This day, this moment. It is something I will never forget.
Bystander intervention is important in our efforts to help stop sexual assault by making individuals aware and able to intervene in situations where others need help. The message bystander intervention sends is a powerful one, in showing less complicity perpetrators are theoretically less likely to commit sexual assault due to social acceptance. John Kalin explains that there is a difference between advocacy and prevention. Kalin begins by explaining his “why’s”.
This is important because an individual must have a “why” to initially become an advocate and help in prevention. When people share their “why’s” for advocating against sexual assault (challenging in many cases) it has a humanizing effect where relatability can become possible. Individuals instill a reason for their friends to have a “why” and the ripple effect continues. Advocacy becomes a larger focus as people begin to question why events like sexual assault happen and how they can support the efforts against it. Each individual has special roles through their own unique intersectionality.
Kalin however makes a crucial observation in that in raising support for advocacy people who are not already passionate about sexual assault can become overwhelmed with large rallies or copious amounts of information, thus “meeting people where they are”. In order to create a larger influence approaches cannot be overwhelming in the sense where they instill a helpless or hopeless view. Increasing your audience by changing expectations can be as simple as changing the question. This is where positive prevention comes in. Instead of telling people what they must be fearful of or scared of in abstracts, like asking question “how do we make sexual assault stop?” into “how do we make prevention cool?”.
The answer is to simply and approachable through accessibility. In doing this, discussions become easier to have. These discussions are then brought into the homes and lives of the people who are able to have them and instills a greater awareness of the daily issues of sexual assault.
[WS301 – 9]
According to statistics men are most likely to suffer both physical and sexual violence at the hands of other men. Men are also at higher risk during childhood and adolescents when looking at rates of physical abuse committed by both female and male caretakers (Hattery, Angela, and Earl Smith. The Social Dynamics of Family Violence. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2017. Print. 538) The increased chance of early victimization for men while they are still considered boys may contribute to higher rates of adult male perpetrators seen later in their lives. I take issue with the statement “men rape because they can” as I have heard expressed by individuals in my other courses. The idea behind this statement explains how the legal system allows for unlikely just punishment and low social reprisal for the perpetrator in the way of victim blaming in the rape-culture society we live in. This reason does not however explore why men are decide to commit such high rates of sexual violence? The previous is an entirely separate question from, why does the justice system allow for male violence?
In the fight for gaining equality of the sexes, the treatment of women and also the opportunities given to young girls has been focused on and rightfully so. A victim does not deserve any less, the issue I find is that the perpetrators are also victims. Sentiments of, raising young boys to treat young girls with respect are common lessons in our society. Jackson Katz in his talk explains that when we move “John” from the beginning of the sentence, “John beat Mary” to the end of the sentence “Mary was beaten by John”, we shift focus from John who is the perpetrator of violence, to Mary who is the victim of this violence. Going further this shift of focus from John to Mary can be seen as a side effect of a larger structural issue. The acceptance of male emotional inferiority. Mary is now analyzed but she is not the issue. (Jackson Katz, 2017)
While I read Betrayed by the Angel: What Happens When Violence Knocks and Politeness Answers? By Debra Anne Davie I found to my own surprise wondering, “well why would a girl allow for a boy to jab her so much?” the thought I should spend more time focusing on is, “why is that boy jabbing his sharp pencil into that girls’ arm?” The girl in the story was the victim, and with risk of sounding detached, her situation is the side effect of a toxic male expectation that is upheld by other men and women in the form of androcentrism. Although her story is important and must be shared, it can only accomplish the identification of who is being victimized and how. With little boys being cited as “more likely to bully than girls and to bully other boys” (Hattery & Smith, 540) the behavior of their actions should be analyzed due the statistic that boys are as we have talked about in class, at a higher risk to commit violence after witnessing violence in the home or among people in the boy’s life.
