Endings and New Beginnings: What I’ve Learned and How I’ll Use It

I have learned a lot of new information regarding violence against women and children this semester. I have broadened my knowledge about rape myths, children coping with sexual abuse and preventative strategies used on campuses to end sexual assault, just to name a few things. Having learned these things, I think I will know how to react in certain situations much better than I did before this class.

With the knowledge I have from this course, I will feel more comfortable standing up to friends who have misconceptions about sexual violence. I know that I need to speak up to help educate others in an effort to end this type of violence. While it is always very difficult to do, it is one of the simplest ways to educate people; also, hopefully once that individual learns, they will continue to spread that knowledge. In addition to this, I now have more understanding of what to do and say if someone who is a victim comes to me for help. I have a list of resources available on campus and also know about the university’s sexual assault policy. Also, this class has taught me how to be sensitive to the individual’s feelings and how to be an active listener instead of always trying to immediately problem solve.

In the future, if I have children, I will attempt to raise them in a way that focuses on respect and equality for all people. I will teach them what consent is and how to communicate effectively so they can avoid certain situations in the first place. Also, I will try not to socialize them to be a certain stereotypical ideal. I will try to show them that boys can play with dolls and girls can play with trucks. This class has showed me how important education is and our children is the best place for this to start.

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Men: Comrades in Struggle Response

This article explains why women have not wanted men to participate in the feminist movement and also why some black women have been reticent to participate in the past as well. hooks states that some feminists have not wanted men to be involved because they are the ones who oppress women. I can understand why some women feel this way, although I do not think it’s an effective way to create change. Also, hooks talks about how black women share a bond with black men because of their mutual fight for liberation against their race; she gives this as part of the reason why some black women have been hesitant to join the feminist movement.

I like that hooks discusses how both men and women suffer from restrictive gender roles and that it is important for both genders to try to change this. hooks says that while all men support sexism and sexist oppression, it is because of they way they were socialized, just like women are. She also goes on to say that they shouldn’t blame themselves but they also need to accept responsibility for helping change the problem. I completely agree with hooks, it is so important that both genders try to end sexism.

Since sexism exists in our society and should be an issue for both genders, it is something that needs attention from everyone. It will be much more difficult if women do not have support from men as well. The movement would likely be more successful if more people, including men, would participate.

Response to Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

This documentary takes an interesting look at hip-hop culture and its depictions of masculinity, violence and women in songs and music videos. I thought it was surprising that Hurt (the commentator and director) was a self-proclaimed lover of hip-hop yet he had come to understand how the music can be offensive to women and influence young people to act in certain negative ways.

Watching the clips of music videos always makes me frustrated because of how the women are depicted. It also tends to confuse me because I would never agree to participate in a video like the ones shown in the video and do not understand why people would. However, that being said, some women might think that it will give them some type of prestige and they could also be doing it because they need money. Our society depicts women in this way frequently so they may not realize the implications it has for other women as well. The same points could be said for the rappers in this video but simply saying that they shouldn’t participate is too simple and we need to look at why it occurs in the first place.

The part of the movie I found to be particularly interesting was when they discussed how most of the individuals who control the record industry are white males. While I might have known this before watching the video, I don’t think I ever really thought about how this may affect the way that black male rappers are portrayed. Black males are portrayed in a very stereotypical way in videos and I hadn’t thought about how it might be due to racist perceptions from record executives that influence this portrayal. It also could be a way for those in power to perpetuate negative stereotypes.

Another part of the movie that I enjoyed was that the women of Spelman College would not stand for the way women were portrayed in Nelly’s video “Tip Drill”. I thought it was great that the women stood together on the issue and would not allow Nelly to come to campus unless he would speak with them about the video. While he wouldn’t address their concerns, it is good that they made the attempt to address something they didn’t like.

Sexual Assault Policy at MSU

I did not think it was particularly difficult to find MSU’s sexual assault policy. I went to the main MSU webpage and entered sexual assault policy into the search box. The link it brought up directed me to the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives’ website. From there, I clicked on the link on the right hand side of the website that brought me to a page titled, “Sexual Harassment/Assault,” on. This page gives some general information on what to do if an individual has been assaulted; in addition, the page gives a link to the full, in-depth sexual assault policy.

The information on the website lists the following as how to report sexual assault and harassment:

  • If the alleged harasser is a faculty or staff member, the complaint should be made, orally or in writing, to the alleged harasser’s unit administrator or to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.
  • If the alleged harasser is the unit administrator, the complaint should be made, orally or in writing, to the unit administrator’s superior or to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.
  • If the alleged harasser is a student, the complaint should be made to the Department of Student Life or to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.
  • If the alleged harasser is a third party, the complaint should be made to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.

Also, the website says that sexual assault should be reported to the MSU Police and gives their number.

