Nobel Laureates Fight Sexual Assualt

My grandmother used to say: “The rich suffer too but they suffer in comfort.”

Apparently for the wealthy deposed IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, suffering in comfort won’t come easy. He has been denied the right to live in one comfortable NY apartment after another as a consequence of his alleged sexual assault upon a hotel maid.

Without making judgments about “DSK” who will soon enough have his day(s) in court, I take this shunning as a positive sign that the world is awakening to the dirty big secret of sexual abuse, which is almost always perpetrated by men against women they perceive as less powerful than themselves.

As further proof of this awakening, this week, Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, and Mairead Maguire are leading a conference to addresses sexual violence in conflict regions at the Nobel Women’s Initiative Conference. The conference is entitled Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict and includes over 120 leaders from around the world.

The highlight of the conference will be Thursday’s online day of action, which will seek to target governments and pressure them to give sexual violence the attention it deserves. The link provides several ways for women around the world to participate, and I would love to hear if any of you, Heartfeldt readers, take part.

I’m hoping that in light of the many kinds of sexual abuse, harassment, and just plain bad behavior that has dominated the media in the last few weeks, these influential Nobel Laureates will address a broader range of abuse issues than those that occur in areas of conflict, and will use their platform to connect the dots among the various ways sexual violence and harassment are used to maintain gender inequality.

You can also follow each day of this important event by following Feministe writer and author of Yes Means Yes, Jaclyn Friedman, as she live blogs about the event.

No one, rich or poor, should have to suffer the pain and indignity of sexual abuse.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Dali Time Happy New Year

There’s a wonderful exhibit of surrealist Salvador Dali paintings and sculptures in New York’s Time Warner Center. They’re so alluring, they’re even upstaging the huge Botero Adam and Eve sculptures that attract much photo-snapping of people grinning slyly at Adam’s eye-level penis.

I am mesmerized by Dali’s clock sculptures. They drip time, melt time, warp time. Juxtapose fast and slow passage of time, or rather tease us for thinking such mundane distinctions exist. Apparently Dali agreed with Albert Einstein that time exists only so that everything doesn’t happen at once.

The Dance of Time

We may dance with time in our imaginations, but we mere realists and non-Einsteins need some concrete delineations of when things start and stop. Because too often it does feel as though everything is happening at once.

Milestones, Resolutions, Predictions
The New Year is a marker when we tend to think and talk about time a lot.

We look back on the big news events and personal milestones of the past year, clean out the closets of our minds, and make resolutions about what we plan to do in the next 365 day chunk of time. (Plug here—check out the new 9 Ways Power Tune-up and Journal for questions to help you consider where you are and where you want to go in your work, civic life, and personal relationships in the New Year.)

I asked my Facebook friends and Twitter followers what they think the biggest news stories of 2010 were. Responses range from Wikileaks to DADT repeal to Democrats losing the elections and therefore being freed to get some work done. That’s a very positive spin on my biggest disappointment, which the Democratic Congress and Barack Obama’s squandered time due to unwillingness to push hard enough against Republican recalcitrance on everything from judicial appointments to tax cuts for the wealthy. The campaign-promised Freedom of Choice Act was relegated to the ash heap without a peep from the women’s groups; the Paycheck Fairness Act was given a pro-forma fight but clearly wasn’t on Obama’s going home list.

On the plus side, seeing the fourth-ever woman appointed to the U.S, Supreme Court, bringing the current Court to one-third female symbolizes a shift toward leadership parity  that can’t be ignored and that despite a small step backward for women in the new Congress is, I believe, stoppable only if women ourselves fail to pursue leadership opportunities.

What are your picks?

Trends I Like

Significant gender power trend stories began with noting that 2010 was the year that women became half of the paid workforce, and ended with the emergence of stories like this one about men in the always-ahead-of-the-curve Netherlands taking “daddy-time,” working four days a week instead of five or making their flexible workdays compatible with their family responsibilities. I hope that the next great wave of the feminist movement will be men and women together changing the workplace so both can have a life and earn a living.

And in the “we’re not going to accept that any more” category, we saw Emily May’s new Hollaback saying “no” to street harassers; the Women’s Media Center, Political Parity, and Women’s Campaign Forum collaborating on the Name It Change It campaign to call out the shockingly rampant sexism in political media; and formal and informal groups like EVE and SheShouldTalkAtTed springing up all over to claim an equal share of the both historical representations and thought leadership for the future.

What’s Next?

What do you predict will happen in 2011? What are you going to make happen?

I love columnist Ellen Goodman’s approach: “We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.” And we’d do well to heed the inimitable late Art Buchwald, “Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.”

Whatever we do in the shiny New Year time ahead, let us be cognizant that the present we create will one day be someone else’s history; our actions, someone else’s inspiration.

But back to Dali time: You can find some great photos here, and you can see the exhibit at Time Warner until April 30.  Now I must rush over there to Whole Foods and buy some black-eyed peas so I’ll be assured of good luck in 2011. Goodness knows we’ll need lots of good luck for all the work there is to be done in the Brave New Year.

Wishing you and your family a New Year filled with much good luck, good health, and plenty of time for love and art and whatever purpose fills you with joy, but, of course, No Excuses.

Nobility of Time
The Snail and the Angel

Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.