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Class Reflection

For me, WS301 wasn’t a required course.  It was one which I elected to take on my own accord.  From things I had heard about the course from past students, I knew it would be worth my while to branch out of my major and try something new.  I am glad I did.  This course taught me so much about victims and perpetrators of sexual violence and what it means in today’s society.  I learned that little things, like the objectification of women and jokes about rape, have serious consequences in forming the mindset of Americans regarding sex, gender, and violence.  I would like to say that I vow to never again support these type of actions and thoughts and that I will speak out and up for those who are in pain; however, I know that in my heart of hearts I will not be able to do this every time.  Will I try to make a change in my life and in the people around me in regards to ideas, behaviors, and feelings toward sexual violence? Oh yes! This class has taught me that even the little things can make a huge difference.  In addition, I plan to raise my children to think and act in a way which Jane would approve of :).  Basically, through this course, my life hasn’t changed all that much, but my ideas regarding sexual violence have.  That to me is far more important.



For many young Americans, hip hop and rap are a way of life and entertainment.  Ask any male, and he will tell you that hip hop and rap are all about being overly sexual, living a thug life, and protecting an image of hyper-masculinity. Is this really the message the hip hop community WANTS to be selling? In the documentary Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and  Rhymes, the world of hip hop music is put under investigation.  I believe that this movie gave this music genre a fair representation, not just focusing on a handful of artists or a given time period, but really encompassing all aspects of hip hop music. In addition, the interviews with rap and hip hop artists themselves helped sell me on the legitimacy of the movie’s claims.  For many of these artists, they write about, sing about, and rap about what sells.  They have a mold in which their rhymes must fit, otherwise it will not work for the record companies.  As pointed out in the movie, the same record companies producing the majority of hip hop music today are led by white men.  White men are deciding what can and cannot be mentioned in a song and what the content should contain, not the artists.  This is a form of racism which only serves to enhance stereotypes of African American youth and adults.  The hip hop music presented to Americans today stigmatizes the black community in ways that are simply not fair.

MSU and Sexual Assault

Type in “MSU Policy on Sexual Assault” into Google and you are instantly connected to websites such as the MSU counseling center and SAFE.  When one delves deeper, you can quickly find MSU’s sexual assault policy.  However, this policy is not on the main website; you will find it on the website.  How many students, faculty, or other campus employees would think to look at the inclusion website? Not many I’m betting.  Without Google, I’m sure this search of mine would’ve taken at least 15 minutes.


So what does it say?  The policy states that sexual assault is not tolerated at MSU and that it is a form of sexual harassment.  Specifically, complaints of sexual assault are investigated and handled via the sexual harassment policy at MSU.  It also provides contact information for other resources for victims.  To report a sexual assault as a form of sexual harassment, there are many different avenues.  If the alleged harasser is a student, the report is given to the Department of Student Life or the University’s Title IX Coordinator.  If the alleged harasser is a faculty or staff member, the report is given to the alleged harasser’s unit administrator or to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.  If the alleged harasser is a unit administrator, then the report is given to the unit administrator’s superior or the University’s Title IX Coordinator.  Finally, if the alleged harasser is a third party, the report should be made to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.  And, of course, the sexual assault should be reported to the MSU police department.  No complicated at all right?

In this case study, the aggressive way in which mom reacts points to a history of this type of behavior.  One does not simply react this way in public without first reacting in a similar way at home in private.  At home, this abuse must have happened before and was allowed. Just as the father did not intervene at the conferences, he probably does not intervene at home.  This behavior, or lack thereof, feeds mom’s belief that this type of treatment is alright.  Unfortunately, verbal abuse is typically not significant enough for protective services to get involved. There needs to be physical or sexual violence which is severe or occurs multiple times.  Verbal abuse, although detrimental to a child’s emotional and social development, is not a huge deal in the eyes of the law. 

