Summary: This video clip, which was produced by a senior-seminar class at James Madison University focused on the sociology of interpersonal violence, exposes the lived realities of navigating a rape culture under patriarchy. By asking women and men what they do on a daily basis to protect themselves from being sexually violated, the video highlights the myriad strategies that women are socialized to employ in an attempt to protect themselves. Men, by and large, do not think about the threat of sexual violence in their lives, nor do most men, on a daily basis, do anything to protect themselves from such a threat. This is not to say that men are never raped or assaulted, but to highlight the realities of a culture in which women, but not men, are systematically targeted for acts of sexual aggression. Violence is one resource used in the reproduction of gender inequality, and as the video points out 100% of women experience the threat of that violence. Many men do think about this because it is not an issue that affects their daily lives directly. Many women don’t think about it in these terms because men’s violence against women is normalized under patriarchy. Importantly, the video is not intended to demonstrate things women "should" be doing. Instead, it highlights the realities of women's lives. Whatever decisions a woman makes regarding her safety, they are arguably the right decisions for her, but victim blaming persists when it comes to men's violence against women. As the video notes, it is never the victim's fault. We are often quick to ask what a woman did or didn’t do following an assault, but we rarely ask why a man assaulted a woman; nor do we ask why acts of men’s violence against women are normalized within our culture. Something to bring to the discussion is the fact that although women are targeted for acts of aggression by men, and although women's lives are constrained in important and material respects as a result of that, we still expect women to bear the brunt of the effort to challenge gender inequality. Men, as the recipients of male privilege (including the "privilege” of not having to carry the weight of being systematically targeted for acts of sexual aggression), have cultural space and influence to stand up—as allies to women—and challenge the patriarchal oppression of women, including men's violence against women. Although not all men are actively engaged in efforts to reinforce patriarchy and gender inequality, all men receive the conferred advantages of male privilege under patriarchy (but not all men have equal access to the patriarchal dividend as a result of other aspects of identity). As a result, men who are not actively anti-sexist are passively reaping the benefits of a sexist system. This video can stand as a springboard for class discussion about interpersonal violence (specifically men's violence against women), the rape culture, patriarchy, male privilege, victim blaming, and strategies of resistance.
Submitted By: Matthew Ezzell