9/21 Round Table

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This week we had a very powerful Round Table Discussion with Professor  Abebe Fekade, who talked about intimate partner violence.  Lately we have  heard a lot on this topic because it has been in the forefront of the news, but Professor Fekade wondered what can be done to implement a lasting change.  

During these highly publicized incidents there is often national commentary on the events that take place, and a frequent comment that is repeated, is “why did she not just leave?” or other comments that focus on what the victim could have done to avoid the situation, instead of addressing the larger issue of abuse, and how it is brushed aside in our society.

The past few weeks are a perfect example of how we as society are horrified by the actions of others, and basque in that horror for the days or week that it is in the news,  and go on with our lives until the next horror becomes the breaking news story.  There is a failure to sit down and question what is going on in our society, and why these things are happening, and what can be done to circumvent them.

Within the last few weeks we have had the video where Janay Palmer is punched by her fiance, the police officer who sexually assaulted 8 black women,   Hannah Graham the  missing UVA student, and just now, a news alert popped up that a man in Oklahoma beheaded a woman at work, and tried to kill another woman. Most of these stories will fade into news oblivion, but for these victims and their families that horror will stay with them.

It can be claimed that these incidents have nothing to do with one another, and that these separate acts of violence are committed by those that are deranged, and a not a reflection of a heavier burden that is weighing down on society. Our discussion, touched on how this burden is seen when there are cultural norms that suggest that abuse is something kept between partners (that is just how they are), or  that violence is a way of expressing love  and protection. This just normalizes this behavior, and places a large amount of responsibility on victims.  It is also trivializes genders, and places them into rigid roles, that provide an oversimplified explanation as to why violence occurs.

Our discussion did not end with all the answers as to what we can do to stop this, but we did talk about having a weekly discussion group that focuses on  intimate partner violence, a place where we discuss some of these issues, and maybe come up with a way to make some headway. One of the things we did all agree on was respect;  it may seem so simple, but it is often overlooked .  Respecting people as they are, and not placing rigid gender roles, or archetypal roles, could help us learn about others, as well as ourselves, and appreciate both the similarities and differences.

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Come Join Us!

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Today we will be having our Round table Discussion from 2-3  in Room 331.  Please come join us and learn about the therapeutic benefits of massage, as well some stress-reducing techniques.

We hope to see you there!

image from: http://www.noanxiety.com/relaxing-links/pictures.php

Street Harassment

I recently read an article about this site Cards Against Harassment (neat little play off the game) which can be found here, about this woman who is both addressing and recording street harassment that happens to her. This is only her experience, but many people have been on the unhappy end of street harassment. It usually starts with you minding your business, doing some activity whether it is walking to work, riding the subway, or trying to get some coffee, when someone decides they have a right to make a comment about your sexual appeal, sexual orientation, weight, etc.

Her cards are rather amazing and the fact that she hands them out to people who make comments to her is even better. Regardless of the excuses they make, she is setting up a boundary that lets them know she is not alright with their actions, and neither are many other people who may not speak up.

Check out the website and see what she is up to!

Orange is the New Black

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Orange is the New Black is a favorite of a lot of people, and is gaining even more attention with the release of Season 2( I loved it). Like many others, I was anxiously waiting for the new season to come out, and I binged watched it one weekend, and it was glorious. For a lot of folks it is a big relief to see women in more dynamic roles, but also seeing women from different ethnic backgrounds being portrayed at all, and having personalities is something long awaited. Which is why I was not sure how to feel about this article from Noah Berlatsky.

He made some good points in the article like,

Men are incarcerated at more than 10 times the rate of women. In 2012, there were 109,000 women in prison. That’s a high number—but it’s dwarfed by a male prison population that in 2012 reached just over 1,462,000. In 2011, men made up about 93 percent of prisoners.

which is astronomical. Our prison system is absurd, and the incarceration rates and why they are the way they are is something that needs to be discussed more. There also needs to be better solutions to rehabilitating prisoners.

