Sexual Harassment is Everywhere

I am so glad the words ‘sexual harassment’ are in every newspaper and article I read right now. I am glad perpetrators are being accused, and I am glad that assaulted women and men are coming forward and shaping a better tomorrow.

Amidst the incredible cultural movement taking place, I decided to dig deeper into the matter by reading Gretchen Carlson’s amazing book, Be Fierce.

Carlson is an author, American television personality and the Chairwoman of the Miss America Board of Directors. In 2016, she filed a lawsuit against Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes claiming sexual harassment. After her claims, other women came forward and also accused Ailes of harassment.

Carlson decided to speak up about sexual harassment in the workplace. While writing her book, hundreds of women came up to her and told their own stories – some from 10 years ago. It is unbelievable what some of these women have been through.

In the book you will find examples of women who decided to tell their own stories, as well as ideas about how we can attack this problem from its roots and how we can work together to end it. The book offers legal advice on what to do in case you ever find yourself in this situation and last but not least, it urges readers to remember that if you are a victim you should never, ever, keep it to yourself.

In Mexico, only 40% of cases of sexual harassment in the workplace are reported and it is not even considered an occupational hazard. Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or offensive work environment must be considered sexual harassment. Let’s be clear about something: harassment in the workplace doesn’t need to involve physical contact. Sexist and intimidating comments also constitute harassment.

Carlson mentions in her book that “being professional in this industry means learning to accept a certain amount of that kind of talk” – referring to inappropriate comments. As I read this line, I froze. Why is it that some men believe they have the power to address women in this manner? Women can be afraid to speak up, and this has got to change. As Carlson says, “sharing your story is the first step and every time a new woman steps forward, a few others see they can too.”

She mentions a man who thanked her for what she is doing for his daughters, and I think this marks a very special and crucial moment. From an early age we must empower our daughters and raise them to be bold, to identify any form of harassment and most importantly, never to feel guilty or oppressed by this kind of behaviour. In her chapter ‘Men Who Defend’, Carlson talks about how many men have reached out to her in admiration of what she is doing and everything she has accomplished. I agree with her: men have to get on board and fight this battle with us, the misconception is that this is a women’s problem rather than a problem concerning us all as society.

We have to raise our voices, not only so that the message that harassment is unacceptable reaches everyone, but also so that it is well received and empowering. As we all know, harassed woman are still not believed when they finally decide to speak up. There is often doubt towards their testimonies, there is often ‘slut shaming’, there are often questions – why was she silent all these years? Why was she wearing that? Why is she such an attention seeker? Why can’t she take a joke?

Sexual harassment is not contained to the entertainment industry; it’s in many industries, many work places, it’s everywhere. We are living in a historic time of unity. Be part of this change and if you’re currently being harassed within your workplace don’t be afraid to seek help, as Carlson advises: keep a copy of every email, photograph or text as evidence of your harassment and speak up. Companies must implement internal procedures so workers know what to do in case of harassment.

To all of you who are or have been in this unfortunate position, I want you to know that you are strong and brave, Hollywood wants you to know that time’s up, and Gretchen Carlson wants you to know that you are fierce.

Girls’ Globe Book Tour: Finland

Finnish literature echoes the country’s vast forests, icy winters and endless summer nights. But also, at times, the conservatism and racism, social gaps, and haunting memories from the two world wars. At its best, it’s dark, witty, and brave – particularly the works of these five writers.

Outside of Finland, Tove Jansson (1914-2001) is best known as the creator of the wildly popular Moomins. Jansson was a multitalented artist who wrote and illustrated fiction for children and adults. She also led an ‘unconventional’ life, choosing never to marry or have children, but instead to put her artistry first. She often approached taboo themes, for instance, she incorporated her romantic relationships with women in her stories. (In Finland, homosexuality was considered an illness until 1981.)

The Summer Book is set on an island in the Finnish archipelago. Sophia and her grandmother spend the summer on the remote island, observing and living in harmony with the animals, birds and natural forces around them. It’s a quiet and soothing story about the sea, friendship, life and death, written without beautifying filters or nostalgia.