Davis does a phenomenal job of relating early childhood experience as possible influencers in later abilities to handle an event. Through her story as a young girl she outlines her acceptance of the irritating behavior reinforced by her superior, in this case a substitute teacher who takes a lacks approach to Davis’ complaints of getting poked with a pencil by her male classmate. Later while she recounts her rape, she highlights the thoughts running through her mind. They comprise of not being rude, or deciding whether it was okay to be impolite while this tragic event is occurring. She makes the acknowledgement that despite the fact that she did not struggle, allowing minimal force exuded by the perpetrator, that he was extremely angry with her to which she could not figure out why. (Hattery & Smith, 572)
When Davis asked little girls, what did your parents teach you? What will you decided to teach your kids and what will you not teach them, the startling answer of not wanting to continue the idea of being kind to everyone was stated. Davis speaks about her own uncomfortable encounter and that her rape caused her to be rude to strangers in her situation men. Davis ends her story with multiple questions but I do not believe those are questions an individual must seek to understand why there is a larger system causing the outcomes of male aggression.
[WS301 – 8]
- Louise Wisechild has to work through a lot of body shame. What was it about abuse that caused her so much shame and disconnect from her body? –
In The Missing Piece: Bodywork for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Shirley Vanderbilt states that during the mid-1970s into the 1980s there was an influx of child abuse identification and reporting. Not all of these disclosures came from children but from adult survivors. These adults were accessing memories from their childhoods that had been previously locked away. Scientific research has shown evidence of “a neurobiological response to trauma and the fragmentary way in which trauma memory is stored in the body”. According to Christine Courtois, Ph.D., clinical director of The Center: Post-traumatic Disorders Program at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington in Washington D.C, particular types of trauma past the elements of violation and control that also add a betrayed relationship to the situation, someone the child or victim trusted and intensified entrapment over time, can lead to responses of “repression, denial, or dissociation. The victim in turn makes a psychological escape whereas the body remembers the traumas it has experienced. This can cause a great amount of turmoil for the individual who is wanting to feel as what we would describe as “normal” but the memories held within the body disallow this unity my mind and body.
Louise Wisechild was not only sexually abused at a very young age beginning with her grandfather’s years of molestation when she was just 5 years old, she was also continuously, repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped by her Uncle Kevin and stepfather Don throughout her adolescent and teenage life. The coping patterns that form due to young age and repeated frequent abuse according to Psychiatrist Judith Herman caused Louise to form and deform her personality while she was still a child. Louise never internalized a healthy understanding of sex because of the abuse she endured. She was taught to believe she could to be used, and to never speak for what they they molesters the rapists insisted she liked. She came from a family who treated female sexuality as “bad”. Bad, being the term she continuously uses against herself as her memories written by her in her book The Obsidian Mirror, relive childhood experiences for her that she now looking back has the chance to understand. She never expressed a love for her body because she was never taught to by her mother and the other adults in her life. She was shown that her body was hers, not for the use of others. Louise also struggled with seeing her lack of agency in a situation when she was being abused. As a child her agency was not hers yet. Later as an adult she internalizes that choices people are because they want to make them. She feels as if, because it happened to her, such a horrible experience and repeated by multiple men in her life, that there must have been something she did to cause it. Through teachings of her grandmother and mother women were always responsible for the bad things that happened, no matter what.
The shame Louise felt was greatest when she recounted that one morning she had an organism while Don was rapping her. She felt the burst of sensation met with confusion. To Louise this meant war against a body, a body that expressed desire for something that was bad. Her body responded in a way that she did not agree with. Louise’s experiences taught her that her sexuality was bad. Louise never understood how to be in charge of her sexuality because she was never given the tools to accomplish this in a healthy way, to be confident in her sexuality, and to view her sexuality for herself. Until she could relearn through bodywork and therapy that the actions taken against her were not her fault that they were in fact the crimes of the adults in charge of her care was she able to start the healing process of releases pains where memories were demanding to be understood.
[WS201 – 7]
As Marc-André Lagrange, (international crisis group member/DRC senior analyst/expert in African conflicts) responds to questions about the current state of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) he exclaims, “you cannot have peace without justice”. I began to question what “justice” actually would look like for a country with such intertwined, multilayered disparities? Who would justice be for? Who would it be against? After so many years of war and conflict was peace obtainable?
