Relationship Dynamics: What Can You Do? Disrupting Gender and Power-based Violence with Columbia Health Sexual Violence Response
by Paritosh Joshi
sex, sexual violence, rape culture, misogyny, stalking
Recently, I attended a session on relationship dynamics delivered by the Columbia University Sexual Violence Response & Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center. The facilitators provided an overview of rape culture, outlined various forms of power-based violence, and delineated aspects of consent. These topics are certainly quite heavy and can be triggering for some people but are extremely important to dissect and I am very grateful that I-House gave a platform for us to do so.
First, the session leaders went over a lot of important information, such as the role of systemic factors that influence reporting behaviors; depending one’s cultural background or where one lives, they may feel uncomfortable discussing sex and sexual violence, such as in cases where one is a member of a minority group in a country. Nevertheless, sex and sexual violence are challenging to discuss worldwide. More importantly, these concepts tie into the larger conversation around rape culture, which was defined as a set of beliefs and norms that normalizes, condones, or encourages acts of sexual violence through the use of media messages, misogynistic attitudes, and rigid gender norms. They went over how jokes about rape or victim blaming are both unfortunately very pervasive and detailed how the Center provides support for both survivors and co-survivors.
The session leaders displayed an image that went over how rape culture is ultimately related to more heinous acts, such as murder, incest, etc, through its normalization in society. We then had the opportunity to have small group discussions, which allowed to exchange ideas and hear from other I-House residents about some of their experiences regarding conversations about sexual violence or what they have witnessed in their culture. There was also a dialogue on power-based violence and consent. The facilitators went over types of power-based violence by differentiating between sexual harassment, sexual assault, and stalking. They also went over how to define consent, what consent entails, and showed some videos to help us identify instances of consent and where consent could have been better communicated.
Overall, the event was a great reminder of how it’s on our shoulders to promote a safe and respectful environment while unlearning harmful ideas in the process. Fortunately, this workshop was the first of multiple sessions that will resume in January. I am looking forward to attending them!
IHouse resident since August 2022