Reel Girl’s Top 10 List Of ‘Progressive’ People, Places and Things That Are Sexist

Because I’m so sick of the public referring to sexist people, places, and things as progressive or liberal, because sexism is everywhere and women are trapped in double-bind that is hardly acknowledged, getting little or no support from our “allies,” staying stuck in a matrix that doesn’t allow us to achieve real power, I came up with this list.

Reel Girl’s Top 10 List Of “Progressive” People, Places and Things That Are Sexist:

  1. Hollywood Hopefully, the stories of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults will be a turning point for Hollywood and the beginning of the end of the misogyny that runs rampant in the movie industry. My blog, started in 2009, is dedicated to reporting on sexism in Hollywood with a focus on children’s media and the toys and products that come from that media. Actress Emma Thomson just did a great job summarizing the systemic misogyny in ‘liberal’ Lala Land in reference to Weinstein’s behavior.
  2. The New York Times When this publication broke the story about Harvery Weinstein’s chronic sexual harassment and assault of women, the report was illustrated with a photo of Hillary Clinton with Weinstein. That’s right, Weinstein’s behavior is Hillary’s fault. The NYT is also the publication that kept stories going about Hillary’s emails and the “corruption” of the Clinton foundation throughout Hillary’s campaign. Aside from Hillary, I’ve blogged extensively about the many instances of sexism in the stories of the NYT, from what they choose to cover to the sources they use to cover it. My complaints have been posted in Letters to the Times. Just do a search on Reel Girl to see my posts on sexism at the Times.
  3. PBS I’ve blogged on Reel Girl about the lack of female protagonists on PBS shows  for kids including the dominance of male characters on well-loved programs like “Sesame Street,” and how the “educational station” can be more sexist than the Disney channel.
  4. Gandhi Twisted views about sexuality, bodies, and menstruation led Gandhi to treat women as lower than men, including his own wife, and to put the blame on women when they were raped or assaulted. I include Gandhi in my list to emphasize how crucial it is for women (and men) to have women leaders who fight for women’s rights around the world if we want to achieve equality.
  5. Martin Luther King Jr Like Gandhi, MLK focused on the misdeeds of women when it came to men’s sexual behavior. He didn’t allow women to be real leaders in his organization.
  6. Dr. Seuss With all of Dr. Seuss’s amazing creativity, the crazy-beautiful characters he drew, the names and the entire language he came up with, his spectacular imagination failed to stretch to include gender equality. Seuss’s characters are mostly male with even his crowd illustrations rarely featuring female characters. I’ve blogged a great deal on Reel Girl about Seuss’s sexism and though my blogs have been picked up and quoted by Jezebel  (a “women’s news” site) Seuss’s sexism is rarely acknowledged. Seuss is a huge influence on childhood and it’s tragic that along with learning to read, kids are learning sexism, that it’s normal for girls to go missing. Recently children’s author Mo Willems signed a letter condemning Seuss’s racism but sexism isn’t mentioned in the letter.
  7. Rock and roll and the music industry Men dominate the songs on Billboard’s Hot 100, get paid more, get covered seriously by more media, headline more concerts, objectify and degrade women in their lyrics, get called poets instead of boy-obsessed, don’t have to appear naked to sell music, and aren’t frequently sexually assaulted. Like Hollywood, the music industry is systemically sexist and misogynistic, exposed publicly most recently when singer Kesha fought in court to break her contract with producer Dr. Luke. Kesha’s story is only the beginning of tackling the unfair treatment of women performers.
  8. College campuses Right wings think tanks were started as an alternative to “liberal” and “progressive” college campuses, but these places are dangerous for women: 1 out of 5 female students is sexually assaulted at college.
  9. Museums Art is progressive, right? Once again, creativity is limited by sexism. Male artists earn more money, have more shows in galleries, and totally dominate museum shows and the permanent collections in the “great” museums around the world. And I thought girl children were supposed to be the artsy ones!
  10. My “progressive” male friends on social media: The men of Hollywood aren’t coming out to condemn Harvey Weinstein in the numbers that they should be, but what about my own male friends? While men I know and love regularly post about racism, police violence and other issues dear to their hearts, they rarely post about sexism and misogyny. My own posts about sexism rarely receive likes or shares or retweets from my male friends. Until our male friends join the fight for gender equality, prioritize it, consider it important, take action to support it, and stop being passive bystanders, women won’t get as far as we need to go.