That said, this boy’s teacher should look out for signs of physical violence on the boy.  Chances are good that mom will eventually advance to physical violence if the verbal tirades are not serving her as well as she’d like.  The teacher should talk to the boy, encourage him in his schoolwork and social life at school.  She cannot inject herself into his home life, but she can make a huge difference in his life (and self-esteem) the 40 hours he spends at school each week. In addition, the teacher can talk to the school’s counselor or social worker on behalf of the young boy.  Basically, she should be a supportive figure in his life. 

The Forgetting Pill

According to Wired magazine’s latest cover story, scientists are in the process of designing a series of drugs which will erase specific memories, dull emotional responses associated to memories, and dull physical pain associated with memories.  However futuristic these claims seem, neuroscientists have long known that the key to easing suffering related to painful or traumatic memories lies in reconsolidation.  Every time you “remember” a memory, your brain must restore that memory.  That means reprocessing it.  It also means that every time you recall a memory, that memory is forever altered. Your present emotional state, physical state, and knowledge will change the way you remember the memory.  Using chemicals and molecules which inhibit this reconsolidation process, scientists can erase memories.


Before the Big Brother warnings begin, we need to consider the ethical implications of such chemicals.  For people who have experience horrendous events or traumatic situations, erasing these memories may help them survive and actually live life.  These memories are a cancer to survivors of such events.  They spread throughout the body, affecting every system.  Just like cancer or any other medical disease, shouldn’t these people have the opportunity to attempt pushing their “virus” from their body?  As Dr. Karim Nader points out in the article, “If you’re in a car accident and you break your leg, everyone agrees we need to give you treatment and painkillers, but if something terrible happens and your mind breaks, people conclude that treatment is a dangerous idea.” Shouldn’t we allow people who are disabled from their memories to rise up again in triumph?  Some may argue that talk therapy is the treatment for these memories.  However, although psychiatrists and psychologists try their best to aid those with mental health difficulties, their results will never be anywhere near where the drugs results are.  Dr. Alain Brunet, a clinical psychologist, states regarding the field of psychiatry, “We never cure anything. All we do is try to treat the worst symptoms.”


Obviously the ways in which we treat mental health today are not as efficient as they should be.  Every day thousands of Americans walk around and try to live their lives as only part of themselves.  Whether it is a diagnosed disorder or a memory to painful to deal with, people with these difficulties cannot live fully.  They are stunted and forced to fold under the pressures of their mind.  For example, survivors of sexual assault often experience a wide array of emotional, physical, and mental problems as a result of the constant bombardment of recollections from the event (s).  Their minds never let them forget or move on.  They are trapped in one moment, reliving the terrible act over and over.  Every thought and every behavior is analyzed in the context of this memory and scripted.  Even with therapy, survivors still deal with the invisible scars from their assault.  With these new medications, however, survivors of events such as sexual assault can find relief.  Their memory of the event can be dulled, or even erased, as well as their emotions toward the event.  In these drugs may live the power to free so many of the world’s most tortured souls; people who are not tormented by others, but by their own body and mind.

Jay, the armchair rapist, on the outside appears to be just a run of the mill file clerk.  Most likely, by looking at Jay you would never spare an extra thought on him.  He is not someone who sticks out in a crowd, especially the crowd of the city financial district.  However, if you really ask Jay what he’s thinking, a terrible picture begins to unfold.  In Jay’s thoughts, women are more than lusted after, while feelings of rage and revenge swirl together to make ideas and images which only appear in women’s nightmares. But what made Jay this way? 

According to the psychopathology theory, Jay is diseased.  To the people who support this theory, Jay must have some underlying personality disorder that makes him this way.  He is not normal.  If we believe this theory, we may think he had some kind of childhood trauma which stunted his emotional and social development.  Short or long term abuse can set up a minefield of issues a person must navigate through to reach normalcy, especially as a child.  Jay may have witnessed his father treating his mother in aggressive and demeaning ways.  Or, he may have been the victim himself, always being told he is lousy, a failure, and not manly enough.  Women throughout his life may have reinforced these ideas without even knowing it.  Jay’s urges to assert power onto a woman are extreme and dangerous.  As long as they remain in his head, they are controllable. Once unleashed, however, he may be unable to help himself.