He also talks about male victimization,

Male victims of domestic violence are almost entirely ignored, though domestic violence is perpetrated by men and women at about equal rates (though, Jones points out, violence by men is disproportionately more serious because of strength and weight difference.) In Bosnia, human-rights organizations focused on the (horrible, important) suffering of women rape victims and refugees, while largely ignoring the mass, gender-targeted killing of “battle-age” men. Similarly, violent attacks on women receive much more media attention than violent attacks on men, though men are substantially more likely to be attacked.

I agree with him on both accounts and I think that it is tragic that anyone is abused, and that victims deserve sympathy and resources no matter their gender, age, orientation, or any other categorization. He makes great points, and there needs to be more done to address the issues with male victimization being ignored or mocked.

However compelling and important his points might be, he is complaining about men not being represented in a show about a women’s prison. It is bothersome for numerous reasons, but the main reason is that it is a women’s prison, discussing the lives of female prisoners. There are shows out there that talk about male prisoners, or gang / drug lifestyle that land people in prison. These shows are comprised of men, and I expect that being that it takes place in an institution that is specifically for men. This reason, is why I am not really sure why he feels as though men need to be more represented on the show.

One of the most disappointing things about this article is that he is addressing important issues, but it is overshadowed by his ludicrous complaint. If he had taken the time to write an article about male incarceration and or male victimization he could have been far more productive.

Week 3 of Summer Reading: Ready Player One

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Ready Player One

Ready Player by Ernest Cline has become one of my favorite books this summer. It has deeply indulged my nerdy side, and brought up some of my favorite 80’s movies. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and had such a hard time putting it down.   Nerdy things are great, but they often suffer from being male-centered with flat female characters, whether it is in video games, comics, or fantasy or science-fiction.  In this novel,  Ernest Cline managed to make some great social commentary about the way our society could be heading (some of the issues we are facing now),  gender, and poverty.

Even if you don’t consider yourself particularly nerdy or geeky, I highly recommend this book!

Victimhood: A Coveted Status

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Recently George Will wrote about the stance that Washington has decided to take when it comes colleges/universities in regard to sexual assaults and rapes on campuses.   The proposed changes will hopefully educate colleges on how to handle  sexual violence, and how to better provide prevent and provide support within their institutions. It is also an attempt to keep these institutions from overlooking them, sweeping them under the rug, or outright dissuading victims from reporting to police.  That is quite a general explanation, and this post provides more information and links to what is going on.

To many these changes sound great and long overdue, but Mr. Will feels quite differently. He writes, “They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. ”   If he sat down and talked with victims, I highly doubt that they feel privileged or as though they are in a coveted status. It is not as though there are unreasonable requests being made, most people who have been victims of sexual of violence would benefit from having safe places, and environment where they are not being shamed for being a victim. 

This kind of mentality just reinforces #yesallwomen, and how it is normalized in our society.  He calls them “micro-aggressions”, and I call them those moments where I would feel the need to say something or just leave because it is not worth it for me to stay in an environment where I feel uncomfortable or potentially unsafe. He can call the whatever he likes,  but that does not make them any less valid, nor does it minimize how it ties into the overarching issue of sexual violence.

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Week 2 of Summer Reading

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Sula

Sula by Toni Morrison

As promised, here is another book to add to your summer reading, if you have never had a chance to sit down and read this great piece. Toni Morrison presents some memorable characters in this novel.  Morrison’s works are deeply layered, and one of the most fascinating layers is the examination of the relationships between women, whether it is a mother and her daughter, or two friends.   This is definitely a must read, and we would love to hear your thoughts on the novel. 

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PTSD Awareness Month

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PTSD Awareness Month

June is PTSD awareness month and it is important to be aware and mindful of what survivors of traumatic events go through afterwards. More awareness can lead to better treatment options and more help for those suffering from PTSD.

RAINN gives a breakdown of PTSD and treatments that are available:

https://rainn.org/effects-of-sexual-assault/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

I said I was going to post book recommendations for folks to read throughout the summer, and this is my first one.

Margaret Atwood is a brilliant writer, and in this dystopian novel she writes about a society that is very restrictive towards women and how that came into being. It is great read, and Margaret Atwood is very thorough in how she creates a setting and establishes her characters.