My list is just a beginning, hopefully to publicize the wide reach of sexism and misogyny into almost every aspect of our lives. Feel free to add in my comment section your items of “progressive” people, places and things that are actually sexist.

Update:

#11 Joe Biden

Read today’s post on Biden’s hypocrisy.

Will Reel Girl’s official list grow to Top 20? Top 30? Top 100? Ugh.

 

 

Beware of flattery, it’s probably manipulation

Hi Reel Girl fans,

You haven’t heard from me for a while. That’s because when I went back and read the draft of my middle grade fantasy-adventure novel, I realized I’ve become a much better writer. The good news is I’m a better writer! The bad news is I’ve had to rewrite the beginning of the book. While I’ve written for my whole life, I’ve never done this genre before, and I’ve gotten pretty good at pacing. While my earlier draft was bloated, so far, I’ve shaved 50 pages off of Part One.

Whatever happens with this book, writing it has changed my life. I’ve learned so much. Now, I understand optimism is essential to creating art for me. While this lesson contradicts the stereotype of the suffering artist, I’ve run into plot hole after plot hole, and now I see that with creativity, I can find solutions to my problems. I think this process may also involve what people call “grit” or just plain resilience.

Here’s another big lesson I’ve learned that has rippled into every aspect of my life. Beware of flattery. I’m not talking about being suspicious if someone gives you a compliment, but if someone compliments you repeatedly for specific character traits, how great you are at something and how essential you are in their life, how special, how necessary, how important, how amazing you are, it’s likely you’re not being loved; you’re being used. I’ve learned that this type of flattery keeps you locked in a role that you’re performing for someone else. Flattery such as this is the enemy of growth and growth is essential to making art.

One example of how “flattery” can facilitate confinement is how women are “flattered” for being “beautiful.” We get to be on covers of magazines if we’re “pretty,” but often what’s really happening is our lives are being limited to serve others. We’re being kept small.

To write this novel, I’ve had to risk doing things I didn’t feel I was good at, to fall on my face and get up again. I hope I’m still doing that when I’m an old, old lady.

I can’t wait to share my book with you!

Margot

 

Are you on Team Pussy or Team Trump? Show your support and get a shirt!

“I will totally accept the results… if I win,” Donald Trump told a cheering crowd, reaching a new misogynistic low. Yes, it keeps being possible. By questioning the legitimacy of any victory but his own, Trump acts as if the glass ceiling Hillary Clinton busted just by being the nominee was somehow rigged for her all along.

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Like many of you, I feel stunned and sickened watching our country race backwards under the rubric “make America great again.” From #Repealthe19th (a sentiment you can only call fringe if Trump is fringe) to his hopes for mass deportation (“we have some bad hombres here and we need to get them out”) Trump’s effort to whip his angry, white, male voters into such a frenzy, they’ll stampede to the polls, terrifies me.

Team Pussy is a movement to get out the vote. It was created to mobilize and inspire women and men, young and old, to show up at the polls on November 8 to support women’s rights, that is human rights. Team Pussy comes at a unique moment in history. We’re on the verge of electing America’s first female president, a candidate who has worked tirelessly for thirty years to support women’s rights. Even Trump concedes she’s a fighter. We’re also in the midst of a national conversation about pussy. And it’s conversation that hasn’t always gone the way I’d like it to.

When the video leaked where Trump bragged to Billy Bush about grabbing women, pundits and politicians seemed more offended by the word “pussy” than “grab.” Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who’ve spent careers blocking or dismantling policies that empower women (reproductive rights, paid family leave, coverage for contraception, higher minimum wage, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act) reacted to Trump’s “vulgarity “or “lewdness” while taking no action to stop sexual assaults.

On CNN, when Ana Navarro quoted Trump, noted his misogyny, and demanded Republicans do more for women, Trump apologist Scottie Nell Hughes responded: “Will you please stop saying that word? My daughter is listening.”

Pussy isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. By shining a spotlight on sexism in the USA, Trump has done this country a warped kind of service. His personal, overt disdain for women is exposing America’s national, covert disdain. Misogyny is so ubiquitous in our country that, ironically, it’s become invisible to so many citizens; it’s so normal and reflexive that we’re lulled into colluding with a system of sexism we hardly notice anymore. Don’t look away now. Instead, let’s ignore Scottie Nell Hughes and talk about pussy.

