Author Archives: socmatters

Dame(sel) in Distress?

By socmatters

xy_097Feminist advocates have spent years working to define rape as a social problem.   These advocates have worked as claims-makers in this regard and have engaged in various framing processes along the way.  Sociologists and criminologists have entered the conversation along the way offering a variety of theoretical perspectives and empirical investigations to help understand rape and sexual assault more fully.  Despite these efforts, rape remains one of the most underreported crimes with an even more dismal prosecution and conviction rates.

The assumed incidence and prevalence of rape means that many people are either victims themselves or know someone who has been the victim of rape or sexual assault.   Nonetheless, talking about rape remains difficult for many and victims are often ashamed and fear being unfairly judged or stigmatized if they tell anyone.  Dame Helen Mirren, who has recently come forward to say that she was date-raped but did not report it to police, seems typical of other victims.  On the other hand, she also has suggested that women jurors are more likely to think a rape victim asked for it.  This juxtaposition may capture just what makes it so difficult to prosecute and prevent rape.  Mirren’s comments, while made by a self-defined victim of rape, portray the kind of victim-blaming sentimentality that reinforces cultural attitudes, norms, values, and practices that excuse and normalize rape and other forms of sexual violence.   

 

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Jennifer L. Dunn on Accounting for Victimization

 

 

 

 

 

Would you like Roles with your Dinner?

by socmatters

The customary “would you like rolls with your dinner?” takes on a whole new meaning when considering the various ways in which gender roles may complicate the dining experience.   Traditional gender role expectations have long influenced the behaviors of servers in restaurants.   Although many of the most outdated gender-based customs may have disappeared (e.g., providing menus without prices to females, insisting on separate uniforms for female servers), a recent article in the New York Times insists that they are long from irrelevant today.   Restaurateurs who eschew these concerns are often met with some form of resistance whether it is over-riding the dining software or addressing customer complaints.  Servers are urged to “read the table” to decipher how to deal with ordering, serving and billing.  This “reading” is not unproblematic and is likely complicated by social locations other than gender (race/ethnicity, class, sexuality).   The resulting patterns of interactions are also important for understanding patterns of domination and subordination in the social world.  While you may not care if your server makes the wrong assumption about who is picking up the tab at dinner, research shows that you are likely to be keeping track of patterns of spending within your intimate relationships.   

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Gender and Spending

 

Framing Foreclosures

by socmatters

The growing rate of home foreclosures has devastated individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities across the United States.   The Washington Post reported that a group of “foreclosees” recently engaged in collective action in response to this crisis.  The small group marched into the Baltimore office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in an effort to get some kind of public and official response from “The Man”.  These are the real people behind the impersonal news stories peppering papers across the nation.  While this may have been only a symbolic confrontation on some levels, it is characteristic of the kind of direct action used by social movements throughout history.    The individuals in this article may be seen as actively engaging in the social process of defining the foreclosure crisis as a public issue.  Scholars of social movements may argue over whether strain/breakdown or opportunity offer the more appropriate construct for explaining what led to this collective action.   Either way, it is clearer now that foreclosures are a kind of external factor that can stimulate protest activity. 

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 Steven M. Buechler on Theories of Collective Action