I only want to live in peace, plant potatoes and dream! – Tove Jansson

Katja Kettu wrote her most successful novel in the back of a car, while she and her boyfriend were travelling back to Helsinki from Rovaniemi, the small city in the north of Finland close to the Arctic Circle where she grew up. Maybe that is why her writing is as wild and untamed as the northern lights. Katja also works as a director of animated films, and her bestseller The Midwife was turned into a movie.

The Midwife is a controversial love story between a Nazi officer and a Finnish midwife during WWII, set in the icy forests of Finnish Lapland. The midwife falls in love at first sight with the handsome officer who one day comes to the village as a photographer. She joins the German side as a volunteer nurse, just to be close to him. Brutal murder, abortions, pain… Is all really fair in love and war? A magical, hypnotic, fleshy, and disgusting story about love.

Rosa Liksom is a Finnish writer and artist from Lapland who has produced a large number of novels, children’s books, art books, and plays. In 2011, she was awarded the Finlandia prize for her novel Compartment no 6.

On a long train journey from a wintery Moscow to Mongolia, a young Finnish woman gets stuck in the same compartment as a talkative, foul-mouthed former soldier. He talks and drinks endlessly during the long journey, and even trying to silence him by pouring a bottle of nail polish remover into his vodka doesn’t help. The pen of Liksom is poetic, dramatic and incredibly witty.

Sofi Oksanen is one of the best known contemporary Finnish writers. Her stories are brave and fierce, and she’s not afraid to attack touchy subjects. In Sofi’s debut novel Stalin’s Cows, the eating disorder of the main character and the racism she and her Estonian mother are subjected to make the novel a very painful read at times – but also an honest and touching one.

The bestseller Purge is set in Estonia, where the worlds of Zara and Aliide collide. Zara is a trafficking victim on the run from her pimp, who ends up as by chance in Aliide’s backyard. But, it turns out that the meeting of the two women might not be a coincidence at all. Here begins a story of past horrors, sexual abuse, and how history is written by the winners – but we all have blood on our hands.

If you enjoy discovering new female authors, make sure to read Girls’ Globe’s recommendations from Sweden, Latin America and Scotland too!

4 Scottish Authors You Need on Your Bookshelf

There is, and has always been, a wealth of wonderful and unique writing coming out of Scotland. Here are some of my favourite female Scottish writers, both long-loved and newly-discovered:

Ali Smith

One of Scotland’s best-loved writers, Ali Smith is an author, playwright, lecturer and journalist whose novels and short stories have gathered multiple prizes and endless admirers. Born and raised in Inverness, a small city in the north of Scotland, Smith started writing poetry at just 8 years old.

There’s a long list of Smith novels to choose from, but my favourite is Hotel World, a mesmerising and inventive piece of writing in which Smith is beautifully playful with language – often going pages at a time without punctuating the stream-of-consciousness of her narrators.

“Stories can change lives if we’re not careful. They will come in and take the shirts off our backs. Tell the right stories, and we live better lives.”

– Ali Smith, during a radio interview in 2016

Jenni Fagan 

A poet and novelist, Fagan graduated from Greenwich University with the highest possible grade for a creative writing. She was was included in the most recent Granta list of the 20 Best Young British Novelists. In fact, she was the only Scottish writer on that list.

Her debut novel, The Panopticon, tells of Anais Hendricks, a teenage girl in care. Told in a first person Scottish vernacular, the novel pulls on Fagan’s own experience of life – she was looked after by the state for 16 years – without succumbing to the slightest hint of cliche.

The sky is a vast black. Each star up there is just a wee pinhole letting in pure-white light. Imagine if it was all pure-white light on the other side of that sky.

– Jenni Fagan, The Panopticon, 2012

Kirsty Logan 

Kirsty Logan is fiction writer, book reviewer and writing mentor. She lives in Glasgow where, according to her own website, she drinks coffee, listens to true crime podcasts and dreams of the sea.

