Sunday, 4 August 2013

Sexual violence, misogyny and music - trigger material for working with young people or training professionals

Weekend Woman's Hour on 3rd August had a piece about whether music lyrics influence young men's behaviour towards women, and whether it encourages sexual violence and misogyny. The piece includes talking heads material with both young men and young women, and shows some gendered differences of opinion about its impact. The link is here

The item could be used in education work with young people as well as training with professionals. It starts at about 24 minutes in. (Before this is an interesting item with Ariana Huffington, founder of the Huff Post about the importance of work life balance, and after a live commentary as a vasectomy is underway). Joan Smith (@polblonde), columnist at the Independent and Co Chair of the Violence Against Women Committee for the Major of London was on the programme. It was good to hear her be very clear that all schools should be delivering good quality sex and relationships education to help develop good relationships with boys and girls, and to call out this (and I will add previous) government for their inaction to make sure all children and young people receive SRE in schools.

The events on twitter this week also provide an important source of material for discussion about sexual violence, abuse and misogyny. There are numerous blogs, tumblrs etc full of narrative that can be used as trigger material to discuss behaviour and technology, as well as sexual violence, abuse and misogyny. And equally of course there is a really interesting discussion to be had about the different responses people had - some wanting to 'take back twitter' by keeping silent, and others to shout back and refuse to be silent. Both valid responses (this article is a useful summary -

Writing this has made me feel incredibly nostalgic and wish I was back at Falcon Camp in America as I was 20 years ago sitting around the campfire on a nightly basis talking to young people about all these types of issues - generally the same themes, but different contexts and different triggers. Sadly in that 20 years not nearly enough has changed when it comes to gender equality as we have seen sharply this week from the abuse and rape threats on twitter. Whether music lyrics do influence behaviour and encourage misogyny or not is a debate that will continue. Whatever the answer it is only part of a cultural context in which young people are growing up - one in which sexism and misogyny still flourishes. That is not a culture in which all children and young people can flourish and it is not one we can settle for.

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