his job was not renewed before his arrest.Amanda Alldredge, 31, a teacher who allegedly knew about the relationship, also has been arrested.Alldredge, a tenured biology teacher, was placed on administrative leave for an undetermined period after her arrest Wednesday.She is charged with failure to report child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, both misdemeanors.Under state law, teachers are among those listed as mandatory reporters of child abuse.If the student Smith allegedly was involved with already had turned 16, he could not have been charged with second-degree rape.District Attorney Jimmie Harp said the offense of second-degree rape is committed if a male over the age of 16 has sex with someone under the age of 16 and there are at least two years’ difference in their ages — even if the sex is consensual.There is no difference, based on an occupation.Jackson said that law should change, and Harp said he agrees."Any time a faculty member has a sexual relationship with a student of any age, it should be a crime and carry stiff consequences," Harp said.Sexual misconduct by school employees in Alabama is a growing problem, Jackson said.Jackson said the law should be changed because a teacher is in a position to give a grade in exchange for sexual favors.Jackson said in one incident in the state, a teacher waited until special education students turned 16 years old before having them engage in sex with each other and with him."He knew he couldn’t be charged with rape if they were 16," Jackson said.Jackson said other states have taken measures to change the law to make it a crime regardless of the student’s age.Harp said Smith also was charged with unlawful possession of obscene material after photos of someone apparently younger than 17 years old were found on Smith’s cell phone. That part of the investigation prompted the FBI to become involved.Harp said the alleged incidents involving Smith and the student happened after school hours at his home and not on the Gadsden City High campus.He said information about the relationship first surfaced May 15, and school officials notified authorities immediately.Jackson said it appears the Gadsden City Board of Education has stepped up and acted appropriately. He said school systems sometimes try to cover up these type of crimes and handle it internally because of a school’s reputation."I think this enhances their reputation," he said.Harp said the investigation is continuing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Are we finally going to get with the program? The Sex Education Program

$176 million spent on abstinence-only programs in 2008. Seriously? Guess what America, it's not working. Let's get with the program and have real conversations with our teens about sex. President Obama is working on it! Can I get an amen?

Proposed Budget Requires Evidence Based Sexual Education
Feminist Daily News Wire May 8, 2009

President Obama released a proposed fiscal year 2010 budget yesterday that includes provisions that would greatly reduce funding for abstinence only programs and would provide funding for comprehensive sexual education programs.

According to the proposed budget (see PDF), "The 2010 Budget proposes a new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative to support community-based and faith-based efforts to reduce teen pregnancy using evidence-based and promising models.…This Budget eliminates funding for Community-Based Abstinence Education, the mandatory Title V Abstinence Education program, the Compassion Capital Fund, and Rural Community Facilities." Programs funded by 75% of this line item would have to demonstrate that they are comprehensive and evidence based. The remaining 25% is reserved for innovative programs that must be willing to submit themselves to evaluation.

A state-by-state analysis of federal abstinence-only program funding for fiscal year 2008 was released last month by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). The report examined the distribution of $176 million for abstinence-only programs through three major federal funding streams: the Adolescent Family Life Act, Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding, and Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) programs.

Media Resources:White House Budget 5/7/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/16/09

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Imagine a world without violence against women...

Imagine a world where bruises and broken bones no longer keep mothers from caring for their children... Imagine a world where girls can get an education without being abused on their walk to school... Imagine a world where women can go to work without fearing violence in the work place.... Imagine a world without violence against women. Imagine a world where women are free to thrive.

The International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) can help make this happen. You can help make it happen. Like the song goes, all we are saying is give peace a chance. This is your chance. Please check out Women Thrive World Wide, read about the IVAWA, sign the petition and pass it on.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jamie Foxx song promotes sexual assault

One of Foxx’s hit songs Blame It [On the Alcohol] featuring T-Pain has a fresh beat which we can totally get down with, but what we can’t get down with are the lyrics. This song has a clear message which promotes sexual assault. Not cool dude, so not cool.

We're thrilled to introduce you to a new guest blogger who is a fellow activist and buddy of ours, Ted Rutherford. Ted is the founder of Responsible Men and he's doing all he can to spread the word of violence prevention which includes getting people to speak out about songs like this one that are sending a powerfully negative message. We dig Ted and we hope you do too! Thanks Ted for all you do and for sharing your post with these 2 Soul Sister's on a Mission!

