Tag Archives: sexuality

Women in Criminal Justice Article Review: Snyder, Gabbard, May, and Zulcis

Snyder, C. S., Gabbard, W. J., May, J. D., & Zulcis, N. (2006). On the battleground of women’s bodies: Mass rape in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Journal of Women and Social Work, 21(2), 184-195.

1.      Main Thesis: Snyder, Gabbard, May, and Zulcis argue that we should consider the social and cultural patterns that allow war rape to occur. Using the Bosnian conflict as an example, the authors suggest that women experience war rape as a complex situation involving not only sex, but also ethnicity, age, race, class, religion, nationality, and more. They suggest that attention to this complexity can shape future policy to prevent and/or prosecute war rape.

2.      Body of Evidence: This article begins by providing a detailed history of how women’s fates and fortunes have been intertwined with and dependent upon national narratives and social initiatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia. The authors document the history of wartime rape, going all the way back to the Roman rape of the Sabines (p. 185). The authors dispute arguments suggesting that war rape is biologically based. Next, the authors discuss feminist responses to wartime rape—which suggest that rape is an expression of male hatred toward women—as well as documenting gender roles and relations and the uprising of feminism in Yugoslavia prior to the Bosnian conflict. The collision of feminism and nationalism resulted in a splintering of the feminist movement; nationalism led to “discourse that conflated images of mothers with the nation itself” (p. 188). This, in turn, allowed public policy to turn toward reproductive control, which paved the way for cultural understandings of war rape as a way for males to demoralize the enemy while propagating their own nationality/bloodline and preventing the enemy from reproducing—a form of ethnic cleansing. The authors state that most rapes were perpetrated by Serbian men against Muslim women and that between 25,000 and 50,000 women were raped; however, many would not admit to being raped because of the social consequences, which included shaming their men (p. 189). Finally, the authors argue that the “Bosnian conflict signaled the end of the invisibility of women who are raped in war” (p.191). For the first time, war rape was classified by the United Nations as a crime against humanity on par with torture and murder.

3.      Conclusions: Snyder, Gabbard, May, and Zulcis conclude by pointing out that the fracturing of the women’s movement was one of the first signs of the wars of succession in Yugoslavia. As such, women and feminists are uniquely placed to prevent such atrocities. The authors suggest that war rape victimizes entire cultures as well as individual women. They argue that we are obligated to consider the complex nature of war rape as a crime that implicates such characteristics as ethnicity, nationality, and religion in addition to gender and sex.

4.      My Conclusions: This article was shocking. It also was detailed and well researched. I appreciated the attention to social and cultural logics supporting war rape. In addition, I heartily agree with the third-wave nature of the authors’ argument about considering the intersectionalities of identity involved in war rape. However, I disagree with the authors’ contention that women and feminists are uniquely obligated to fight this type of violence. Certainly women and feminists should be part of the fight, but we already have many burdens to bear, and I submit that men—who still make up the vast majority of all militaries worldwide—actually have greater potential to make changes in time to prevent imminent cases of war rape. I wish the authors had called men to action as well.

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(Literature) Pedagogy

The literature students at my school don’t have too many options in their coursework to focus specifically on literature pedagogy. As a result, a couple of smart students have created a summer mini-conference on this topic. This is its third year, but the first I attended, and I was happy to discover that much of what I learned was very relevant for rhetoric/composition pedagogy as well. I’m including some of the most important notes I took here. If any readers are interested in something below, let me know and I can hook you up with whoever presented on that topic.

Teaching Difficult Topics led by Chris Desantis, Julie Jung, Oren Whitesell

  • When discussing oppressive institutions–we’ll use race as an example–start by talking about the historical context. Don’t open discussion until after students have this common ground established. (In this phase, be careful to create a common vocabulary and to consider how themes circulate in language.)
  • Next, introduce social construction. (Note: It’s OK to “shut a student down” if she or he refuses to buy into the basic premises of the class. You can think of this less as silencing a student and more as eliminating an obstacle to other students’ learning. Hopefully it doesn’t happen often.)
  • Open discussion: Possible topics in this example include the collective silence on whiteness, connections between texts and student lives, and implications of physical spaces that produce whiteness and blackness, etc.
Ogbu’s definition of education: systematic eradication of viable alternatives (I’m not sure what I think of this. It sounds a lot like bell hooks’ definition of oppression)
Helpful readings:
Summative comments:
Teach not what to think, but how logic works
Always consider power relations in and out of the classroom

Teaching Digital Texts led by Cheryl Ball 

Remember: A 10-page paper is not nearly equivalent to a 10-minute video. A proficient producer of video typically takes 200 minutes for every minute produced. Consider a 2-3 minute video equivalent to a 10-page paper.

Resources:

Sample digital project outline for a themed class – Using wiki technology to interlink all student work
  • Establish common key terms
  • Have an individual draft due by midterm
  • Have students read others’ drafts during second part of semester
  • Links/revisions/additional pages due by finals
Linguistics led by Aaron Smith
  • Consider that linguists study speech communities; historical linguists must use written texts (literature)
  • Take care not to apply sociolinguistic understandings from modern times to historical contexts
  • Consider how linguistic usage is used to construct literary characters. This may include elements like the a- prefix (I’m a-goin’) or h-dropping (‘umble beginnings).
  • Remember that ideology is shown in language
  • When teaching, narrow the focus. First, select a form to focus on, then prove to students that they know a grammar (disrupt their belief that we’re in some sort of historical grammatical decline), then choose texts with appropriate linguistic variation.
Making Sense of Evaluations led by Claire Lamonica
  • The most important different in evaluations is understanding the purpose of formative vs. summative evaluation. Summative evaluation happens at the end of the term; formative evaluation can be used to improve teaching.
  • 360-degree evaluation: Collect evaluations from self, supervisors, peers, students
  • For student evaluations, collect early so that you can learn during the class. Consider doing a 1-minute paper at the end of each class. This is where students quickly write the most important thing they learned and the muddiest point from the day’s work. Also consider incorporating weekly reports and/or a midterm chat to get mid-semester evaluations.
  • Frequent evaluation teaches students to think and write evaluatively; it’s not just for the teacher.
  • Take into account, when reading summative evaluations, the things that students are and are not really qualified to comment on
  • When working through evaluations, first categorize responses into positive, negative, suggestions, and other. Then synthesize results, count and a rank them, reflect, and prioritize. Remember to work on only one or two things at a time so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Teaching with Film led by Sally Parry and Bob McLaughlin

Challenge: Getting students to engage films as texts instead of passive consumers
Advantage: FIlms are able to fill in more historical context
  • Remember to teach film conventions, often comparing them to parallel conventions in printed texts
  • Incorporate historical context. For example, study the Hayes Code and teach students to know what signals meant what sort of action (to get around the censors)
  • Defamiliarize students with film media by starting with (or only showing) black-and-white films
  • Teach and complicate themes. (For example, in film noir, the bad guy is often a veteran. Why? What does this mean?)
Some films to consider, taken from a WWII culture class
  • Snafu
  • Iceland
  • Miracle on Morgan’s Creek
  • Casa Blanca
  • The Best Years of Our Lives

Can the Subaltern Confess?

Notes–just some passages of interest–from the following book chapter:

Casarino, Cesare. “Can the Subaltern Confess? Pasolini, Gramsci, Foucault, and the Deployment of Sexuality.” The Rhetoric of Sincerity. By Ernst Van. Alphen, Mieke Bal, and C. E. Smith. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2009. 121-43. Print.

These passages resonate with me somewhere between my interests in the socialization of sexuality and issues of authorship and sincerity. I’m still working out how, but maybe putting these pulled quotes in close proximity to one another will show some themes.

  • Casarino suggests that “sincerity is the standard both of itself and of insincerity” (121). That is, one cannot define insincerity without first defining sincerity.
  • He also posits that there are three types of sincerity – sincerity, insincerity, and real sincerity (meaning it exists in an encounter with the real) (122).
  • Casarino surveys “the nexus of relations binding confession, sexuality, and subalternity–a nexus that, as I will try to show, presupposes a definition of sincerity as production of truth” (122).
  • Casarino looks at Pier Paolo Pasolini’s documentary Love Meetings (based in Italy), Foucault’s review of that film, Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, and Antonio Bramsci’s essay “The Southern Question” (again, in relation to Italy). The documentary consists of Pasolini questioning people he meets in public places about sexuality, often answering for them when they hesitate. Casarino notes that Pasolini “want(s) to extract the ‘logical’ truth from the interviewees, but that, in reality, one will have to settle for less, namely, ‘at least psychological truth,’ or in other words, at least a part if not the whole” (125-126). The subjects of Love Meetings were subaltern–“Either Southerners or children, or both” (127-8).
  • The documentary is non-confessional because it is not used “in orer to reveal–either in words or in bodies–that hidden truth of sex which is hidden by necessity and by definition. He uses it, rather, in order to plunge into that gaping abyss between words and bodies which opens up as soon as the physical presence, tactile behavior, bodily movements, facial expressions, or affective registers of the interviewees express a truth that can neither be hidden nor be revealed, a truth that can neither be affirmed nor be denied from the standpoint of confession” (127).
  • Casarino says, The History of Sexuality “turns confession into nothing short of an infectious pandemic” (130).
  • “For laughter, of course, is often one of the most powerful weapons available to subalterns of all sorts” (141).
  • “It is almost as if Pasolini is trying to convince the poor children of the Southern slums that he is much more like them than like those two boring old farts. It is almost as if he is attempting to strike a secret alliance with those subaltern subjects as well as to disavow any allegiance with the pontificating adult representatives of the intellectual bourgeoisie” (142-3)
  • “The former (the children) do not really care what words they speak, and hence their bodies can enact and display a sublime inaptitude to confess. This inaptitude points to other pleasures, other sincerities, and other truths–and puts them all beyond our reach” (143). (this is the conclusion of the essay)