October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The turbulence of social issues swirling around the upcoming presidential election include gender-bashing, body-shaming, and objectifying women. We are asking a lot of questions about our world. Why are so many people hurting? How do people make decisions, especially decisions to hurt or oppress others? What can we do to find common ground?
Changing a culture is hard. Really hard. A couple weeks ago, I participated in my university’s It’s on Us campaign utilizing the Green Dot Bystander Intervention philosophy to create a safer campus. I learned that there a lot of people refusing to acknowledge that violence exists in our community. I learned that the perception exists that some of us are seemingly excused from participating in such conversations since “it isn’t our problem”.
Actually, it is our problem. It is your problem and it is my problem. Lady Gaga’s song “Til it Happens to You” is chillingly true. There is an assumption that victims are partially responsible for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, hanging out with the wrong people, etc. Somehow the concept of individual responsibility mostly applies to victims, not the perpetrators, i.e. the Brock Turner case. “No” or the question of “consciousness” should not need qualification. And yet, it does. So, we will do that.
Like Lady Gaga’s statement, the arts are a powerful community to amplify this movement. As artists, we’re focused on the process of discovery and attaining understanding for what we don’t understand. This is a place where the arts, artists, and art educators can lead the way. Amber Rose, in her own distinctive way, continues to reveal the discrimination women face even by Rev Run and Tyrese.
So, what can we do?
Step in and step up. Join the conversation. Object to stereotyping, victim-blaming, and slut-shaming. Bring others into the problem, to become part of the solution.
These are a few ways my community is advocating for awareness: