School’s in for Summer

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Today was my first day of English Comp II. I am taking that this summer along with two consecutive (note: I definitely just tried to spell consecutive with a Q… I need sleep) math courses. Because the summer semester is accelerated, my schedule is pretty crazy. I have a class for three hours every day Monday through Thursday and I work pretty much everywhere in between. Yesterday was a day off of work and I delighted in going blonde!

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Much thanks to my girl Jo for doing it for me. She’s super talented.

Very excited about the math class, even though it is technically foundations level math. However, I am not to be embarrassed because apparently 85% of the students at my school go through foundations math. And this beginning-type math will make me feel super confident for not only college level Statistics this fall, but taking the TEAS exam in the fall as well. For those of you that don’t know, the TEAS exam is an exam to test competency in writing, reading comprehension, and basic math skills. I am taking it because it is a requirement for application to the nursing program that starts next year. The college first accepts students based on their TEAS scores and then moves on to GPA. As long as I can maintain my 4.0, all I need is to “ace” (read: score well on) the TEAS and my acceptance to the nursing program is pretty much a shoe in. Provided I still want to be a nurse after I become an LNA (licensed nurse’s assistant) this fall.

Anyway, so I love math because it does not come naturally to me and so when I am successful it makes me feel really great. And starting from the beginning feels smarter, anyway. No chance in feeling like I have fallen behind when I am getting back to basics. I mean seriously when was the last time anyone did two and three digit multiplication longhand? I don’t think we even did it in high school. So I am taking these assessment tests with iLearn to see if I need to be taught certain things, and it asks me What is 425 x 54?

Shit. I don’t know. How do we do this again? Longhand? What are the rules? Where do I place the extra zeroes? And forget long division. I was NEVER good at that, even when I was learning it in middle school. I can kind of do long division with one number on the outside, but give me this question: What is 45 divided by 127? Nope. Not gonna happen. Do not know, skip it.

So that’s been kind of entertaining, because honestly how much math do we adults REALLY remember? Don’t think it’s silly that they are legit asking me what is 5+3. Yeah, that’s easy for me, but ask me to do something more complex than 12 x 7 and I am at a loss. Thankfully my brain shook off the old mathy cobwebs and I started to remember how to do it properly, and I kind of felt like a moron then, but whatever. Learning is learning.

English… ah. Well, I wanted to take creative writing. Obviously. But then I found out my Humanities Prof from the spring semester was teaching Comp II this semester… and obviously I am going to stick with the guy I know. Even though the class syllabus is a 20-page research paper. I hate research papers. Shoot me now.

Fortunately, because it is an accelerated course, he reduced the paper to ten pages and we are going to write essays on the same topic and then pull it all together at the end. And, because he is amazing or just loves me, he told us during class that we can use personal pronouns in the research paper.

I really wish someone had taken a photo of my face at that moment.

I mean – hold up. Wait just a minute. Are you telling me that I can write a research paper using the words I and we? Are you telling me that this preconceived notion I have about stuffy and dry papers – aka research – is false? That I can find a voice and insert my personality into what would normally be about as entertaining as watching paint dry? No, scratch that, watching paint dry would be more entertaining than reading my own writing when it comes to research.

But! Fear not! We are going to take an informal approach and we can pick whatever topic we want. Which leads me to the actual point of this blog post (I love a good 800-word exposition, don’t you?)…

For the past two weeks I have been working with the aforementioned photographer Kiqe on ideas for creating dramatic images that spark conversation on abuse and the war on women. Particularly a conversation with my father left me with some interesting thoughts about violence against women and the role the media takes on reporting such acts of violence.

Consider the following statement:

Mary was raped.

This is the type of headline we commonly see in the media and this phrase is completely centered around the victim’s experience. College woman raped on (insert college name) campus last night. The problem with this kind of headline and this media approach is that it sends a powerful subliminal message to society. First of all, it sends the message that the victim is the focus. It takes a woman and makes her a victim. As a victim of abuse myself, I take particular offense to this. I don’t want to be THAT girl. I want to be the strong woman. Reporting the news this way affects the way women see themselves and also the way that society sees women as victims of abuse.