I first researched and wrote about “pussy” in 2001 after a male friend used the word to insult a guy who backed out of a business deal. Of course, I’d heard it before, possibly said it myself, but suddenly, it struck me as wrong to use it to imply cowardice or ineffectiveness. Why must we equate weakness with the female sex organ?  Why have we for so long?

On Salon, I wrote:

I began to wonder how one — how we — might take the wussy out of pussy.

Is it possible to change the meaning of the word, to restore to “pussy” its deserved glory? Could we use pussy as a compliment? Could pussy denote someone or something as cool or heroic or impressive? “Rosa Parks — what a pussy!”…

Pussy has so much potential, it’s a shame to limit it to the immature and derisive mocking of weak boys. Let’s give it a shot in the arm! I envision hit songs featuring “pussy” — “Who Let the Pussies Out?” or “The Real Slim Pussy” or “The Real Shady Pussy.” Hallmark-type cards that read “Thanks for being such a pussy!” Colloquial expressions: “You da pussy!” “Stand up and fight like a pussy!”…

And when, and if, Joe consummates his next business deal, I’ll be there to toast him, saying, “You’re so pussy.”

Flattered, he’ll smile.

I wrote the post before social media and “going viral” were phrases we all used, but I created a bunch of “Team Pussy” T shirts  (at that time, just black with “Team Pussy” written in pink cursive) which sold out through my email in a few days. Though I was passionate about Team Pussy, I didn’t have the time or resources to dedicate to it, so I went on with life, trying to interject the word when I could. Fast forward to Trump’s video. People on social media started messaging me they were wearing their shirts or looking for their shirts. And then I watched the last debate and heard Trump asked if he would accept the results of the election, and heard him reply “I will look at it at the time.”

Let’s give the guy something to look at.The sides are so clear. You’re either on Team Pussy or Team Trump. Here’s a chance to make your choice loud and proud and inspire everyone who sees you. All merchandise features our cat and is available at our Team Pussy shop.  Our favorite shirt looks just like the art posted here. Its reverse sides reads: “Vote Nov 8.” All shirts are high quality, 100% cotton with a navy blue background and come in fitted or straight cut. We also have gorgeous, durable white totes with red handles showing the same art and “I’m with her” on the reverse side. The T shirt with just the cat will be available soon. I saved 4 XL vintage “Team Pussy” shirts from 2001 and I’m making those available now at the store.

Feel free to use our Team Pussy art as your profile pic which we urge you to do at least until November 8! This image below is sized perfectly for your Twitter profile. Suggested intro Tweet: “Joined #TeamPussy to GOTV on Nov. 8. I’m with her.”

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If you see a news story about someone doing something brave or cool, for example as Ijust did: Salma Hayek Claims Trump Leaked a False Story After Turning Him Down, then Tweet the story: “Salma Hayek is so pussy! #TeamPussy.” Nominate a #Pussyoftheday or give a shout out to one of your evergreen favorites: “Jessica Jones is so pussy! #GoTeamPussy.”

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For Instagram, here’s art sized perfectly if you want to switch up your profile pic.

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Post photos of you wearing #TeamPussy gear and our goal is to send you a free button or magnet once we get those in.

Our Team Pussy cat is worn out and pissed off, but she’s a fighter. She’s going to be out there every day with all of you, working hard to make sure Hillary Clinton wins big on November 8 with results that even Donald Trump won’t dare contest. Please join her. Thanks, pussies! Go team!

Follow #TeamPussy on Instagram @team.pussies.unite and Twitter @Pussiesvote

Visit our Team Pussy store now!

Can’t wait til November 8!!!!!!!!

 

At Billy Bush’s prep school, girls referred to as ‘toys’

Time Magazine just published a post: Colby Student: Billy Bush Exemplifies the Hypermasculinity on College Campuses with the tagline “A student from Bush’s alma mater says not much has changed.” Here’s my story. Billy Bush and I went to the same boarding school, St. George’s in Newport, Rhode Island. You may have read about the school recently in The New York Times or The Boston Globe or Vanity Fair because an investigation recently concluded that scores of students were raped and assaulted at the school, mostly during the 70s and 80s. While I was lucky enough not to be a victim of assault, this “elite” institution that supposedly educates “the best and the brightest,” like so many boarding schools was a bastion of sexism and racism, an old boys club where a culture of silence was encouraged and rewarded. The photo below is of me (on the left) and my friend, freshman year, in our high school yearbook from 1984. The caption reads “Todd’s toys.”

