Speaking out about rape takes courage

Courage. That’s what four young women in Akron have. They are in the midst of testifying against the man accused of raping them.

The trial, which started Tuesday, is expected to last two weeks. The four women will have to muster all their courage to get through it — and the rest of their lives.

Three of them are University of Akron students. The fourth is a young married woman. They were raped in the University of Akron neighborhood during the fall and winter.

So far, the Beacon Journal gave the trial of accused rapist Christopher Butts page one coverage on both Wednesday and Thursday. The 24-year-old gas company salesman from Columbus has been indicted on 22 counts.

As Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh put it during opening statements, “This case is about four young women who were sleeping and were woken up by the terror of a stranger raping them.”

They have many courageous women standing in their corner. Some have tread the same hard path. Others can only imagine it.

Read about the Plain Dealer reporter who shared her rape story earlier this year — and how her courage continues to inspire courage in other women. A few share their thoughts in the comments section below that post.

For assistance with rape trauma, contact The University of Akron’s Counseling, Testing, and Career Center or the Rape Crisis Center of Summit and Medina Counties.

Nearly half of college undergrads experience relationship violence

A new study on how students experience violence, finds that about 45 percent of undergraduates experience some sort of relationship violence before and/or during their college years.

The study, called “Relationship Violence Among Female and Male College Undergraduate Students,” surveyed 910 undergraduates at three urban campuses. Students were asked about physical, emotional and sexual violence within relationships. The study found emotional abuse to be the most commonly reported type of violence.

Researchers said victimization reports are substantially higher for women at 53 percent, but a significant number of men, 27 percent, also reported being victimized.  The authors encourage non gender-specific resources in light of this finding.

For more information on campus violence read the American Association of University Women’s 2006 report Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus and its position paper on sexual harassment.

John McCain and birth control

When Christina Page spoke on the University of Akron campus as part of Women’s History month events in March, the presidential primary campaign was still in full swing. One of the things she suggested we question all candidates about is their stand on birth control.

Page made particular mention of John McCain, criticizing his prevarication about the issue.

According to recent reports, McCain still doesn’t know where he stands on the issue of contraception — or even how he has voted. Read the story.

Getting real about the feminization of poverty

Work and Welfare 1996-2005We who teach Women’s Studies courses are familiar with the phrase “the feminization of poverty.” This fall, students at The University of Akron can get an in-depth look at what the phrase means in the real lives of real women.

Jodi Ross, a doctoral student in sociology,  is teaching a Special Topics course on the subject. Called Women and Poverty, it is offered Monday and Wednesday,  12:15p.m.-1:30p.m. The course number is 1840:485:001. Visit Zipline to register. Or download a flier about the course.

Jodi was one of two winners of the university’s Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Doctoral Award this spring. She is also president of UA’s Committee for Research on Women and Gender, also known as CROW.

Her areas of interest include deviance, criminology, gender, mothering, and qualitative methodology. She has completed graduate coursework in qualitative methodology across several disciplines including sociology, anthropology and education. Her dissertation research will use ethnographic methods to examine the mechanisms of informal social control in a gentrifying neighborhood.

If you have questions about the course, contact Jodi at jar48@uakron.edu.

If you can’t take the course but want to learn more about the effects of 1996 welfare “deform” on women, click here.