I was showing my boyfriend the article and essay I am writing for your Women and Gender Studies class. We got into an argument because he said that the wage gap between men and women isn’t real, and that rape culture doesn’t exist in the United States. How do I convince him he’s wrong? Thanks.
I’m so happy that you’re engaging with your boyfriend about topics from our class—until we either experience something or are taught something, how can we be expected to know it?
You have given me an idea: at the end of the semester, when I give you and your classmates their take home exam, I am going to ask all of you to respond to this question:
Most people in our families and community don’t know what is meant by the term “rape culture.” Additionally, many dispute that there is a wage gap between men and women. Fair enough—you cannot be expected to understand something until someone takes the time to teach you. So for this question, I am asking you to be the teacher.
First: Explain what the wage gap is, using resources to inform your explanation. Second, consider this comment: women choose to earn less given the career paths they commonly take. Such a comment requires some explanation regarding gendering, patriarchy, and how capitalism can potentially reinforce both. The goal is to educate by offering information that is accurate, and presented in an easy to understand way.
Because you have already defined rape culture in your first exam, this time I would like you to return to that original definition, revise it (simplify, enhance, address nuances of rape culture) and then consider the role pornography might play in the rape culture. Again, this will require that you use resources to support your claims, and the goal is to present your ideas in a clear, easy to understand way.
When I am done reviewing the exams, I will post some of the responses, with the permission of students—in that way, we’ll take the best of all the responses generated by you and your peers, and I will add my own comments, and then share with all, via this column.
I wanted to point out to you that activism can take the simple form of being informed and being able to pass on that information clearly. We all need a chance to be educated about things we know nothing about. Now is the chance for your boyfriend, and hopefully others, to learn about something that has previously been unclear. We speak about transforming knowledge into meaningful action—well, we are about to do that together!
I am so happy you reached out, so glad for the idea, and I promise you will have your response in due time!