Coming up soon is the first event that Engage Miami has hosted while I have been part of the team. The Bystander Intervention Training, an event that will teach attendees to deal with harassment, is this Wednesday. We have been preparing for this event by gathering material, organizing panelists, and expanding awareness. Part of what sets this event apart from other such trainings is that we will be positing scenarios that have been taken from popular media to attendees . For example, there are many cases of sexual harassment in music videos. If you were in a situation like those, what would you do? The use of examples from popular media not only helps Engage Miami create scenarios but also highlights how harassment has been portrayed and even normalized in our culture.
The popular media portion of this event was what I researched Monday. I scoured through easily recognizable movies, TV shows, and music videos to find instances of harassment. This is harder than it sounds, considering how often we as a culture witness harassment in media. My first obstacle was when asking around which nineties music videos had instances of sexual harassment the most common answer I received was “well…all of them.” Even more frustrating is that most instances of bigotry in pop culture is more insidious than a character outright harassing another. A common answer I got to the question of music videos portraying harassment was the infamous ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke. The degradation of women in this music video, however, is not in verbal or physical aggression towards the women but rather in the symbolic placement of them as objects. We face religious and racial discrimination less often as the scene where a man spews vitriol towards a black or Muslim person and more often as Muslim people are cast time and time again as terrorists and black people are cast time and time again as thugs or servants. It was frustrating to know that bigotry in popular culture lies mostly beneath the surface rather than presenting itself outright. Those media which do show an outright scene of harassment are usually presenting a commentary on it rather than condoning it, while every day we are inundated with subtle choices in media that inform our outlook and promote bigotry.
Despite challenges, I found clips for religious, sexual, and racial discrimination.
On Tuesday, I met our new intern! I was very excited. I trained her on making phone calls, reading through the script, showing her the spreadsheet we use to document data, and sharing tips that I have formed throughout my experiences calling. As our call list has about doubled (!) since I arrived, I assigned a section of the list to be her calls. The rest of the day we spent meeting and chatting with one of our board members who is taking a sabbatical from being a public defender. She is also a co-founder of Miami’s only independent record store and a co-founder of Engage Miami’s parent organization, Emerge. Needless to say, she is a very interesting (and busy) person.
On Wednesday, I helped to construct the presentation for the event. The training will be broken down into three basic section: the presentation, to make sure all attendees are on the same page with regards to what harassment is, why bystanders are important, etc. The second part will be a panel discussion. There will be a civil rights attorney, two organizers, and a teacher, all of whom are extremely knowledgable and leaders within other local organizations. Finally, there will be the popular media scenarios and the discussion of what should be done in each of those scenarios. The presentation is mostly visual, so I found pictures and gifs to supplement the ideas that go along with each slide.
Thursdays are of course Planned Parenthood days. I collected another story from a woman named Elizabeth who received birth control for debilitating menstrual cramps. She was able to afford them despite being uninsured, and said she had tried several other places before finding Planned Parenthood.
Finally, on Fridays I made calls inviting people to our big event. I would guess, based on calls, that around 20-40 people will be attending. I am very excited to see my first official Engage event, and will keep you all updated with pictures.
Have a great week!