So, over the past few days in my Women in the Media class, we’ve been talking about women, sexuality and the media. Naturally, with these discussions, our conversations have moved beyond the media to talk about the way that women are considered and treated in our society. As we’ve talked, there has been, as you might imagine, plenty of opportunities to just feel righteously indignant about the way women can be marginalized or commodified into parts, especially in the club or restaurant setting.
As these discussions went on, we focused on what power there was for women in these situations and we settled on what we called, “Planting the Seed.”
“You are allowed to talk back in those situations,” I implored “and while the person being confronted might not take it well in that moment- in fact, it’s a safe bet that he won’t and you shouldn’t be too surprised by that- there is a good chance that your language will begin to plant the seed to greater awareness so that he diminishes and, ideally, disappears his commodification of women.”
Then, we talked about ways my students are already planting the seed.
One woman spoke about confronting a man she worked with and that initially he told her that she just didn’t get how the world worked. “Do you want someone to talk to your sister that way?” She continued. “No,” he answered. He’s quit the heckling.
Another woman spoke about men staring at her in a restaurant. “Can I help you?” She asked them. They turned away and stopped.
A third student told a man who slapped a waitress in the ass that it wasn’t okay. When he said, “you don’t get to talk to me that way,” she answered that he didn’t get to touch that way.
There are, of course, rules of safety to keep in mind when planting a seed. It’s good to do it in a public environment where there are both witnesses and, if possible, allies. But that being said, planting the seed is one powerful way that we draw attention to bad behavior and begin to demand better behavior for and from all of us.
Have you planted a seed? What’s your story?