Legal Momentum News Brief, April 2013

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April 30, 2013

Legal Momentum’s NJEP Continues Educating on Language and Sexual Violence

In April, Legal Momentum presented a workshop titled Raped or “Seduced”? How Language Helps Shape Our Response to Sexual Violence, to a wide variety of audiences.  The presentation brings to light how frequently we use inappropriate language when talking about sexual assault.  For example, news articles that describe the victim as “having sex” with her rapist use the language of consensual sex to describe an assaultive act.  Writing that a rape “occurred” shifts attention from the perpetrator and makes it seem like the rape just “happened.”  The presentation was featured at the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) 2013 Annual Conference in Baltimore, in Legal Momentum’s webinar series, and offered as a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar at the New York County Intimate Partner Sexual Assault Court.  Participants at all the events found the information to be eye-opening and informative—many wrote in evaluations that it was the best seminar they had attended, and that they look forward to helping others be more aware of this issue in the future.

In addition, Legal Momentum reprised its well-received webinar on the topic of intimate partner sexual abuse and its intersection with domestic violence, originally presented in January, for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Network (NIWRC).  The webinar is based on Legal Momentum’s National Judicial Education Program’s web course Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: Adjudicating This Hidden Dimension of Domestic Violence, available free to all at  

Bringing Legal Momentum’s Work to Youth at the United Nations

Legal Momentum was invited to participate in the first United Nations Department of Public Information – Non-Governmental Organizations UN Youth Briefing in April.  The theme of the event was the Impact of Violence and the Importance of Education for the World’s Youth.  As part of the panel for the event, we discussed our programs’ positive impact on youth and families.  We explained our work in educating the judicial, legal and justice system communities, assisting New York City Career and Technical Education schools in enhancing efforts to recruit students for a technology or science education, and in advocating for public benefit policies to recognize and respond to the special needs of poor and low-income victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  The attendees were highly responsive to our presentation both during and after the event.  Overall, this was a worthy opportunity to bring Legal Momentum’s message to an international audience.

Legal Momentum Hosts Book Signing for Lynn Povich, Pioneer Journalist

Legal Momentum hosted a book signing in April for award-winning journalist and former Newsweek Senior Editor Lynn Povich in the Skadden Arps offices in Times Square.  Lynn’s book is titled The Good Girls Revolt; the book is about her participation in a class-action lawsuit against Newsweek challenging gender segregation within the magazine.  

During her talk, Lynn recounted her days working at Newsweek in the late 1960s and early 1970s, where the female staff was often assigned positions as news clippers or researchers or fact checkers, rather than reporters—despite the women having the same or better qualifications than the male staff.  Lynn was one of 46 women plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Newsweek under Title VII, one of the first sexual discrimination suits of its kind.  The suit and a subsequent suit ultimately resulted in women being given more writing and editing positions at Newsweek.  Lynn was also promoted to senior editor at Newsweek in 1975—the first female senior editor in the history of the magazine.  

Lynn told the audience that she wrote the book to explain the history behind the suit, and to show why the achievement was so important today for younger generations of women in journalism.  After her talk, she held a dialogue with the audience on using the history of the women’s movement to inspire change today.

In the New York Times on Campuses Handling Sexual Assault Cases

The New York Times Opinion Pages’ Room for Debate section invited Legal Momentum to participate in a debate regarding how college campuses should deal with sexual assault cases. The question was whether the schools should directly handle these crimes or leaving the investigation to police and prosecutors.  Legal Momentum’s position on the question was that the strengths and problems in both possibilities should be considered.  As we explained, higher education campuses are limited in their ability to penalize a perpetrator.  However, a victim of sexual assault may not want law enforcement involved in the case.  We point out that both campus judiciary boards and criminal courts may believe myths about rape, and this is a serious concern.  We suggested that those involved in investigating or adjudicating allegations of sexual assault on a campus–whether the educational institution or criminal justice system–should obtain training and assistance to ensure that they understand the issues surrounding sexual assault.