In the DRC more than 400,000 women are raped each year according to the 2011 study done by, The American Journal of Public Health. According to the United Nation figures, this statistic makes the DRC the rape capitol of the world with also 1 in 3 Congolese men having admitted to committing sexual assault and/or rape. In Gloria Steinem’s show WOMEN, a docuseries premiering with the issues occurring in the DRC, Steinem states that, to date 1.8 million people have been targeted of brutal sexual assault in the eastern region of the DRC and now that boundary of sexualized violence is leaking into further areas outside the considered combat zone carrying with its migration the implications of impunity. More than 20 years ago Rwanda invaded the DRC, battling for power over the mineral rich resources in the eastern region that include coltan, the mineral responsible for making your laptops, tablets, and cell phones. Ranking among the top 5 producers of coltan in the world the DRC is considered highly viable in the global economy.
The late Maskia Katsuva who passed away suddenly in 2016 due to malaria complications was an activist working in the village of Buganga. The village of Buganga acts as a shelter for women and children who have been rape or victims of various forms of sexualized violence like Katsuva herself, and her two daughters who were attacked at twelve and fourteen years of age. While listening to Gorgeta a woman who recently made it to Buganga after a horrific gang rape where she was awoken during the night. She was cut and burned while 20 men raped her over her dead husband’s body then the assailants proceeded to kill her children in front of her. Gorgeta explains they did this because her husband was apart of an opposing militia. It is clear the devastating long lasting effects sexualized violence causes to not only women but to the whole of a society. Gorgeta is quoted saying she “lost her mind” after two days waiting for help, unable to move from the attack. Many people are cited as saying they lost their minds during the horrific experiences they endured. Over the 15 years Katsuva worked in Buganga she personally saw 10,123 women all affected by brutal sexualized violence. Issues also included the contraction of HIV and AIDS, which were cause of death for many if initial injuries did not kill the victim first. Ferole Mac a rebel who was a farmer, now a head of a local militia exclaims quiet simply “its either I die today or my child dies tomorrow”. He believes the rebel groups like M23 and the Tutsis (Rwandans) aim to provoke them to fight through the rape of their women and children with the land being the ultimate goal.
Justice begins with immediate action for the women of the DRC. It begins with increased protection at the ground level from allies who have voiced their support but have not back it by action. These women after being abandoned and shunned from their communities due to the stigma of rape, find work digging for minerals but are left in the open, unable to defend themselves from possible attacks. Marie-Roger Biloa, (editor of Africa International/President Club Millennium/Political Commentator) emphasizes the importance of recognizing the psychological severity that is impacting the victims in the DRC. I agree with her criticisms that although the UN and other smaller organizations have expressed effort in helping the Congolese government it has not been enough. The rate of sexualized violence continues to increase in practice while decreasing the age of who is at risk. She exclaims that we do not see the larger effort and implementation that a situation like this demands for from the developed countries who possess resources that can control the rebel groups such as M23 where its apparent the Congolese government is struggling. The mentality of the government through statements given to troops explaining, “you have a gun you don’t need a paycheck” must be stopped, this is where power and committing violence are being interlaced as one. As an example to her claim, in 2012 in the city of Minova troops swarmed in and raped well over a hundred women and girls. According to the survivors the attacks were not from militia or opposing forces but the DRC’s own troops. The government made an usual move and held a trial where 39 soldiers including 5 high ranking officials were included but resulted in just 2 junior solider convictions. In the eyes of the North Kivu Vice governor, Feller Lutaichirwa this was a great success. Biola’s concerns are made valid, she explains that what we are getting wrong here is the thinking that there is a current Congolese government who is even capable in the reform of justice or military reform at this present time.
In Bukavu city in the South Kivu Province, Dr. Denis Mukwege a Noble Peace Prize Nominee, has worked at the cities hospital for 32 years. He deals with the most severe and brutal rape cases in the region. He explains throughout his years that currently he is seeing the highest occurring, most serve levels of child sexualized violence in his experience as a doctor. During Vice reporter Isobel Yeung’s visit, Mukwege explained, while simultaneously comforting a distressed mother before inspecting her child who at only 6 years of age had been confirmed as a victim of rape, that this phenomenon is rising and must be paid attention to. Lagrange explains that long standing policies of militia integration into the countries army to accentually buy peace from the militias is causing the degradation of the countries military. Military and governmental reform must be prioritized. Ida Sawyer (DRC researcher HRW/documented atrocities in the DRC/human right’s advocate) states the UN’s key role in working with the Congolese government however late it may be, must commit to punishing senior officials for the sexual violence being committed. Taking away wealth and benefits given to “leaders” can be one way to hopefully sway the appeal of violence. Putting pressure on Rwanda as well Sawyer states is crucial in alleviating the eastern region of the high levels of violence.
