Sunday, January 31, 2010

NOLA native talks about how you can help end violence against women

Wayne Barnes took the time to answer the question, what can men do to help end violence against women? He thinks it’s really pretty simple, “Acknowledge that sexism exists, get involved in your community and do the right thing by standing up for women.”

Wayne, a member of the Institute Training Team is just one of the amazing folks we got the chance to meet at the A Call to Men Institute in Tallahassee last week. A call to Men is a leading national men’s organization addressing men’s violence against women, and the eradication of sexism. They help organize communities in order to raise awareness and get men involved in ending violence against women. To learn more about their work and how you can be a part of the solution to end violence against women visit their website-

Thursday, January 28, 2010

where is your line?

An important focus for Unite for Change in 2010 is to bring activists, seekers and leaders some really fresh, poignant works of art (which will include but is not limited to music, film, dance, painting, sculpture and theatre) that will engage others in a dialogue of violence prevention. Several of these items along with other innovative products and educational goods will be listed in a new section of our web site, titled Creative Goods. This will be a go to place for folks looking for anything from a great book or sexually empowered merchandise to works of art that will help reach audiences in a way that is engaging and thought provoking.

Pieces like Nancy Schwartzman’s film, THE LINE is of the caliber of what we are highlighting. The film asks, where is your line of consent? Seems simple, right? In a world growing up with no means no and messages and undertones that dismantle that belief, the idea of what consent is becomes muddled at best.

Enter Nancy.

Nancy tells her story of how she was raped by a man she had consensual sex with and compares her experience to her friend, who was raped by a stranger. She beautifully calls into question why association (although this is very likely given most rapists are not strangers) makes survivors and society often ask if it was really rape. Nancy goes as far as to return to Israel and confront her rapist on camera. He does not feel like he has done anything wrong but maybe it was sex that went too far. Ask yourself, when did we even allow “sex that went too far” to be anything other than rape? When did that become okay? Another reason this film is so important.

THE LINE is powerful because not only did it move us when we viewed it, but it has stayed with us and we think it will do the same for you. Part of the films strength comes from the experts Nancy interviews such as the well known attorney Brett Sokolow and a sex worker at the infamous Bunny Ranch. It may seem odd or ironic to have a lawyer who is an expert on sexual assault and a sex worker help establish a clear line of consent but they both contribute important messages to the film, including how much work there is to do in fully understanding consent and sex. In this film (around 30 minutes) Nancy takes us full circle on her journey. She is candid, honest, likeable and funny. The style of the film will help engage all types of people in the discussion about, sex, sexual assault and consent; a conversation that needs to take place far more frequently.

Our suggestion…

Reach out to Nancy. Say hello. Invite Nancy to your campus or community to discuss her documentary with you. Or check out where she is headed by visiting her web site Don’t miss a great opportunity to check out a fully endorsed Creative Good that helps break down the barriers of discussing consent in a way that is inclusive and insightful.

Nancy Schwartzman, writer, filmaker and activist

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Southern Comforts

Kick'n off the spring tour with our favorite road trip snack, boiled peanuts and a carbonated beverage. Something we've been enjoying together for 20 the throw back Pepsi seemed more than appropriate.

Like Willy says, on the road again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Justice for Rape Survivors

Thanks to for posting this...

Tell Congress to Pass the Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009.

Targeting: The U.S. House
Started by: Roxann MtJoy

To address the national crisis of untested rape kit backlogs -- estimated at 180,000 -- Representatives Al Franken (D-MN), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have introduced the Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act of 2009 to the House of Representatives.

This bipartisan bill would regulate grants funds earmarked for the DNA testing of rape kits, implement financial incentives for jurisdictions to aggressively attack and eliminate their backlogs, provide for a national system for collecting data on rape kits, and eliminate the appalling practice of having the victims of sexual assault pay for their own rape kits.

Tell your Representative that you want them to support the Justice of Survivor of Sexual Assault Act of 2009. It's super easy, just click here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How far have we come?

Last week Becca and I had a chance to catch up with our favorite mother-daughter duo Marsha Bartenetti and Rachael Sudul, creators of JUST IN CASE and our conversation turned into a girl power pow wow – we love it when that happens! Marsha was kind enough to put some of her thoughts on paper and we are pleased to be able to share them with you.
Thanks Marsha for your righteous spirit, endless passion and for being fearless!

My daughter and I attended Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference this past couple of days – and were exhibitors of our product JUST IN CASE® - Attended by approximately 10,000 women – I admit I had high expectations that as an exhibitor of our revolutionary product JUST IN CASE – the first product of its kind on the market: a chic and discreet mirrored compact with a hidden compartment that holds condoms. I believed we would reach our target market and that women would – because of the dire statistics surrounding sexual health – like STD’s HIV/AIDS - they would absolutely get the power of this groundbreaking trend.

