Slut Shaming and Victim Blaming

Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders recently created a lot of controversy with her statements regarding sexual assault, feminism, and sexuality. After describing a situation in which she was sexually assaulted by multiple men, she went on to say that she took full responsibility for it, saying: “If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk? Who else’s fault can it be? … If I’m walking around and I’m very modestly dressed and I’m keeping to myself and someone attacks me, then I’d say that’s his fault. But if I’m being very lairy and putting it about and being provocative, then you are enticing someone who’s already unhinged — don’t do that. Come on! That’s just common sense. You know, if you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him.” Later on in the interview, when discussing feminism and her fellow pop stars, she said: “Women who sell what their product is by using sex – that’s prostitution. A pop star who’s walking around, parading themselves as a porn star and saying they’re feminists. They’re prostitutes. I’m not making a value judgment on prostitutes, but just say what you are.”

Obviously her statements have spawned much debate across all corners of the internet. The problem, in my opinion, is less with her statements, and more with how people have responded to her.

Pretenders_Graphic

To be fair, these are just the top comments on one page that shared the story. There are plenty of people advocating against victim blaming and slut shaming. Despite this, there are also a great deal of people who think that she was making a fair point. A lot of these comments were written by women demeaning other women for dressing immodestly and “asking for rape.” Even more problematic is the means of arguing used by those who were against what she said, citing cases of children and old ladies being assaulted to prove that rape is about power, not sex. The problem with these arguments is that almost no one thinks that the modest deserve to get raped. They are arguing that “sluts” do.

How a woman dresses and how many people she sleeps with does not determine her worth. How attractive she is, how old she is, how flirtatious she is, does not create consent. The only way a woman can ask for it is by literally asking someone to have sex with her. What is considered modest or appropriate is completely dictated by cultural norms at the given place and time. Nothing less, nothing more.

We need to stop shying away from defending those the world would call slutty or immodest. We live in a world that demonizes consensual sex for women while justifying rape. This has to end.

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Student Professor Relationships

One of my former high school teachers (I went to two high schools in two states, good luck guessing who) started publicly dating a student the day they had graduated and turned 18. There was much speculation that the relationship began much sooner. Most people hear this story and agree, it was at the very least an unethical choice, and depending on when the relationship truly began probably an immoral and illegal one as well. This is because there is a clear separation between teachers and students in high school. The teachers are adults, and the students are children. When you get into the murky world of college relationships things become more complicated.

Most colleges have little to no regulations on student/faculty relationships. Should we prohibit or regulate relationships between two consenting adults? Most have had at least one professor who is rumored to give preferential grades to attractive students, and true or not, this is a harmful aspect of the college experience. These perceptions do not benefit the students, teachers, or college. It is important for the system to be viewed as merit based and fair. If teachers date current students, regardless of what grade the student actually receives in the class, it will be problematic. Most people agree that professors should be prohibited from dating current students.

Should professors be allowed to date former students who are still enrolled at the college, or students they have never actually taught? This is where people tend to become a bit more divided. On one hand there is the perception that consenting adults who are not directly working together in a student-teacher relationship have no reason to abstain. Despite this, there are complications. Professors will have friends among their colleagues and could, in theory, have an influence in how their romantic partner is perceived in the classroom. Despite issues like these, many colleges do not have systems or regulations in place in relation to these relationships.

At colleges like Western New Mexico University it becomes even more difficult to prevent or discourage student teacher relationships. Western attracts students from all walks of life. Often time’s professors and students are peers. If faculty student relationships were completely banned it would probably only lead to an increase in secret relationships. Despite this, there should probably be regulations on when and how it is acceptable to engage in these relationships, in much the same way that many corporations have a policy on work place relationships.

Policies have to be in place to limit favoritism and corruption among faculty members. Such policies also would serve to protect members of faculty from students who wished to take advantage of them.  Rules such as: No dating current students, or possibly even no dating students pursuing a major from your department, could help limit the corruption, both real and perceived.

All Women are B*****s, Except for Me

Sexism_One

“I don’t really get along with other girls, too much drama.”

“I’ve never gotten along with other girls.”

“They’re bitches!”

“I’m a guy’s girl.”

“I’m not your typical girl.”

“I’ve never really had girlfriends.”

