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Archive for the ‘Sexual Assault’ Category

This blog is being completely infiltrated by my school assignments. Thats my disclaimer. We are also embarking upon Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which I have written about before. Thats my other disclaimer.

Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt is an essay written by Jean Kilbourne. It documents a recent history of sexism and blatant oppression and objectification of women in the media; in advertising, specifically. For instance, an ad for shaving gel depicts a picture of a nice looking man on the left with the word “heartbreak” under his photo and a razor on the right with the phrase, “soap and water shave”. The enlarged and catchy text is where the essay derives its title, “Two Ways A Woman Can Get Hurt”. The article suggests that a man = inevitable pain for women, comparative of a bad shaving job which also inevitably inflicts physical injury. The implications of this advertisement are huge and multifaceted…the fact that so many of these sexist dominated ads are for products that invariably subject women to male superiority and preference is telling in and of itself. Alcohol is strongly implicated in (although not responsible for) many assault cases with female victims and male batterers, and is marketed by heavy sexism. Shaving products? Really? While women have historically made valiant attempts to rid themselves of bodily hair, one might question, why? Why the effort? The cost? At this point in time, I believe it is safe to say, there is a standard of beauty and it includes hairless women. One must not offend the men that hold women to that standard.

I find the aforementioned image illuminating. We live in a society that is heavy with heterosexual priviledge and gender entitlements. Of course advertising reflects that. I also don’t think that any of us can expect corporate media to advocate peace in the way of freedom from the oppression of society and domestic violence and sexual assault and whatever it looks like to specific people who might not include themselves as victims under these labels.

And…if you live in Homer or thereabouts, you should definitely attend Stand Up For Peace which is one step towards cultivating awareness of the problems to which we seek solutions.

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In one of my textbooks for school, there is a cartoon in which a young girl holding a rag doll is standing outside of an open doorway. One caption says, “knock, knock” and the other says, “who’s there”. The sign on the door says “internet chat rooms” and you can see inside the doorway into a dark, dark room with many sets of eyes peering out, but no faces. It’s obviously an illustration of the known dangers of internet chat rooms and the many cases of tragedy that have befallen young children who interact in these chat rooms. I have spent many hours in trainings about the dangers that the internet presents to kids. Everyone has seen the cop shows. Abductions, Sexual misconduct with minors…murder. It seems as though the internet provides a haven of relative anonymity to predators and perpetrators of sexual crimes against children, specifically. Pretty alarming things take place in and because of these chat rooms. What kind of infringement of free speech or cencorship would it be to ban them? Worthwhile, or a violation of rights?

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Evidently President Obama has declared April to be Sexual Assault Awareness month. One might learn more about it here. I think this is great. The thing is though, wasn’t April already Sexual Assault Awareness month? Oh well, at least it is confirmed for this year, so all is good I suppose, if not a bit redundant.

I wonder what this Awareness should really look like. The campaigns I have been involved with in the past that promoted sexual assault awareness, domestic violence awareness  or child abuse awareness felt a little silly to me. I hope that someone became aware. I have my doubts however, and am more inclined to think that people just assumed lunacy of the throngs of marching women carrying signs that read “NO means NO!” Um, it’s true. No means no. Is it a compelling message though? Does it make you think? It made me feel a little embarrassed. I don’t feel embarrassed to take a very strong stand against violence of any nature, and I am certainly not ashamed to do what needs to be done to promote awareness of this giant issue, but my question is: how is that best accomplished? If it can be achieved by holding signs in one’s downtown, then I’ll quickly get over my embarrassment and become a fervent sign holder. I just feel like people don’t take that too seriously. I know that I don’t take it very seriously at all, although I might take the message and intent seriously…the act of bearing signs as a means of protest or activism just does not resonate with me.

The problem is, I am entirely unsure of what would be the most effective means of promoting awareness. Probably many people in many places have had some great ideas and are implementing prevention and awareness plans that I just don’t know about.

It would be great to be commemorating this month of awareness in Homer. There is always a cause to support…endless causes…but violence against women, and sexual assault specifically (against any gender) is like an insidious disease and knows no boundaries of race, age, class, etc.

The good news is that I work at Haven House, the domestic violence and sexual assault shelter, so I guess technically, it’s my job to help promote awareness (regardless of the month). If signs and slogans is all we have, then thats what we’ll use. The worse option would be to do nothing.

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