Phase One

Week One

Hello everyone, my name is Emily and I am a 21-year-old exchange student from Berlin. I am studying English & Professional Writing here at York for the Fall 2018 and the Winter 2019 term, whereas at home I study German Literature and American studies. My biggest passion is reading basically whichever book I get into my hands, but most recently I am focusing on literature that is considered to be feminist. I am very interested in that field as well as in European and North American politics. Considering this I am overly excited about the course project and looking forward to dive deep into a feminist or politic related opinion piece. Although the podcast and not only writing but also recording myself in a language that isn´t my first is kind of frightening me, I am also thankful for the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and increase my knowledge on topics I am really passionate about.

Speaking for myself a research tactic commonly used by me and my fellow students is using the References section on Wikipedia. It is an extremely easy way to start your research as you have a Wikipedia entry on nearly every topic you can think about and this is most of the time the first thing that shows up when you google a topic. It is extremely helpful to start your research this way as there are many sources already listed for you and you don´t have to start from scratch.

Week Two


We live in a diverse world where many people have different opinions on topics and I believe that this diversity is a good base for discussion. Having an opinion is important for each individual. Opinions are developed mostly based on education and surroundings, but also through the media and social media and are therefore very subjective.

As for all knowledge being simply a matter of opinion I am not so sure that this is true. As the YouTube video states, an opinion is subjective, based on emotion rather than facts and open to interpretation. Knowledge is (most of the times) something that is based on facts and can therefore be proven as wrong or right. To be more precise, we defined a matter of opinion in the lecture as “something not being capable of being proven either way“. Therefore I don’t think it is possible to assert that all knowledge is simply a matter of opinion.

Week Three

The opinion piece of my choice is “Brett Kavanaugh and the limits of hashtag feminism” by Jennifer C. Braceras. The central argument of the author is that allegations against men should not be “accepted as true simply because they are made by a woman” (Braceras, 19 Septmeber 2018). She uses the recent allegations against judge Brett Kavanaugh as the central example for her demand. When Brett Kavanaugh was nominated for the Supreme Court by U.S. president Donald J. Trump in July 2018 (“Trump announces Brett Kavanaugh”, 06 September 2018) Dr. Christine Ford came forward and accused Kavanaugh of having “physically and sexually assaulted [her] during high school in the early 1980´s” (“Read the Letter”, 16 September 2018). Jennifer C. Braceras claims in her opinion piece that it would be wrong to believe women as Dr. Ford and that her given evidence lacks credibility and was denied by Kavanaugh as well as by his friend Mark Judge. She also brings up cases where the allegations have been proven wrong as evidence for her claim (e.g. the Duke lacrosse case). The author very early states her opinion on this topic and makes it very clear where her belief lies in this specific case. It is therefore easy to mark this as an opinion piece.

Jennifer C. Braceras is a white, well educated woman. She graduated from Harvard Law School, is a senior fellow at the Independent Women´s Forum and has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Herald, The Boston Globe, The National Review and many more. She was also a Commissioner of the United States Commission of Civil rights from 2001 until 2007 and worked as a staff assistant for former Vice president Dan Quayle (“Jennifer Braceras Homepage”). On the website of The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights her political affiliation is described as Republican. Considering her political affiliation and her vitae it can be said that she has a personal bias in this case.

In times of #metoo, the “Believe women” mantra, third-wave feminism, victim blaming, misogyny and everyday sexism this topic is, although superficially over, still very current and important. It has a great potential for a podcast episode as the topic still causes huge discussions and new things come up nearly every day.

References:

Braceras, J. C. (2018, 19 September). Brett Kavanaugh and the limits of hashtag feminism. The Boston Globe, Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2018/09/19/brett-kavanaugh-and-limits-hashtag-feminism/sokDfHFYGxD4n9Glld5qoI/story.html

Trump announces Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Nominee. (2018, 09 September) The New York Times, Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/09/us/politics/trump-supreme-court- announcement-transcript.html

Read the Letter Christine Blasey Ford sent accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. (2018, 16 September). CNN, Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/16/politics/blasey-ford-kavanaugh-letter feinstein/index.html

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Retrieved from https://www.usccr.gov/about/bio/braceras.php

Jennifer Braceras Homepage. Retrieved from http://jenniferbraceras.com/bio/

Further Readings:

Watkins, E. (2018, 17 September). Timeline: How the Kavanaugh accusations have unfolded. CNN, Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/17/politics/kavanaugh-ford-timeline/index.html

 

Week Four

The year 2018 was an eventful year for feminism. The #metoo movement grew even bigger, Harvey Weinstein turned himself him and was released on $1m bail (“Harvey Weinstein Timeline”, 2019) and the allegations against former supreme court judge nominee Brett Kavanaugh caused an uproar in the media and on the streets. No one seemed to not have an opinion on this issue.

Jennifer C. Braceras, the author of the opinion piece of my choosing had too: In her piece, released on the 19th of September 2018, she claims that we should not just believe women’s allegations just because they come from women. She uses the Ford-Kavanaugh case as an example. Furthermore, she argues that this case tests the limits of feminism.

She lists a few arguments why we should not believe Dr. Ford, the main one being the passage of time. For her it doesn’t make sense that Ford only came up with the allegations after she heard about Kavanaugh’s nomination on the news. She also brings up two cases, the Duke Lacrosse case and Jackie’s fictional tale, where women didn’t tell the truth in their accusations.

I strongly disagree with the opinion presented by Braceras and would like to focus my podcast on why we should believe women or everyone coming up with these kinds of allegations and that the limits of feminism are not yet reached.

The accusations against Harvey Weinstein, the #metoo movement and the “Believe Women” movement raised a new awareness on this topic and I think it’s incredibly important to not stop talking about this.

According to a report issued by the National Sexual Violence resource center “[t]he majority of sexual assault, an estimated 63 percent, are never reported to the police”. Depending on source, from all the rape accusations that are made only 2-10% are false accusations. How we treat women who have the courage to speak up about rape and sexual harassment in public now could pave the way for other women to come. Positively or negatively. If we mistreat women like Dr. Christine Ford and so many others now, the percentage of sexual harassments not being reported will highly likely incline.

To answer Braceras arguments on false rape accusations and the passage of time, I will back my research by an expert on dealing with sexual harassment and trauma. As many psychologists say, it is not uncommon to not talk about something traumatizing that happened to you, for example in the book “Trauma, Trials, and Transformation”: “It is a sad reality that those who have been most psychologically damaged are often the least able to seek redress in either criminal or civil court” (Daylen & Van Tongeren Harvey, O´Toole, 2006, 38). It furthermore states: “Victims of a sexual crime can expect their emotional reactions and perceptions of their experiences to change with time” (Daylen, et.al., 2006, 39). In that matter, I contacted The Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education at York University, The York University Psychology Clinic and Dr. Till from the Clinical Development Psychology Department and I hope to include some voices from one or more of them in my final podcast. I also wish to include parts of both Dr. Fords and Brett Kavanaugh’s statements, as well as from U.S. president Donald Trump.

My podcast will aim to question the opinion presented in the opinion piece but will go even further and provide a better understanding of victims of sexual assault, how dangerous victim shaming can be and how it is our duty to treat everyone just.

 

 

References

 

Braceras, J. C. (2018, 19 September). Brett Kavanaugh and the limits of hashtag feminism. The Boston Globe, Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2018/09/19/brett-kavanaugh-and-limits-hashtag-feminism/sokDfHFYGxD4n9Glld5qoI/story.html

Daylen, J., Van Tongeren Harvey W., O´Toole D. (2006). Trauma, Trials and Transformation: Guiding Sexual Assault Victims through the Legal System and Beyond. Toronto, ON: Irwin Law, 38-39.

False Reporting Overview. (2012). National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Retrieved from https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/2012-03/Publications_NSVRC_Overview_False-Reporting.pdf

Harvey Weinstein timeline: How the Scandal unfolded. (2019, 10 January) BBC, Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-41594672