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Todd was a senior prefect. The saddest thing to me about this photo is that I, at 14 years old, aspired to be liked, desired, by older boys, that I believed my value and worth was determined by whether or not older males– the guys with the power– were attracted to me. St. George’s did nothing that I can recall to recognize this sexism or to empower female students. To the contrary, the school seemed to condone misogyny. There was an annual event at St. George’s called Casino Night where all the new girls, mostly freshman and sophomores, dressed up as bunnies, as in playboy-type bunnies, complete with fishnet stockings and cotton tails on our butts. Our job was to sell the boys– who were fully clothed and pretended to gamble– candy and fake cigarettes. Casino Night was not a secret event, it took place to much fanfare in the school dining hall. Every teacher and administrator knew about it.

When I heard the Billy Bush/ Donald Trump tape I wanted to scream because it was like everything I learned in high school, the objectification of women and girls, the metamorphosis of teenager from San Francisco into a “toy” bunny plaything, was being reinforced by a would-be president of the United States of America.I felt ill and the nausea hasn’t left me since.

What are girls supposed to think and feel and be when we grow up surrounded by this kind of sexism, when it’s so normal that no one even notices it? When teachers condone it by never addressing it?

After I learned about the sexual assaults and rapes at St. George’s, about a year ago, I started blogging about the story. Though even before I was told about the abuse and the cover ups, I’d written about the sexism I experienced there in blog titled Women, class, and the problem of privilege: Everything I learned about sexism, I learned at boarding school. 

I spoke to the investigators because they said they wanted to know about the culture of sexism at the school, how the place could’ve allowed the rapes to happen and go unreported. I was disappointed that the investigators didn’t publish more about the rape culture at the school, and I wrote many blogs about it, including one titled with a quote from a survivor: ‘There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.’

The links to the posts I wrote about St. George’s are listed below, though I removed the photos from the blogs. I had posted a photo, also from our 1984 yearbook, of a freshman girl dressed as a bunny on Casino Night. To me, the shame was on the school, not the girl, but when she told me she wanted it down, I respected her wishes. I took all the pictures  of students down except for the one with me in it that you can see above.

Misogyny is so ubiquitous in America, paradoxically, it’s invisible. It’s in our schools and colleges and the air we breathe, but we don’t even notice it. I’m not 14 years old anymore. I have three daughters of my own now. I want them to have the right to control their own bodies, to find their value in their achievements not in how they appear to men, to be ambitious, creative, and inspired, to dream big and to acquire the skills to realize their vision, to be valued as people, not toys. That’s why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton for president on November 8.

 

 

Reel Girl posts on St. George’s:

St. George’s, how should law enforcement respond to 911 call about possible rape at your school?

 

Back to school: Teach your kids healthy risk-taking instead of self-sabotage

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. — Marianne Williamson

When I was in my twenties and first saw the words above, they were misattributed to Nelson Mandela. I’m grateful for the mistake because at that time, I don’t think I would’ve have listened to a middle-aged white woman spiritualist. Nelson Mandela, on the other hand, was a hero so I got teary eyed. I felt the truth of what “he” said, maybe for the first time in my life.

Today was the first day back at school for my kids, and last night our house full of the annual excitement and anxiety. Along with my kids’s emotions, my husband and I were dealing with The Schedule, which, like for all parents I think, is a source of unending, brutal calculation and miscalculation.

So here’s how a typical conversation went  about setting up the schedule with one of my daughters who loves art.

Me: Would you like to take an art class?

Daughter: I suck at art.

Stab in my heart Me: No, you don’t!

Daughter: I want to be good but I suck.

More stabbing Me: Why do you say that?

Daughter: I’m bad at art!

I really fucked up.  How did I fuck up so badly? My10 year old daughter is convinced she’s bad at art. Something as subjective, as dynamic, as unfixed as art. All art? How can this be? How can she love it and think she’s bad at it? And then I looked at her, and I saw fear in her face. I remembered Williamson. I thought she’s afraid to take a risk. What is making art about if not risk?

Me: Why don’t you try the class and see if you like it?

Daughter: I told you, I’m bad at art.

Me: Can I tell you something it took years for me to learn?” I said. “It may not be true for you, but it was true for me.”

Daughter: Okay.

Me: Saying or just thinking I was bad at something was a really safe place to be. When I put myself down, there was nowhere to fall. But if ever I was feeling good about myself, someone could always come along and knock me down.

She nodded.

