Sex Roles DOI 10.



Girls Resisting Gender Violence on the Streets and in Schools
Hey, Shorty! A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets. By Joanne N. Smith, Mandy Van Deven, & Meghan Huppuch, New Y ork, NY, Feminist Press, 2011. 192 pp. $13.95 (paperback) ISBN: 978-155861669-1
Corrine Bertram

# Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Feminist audiences, particularly those who read peerreviewed research in journals such as Sex Roles, are often well-versed in the prevalence of violence against women and girls (See Rozee and Koss 2001; Shute et al. 2008, for examples from Sex Roles and Psychology of Women Quarterly, respectively). What is less common in the pages of the many feminist journals is documentation of girls’ and women’s resistance to that violence. A cursory search of PsycINFO yields 2479 items to be retrieved about “sexual harassment” alone and 50 items for the combined terms “sexual harassment” and “resistance.” In the tradition of Stein and Sjostrom (1994) Flirting or Hurting?: A Teacher’ s Guide on Student-to-Student Sexual Harassment in Schools; Girls Inc. and The Center for Anti-Violence Education’s (1998) Action for Safety, a self-defense and violence prevention curriculum for use with girls; and Fine et al. (2004) Echoes of Brown, a dvd documenting a participatory action research project with youth at the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Hey, Shorty! contributes to feminist thought, organizing, and research by offering a roughly chronological record of Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), a community-based non-profit organization founded in Brooklyn, NY to “improve the physical, , psychological, social and economic development of girls and women” ( Let me first disclose that I have a thirteen plus-year relationship with one of the non-profits that has collaborated with GGE and that I lived in Brooklyn, NY during the early ,

C. Bertram (*) Shippensburg University, Shippensburg PA, USA e-mail:

years of GGE organizing, although I was unaware of their work at that time. I am also proud to have earned my doctorate at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, a hotbed of participatory action research (PAR) projects (See for a reference list on critical theory and participatory action research) and the graduate home for Sabo-Flores, Zeller-Berkman, and Stoudt who helped facilitate the PAR process at GGE, as described in the book and its acknowledgments. Hey, Shorty! begins with the seed of the idea for GGE. Smith, the author of the first chapter and founder/executive director of GGE, relates her experience with low-income urban girls of color and their unmet needs within communities at the end of 20th century. What follows is an excellent resource for academics and activists alike. Across a quick 192 pages, Smith, V Deven, Huppuch, an and other community organizers and academics, youth and adult, describe the decade-long work of GGE. This includes descriptions of youth-based afterschool programming, a street march, a monthly newsletter, school-based curricula, a paid internship program for youth, a documentary film, a poster campaign, task forces, coalition work, and PAR all focused upon sexual violence and harassment prevention and advocacy work within New Y City’s urban communities— ork on its streets and within its schools. The voices of community organizers, academics, and youth are braided together and share authorship, a positive contribution to the literature on resistance to violence in communities. A number of different readers/audiences will find useful strategies within this volume. Academics pursuing research in the prevention of violence against girls, girls’ and women’s agency, or school-based projects will find concrete examples and thought-provoking content

Sex Roles

for their courses and innovative modes of data collection. I imagine three audiences for this book and I will outline, in turn, what each audience might find to be of use in this volume. For newcomers to PAR, Hey, Shorty!, particularly the chapter written by Zeller-Berkman, provides an accessible introduction to the method and its foundation. To gain further depth, one must consult other more methodologically oriented texts within psychology and other social sciences (See Torre and Fine 2011, for a recent example), but a new student will find her description engaging and clear. As a faculty member at a teaching institution, portions of this book might be used to expose undergraduate students to methods beyond the pale, but also help them understand how the choice of methodology is often driven by more than a research question, including the politics of local institutions and researchers themselves. (See in particular the discussion with youth researchers facilitated by Sabo-Flores about, “What’s the difference between never, rarely, sometimes, and frequently?”, p. 97, when a survey participant is responding to a question about being sexually harassed by a school principal.) Potential roadblocks to the work of community organizing and research within schools are also described by the authors in the volume. These barriers include individual actors such as principals and other school officials; boards of education policies and their implementation, or lack thereof, in the case of Title IX and sexual harassment policy; and the already strained economies of public schools whose priorities have necessarily shifted due to No Child Left Behind, a focus on standardized testing, and now, Race to the Top (Maxcy 2011). Keen readers will find strategies like locating key allies within institutional structures to navigate these barriers. A second audience for this volume is academic researchers interested in content areas such as sexual harassment in schools, street harassment, violence prevention in communities, and anti-bullying programs. The research conducted by the PAR collective at GGE and driven by the research question, “What is the impact of sexual harassment in New York City schools?” (p. 117) is impressive, covering four boroughs of New Y City and ork 90 schools, with responses from 1189 middle and high school students using a survey, focus groups, a slam book (a notebook with open-ended sentences to be completed by participants including, “Sexual harassment is…,” p. 119, or, “When I spoke to someone after being sexually harassed at school…,” p. 120), and a blog. The three key findings were that sexual harassment has diverse victims, locations, and forms; is a mundane part of the school environment with almost one quarter of surveyed students experiencing sexual harassment and, depressingly, only three percent reporting the incidents; and, critical to persuading schools to implement policies, that youth want to know more about