Sawyer and Lagrange both heavily focus on the need to indict more senior high-ranking officials. Jason Stearns (Rift Valley Institute Director – leading think tanks of Sub-Saharan Africa) agrees with this sentiment explaining the competing narrative the UN is currently in. Part of the UN mandate explains that they will support the Congolese effort contingent upon the factor of human rights infringements. Stearns explains that to cut off support by which groups are committing crimes would be impossible. By sanctioning head authority figures the UN and supporting groups can provide more of an incentive against this behavior. Lastly the condemning of rapists is not enough. There must be a rehabilitative aspect. Due to the decades of war and sexualized violence, extreme psychological problems as Mukwege noted are rampant. Once soldiers were unarmed after the “end” of the war there was no psychological support. These psychological issues the men carried/carry with them act as a virus toward society. Where rape culture exists, rape babies will grow up to know nothing better than the violence and suffering they have been created by and experienced since they day they were born.
*Full episode on Viceland online
Types of child abuse include emotional abuse, witnessing violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. Any individual or group that relies on others for care is at risk, with certain conditions that work to elevate the likelihood of abuse “individuals with “high” care needs are more likely to experience neglect than those with “low” care needs”.The Social Dynamics of Family Violence. Australia: Accessible Systems PTY, 2012. Print., p.116) Children apart from the elderly are arguably the most vulnerable demographic among us, which heightens the chances of exploitation and victimization to occur. In analyzing the subset concerning children with disabilities, the risk for abuse of any kind increases. Children, depending on the type and severity of the specific disability rely on their caregivers in a more permanent way whereas children without disabilities gradually take steps towards independently accomplishing life stages on their own or with less assistance required. (Hattery & Smith, p.102-103)
Similar to the phenomenon of elder abuse, many factors of being a disabled child contribute to an increased role of their vulnerability and subsequent abuse/neglect. One of the largest factors that presents the opportunity of abuse is the accessibility to the victim. The lack of physical and cognitive functioning skills may disallow full agency to be utilized by the victim, who in this case already lacks a full ability of agency due to their child status. Historically accepted beliefs, norms, and practices concerning childcare were also understood in the sense that the family sphere has and still is treated as a private entity. (Hattery & Smith, p. 22) This dynamic puts a massive level of importance on the caregiver’s role as protector in the lives of disabled children. It is the protectors’ job to ensure the health of the disabled child is being taken care of, whether that is providing proper amount of nutrition or administering medication the adult in this role must be able to safely and correctly administer care.
The needs required by disabled children not only demand more from the caretakers involved but requires that more individuals are actually involved in the process of the children’s lives. These caretakers should be held complicit. In dealing with special populations, the 2003 Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act called for child welfare agencies to coordinate services with other agencies including public health, mental health and other developmental disabilities agencies. (Hattery & Smith, p. 26)
[WS301 – 5]
“The burden of proof is on plaintiff to show that the employer’s asserted non-discriminatory reasons are pretextual. The term burden of proof means, of course that the employee must show that, more likely than not, the asserted reasons for the employment decision are pretextual.” (Rabidue v. Osceola Refining Co., p. 4)
Vivienne Rabidue worked for a small business eventually earning a position from an hourly to salaried employee operating under the name of Osceola Refining Company. The refining company was independently owned during the time Rabidue gained employment in 1970. In 1974, United Refineries of Warren, Ohio gained control and operated it as a separate division until they sold two years later in 1976, when Osceola was taken over by Texas-American Petrochemicals. After being fired from her job as well as being refused unemployment benefits by the company, Rabidue in front of a district judge and argued on April 18, 1984, that she had been the victim of sex discrimination and sex harassment under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Michigan Elliott Larsen Act. She also asserted a claim under the federal Equal Pay Act.
