Thank you to the 2015 Brave, Bold, and Beautiful Sponsors:
2015 Brave, Bold, and Beautiful featuring Rosalind Wiseman
Please join Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) at the 2015 Brave, Bold, and Beautiful featuring guest speaker, Rosalind Wiseman! Purchase tickets here!
When: Thursday, December 3, 2015 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm
Where: The Glenn Miller Ballroom located
at the CU University Memorial Center
1669 Euclid Avenue, Boulder, CO 80309 Map
Tickets: $50 General Admission | $25 Students/Seniors
The Brave, Bold, and Beautiful is a fundraising event held to honor survivors of sexual assault and individuals who are committed to the mission of MESA. We believe that every person has the right to live free of sexual assault. We are moving to end sexual assault and the suffering it causes in our community. We challenge all forms of oppression and recognize their connection to sexual violence.
This year’s event focuses on the importance of gender-based primary prevention of sexual assault and through school-based prevention programs that will create an empowered youth.
This year’s Brave, Bold, and Beautiful features best-selling author, Rosalind Wiseman. Rosalind is well-known for her works, Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World and Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World. Rosalind Wiseman is an internationally recognized expert on children, teens, parenting, bullying, social justice, and ethical leadership. Rosalind shares a passion to innovate and invigorate educational programs within our schools.
Enjoy appetizers and drinks, music by Cloud 9 String Quartet, inspirational speakers and awards.
2015 MESA Star Award
An inspirational survivor of sexual assault
2015 Brave, Bold, and Beautiful Award
The SANE Program Awardees:
Chief Deputy District Attorney for the
Twentieth Judicial District
Director of Nursing Practice for
Boulder Community Health
SANE Coordinator for the
Medical Center of the Rockies
Boulder County Courthouse
Boulder County Courthouse
District Attorney for the
Twentieth Judicial District
Boulder County Courthouse
CU Office of Victims Assistance
Executive Director and Title IX Coordinator of the
Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance
MESA is Proud to Announce that our very own, Dr. Janine D’Anniballe, will be this year’s Soaring to New Heights Conference Clinical Keynote, hosted by the WINGS Foundation!
Dr. D’Anniballe will host the Friday Keynote: “The Neurobiology of Trauma & How Yoga & Other Holistic Services Assist in Healing and Growth.” The following is a quote from the Wingsfoundation.org:
Dr. Janine D’Anniballe is a licensed psychologist and a nationally recognized expert who specializes in the areas of neurobiology of trauma, vicarious trauma and treatment for survivors. Her expertise, professionalism, and presentation style have made her a highly sought-after trainer. Her workshops have been described as dynamic, inspirational, and impactful. One of Dr. D’Anniballe’s strengths is her ability to present challenging and complicated material in an understandable and interesting way – engaging her audience with mix of research and real life clinical examples.
This conference is a rare opportunity to hear Dr. D’Anniballe’s presentation on the ways that trauma affects our brains and our bodies, as we gain greater understanding about our capacity to heal in holistic, body-centered ways. Click here for more information. Early registration ends August 10th.
It’s that time of year, again! Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) is seeking individuals that have a passion for helping others. Volunteering with MESA provides an opportunity for personal growth and experience, while moving to end sexual assault. MESA needs you! Click here to begin the application process.
Has someone you care about experienced rape, incest, molestation or other forms of sexual violence? Being a parent, family member, friend or partner of someone who has been sexually assaulted can have an emotional, physical, social and spiritual impact on your well-being. Participating in a group is a safe and effective way to get support and education on how to support your loved one and cope with your own feelings.
This 4-week workshop will cover:
- Sexual Assault myths and realities
- The impacts of trauma
- Exploring the Secondary Survivor Needs and Feelings
- How to support your close one
The impact of sexual assault on the psychological and somatic (body-based) dimensions of a person is complex and can take several forms. But how does sexual assault affect body image? Most survivors experience disturbances in their body image, ranging from a mild preoccupation with their physical appearance, to self-injury, eating disorders and body dysphoria. Because the body has been treated as an object by the perpetrator, and the boundaries of the self have been damaged and violated, there is often a dissociation and separation from the body itself. Part of this is denial: “it did not happen to me, but to this body.” Part of this is the psychosocial coping mechanism to decrease bodily pain, and part of that is pure rejection; the body is seen as something shameful, disgusting, and dirty for “letting the assault happen.” The focus of the survivor is on molding, punishing, controlling, and treating the body as something external (an object). Radically different coping strategies fall under this category: from comfort food, to binge and purge behaviors, self-harm and elective cosmetic surgery. The goal may be to meet externally empower themselves by meeting the cultural standard of beauty, or to deny their own body in order to avoid sexual attention. Either way, there is less and less capacity for the survivor to understand and correctly read the signs of the body (hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc.) and be attuned with its needs. This state of constantly monitoring and paying attention to how the body should look (instead of how it feels) is placing the life force at the outside of the survivor, and reinforcing the objectification of the body, as something to be used by others. How can we then reverse the cycle? The concept of body image resilience may be applicable if we think of body memories all individuals have experienced at some point in their lives, experiences that connected them to power, confidence and trust. Expanding and embodying those past positive experiences is as fundamental as the psychotherapy trauma work. Survivors cannot fully heal without raising their critical mind to analyze media messages and start talking about their own bodies and the bodies of others in a way that respects each person’s inner journey and identity. Bodies are fantastic instruments (not objects) and the foundation of the self; the more comfortable we are in our skin, the stronger we will become in our lives and the easier it will be to recover from trauma.