Try The Gracekeepers, a magical story of a floating circus and two young women in search of a home. Filled with inspiration from Scottish folklore and fairytales, Logan’s lyrical debut made me think of Angela Carter’s writing in the best possible way.

We don’t belong anywhere, because we can belong everywhere.

– Kirsty Logan, The Gracekeepers, 2015

Janice Galloway 

Another of Scotland’s most esteemed female writers, Galloway is the author of several novels, short stories and poetry collections. She has done extensive radio work for the BBC, and is a writer in residence at four Scottish prisons.

Her first novel, The Trick is to Keep Breathing, is widely regarded as a Scottish literary classic. Dealing with depression and trauma, it is bravely written and brutally honest, and manages to be exhilarating at the same time as full to the brim with despair.

“No matter how often I think I can’t stand it anymore, I always do. There is no alternative. I don’t fall, I don’t foam at the mouth, faint, collapse or die. It’s the same for all of us. You can’t get out of the inside of your own head. Something keeps you going. Something always does.”

– Janice Galloway, The Trick is to Keep Breathing, 1989

You can join Girls’ Globe on our global book tour of female authors. Try these writers from Sweden and Latin America…you might just discover your new favourite!

Books to Make You Feel Bold

To mark International Women’s Day 2017 we’ve been celebrating the commitment and courage of the bloggers and organisations in Girls’ Globe’s network.

We asked each of them to share their secrets of feeling BOLD. Here are the top 20 books that Girls’ Globe reads to feel inspired, emboldened and ready to take action!

  1. We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    What does “feminism” mean today? That’s the question
    at the heart of this personal, eloquently-argued essay.

    Book 1

  2. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, Nujood Ali
    Nujood Ali’s father arranged for her to be married to a man three times her age. This book reminds us that hope is a verb.
  3. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
    This innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers through one woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life.
  4. Daring Greatly, Brené Brown
    A powerful new vision that encourages us to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.
  5. Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby
    The most inclusive anthology ever attempted of oral and written literature–in every conceivable genre–by women of African descent the world over.
  6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
    A world of make-believe to delight readers young and old, where the height of adventure is limited only by the depths of imagination.

    Book 6

  7. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
    Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary is an eloquent testament to the human spirit.
  8. Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
    A sharp and funny look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we need to do better.

    Book 5

  9. In a Different Voice, Carol Gilligan
    This book started a revolution. Published decades ago, it made women’s voices heard, in their own right, with their own integrity.
  10. The Start Up of You, Reid Hoffman
    I would recommend this book to every young woman (and man) I know. It discusses how we can be the master of our own destiny, which is emboldening.
  11. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
    First published in 1937 and generally dismissed by reviewers, this novel is now embraced as one of the greatest works of the 20th century.

    Book 2

  12. This Sex Which is Not One, Luce Irigaray
    Irigaray reconsiders the question of female sexuality in light of current discussion of feminist theory and practice.
  13. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
    A true account of a man dying of cancer reminds us of the fragility of life, how important it is to seize every moment and to hold on to the things that matter.
  14. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
    This classic novel of freedom and longing has inspired every generation since its initial publication.

    Book 3

  15. Unbowed, Wangari Maathai
    Winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and single mother of three recounts her extraordinary life as a political activist, feminist, and environmentalist in Kenya.
  16. The Women’s History of the World, Rosalind Miles
    Women’s vital part in the shaping of the world has been consistently undervalued or ignored – this book sets the record straight.
  17. The Blue Sweater, Jacqueline Novogratz
    The story of a woman who left a career in international banking to try to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it.
  18. Just Kids, Patti Smith 
    The legendary American artist’s first book of prose offers an an honest and moving story of youth and friendship.
  19. The Hobbit, J.R. Tolkien
    Recognized as a timeless classic, this much-loved story recounts the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring and a cruel dragon.
  20. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
    An unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

