NOW Issue Advisory: Research Needed for ME/CFS

By Kathryn Gimborys, NOW Public Policy Intern, with contributions from Rivka Solomon and Emily Taylor, of Solve ME/CFS Initiative, May 10, 2017

On the Existence of Rape Culture

by Elleanor Chin, Vice President of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Women 

“If you disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts”

So says David Lickey, public high school teacher in Portland Oregon. He says this in a letter he distributed to staff and the students, attacking the notion that rape culture exists, and propagating false and misleading statements about sexual assault.

Okay, Mr. Lickey, here goes. (And this is for Mr. Lickey because he brought it up, but it applies to Mr. Johnson or Mr. Russell or any of thousands of others.) As a fellow once said, “if you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.” First, Google “Rehtaeh Parsons”. You’ll need a strong stomach. Then, search “Steubenville Alayna 2015”. It sounds like you need the internet to recognize “Brock Turner” as well.

You do all that? Good. Now, a key part of the premise in your May 2, 2017 letter is rape culture is a doubtful premise because you don’t know any rapists (or don’t realize you do). All the men and boys you know agree rape is horrible. Setting aside whether your anecdotal understanding should be the benchmark, you now know of some rapists. Those internet searches will show you the pride of their respective communities, young men who thought it was totally fine to penetrate a woman who was incapable of consent, some more violently than others. If you think any of those events were actually okay – healthy sexual self-expression of young people- then we may be done talking. And I’ll hope none of the hundreds of vulnerable young women you teach have ever come to you scared, or hurt.

Next some facts: you assert rape is committed by a small cohort of violent social outliers. This myth has been disproved so thoroughly for so long, I had to read carefully to see if you were being facetious. Sexual offenses are most commonly committed by men that women not only know, but have existing relationships with: friends, husbands, boyfriends, fathers, and yes – high school teachers (look up that business teacher in Billings).

I don’t know you. I looked you up on the internet. Pictures from 2013 show a fit-looking man with silver hair and an engaging smile. If we met, we might enjoy conversation about being liberals and history geeks. I might never suspect you of being a man to use his power and access to an impressionable audience to demean women and undermine their credibility as individuals, and in the aggregate.

You have the ability to get your personal views out to hundreds of people who view you as an authority figure. You chose to package your ignorance, bounded by your limited personal experience, as dispassionate, measured fact. From there you moved on to suggest that somehow men and boys are the true victims, being treated as monolithic perpetrators of a misogyny that doesn’t exist because in the circles you move, men make themselves emotionally vulnerable in their intimate partnerships.

You have declared your experience, the life of an educated (and dare I guess, white and heterosexual) man, respected in your profession, the arbiter of the validity of everyone else’s lives. All of us are wrong, and have to be educated about the misconceptions of an “ill-defined” concept: every girl who has ever been groped or wolf-whistled on the street, every woman who has been told to walk to her car with her keys in her fingers, every woman who has been threatened in the most violent explicit terms by strangers when they set virtual foot on the internet. You elevated the legitimacy of David Lickey’s life experience over that of each of us who has listened to a man in our family laugh and say “makes you want to go rape someone right now” – when the Take Back the Night march goes by the house. You don’t know anyone like that? Lucky you. You have two choices. You can believe me when I say that I do, or you can decide I must be lying, for the simple reason that I’m not you.

What you missed about the concept of rape culture is: it’s descriptive. We don’t have to “do” anything to formulate it. It is the name we give to how we walk in the world, like it or not.

You say you know no rapists. You’re a high school teacher. You know bright, aggressive, charming young men. The statistics on men who will actually admit to sexual imposition on women means it’s mathematically unlikely you know no rapists. You did not proclaim in your letter whether you know any victims. If you have ever once in your life heard a woman described as “damaged goods,” while a man is lauded for “scoring,” you’ve seen rape culture, live and in the field. Do you know for sure not a single woman of your acquaintance has gone home after a “date” and spent an hour taking a shower and crying? Would they tell you if they had?

​You’re probably having a bad few days. You’ll either learn from it, or identify as a victim (I’m not sure how your belief in the marketplace of ideas fits in with that). I’ll have a drink with you and talk about American history, or chat some more about how we disagree. Coffee or beer. You pick, my treat. If it’s a beer, I’m sure no one will tell you that you have to keep your hand on it the Whole. Time. (just in case).

