‘Speaking Truth to Power’

The highlight of my last couple of weeks was going to the Girls for Gender Equity 10th Anniversary and witnessing a conversation between three young ladies and Professor Anita Hill.

The interesting thing about the event was that it wasn’t about Professor Hill; it was very much about the young women holding the conversation with her. It was their time to shine. They very much dominated (not in a bad or obnoxious way) the conversation. They spoke and inquired about misogynistic environments, development and displacement, powerlessness and the act of ‘speaking truth to power’.

More so than anything I sensed a supportive and loving synergy from the crowd which was comprised mostly of women. Everyone was patient through the technical difficulties (which I have seen audiences deal with very badly). No one cut any throats for some time with Anita Hill. People didn’t mind standing up the entire night. It wasn’t a stuffy, over-the-top, dressed-to-the-nines affair, which made me feel very comfortable. Even the historic building seemed to radiate something that was intangibly for the cause.

By the end of the night the Brooklyn Historical Society became my very warm and cozy. When it was time to leave I felt as though I was leaving my home amongst dozens of amazing women and entering into the cold, harsh world. I didn’t want to leave.

Policymakers versus Ground Workers

Legal Momentum offers no “direct services”. We sort of temper with policies, try to make groups understand laws and act when laws/policies are not being implemented. My internship coordinator at LM who works on the Pipeline Project is fed up with policy makers. As a Public Policy Studies major, I will spend the rest of my summer in NYC pondering which group makes the most difference: the ground workers or the policy makers? While both groups impact this world through different ways and while both are needed, I think one has to win.

The women at the Girls for Gender Equity event featuring Anita Hill were ground workers. The women (and three men) I work with at LM are policymakers (and policy temperers/fixers/implementers). These are very different groups.

There seems to be little tangible change you can make on a computer all day in an air conditioned office. However, those doing the dirty the work wouldn’t have the power or space to without the policies and laws behind them.

I will report back as I learn more throughout the summer.

Reproductive Rights and Eternal Damnation

Two Saturdays ago, Sarah and I rose bright and early to catch a 6:39 F train to Jamaica Queens.

As we rounded the corner we saw the pro-lifers already there setting up, pulling huge signs depicting mutilated tissue and tiny hands on top of dimes and nickels for comparison.

We approached the clinic, and the escort coordinator Frank showed us inside, saying he recognized us as volunteers as soon as we came around the corner.  Our body language and recognition of the “anti” signs with knowing glances distinguished us immediately in his mind from the women we would be escorting into the clinic later that morning.

He explained that the few protesters outside were only the first shift, and soon more would appear— the preacher, the children, and other regulars weren’t there yet.  A fellow volunteer introduced himself, explaining that as local who grew up in this area, he had been disgusted by the protestors’ graphic signs, especially when neighborhood children walking past couldn’t avoid seeing them. Frank pointed out the discrepancies between the fetus’ development and the age that the posters claimed the fetus was, and explained that several of the photos were from miscarriages.

Our basic strategy was to spread out like the protesters and escort women entering the clinic to ensure that the protesters right to free speech did not cross the line into verbal or physical harassment.  We quickly explained to the women that we were with the clinic and could walk with them into the door.

As more of the regular “antis” arrived, the intersection beside the clinic became more tense.  Two young boys had arrived, and were holding up the signs alongside about 10 adult antis spread out across the city block.  The preacher was there and started yelling pronouncements about us, the women walking inside, and the passersby, as church volunteers pressed grotesque pamphlets into the hands of everyone who would accept them, boldly stating false information about abortion and about the clinic.

One woman was particularly vocal. Pacing back and forth in front of the clinic, she sped to the side of anyone who approached the clinic doors, exclaiming the sacred quality of a life, and the multitude of options. Many of the protesters did not seem to be aware that the clinic offers counseling before any surgical procedure and the option of extensive pre-natal care instead of abortion.  Frank had two volunteers walk on either side of her for a while to further limit her access to the clients.  She walked between us, decrying our choices and our sin in the midst of a basic gospel message, reminding us of a fast approaching judgment day.  We were soon joined by another protester who spoke of her arrogant college days, and asked me to reconsider the lives she insinuated that I personally was ending.  Frank smiled and laughed when we passed, joking that I shouldn’t worry about it, he’d hang out with me in hell, and we’d have a great time.

