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Lecture 9

WGST 1F90 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: General Social Survey, Squaw, Stranger Danger

Women's and Gender Studies
Course Code
Leslie Nichols

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Date: November 11
Lecture Title:
Key Terms & Concepts:
Rape myths
Rape culture
Conceptually accurate language
Social Vulnerability
Symmetry in Violence
1. Violence against women is a significant barrier in women achieving full equality. Both the threat of
violence and the act of violence.
2. All forms of violence against women (economic, sexual, physical, stalking, sexual harassment) limit
women’s freedom.
3. Our knowledge of violence against women is limited; fail to note the deep rooted nature of violence
and how our gendered attitudes support it.
4. Feminist activists have done great work in supporting women trying to leave violent relationships.
5. Feminists argue that violence against women is structurally supported through numerous racist and
sexist stereotypes.
6. Example: violence against first nations women is often justified through racist stereotypes (“squaw”,
racist stereotype that suggest that first nation women are sexually available. This stereotype
dehumanizes indigenous women).
7. Various rape myths and rape culture that support sexual violence against women- that a victim was
“asking for it”. The idea that rape can be prevented if women do this: dress modestly, who she hangs
out with, where she was, “cock tease”, if women lead a man on, if she was too drunk. Myths for the
perpetrator: the rapist couldn’t help it, it’s natural for men to want to have sex/to be more horny, men
are biologically driven.
Rape culture: the belief that rape is inevitable.
8. Exposing these rape myths has been part of feminist activism at both the grassroots level as well as
in the academy.
9. Violence against women reinforces traditional gender norms, as well as maintaining inequality
between genders.
Forms of Violence:
1. Sexual Violence
2. Emotional Violence
3. Financial
4. Psychological
5. Physical
6. Political
7. Symbolic
8. Spiritual
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9. Gender
10. Stalking/Harassment
Health Canada Definition:
Health Canada defines violence against women as:
Acts that result, or are likely to result, in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to a
woman, including threats of such an act, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty whether occurring in
public or private life.
Moreover, Health Canada suggests that the impact of violence on Women’s Health is significant:
Violence is a major factor in women's health and well-being. The measurable health-related costs of
violence against women in Canada exceed $1.5 billion a year. These costs include short-term medical
and dental treatment for injuries, long-term physical and psychological care, lost time at work, and use
of transition homes and crisis centers.
Violence Against Women
1. According to Statistics Canada, almost half of Canadian women have survived at least one incident
of sexual or physical violence (Johnson, 2006, p. 24).
2. Women are more likely to be harmed by a man they know (father, husband, friend) than one they do
not (Johnson, 2006, p. 19).
3. Much of what we know about violence against women is based upon myths: “stranger danger” and
“someone who loves us cannot hurt us”
4. Violence against women is a form of misogyny. Hatred, mistrust of women.
5. Often justified by many fronts (media, law, cultural attitudes about victim/perpetrator, etc)
6. A paradox exists regarding violence against women. On one hand, the reminders of violence against
women are frequent (media, news, films, tv shows remind us of violence against women) the paradox is
that many deny that violence against women is a problem. It’s just a joke, or if you’re safe you’ll be
7. The reminders are frequent (i.e., the news media, popular culture, etc.), however, many deny that
violence against women is a problem.
8. The second paradox is that the graphic nature of violence against women is often emphasized- but
we never say “that is a result of racism/sexism/misogyny”.
Conceptually Accurate Language is Required:
1. We must use conceptually accurate language when discussing violence against women.
2. Caputi (1989) argues, crimes against women and children are frequently described as though a
perpetrator does not exist. “Woman sexually assaulted in parking lot”.
3. Domestic violence; as though it is gender neutral.
4. The news media creates the idea that “things” just happen to random women.
5. Perpetrators are frequently described as “madmen” who acted out of rage or were provoked.
Examples: Paul Bernardo or Marc Lepine. Neither men were portrayed as a sexist or a misogynist.
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