#SeriouslyBloomingdales? Rape Culture Isn’t Funny.

High school girls and Sanctuary came together to tell Bloomingdales that rape culture isn’t funny.

Recently, Bloomingdales published a not-so-funny “prank” in their holiday catalogue. Here’s an idea, the ad suggests: “spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” At Sanctuary, we know how pervasive rape culture is, in our city and on our campuses.

So we asked a group of high school girls, how did you feel after seeing the Bloomingdales ad? Check our their powerful responses:

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Executive Director Judy Kluger contacted Bloomingdale’s CEO to share what they said. Read on for Judy’s letter. Rape culture is pervasive in our society – but we all have the power to call it out.

November 17, 2015

Mr. Tony Spring
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Bloomingdale’s
1000 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Dear Mr. Spring,

Selling Bloomingdale’s products by promoting rape culture is far more serious than a simple “error in judgment.”

What message could you have possibly intended to send with the ad, Spike Your Best Friend’s Eggnog When They’re Not Looking? That it’s OK to become a date rapist for the holidays?

Any high school student would have known better. In fact, in our work to combat gender violence, we showed your catalogue ad to a group of students who are involved in a leadership program for girls. Their immediate reactions were visceral. The ad made them feel scared, disgusted and disrespected. One student asked, “Is Bloomingdale’s really promoting rape?”

We will never know the true extent to which date rape drugs – like spiked eggnog – are used.

But, as a former New York State Supreme Court Judge and sex crimes prosecutor before that, I do know first-hand how dangerous these powerful drugs can be. A common side effect is memory loss. Victims awake from a drug-induced state, sick, frightened, hurt and unable to recall the attack. And for those who are able to remember, they are often too embarrassed to report the crime. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 82 percent of sexual assaults are committed by a non-stranger, much like the “friend” in your ad.

Glamorizing violence against women in advertising is not new, but it is time to stop. It is time that advertising and media executives and industry leaders, like yourself, step up and pledge to stop perpetuating images that portray women as easy targets of sexual violence.

Sincerely,

Hon. Judy Harris Kluger
Executive Director
Sanctuary for Families

Photos and Highlights from the 2015 Abely Awards

We were proud to honor tireless advocates against gender violence.

Last week, members of New York’s legal, civic and anti-gender violence communities gathered to honor United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Judge Pamela K. Chen and Jennifer L. Kroman, Director of Pro Bono Services at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, at the Nineteenth Annual Abely Awards.

View photos from the event.

Co-hosted with Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and Columbia Law School, The Abely Awards recognize individuals who make a difference in the lives of domestic violence and sex trafficking survivors.

This year’s honorees have each used their distinguished legal backgrounds to provide survivors of sex trafficking with opportunities to live their lives free from violence and control.

We were grateful to be joined by The Honorable Judith S. Kaye, retired New York judge and the first woman to occupy the State Judiciary’s highest office, who with Legal Director Dorchen Leidholdt presented the awards.

While US Attorney General Loretta Lynch could not attend the event, she accepted her award by video, recounting her experiences working with Sanctuary to prosecute traffickers during her time as US Attorney for the Easter District of New York. Watch her full video thanks:

We were also proud to honor Judge Pamela K. Chen, a federal district court judge in the Eastern District of New York, and a true pioneer in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes.

We also honored Jennifer L. Kroman, Director of Pro Bono Practice at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, and a longtime Sanctuary supporter and Board Member. Jennifer leads Cleary’s award-winning pro bono practice and maintains an active docket representing survivors of sex trafficking in vacatur cases.

Since 1997, the Abely Awards have celebrated the life and legacy of Maryellen Abely, a pro bono attorney at Sanctuary for Families’ Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services.

An alumna of Columbia Law School, and an associate at Davis Polk, Ms. Abely was a tireless advocate for the rights of victims of domestic abuse and one of Sanctuary’s first pro bono attorneys. She died in 1995 after a long battle with cancer.

Learn more about the Abely Awards.