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Steubenville, rape, and the long struggle to change | troublemakingpunk.org
 

Steubenville, rape, and the long struggle to change | troublemakingpunk.org

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http://troublemakingpunk.org/2014/04/19/steubenville-rape-and-the-long-struggle-to-change/ ...

http://troublemakingpunk.org/2014/04/19/steubenville-rape-and-the-long-struggle-to-change/
"As power relationships slowly change, sexist images are challenged, and women’s voices are heard, perhaps we can hope that, even if we haven’t yet stopped the sexist violence, it goes unacknowledged and unpunished a little less often. A small victory, but a critical one."

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    Steubenville, rape, and the long struggle to change | troublemakingpunk.org Steubenville, rape, and the long struggle to change | troublemakingpunk.org Document Transcript

    • troublemakingpunk.org Love, Liberation, & Eco-feminist Boat Rocking Steubenville, Rape, and The Long Struggle to Change April 19, 2014 // 1 So, I just heard on the radio that authorities are finally looking into sexual assault charges against a Florida college star athlete for an incident that took place last year. Over and over again I’ve seen sexual assault cases against star athletes conveniently swept under the rug. You can bet the teenaged athletes who, at a 2012 party, assaulted a young teen girl in Steubenville, Ohio, have seen it too. As a man who committed what I consider attempted sexual assault more than once as a teenager, I have watched the events unfolding over the last year and a half in Steubenville with great interest and much sadness. Whether we examine the cultural training and influences for boys like me a half a century ago or for those in the present, media messages and unequal power relationships that promote objectification of women and sexual aggressiveness of men abound. Sexist stereotypes and rape fantasies are reinforced day after day. The films of my grandparents’ time and the films and television shows of mine promoted rape and sexual assault, too. The heralded 1939 film, Gone With The Wind has a celebrated scene where Scarlett has made her disdain clear to her husband, Rhett. He attacks her, picks her up against her will and takes her upstairs to … what? The next scene we see Scarlett lying in bed, smiling. What does that mean? What’s the lesson drawn? When, fifteen years later, Marlon Brando, in the acclaimed film, On The Waterfront, violently attacks Eva Marie Saint, and the viewer sees that she evidently wanted him to do that, what does it mean? What does a thirteen year old boy learn from that? When three or four decades after that Nicholas Cage does the same to Cher in the award winning, Moonstruck, and she decides she loves him, what in the world is the movie maker telling boys about women, and about how men should behave? So called serious films continue to perpetuate this image of the heroine waiting to be taken by the strong, impetuous hero. The scores of comedy films made over the last ninety years that have implied that it is a good idea to ply women with alcohol to “loosen them up” also continue to provide lessons today. When most video games marketed to teen boys depict women as either helpless damsels who must be saved, or strong, evil women who must be vanquished, what is the message the boy gets? When thousands of rap songs constantly label women as “b***ches” or “hos”, or as their body parts, who simply are there to please the males, what does the eleven year old boy learn about girls and women? What messages do the girls get about themselves? Post your own or leave a trackback: Trackback URL
    • We live in a patriarchal, sexist culture where women hold less than 20% of our elected offices on average, less than 5% of CEO positions of our largest corporations, less than a quarter of the top positions in our cultural institutions. Most film directors, most video producers, most advertising executives are men, while single mothers are the largest group of adults in poverty. These conditions help determine whose vision defines our world—what’s valued as important, what’s not. Over one-third of teen girls report violence from their male partners.Thousands of women each year are raped or battered by guys they know. In one survey it was reported that 23% of women who served in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars were victims of at least one attempted sexual assault by their male comrades. At the same time, the markets for violent pornography and sexual slavery are at all time highs. This is the environment in which these teen boys committed horrid crimes of violation and degradation against an innocent young woman. This is the environment in which a community of youths and adults supported and tolerated those crimes. It was a similar environment almost a half century ago when my friends and I crossed similar boundaries, and were not held accountable. As bad as it is now, it was worse in some ways then. The voice of women could barely be heard. That was before brave women came together to create rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters, before women rallied to challenge “the problem with no name,” and demanded liberation for women and the right to control their own bodies. The voices are getting louder, but it is still hard to be heard over the cheers for a game winning touchdown catch or the dissonant noise of one more porn video or Hollywood flick that swallows the landscape. As I write this and you read this, women in our country are being battered; women in our country are being raped; women and girls in our country are being sexually harassed, and boys are being taught that either it’s okay or it doesn’t matter that much. We’re also not being taught that this is not simply a “violence against women” problem, but something even bigger. We are not being taught that this is an inevitable result of living in a patriarchy. We are not being taught that until we fully challenge the distorted masculinity that comes from living in a dysfunctional patriarchal system, we will never reach the roots of the violence. In the meantime, we do what we can. As power relationships slowly change, sexist images are challenged, and women’s voices are heard, perhaps we can hope that, even if we haven’t yet stopped the sexist violence, it goes unacknowledged and unpunished a little less often. A small victory, but a critical one. River Smith is former co-chair of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS), former coordinator of Men Against Violence (a community centered feminist-based batterers program), and author of A Conspiracy To Love: Living A Life of Joy, Generosity, and Power. Tags masculinity, Rape, sexism, sexual assault, violence Categories Uncategorized 1 Comment
    • Francis April 19, 2014 at 4:22 pm Interesting and serious argument to talk about. River as always got the point and explain everything in a crystal clear way. Reply Blog at WordPress.com. | Customized Wu Wei Theme. Back to the top Follow Follow “troublemakingpunk.org” Powered by WordPress.com