Women's Studies,  Writings

Gendered Violence: 3 Essays

Men and women both have gender normative roles in society that they are expected to before. In his Ted Talk, “A call to men,” Tony Porter discusses how these roles, particularly men’s expectations to be strong and aggressive, can affect the way our society functions. Young boys are taught that the way to be a man is through anger, sex, and courage. They’re taught that women are inferior and men are the strong ones. The myth of the macho man causes obvious identity issues for any men that don’t fit that ideal description, but also threatens women’s place in our society.

According to Porter, “we as men are taught to have less value in women, to view them as property and the objects of men.” Teaching boys to view women as the lesser, weaker sex can have serious consequences. We’ve seen how the poor treatment of women can affect what we deem as ‘normal’ in our society. Unfortunately, I’m writing this essay post-Friday evening which means that presidential nominee and worst human ever created, Donald Trump, has been caught on tape saying truly horrific comments about the women he meets and how he feels entitled to behave around them. His comments included the want to act sexually violent towards these women. It’s truly unbelievable how anyone could deem this, as the Trump campaign did, as ‘normal locker room talk.’ Porter agrees that “we have to come to understand that less value, property and objectification is the foundation and the violence can’t happen without it.” Comments like Trumps, whether private or otherwise, have no place in our society because it promotes inequality and violence against women.

The backlash from the Trump scandal is still not settled and I’m sure it won’t be until November. However, his clear misogynistic rhetoric is opening up a discussion in our society about what how far we are willing to go before standing up for women. Now, not all men are like Trump (thank goodness), and I know there are plenty of men, like Porter who feel trapped in this “man box.” The best way to break out of the box is to teach young men that they can be emotional, or really anything at all, and their manliness won’t be in question. We should do the same for young women. There’s no right or wrong way to be who you are and your gender shouldn’t dictate your life.

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According to the author, Suzanne Pharr, homophobia is bred from the fear of breaking away from the heterosexual norm. As we’ve discussed in this class over and over, everything is about power and in our society heterosexuality has power. Gay men and women can be seen as people who have broken down expectations and that threaten ‘the way things have always been done.’ It’s just like the time old saying that we fear what we don’t understand. Homophobia and violence against the LGBTQ+ community are bred from the fear of change, but I believe those individuals to be wrong.

Pharr says, “Visible gay men are the objects of extreme hatred and fear by heterosexual men because of their breaking ranks with male heterosexual solidarity is seen as a damaging rent in the very fabric of sexism.” Straight men are at the top of privilege chain but gay men are often not seen as ‘real men.’ Heterosexual men are threatened by men that are different from them and that can cause violent hatred. Gay men are often attributed as men that act like women, which can be very unsettling to men that are most comfortable dominating over women. They feel they can’t treat a gay man like a real man.

On the other side of the issue, lesbian women are also a risk to male dominance. Pharr says, “a lesbian is perceived as someone who can live without a man, who is therefore (however illogically) against men.” Women have gender roles to complete as well as men and lesbian women don’t fit the image. Lesbians are the embodiment of a woman-dominated society that men fear, a world where male authority doesn’t mean a thing. Like gay men, lesbians put the heterosexual system at risk and that can make men defensive, and these are men that buy into the macho identity therefore are more likely to be violent and aggressive.

There are too many ways our society still punishes the queer community for living their lives. In Indiana, our former governor and 2nd worst human alive, Mike Pence signed a law allowing discrimination against the gay community for religious business owners. In many states, including Indiana, don’t even offer gay men and women civil rights which includes job protection, health, discrimination, and so much more. Progress is being made all over the world when it comes to the equality and safety of gay men and wo

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This content analysis of misogyny in rap music identifies 5 themes that can be found in 22% of the songs in the study. While this may seem like a lower than expected percentage, misogyny is still clearly a major part of rap music. If you don’t believe me, just turn on your radio.  These themes included: Naming and Shaming, Sexual Objectification, Can’t Trust ‘Em, Legitimating Violence, and Women as Prostitutes, Men as Pimps. These are all pretty terrible depictions of women but they’re the most common found in rap music.

I’ll be focusing on is Can’t Trust ‘Em, the theme that promotes suspicion of women and deep distrust. I’m a pretty big fan of the song “Bitches Ain’t Shit”, originally by Dr. Dre but amazingly covered by my favorite Ben Folds. It’s called out in the essay as an example. The title itself explains a lot, but the lyrics are even more revealing. This theme depicts what the essay calls a ‘femme fatale,’ a woman that will set up men to get what they want. Men are taught in these songs to be warned about women that will take you for all you’ve got, or love you and leave you. It perpetuates the idea that women are crafty, malicious people. I’ll go ahead and point to one of Kanye’s best chart toppers, “Gold Digger.” That entire song is about not trusting women and furthering this persona. “She take my money, when I’m in need,” the song goes. Kanye tends to paint women this way in his songs.

There are obviously harms to these themes being present in our most popular music. I’m a woman that likes a lot of rap and chooses to not think about how badly women are portrayed. It’s not easy to block it out, but I do my best. It’s not good for women to hear this all over the radio because eventually we start believing this is how we should behave, that it’s what is expected. This can be a vicious cycle. Young women and girls are at the most risk of being influenced by these lyrics. It’s important to give women role models. It’s also important to treat women with respect, but rap music promotes exactly the opposite most of the time. The presence of female rappers and the general progression of the feminist movement has helped in recent years, but it’s about time that women are given a fair shake in music too.