Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Misogyny in assignments

I'm coming to realize I am changing my stance on how to deal with students who say or write things that would offend, harrass, etc. others. Often, I ask someone to leave the room and have a conference with that student. However, maybe bringing up a discussion first, especially when considering writing, allows for all voices to be heard around how we read, interpret, respond, etc. to issues. After all, for many students, it is their first true chance to be heard, as well as share beliefs without exposure to other beliefs.

The person who brought up the incident:
A student submits (what appears to be) a rap w/misogynistic lines for a poetry workshop. What to do about it, w/o wrecking the workshop?
One of the best responses:
I've had this happen. In one class, long ago, women students lingered after the final class of the semester and set about burning a misogynist poem that had been workshopped! I'd lean toward business as usual, but first of all talking about the possibility of people (uh, that would be women) getting triggered, saying that people are free to leave anytime in any class if the subject matter is triggering them, then taking a strong stand yourself, expressing your own point of view on the poem strongly at the point where it seems right, keeping the discussion focused on the poem not the writer, talking about whether there are limits on what should be presented in a classroom, whether context and audience matter, just repeatedly emphasizing that your job is to watch their backs but also not to censor them, and then following up by bringing in some poetry that talks back to the issues in the poem and perhaps doing that for other students' poems as well. And talking to him in private, before and after.
My final response:
Thanks for this discussion! I'm coming to realize the open discussion approach--the learning experience--allows for that dialogue that rarely happens outside of a campus.
My previous responses had to do with protecting students. I made many posts. I hadn't realized how much the previous issue from last month affected me.

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