Several of the protesters in particular seemed to believe that their opinion was not only true, but also the only opinion that a Christian could have.  He looked shocked when he overheard Sarah and I talking about attending church together.  Another explained that “true Christians” couldn’t possibly believe in evolution or support marrying “the gays.”

I guess I don’t really have a well-developed take away message at this point, except that it’s very interesting to put yourself in a situation in which you are standing (or pacing) in direct opposition to the vehement moral beliefs of someone else.

But I went back again this past Saturday,
And I’ll be back in Queens bright and early next week.

Icky, Unsettling, and Awesome

I would like to take a moment outside the lines of curriculum, and program structure to reflect on the reality of my experience these past three weeks living in New York, working at Sadie Nash, and learning with fellow moxies. As I move forward into the fourth week- my final week of dean training at Sadie Nash before my mentees arrive my life goes from 60 to 120 mph- I crave the opportunity to make sense of the unsettling intersection of my contrasting lives here. The best way to describe my experience is that of a cultural immersion akin to my time in Haiti or Nicaragua while simultaneously maintaining one foot in my culture of origin. In most Duke engage programs, cultural immersion is integral to the summer experience; students sleeping, eating, and living in a foreign culture. While group members are surrounded by their Duke cohort, at no point is this immersion fully broken. There is, in this way, a since of continuity in the experience. Similarly, most interns working in New York City are living alone or with friends, and working in a job setting which likely operates around a similar cultural script as that with which they were raised. This is not to discount the deeply educational or even cultural experiences which internships provide, rather to illustrate their general sense of continuity of experience between worlds of home-life, work life, friendships, etc.

In my personal experience; however, I am experiencing a full cultural immersion, while maintaining a home-life utterly separate from work. On top, I am participating in Moxie, which adds another third theory-based, academic world. Each facet of my life in New York is so utterly different that I feel almost as if I experience three or four instances of culture shock on a given day. From walking to work in my funky neighborhood, to immersing myself in a job surrounded by lower income, magnificently diverse individuals, to meeting up with high school or Duke friends after work for drinks, frozen yogurt, or similarly elitist, low-cal goodies. It’s as if I’m bouncing from starkly different realities; requiring a special set of social tools to flourish in each individual world. In addition to this sense of profound disconnect between my privileged downtown life attending apartment rendezvous with wealthy high school friends, and my Brooklyn life discussing personal oppressiveness over others like my co-workers, there is also the social contrast between a largely minority, 25% lesbian work cohort, and my mostly white, primarily privileged Duke friends. I find myself, for the first time in my life, really understanding white privilege. That is to say, in the 9 hours window of time in which I immerse myself in Sadie Nash culture, my race is a constant awareness. Never is there a point when I don’t need to feel conscious that I might be feeding a stereotype of my race, saying something to allude to my race, or acting too “white”. It’s a fascinating and powerful reminder of just how privileged I am as a white female in most environments I spend time in.

Needless to say, the experience of navigating these different types of relationships leaves me wondering where I truly view myself as most “fitting in”. In a way, I don’t want my coworkers to know how silly and mundanely frivolous my conversations are, whereas I can’t imagine walking on eggshells, constantly conscious of my race to such an extent with every friend I have. In reflecting back, I can see that my simultaneous immersion in two different cultures is causing me to question my place in society. I am uncomfortably, and bizarrely awakened to my privileged, hetero-normative, white-centric mentality, which, while questioned academically, has never felt this shaken in reality. It’s exhausting but pretty freaking cool.

Internal Feuds with Feminism

Disclaimer : Sarcasm – 7 letter word. Live it, learn it, love it. But seriously though, if I offended anyone in anyway with my lewd vocabulary or Monique Witting filled lesbian revolution fantasies, I’m sorry.

The wonderful world of feminism. I stumbled upon it during my time in the Duke in LA program. We’d begun studying art spaces (I think…it’s all a blur now). Anyway, Womanhouse came up in one of my readings and I was OBSESSED. Period art, vaginas everywhere…pretty rad stuff. This led me to take a feminist art class and the rest is history. In my studies, I’ve learned of many different forms of feminism. Marxist feminism, black feminism, separatist ideas, sex positive feminism. But nothing resembling Girlie Feminism had caught my eye. After reading about it this past week, I did not (and still don’t) know how I felt about it. It was like sex positive feminism meets kinky weird shit, and I mean weird in the nicest of ways. I can vibe with the whole “porn doesn’t have to be misogynistic” thing but I really don’t know how I feel about magazines filled with essays dedicated to the liberation felt while giving a blow job. And as a side note, I really don’t think a blow job can be that liberating. I’m just saying.