According to the feminist social theory, Jay is the creation of the socialization of men and the patriarchal rule over our country.  We as a society made Jay this way through our media, through our hierarchical system of power, and through the very way we talk, look, and act around him.  We socialized Jay to be a man, and men have a certain power in this country.  This power is obtained and retained by the oppression of women.  Men are socialized to see women as the weaker sex and to feel as though they have power.  The problem is Jay does not feel he has power with women.  He feels threatened by them.  He seeks to annihilate those whom he feels dehumanize him.  The easiest way to do this is sexual assault.  It shows the victims who is really in power and who has the upper hand, while allowing Jay to take out his aggression on the nameless, faceless population that is women.

Finally, according to the male peer support theory, Jay is naturally the way he is, but his social group reinforces his behaviors and ideas, thus making them more powerful.  In this theory, abusive men attach to other abusive men and these support systems offer verbal and emotional support for abuse against women.  If considering this theory, one must also consider Jay’s friends.  At work, Jay is a minion.  He is a bottom dweller who can only look to those in power above him with envy and hate.  Most likely, Jay would interact and socialize with those in similar roles.  Jay may also attract those people who are antisocial or emotionally awkward.  Both types of friends would only feed Jay’s desire to do something, and unfortunately, that something is women.  Jay feels like women are the key to success.  He must have them (and lots of them) to have power.  Power is what Jay really wants, women, rape, and sexual assault are just a few ways to get it.

Playing the Game

In the movie Playing the Game 2, college students contemplate the legal and societal definitions of rape.  The film begins as Jen stumbles to her room after having sex with Chris.  The scenes that follow show Jen and Chris describing the event and their friends’ reactions.

In the girls’ room, Jen sets the scene by admitting that she was drunk and has liked Chris for a while now.  She tells how she went to his room, not looking for sex, but just to talk and make out.  She then describes how Chris became aggressive and forced himself on her.  She believes she was raped. Jen’s roommate agrees with Jen and attempts to convince her to report Chris. Jen’s friends have mixed opinions on the story.  One believes Chris raped Jen, while one believes that Jen is telling lies.

In the boys’ room, Chris begins his story by also admitting that he and Jen were both drunk and that he knew Jen had liked him for a while.  He goes on to tell how they went to his room and began to fool around.  He portrays her protests as “playing hard to get.”  He believes the sex was consensual. Chris’s friends also have mixed opinions on the story.  One believes Chris may have sexually assaulted Jen, while one believes that Chris didn’t do anything wrong.

So who is right and why are there two different stories?

As a society, we have scripts which men and women are supposed to follow for successful interactions.  One such script is for the woman to play hard to get.  This little script causes so many problems.  Men are given the responsibility of differentiating between a playful “no” and a forceful “NO.”  This difference is often difficult to distinguish, especially in the heat of the moment.  For Jen, her protests were real and genuine, while Chris interpreted them as playful.  In addition, the two had different expectations for what would happen once they arrived in Chris’s room.  Jen wanted and expected an innocent interaction, whereas Chris expected a more sexual interaction.  Jen and Chris were on two completely different wavelengths the night in question.

In society’s eyes, Jen messed up.  Chris is also at fault, but Jen’s moves are under a far greater microscope than Chris’s.  In this acquaintance rape situation, society typically sides with the man, assuming the woman knew what she was getting herself into, didn’t protest enough, and must have wanted it on some level.  Add in the fact that Jen was not a virgin prior to this night, and Jen’s chances of convicting Chris on sexual assault charges plummet.  This case may be looked into, especially by college officials, however there is little to no chance of legal prosecution or of academic repercussions.  The law and society’s perceptions of rape and sexual assault just simply are not on Jen’s side.

Just Leave.

There is never one reason why women choose to stay in a violent relationship, just as there is no one type of violent relationship. To answer the question of why women don’t “just leave” their violent relationships, the nature of the relationship needs to be considered. 