In Ted’s Words--
Have you heard the new song by Jamie Foxx (featuring T-Pain)? It is called “Blame It”. This makes me sad. I have (or had) a tremendous amount of respect for Jamie Foxx as an actor, comedian and musician. He is incredibly talented without question. It is sad to see him write a song that promotes getting a girl drunk for the purposes of having sex her. Wait…there is another way to say that. Oh yeah…a song that promotes rape. Surprised at that? I am sure Jamie Foxx would be too.
You see, I don’t believe that Jaime Foxx set out to write a song that promotes rape. I bet he still doesn’t know that he wrote a song that promotes rape. In fact, I bet if you asked him about it he would look at you like you are crazy (perhaps the same way you might look at me if I were there right now). Before you rush to judgement or dismiss my words, hear me out.
This is a case of Jamie Foxx being ignorant. Before you get it twisted, ignorant means uninformed or unaware, not stupid. I am not insulting Mr. Foxx. I am merely pointing out that he, like so many male musicians, doesn’t realize what he is actually saying in those lyrics. He doesn’t know what damage he is doing by making a song like that. I think he came up with a catchy hook and a snappy tune that would have mass appeal to the part of society that has the power to keep him relevant and profitable. I also believe he is pressured by his record label, J-Records (owned and operated by Sony Music Entertainment) to write songs that are risque and a little taboo to create a buzz around his music. Being controversial sells records. This is not diverting blame to other places. Jamie Foxx needs to be held accountable for his role in this. However, he is not the only one that needs to shoulder the blame. We also need to take a look at Sony, the radio industry, MTV, VH1, BET, Ron Howard, Jake Gyllenhall, Forest Whitaker, Samuel L. Jackson, WalMart, Target, Amazon and many others. This song is part of a much larger system designed to generate profit at the expense of, and without regard to, women and people of color.
Do you know that Foxx performed the song on American Idol in April? Do you know that American Idol is the number one rated show for children 13 and under? What message is this sending to the teens and tweens that are fans of American Idol? Just in case it isn’t clear, I will tell you. The message for boys is that it is perfectly acceptable for you to get a girl drunk and take advantage of her when she is “loosened up”. For girls, the message is that if you have too much to drink then it is your fault if you are raped. For a 13 year old (or younger) those messages are very strong and sticky. This is the age when youth are forming their attitudes and beliefs about healthy sexuality. If the message they get is that drug facilitated sexual assault is acceptable, then we have a huge problem on our hands. Songs like this reinforce promote and gender inequality.
We cannot remain silent while musicians from every genre of music crank out song after song that sexualizes, objectifies and commodifies women. We have to send a very clear message to the entertainment industry that we demand something different. We can no longer support an industry that is willing to make their money off of the backs of women. We have created a culture that supports violence against women and that must stop. It is time we build a society that values women for their intelligence, insight and wisdom rather than their sexuality and beauty. It starts with an awakening. We must start talking about these issues publicly and we must inspire others to do the same. It is our job to throw a few stones into the water and create a ripple effect.
Jamie Foxx is scheduled to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on May 18. Please consider contacting Ellen DeGeneres and urge her to talk to Jamie Foxx about this song and the messages embedded in it. I don’t want her to cancel him as a guest. I would much rather see an honest discussion about the issue. While I don’t feel it is Ellen’s (or any other woman’s) responsibility to confront him, she is in an unique position to bring this issue up publicly. If you’d like to encourage Ellen to take action you can reach her on Twitter (@TheEllenShow) or through her website at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rape Victim Billed For Evidence Costs

A friend of mine recently forwarded me a link to the article below with the subject line titled “unbelievable.” I clicked to the site and read the article with a heavy heart feeling so sad for what this survivor endured and ashamed and disappointed with the “system.” Unbelievable yes, but you know what else, it is? UNACCEPTABLE.
Rape Victim Billed For Evidence Costs
By Stephen Dean
POSTED: Thursday, May 7, 2009
UPDATED: 12:12 am CDT May 9, 2009

