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I believe that one can rarely go about their work today in our field without hearing the phrases, “The research says…” or “What we know…”. I’ve found this experience of research being used as a tool to explain an absolute to be very fascinating. Let me be clear, I am the first person to find value in researching a process, concept, ideal, or mechanism for change. I am not in favor of being back in a place where, “This is how it’s been done”, was used to promote programs that are ineffective for communities. What I’ve become weary of is research becoming sacrosanct and critical analysis of the process one uses to gather data and the subsequent body of research created not getting questioned. This is of course in part influenced by the fact that as a Social Worker I’ve worked in communities research has not touched. Instead, models of practice have been imposed upon them that are not reflective of their unique socioeconomic and cultural experiences.
What I’d like to hear is a combination of what research may imply and what information still needs to be gathered. I’d love to have a conversation in which someone points out not only the data that has been gathered but what still needs to found out. I’d dance a little jig of happiness if the next time an evidence based curriculum was referred to, folks would acknowledge “perfect” models can’t always be applied to society’s not so “perfect” people. I don’t want to dismantle the whole system, I’d just like to make sure what the research is saying has meaning for everyone.
OVW Campus Program Web Conference Series
Title: Moving Forward: Next steps in compliance with the VAWA Amendments to Clery
Presenters: Clery Center (OVW TA Providers)
Date: 5.6.14 11am (PST)/2pm (EST)
To view the webinar slides click here
To view the 2013 Violence Against Women Act Amendments to Clery checklist click here
To view the recording of this session click here
I will gladly admit that I’m quite addicted to the quizzes on Buzzfeed. Actually I should probably confess that I’m addicted to BuzzFeed in general but the quizzes seem to pull on my nostalgic recollections of completing non-sensical quizzes in the magazines of my adolescents. I’ve actually begun to think of them as self care, because nothing is more entertaining and stress relieving as determining which country you really should be living in or which Jane Austin heroine you are. Although, I think of myself as more of an Anne Eliot or Elizabeth Bennet vs. Catherine Morland…but I digress. Needless to say I don’t put much stock in the quizzes because they provide an outlet that doesn’t require me to question the validity of the tool they are using to measure my response. Therefore, it was with great surprise I came across their recent quiz, “How Privileged Are You?”, and didn’t immediately role my eyes so hard they almost got stuck that way.
As BuzzFeed isn’t a place I go for riveting critical social analysis, I was quite impressed with the anti-oppression framework the quiz presented. Now I’m sure there are social researchers out there that are going to poo-poo the quiz but I’m going to ask y’all to hear me out. When I was working in the community doing prevention work, I’d always try to find innovative ways to explain power, privilege, and oppression to my audience. Be they 10 years old to 80 years old, it was was hard to get folks to look at these factors in our society from a broad perspective, it became doubly hard when trying to weave in how they contribute to sexual violence. If I wasn’t careful, the conversation could quickly unravel into a dialogue that focused on polarizing the issues based on race and gender exclusively, where the dominant was inherently evil and everyone else was oppressed. It’s hard for people to step back and look at the intricacies of privilege and the power they have based on it.
I didn’t need the quiz to tell me that growing up I had a great deal of privilege that has carried into my adult years. I grew up in a two parent, middle class, wage earning household. In a home my parents owned, in a neighborhood that was a reflection of my households racial/economic make up. I went to great schools, participated in extracurricular activities that required time and monetary involvement from my parents. Which they could accommodate. I went away to college and though I’ll joke fondly of my starving student days I was fiscally well cared for. Also, while I have student loans from my graduate education, they have not impeded me from living an economic lifestyle I find comfortable. As an adult the list goes on and I am constantly aware of the power these things afford me in our society. Yet, I’m also keenly aware that when I walk into a room these privileges that have contributed to who I am are not immediately acknowledged. When I walk into a room I am a black woman, imbued with the constraints society puts on my race and gender. My existence is complex, messy, and not easily confined to a manageable sound bite of power, privilege, and oppression.
Now what does this have to do with the BuzzFeed quiz, you may ask. Well, when a quiz about privilege asks questions such as, “I don’t rely on public transportation”, “My parents are both alive”, “I can afford medication if/when I need it”, along with questions such as “I have never been raped”, “I am a man”, “I am white”, and “I never had to ‘come out’ “, I feel it’s a form of consciousness raising. Mostly because the questions themselves are not inherently perfect and require a dialogue on power, privilege, and oppression that would be complex, messy, and not easily confined to a manageable sound bite. As a tool of anti-oppression prevention, I couldn’t ask for anything better.
We talk about prevention quite a bit over here at CALCASA (shocking), and it can be a constant miasma of thoughts of what is and what isn’t technically “it”. Strong opinions are shared, discussed, and in our more impassioned moments; heatedly debated. As I exist in this constant state of awareness regarding prevention work it can be quite taxing to just be a regular consumer of prevention messages. This became painfully obvious when I happened upon a post on Facebook (where it seems I receive a great deal of my social messaging). I don’t usually click on posts that use ambiguous tag lines to garner interest in a social issue. Mostly because 1) they usually aren’t what they appear to be, 2) they usually annoy me, or 3) they make me think differently about the person that posted them, which is often in a negative way. Blame it on curiosity or page scroll fatigue but I took the bait and clicked this time and I’m glad I did.
The video was provocative, edgy, and captured the knee jerk reaction one needs when discussing the impact of human trafficking on sex work. I lost myself in the narrative the filmmaker was creating and even though I had an idea of what the ending might be, I felt my heart beat just a little faster at the big reveal. In a nutshell, I was moved. I was forced to pause and reflect. Mostly, I was driven to look up more on the organization that’s information flashed at the end. I became so excited I thought, “I’ll blog about this”, but the hamster wheel of, “What is prevention?”, began to rotate almost immediately as I finished that thought. I quickly tumbled down the rabbit hole of, “Is this prevention?”, I found myself picking apart every piece of the short clip. Is this primary prevention? Is it an awareness campaign? Is this somewhere on the spectrum? Oi!
As my thoughts spun around and around I soon lost my initial reaction after seeing the video; feeling moved. Unlike the person that shared the video, without preamble or post script, I’d gotten so wrapped up in the theory that I’d failed to appreciate the practice. When viewed from this perspective I wonder how important the answer to the question is?
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention is tasked with shedding light on acts of violence for members of society that are vulnerable because of lack of power due to their status as children. When those children are further marginalized by disabilities, prevention efforts become even more crucial. The Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference series sponsored by PreventConnect and Ms. Foundation for Women, presented the webinar Child Sexual Abuse and Disabilities to address the unique strategies needed while working to end child sexual abuse with children with disabilities. In this webinar, series co-hosts Cordelia Anderson and Joan Tabachnick engaged Sandra Harrell, Project Director, Vera Institute of Justice’s Accessing Safety Initiative, Keith Jones, President and CEO, SoulTouchin’ Experiences, and Meg Stone, Executive Director, IMPACT Boston and Project Director IMPACT:Ability in an interactive discussion of the prevention work they do. The presenters used survivor narratives, research, and a disability focused scenario to encourage attendees to think outside of the child sexual abuse prevention box.
Check out the recording of this web conference for details about these actions and more.