Me: Here’s what I know now. Putting yourself down isn’t cool or modest, it comes out of fear, because you’re scared. And I totally get being scared. But trying something new is a much more helpful way to deal with fear. Maybe you won’t like this art class, but you could meet a kid in the class who will become your best friend, or maybe you’ll discover you like horses from drawing horses. Maybe you’ll find out you love pastels and not water color.  You don’t know what will happen, but anything could and that makes scary but exciting.

She was looking at me, not talking.

Me: When you try something new, there will times when you’re going to fail. Guaranteed.  hundreds, thousands of times, and that’s a great sign. Failure means you’re learning. If you’re not messing up, you’re not learning anything.

She told me she wanted to try the class. I hope she got the message I was trying to convey. When adults think about taking risk, we often think of dramatic behavior: climb Mount Everest, fly a plane across the Atlantic, but for a kid, a huge risk can be trying a new food or saying hi to a classmate. The truth is adults feel the same way about risk, because when it comes down to it, risks are emotional. I hope to teach my kids to risk experiencing the full range of their emotions, to understand humans are verbs, dynamic and ever-changing instead of pigeon holed, stagnate, and “safe.”

Please feel free to add any personal stories in the comment section about your family stays emotional healthy. I always want to learn more.

 

 

 

While I was blogging…

This happened downstairs.

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Aragog’s web, strung across my living room. In case you didn’t know, he’s a giant spider (Harry Potter, Book 2, Chamber of Secrets.)

You may be wondering if I affirmed my daughters’s creativity (all 3 made this) or tore out my hair. I took the picture, crept upstairs, and shut my office door. Soon, their dad will be home.

Lucky Charms, they’re magically sexist!

Today, we had Lucky Charms for breakfast. Not the healthiest choice, I know, but that’s how it went down. My six year old daughter counted 8 different charms on the back of the box, each with a portrait and storyline. Out of those, just 2 are female. I’m not even talking about Lucky, the  leprechaun, I’m talking about the charms.

charms

My daughter read the box to me:

Hourglass is a smarty pants scientist whose inventions don’t always turn out the way he planned. He’s bringing his toolbox to the party.

In the photo above, you can see Hourglass on the left with the hat, a lock of brown hair, and a mustache.

That one she’s pointing to is Shooting Star

a seriously silly dude. He’s bringing juggling balls to the party…even though he doesn’t know how to juggle.

Guess what one of two girls (or as I call them Minority Feisty) is named? Rainbow. She is…

“the most magical charm of all. She wants to add some sparkle to the party with a disco ball.”

Good to know  her interior decorating skills are strong. What’s a girl who doesn’t want to add sparkle to her shoes, her dress, her soccer ball? Is she a girl at all?

My husband jokes that cereal boxes are like morning newspapers for kids. My three daughters fight about who gets to put the box in front of their bowl. Those boxes are seriously valuable real estate in kidworld and yet, there is a not a single female mascot on a children’s cereal box. Not a single one. I’ve written about this blatant sexism on Reel Girl for years but it was only when Raj from the hit show “The Big Bang Theory” made the same observation, that the issue got some traction. Things are going to change now, I thought. Raj has taken this issue on.

I was wrong. That episode aired three years ago. More stories keep coming and almost all of them are about males.

Reel Girls posts about sexism and children’s food packaging, girls get stereotyped or go missing:

Play ‘Find the Girls on the Cereal Box’ featuring…Captain Crunch!

New game to play with kids: Find the Girls on the Cereal Box!

M &Ms, Goldfish, cereal boxes, and the Minority Feisty

Raj’s list of all male cereal box characters from ‘Big Bang Theory’

“Big Bang Theory” mentions gender bias in kids’ cereal packaging

30 Greatest kids cereals of all time, 100% male characters

Today’s breakfast cereal shows female on the box, guess what she’s proud of?

Pepperidge Farm introduces Princess Goldfish, gendering kids’ food reaches new low

Good job on race, Cheerios, but what’s with the gender stereotypes?

Cheerios box shows kids girls gone missing

Buying my first box of Wheaties…

Why is Dora sunbathing in the freezer aisle?

New M & Ms package shows female getting stalked

Look what Ms. Green has to say on M & Ms’ Facebook page today

Why isn’t Pebbles on the Cocoa Pebbles?

Hey Goldfish Snack Crackers, girls aren’t a minority

How about some images of boys with your Reese’s Puffs?

