Girl Talk

Ebony Myers, Fallon Donovan and Nora Naughton are three female students at EMU who sought to shed light on three hot-topics concerning women at EMU: rape culture, career opportunities and prejudice against homosexual women.

Rape Culture

by Nora Naughton

If you keep up on current feminist issues, you’ve heard the term “rape culture” thrown around quite a bit recently, but you might not be quite sure of what it means. The idea of rape culture draws a connection between sexual violence and the cultural attitudes and practices that encourage this behavior. As these practices associated with rape culture–victim blaming, slut shaming, sexual objectification–become more and more commonplace, sexual assault on college campuses becomes an increasingly frequent incident.

We have seen it first-hand here at EMU this semester. In a span of about a month, there were three reported rapes in residence halls at Eastern. All three incidents were unrelated, and on all three occasions, the respective rapist was a friend or acquaintance.

“Women are always told that their rapist is a stranger hiding in the bushes, waiting to attack them if they walk alone in the dark,” said Oona Friedland, an employee in the Women’s Resource Center at EMU and double major in language literature and writing and women’s and gender studies.

Friedland said this notion is false. She explained that 9 out of 10 rapes are familiar, which means that 90% of the time, a woman is raped by someone she knows or even trusts.

This type of misinformation is an example of what I believe to be the fuel that perpetuates rape culture on college campuses: college students are not properly educated on the topic of rape and sexual assault. At the end of the day, we are having the wrong conversation.

Freidland pleaded specifically for a better strategy to educate the freshmen at EMU about sexual violence.

“The rate first year students afflicted by sexual assault is disproportionately higher,” she said.

 

Oona Friedland working in the Women’s Resource Center at EMU

When I was a freshman in college, I attended Central Michigan University. Freshmen were required to move in to the dorms a few days earlier than the rest of the student body in order to attend several orientation presentations. We attended presentations from the Department of Public Safety, Greek Life, Campus Life, and even the Mount Pleasant Police. Every single presentation included a portion about what women can do to prevent rape. We were told not to dress too suggestively, to watch how much we drink, to walk in packs, and never leave our drink unattended… or else! Not once in these presentations did anyone  say, “and hey, boys, don’t fucking rape anyone.”

By only teaching prevention to women, we are at the same time condoning sexually violent behavior among men. We fail to put any of the responsibility on men when it comes to the prevention of sexual violence. Practices like victim blaming and slut shaming are born out of the idea that it is a woman’s responsibility to make sure the men around her don’t rape or sexually assault her. I mean, how does that even make sense?

Friedland said that in research she has conducted for her women’s and gender studies major, she discovered universities that involve men in the conversation about sexual violence generally have better luck when it comes to prevention.

“[EMU] is too reactionary,” she said. “We are not involving men in any of the conversations. Also, there are a lot of conversations we’re just not having, and the ones we do have are not really needed.”

Women in the Education Workforce

by Fallon Donovan

As a secondary education major, I’m curious to see what the field of education has in store for me as a woman. I interviewed some female Secondary Education teachers and asked them some questions about how they are treated differently by boys or girls in the classroom. I also asked if there was a difference in the way male co-workers treated them, as well as several other questions related to their workforce and gender. My goal is to help others understand how important it is to teach children at a young age that they should treat everyone equally. Education being the second most popular major at Eastern Michigan University, I knew that this would be a great topic to cover with for my peers in the College of Education. With this in mind, here is what these women said!

 Julie Ames

Riverview School District

Julie Ames

Q: How do you feel being a female teacher affects how students treat you?

A: I actually think that the students see me as a “mother figure.”  Maybe it has to do with my age and the fact that they know I do have teenage children, but I do feel that I connect with the students on a more personal level than most of the male teachers.

Q: Do you think there is a difference in the way students (boy or girl) act with you because you are a woman?

A: I think sometimes students are surprised to learn that I am “smart”!  Lol. I think this is mainly because I am the only female math teacher at my school.  They expect the male teachers to know the advanced math, and are sometimes surprised when I do too!  That sometimes leads to them thinking that my classes aren’t as challenging or as serious as say Calculus.

Q: What do you think your hardest obstacle is because you are a woman in this type of environment?

A: Mostly what I mentioned above.  Being seen as an intelligent person, and that it’s ok to be smart, and nice, and friendly, and funny!!

Q: If you were a male do you think you would be treated differently?

A: Because we have an all male administration, I do think it is easier for the male teachers to develop a friendly casual relationship with them, example, hanging out at sporting events, etc. When it comes down to fairness and evaluations, I don’t think we would be treated differently.  I think there is still an “old boys club” though, and they tend to develop more of a friendship with some of the male teachers.

Q: Do you think the hiring process was different in regards to gender?

A: It wasn’t for me.  It was actually easier for me since I had already completed my student teaching at Riverview.  Lately, though, for some reason, we have only been hiring males!  Not sure if that’s changes In our school culture or changes in the pool of applicants.

Q: Is there a difference among co-workers in the way they treat you because you are female?