It is neither possible nor therapeutically productive to compare levels of pain and suffering between victims of various crimes and oppressions, but it is certainly necessary to name the unique factors contributing to the harm of sexual violence. It seems that communities and individuals are more comfortable talking about domestic violence than sexual violence. From a clinical perspective, all forms of physical trauma have similar somatic symptoms; the body is the target of the violence, and it responds in ways that can be difficult for survivors to understand and accept. Unfortunately, both of these crimes have been pervasive in our society and are often complexly interwoven. While not all sexual assaults happen in a domestic violence context, many domestic violence situations also involve rape as a weapon for control. If one in six men and one in four women had been sexually assaulted (and as always statistics are tricky), that means that almost everybody is directly (as a primary victim), or indirectly (as secondary victim or perpetrator), affected. Still, talking about sexual assault seems to be too big of a taboo. Part of the explanation is, as always, cultural and political. Media and advertising portray women as “weak,” passive objects to posses who have no opinion and do not know what they want; whereas men are depicted as “strong” and animalistic, acting through biological needs that cannot always to be controlled. Any other individual who does not fit within the gender binary is more likely to be a target of sexual violence. Strangely, violence seems to be more accepted in movies and TV shows than consensual sexual content. In my view, the movie rating system is totally reversed as it shows that violence is OK, but that sexuality and intimacy are something to hide and of which to be ashamed of. What is this telling us about pleasure and intimacy? How can we provide good education around boundaries and healthy intimacy when the culture itself does not want to even look at it? I also believe that because of the lack of education and the level of vulnerability involved, sexuality in mainstream US culture has a lot of shadows that individuals have trouble exploring and working through. Sexual misuse (if not abuse) seems to be much more close home, in which fantasies, cultural images and lack of education about pleasure, vulnerability and respect, are a bag that all of us hold tighter or loser. Unless we dare to explore our shadows and dark spots, unless we want to look at these issues and disrupt the cultural myths, it is going to be difficult to overtly talk about sexual assault and healthy relationships.
The One Billion Rising for Justice campaign is failing to recognize the systemic roots of women’s inequality as well as its intersection with modern day racism and classism. Because the campaign uses flash mobs as one of their main mediums, one cannot help but think that they are also missing out on using dance as a form of resistance. Although this short article cannot do justice to this topic, it is an attempt to acknowledge the ways in which dance has been used to fight oppression through its diversity across cultures and historical struggles.
Resistance dances are subversive because they question the norm and expose the hidden construction or roles and bodies in different cultures, shaking the ideologies in power. This has been the aim of many modern dancers in the turn-of-the-century, as well as more recent choreographers. Pina Bausch and Matthew Bourne are examples of this in Western societies. Chandralekha, a choreographer from India, has questioned the “Indian womanhood” and a woman’s role in family and marriage. As dangerous as the subversion of roles, is the claim of the pleasure of the body, something that Caribbean dances have asserted for centuries as a healthy expression of the self and of life.
We could also look at ways in which non-dominant groups have used dance and movement to express a sense of belonging and identity. Dance is a medium to fight marginalization and the decline of cultures. With the Spanish conquest, many Mesoamerican body art practices and indigenous dances (i.e. Aztec Amoxtli) were banned. These dances were once cultural, political, and religious daily rituals; but after the conquest became an embodied way to express identity, culture pride and resistance, which still lives in present-day manifestations. In the Andean region, the traditional dance (Qoyllur Rit’i) was mixed within imposed rituals of the Spanish Catholic conquerors, hidden to the eye of the dominant culture while resisting the repressive efforts of conquerors. We can also see covered practices in Capoeira dances, an age-old Brazilian aesthetic martial art form (with roots in African circle dances), used by slaves to disguise fighting and training for freedom.