sexual harassment. This speaks to how unremarkable sexual harassment is for young people; it is so pervasive that it is assumed to be “normal” and, therefore, unnecessary to report. Another notable finding is that boys reported experiencing more sexual harassment in particular locations in schools such as locker rooms. This finding reveals the unique, often same gender, sexual harassment experienced by boys and suggests that teachers and administrators may need to employ different strategies to address the needs of boys who are victimized within schools. A less expected audience, but one I am eager to imagine, is those who are interested in the organizations of the third wave of the feminist movement in the United States. The literature on feminist organizations and organizing in the first, second, and third waves has mostly appeared in the disciplines of history and sociology or has been archived by movement members themselves as they collected oral histories and saved the ephemera of their organizing (Ferree and Martin 1995). Hey, Shorty! can be read with considerable excitement by those concerned about the current place of feminist organizing in progressive politics. Be assured that feminist goals and actors are hard at work with creativity and with girls. While this book would serve as an excellent resource for researchers, community organizers, and feminists alike, I plan to use it the next time I teach Psychology of Women and Gender or Introduction to Women’s Studies in order to demonstrate to students how principles of feminism, community organizing, and data collection can be applied on the ground, in community with real live girls. These “on the ground” practices include things like after school programming in the form of basketball games that transform into conversation circles about violence in girls’ lives, school dances that double as fundraisers for local non-profits, street marches, protests, poster campaigns, monthly newsletters, gender justice school-based curricula, youth organizing internships for teens, community summits on street harassment, the use of film in youth programming, and PAR projects. Each semester at that point in my Psychology of Women courses, when some students become overwhelmed and fatigued by the empirical evidence on the social inequalities of sexism, racism, and homophobia and wonder how to cope and act with this newfound knowledge, this book will give concrete strategies to implement on campuses, including individual acts beyond clicking “like” on Facebook and collective strategies to change their worlds and ours. One of the authors of Hey, Shorty!, Huppuch writes, “We conducted PAR in order to amplify the voices of students” (p. 89). Our research need not uncover or reveal voices of victims of sexual violence and harassment at this point in anti-violence movements, since girls of every ethnicity, class, sexuality, and (dis)ability have been telling researchers, teachers,

Sex Roles

principals, friends, and parents about their experiences of injustice in and out of schools. Our role as both teachers and researchers should be to help get those voices heard and Hey, Shorty! guides us in that endeavor.

Ferree, M. M., & Martin, P Y (Eds.). (1995). Feminist organizations: . . The harvest of the new women’ movement. Philadelphia: Temple s University Press. Fine, M., Roberts, R.A., & Torre, M.E. with Bloom, J., Burns, A., Chajet, L., Guishard, M., & Payne, Y A. (2004). Echoes of . Brown: Youth documenting and performing the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education. New Y ork: Teachers College Press.

Girls, Inc. and The Center for Anti-Violence Education. (1998). Action for safety: A self-defense and violence prevention program for girls 9–11. New York: Girls, Inc. Maxcy, B. D. (2011). The politics of priorities in turbulent times: Policy logics, faces of power, and reform possibilities. Peabody Journal of Education, 86, 252–271. doi:10.1080/0161956X.2011.578974. Rozee, P D., & Koss, M. P (2001). Rape: A century of resistance. . . Psychology of Women Quarterly, 25, 295–311. doi:10.1111/14716402.00030. Shute, R., Owens, L., & Slee, P (2008). Everyday victimization of . adolescent girls by boys: Sexual harassment, bullying, or aggression? Sex Roles, 58, 477–489. doi:10.1007/s11199-007-9363-5. Stein, N., & Sjostrom, L. (1994). Flirting or hurting?: A teacher’ s guide on student-to-student sexual harassment in schools. Washington, DC: National Education Association. Torre, M. E., & Fine, M. (2011). A wrinkle in time: Tracing a legacy of public science through community self-surveys and participatory action research. Journal of Social Issues, 67(1), 106–121.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful