Sexual assault, rape culture, and #MeToo

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It’s been a little over a month since high-profile allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein became public. Since then, dozens of women have come forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault by other powerful men in Hollywood, news media, politics, and sports. Countless other women, and some men, have also taken to social media to bravely share their own stories of sexual harassment and assault as part of the viral #MeToo campaign originated by Tarana Burke in 2006.

As this issue continues to come into focus like never before, meaningful conversations about the larger cultural forces that contribute to sexual harassment, assault, and other forms of gender violence have never been more important. And the Media Education Foundation offers a number of videos and other resources that can help you facilitate these conversations on your campus or in your community.

We recommend screening four films in particular: Tough Guise 2The LineFlirting with Danger, and War Zone.

While these four films differ in focus, each of them challenges us to think about how social norms, cultural narratives, media messages, and our ideas about gender and consent may be contributing to the epidemic of sexual violence that’s now coming into view. Most of the titles come with a discussion guide to help students and other audiences engage in honest conversations about these issues.

We encourage you to set up a screening of these films on your campus or in your community to keep this crucial conversation going.

We also have a handout that you can download and print out called Using Media Education to Raise Awareness About Sexual Assault and Harassment.

 

Tough Guise 2

In this highly anticipated update of the influential and widely acclaimed Tough Guise, pioneering anti-violence educator and cultural theorist Jackson Katz argues that the ongoing epidemic of men’s violence in America is rooted in our inability as a society to move beyond outmoded ideals of manhood. In a sweeping analysis that cuts across racial, ethnic, and class lines, Katz examines mass shootings, day-to-day gun violence, violence against women, bullying, gay-bashing, and American militarism against the backdrop of a culture that has normalized violent and regressive forms of masculinity in the face of challenges to traditional male power and authority.

 

The Line

A young woman is raped when a one-night stand far from home goes terribly wrong. In the aftermath, as she struggles to make sense of what happened, she decides to make a film about the relationship between her own experience and the tangle of political, legal, and cultural questions that surround issues of sex and consent. Using a hidden camera, filmmaker Nancy Schwartzman goes head-to-head with the man who assaulted her, recording their conversation in an attempt to move through the trauma of her experience and achieve a better understanding of the sometimes ambiguous line between consent and coercion.

 

Flirting With Danger

Social and developmental psychologist and author Lynn Phillips explores the line between consent and coercion in this thought-provoking look at popular culture and the ways real girls and women navigate their heterosexual relationships and hookups. Featuring dramatizations of interviews that Phillips conducted with hundreds of young women, the film examines how the wider culture’s frequently contradictory messages about pleasure, danger, agency, and victimization enter into women’s most intimate relationships with men.

 

War Zone

What does it feel like to be a woman on the street in a cultural environment that does nothing to discourage men from heckling, following, touching or disparaging women in public spaces? Filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West believes that the streets are a War Zone for women. Armed with only a video-camera, she both demonstrates this experience and, by turning and confronting her abusers, reclaims space that was stolen from her. War Zone is an excellent discussion starter for both men and women.