Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category

This piece didn’t sit well with me. At first I thought it was just because of my knee-jerk, “no-duh”, reaction. Penetrating someone who is sleeping is rape. I still can not fathom why the guy was struggling with the idea he raped the girl. She was sleeping for god’s sake! But I was also have a hard time with this “good guy/bad guy” dichotomy that was being pitched at me. Not that Alyssa Royse is alone in this conversation, and I don’t think it was her intent to start a good/bad labeling war.

Matthew Salesses had the same response as me: trying to separate society and the individual’s sense of responsibility seems like a faulty way to go. After a semester of dealing with ethical issues with my senior communication students, I was reminded how important this conversation of personal responsibility is, as too many of them wanted to blame everything on the mass. Society! It makes us Do Things! The one student who consistently said, “But we have a choice,” was often shot down. So I was already sensitive to Royse’s idea that society is playing a role here. In fact, typing that makes me realize how much that still grates on me–my soul is screaming “we make choices!!”

The conversation shifted a little with these two pieces. Lynn Beisner talked about why consent isn’t an end all, and promptly came under fire for giving rapists ammunition–to the point that we need to sit down and play the label game. I don’t think that was Lynn’s intent either, and I think it was amazing of her to share such a personal and important story.  The piece that really allowed me to understand the real struggle I was having was the one telling us why we shouldn’t say only “bad guys commit rape.” Joanna Schroeder’s piece alone has given me a lot to mull over, but what really struck me was the title. “Bad Guys.”

Good Guys do this. Bad Guys do that. Rapist Monsters. Is anyone noticing the language we’re using here? I see this when students give opinion speeches on crime/criminals or when people talk about any group of people they deem “beneath” them. Only good people do this and everyone else is a disgusting monster. Step one to hatred, intolerance, to indifference? Decide that some category of people is no longer human. Demonize, segregate, ignore completely the idea that ANY human has the capacity for ANY behavior. The language that decides “once a rapist, always a rapist” (really, put any crime in there), doesn’t allow for humanity, doesn’t allow for change, doesn’t allow to any societal improvements.

Oh yeah, it also doesn’t allow for that personal responsibility I’m talking about. Those choices we all make? If we say well that person is bad so that’s why s/he did that, then we’ve taken away any personal choices in the matter, as well as any ability for the individual to change and improve. Why bother rehabbing anyone at this point? They’re all bad, that’s their life sentence.

Joanna called it empathy. I’m fine with whatever you want to call it; I just want us to pay attention to our language choices. It’s a short easy step from bad/awful/horrific acts to “all these people are monsters.” Taking that step, in my opinion, places us right there with those we’re shaming.


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The first time I wrote about having it all I wanted to add a voice I felt was missing–the married, childless (child-free, whatever phrase is hip now, I can’t keep up), woman. I felt like every bit of this discussion was about women who were career driven and had children. I don’t fall into these categories. I had written a post for International Women’s Day, (I’ve taken it down), and I realized in re-reading it that I was really just trying to explain away some painful situations I was living through, trying to justify the “alls” I had chased down. In reality, I don’t find the phrase “all” helpful. I don’t think it furthers our conversation in what a good life means, or that it helps us becoming better humans, lovers, communicators, etc.

What exactly does “having it all” mean? I’m not entirely sure. I usually hear the phrase in conjunction with kids and career, but I don’t feel like that is a wide enough conversation for all women (or all people) to participate in. And what about men? Do men not have these concerns?  My husband, when faced with the question, said “I really don’t understand what you are asking me. I don’t think it’s a question for men. If it’s seriously a question, it ought to be a question not based on gender. Women are expected to figure out the kid thing, it’s a lurking premise when women ask the question of each other.” What we should be asking, he argues, is about having a good life. I happen to agree.

Initially I had no life plans or goals. The few dreams I had I pushed aside for more “realistic” pursuits. I went to college, selected a major only because I thought it was interesting, got married at 21, graduated, and moved with no plan or jobs lined up. (Life lesson #1: not always wise to move without income lined up.) I changed jobs a few times before I figured that getting a master’s degree in my field might equal more income. And I knew I wanted to move to a different city. Now I had what I thought was an “all” goal: move, buy a house (cheaper than renting for where we were), do the grad school thing, get some better job. No real plan as to what that job would be. We did all of that and I took the first solid offer I had after grad school: a teaching gig at a small private college. It was my safest option at the time. (more…)

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Last year I was teaching full time at a community college (CC). It was my first (and last) year at that school largely because I was not prepared to have someone in power hire me and then work so hard against me.

Some background: I was hired to add diversity to the program–as in diversity to the course offerings. The courses I was supposed to be creating/teaching are pretty common at comparable colleges, and students have expressed a growing interest in these courses. I had the background, I enjoyed my interview experience and I thought it was a good fit. Shortly after I started I began to sense seom hostility from one woman, let’s call her Dora, for simplicity’s sake. Dora was on the search committee and enthusiastic about my hire, initially. When it became clear that I fully intended on doing what I was hired to do–work on adding to the program under my specialization, we started to but heads. She thought I was “smarter than that.” (Apparently I wasn’t, as I moved 6 hours from home for what I thought was the “perfect job”.) (more…)

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