Based on what was said in class, I was expecting the information to be much more difficult to find so I was pleased that it took a relatively short amount of time to find. Also, the in-depth policy gives information on who the Title IX Coordinator is and what the process of filing a complaint is like. There is some very helpful information in the policy statement and the website also has some FAQ’s regarding sexual assault that are beneficial. However, I do not think many people are aware of this information and the university should attempt to make this policy and information better known. While the university is attempting to do this with things the the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Program, I think there needs to be more done to try to end sexual violence on campus.

Response to Case Study on Verbal Abuse

This case study is very interesting because it does not seem like this would be a typical setting for verbal abuse to take place. The incident occurs at school conferences in front of the child’s teacher. I do not think most people would make such a public display of abuse because they know it is not something that is accepted in our society. Also, the parent would likely fear some type of repercussions for their actions and wait until a more private place to commit the abuse. Luckily, in this situation the teacher was able to intervene and prevent further psychological damage to the child. Unfortunately, this does not generally seem to be the case and it can be difficult to know that emotional abuse is occurring.

The mother clearly cares about the child’s education and wants them to excel; it is difficult to say what her exact motivation is though. Someone who is so focused on their child’s success that they have such a large outburst at school may have other problems going on. It is possible that there are other things going on at home and she is trying to make it seem like everything is perfect; therefore, when the child does not perform as desired, it detracts from the illusion of perfection. The father at the conference did nothing to stop his wife from emotionally abusing their child; he may not care enough to stop it or it’s possible that he feels overwhelmed by his wife’s abuse. Another possibility in this scenario is that neither parent realizes that what they are doing is considered child abuse; they may have been raised in a similar way and think that it is a productive parenting technique. While this is not an excuse for either parent, it could be a possible reason why the dad did not step in as well.

The way these parents treat their child is likely to have lasting effects on his mental health and well-being. It was necessary to remove them from the conference so other children and families are not exposed to this type of negative behavior. However, I wish something more would have been done to prevent this from happening again. I do not think Child Protective Services would necessarily be able to intervene in the situation because it only happened one time and may not be perceived as serious as something like physical or sexual abuse; however, they may have classes the parents could take on how to handle anger that someone from CPS could offer her. As time goes by after the event, I would hope the teacher would closely monitor the child for any other signs of abuse. If the child withdraws from social activities, starts performing even worse on schoolwork, or has physical signs of abuse, more attempts to have Child Protective Services involved should occur.

 

 

Cut from a Different Cloth Response

Cut from a Different Cloth attempts to look at Afghan culture and offer a view into their world and beliefs. The film offers a very western look at how women cover themselves and does not make an adequate attempt to understand why women participate in this aspect of their culture. The film seems insensitive at times and could have been filmed in a way that allows for the opinions of the filmmakers to come through while also giving a deeper explanation of their beliefs.

Even though the film did seem insensitive at times, it was interesting to watch because I do not know a lot about Afghan culture. It was surprising to me how much responsibility the women of the family have to not shame their families. Also, how easy it seems like it is to shame the family and how women are punished for doing things that are not approved of. While I watched the film, I felt angry for these women because from my viewpoint, the men enforce certain ideals and religious beliefs yet they have no idea where in the Qu’ran they came from. However, I know that I do not have a full understanding of their culture and should try not to make such judgments. Also, this occurs frequently in other cultures and religions as well; people often do not read religious texts and simply follow the leaders of the religion.

The woman who lives with the Afghan family does not seem to try to understand their customs very much and acts disrespectfully when she is wearing the burqa. While I cannot say for sure how I would act, I would like to think I would have at least tried to understand why they participate in these customs and shown those customs more respect. Also, they did not really seem to talk about how some women feel empowered when they wear a burqa or hijab. This shows the western viewpoint of the film because it is likely hard for many westerners to see how this could be the case.

The Forgetting Pill

The idea of a pill that could potentially erase memories is slightly mind-boggling to me even after reading this article. To have the ability to remove traumatizing events from our brains could be a godsend for those people suffering from such disorders as PTSD; however, it could also create some very significant ethical issues.

Medications and health care are expensive and I doubt this drug would be cheap or even covered by insurance. Therefore, the only people likely able to pay for this drug would be the wealthy. This drug could create a class of privileged individuals who do not remember their worst memories; people who are not able to buy the drug would be left to remember significant trauma. If there could be a way to provide this drug equitably I think that help with some of the ethical issues. Another problem that could arise is deciding who gets to administer the drug and what criteria there needs to be to receive it. I am sure there would be much argument over these aspects of the drug. Also, as the writer mentions, if this drug ended up in the wrong hands, it could be heavily abused.

The author talks about how if an individual in a car accident was physically injured, doctors would not hesitate to treat the physical damage but if the problem is emotional trauma, then only the symptoms are treated. I do think this happens today while it might not be the intent of doctors. It is much more difficult to treat a person’s mind than it is to treat their body. If someone breaks their arm, the healing process has a specific endpoint; however, when a person experiences a traumatic event, the healing process can take a very long time. It is difficult to know whether or not removing a traumatic memory is the best method to healing.