A: I don’t think so, but I have worked with most of my fellow math teachers for at least 12 years now.  I think they respect my opinions and ideas.  I think since we have such a small staff, we respect each other no matter the gender.

Brigette Cannon

Woodhaven-Brownstown School District

Brigette Cannon

Q: How do you feel being a female teacher affects how students treat you?

A: Being female and a mother, most students react very positively to me! I am very empathetic to their needs, not just academically, but emotionally and socially as well.

Q: Do you think there is a difference in the way students (boy or girl) act with you because you are a woman?

A: Once in a while you may come across a student that is disrespectful, boy or girl that I believe would act this way whether you were, male or female. You can’t control how students are raised or what kind of day they are having.

Q: What do you think your hardest obstacle is because you are a woman in this type of environment?

A: I don’t feel there are obstacles because I’ m female in my environment. I think I have an equal opportunity, based on my experience, education, and drive for what I want out of this life.

Q: If you were a male do you think you would be treated differently?

A: If I was male I don’t feel I would be treated differently. If I was male I might feel like more of a minority.

Q: Do you think the hiring process was different in regards to gender?

A: Sometimes I think because males are a minority in the teaching environment, that they may get a closer look. But I would hope the best candidate would ultimately get the job.

Q: Is there a difference among co-workers in the way they treat you because you are female?

A: I think we treat each other with respect, I’ve never felt discriminated against for being female. My work environment is a conglomeration of the best teachers, who care about what they do, are constantly striving to lift our students to reach their goals by working together for the good of the school community!

 

I find it very interesting that both of these women seem to have very similar ideas, and truly love what they do. As I am a young woman and a college student who aspires to become a secondary education teacher, I am curious to find out if I will be treated differently than my male counterparts. I think that a lot of students in high school or college tend to see male professors or teachers more authoritative figures. Just by being male, they have a dominant presence from the get go. On the contrary, a woman may have more difficulty with gaining the respect of her students.

According to the women I have interviewed, there were no differences in hiring due to the fact that they are female. They also enjoy the work environment, and don’t feel as though their male co-workers treat them differently. This is encouraging for me. I think it shows an element of progress in dismantling patriarchal society that we live in. I hope that children will be taught to treat everyone equally, as this will allow female educators to continue with success.

Megan Reichal, an EMU student going in to education, agrees that it can be tough to be a female in the workplace, but feels that is balanced out by many rewards. I know that teachers have the power to change their students’ entire world. When I am an educator, I will teach my students that regardless of whether someone is female or male, there should be no difference in the way that they are treated.

Queer Corner

by Ebony Myers

For decades, the common belief was that relationships should only consist of one man and one woman.  However, some people have chosen to live a nontraditional lifestyle by loving the opposite sex or both genders. This has become more and more prevalent and accepted in today’s society.  The Eastern Michigan Community has been especially accepting and accommodating to the LGBT community in recent years. There is typically less judgment on college campuses because people often come from all around the world, and each of them wants their own unique qualities to be accepted by their peers.  I interviewed a young lady named Shantasia, and here is what she had to say about society’s views and her sexual orientation:

Shantasia

Q: How do you feel about the words that some people choose to describe your sexuality? For instance, gay, homosexual, dyke, stud, and etc.

A: For the most part, the vocabulary that someone uses to describe my sexuality doesn’t have an effect on me. It does not affect me because I don’t label or put a tag on my sexuality to insinuate if I’m gay or bi-sexual. I just usually say that I’m more infatuated by women rather than men, mainly.

Q: What do you think of society’s ideas about what they believe relationships should consist of?

A: I think for conservative people of society, a “normal relationship” consists of one man and one woman, that relationships should be acceptable and presentable in the manner in which God would allow or what he accepts. These types of people don’t accept same-sex relationships, but they tolerate them. However, I think society aspects and ways of life are evolving more to which there are more liberal opinions. These [people] are those who accept the simple things in life, like same-sex relationships, because they believe in equality and fairness. It’s kind of hard to describe.

Q: Why do you think the people in our society are so judgmental?

A: I think people in society are so judgmental because they’re under the wrong influence from the wrong crowds. Some people are followers and some are leaders. If you’re a leader, race, sex, or sexuality shouldn’t impact your perception of someone. Also, people are just closed-minded and can’t think for themselves. Therefore, judgment can get passed in the wrong direction as verbally harmful or physically [harmful].

Q: How does being judged/looked down upon make you feel?

A: I don’t feel like I’m looked down upon because of my sexuality. I have a ton of friends on campus and outside of school, a great percent of them are heterosexual, and I have my own values and morals. Therefore, if someone isn’t [agreeing with] my lifestyle or choices, then their opinions are irrelevant.

Q: What would you tell people who are affected by society’s judgments?

A: There’s always going to be something bad said about you, and there’s always going to be something positive said about you. It’s up to you to take action based on what you hear or because of what someone said about you.

Q: Do you care about what other people think of your sexuality?

A: No. Fuck ’em.

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