Anyway, after battling weird prose about people’s sex lives (as well as the whole “we can be feminine as well as feminist” ideas) I got to thinking about the everyday battles I face when I label myself a feminist. So I thought of some dilemmas that many a woman may face in their everyday battle within the system (dun, dun,dun)

1.     “I know I’m brainwashed but if loving you is wrong” feminism : This type of feminism is something I battle with to this day. Being an academic of sorts, and believing that radical measures need to be taken to change the world we live in, I’d love to give up men and become a gender bending, fuck the system lesbian or queer woman. But I’m not. And I tend to do stupid shit when it comes to men. And I tend to dream of white dresses and babies and me doing all the housework and driving a minivan and being perfectly fucking miserable or happy or both but I don’t know what to think because I’m a feminist and men are evil. But I love my boo. Ugh.

2.     “I’m too broke for your feminism” feminism : Oh, ya’ll are gonna march the capitol in protest of the bill that would allow men to rip our vaginas off of us and store them in jars on their bedside table? I’d love to come BUT I HAVE TO WORK FIVE SHIFTS AT MY SHITTY JOB THAT’S MADE EVEN SHITTIER BECAUSE THE SHITTY DUDE WHO LIKES TO EYE FUCK ME (sexual harassment anyone?) GETS PAID MORE THAN I DO FOR COMING TO WORK BAKED OUT OF HIS MIND. But please know that my vagina and myself are there in spirit. 🙂

3.     “But I love the hoes” feminism : I am a 90’s baby. You know what was banging in the 90’s? Rap music. Do you know what my parents listened to? Rap music. I LOVE RAP MUSIC. There I got it out there. But I’m also a feminist. WOMP. So as I walk down the street in my “Stop street harassment” T-shirt, is it ok if the lyrics blasting through my headphones proclaim a certain man’s skills at beating the pussy up,up,up,up (in the nicest of manners I presume)? Honestly though, sometimes this patriarchal world brings a sista down and all I need is some ratchet lyrics about me being the baddest yellow bone in the land to re-energize my spirit. (Sidenote: My awesome fellow intern, Andrea (had to give her a shout out) told me about hip-hop feminism for all ya’ll that can relate to this. I’d be reading into it right now if I wasn’t slowly dying trying to keep up with my thesis research.)

4.     “Au natural” feminism : Do you ever go on one of those social media sites and see a woman post a picture proclaiming how natural she is? No make up, no weave, no prosthetic limbs. Well, if that’s what makes you a better feminist (it doesn’t), I’d like to proclaim that I’ve been a feminist since birth minus that awkward stage in middle school. If not shaving and not combing your hair is cool, consider me Susan B. Anthony. Man, why didn’t I have a feminist godmother fly down to me in middle school when I was wearing thick eyeliner and buying my first thong at Sears (yes they sell clothes at Sears) to tell me in a few years I’d be rocking the grannies again as a sign of protest.

I could come up with a million more of these (and probably will once I start daydreaming on the subway later) but the point of the matter is, being a feminist is hard when you’re brainwashed. I love being a woman and I love all the complexities that comes with it. Sometimes I wish it was easier for the personal to mimic my political views. But honestly, the world is too hard not to just watch trashy TV and daydream about being a Kardashian cousin.

Smiles and Moral Superiority: Can you connect the dots?

Last week’s visit to Choices left me with a lot of questions about the silent masses of women who do not engage with the ongoing political battle surrounding reproductive rights, but still reap the benefits bought by their more political allies. I decided that I wanted to go back to choices as an escort, in order to get an idea of how bad the situation really is. Sunny and I decided to go together, along with two Duke alums in New York. We arrived in Jamaica Queens just after 7:00am on Saturday and as we approached the clinic we saw a big red pickup truck parked outside with two giant posters in the bed leaning up against the cab. One said “Choice” and the other Life. Each depicted graphic images of semi-developed fetuses and the scare quotes made clear what the designer thought of the term choice. We could see these posters even before the clinic, but we knew we were in the right place.