Now, consider the following:

Mary was raped by Jim.

Oh! Hey there! Introduction of a second subject. Now how does that make you feel? Have you ever seen a headline that says “College woman raped by fellow student (insert name here). Hell, no. Why? I have no fucking idea. This sends an entirely different message: by mentioning the perpetrator by name, there is balance in the way we judge the situation. Our focus shifts from Mary (the victim) and goes now to Jim (the abuser). We want to know more about this Jim character. Where does he get off raping poor Mary?

I would like to take this one step further. This is what I want to see when I open the newspaper:

Jim raped Mary.

Yeah, guys. Yeah. Let that sink in for a moment. Imagine a world where attention is shifted to the right person. Imagine opening a newspaper and seeing this headline “College student Jim rapes fellow student on campus.” 

That’s what I am writing my research paper about. I am writing my research paper about the way that the media approaches the war on women. The subliminal messages it is sending. I will be conducting my own research, although I don’t think I should say what it is because that would definitely compromise the integrity of the study. I want to get to the bottom of all of this. How does the media affect the way that we, as a society, see victims?

To take that one step further, it is my personal belief that bringing the victim into the conversation AT ALL creates a dialogue that just shouldn’t exist. The only thing we need to know about Mary is that she is okay and receiving treatment. Not where she was, not what she was doing walking around alone so late at night, not what she was wearing, where she was going, or where she was coming from. It matters not, people. It matters not. The entire focus should be on the actions of the perp, not the victim. By showering a victim with all this attention and making them feel victimized, it removes the strength and empowerment a woman should feel. A woman should open up the paper and look at that headline and think to herself – That’s right you son of a bitch. No one’s feeling sorry for me right now and treating me like a fucking leper. They are all talking about how much of a prick you are, not how sad I am for what happened to me.

Now, to be fair, one might say: Well what if it is only an alleged rape? You can’t publish that kind of thing until the person has been convicted of the crime. Yes, this is true, but do you ever see a headline that says College woman claims rape. Or College woman alleges that a fellow student raped her. No, you do not. The media thinks that it creates human interest if they tap into our emotions and go for pity. Wrong, media. WRONG. We are all a bunch of animals and we’re all so pissed off all the time that we need something to pour that energy into. Then we’ll all get our pitchforks and torches and burn the guy’s house down.

So, I am going to be collecting headlines and articles and sociological studies and hard data about the way it makes people feel to read these things over and over again. Not only that, but it solidifies in my mind what I am trying to accomplish with the photographer and we can send the same message. Whereas initially I thought – wouldn’t it be fun to have an image where I looked like the crap was beaten out of me? Headline reads: Strength is an attitude. In some awesome stance that radiates confidence?

How about this image: yeah, I look like I’ve been beaten half to death, but I am pointing at the perp. I am removing the attention from myself and assigning it directly where it belongs.

Whew. I’m all kinds of amped up. So, first we write a personal essay describing what it means to us and how we feel. Then we write a persuasive essay on why it should be important to other people. Then we do a bunch of research in and out of class and at the end of the semester tie all of that together in to one ten-page long research paper. And boy am I amped up. I might even submit it to a magazine or make it an editorial piece. People keep telling me I should be writing professionally, but I just hate rules.

I guess that sums up school for me. So jazzed.

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One thought on “School’s in for Summer

  1. Putting the spotlight on the victim helps to make the crime more real to the readers. They want to give every detail about Mary to get the public to think “gosh, she looks just like my daughter.” And they give the details about where it happened and why to get people to think “damn, that could have been me or someone I really care about.”

    You might think that everyone should automatically be enraged, but there is a big difference between being emotionally upset about something and intellectually upset about it.

    And the words “alledged” or “claimed” are never used, because in today’s America, there’s almost no such thing as “alledged” rape anymore. If a woman accuses a man of raping her, he is, in most cases, assumed guilty automatically.

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