St. George’s alumna creates fund for survivors sexually assaulted at school

Faulkner Fox, who graduated from St. George’s in 1981 and was a prefect at the school, has set up the SGS Alumni Therapy Fund to help survivors who were sexually assaulted at St. George’s and in need of therapy.

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When I asked her why she wanted to create the fund, she told me:

I was so concerned when I heard that alumni were in distress, some suicidal, after reading THE BOSTON GLOBE article. Not everyone has a therapist or a strong support network of friends and family.  It is unconscionable that St. George’s School has not set up immediate counseling and referral services.  I wanted to help support the vital 24/7 therapy service put in place by Anne Scott’s lawyers.

Here’s the text from SGS Alumni Therapy Fund page on generosity.com.

Dozens of alumni from St. George’s School were sexually abused while they were students at the school.  More victims have been coming forward since the BOSTON GLOBE ran a front page story, “A Prep School’s Dark Legacy,” on 12/15/15.  Some are very distressed, even suicidal, and they need to speak to a therapist immediately.  St. George’s School has not yet made such a service available.  We, concerned St. George’s alumni and supporters, are raising money to pay for psychologist, Dr. Paul Zeizel, a well-known clinician and trauma expert who treated many of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, to counsel St. George’s alumni who are in crisis.

 

Dr. Zeizel is available seven days a week to provide crisis assistance and local referrals to  people who were sexually assaulted at St. George’s.  Consultations are free to alumni and completely confidential.  Dr. Zeizel’s phone number is:  857 472 2704.  His email is paulzeizel@comcast.net.

 

If we raise enough money, Dr. Zeizel will also process requests for reimbursement for therapy that relates to past sexual abuse at St. George’s School.  He will maintain absolute confidentiality, yet his clients will be free to speak to anyone they choose about their abuse and who is paying for their therapy.

You can make credit card donation on the fund’s page.

If you want to make a donation by check, you can go to any Wells Fargo branch and ask to make a donation to the “SGS Alumni Therapy Fund.”

If you want to mail a check for Faulkner to deposit or if you have any questions about the fund, you can contact her at dfofaulkner@gmail.com

If you don’t know anything about the sexual assaults at St. George’s or want to learn more, you can look at previous blogs below.

Thank you for your support.

Comments on petition asking St. George’s for fair investigation into assaults make me cry

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Lawyer investigating St. George’s sexual assaults is partner of school’s legal counsel

Prep school alumni respond to St. Paul’s rape trial verdict

Comments on petition asking St. George’s for fair investigation into assaults make me cry

I’m so grateful for the bravery I see while reading through the comment section of the petition created by alumni of St George’s asking for a fair investigation into the sexual assaults at the school.

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I’m reposting some comments here:

I’ve seen first hand efforts by the current SGS administration to silence, intimidate, threaten lawsuits and even arrest of those who’ve reported abuse or stand up for victims. Dara Brewster Little Compton, RI

I witnessed this and did nothing Max Cottrell, Fairfield, CT

In support of friends who have bravely struggled for a long, long time  Willard Sistare Simsbury, CT

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Last Monday, the Boston Globe published a front page article about sexual abuse and cover ups at St. George’s School, an elite private school that I attended.

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When Anne Scott initially brought a suit against the school about her molestation by athletic trainer, Al Gibbs, lawyers representing St.George’s claimed she “has a tendency to lie.” They also said that if the 15 year old had sex with the 67 year old, it was consensual. Let me remind you, lawyers representing a school seemed to have no concept of statutory rape. St. George’s also sought to change the case from a “Jane Doe” to use Scott’s real name. Intimidated, Scott dropped her case. Years later, still suffering from the abuse at St. George’s, Scott demanded the school contact alumni about abuse that may have happened. Scott was certain there were other victims. She wanted the school to be accountable and to reach out to others who may  need help. St. George’s started an investigation and sent out letters. According to the school, “tens of women” have responded that they are survivors of abuse. But one of the problems with the investigation is that more victims have said they are not comfortable talking about their experiences to Will Hannum, the lead investigator hired by St. George’s. Hannum is not only a lawyer but a partner of the counsel for St. George’s, not the ideal person to speak with about these experiences. I have been contacted by women who feel this way.

