Here’s what’s…

Here’s what’s happening in my world:
There’s a potential hazing ritual taking place in an off-campus house where basically, a group of girls target a guy at a party, one of the girls invites him upstairs and they start engaging in sexual behavior.  However, the girl won’t let the male touch any part of her body but instead offers to give him a handjob. She says for him to say when he’s close to ejaculating, and when the time comes, several other girls come into the room and collect his semen in a cup, at which point he’s told to thank the girl who gave him a handjob and leave.

A) Who are these girls that are doing this?
B) What are they doing with the semen?!

When we got a call about this on Tuesday (?) we weren’t sure if it was real because we don’t get many male callers and when we do, they tend to be bragging about a sexual act they performed or abusing the hotline.  However, this male was obviously disturbed by what had happened and was trying to make sense of the events.  The males who call and abuse the hotline tend to not show signs of embarassment or shame typically associated with victims, and they also tend to use vulgar and harsh language (i.e. “pussy”, “cock” etc).  This male who called was very hesitant to disclose what had happened and wasn’t even sure what to call it. Again, this brings up the issue of our cultural expectations of men and how they can often complicate the experiences of male survivors.  When I was researching for a paper on barriers for male sexual assault victims, it was something like only 10-30% of male victims (depending on the study) reported their assault to the police — and there was no information given about whether they saught help at a crisis center (I do remember them saying that often times the male survivors aren’t aware of the resources in their communities therefore don’t seek help). This is a great passion of mine and it is a giant pet peeve when people don’t recognize that men can be abused or assaulted as well.  Potentially my biggest struggle in the field is the feminist history of the movement.  Basically, the feminist perspective says that violence against women happens because of our patriarchal society and men’s higher status — I think there is some truth to this in that the way we are socialized tell us that men must be aggressive and act a certain way — but I disagree that that is the root cause of the violence.  In my eyes, men are really abandoned because in one corner is society telling them they have to be aggressive, dominant and stoic, but then when they are these things, they’re called out for being violent against women etc.  I think our culture is doing a great disservice to men.  Yes, something like 90% of domestic violence victims are female, and women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than men, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the male victims and credit all men as being perps.  We need to start paying more attention to male victims and their needs, otherwise we’re doing a disservice to everybody and not providing fair services to victims.

Also, there’s a video campaign between Redbook and a bra company to raise awareness about DV and get bras donated to shelters.  While I think speaking out about DV is great, the way they’re doing it is not helpful.  Not to mention that they cite a statistic (DV is the leading cause of injury to women 15-44) that is not accurate — it is based off of one emergency room study in one city…therefore it is not a good representation of the country and not enough basis to make that universal claim.  The video places all responsibility on victims and tells them to make the choice to leave — as if it’s that easy — and hardly places any responsibility on the abuser.  Instead of saying “it’s your choice, choose freedom” they should say “it’s his choice to abuse you, you’re not to blame”…I think they’re focusing on the wrong aspects of the violence.  By focusing their compaign on getting victims to leave their partners, they’re automatically excluding everyone who stays in the relationship as if those people, who arguably are facing more problems and struggles, aren’t worth the attention or help because they’re not leaving. Again, we need to be saying that the abuser is responsible for the abuse, and it is not the victim’s responsibility to end the abuse, whether by leaving the relationship or trying to “change” the abuser.


Today was a qui…

Today was a quiet day, but I thought I’d do a quick check in about what’s going on.

The university I’m working at had an incident a couple of weeks ago where a Twitter account was created saying messages such as when a woman does x, y or z, she wants “the D” (aka she is willing to have sex).  As has been repeatedly noted by members of the community, this is troublesome because it undermines the very concept of consent and erodes the power and choice women hold over their own bodies.  This, to me, is a much larger issue because it speaks to the attitude of our culture and the view of rape, not only against women but men as well.  The idea that consent can be given by something such as walking through a door that is opened for you, perpetuates the victim blaming that is so pervasive in our culture and is an enormous barrier for survivors to seek help and begin the healing process.  While this particular account was specifically talking about females, I think this is even more severe for male survivors of sexual assault.  As I found doing research as an undergrad, as well as just through personal experience, there are many more barriers for male survivors to come forward, largely because of our constructions of masculinity, femininity and gender roles.  This is a HUGE reason why I wanted to get involved in this work — to try in any way I can to challenge these constructs and make our culture more accessible and empathetic with survivors of violence.


To begin…

I first became involved in violence prevention when my best friend was sexually assualted during our vacation in July of 2006 — I was 16.  Since then, I have become very involved, to the point where it was my educational focus in college.  I graduated last May with a bachelor’s of science in psychology with a focus on conflict resolution. I am now involved in a program where I will be spending the next year on a college campus working with the issues of domestic and sexual violence and stalking.

My job involves providing one-on-one pseudo-counseling sessions with survivors, and allies of survivors. I will be helping them navigate the criminal justice and/or medical systems if that’s what they choose. Additionally, I will be working to educate the student body and prevent further incidents of violence.

What I’m hoping this will become is my way of tracking fears, anxieties, goals and accomplishments.  I am not expecting it to be popular or read by anybody really, I’m doing it for myself and hoping that maybe it will reach a few others.

Anyways, I’ll check back in on Monday.