Dance has also been a medium for those marginalized groups that were growing in number and were struggling to have a voice in the dominant culture. For instance, in Japan, the Sukeroku’s dance symbolically expressed commoners’ resistance against the samurai ruling class in the eighteenth century. This hidden meaning helped the rising class to build their own identity and power.
Performance has helped oppressed communities to channel frustration through creativity. Break-dance and hip-hop is an attempt to criticize, voice, transform and adapt to hard life situations. These styles also embody the need to taunt the younger people to toughen and prepare them for the struggles they will need to face in the future, as the big brother would do.
Finally, there are practices that try to recover forgotten histories, such as Ailey Company. He is an icon for African American diaspora artists who are committed to honor historical struggles and represent the ethnic diversity of the US in an immense ecumenical effort.
In essence, dances in different cultures have been used both as expressions of identity and cultures of subversion. It has the great ability to morph and transform throughout the years, adapting to new realities and keeping the integrity of their philosophy.
In the 2012 Sony Pictures Animation film Hotel Transylvania, Adam Sadler plays the voice of Count Dracula, who builds a magnificent monster hotel where various characters of the monster genre can rest peacefully in the absence of humans. As Count Dracula’s daughter goes through her teenage roller coaster years, she becomes more and more curious about the world outside of Hotel Transylvania. She eventually falls in love with a human boy named Jonathon who stumbles upon the hotel while traveling through the woods. As Jonathon realizes that the monsters of Hotel Transylvania are “real” and that he has not in fact stumbled upon a costume party, he grapples with curiosity and difference. In two distinct scenes, Jonathon interacts with a heterosexual skeleton couple in ways that are both troubling and unnecessary to the movie’s plot. Both scenes negotiate gender and issues around consent and rely on unchallenged narratives about female bodies and male entitlement.
In the first scene with the skeleton couple, Jonathon discovers that the female skeleton is “real” after walking up to her and sticking his hand through her rib cage.
Part of the irony/humor associated with the scene relies on the skeleton’s lack of flesh, sex organs, and other constructed markers of gender, and thus her presumed lack of ability to be sexually violated. Further, the skeleton’s identity is communicated purely through performance, body language, and gestures. In this sense the skeleton’s performance of gender indicates femininity which is followed by voyeurism and entitled touching, implying that experiencing sexual violence in unavoidable while being feminine. As Jonathon slips his hand into the skeleton’s rib cage, his facial expressions indicate pleasure and curiosity. The interaction is interrupted when the female skeleton screams, slaps Jonathon, and cowers while her husband aggressively confronts him. The “male” skeleton exclaims: “Keep your hands out of my wife” rather than the more colloquially used phrase “keep your hands off of my wife”, further emphasizing the irony that they are skeletons but also playing with sexual innuendo around being inside of someone in terms of sexual intimacy.
In the second scene involving the skeletons, Count Dracula and Jonathon accidentally intrude upon the female skeleton while she is showering. While Count Dracula apologizes profusely and looks away, Jonathon continues to watch her, again with an expression of curiosity and gratification. A key point regarding this scene is that the female skeleton is being watched while bathing in her hotel room, which falls within the definition of sexual assault because she has reasonable expectation for privacy. Further, Jonathon continues to look at her although she is clearly uncomfortable which implies that he is entitled to her body for his own sexual pleasure. Once again the skeleton shrinks away and her male partner intervenes expressing ownership over his wife’s body.
In a positive sense, these scenes could push us to think of sexual assault as not being about sex, but about power and invasiveness and how victims experience assaults differently. The scenes are problematic because they imply that sexual assault is an unavoidable part of a female-identified person’s life, and that female identified people are essentially helpless without protection from males. Further, the fact that the film is in animated form allows for these interactions to be viewed outside of their more real context. These scenes present sexual voyeurism and unconsensual touching as funny and acceptable unless they offend a male who is already entitled to the female being targeted. Finally, the irony around the skeletons is that they are not considered “real” people because they lack tissue and organs; although both scenes vividly depict a violation of the body/person present, even if they are in skeleton form.
Some critiques of Disney’s recent film “Maleficent” are centered on disbelief and shock regarding elements of the story that aligned with sexual assault and survivor narratives. Some have expressed concern that the scene in which Maleficent is drugged by her lover and wakes up with her wings mutilated/cut off is rooted in rape themes and therefore too heavy for young audiences. Others have missed the rape themes altogether and have expressed distaste that “rejection from a man” serves as the catalyst of the story and Maleficent’s reason for being angry and revenge seeking. Many people have expressed that the scene and larger story line have resonated with their own survivor stories in a way that is validating and deeply moving. Finally, the star actress and writer of the film have openly confirmed that the survivor narrative and hinted sexual violence were intentional.