In August, after news about the St. Paul’s rape, another boarding school, the night of “senior salute” I blogged about “Casino Night” a sexist “tradition” when I went to St. George’s. On “Casino Night” all the new girls were supposed to dress up as playboy-like bunnies and sell candy to the older boys who gambled. After that blog (which I learned roughly coincided with St. George’s letter about its investigation) I was contacted by a former student from St. George’s who was sexually assaulted at the school around that time. She was scared to talk to Hannum because she was concerned his goal might be to gather information to protect the school from a lawsuit. Since my blogs, I’ve been contacted by others, first and second hand, about sexual assaults at the school who didn’t know where to turn. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has been approached.

Here are more facts since the Globe article came out about how St. George’s continues to fail it’s alumni from the counsel for Anne Scott (’80), Joan (Bege) Reynolds (’79) and Katie Wales (’80): Eric MacLeish (SGS ’70)

 

  • Since the December 15, 2015 article in the Boston Globe we have received reports from eleven additional alumnae who were sexually molested and assaulted by former SGS athletic trainer Al Gibbs. We also have other calls to return so that figure will rise tomorrow
  • Virtually all of the alumnae are or have suffered psychological injury as a result of their abuse by Gibbs and some are currently in states of crisis. Two have reported suicidal ideation. We are referring alumnae to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (which has agreed to handle calls from outside Massachusetts). We are searching immediately for a clinician to provide crisis services for these individuals and to make referrals. We have asked SGS to retain such a clinician but SGS has not responded
  • Based on Mr. Zane’s notes of four Gibbs victims in the Scott case and the three clients who we represent, the number of Gibbs alumnae victims that we are aware of currently total eighteen
  • SGS has still refused to disclose the number of victims who have come forward to the School alleging sexual assault by Gibbs. This number is likely much higher than the eighteen alumnae victims that we are aware of
  • Headmaster Peterson stated in his letter of November 2, 2015 to alumni that the “majority” of the abuse reports center around three individuals and that most of the reports fall in the 1970’s and 1980’s. We have received reports of abuse from alumni over the past four days, including reports from two former Trustees, regarding five SGS former employees; one report was as recent as 2004
  • SGS has shown a pattern of conduct since 1979 of coercing alumnae who were abused by Gibbs into silence. A student who alleged she was abused in 1979 was told that she was mentally ill and was required to see the School’s consulting psychologist. More recent tactics under current school leadership include requiring a victim seeking mental health care because of Gibbs’ abuse to sign an agreement prohibiting the victim from speaking of about the abuse publicly and, further, that she not “disparage” the School
  • SGS employees violated the Rhode Island Mandatory Abuse reporting law on Gibbs sexual molestation thereby subjecting other children to risks of abuse as Gibbs was alive for fifteen years after he left SGS. We have also received credible reports that SGS violated the same law in 1988, at which time the alleged perpetrator left SGS and went on to teach at another prep school for 11 years
  • Many alumni who came forward to report abuse to the “independent” investigator which Headmaster Peterson referred to in his April 7th letter to alumni were not told by the investigator that he was a partner in a law firm that was actually representing SGS
  • The School’s victim assistance package continues to contain a confidentiality clause which prevents alumni from disclosing that SGS is paying for assistance. At the same time, the agreement contains no provision that requires SGS to keep a victim’s name and assistance package confidential

 

  • SGS alumni have started an online public petition requesting that the School take immediate measures to conduct an independent investigation and provide for an alumni mental health assistance program that is consistent with what other independent school programs have done in similar situations. The petition can be found here

Over the past four days, we have received reports that Headmaster Peterson has been aware of Gibbs’ abuse of SGS students for many years; it was only after he was approached by Anne Scott in February of 2015 that the School sent out its first alumni letter. Mr. MacLeish contacted Mr. Peterson urging him to send out an alumni letter on Gibbs in 2012

From Counsel for Anne Scott (’80), Joan (Bege) Reynolds (’79) and Katie Wales (’80): Eric MacLeish (SGS ’70) and Carmen Durso.

Contact information:  

Anne Scott 443-282-4487, annewmscott@gmail.com;

Eric MacLeish, 617-494-1920, rmacleish@chelaw.com;

Carmen Durso, 617-728-9123, carmen@dursolaw.com

If you care about helping survivors of sexual assault and protecting all kids from having this happen to them, please sign this petition 

 UPDATE: Eric MacLeish contacted me with this info: we retained a clinician, Dr. Paul Zeizel, who is available 7 days a week for SGS victims. He can provide crisis counseling for SGS alums that is confidential. His mobile phone is 857 472 2704. His email is paulzeizel@comcast.net