Policies and Conversation

E. Gordon Gee, Inside Higher Ed, Apr 05, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The echos of childhood still resonate in my mind. Not all of them are positive. Some of them are like "don't be such a sissy" and "don't be such a knowitall". They also include sanction to treat women as objects and some disparaging observations about the tendencies of the feminine gender. In certain ways, they've messed me up. That is why, indeed, frank conversations are needed in university - "truly grown-up conversations about sexual violence led by and among our student bodies" - are needed. They were for me; not that I would ever perpetuate sexual violence (I was brought up better than that) but because the effects of childhood linger in everyone. But this points to the deeper need. We have to stop telling children sexual violence is OK. We need to stop telling them violence of any kind is OK. If we don't do this while they're children, everything is a holding action against the inner voices, those echos from childhood, that dominate their attitudes and, sometimes, their actions. Image: UNFPA.

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