HOUSTON -- Victims of sexual assault are getting bills, rejection letters and pushy calls from bill collectors while a state crime victims' fund sits full of cash, Local 2 Investigates reported Thursday.
"I'm the victim, and yet here I am. I'm asked to pay this bill and my credit's going to get hurt," said a single mom from Houston.
She received bills marked, "delinquent," after she visited a hospital where police told her to have evidence gathered. Officers assured her she would not pay a dime for that rape kit to be handled.
"That was unreal," she said. "I never thought I'd be out anything for what I went through."
She was 44 years old when she was attacked in her own bed. She said she awoke to find a burly 15-year-old friend of her son assaulting her. He was found delinquent, meaning he was convicted, in juvenile court, thanks in part to the evidence gathered with the rape kit.
"It is set up legislatively so that the criminal justice system pays for whatever evidence collection occurs," said Kelly Young, with the Houston Area Women's Center, a rape crisis facility.
Police departments are reimbursed for up to $700 by the Texas Crime Victims' Compensation Fund, but many departments cover the bills if they exceed that.
After that happens, victims can apply for other costs associated with the rape kit hospital visits to be covered by the fund.
The Houston Police Department made one payment toward the single mother's hospital bill, but when she submitted the $1,847 worth of remaining bills to the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund, she received a denial letter, telling her that law enforcement should have paid.
"She's getting the run-around," said Young at the rape crisis center, which was not involved in her case.
"There may be lots of survivors who have this happen and we don't know because they don't know that they shouldn't be getting the bills," she said.
"A lot of people aren't going to ask. They're just going to go ahead and pay it and move forward with their lives. They don't want to keep re-living that experience," said Young.
Texas State Comptroller's office figures show the fund has tens of millions of dollars left over at the end of each year.
In September 2006, the balance was $67,058,646 and one year later, the balance was $57,669,432.
In 2008, that figure was up again to $66,572,261 that was left unspent in the fund.
Attorney General's spokesman Jerry Strickland said the crime victim fund is enforcing strict guidelines imposed by the legislature as to which bills are paid and which victims are sent a denial notice.
Otherwise, he said that fund could become "insolvent."
He said state law is clear that crime victims must exhaust all other potential funding sources, such as local police or their own health insurance.
"The legislature set it up that way," said Strickland.
When asked for a number of how many denial letters had been sent out to Texas rape victims in the past, Strickland did not have an answer after checking with his crime victims' compensation office workers.
He said the attorney general's office constantly trains hospitals and health care providers on how to help victims in getting reimbursed for their expenses.
Health care workers and rape crisis counselors told Local 2 Investigates that victims have come forward with denial letters for varying reasons, such as police listing the case as inactive, paperwork being filed incorrectly, or expenses falling into the wrong category.
Young, the advocate at Houston Area Women's Center said, "They're not dotting the Is and crossing the Ts to make sure that the person who was victimized does not have to re-live it six months later because they get a bill."
When Local 2 Investigates contacted the hospital where the single mother had her rape kit performed, hospital leaders quickly canceled her bill when they found out the state would not be paying the charges She now owes nothing.
She said she's amazed it happened to begin with, adding, "I don't look very kindly to them. I mean, I would expect that they would have had a little more feeling for me and they didn't."

While reading this article my mind wandered to thoughts of other survivors, some whom I’ve helped personally who struggle to recover from surviving a violent crime only to be left with the overwhelming feeling of utter exhaustion after attempting to access the proper resources for medical, legal, psychological and financial support. As an advocate and activist I am well aware that we have a long way to go when it comes to providing adequate resources to survivors of violent crimes, but a lot of times the problem is not the resources, its finding them. Before I give a big fat resource plug let me make it clear that I think it’s absolutely absurd that the woman in this article or any other victim for that matter would have to deal with taking care of bills to cover the incurred costs of a crime that was committed against them. Do we ask people who's homes have been robbed to pay for the detectives to finger print their home? Do we ask for the family members of murder victims to pay for crime scene tape? No, we don't. Why is rape any different? The fact (and law) is that it's not. A medical exam/ rape kit is part of investigating the crime and there for is paid for by the Office of the Attorney General. Victims should NEVER be billed for any part of forensic medical exam services. Also if a survivor who is reporting the crime requires further medical care that is not covered by their insurance those payments as well as co-pays and deductibles can be submitted for reimbursement to the Bureau of Victim Compensation. Often this is not explained to the survivor unless an advocate is present as the law enforcement professional's and medical personnel's responsibilities do not include providing financial resources.

The last thing this Houston woman should have to do or want to do is track down resources to assist her in getting the bill collectors off her back and finding financial assistance to cover costs that are not her responsibility but that of the judicial system. But when it does happen (and sadly it’s going to continue to happen to other victims until we fix the system--that’s another whopper of a blog post) survivors should know that there are resources, organizations armed with trained experts and compassionate volunteers who are here to help 24/7.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault or a secondary survivor please contact your community rape crisis center. If you don’t have a center in your area contact
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) 1-800-656-HOPE or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) 1-877-739-3895. These organizations can help get you in touch with an advocate to assist you through the entire process. Oh and P.S. Having an advocate with you at all times throughout the investigation and judicial process is a right not a privilege.