As we approached the door we were pleased to see there weren’t very many protesters around, but they did stir into a tizzy as we walked into the door.  We walked up to Frank, who was coordinating the escorts, and he told us he picked us out right as we turned the corner for escorts. We weren’t exactly sure what that meant since we were both of an age with many patients of the clinic, but perhaps we were not as phased by the images as patients facing this immediate decision were? This was the first sign that we held some sort of power. We had a brief orientation as to what the protestors would do, what we should do, and what to do when we spotted the “deer in the headlights look” which indicated a client we needed to escort. After this orientation, all of the escorts donned white lab coats and went outside to stand near the protestors. We spread out in strategic locations where patients tended to come from. I was positioned opposite this picture in front of the bus stop.

The protestors tried to talk to me, to tell me that I was a murderers, but I just smiled. I told them I wasn’t interested in talking to them, then continued to smile and ignore them for the rest of the day. As protesters rotated around to different posts, I would always respond to their first attempts to talk to me but I stuck to my guns and never said a direct word to them for the rest of their time at that post. One particular protester, a man of Caribbean decent, would pull people aside and try to turn them against me. He would say things like “Look at her, she’s wearing a white coat like a doctor, but doctors are supposed to protect us.” I responded by smiling and saying “Good morning” to the person he was talking to. It didn’t take him very long to realize that wasn’t going to work, and that made me inordinately happy. I felt like I was winning!

As the day wore on, sometimes people would turn to me and ask me questions. I would repeat lines about protecting patients from likes of the protestor across from me, and agree with them about how disgusting the images they held were. I heard a few ridiculous exchanges such as one local man who told the protestors we should just eat the unwanted fetuses. He specifically said, “I don’t care, put some ketchup and barbeque sauce on that shit and eat it.” (Disgust shared at that comment was probably the only time all day that I agreed with any of the protestors.) I only escorted about three patients in three hours, but I left the clinic feeling great. When I wasn’t escorting patients, I spent the rest of the time smiling at locals and even watching a shoe-store while its owner went to get a cup of coffee. I’ve worked in customer service (and with difficult people in general) enough to know that the more you smile, the better you feel. Just being nice to people, and showing them the love in your heart (not to mention feeling of morally superior to the crazies showing children pictures of miscarried fetuses) are great ways to start off your day.  Even after being forced to stare at pictures of dead Jews, lynched blacks and miscarried babies, I knew I had stood up for other women and that was something to be proud of.

Move over Anita Hill, I Want to Hear What Our Leaders of Tomorrow have to Say!

Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Anita Hill—these are just a few of the amazing women I have met while working in New York City this summer.  These women have truly spent their lives fighting for women’s rights.  They are inspiring and prominent figures of today.   But for me what has been the most inspirational thing while I have been here is seeing and listening to the youth in the movement.  For while these women are amazing and have done great work, they will not be here forever and with or without them the movement continues on.

This past week I was privileged to go to the Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) 10th year Anniversary Gala in Brooklyn.  I went in to the evening not really sure what to expect.  For me a Gala was just another fundraising event, a way to get big wigs together and have them spend money on your organization.  While there was some of this, the focus of the evening was really about the organization itself and the girls they have been working with.  There were some big wigs, but the majority of participants were individuals who worked for organizations that supported GGE and the work they do.  This really set the atmosphere and made it clear to me that this wasn’t just your normal Gala.

What made this even clearer was when Anita Hill stepped onto the stage and sat down with three girls who had been participants in GGE’s programs.  They wanted Anita Hill not to just give a speech, but to sit down and have a conversation with these girls and the audience.  I was really excited to see Anita Hill; I knew that she had done a lot of work for women’s rights in the work place and that she was a big deal.  But as the conversation went on, I found myself listening to the girls more than Anita Hill.  Don’t get me wrong Anita Hill was fantastic and said some very inspiring things, but a week later I find myself still thinking about those three girls and the points they raised.  They talked about intersectionality, the need for systemic change, and the displacement of their community.  While I understand what those topics mean today, as a 15 or 16 year old girl I had no idea what those were.  And at the end of the evening I walked away so happy and filled with hope for the future because of those three girls.

Older generations are constantly pointing out what is wrong with my generation.  We have no goals, we are all trust fund babies, we are too sexually free, we are too radical, and the list goes on.  For some people in my generation these things are true, but I don’t think it is fair to clump us all together.  And I think what older generations really have a problem with is change.  For centuries our nation has slowly evolved and things that were radical years ago are not radical at all anymore.  Remember when women started wearing pants or when schools were no longer segregated?  Those were radical changes at the time.  Now, walk down the street and you see a hundred women wearing pants or walk into any school around the nation and you meet people from all different backgrounds.  While the changes we have seen in our nation in the past century haven’t been that radical, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be questioning and trying to push for change.  For me those three girls on that stage with Anita Hill gave me hope that my generation and those after me are going to do amazing things for our nation.  While society has made great strides, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

Change it’s inevitable and is necessary in our world where prejudice and inequality still exist.  I walked into the Brooklyn Historical Society expecting to be overcome with inspiration from Anita Hill.  I walked out of the Brooklyn Historical Society overcome with inspiration and hope for mine and future generations because of three teenage girls who I know will do amazing things in the years to come.  The youth of today really are our leaders of tomorrow.


