Update 1/19/19: My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, can be pre-ordered now. It is a #1 new release in several categories. I would love it if you helped me make near-death experiences more mainstream.
Although there is plenty of injustice and violence toward women that goes unpunished or under punished in this country and around the world, the idea of feminism can be approached from a soul’s perspective and from a loving perspective. “Angry” feminist is not the only type of feminist. Roxanne Gay extended the discussion of feminism in an engaging, interesting way in her book Bad Feminist. Gay examines familiar, cultural topics in brave, thought-provoking, and sometimes amusing ways.
Fourth Wave Feminism: I consider myself part of the fourth wave of feminism as an activist, writer, and professor who wants to ensure that women are safe in this world. Take Back the Night and One Billion Rising are great organizations to check out if you want to become involved in supporting women’s rights. I have the strong belief and faith that all of my students–male and female–want to end violence against women, and they want to know what they can do to combat gender violence.
When you see everything that happens in our world from the soul’s perspective, you see that everything happening in reality has the opportunity to help us all evolve and grow. Even painful moments in reality can be used to make positive changes in our world. For instance, cases like Brock Turner’s six-month sentence for rape or the cover-up of cases at Baylor University can bring healing to the world as more people start working to change our world and make it safer for women. Since these recent events, more women are talking about their experiences with stalking, rape, and assault and bringing these issues more clearly into the light.
After writing about my story about rape in a foreign country, I am certain that changes will eventually occur in South Korea for foreign teachers. A recent story in the news is bringing more attention to the police force in Korea and the rape culture in that country. Part of the evolution and change needed is the reeducation of the South Korean police force about how to process and understand the cultural differences they might encounter when working with English teachers from England, the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. If the Korean police force changes how they react to rape, assault, domestic violence, and harassment charges for Korean women as well as foreigners, Korea will make a huge leap forward in consciousness.
The Necessary Evolution of our Culture: As more people share their experiences of rape, assault, and stalking, a natural shift towards prevention and reeducation will occur at college campuses. Victim blaming will greatly diminish as more victims share their perspectives. Victims of harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, and rape are not rare; rather, they are common. For years, we heard 1 in 7 women were raped. New studies report that 1 in 5 women have been raped. As greater numbers of men realize how common these problems are, more men who are not abusive will stand up for women, protect women, and work to reeducate sexist and abusive men around them.
Role models of men who work to end sexism and gender violence will become more common. Whenever I show this particular Ted Talk video by Jackson Katz, my students are open to his message. Jackson Katz is a pioneer in the discussion of gender violence, and he reframes domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape as male issues not women’s issues. He encourages men to play an active role and not a passive role with other men who engage in sexist or abusive behavior.
Mostly, Katz combats victim blaming by changing the focus of the discussion from asking why “she” is a battered woman to asking, “Why is domestic violence still a big problem in the United States and all over the world? What’s going on? Why do so many men abuse, physically, emotionally, verbally, and other ways, the women and girls, and the men and boys, that they claim to love? What’s going on with men? Why do so many adult men sexually abuse little girls and little boys? Why is that a common problem in our society and all over the world today? Why do we hear over and over again about new scandals erupting in major institutions like the Catholic Church or the Penn State football program or the Boy Scouts of America, on and on and on? And then local communities all over the country and all over the world, right? We hear about it all the time. Why do so many men rape women in our society and around the world? Why do so many men rape other men? What is going on with men? And then what is the role of the various institutions in our society that are helping to produce abusive men at pandemic rates?”
Too often our culture and media focuses on the negative and stories about some of the worst characters in society. These characters become a part of our consciousness. One of the many things I love about higher education is the opportunity to focus on people and stories that uplift our spirits, people who are doing great things in this world, people who are working to heal this world. Why not focus on solutions? Jackson Katz offers men a list of ten things that can be done to prevent gender violence. I’ve copied the list below.
TEN THINGS MEN CAN DO TO PREVENT GENDER VIOLENCE
- Approach gender violence as a MEN’S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers
- If a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner — or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general — don’t look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON’T REMAIN SILENT.
- Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
- If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
- If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW.
- Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women’s centers. Attend “Take Back the Night” rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
- Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism (eg. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason few men do so).
- Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence. Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
- Don’t fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
- Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men’s programs. Lead by example
Copyright 1999, Jackson Katz. www.jacksonkatz.com
Reprint freely with credit.
Loving Feminist: Although there are plenty of reasons for women to be angry, and women tend to see this more clearly the longer they live and the more they live through, there are also ways to approach feminism from a place of healing and a place of love. I am a woman who loves and believes in each of my students. I care about their success and their empowerment. Because I care deeply about my students, I know that they respect my journey as well. In my lifetime, I have faced sexist teachers, a couple of sexist professors, a few sexist employers, two stalkers, one rapist, and a violent first husband. Despite these encounters, I love men and believe in their basic goodness. I believe that as a whole men are generous, protective, gracious, brave, intelligent, kind, hilarious, and strong.
As a woman who loves men, I ask that men do their best to protect the women they know and come in contact with at work, in their families, and in random places. This protection might be as simple as pulling out your phone and calling the police as a way to diffuse a moment of domestic violence episode you observe in the world. I don’t recommend directly jumping in and risking your well-being. Perhaps you might find the strength of character to talk to an acquaintance calmly about sexist or abusive behavior. Maybe you will simply say a prayer for all living beings to find peaceful ways of interacting with one another.
For men who have been victims of other men’s violence as a child, teen, or later in life, I pray for your quick, deep, profound and permanent healing. I also hope that you might be moved to work in whatever way you can to end gender violence.
For every woman who reads this, may your future be cleared of any violent acts against you. If you have been victimized in any way may you find quick, deep, profound and permanent healing. You are stronger than you realize because you are an amazing survivor. May you also drop competitive behavior with other women and support them. Use your strength to support other women and work in whatever way you can to end gender violence. And remember, you are stronger than you realize. I am sorry that your journey has been so difficult, but evolution of our culture and consciousness is more than possible. It is probable.
Special Note: For any woman who is currently being abused, know that the best thing you can do is to leave that abusive relationship in a safe, planned out way. Start talking to everyone who can help you–police officers, social workers, shelters, friends, neighbors, teachers, professors, nurses, doctors, family members, ministers, therapists, etc. Don’t stop talking until you get the help you need and get away from that situation. It is not in your best interest to stay. You are not the one who will most likely facilitate the change that he needs to undergo. You are the last person he will listen to because he abuses you. He might start listening to other people and get the help he needs when he no longer gets away with abuse.
By no means is violence limited to men. Certainly, many women are violent to their children, to family members, to other women, and to their boyfriends and husbands. Years ago, I heard a shaman say that power would eventually shift to women, but women must be careful not to make the same mistakes as men with their power. For anyone involved with an abusive woman, the same advice applies. Talk about her abuse to everyone and anyone who can help. Report her crimes, leave her, and pray she finds a community of people who will help her evolve and change.