This Week In Women: The 'Girls' Cast's Emotional PSA, Rape Culture + More
One of these days, we’ll be able to bring you a this week in women post that’s only made up of news. Today is not that day. Instead, we offer you the next best thing: a handful of stories about women uplifting each other—as a response to discrimination and sexual violence, but still!
Ellen Pao Calls Out Silicon Valley Sexism
It’s no secret that there’s a serious lack of women in tech, thanks to a combination of young girls being discouraged from pursuing STEM careers and rampant discrimination against the very few women who do so anyway. Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao famously challenged Silicon Valley’s discriminatory culture in 2012 when she sued her employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, for gender discrimination. Although Pao lost the case, her suit raised important questions about discrimination and diversity in the tech and VC world.
Pao, who has since resigned from both Kleiner Perkins and Reddit, is the founder of Project Include, a non-profit that works toward increasing diversity and inclusion in tech companies. She’s also begun penning her memoir, Reset, which Random House declared a “fearless first-person account exposing the toxic culture that pervades the tech industry.” Reset has no release date as of yet, but its exposé-slash-celebrity-memoir premise is highly intriguing.
Girls Supporting Girls (and other survivors of sexual assault)
By now, you’ve probably read the powerful letter the Stanford rape victim read to her attacker, Brock Turner, who was only sentenced to a mere six months in county jail and probation because the judge feared a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on him. Since then, the internet has been abuzz with support for the Stanford victim, who has chosen to remain anonymous—with a few notable exceptions. Turner’s childhood friend, Leslie Rasmussen, also wrote a letter to Judge Aaron Persk, in which she spoke out against Turner’s conviction and blamed the rape on political correctness and college party culture.
Meanwhile, Lena Dunham, her Girls co-stars Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, and Zosia Mamet have released a public service announcement voicing their support for sexual assault survivors, which Dunham dedicated to the “brave survivor in the Stanford case who has given so much to the conversation.” In it, they encourage all of us to support and listen to victims of sexual assault instead of immediately judging them or accusing them of lying.
I dedicate this to the brave survivor in the Stanford case who has given so much to change the conversation. https://t.co/KMOJUxvPu0
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) June 8, 2016
“Why is our default reaction as a society to disbelieve, or to silence, or to shame?” they ask. “What if we chose to turn towards those in need instead of away? To listen. To support.”
Not everyone can create a well-produced public service announcement in support of sexual assault survivors—but everyone can do something to help.
The Secret Facebook Group Fighting Rape Culture
Speaking of women supporting women, the members of GRLCVLT, a national secret society/hidden Facebook group for women, are hosting a “Fuck Rape Culture” party/letter-writing campaign in support of the Stanford rape victim. Through the campaign, they hope to express their dissatisfaction with the “unreasonably lenient sentence” Brock Turner received and to unseat Judge Aaron Persk, who presided over the case.
“I put together the event last Sunday night,” Remy Holwick, one of the event organizers, told Brokelyn. “First I invited 10 people to my living room, I saw us all signing forms [to unseat Judge Aaron Persky] and putting them in the mail. One of those 10 girls was a PR agent. Within an hour, we had the venue. Within a day, liquor sponsors.”
If you can’t make it to either event, GRLCVLT is also providing online letter templates that you can send yourself. If you can make it, then definitely go—what’s better than drinking while fighting against rape culture?
Images via The New York Times, GRLCVLT
Stay tuned to Milk for more of This Week in Women, and check out our previous installments.