Single Parenthood and Economics

A New York Times blog article by K.J. Dell'Antonia reviewed a Times Business Day story on a study of men's falling income and single parenthood.  Ms. Dell’Antonia found the study’s suggestions that sons of single mothers were particularly disadvantaged over daughters was not the right point to take away from the study, but rather that more focus should be given to the struggles faced by single mother families.  In stating her conclusions about the need to improve prospects for single parents, Ms. Dell’Antonia quoted Legal Momentum's Senior Counsel Tim Casey’s posted comment in response to the Business Day article: “The U.S. does much less than its high-income peers to assure single-parent families basic economic security, and much less than its high-income peers to help single parents balance jobholding and caregiving.”  Ms. Dell’Antonia also relied upon our "Worst Off" report for her points made; “Worst Off” compares American single-parent families with single-parent families in 16 other high-income countries.  The blog article is here: and our "Worst Off" report can be read here:

Domestic Violence Victims—the Need for Job Protection

USA Today spoke with Legal Momentum for an article about state laws that offer job protections for domestic violence victims.   Legal Momentum was quoted saying that laws with protections for domestic violence victims are much needed, because of the bias against victims of domestic violence.

Giving Young Women Inspiration in Gender Equity

Legal Momentum was part of a panel at Harvard College Women's Center in April to discuss with female students the possibilities of career pathways in gender equity.  The panel was moderated by student interns and received very enthusiastic interest from the audience.  Our presentation focused on what Legal Momentum does in advocating for gender equity—particularly for encouraging young women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and how students may develop a plan to pursue such careers successfully.

Continuing Progress for Tradeswomen

Legal Momentum co-founded the National Task Force on Tradeswomen’s issues two years ago.  Through the Task Force, we continued advocating for tradeswomen this month as a planning partner to the Women Building California and the Nation Conference in Sacramento, and sponsoring a Policy Forum at the Conference.

The Policy Forum, “Mobilizing for Collective Action: Understanding the Intersection between Federal/Local Policies and Tradeswomen’s Success,” featured interactive dialogue and working groups to exchange ideas about best practices and policy recommendations to help tradeswomen stay employed and build thriving careers in the skilled trades.  We also featured a workshop on upcoming registered apprenticeship and construction contractor regulations revision proposals, and on how tradeswomen can ensure their voices are heard.  The feedback on the Forum was very positive, as the attendees felt the events were strong in engaging and educating tradeswomen.  The forum was an important follow-up to our recent highly successful Working on Equal Terms Summit in New York.

Legal Momentum was also part of the Greenways Initiative Creating Green Pathways to a Diverse Workforce Conference this month in Philadelphia.  Our talk was on Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action in Job Placement, with education on federal, state and local laws and initiatives.  Our Equality Works Project Director also facilitated plenary discussion with Donna Lenhoff, Senior Civil Rights Advisor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, U.S. Department of Labor and Warren Whitlock, Associate Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Civil Rights.  More on the Conference can be found here

***News Items from Around the Nation***

STEM--Chelsea Clinton writes about the importance of more women getting involved in STEM careers.

STEM--MSN looks at why women may be underrepresented in the STEM fields—possibly due in part to colleges’ hiring and pay equity practices.

Women’s Health--A federal judge recently ordered the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to make the “morning-after” pill available over-the-counter for all ages, rather than requiring a prescription for those 16 and under.

Nontraditional Work--Women's eNews has a story on Patricia Shiu's talk during our Working On Equal Terms Summit in March.  The article highlights Director Shiu's emphasis on the importance of skilled trades as good opportunities for women, and hopes to improve the system for recruiting women in the trades.

Single Mothers--The ACLU explains how marital status discrimination is really gender discrimination, as far more women are affected by this discrimination due to being heads of unmarried households.

Single Mothers—Single mothers may be facing much more difficult financial situations than other persons, with difficulties obtaining full-time jobs and better education.

Sexual Violence--A University of Oregon film student’s innovative anti-rape video goes viral.