In the case of sexual abuse, it seems like this drug would certainly provide a lot of relief since the individual could forget the event and the trauma surrounding it. Although, some people feel they have grown as an individual from their abuse and would not want to lose that growth. To this, I would want to know if it was possible to erase the memory and also maintain the things learned from the experience. If not, I would be less likely to want to remove the memory. If yes, then I think I would be much more likely to have the memory erased. Also, if neither of these was possible it would be worthwhile to at least have some of the negative emotions minimized like they have for some people already.

 

Abusive Relationships: Why Don’t People Just Leave?

A question that often comes up when people think about abusive relationships is why doesn’t the person just leave. Unfortunately, the situation is often not this simple. Abuse is a complex issue and there are many barriers that could stand in a person’s way.

One of the main reasons I think people stay in an abusive relationship is for economic reasons. If an individual is dependent on their partner for money to live, than it will not be particularly easy to leave. As we discussed in class, men who are the sole earner in a household may control the amount of money the wife has access to. Even if the wife receives an allowance, it is usually not a large amount and there is not enough extra money to be able to leave.

Another factor that plays a role when a person stays in an abusive relationship is their religious or cultural beliefs. If an individual has a strict religion, they may not think it is okay to get a divorce. They may either have to come to terms with violating their religion or stay in the relationship. Also, some cultures would not be as accepting of a woman leaving her husband if he was abusing her due to different norms.

Individuals who have suffered from verbal and physical abuse may have very low self-esteem. This will also affect the likelihood that they will leave. They may think that their partner is the best that they will be able to get; the abuser may have even planted this idea in their head and reinforced it with more verbal abuse. Also, the person being abused may think that their partner will change. This is part of the cycle of abuse that occurs and an individual may hope that the change will occur because they do not want to end the relationship.

People often see it as the victim’s fault when they do not leave. However, this is an insensitive viewpoint. It is difficult to know how any person is actually feeling and what they are experiencing. Many people do not understand all of the factors that are at play and how hard it is to actually leave.

Playing the Game 2: Response

The short film we watched in class was a very interesting look at rape. What happened to the girl in the movie is something that many women experience; although, most people think of stranger rape as being the main type of rape. I think this case would likely go to court because both parties were intoxicated; therefore, the woman could not legally give consent. Jen, who was raped, said she did not want to have sex numerous times and was also held down by Chris during the rape. However, Chris did not think he was doing anything wrong based on what he perceived as signs for her wanting to have sex. It is difficult to say whether or not Chris would be found guilty based on the evidence they have.

There were many people who witnessed the events leading up to the rape; however, I’m not sure that this would work in Jen’s favor. They were dancing closely for much of the night and also shared a consensual kiss. Another thing I think many people would have a hard time with is that she went to his room willingly. While this is no excuse for rape, many individuals in our society would use it as one. Even one of Jen’s good friends used this against her. It would surprise me if a defense attorney did not use this to excuse Chris’s behavior.

The film did an excellent job of showing how people can perceive events differently. According to Jen, she was clear about not wanting to continue and was quite vocal that she wanted to stop. From Chris’s perspective, he did not rape Jen. He though that she was “playing hard to get” and the she “knew what she was doing”. Also, in his version of the events she initiated the kiss. In our society, the way we believe women and men respond sexually has clearly contributed to the events that occurred at this party. Women are not supposed to give in automatically because people will perceive them as promiscuous which has a negative connotation; they are supposed to say no and let the man work for it. Men are supposed to be aggressive and go after women; clearly, to Chris, this is what he was doing.

I particularly enjoyed Chris’s friend who was defending Jen. He explained the opposite side of the situation and told him that not every girl is looking for sex. He also made it clear that he does not push the issue if the girl does not seem into having sex. Chris’s other friend was surprising, especially when he said that Jen deserved what she got. While this is a common thought for some men in our society, it is still shocking to hear. Also, it seems that Jen’s friend who pointed out that she went up to his room and she should have known what she was getting into, would be a common response for a lot of people in our culture.

Response – Jay: The Armchair Rapist

The piece we read for class about Jay was quite shocking. To know someone can think these types of things on a daily basis is a bit frightening. It is easy to see from this interview how some type of psychopathology might be affecting Jay’s mind. He could have a personality disorder of some kind or it’s also possible he experienced some type of trauma that has caused him to resent women so much.

One way Jay’s thoughts could be explained is through socialization, which is a part of feminist social theory. In our society, boys are raised to be strong, tough and also to be assertive. Males are supposed to chase after women and if they cannot do this well they may be seen as inferior. Jay has likely been denied by women he pursued in the past and this could be contributing to the aggression he feels towards women.

Another possibility is that Jay is part of a male dominated peer group that devalues women. It is possible they use language that makes it okay to talk about raping women like Jay does. Using specific language that justifies rape and supports violent behavior may be a part of his peer group. This type of language is one way the dehumanization of women occurs; once a person is dehumanized, it is much easier to assault them in some way. I speculated like this because Jay thinks in a way that is common in male dominated peer groups. He seems to believe it is okay to think in this warped way and it is easier to understand this type of thinking if it is looked at through an understanding of male peer groups.