Wednesday, December 9, 2009

cultural narratives

This post on Feministing reminded me what I've been doing for the past several months--identifying cultural narratives and the problems they cause for real people. Cultural narratives are basically just the "stories" a culture tells about particular stereotypes, making it seem like they are really just "how people are." I've been doing it for the catfight in my bachelor's essay--in a nutshell, the proliferation of images of catfights (which are problematic unto themselves) creates a limited framework to view women's competition. The narrative gets mapped onto real people, fueling widespread beliefs like: put a bunch of girls together, and all you'll get is drama drama drama! Women are horrible to each other! And the like. I think the victim-blaming shit in this article is a similar situation.

Studies like this one only exist because there is a cultural narrative of women lying about being raped or sexually assaulted. The excerpt cited on the post pretty much sums it up:
A study of more than 200 students revealed many wrongly blamed the effects of a 'bad night out' on date-rape drugs, when they had just drunk excessively.
In a world that valued women and their autonomy, what would prompt this study? They can't possibly have been drugged, they just drink too much! And they're sluts, so of course they're going to have a 'bad night out'! Which means what, exactly, by the way?

Okay, maybe I editorialized a bit too much there. But it really is just crazy. And its studies like this, reported in mainstream media outlets, where people will likely just read headlines and file it in the "info why women themselves can be blamed for all instances of women's sexual assault," furthering this victim-blaming narrative. AND this article takes it even further, pathologizing young women who drink! As Mr. Man Researcher writes, "Young women appear to be displacing their anxieties about the consequences of consuming what is in the bottle on to rumours of what could be put there by someone else." Come on, the use of date rape drugs is just a rumor?

Maybe my next research project should be about victim blaming. Also, I second Leigh's thoughts about consent. And sorry for the proliferation of fancy words, I'm still in bachelor's essay mode.

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