Rabidue’s defense in claiming a hostile work place included the facts of, porn being displayed all over the workplace, workers using crude, sexually explicit language, and the restriction that she was not allowed to participate in functions of the job that male colleagues were, such as taking a client out to lunch. According to the courts, in applying the former case model of Rasimas v. Michigan Department of Mental Health, Rabidue was required to do the following: “Rabidue must show (1) that she belongs to a protected Title VII classification; (2) that she was qualified for the Administrative Assistant position from which she was discharged; (3) that despite her qualifications, she was discharge; (4) that, subsequent to her discharge, plaintiff was replaced by a male.” Rabidue would have easily fulfilled these requirements if not for past Supreme court cases that were used to explain that the defendant is only required to come forward with evidence of its non-discriminatory motive; rather they are not required to prove anything, whereas the plaintiff must show clear evidence.
The trial court stated Rabidue had failed to “sustain any of the claims which she has asserted”. The appellate court decision stated that a “reasonable person” would not find the work environment that she was in to be hostile to women. Two out of the three appellate judges agreed with the trial court whereas the third judge dissented on the basis that a “reasonable woman” would find it hostile. However, the courts in 1984 ruled in favor of the defendant. They exclaimed Rabidue along with her fellow female employees, who corroborated Rabidue’s story with their own experiences that “Rabidue is being intolerant by complaining about the images” [pornographic]. The sexual posters as explained should have no effect on Rabidue when considering the context of society. Rabidue appealed in September of 1985 and in November of 1986 the district court stated that because Rabidue did not display psychological dismay due to the actions in her work environment that it was not a hostile work environment and she could not demonstrate a degree of suffering or injury as a result of the accused abusive and hostile work environment.
The dissenting Judge disagreed that the work environment was void of hostility towards women rather that it was built upon an anti-female environment. He stated that Rabidue, for seven years worked as the sole woman in a salaried management position. It was made apparent that the Vice President Charles Muetzel was very aware that Douglas Henry’s (the supervisor of the company’s keypunch and computer operators) language was greatly upsetting other employees but due to Henry’s specialized knowledge Muetzel did not fire him. After many written complaints Muetzel stated he had talked with Henry. Taking the approach of “fatherly advice” as Muetzel states he claims he spoke with Henry and explain the behavior needed if he eventually wanted to become “an executive type person.” The Judge goes on to explain that if Henry’s behavior was accepted that Rabidue’s behavior in regards to her own defined aggressiveness cannot be treated any differently thus giving weight to her claims of termination due to her sexual orientation. The women employed by the company stated they feared the loss of their jobs if they directly complained in order to back Rabidue’s situation.
Although this case is now dated I believe it is important. It shows the issues that typically women are faced with when seeking the same rights as men in the workplace. Rabidue and her female co-workers did not have a Human Resources Department which complicated the security they felt in their jobs. They could either put up with the obvious sexism present and encouraged in their work environment, or they could speak up and risk hurting their chances in the company or all together which could lead to losing their jobs. The term used in the court documents were that the women found the male behavior to be “annoying”. Annoying is when there is a small rock in your shoe and you need to shake it out, annoying is when you wear a coat in Michigan because its -345 degrees out and by noon you’re sweating because its somehow 75 degrees out now, annoying is when I forget my wallet in my other purse. Being treated socially as a second class citizen because an individual falls under the category of “female” is not annoying, its unjust. An important statement was made in regards to Title VII and its existence which I believe rings true today, “It must never be forgotten that Title VII is the federal count mainstay in the struggle for equal employment opportunity for the female workers in America. But it is quite different to claim that Title VII was designed to bring about a magical transformation in the social mores of American workers.” (Rabidue v. Osceola Refining Co. 1984, p. 6)
[WS301 – 4]
There most definitively is a hook up culture present within Michigan State University’s demographic. Philip Eil explains in his piece, Hooking up as a core requirement: Casual sex in college isn’t optional anymore, “its an imperative” based from the book penned by Lisa Wade American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus, that there are specific components that go into creating this hook up phenomenon. The term “drunkenworld” or sometimes referenced as “temporary insanity” when speaking about the climate of college campuses, Eil draws upon the earlier work of Thomas Vander Ven to explain that alcohol is a large factor that feeds into this idea of engaging in what is denounced as a “harmless romp, supposedly free expression of one’s sexuality…” but he goes on to observe that as freeing as “no strings attached” sex may seem it also has rules …” but within oddly strict parameters. It’s spontaneous, but scripted; order out of disorder; an unruly routine.” (p.2)
Wade, who has performed extensive ethnographic research to support her books claims(s), widens the conversation to connect hook up culture to a larger context of “contemporary American sexual mores.” (p.3) She makes the distinction that since from the dawn of college campuses, there has always been a casual sex component. However, hook up culture is more all encompassing in its expectation. This difference is that everyone is in one way involved through action or discussion, acceptance or rejection. Hook up culture can been seen manifesting in the very architecture of how college as an institution is set up with close proximity dorm rooms as an example. Wade explains that this idea of college being “fun” allows the general norms of acceptable behavior to be lifted, that it becomes “normal to be slurring one’s words and barely able to walk.” (p.3) The conversations of whom hooked up with whom from the night before or whom avoided whom act as a hierarchy of sorts among discussions. Groups of the same sex often converse with their friends on what they had “accomplished” the night before and what they plan to achieve in the upcoming weekend.