These are things I have said. These are things my female friends have said, and weirdly enough these are things we have said to each other while all sitting in a large group, not a man in sight. Why is it that a group of 6+ long time female friends can have a sincere conversation about not having female friends, without it being weird? You have female friends. You are talking to them and explaining why you don’t have female friends.

So, here’s the question on everyone’s mind: Why do women hate each other? Actually, that is a stupid question. The real question should be: Do women actually hate each other? In my experience, I’ve never met a woman who didn’t have female friends. Obviously there are some flaws to this method. If a woman hated other women and did not hang out with them, how would I have met her? Despite this, I would argue that it is weird to paint an entire gender with the same brush, even if it is your own gender. I can’t imagine excluding half the population, man or woman, when looking to make friends.

If I said, “I really just don’t like guys. I’m more of a girl’s girl. Guys start too much drama. I mean, they’re such dicks,” someone would probably call me a misandrist. If a man said he disliked women because they are all bitches, we’d call him a misogynist. The reason women hate other women, or at least act like and feel like they should, is because of internalized misogyny. Rather than arguing that women are not inherently bad people, women seem content to prove that they are an exception. It is a harmful mode of thought.

*Sexism_Two

I do not write about this to shame or condemn women who have done it. I did it. Up until college I would proudly proclaim that I did not get along with other girls and that I only had male friends. I’d say that women were too bitchy and dramatic for me, and I believed it! I recently was looking back, and realized that there has never been a time that I did not have at least a few female friends. For most of my life I have had about an equal number of female and male friends. With this being the case, why did I think that I hated women? Why did I think that the large number of female friends I had were the exceptions and not the rule?

If we want to fight misogyny it is imperative that we don’t only look at what others need to change. If we begin to change the way that we think and talk about women, it can lead to the next generation feeling female friendships are not inferior to male ones.
Sexism_Three

-Nadia Skye Nolan

*While this picture was chosen primarily because it fit the gist of what I was saying, it is come to my attention that it could present a troubling message. In light of that, let me just say: it is not a woman’s job to keep men from harassing them. No woman deserves to be slut shamed. Women do not have to earn the right to be treated like people. Thank you. ❤ -Nadia Skye Nolan

Stalking on College Campuses

Hello, I am Nadia Skye Nolan, and for the past four years I have been a stalking victim at Western New Mexico University. It feels good to put that into words.

I met him, we’ll call him Tom, I was a freshman in college. We briefly talked after class about our favorite shows, and then exchanged numbers and Facebook information so that we could communicate about class and homework. Once he had my information, he told me I was beautiful. I took the compliment and made a mental note to casually bring up that I had a boyfriend next time we spoke. I figured that would be the end of it. Within days he was calling me, texting me, and Facebooking me dozens of times a day. It was excessive. Every time I ran into him in class he would forcibly kiss my hand and hug me, ignoring my polite requests that he stop. I started telling him that I needed my space, and he needed to only contact me outside of class if it was an emergency. He stared at me blankly, never changing his behavior.

He started asking me, repeatedly, if my boyfriend and I had broken up, if my boyfriend knew how lucky he was. I soon learned that he treated all women this way. He went on to threaten a girl for spurning his advances, and follow me around campus threateningly. The first time I almost turned him in my friends talked me out of it.

“They’ll blame you.”

“Are you sure you were clear with him?”

“It’s probably more trouble than it is worth.”

For the next four years I stopped going places where I saw him. I told him, whenever he was near me, that he needed to not touch, follow, or compliment me. I had both of my parents talk to him. I had friends talk to him. He never listened; he continued to force physical contact onto me.

Finally, a few months ago, my teacher found out about the situation and urged me to turn him in. She went with me to campus police. I was convinced it would be a painful experience, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. I told them his name, my name, and a few sentences about what was going on. They filled out a card, got my number, and that was the end of it. The next time he tried to contact me, I informed campus police and he was sat down and told to not contact me again. He hasn’t since.

This story may seem mundane: but it is important. The few minutes it took to deal with my stalker were infinitely easier than the four years of being stalked. I was lead to believe that the opposite would be true, and I was almost ruined by it.  If you or someone you know has been stalked or harassed on campus: do not hesitate to report it. I was not the only girl he harassed, but I believe I am the only one to report him. Taking the five minutes to deal with the issue was a painless experience, and completely worth it in the end.

