In observance of national Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Fullerton College professor
Dr. Amber Gonzalez hosted a workshop on campus Thursday, April 21 titled, “Patriarchy and Privilege as Sources of Violence Against Women”.
“I was inspired to do something for Sexual Assault Awareness month this year,” Gonzalez said. “Last year, we screened the Justice for my Sister film and it was really well received, so I wanted to bring back something more than just the film.”
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, this year’s theme titled “Prevention is Possible” seeks to “focus on the building blocks of prevention by communicating how individuals, communities, and the private sector can take action to promote safety, respect, and equality”.
Programs master Hilda Franco, and project lead from Justice for My Sister Collective Kimberly Bautista facilitated the workshop on campus.
Franco and Bautista began the conversation by defining patriarchy and the ways in which it is manifests in our society today.
“One of the core attributes of patriarchy is that traditional male qualities are central to other qualities.” Franco said. “Other qualities are considered subordinate. Men dominate and they are always on top.”
This idea of patriarchy is not peculiar to a specific group of people, but one that extends and supersedes all borders.
“It’s everywhere. It’s rich people, poor people, black people, white people. It happens all over the world, unfortunately,” Bautista said.
Patriarchy influences different areas of society including culture, family, school, the workplace and relationships. Its presence can translate to inequality and gender-based violence.
During the workshop, participants got in smaller groups to talk about gender-based violence and the life cycle of women. The point of this exercise was to see how women are exposed to violence before they are born until they are aged.
“It starts so early. It’s abortion based on the sex of a baby, female infanticide, gender mutilation, early or forced marriage, honor killings and harmful practices with old women and widows,” Bautista said.
“People think it only happens in Guatemala or Africa or El Salvador, but things happen here in the United States too,” Franco said. Women were sterilized here in the United States in the ’60s and ’70s in L.A., and in Boyle Heights!”
Because of how ingrained patriarchy is in society, it can be difficult to identify, but according to Dr. Gonzalez “[T]his is the first step to recognizing there is a problem and this is why we host these conversations.”
Among the students in attendance was FC student Joshua Quinonez who heard about the workshop through Dr. Gonzalez and wanted to learn more about patriarchy in society.
“I wanted to learn something new about the topic, but also about myself and how I can help. Being a man, it is interesting to hear about the things that women face on a daily basis,” Quinonez said. “I just need to check myself and remind myself daily that I am not perfect. I also need to check my friends and those around me, even though that will probably be the hardest.”
Although it is a very complex societal issue, there are things that can be done on campus to work against the negative manifestations of patriarchy and gender-based violence.
“Think about how these things play out in your relationships. Whether it’s in your family or romantic relationships or in the workplace, and begin to think of the small ways to challenge these things,” Gonzalez said. “We also need to think of the ways we play bystander roles– we can speak up against catcalling, for example.”
At the end of the workshop, Justice for my Sister offered hope to the participants by reiterating the importance of being part of the change no matter how small.
“The biggest thing I have gotten from this work is that I can’t change the world, but patriarchy is learned and can be unlearned. Start somewhere. Start with your family. It will be revolutionary,” Franco said.
To continue the conversation, STOMP is an organization on campus that meets every Thursday from 3:30-5 p.m. in Room 1018 to discuss issues of social justice. For more information visit www.fcstomp.org or contact Dr. Amber Gonzalez at email@example.com
To connect with the Justice for my Sister collective visit www.justiceformysister.com.