Around many college campuses, bars are the typical business enticing students with low booze prices and cheap food while advertising a good time to let loose after the long week of schoolwork. This idea that college is suppose to be the best time of your life is a hypocritical message being sent that allows for an anxious mindset of refusing to miss out, FOMO (fear of missing out) a popular phrase at one point used to explain the party they “just couldn’t miss out on”. Michigan State is no exception to this observation. Most bars including Ricks, Riv, Dublin, Harper, PT O’Malley’s, etc. offer weekday deals to bring students to their otherwise slow business days. Burger-rama held by The Riv, every Thursday, (only reason to get out of bed for some) has over the course of my time here at the University, continued to open their doors at earlier times allowing for the binge drinking involving $5 dollar pitchers of beer and booze until 2am the next morning. Events are held within these establishments for holidays including Valentines Day, instructing party goers to wear green if single, yellow if the situation is “complicated”, and red for being described as “taken”. The mix of binge drinking with expectations of “scoring” encourages the idea that the end goal is to hook up by the end of the night, to find whom is promoting themselves as available or appears to be. This problematically in my opinion blurs the lines of acceptable behavior under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The bars actions of merging “a good time” along with “getting some” is exactly what reinforces hook up culture. The bars cannot claim they watch over serving individuals as a priority due the display of stumbling students trying to make their way out of the bars after closing time.
Consideration for the other person involved during these hook up’s as well as a lack of responsibility for the consequences that can occur from such mindless acts include, blurring the lines of what sexual assault is, unwanted pregnancies, as well as the contraction of STI’s that could seriously affect your health. I make the claim that hook up culture on a college campus is meaningless in that the individual is acting on their own desires to gain something back from an individual they are not required to know much about while under high levels of intoxication. It is meaningless in the sense that sex does hold meaning, and chemical responses during the act do occur. This idea that people engage in a physical act with possibilities of later getting to know one another holds complications from reversing the timeline of events. Physical attraction does not provide causation for compatibility however it may be a factor within compatibility.
[WS301 – 3]
To list the number of restrictions inhibiting a man from obtaining “true male status” as defined by the United States’ social expectation would require a thesis’ length list. An easier endeavor is to state what does qualify as acceptable components for acquiring the coveted status of almighty manhood. To be unmanly is to be anything but, a white, middle class, heterosexual male, void of an emotional range outside of a competitive drive displayed through sexual accomplishments, anger, rage, and violence. To say the confines of this standard are narrow would be putting it lightly.
Michael Kimmel, an American sociologist specializing in gender studies explains, “this idea that manhood is socially constructed and historically shifting should not be understood as a loss, that something is being taken away from men.” (p.23) This shift for arguably the first time allows men agency, the capacity to act. Kimmel uses David Leverenz as support in his claim that masculinity is a direct opposition of femininity. Men act seeking the approval of other men. The male guise does not just police the “other” but also sets strict standards for the male gender to adhere to. In masculinity’s message, encouraging the rejection of the feminine while simultaneously encouraging heterosexual conquest, women become tools used at will for displaying/proving masculinity among other men. Psychologist Sam Osherson explained how easy it is by the time a male has reached adult status “to think you’re always in competition with men, for the attention of women, in sports, at work.” (p.24)
Men’s need to repeatedly reinforce their masculinity to one another unveils a potential underlining fear within this set standard. Fear, for a male seeking to fulfill this stereotypical macho man identity is allowing for a perceived lack of power and control over a situation or dynamic. The threats by other men exclaiming words such as “faggot” or “gay” reflect the deep-rooted dedication to upholding the ideals that define what it is to be a sissy, untough, or uncool. In this way the “other” is grouped in with the feminine. The term faggot is not a representation of believing one is gay or the hatred of that sexual orientation rather the term used with the intention of imasculating the individual. It is the reaction of rejecting those qualities in oneself as well.