Examining Injustices

For the last week one of my assignments has been monitoring the progression of the Jerry Sandusky trial and analyzing media coverage surrounding the issue of child sexual abuse. Sandusky is accused of molesting 10 boys over the course of 15 years, boys he met through his charity The Second Mile. Reading about the trial made me consider how something so horrific could occur and how it relates to the importance of women in our society.

In covering the trial, majority of the media outlets focus solely on the legal aspects – the motions attorneys make, the statute of limitations, etc.  States are beginning to pass legislature about requirements for reporting suspected child sexual abuse. What the media fails to mention is what can be done to prevent child sexual abuse. It fails to place the focus on families and communities. It fails to place the focus on women and show how investing in women can help stop child abuse and lift up communities in general.

 It’s a known fact that women tend to spend greater portions of their income on their children than men. Spending on children means better education, better nutrition, better everything. If that is the case, then how is it that a woman still only makes 77 cents on every dollar a man does? How can Congress take measures to maintain this status quo by voting down the Paycheck Fairness Act? And if the government is not willing to do anything about it, what can I do?

Reading about the trial at my job and discussing women’s economic status and investment into women’s causes with the group made me think about the intricacies and interconnectedness of these issues and what can be done to ameliorate them all. So far, I truly believe that empowering women is the first step to changing the world.

Pragmatic Activism- Yes, it sucks but that’s the world we live in!

When I saw the “Pride Rally” included as one of our group activities, I wasn’t exactly sure why or how that related to feminism. Of course, lesbians are women too and should be considered in all their intersecting identities of sexuality and gender; however, “pride” itself doesn’t immediately relate in my mind. I suppose the question is, does activism of one justice issue like feminism necessitate activism of all other social injustices? Can we be “activists” without supporting all our fellow activists who similarly struggle for recognition and social change? While I personally support the gay rights movement and Pride Week, I don’t think activism necessarily translates across all genres. One, for example, can easily support ending child slavery in Haiti but that activist may directly reject demands of the pro-choice movement. In other words, social issues are not all similar enough in nature that activists would come to a common understanding. So how does feminism relate to gay rights specifically? I think the two are not necessarily connected; however they do share commonalities worth understanding. Most overtly; women and homosexual people both share defining features, which oppress them. Though a gay man can navigate modern society without calling attention to his homosexuality, he is; none-the-less, a target of oppression as a result of this crucial identity component. In both cases, no obstacle such as intelligence or inadequacy prevents forward movement. Rather, it is the structural favoring of another identity category, which oppresses them. In this way, we are all fighting to be recognized as we truly are. We are fighting to be entrusted with the worth and respect that we, as individuals, merit rather than the worth society allocates to our identity groups. In these fundamental ways, the gay rights movement is intimately tied to the feminist belief in equality of all human beings.

Another critical factor intertwines these two movements, which I had not acknowledged or contemplated before speaking with my moxie peers this week. This factor is misogyny as the primary enemy of both gay and feminist movements. I had been relating gay pride to feminism as a separate issue when, in reality, the success of one movement may actually facilitate the success of the other. In other words, if feminism fights to challenge norms established by a misogynist society, destruction of these norms should also destroy homophobia, as it is also grounded in misogyny. Perhaps gay rights and women’s struggle for equal validity and power as men both relate back to the same misogynist structure. When our program director suggested this possibility I was resistant, feeling almost possessive of my justice struggle. “Feminism is about women like me!” I caught myself thinking, “I don’t want to share the stage with gay rights movements as if the two were equal. I don’t identify with the gay rights movement.” Obviously this hierarchy of injustice is highly problematic, but I did notice a personal resistance to admitting homophobia into the feminist struggle. After thinking a little more, I pin pointed the reason I might feel so resistant to partnership of movements.