“The Rise In Transgender Homicides Is A National Crisis”

Statement by NOW President Terry O’Neill

March 9, 2017

Washington, DC – The numbers are horrifying, but they don’t tell the whole story.

In one week alone, four transgender black women were murdered in the United States. So far this year, there have been seven murders of transgender people, well above last year’s figure. And 2016 saw the murder of 23 transgender and gender nonconforming people, the highest ever recorded by groups that monitor this violence.

Beyond these shocking statistics are real people, parts of vibrant communities, people who are loved and treasured and who are targeted because of their gender identity. Now, those hate-fueled perpetrators see a national climate of rising intolerance against transgender people, with a disregard for their safety and human rights that starts at the very top.

Donald Trump’s decision to rescind President Barack Obama’s guidance on protections for transgender school children, along with the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear what would have been the Court’s first case involving transgender rights, compels us to redouble our efforts to end the culture of violence and the culture of sexism that’s seen such an alarming rise in recent months.

The rise in transgender homicides is a national emergency, but so is the federal government’s abandonment of its constitutional obligation to protect and defend the rights of all citizens, regardless of gender identity. NOW stands with the transgender community and will work tirelessly to support their freedom in the current climate of discrimination, prejudice and violence.

For Press Inquiries Contact

M.E. Ficarra,, (951) 547-1241

View this statement online by clicking here.

GOP Health Plan Puts Women’s Health and Lives At Risk

Statement (Press Release) by NOW President Terry O’Neill

The Republicans have finally revealed their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Their plan could hardly be worse for women.

The Republican crusade against women’s health care, as laid out in this plan, is truly shocking. Depending on the state you live in, maternity care coverage could be unavailable or prohibitively expensive. In all states, abortion care coverage would be all but eliminated and Planned Parenthood would be defunded, possibly forcing it to close clinics and/or curtail services, leaving millions of women without a trusted provider of birth control, STD screening and treatment, breast exams, and cervical cancer screenings.

We know what happens when women don’t have access to reproductive health services — maternal mortality, maternal morbidity, and infant mortality rates go up.

NOW maintains that health care is a basic human right, not a privilege — and that women are no less entitled than men to have affordable access to the full range of health services they need, when they need them. NOW is mobilizing across the country to stop this dangerous bill. Going forward, we will do all we can to defeat any lawmaker–Republican or Democrat–who supports endangering women’s health and lives by blocking their access to care.


M.E. Ficarra , , 951-547-1241

With #MuslimBan2.0, Donald Trump doubles down on cruelty and prejudice

Statement by NOW President Terry O’Neill

Donald Trump made changes at the margins of his infamous Muslim ban, but with #MuslimBan2.0 he is doubling down on its cruelty and prejudice.

The new order is still a Muslim ban, it still does nothing to keep Americans safe, and it still puts tens of thousands of refugee families at risk. The United Nations says that the revised travel ban will increase danger to the world’s refugees, with families fleeing deadly violence who once had hope of being allowed to emigrate left in perilous refugee camps.

This is the image that Donald Trump is projecting to the world—the heavy hand of U.S. government officials extinguishing the promise of welcome that has always been the bedrock of our country’s values. NOW stands in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers, and we will work with our allies in opposing this unconstitutional and morally repugnant executive order.


M.E. Ficarra , , 951-547-1241

Abortion and Feminism

Letter to the Editor, NY Times 04 March 2017

By Terry O’Neill, President, National Organization for Women

To the Editor:

Re “Pro-Life, but Left Out,” by Lauren Enriquez (Op-Ed, Feb. 27):

Lauren Enriquez used a suspect Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll to support a shaky critique of the Women’s March on Washington for failing to include an anti-abortion message.

Contrary to the data she cited, a recent Pew Research Center poll concluded that public support for legal abortion was 57 percent, as high as it has been in two decades.

More significantly, a 2015 survey reported overwhelming majorities believe that when a woman has decided to have an abortion, her experience should be: informed by medically accurate information (94 percent), safe (93 percent), without pressure (73 percent), affordable and available in her community (72 percent), and without shame (68 percent).

The Women’s March on Washington was a positive affirmation of women’s rights as human rights, including the right of each of us to make our own informed health care decisions. The march celebrated the millions of women, immigrants, Muslims and others who had been insulted, demonized and threatened by vicious rhetoric in the recent election.

I can’t think of a more inclusive message.


The writer is president of the National Organization for Women.