During the second wave of feminism (1970s -1980s) women cried out for equal treatment. Women exclaimed they were no less competent then their male counterparts that dominated the professional working sphere. Immigration also brought new complications in the sense of defining acceptable masculinity with new variations of behavior to combat as cultural diversity expanded. During the Regan era while the feminist movement was demanding attention, females where encouraged back into the home and to avoid birth contraception for the benefit of the family dynamic. Many women did not see this as apart of their goal in the fight for equality. Feminism works to explain through the perspective of the “other” that traits are not biologically linked to the sexes. Kimmel makes a critical point that “thus with the same symmetry, feminism has tended to assume that individually men must feel powerful.” (p.29) This assumption disallows a true understanding that it is far more likely men feel powerless. Male sterotype’s that view traits seen as “soft” as not being apart of their biological makeup. When faced with the claims that gendered behavior is much more overlapping then previously decided disallows men to hold power in the way they were taught was inherently theirs from birth. An identity crisis of what makes a male a male begins to surface.
The recent outcome of the presidential election many would argue is a direct reaction from men who expressed their feelings of a percieved powerless position. Donald Trumps persona is that of the traditional American male holding power by owning immense capital, and adhering to the traditional gender binary. While the feminist movement aims to redefine what it is to be female, the same expectations of the stereotypical macho male continues to be reinforced to young males. These two perceptions of the sexes will never cohesively exist together. Masculinity must also shift in its expectations of what a male’s behavior can encompass. Second wave feminism failed to understand the issues with their movement being uncomprehenable to the male sex. Third wave feminism although making strives needs more men to step out of their silence out of fear of reprisal. Feminism must be able to communicate how the gender binary confines both sexes to untrue black and white behaviors. Until social thought shifts men will continue to reinforce the gender binary.
Chapter 2 Masculinity as Homophobia (Not the exact copy I have access to)
[WS301 – 2]
What must first and foremost be understood when discussing Steubenville, Ohio, and the rape of a teenage girl on August 11th, 2012, is that it is a very small town. ““It’s a very, very small community here,” said Juvenile Judge Samuel W. Kerr of Jefferson County, who recused himself [from case]. His granddaughter dated one of the football players initially linked to the incident. “Everybody knows everybody.””
The vivacious pulse once was made possible by the monetary benefits of the steel mills and coal mines has been in consistent decline since around 1948. Steubenville’s former nickname of Sin City takes on an eerie new relevance in Juliet Macur and Nate Schweber’s article while accounts of a once lively history of gambling, prostitution, and organized crime during the cities acclaimed hay day are noted. With a fraction of its previous employment opportunities available after the mines and mills closed, Steubenville’s said to have experienced its steepest population decline during 1970-2000. The cities decline was the largest for any metropolitan area in the U.S. Around the 18,400 people that have stayed many are struggling, living under the poverty line, and according to William McCafferty the Steubenville police chief, “Chicago style crime” and drug use are continuously on the rise.
The Steubenville highschool’s Big Red football team has seemingly been the one outlet of celebration for a city that has endured so much. Macur and Schweber present that the athletic website displays the statement dubbing the football team’s success as credit for the continued relevance of the city which is a key point requiring further examination. Jim Flanagan, a long time resident of the area, expresses his distress at the hero like treatment, that takes form in “looking the other way” with regards to behavior from football team players.
