February 9, 2023
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. And even with the awareness raised by the #MeToo movement in recent years, many teens and adults continue to face challenges related to gender-based violence.
There are certain unspoken “rules” that most women live by. We follow these rules to maintain some scope of safety. We cross the street when we are alone on a sidewalk and a man is walking toward us; we slide our keys between our fingers or grip the pepper spray in our bag in preparation for needing to defend ourselves; we check the backseat through the window when walking to the driver’s door and lock the car doors immediately upon entering the car; we walk with purpose and never look too friendly; we keep walking without looking back when catcalled and then potentially being cussed at and called names for not responding to the catcalls; we never leave our drinks unattended; we always send the details of our ride shares to others; we talk on the phone with someone when walking by ourselves at night or are prepared to press the dial button for 911; we have thought out plans for what to do if being followed—and the list goes on and on.
In the United States, 1 in 5 women are victims of rape.
Violence against women continues to be an epidemic worldwide. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in the United States, 1 in 5 women are victims of rape, and 19.1 million women are victims of stalking. The National Organization for Women notes that high school- and college-age females are particularly at risk with the majority of rape victims being 24 or under. Additionally, 96 percent of victims of murder-suicide in the U.S. are women (NCADV).
Gender-based violence also affects women in the workplace. Thirty-eight percent of women have experienced sexual harassment at their place of work (Chatterjee, 2018). These stats jump significantly when looking at specific occupations. For example, “71 percent of female restaurant workers have been sexually harassed at least once during their time in the restaurant industry” (What To Become, 2022). Further, according to UN Women, 82 percent of women parliamentarians (legislators) experience “some form of psychological violence while serving their terms.” This violence comes in the form of, but is not limited to, sexual harassment; sexist remarks; and threats of death, rape, abduction or assault.
“Globally, an estimated 736 million women—almost 1 in 3—have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate-partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life (30 percent of women 15 and older)” (UN Women). It's estimated that 92 percent of human-trafficking victims for sexual exploitation are females (UN Women). And there are currently over 200 million females who are victims of female genital mutilation (World Health Organization).
While these statistics are distressing, brave individuals have continued to stand up and fight back to end gender-based violence. Use these 10 resources below to teach students about the brave actions of those who have fought back, how to challenge toxic masculinity, and how everyone has a role to play in helping put a stop to violence against women.
Violence Against Women Act (1994) and Take Back the Night Marches
In response to grassroot efforts to end violence against women, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. Use this lesson from Clio Visualizing History to teach students about the history of efforts to put an end to this violence, how violence against women is a community problem, and how to engage in grassroots activism and coalition building efforts.
Challenging Gender-based Violence in our Communities
Standing up against gender-based violence can come in many different forms. In this lesson from Driftseed, students will learn how women across the world have used art to raise awareness about the issues contributing to violence against women. Then students of all genders are challenged with the task to consider and create an action plan for how they can address gender-based violence in their own communities.
Feminist Activism in the 1960s: The Personal is Political
With this resource from Clio Visualizing History, teach students about the women who took action in the late 1960s to bring light to issues affecting women, and the organizations they founded such as the National Organization for Women that continue to be a positive force for change today.
Someone I Used to Know Discussion Guide
The fictional story Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount, illustrates the rape culture that is a part of our real society, and the role we play in perpetuation of or condemnation of that culture. Have students read the book and use this Sourcebooks discussion guide to tackle this challenging, but important, topic with students.
Black Women Activists and the Long History Behind #MeToo
This Facing History and Ourselves blog communicates some of the history behind how Black women have been fighting for bodily integrity for generations, and how it set the stage for Tarana Burke to begin the #MeToo movement in 2006.
How Men Can Help Put an End to Sexual Harassment and Assault
This video resource from SafeBAE features Charlie Coleman discussing how his sister was sexually assaulted by individuals he had considered friends, and how we can challenge the culture in schools and society to fight back against the perpetuation of violence against women.
The Trap of Masculinity: How Sexism Impacts Boys and Men
Toxic masculinity negatively affects men and women alike. Our society has a long history of teaching boys and men that to be vulnerable is to be unmanly and weak. Thus, some men have not learned how to properly express their feelings, handle those emotions, and seek help for their mental health when they need it. This can have devastating effects on men’s mental and physical health, and can result in those bottled up emotions coming out as aggression and violence. This lesson from ADL for middle and high school can help “students explore how we, as a society, view boys and men and understand concepts of masculinity. Students will reflect on those messages, identify where those concepts and stereotypes come from and begin to understand how they can be challenged.”
Coaching Boys Into Men: The Coaches Kit
This resource from Futures Without Violence engages coaches in both teaching their male athletes how to have healthy relationships with others and that violence does not equate to strength.
#METOO: It's About Power
Use this resource from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility to engage students in learning about the origins and intent of the #MeToo movement. Students will be tasked with considering one thing they think could help address sexual harassment.
How to Support a Survivor
Last, while we fight to put a stop to sexual harassment and violence against women, it is also important to know how to support survivors. This presentation from SafeBAE walks students through how to be a supportive friend to survivors of sexual harassment and assault.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2020). Domestic violence. Retrieved from https://assets.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/domestic_violence-2020080709350855.pdf?1596811079991.
National Organization for Women (NOW). Violence Against Women in the United States: Statistics. Retrieved from https://now.org/resource/violence-against-women-in-the-united-states-st…
What To Become. (Sept. 13, 2022). 26 Shocking Statistics on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Retrieved from https://whattobecome.com/blog/sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace-statistics/
Chatterjee, R. (Feb. 21, 2018). A New Survey Finds 81 Percent of Women Have Experienced Sexual Harassment. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/21/587671849/a-new-survey-finds-eighty-percent-of-women-have-experienced-sexual-harassment
UN Women. (2022). Facts and Figures: Ending Violence Against Women. Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures
World Health Organization. (Jan. 21, 2022.) Female Genital Mutilation. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation
Me Too: Lesson Plans and Resources for PreK-12 Teachers and School Staff
The #MeToo and the #MeTooK12 movement is an opportunity for schools and communities to reflect on how to address issues of consent, sex education, relationships and undoing a pervasive culture of silence.
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Megan Ortmeyer is an SML Team Member and has worked in the AFT Educational Issues Department since fall 2018. She received her M.A. in education policy studies in May 2020 from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the George Washington University.