Representation in the Media and Government

When thinking about women in the media, it is easy to immediately jump to the recent surge of strong female characters. From Katniss in The Hunger Games to Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, there are undoubtedly a few strong women kicking ass at the box office. Despite this, there are not enough female characters at all to argue there are enough strong ones.

According to the Hollywood Diversity Report only 25% of films made in 2013 featured female leads. 6% of films were directed by women, with 13% writing them. With so few women creating characters, it is no wonder that there are so few female leads. When examining the role of minorities in movies, the numbers become even more disturbing. Over 80% of writers, directors, and lead actors in 2013 were white. The lack of diversity does not stop in Hollywood.

White men make up about 31% of the US population, and yet hold 65% of all elected offices. The lack of representation in the media may be upsetting, but the lack of representation where decisions are being made represents a genuine problem. If the people serving and controlling us do not represent us, then how can they know how to serve our needs? There needs to be greater diversity in the positions of power in this country, so that there can be greater representation when decisions are being made. It is time for diversity to stop being the exception and become the rule.

Additional reading:

http://www.bunchecenter.ucla.edu/index.php/2015/02/2015-hollywood-diversity-report/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/10/08/65-percent-of-all-american-elected-officials-are-white-men/

GEF: Sex and Video Games

On Friday, February 27th, the Center for Gender Equity hosted a Gender Equity Friday and held a discussion on sex and video games. There was free pizza and stimulating discussion in abundance.

The event began with some guided discussion: “What video games have you played? What were the characters like? What was the plot like?” People listed their favorite video games, discussing what role sex and gender played in the game. After that, a clip was shown of a Grand Theft Auto player soliciting a prostitute while utilizing first person point of view. At the end of the video he ran her over, shot her, and blew her up. Then, there was more guided discussion: “how did it make you feel?” The most common answer was: “Uncomfortable.”

A major concern of all people in attendance was the idea that video games either shape or reflect society. If young boys play this game, will they learn that women are worthless, easy, and disposable? Will young girls playing this game fail to recognize their own value? The most common solution discussed was parental guidance. Parents should know what games their children are playing. The general consensus was that they should be having an open discussion with their children about all the media their children consume.

Finally the guest speaker, Cronn Chavez, discussed some facts and figures about video games and representation. Cronn Chavez is a Sociology major studying video games and gender. He started with some facts about gamers themselves: 55% of gamers are male, and 45% are female. Women in the 18 and older group make up a higher percentage of the overall gaming population at 30% than boys 17 or younger, which make up just 19%. 54% males and 46% female were responsible for actually buying the video games. Females had an average of 13 years of gaming experience, while men had been playing 17 years on average. These statistics bring up some interesting points. Young men are generally shown as making up a great majority of the gaming population, and this is often used as justification for the non-inclusive and discriminatory nature of many games.

Cronn went on to describe the suggestive nature of the portrayal of women in games. Suggestive was defined by how few clothes they had, and how sexualized their pose was. In the 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons, a tabletop roleplaying game, 44% of female and only 11% of men were depicted in a suggestive light. In MMO’s (Massive Multiplayer Online) games 76% of women appeared suggestive, and women were more often depicted as mages or rogue than as fighters. All of four card sets of Magic the Gathering featured more men than women, and all but one featured more women than men dressed and posed suggestively. He capped it off discussing the different reasons people gender swapped, played a different gender of character, in games. Men primarily did it to take advantage of other male characters, while women primarily sought to avoid harassment from male players. Before sitting down, Cronn confessed that he himself had been guilty of harassing female players in his Dungeons and Dragons campaign, and vowed to make a change.

When open discussion began, many women discussed their own experiences with harassment and bullying while gaming. Most women admitted that they had, regardless of talent and experience, been treated as beginners. Most people had either experienced, or knew of someone who experienced sexual harassment while gaming. It seems that not only are fictional women often treated poorly within video games, but real women are treated poorly while gaming.

The stereotype of the sniveling, basement dwelling boy as the archetype of a gamer is harmful to both women and men. It creates a world of games that alienate almost half of their audience by demeaning and overly sexualizing them. It uses women as props and backdrops, when they should be creating dynamic and interesting female characters. It also creates an atmosphere where men are treated as sexually repressed, socially inept, monsters with no understanding of human interaction.