Struggles and confusion, for me, arise when I contemplate the different forms activism can take in the gay pride versus feminist movements. I have always struggled personally with the identities of a “no apologies feminist”, and an understanding, moderate feminist. On one hand, I want the world to know how angry I am about the absurd injustices towards women around the world. I want to scream at men, retreat to “safe” female spaces, and cover my body conservatively in a “fuck off, thank you” sort of way. On the other hand, I don’t want to alienate myself and my voice from the very people who I’m trying to reach in the first place. Obviously everyone has to act the way they feel most “themselves”, yet sometimes embodying an activist, extremist stereotype prevents you from being heard in any way. Moving towards the gay rights movement, I find myself cringing sometimes at the vulgarity and outrageousness of their approaches to activism. Of course sexual liberation is central in this movement, and reclaiming rights to sexuality is awesome, yet, from a political perspective, I don’t find this activist approach relatable. As a feminist who is fighting stereotypes of craziness, and outrageousness, I don’t want to associate our movement with a group of men dressed in drag, talking about anal sex openly to their most close-minded opponents. I feel strongly that feminist demands, while radical in that they seek to challenge overarching societal structures, are completely and totally moderate in their logic. Any open person willing to listen to a logical, level-headed feminist woman can easily agree that demanding equal access to resources and opportunities is not wild or outrageous in nature. To me, linking an otherwise relatable equal rights movement to something like overt, public sexuality is a fast way to alienate and affirm oppositionist’s. I take a strong, yet pragmatic stance in my feminism, so I don’t always identify with the gay rights movements’ strategic approach. I personally know many gay men who also cringe at the rumors of sexual acts performed at the gay rights parades, or become enraged at the implications that all gay men are drag queen, sparkle wearing, street dancers. I would personally be irritated if a group of extremist feminists with short hair, and no bras took the streets yelling about feminist issues. It delegitimizes the humanity of the movement to the people who actually hold the power. Yes, it sucks to self-constrain in such a way, but that’s the world we live in and utopian idealism is never the best way to reach people.

The Will of Money

Anh is a rising sophomore working at Legal Momentum in their National Judicial Education Program.

Free will does not exist.

There is no doubt that the flow of money shapes my life. From little things like food to big things like where I live and what school I attend. When it comes to Legal Momentum, a very similar situation exists. The money does constrain the extent to which it could implement projects and hire employees.

Here comes the cliché: Money cannot buy happiness. Or in the case of LM, effectiveness.

I consider that overused saying true. The happiness in my life comes from doing what I enjoy (like graphic designing, philosophy, and eating). The effectiveness of NJEP’s programs comes from Lynn and the other staff members that provide the training and projects.

Simply throwing capital at something would not get you what you want. Based on my observations of movie productions, to get the most profitable returns on your investment, you need to use the money to hire talent. So what you really need in the end is talent.

The obvious solution to the constraint of funding is to hire a few, but talented people that can think their way out of a very small box. However, the problem is that very talented people  want profitable returns for their skills. After all, the secret to success is finding what you’re good at and make people pay you to do it. Non-profit organizations might not be able to provide the same income as a for-profit company. In order to compete for effective workers, non-profits must be able to offer them something more valuable than money.

In this economy, I have no idea what  that “something” would be. However, given the amount of dedication and talents at LM, I am confident that that “something” exists.

Image Source

Catching Up

Having taken an introduction to public policy course this spring, I have begun to assess Sanctuary For Families using a certain type of analysis. As Sanctuary’s newest “tweeter,” my tasks involve tracking larger policies that are trending in the news, like VAWA and TVPJA. I tweet relevant news to our followers with the hope of spreading Sanctuary’s mission and informing the general public of problems such as domestic violence and sex trafficking.  As I learn more about these policies and bills, I begin to dig waaaaaay back in my brain to our class’s discussion of policy and politics and the interaction between the two. Working at Sanctury affords me the opportunity to observe how policy functions on a small scale. While certain laws may be in place, it is not always clear that the government is enforcing such laws.

Thus far, I have observed that Sanctuary must fill in the gaps that the government does not reach. While domestic violence and sex trafficking are illegal, Sanctuary provides services to victims who have not been protected by the State. Through various different clinical services, Sanctuary staff members recognize the need and act on it.  In addition, however, Sanctuary’s legal staff puts forth new laws and amendments to refine and improve the laws already in place.

At this juncture, I feel that Sanctuary is stuck playing catch-up, as it is forced to deal with the inadequacies of our government before it can pave the path in new territory.