For example, let’s say Bob and Anne are married. They have two kids together. Bob makes enough money for Anne to stay home and not work.  Now let’s say this is a violent relationship.  Bob gives Anne a strict stipend for every week and is in complete control of the money.  They only have one car and Bob takes it to work everyday.  Anne is not allowed to have any friends.  During the day she is supposed to take care of the kids, clean, cook, and have everything ready for the time Bob gets home. 

So, why would Anne stay?

1. Money – With Bob controlling all of the family income, Anne has no access to money. Therefore, she has no way to buy food, clothes, supplies, or transport tickets without Bob finding out.  She would be leaving her relationship with nothing to her name, and no way to provide for her kids or herself. By staying with Bob, she at least has a roof over her head, food in her stomach, and other essentials.

2. Kids – Because Bob is the kids’ father, if Anne takes the children with her, she is depriving Bob of what is partially his. She is kidnapping the children from their home and father. If Anne chooses to take the children with her, she has two more mouths to feed with the little money she has.  In addition, she will have to care for the children and herself.  However, if Anne chooses to leave the children with their father (so they won’t have to suffer from being homeless), Bob has the opportunity to use the children to make Anne come back to him.  He may also turn the children against her, which would be devastating to Anne.  By staying with Bob, she ensures the children are taken care of and that they don’t have to suffer.

3. Psychological Damage – By living with Bob for so many years, Anne may have developed “Battered Wife Syndrome.”  This syndrome includes symptoms such as, the belief that the violence is her fault, fear for her own life and/or her children’s lives, and an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent. This syndrome can make leaving very difficult for women.  In addition, Anne may internalize Bob’s rants and believe that she is useless and undeserving of all he has given her.  She may not even see his violence as a problem.

4. Support System – Bob has forced Anne to become isolated. As stated, she is not allowed to have any friends. Therefore, any support system which would, in theory, help her get out of the violent relationship is non-existent.  If she leaves, Anne will be on her own. With Bob, she at least has a family.

5. Travel – Anne and Bob only have one car, which Bob drives to work everyday.  Anne has no way to get away from the house, other than to use money, of which she has little.  With a car, Anne could leave and get far enough away where Bob could not track her down. However, any method of travel she uses now can easily be tracked by Bob.  

5. 1st Relationship – If this relationship is Anne’s first, she may believe all relationships are like hers.  She may think that there’s no point in leaving because she will not be loved again the way Bob loves her.  With Bob she has someone she loves and who loves her.  On her own, there are too many what ifs to consider.

These five reasons are only a handful in the wide assortment which women have to stay in an abusive relationship.  Others include religious beliefs, feelings of guilt, promises of reform, and sex-role conditioning. With all these logical reasons for staying in a violent relationship, why is it that society readily assumes fault in a women when she stays in the relationship?  Just as there are a multitude of reasons for staying in the relationship, there are numerous reasons to assume fault in a woman. These include stereotypes about women (she’s not strong enough, she’s lying about being abused, she’s not being a good wife) and men (he could never do that, she’s just exaggerating, he needs to keep her in line), sex-role conditioning.  Women are criticized when they don’t leave a violent relationship, yet by all other accounts, they are socialized to stay.  They are brought up to take care of people, believe people can change, and to be good wives.  By leaving a relationship, they are failing all these major assumptions.  Women who are in violent relationships have two choices: leave or stay.  Neither of which are supported by society.


Objectifying Ads Part Two

Ad for Arby's


New Got Milk Campaign


Ad for Pocket Scrabble


Ad for Easy Tone Shoes


Ad for PETA


Ad for Max Shoes


Ad for Marc Jacobs Fragrance

A magazine ad from BMW


Ad for Women's Hosiery


Rainbow Brite's New Make Over


Editorial in French Vogue


Ad for Shower Gel


Urinals in a Men's Bathroom


Ad for Men's Slacks


Women as Meat Pieces


Ad for Tom Ford Cologne


Dolce and Gabbana Ad


Ad for Organ Donor Foundation


Ad for Burger King Sandwich