One fired up advocate,

Monday, May 04, 2009

We Can't Stop Sexversating!

Nelly and Timbaland sang about being promiscuous and we're talking about it. Here are some of the latest answers to our most recent Sexversation®:
What constitutes a woman as being promiscuous? What about a man?

Melody Brooke, Co-Author "OH Wow This is Great Sex!" thinks promiscuity is the same for men and women. Here's what she had to share--

"Promiscuity" is the same whether you are male or female, in spite of how we may think about it. Promiscuity is when you have sex with multiple partners without regard for the impact that it has on either of you. When it occurs it occurs as a result of a deep lack of respect for oneself. We convince ourselves it is because we are "living large" or "having fun". But really its an attempt to control our feelings of inadequacy. We have to prove that we are "hot" or we are using sex addictively to medicate the pain we hold inside. Usually its a combination of the two. Again, this is true whether you are male or female.

What Shane Maus thinks--

Promiscuity is generally defined by the person using the word. Seems the definition varies greatly based on a person’s morals and values, but that's not all; the word's definition also depends on what the users definition of sex regarding promiscuity is. For instance many conservative Christians would consider any sexual activity outside of marriage to be promiscuous and still other more liberal people would consider a promiscuous person to be someone who has lots of sex without any emotional connection to their partner. This would also introduce a level of intimacy into the definition as well. Would you consider someone who has sex as a job to be promiscuous if this person enjoys a monogamous committed relationship outside their job? These simple observations alone show without any doubt that promiscuity is a word and a subject that is wrought with passionate controversy.
Personally I find that the word promiscuous implies a level of irresponsibility or carelessness, so I believe the people that contribute to the spread of STDs and unwanted children in our society are the ones that I would identify as the most promiscuous.

Seems like a mighty good time for us to talk about condoms, plain and simple: use em' people.

Safe Sex = Good Sex

Susie Shina joins the sexversation in a powerful way--

These questions have always been a societal double-edged sword. Women are sluts- men are studs - considering the number of partners. Sex is very powerful. I believe the distinction of 'promiscuous' is based on how the power of sex is used...physical / emotional enjoyment vs abusing the power or using sex for other reasons- fill void, lack of self-esteem, manipulation.

Coy Long breaks it down for us--

What constitutes a woman as being promiscuous?
1. A woman that has sexual encounters with several men
2. A woman that is loose
3. A woman that is fast

What constitutes a man as being promiscuous?
1. Society says nothing

Society holds women to a higher standard than men. It's not fair that men who sleep around are given a pat on the back and women are singled out and labeled whores and sluts. What about all these men out there who carry themselves like male whores? A man can be a hoe or a slut too. I think the old rule applies if it acts like a duck and quacks like a duck then we must label it as being a duck.

From an anonymous contributor--

Wikipedia defines promiscuous behavior as having casual sex with many partners. Is it possible for middle aged people to be promiscuous? I wonder if it is "casual" that needs to be examined.

We, as a society, look down on casual sex among teenagers as being undisciplined and the source of unplanned pregnancy and transmission of STD's. As we get older, we make a more conscious decision as to when and with whom we engage in sexual relations. Does that make the same behavior less promiscuous? Probably not, but there does not seem to be much concern over the promiscuity of middle aged men and women.

I would propose that promiscuous behavior is that which negatively impacts other aspects of our lives: pregnancies that change the lives of teenagers and their parents, adulterous sex in committed relationships. There are clearly adults engaged in extra-marital sex that is "approved" by their partners, and I would not classify that as promiscuous behavior.

We also live in a society where we want to be "good" at things, and as Malcolm Gladwell points out in "Outliers", the way that we get good is via practice. How else does one get "good" at sex? You cannot learn how to "manipulate" another person to the desired arousal state via reading and watching alone! At some point you either need to practice on yourself or another person to see what works and what doesn't work. Our society needs to lose their obsession with controlling sexual behavior so rigorously and just begin to enjoy themselves!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Cartoons that fuel our insecurity

Here is a new campaign launched by the popular snack food company who makes, Sun Chips, Baked Lay's, Smart Food and Flat Earth. It is a cartoon series that feeds many of our feelings of poor body image all while having women gather together around food.

There are fat references, wishes for illness to lose weight, emphasis on our need to pluck-tan and primp and even our challenges with our mothers. While I get the intention they miss the real core of the female bond and paint women as shallow and insecure.

So now I am going to have to pass on these treats until they suspend this campaign. If they don't respect my gender, they don't get my dollars.
Please check it out and let me know what you think.