    Book 4

    How many of these books have you read? Which titles would make it onto your own list? We’d love for you to share your ‘Books to Make You Feel Bold’ recommendations with us – please leave a comment or use #BeBoldForChange on FacebookInstagram or Twitter

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

Paige McKenzie, young author and YouTube phenom, recently released her first book. Based on her incredibly successful YouTube channelThe Haunting of Sunshine Girl tells the story of Sunshine, a 16-year-old girl living in a haunted house.  Described as “Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity,” The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is certain to delight readers young and old. A few weeks ago, I had the fantastic opportunity to read Paige’s book and I can say with confidence you will not be disappointed. Afterwards, I spoke with Paige about her book and her plans for the future. Find out what she had to say below:

Q: You started your YouTube channel four years ago, a channel which now has over 250,000 subscribers and over 132 million views. What inspired you to create a fictional web series about ghosts? Did you ever expect your channel to have such a large following?

A: I knew I had something special with the views (and the comments!) started rolling in. I was cautiously optimistic when I started. Now I am looking forward to the continued growth and all the new fun to have!

Q: Sunshine, the protagonist, is a strong yet quirky female character. She likes vintage clothes, old records, and old-fashioned photography. How did you come up with her character traits? Do you see yourself in Sunshine?

A: I always say that I am like 99.5% Sunshine! We look a lot alike, we have similar interests, she is celiac and so am I, she has a love/hate relationship with her curls as do I, etc. I knew that a huge part of any success on YouTube had to come from being very authentic. I also knew I wouldn’t have time to really create a character. So the answer was easy – be myself! Plus, I am good at it!

Q: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been called a “must-read” by USA Today and praised by renowned horror writers like R.L. Stine and Wes Craven. How does that make you feel?

A: Honestly, I am so proud of this book. I wanted the existing fan base, my Sunshiners, to like the book and I really hoped that people that just like to read scary young adult books would also enjoy the read. The fact that these “horror gurus” like it is such an amazing bonus. I am completely humbled!

Q: What challenges have you faced in making the web series and in writing the book?

A: The biggest challenge with the YouTube web series is the fact that telling a story on YouTube is still a very uphill battle! YouTube is not very easy to navigate if the channel you are watching is best watched in a certain order. The struggle with the book was figuring out how to take a story that already existed and expand it for a book. So many more details and so many choices had to be made. But my co-author Alyssa made it so much easier than I could have ever dreamed of!

Q: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, although your first book, is certainly not your last. Your second book, The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl, is due to be published in March of next year. What else can we expect from you?

A:  Book 2 is due out in March 2016 and book 3 a year after that! Then there is the TV show (and maybe even a film or two!) and hopefully a series of books for younger kids. I would love to do that! I also am starting to get some opportunities to do roles outside of Sunshine which is a fun bonus!

Q: What has been your favorite part of the entire Sunshine Girl process? What is your favorite part of the book?

A: I have had so much fun from the very beginning! I can remember the first time my mom told me about the idea for a YouTube channel. I know right then that there was something special about the idea! I have loved every moment since then. Doing the book is extremely fun because it introduced me to the literary world, a world I love: books books books! But really, my favorite part is yet to come: The Weinstein Company turning The Haunting of Sunshine Girl into a TV show with me as Sunshine is literally a dream come true!

Q: What advice can you give to young girls out there who want to become an author?

A: Write, write, write! I mean, really. Write every day. Keep a journal, write letters (even emails), write short stories. My other piece of advice is to find authors you admire and follow them on social media. Pay attention to the advice they give. Almost every author has a blog or website (or both) where they will answer questions and share their story. Take advantage of that!

HauntingSunshineGirl HC coverBecome a Sunshiner! Follow the Haunted Sunshine series on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Buy the book on Amazon or at your local bookstore today!

When Time Stood Still: A Story of Courage, Survival, and Healing

Once in a while a book comes around that will have a profound impact on the lives of others. In a rare combination of personal reflection and professional insight, When Time Stood Still is a book that will not only assist in the healing of survivors, but also in public acknowledgement and understanding of childhood sexual abuse.

