We are starting work on next year’s programming for Women’s Studies already. We’ve decided to try to work on relationship violence as an issue.
We recognize the problems this presents us. As Reverend Todd put it:
…films are a good idea…but only after men are on board. If films are shown that show male abusers/scumbags/therapy-recipients (heaven forfend anyone should find himself in therapy!*) before our men are on board, the message will likely bounce off the surface without getting through. I believe what’s needed first are programs aimed at manliness: what does it mean to be a real man, gentlemanliness, male spirituality, the role of men in a rapidly changing society (read: the feminization of society), male sexuality, etc. In that context, issues of how men sometimes perceive women should also be addressed and fleshed out, issues like: “She was asking for it,” “Women lie,” “Women try to ‘trap’ men,” sporadic true stories that get stretched and distorted and used to define all women. Until this territory is covered, anything that could be seen as taking “bad” men and rubbing their noses in the mess they’ve made will probably be met with emotions ranging from guardedness to hostility.
*Just thinking to myself: Do we really want to show only the “bad guys” getting some emotional therapy?
Input from Debbie:
I agree with Todd that talking about manliness and male sexuality is critical. It’s probably important for both men and women. In psychology classes, when we talk about gender, young women often say that they want their sons to grow up willing to fight and to play with toy guns so that they won’t be sissies. For a woman to choose violent men and raise violent boys and expect never to be a target of violence may simply be unrealistic.
I provided a bit of my own input. I did it orally, so I can only try to remember what I said. Roughly:
The targets of abuse can never solve the dilemma of that abuse. It’s insane to think that they can. Until and unless people who are similar to the abusers but do not abuse take up the mantle, nothing will be accomplished.
Summer always comes with work, with problems to address. This one seems overwhelming. Maybe I should worry about finishing this semester first.