[EDEQUITY Discussion] Sexual Harassment

From: Your_Honor@mail.findlaw.com.criticalpath.net
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 13:56:57 EDT

> I think this is an excellent topic for discussion on an educational
forum and I highly commend the moderator for choosing this as July's topic.

> A group of fellow students and I are currently conducting honors
research specifically into sexual violence committed against boys by girls
in educational settings (elementary, middle, and high schools). While this
research is not yet completed or published (and I expect that it will be
neither completed nor published for some time), I feel comfortable sharing
my portion of the project, which is Items 3 and 4 listed below.
> Our honors research includes:
> 1) Empirical evaluation of the prevalence (occurrence) of male students
being sexually battered by a girl kicking, kneeing, punching, or otherwise
abusing his testicles or groin area (DISCOUNTING instances of accident or
mutual roughhousing);
> 2) Examination of a trend toward more or fewer instances of sexual
violence of this type as the students progress from elementary to middle to
high schools;
> 3) Social and philosophical exploration of WHY this type of gender
> violence is occurring, taking into consideration social "norms,"
> glorification and explicit approval of this type of violence in the
popular culture, and parental instruction;
> 4) What action school teachers, administrators, supervising officials,
and law enforcement offices are taking to combat this form of gender
> It is clear that society explicitly approves of, even glorifies,
violence against male genitals PARTICULARLY (but not exclusively) when it
is perpetrated by females. One need only go to a Blockbuster Video store
him and rent any movie in the Comedy section to see this assertion plainly
demonstrated. Unfortunately in recent years this has become more and more
prevalent in children's movies as well. I can tell this through my own
observations(1) and through the observations of Dr. Warren Farrell in his
latest book, Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say. "Disney films normally
take care to avoid sex, and certainly violence against women, yet often
trailers out of violence against men's and boys' sexual organs--as in
kicking a boy in the groin..." (page 291).
> I am concerned about this social glorification of this type of
In addition, female children are often taught at home that to "kick him
where it counts" is an acceptable course of action, whereas boys are taught
that it is never appropriate to hit a girl for any reason. (What's good
the goose is good for the gander, is it not?) That is an issue of very
serious concern.
> The greater concern, in my view, is that supervising officials
(teachers, administrators, etc.) are not taking the problem seriously, are
not dealing with the problem at all, and in some cases are even
the victim for "harassment." This can be seen in adult life as well. When
women in adult life are actually arrested for this type of violence, it
normally makes national, even international headlines that are typically
favorable to the perpetrator. Witness Corinne Branigan, the "Kickin'
as described in the Toronto Sun on July 8, 1999. In ALL of these cases
have made such headlines, no negative consequences for the perpetrator have
resulted. Invariably, feminist groups have rallied to the support of the
perpetrator of the sexual violence, even offering to pay for legal defense.
> I am finding that this official "turning the other cheek" goes on in
schools a significant deal more often than it should. It is customary for
a girl to be exonerated from punishment by claiming that she was being
harassed. This causes a great deal of concern for two reasons. First,
"harassed" in feminist language means "annoyed," so if a boy is looking at
girl the wrong way, he opens himself up to being sexually violated? I
believe that is inimical to justice as well as common sense.
> Secondly, this "I was harassed" excuse is, in my view, a "blame the
victim" mentality in action. I having nothing but sheer contempt for a man
who rapes a woman and then claims she was "asking for it" by wearing
revealing clothes, flirting, etc. (My personal clothing style is rather
"risque," and I flirt from time to time, but that doesn't mean that I ask
be raped.) I don't perceive any difference in the "she was asking for it
wearing that skirt" and "he was asking for it by harassing me" attitudes;
neither one is anything but an EXCUSE (and not a very good one at that).
> In addition, when schools do punish girls for this violence they are
usually only punished by a figurative slap on the wrist, i.e., an hour of
detention, etc. But let a boy accidentally brush against a girl in a lunch
line and he is fingerprinted and handcuffed.
 I wonder if this might constitute a hostile school environment for male
students; if they know that this can be done to them at any time with few
no repercussions for the perpetrator; and may therefore constitute a
violation of 20 U.S.C. 1681 as interpreted in the Supreme Court's Davis
ruling of last term.
> I hope this is a good kickoff topic (GROAN...no pun intended there) for
this discussion!
> Hugs
> Amber V. DeWine
> Notes
> (1)-Several years ago when I first became interested in this topic, I
> went to a theater to see the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
movie--groan! --wherein there were two scenes, one of a pronounced near
miss and one of a hit. In both cases the young female members in the
reacted with laughing and giggling and the young male members in the
audience reacted with squirming and discomfort.
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