While it is important to critically discuss when elements of rape culture are incorporated in a film or story line, or in the case of Maleficent a retelling of a fairy tale, it must be noted that this is not the first time that sexual violence has surfaced in a Disney film. Some examples may include: Dinsey’s Lady and the Tramp, and particularly a scene in which “lady” runs out of the house in the middle of the night and is cornered in an ally by a group of street dogs. The scene heavily implies the notion of a young and innocent woman being vulnerable to gang rape when outside of the home at night. Another example is in Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which a Gypsy woman named Esmeralda is victimized by sexual advances and torture by the minister of justice, Claude Frollo. Esmeralda falls into the narrative of a seductress and also the Madonna in need of rescuing; all themes that are complex and yet present in a children’s animated film. Maleficent and many Disney movies such as Pocahontas, Atlantis, The Road to Eldorado, and The HunchBack of Notre Dame depart from and delve into narratives about eugenics, colonization, and historical genocide…and it must be noted that sexual violence is inherent to those narratives. When it comes to the tragic scene in Maleficent in which she encounters a form of violation, it is important to note that the scene is meant to be devastating and is in no way downplayed or normalized. While this particular scene and the storyline are indeed intense, the story does not rely on a graphic rape scene to communicate the message. The scene goes just far enough to capture the trauma associated with being betrayed and violated by someone we trust.
While there has been much speculation and discussion surrounding what some call the “rape scene” in Maleficent, there seems to be little discussion of the feminist and queer undertones throughout the film. Many themes in Maleficent deal with patriarchy and resistance, and thus the “rape” scene is a part of this larger context. One simple example is that Maleficent is described as a spirit “that one could perceive to be a girl” hinting at tension between a chosen gender identity and an essentialized gender identity. Maleficent’s world is in direct contrast to the patriarchal monarchy that seeks to conquer the land and treasures of her community. Further, in this version of the fairy tale, Maleficent becomes Aurora’s godmother, and only the love and compassion that Maleficent develops for the young princess can break the evil spell that Maleficent cursed upon her. The relationship between Maleficent and the man who became king after cutting off her wings is threaded with extreme intimidate partner violence, including multiple attempts at intimate partner homicide which are also related to sexual assault. While these elements are explicit in the film and many other Disney movies, it is symbolism about sexual assault and survivor narratives that people are taking issue with rather than graphic violence or overtly sexist portrayals of women and girls.
While many films depict elements of sexual violence, few recognize or intentionally incorporate these themes for the purpose of challenging them or engaging with them in a direct and compassionate manner. Through a critical lens it seems that there can be a stark difference between a rape narrative that is an honored part of a story versus a rape scene that is present for shock value and entertainment. In the case of Maleficent the victim/survivor narrative serves a purpose in recognizing these themes as a part of our history, mythology, reality, and collective responsibility.
Most people probably agree that sexual assault shouldn’t happen and that consent is crucial to ensuring that suffering related to sexual violence is ended. The concept of consent can improve relationships with self and others and encourage people think more consciously about their next interaction, but in order to ensure long term prevention the practice of consent must become normalized and prioritized. When it comes to large scale culture change and engaging a critical mass in shifting away from a culture that condones sexual violence, basic consensus that violence is bad and that consent is necessary is an amazing starting point.
When clearly illustrated ideas about consent are common place, rape myths and rape culture norms become dislodged and begin to appear in their full absurdity. When we understand the pervasiveness of rape culture and harm inflicted by sexual assault, we may have a hard time accepting that consent is not concrete. It is critical that consent is accessible to all people and that people have the opportunities to learn about consent and the self-empowerment to exercise consent. At the same time, consent is not a fixed location on a map or a tangible commodity to be passed back and forth between various people. Consent is more complex in that it is a mode of conducting oneself in relation to others. Because each of our experiences are different, consent that we carry with us into these experiences may look and operate differently, and in that sense, consent may seem a bit abstract and fluid.
Apart from having a critical role in ending sexual assault, consent centric approaches to life can open us up to many fulfilling adventures in self discovery and improved interactions with others. When consent becomes an ongoing process, and a mode of transportation rather than a destination, we learn to be more connected to ourselves and the boundaries of everyone we interact with. Consent involves verbal communication, listening, and attention to context and body language. Further, consent is non-static and unstable and must be renewed regularly; each moment encouraging us to improve our knowledge of self, communication, compassion, and respect for all people.