Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tougher laws, what about societal attitudes?

On Saturday, the young woman in India who was gang raped by six men on a public bus, died from her injuries, which included a brain injury and massive internal trauma. Since the attack on December 16, thousands of people across India have come together, demanding the government get tougher on  crimes against women as well as improved women's rights.

In India most sex crimes go unreported; which follows a similar pattern seen in countries throughout the world, including here in the United States, many offenders go unpunished, and the justice system moves slowly. So, yes improved and tougher laws on these crimes are needed, however, these laws will more after an attack has occurred, and less to prevent the crimes from actually occurred.

The young woman's death and brutal rape did not just happen because of weak laws, the attack happened because deeply entrenched attitudes held about women, that makes men believe it is okay to rape and sexually assault women.

This young woman had her whole life ahead of her but had it ripped away by hateful men, who felt they had the right to attack and rape her. The people commit these heinous crimes deserved to be strictly punished, thus the need for tougher laws on these crimes. However, until these attitudes are changed, no amount of laws will prevent these crimes from happening.

Some rays of light are provided by the people who are protesting these attitudes, the organizations who work to change these mindsets, and by the men who stand alongside women, saying that this is wrong.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Patriarchy still running rampant in society

This weekend I came across an article in which the Iowa State Supreme Court found that a male dentist was within his legal rights to terminate a longtime employee he found too "irresistible". This decision was made by seven justices, who unsurprisingly, were all male.

Dr. James Knight terminated Melissa Nelson after 10 and half years of employing her as a dental assistant because he worried for his marriage and feared that he would have an affair with her if he did not fire her.

According to court documents, the two never had a sexual relationship nor had they ever sought one, but the possibility that Knight might pursue one is apparently a valid reason to fire someone.

Here we again see women being blamed for a male's actions or potential actions because of their supposed attractiveness or lack thereof. One rape myth is that a woman "asks for it (rape)" because of the way they are dressed, which turns men on and therefore not responsible for their behavior. Melissa Nelson may not have been raped, but she was blamed for her attractiveness, her looks. She was terminated from a job that she was good at one in which there had never been any issues before, merely because her male boss could not control himself. How is it Melissa Nelson's problem that her boss cannot keep it in his pants? How is it legal to fire someone because you think that you might have an affair with them down the road, even though there has been no previous behavior on either of your parts before to indicate this nor had she ever flirted or made any overtures of the sort?

This court decision tells men everywhere that they are not responsible for their behavior but that they can instead blame it on a woman's dress, attractiveness, or sexuality. It perpetuates rape myths and continues to make it the woman's responsibility to not turn men on and to "control" their sexuality and attractiveness.

Reading this article I was so disappointed and shocked by this decision but it makes me realize how important organizations like WomenNC and conferences like the CSW are, because we see how little progress has been made for the status of women, if something like this can happen in this day and age.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winning the Victory over Myself

Without a doubt, this is my favorite part of the movie The Iron Lady. This scene is always a great wake up call for me when I realize that I am not reaching my full potential. The thought that a collection of simple actions and thoughts build my character and my destiny scares me because it is so easy to fall apart from what you wanted to achieve. So I like to watch this movie when I feel like I need to pull myself up and get back on the right track.

With the amount of freedom I have with the research project, I need to stay away from becoming lazy or distracted by other tasks. What we think, we become. So I need to push myself and win a battle with myself. And this is my (public) promise to myself and others that I will win the victory over myself because I think I can do better.

Brian Min

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grant proposal

I felt like a real professional this week when I submitted my first ever proposal for a grant from the Women's and Gender Studies department to cover the travel expenses for the fellowship. There is just something about asking for money for non-personal reasons that makes you feel like an adult, a true professional.

The amount is small and the grant nothing like what true researchers or academics apply for but it still felt exciting and important to me and whether or not I receive the grant, it is still one more new experience for me.

This fellowship has already given me an array of new experiences and I  know that it will continue to do so. I continue to find research and while I found some great examples, it is unfortunate that I am able, because it means that another young women has suffered not only rape, but also the injustice and indignity of being blamed, not believed, judged, and more. I hope, however, that my research and paper  may have some sort of impact, maybe make people more aware about these issues, make them realize the impact of these types of attitudes, etc, however small an impact this may be.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First post

Hello, my name is Elisabeth and I am one of the 2013 WomenNC CSW Fellows. I am senior at the UNC-Greensboro studying sociology with a concentration in criminology and am currently applying for law school. I love to read, enjoy ice skating, and as a feminist am very interested in working to end violence against women and girls and violence overall.

Learning I had been selected to be a fellow was an amazing moment and I could not contain my excitement at the amazing opportunities that would arise from this fellowship. As the excitement settled, nervousness sunk in, realizing how big of an undertaking this was, but ultimately I knew that while the fellowship will be a lot of work, the work would be on a issues very important to me and that all of the experiences and skills I would gain from this work would make it completely worth it.

There are a lot of topics related to the issue of violence against women and girls that interest me, however from a sociology point of view, I am interested in how society can help to perpetuate and create certain things, which is why I chose to research rape culture in society and the media, to examine the ways in which the society and the media create a culture of rape that blames the victim, justifies the actions of the perpetrator, creates myths, etc. In my sociology courses we have looked at socialization and how the varying ways in which people are socialized can result in them having different outlooks or perceptions of certain things. I already had an idea of what I wanted to look at for my topic; how the socialization of men and women can affect the ways in which they view sexuality, rape, etc, how society creates myths about rape, how the media perpetuates these myths, etc. Once I started my research and reading articles I found the abundance of research into these areas and more and I look forward to learning a lot and sharing it through my paper and presentation.

I am new to this whole blogging thing so I am running out ideas of what to write, but I am looking forward to this amazing journey that is the fellowship and to sharing it through this blog.