On the night of August 11th, 2012, a string of events involving a 16-year-old female from a neighboring town and many of the Steubenville football players put the years of muffled frustrations towards the preferential treatment for the team at a record volume. While reading the horrific details, I must interject with an observation of my own. With each drink a bartender serves, they are reminded that they are responsible legally for that decision. Over serving an individual, resulting in high levels of intoxication can result in a multitude of scenarios that can not only harm the individual but also put the public at a chance for greater risk. I find it astonishing that as a bartender’s position becomes synonymous for babysitting, adults as legally defined, may drink while becoming more reliant on the bartender’s ability to call the shots, quickly stripped of accountability. Now compare the previous dynamic to a minor who already as been deemed too young to drink and make competent decisions, wouldn’t one drink thus exclude her from her ability to give consent sexually? Legally I would say yes. There should have never been a debate over this minor’s inability that night to make knowledgeable, consenting decisions.
During the protests of William Mccafferty defending against accusations of the police’s lackadaisical approach towards Big Red players, his statement, “If crimes were being committed they are not being reported.” This unwillingness to step forward exhibited by the cities people explains a larger problem of bystanders first possibly not understanding the laws requirements needed to convict, as well as second not wanting to be involved due to fear of social reprisal yet still expecting or hoping for change the latter being the harder issue to face. The fear of social reprisal is powerful in its numbers and in a small town like Steubenville your position is not likely one to stay that of anonymity.
When jobs leave, the wealth follows, and education suffers, in the case of Steubenville, sports became the symbol of something better. The revenue from the football team allows for much more to be possible in an area where resources are scares. For children these sports hold further possibilities they could not obtain by other means, they also give hope to parents who see chances for a better quality of life. Children categorized as minors are like chess pieces moved at the will of the adult players who have their livelihood to lose. This mixed interest blurs the lines of what this city is willing to let slide or in this case flat out deny. The commodification of adolescent sports is a highly conflicting message to these minors growing up in this environment, their role in football for this example not only concerns the future of the individual but also for the struggling family. The hearings in the case are open to the public, but court documents regarding the matter are sealed because the defendants are juveniles. The purpose of these records being sealed seems somewhat problematic. This allows for a speculative aura to continue throughout the history of the town, much like a telephone game where one story by word of mouth is shared somewhere details are minced and replaced. This case can take on an untrue remembrance defined by the prevailing social conclusion. Without the records, speculation becomes the facts for later audiences to base their opinion.
People like Crosier, McVey, and Saccoccia, all hugely influential in the community and involved in the school athletics admitting well after the case had been ongoing to be unaware of the alleged events and details of said events is an issue. An omission of knowledge or failure to make oneself aware of information is not congruent with being innocent. This lack of accountability is the very issue McCafferty shares complaints towards when regarding his frustrations over criticisms at the police force for allowing favoritism. Who do we hold accountable when key individuals are exclaiming ignorance? At what point is there a failure to uphold a responsibility to the children that are under their direction? McCafferty also makes a statement asking why there was a complete disregard for morals on every single individual at the parties that night. Not a single person spoke out to say “this isn’t right.” I fear that the city of Steubenville, and potentially many others, have mistaken the laws ability to enforce and uphold social justices. If individuals are not courageous enough to defend the laws at the local level how does law enforcement go about their role to serve and protect?
Richmond and May’s being said to have no previous record of sexual assault or crime is an asinine attempt at rationalizing their behavior on the night of August 11th. “Saccoccia was one of those witnesses, as was Michael Haney, the school’s varsity basketball coach, who said Richmond was a talented player that ranked in the top 100 high school players in the state.” This quote aligns with the same rationalization made for the more recent case involving Brock Turner whose swimming ability was referenced more than once by his father and ultimately what allowed for his “look the other way” slap on the wrist. These boys are witnessing their superiors who both happen to be males exclaim they were 100% innocent. That they had done nothing, nothing wrong. “She had to make something up” stated by the volunteer football coach Nate Hubbard, “what else are you going to tell your parents…” he goes on. The young men are seeing that they lack the expectation of responsibility in a situation to make judgement calls of consent. This uneven lack of acknowledged competency will continue to drive a wedge between the sexes. I believe it allows for an acceptance that men require or need sex while women are less controlled by the need and more so serve in the act.
The fan of a rival team who painted “Rape Big Red” across his chest is an example of the belief that there are varying levels of the seriousness of rape in Steubenville’s culture. This fan should have been reprimanded for the blatant disrespect. This type of social action showing an acceptance that the topic or definition of rape can be used to heckle a team is showing a lack of competency over the seriousness of this crime. To make light of such an act is to rationalize its presence and severity.
[WS301 – 1]