​The prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to determine in the world, as many victims are too young or vulnerable to disclose the experience. According to the Children Assessment Centre (CAC), an estimated 500,000 children were born in the US in 2014 will be sexually abused before they turn 18. Statistics available state that child rape occurs every two minutes and that 90 percent of molesters abuse children they know. Adult retrospective studies show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18. This translates to more than 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse living in the US.

When Time Stood Still is a rare experience, not only for the authors, but for readers.

Survivors of abuse face numerous long-term negative effects, such as eating disorders, substances abuse disorders, sexual dysfunction, and most commonly experience guilt, shame, depression, relationship difficulties, and/or other types of dissociative disorders. Historically, there have been two broad approaches to the treatment of child sexual abuse: a victim advocacy/child welfare approach and a family-systems model. However, over the last two decades there have been a number of clinicians and researchers who have studied and developed new comprehensive treatment models. One such model is uniquely described in When A Time Stood Still.

When Time Stood Still gives readers a “living picture” of the use of art therapy in treating child sexual abuse in conjunction with professional therapeutic dialogue. With astonishing courage and bravery, Ziv Koren, a 36 year-old social worker, who was sexually abused by her uncle from ages 6 till 16, shares her personal story of recovery. The book lays out full narratives, including email exchanges between Ziv and Professor Rachel Lev-Wiesel, PhD., founder and head of the Graduate School of Creative Arts Therapies & the director of The Emili Sagol CAT Research Center at the University of Haifa.

While Ziv had never drawn in her life, she was encouraged to take much of the written material she had created over the past six years of therapy and translate them into art. In the first half of the book, readers are given the unique opportunity to not only see the drawings created – which at times can be very difficult to view – but to read the exchange between therapist and survivor as they try to determine what emotions and memories are exemplified within the art. Readers travel with Ziv as she moves from a state of dissociation and detachment from her past, to a full confrontation with her memories, as well as with her perpetrator.

The second part of the book presents and summarizes the current data on the uniqueness of childhood sexual abuse, including the five “traumagenic constructs” that Prof. Lev-Wiesel introduced to the field: Soul’s Homelessness, Captured in Time, Entrapped in Distorted Intimacy, Betrayal Entrapment, and Reenactment.

It is clear from the very first drawing that Ziv and Prof. Lev-Wiesel were embarking on an incredible journey of healing. Throughout their time together, Ziv created about 60 drawings, each reflecting various times of the abuse, unconscious symbols of pain, and integration of body and mind. Thanks to an intensive and continuous relationship with Prof. Lev-Wiesel, Ziv began to transform, healing the severe symptoms of her trauma. She became less addicted to pornography and ended S&M sexual relationships. She began to sleep for longer hours, and taking better care of her nutrition, hygiene and appearance. And after 20 years, Ziv was able to confront her uncle and see him clearly as a perpetrator and someone who hurt her.

When Time Stood Still is a rare experience, not only for the authors, but for readers. Insight into such personal trauma can, at times, feel overwhelming and too personal, as if someone’s personal diary was placed in your hands. It will not only assist professionals to better understand the uniqueness of child sexual abuse, the resulting trauma, and the healing process, but will give much to survivors and those seeking to learn more about abuse. Thanks to Ziv’s persistence and bravery, the unique tool of art was uncovered that will assist therapists working with victims of trauma. And it will no doubt, help countless of survivors.

The book can be purchased on Amazon in Paperback, Kindle, or E-Book.

 

Professor Rachel Lev-Wiesel, PhD. has been a therapist helping survivors of child sexual abuse for over 30 years, and has published 130 scientific papers and chapters on trauma, child abuse, sexual abuse, and the use of drawings for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. 

Ziv Koren, MA, is a social worker and art therapist at the unit for treatment of released prisoners in the Ministry of Social Welfare, in Israel.