The level of STD cases is up to a horrifying 1 in 4 teenage girls – not to mention the women who are in the Baby Boomer demographic – who also have contracted STD’s – and the epidemic of HIV/AIDS cases in this country…the number #1 killer of Black women in America - is it still okay to giggle at the mention of a condom?

Honestly, Ladies…how far HAVE we come?

I found myself getting more and more hostile with each passing giggle. And some of the responses to the discovery of what our product actually was were shocking to me. For instance, “Well, my daughter is 15 but I don’t want to ADVOCATE….(sex)” as she walks past our booth…

Or, “Oh, I have 17 and 18 year old daughters and I know they aren’t having sex…I couldn’t possibly give them one of these. They are SO busy with school and everything they don’t have time for boys!”

During this conference…Architects for Change…

I was disappointed at best at the number of women who were acting like the condom was the plague....and I admit I thought the level of consciousness would be high at this event and that women would surely “get” our product and message. To absently reject our product and what we had to say about actually GIVING their daughters a condom with silliness and jokes about condoms is like throwing our daughters under the bus.

When are we going to stop the madness and get our heads out of the sand?

Now don’t get me wrong – I am in the “for profit” business – however – I know the value of our product...and as agents for change- and I know the power of trend.

And in spite of all the information out there about being protected, etc. the statistics tell us otherwise – and the voice of this information is so loud…remember 1 in 4 teenagers has an STD?...It is SCREAMING in our ears to wake up!

And yet – women…and this is what is so mind boggling to me…insist on giggling… when they mention or hear the name condom! And they stay in denial pretending that they don’t have to worry about THEIR daughters being sexually active.

Granted not EVERY young teen is sexually active…but for God’s sake….millions are …and for some, it may be killing them…or perhaps keep them from ever having children because of becoming sterile through contracting an STD.

We offer a way for women of all ages who are sexually active – to have a beautiful way to stay protected and a way they will feel good about actually carrying a condom. WE consider the sensibilities of women with every design we do and know the requirements of style women have and their need for discretion….its in our DNA.

We know that innately women are modest when it comes to intimate details and are often too embarrassed to carry condoms.

So they don’t.

And they are passive about trusting their partner will be carrying protection. And are often shy about making sure he does. They hold on to the romantic ideal that if he “loved’ her he would be sure he was safe…and that if he doesn’t have a condom...he must be without disease.

Unfortunately – this can be like a game of Russian roulette!

Sexual explicit images are everywhere –Billboards, magazines, television, film, I guess all of that is okay? Especially for the young minds who soak up everything around them?

When did we stop protecting our young? - Don’t you think it’s possible that by normalizing these images – we “normalize” risky sexual behavior?

We are a society of celebrity idolizers – in spite of the crazy behavior many of them exhibit – domestic violence issues – are we to “normalize” this, as well?

The apology lists of these actions are frankly becoming rote and without consequence. Unfortunately, risky sexual behavior DOES have consequences.

If we are to change this paradigm of behavior – and turn the statistics back to the favor of our daughters/friends/relatives…lowering the statistics of cases of STD’s and HIV/AIDS...and unplanned pregnancy…and bringing a sense of self love and respect back – and healthy senses of shame - then we have to change the way we think about talking with our daughters.

We must LOVE THEM MORE THAN WE FEAR TALKING WITH THEM frankly about sexual behavior and risks.

Talk openly and talk often – even if they “roll their eyes” at you for being “gross”. Help them raise their personal requirements including their sexual health and choices.

It’s Time.

To be Fearless in 2010.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Brewing Up Goodness in 2010

No more green bean casserole, no more holiday lights and no more mistletoe, but we are not sad, not even a little bit. We have been waiting for 2010 because we plan to blow the doors off this incredible New Year. We’re brewing up some exciting projects and programs for 2010 and hope to share them with you, your campus and communities.

As part of our New Year's resolution's we have committed to contribute a portion of the proceeds from every program we present towards providing free sexual assault awareness education, tools and resources through Unite for Change and other organizations that rock our world and make it a better place. Learn more about who we are supporting in our e-news (subscribe here).

To kick things off we’re offering a smoking deal:

Book a spring program by January 22 and save $1,000 off the regular program honorarium. Can you say, Happy New Year?

From our family to yours thank you for your continued support. You help make it possible for us to continue working towards eradicating sexual violence, empowering others to stand up and speak out for sexual equality and empowerment and to unite campuses and communities to create lasting change.


Kelly & Becca

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

SEX + MONEY: A National Search for Human Worth

Check out this wonderful work happening here in America. It's a beautiful response to something so horrid and a remarkable inspiration for change.