Tag Archives: Lori Weinstein

The Evil on Modern Campuses

By Lori Weinstein, CEO/Executive Director, JWILoriWeinstein

While I’ve never called out another woman, I have a problem with Camille Paglia. Here, I’m talking about her recent post on time.com, “The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil.” In less than 750 words, she summarily dismisses the issue of assault on college campuses, denigrates women and attempts to set the domestic violence movement back decades. Her post is dangerous, misleading and ill-informed. When a 20 year old man takes advantage of an inexperienced 18 year old woman in order to have sex with her against her will, Camille, this is not a case of mixed consent, or “oafish hookup melodrama.” It is rape. Rape is not just committed by psychotic strangers. It is committed by acquaintances and friends and lovers. It is not about the animalistic male sexuality that responds uncontrollably to provocatively dressed co-eds. Rape is about power and control and is has become an epidemic on our nation’s campuses.

There is no hierarchy. We do not put predators at the top of the list and sexual assault on college campuses at the bottom. Violence is violence is violence.

We used to segment violence—stranger rape vs date rape. But rape is rape. And violence is violence. Paglia writes as if those women who were sexually assaulted against their will by another student should just shake it off—feel lucky that they weren’t the victim of a real crime. That they have no right to complain because somehow their attacks are less than.

Lilly Jay at the launch of White House Initiative

Lilly Jay at the launch of White House Initiative “It’s On Us.” Photo by Nicole Radivilov | Contributing Photo Editor, GW Hatchet.

So explain that to young women like Lilly Jay, who was raped as a freshman at Amherst and spoke last week at the White House about her struggle to “reclaim college.” Understand what actually happens here—imagine, being raped or assaulted and having to sit in class or walk the hallways with your assailant. Could you concentrate on your studies? Imagine being all to certain that any attempt to report the attack will go nowhere—or worse, that you’ll have to confront your attacker face to face only to have him exonerated because maybe you were drinking. Or were wearing a crop top. Or didn’t say no that final time.

So, you stay quiet. Or transfer. The physical and psychological pain forever scarring.

Just today, the University of Oregon, a school not even named on the list of 55 colleges under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education about their handling of sexual assaults, released the results of a survey that 10 percent of the students surveyed were raped and 90 percent of the students assaulted, never spoke of the violence.

And Paglia thinks colleges should “stick to academics and stop their infantilizing supervision of students’ dating lives.” Camille, it is the colleges’ responsibility to protect our students, even if that means from each other. More than responsibility, it is law. Our universities are charged with creating safe environments. The danger is not in violating civil liberties, the danger is when colleges are not honest about the number of complaints they do get; when they aren’t in compliance with the Clery Act or Title IX; when they protect star athletes; and leave women walking home alone and afraid.

You Don’t Need it “All,” You Just Need a Sofa

This post originally appeared on Double Booked, a blog from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

By Lori Weinstein, JWI

I had done it all: worked full time, part-time, downtown, from home, started my own business, even ran someone else’s business. From the time that my son was born, through the births of his two sisters and through their early childhoods, I was engaged in the chaos of career building in an inhospitable environment to prioritize parenting over work. I searched for balance (a fiction that I was well aware of) but my main priority was to be 100% mom while being the best employee as I could be.

I needed a career that was flexible enough to accommodate the single most important aspiration of my life – being a mother. Looking back on it now, it is funny how things have changed in a generation. Back then, flexible workplaces, benefit packages for less than 40 hours a week of work, and ascending any sort of career ladder when one prioritized family life was a self-inflicted tactic for career derailment.

I write this knowing something that is both true and ironic – having children and making a career out of a dedicated feminist framework created moments of irreconcilable conflicts.

For a period of time, the mom in me won out. I never missed a soccer practice, was part of a co-op nursery school, led the brownie troop, was a room parent, and hosted regular, energetic gatherings of half a dozen kids for play dates, sleepovers and fun outings. I had the mom role down and as far as my children could tell, work never got in the way of their lives – just mine! I worked all around the edges of their lives and they never doubted that I’d be there for carpool, gymnastics, and baseball practice.

Then an offer arrived that changed our family forever. It forced us to bend to a different formation, yet ultimately deepened our roots and strengthened our foundation. I was offered the opportunity of lifetime to lead the re-engineering of a century-old Jewish women’s organization that sought to take the brave steps of reinvention in order to be vibrant force in the 21st century. Its mission was my passion – ending violence against women and girls. It offered me all that I could have wanted, but it was beyond a full-time job. It was a round-the-clock-job. I traveled often, the hours were long and I was in Israel three times a year. My part-time work life came to an end.

I remember how upset my children were when I started my new job. Living in a community of mostly stay-at-home-moms, they felt cheated that I was no longer home for carpools, cupcake baking and play dates. One day I had been home and then, just like that, I disappeared from 8 am to 8 pm – returning to cook dinners that often didn’t begin until they should have been in bed. I wondered about the damage I might be doing, about the things that I was missing, about how difficult it is to not be there when one of your children needs your love, your counsel, and your affection.

If there was one thing that saved the day during this transition from mostly-home-mom to mostly-gone-mom, it was my sofa. A large and loving sofa with muted colors and beautiful flowers waited for me to arrive home every day. When the chaos of getting home set in – I simply moved my 9-, 7- and 4-year-olds over to the sofa where the decibel level quickly dropped, and where each person got to share the high and low point of their day snuggled and nurtured by our sofa.

Here is my advice to everyone who feels double-booked: give up on balance, know your kids will survive, probably thrive, and they will go on to admire the life you are leading by example. Oh, and buy yourself a large and loving sofa – something that can contain the noise, hold the love and bring everyone back together after a day apart.

Lori Weinstein is the CEO/Executive Director of JWI, an organization committed to fostering women’s leadership and protecting the rights of all women and girls to live in safe homes and thrive in healthy relationships. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, and has three grown children and two young golden retrievers.

This blog is part of a special RACBlog series, “Double Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century,” dealing with the many issues that affect working families, and featuring everything from personal stories to policy analysis. Visit the Double Booked portal to read more posts, or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #doublebooked.