Intersectional oppression and sexual violence

“The whole concept is to ensure there is clear language prohibiting amorous relationships between employees of the department and students,” [Superintendent] Fernandez said.

Why is GDOE, following UOG, now introducing a policy that prohibits “amorous” relations between its employees and students?

There are several reasons.  The foremost for me is simply that they seem to be recognizing intersectional oppression.  This presupposes that power differences between individuals actually matter.

For example . . . majority of tenured professors at UOG are white (men).  Majority of students are Pacific Islanders.  Right there we see a historic and continuing division of power.  Men have also (historically and continuing into the present) been privileged with more power than women in society.  Wealth matters.  Class matters.

White people (especially men) are frequently socialized to be individuals and be aggressive in order to succeed.  Pacific Islanders frequently have more communitarian cultures and are socialized to promote group harmony.  This cultural difference also influences who is more likely to act aggressively sexually and who is more likely to be quiet and not protest when sexually harassed or assaulted.

Businesses — and schools are businesses, for better or worse — need to understand that professionalism matters.  Mistreatment of students or employees cannot go unaddressed.

The recent court case against a UOG professor (including a charge of a second-degree felony for sexual assault, appalling) almost certainly had an effect on our educational institutions re-examining their policies.

Unfortunately, sometimes it seems to require media and political pressure to get an institution to change.

Feminist scholars learn to be suspicious of institutions.  They frequently serve only to perpetuate inegalitarian power dynamics — the status quo.  Universities and other educational institutions are not alone in this.

If you have a group in power that is majority white men — anyone can look at the UOG full professors list — you have a racist system in effect.

Why is sexual harassment tolerated?

Because racism is tolerated — not only tolerated, but encouraged.  Because sexism is encouraged!  Because classism is encouraged.

Because colonialism is encouraged.


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