It’s hard enough to teach when you’re staring down a crowd of not-so-eager students. It’s even harder when your career is on the line. Taking these factors into account, our first potential teacher (whose name I forgot as soon as it came out of her mouth) did an admirable job. Although I felt that her activity was a little bit over structured (as in, her way of presenting it seemed kind of forced, and the point of the activity didn’t emerge until the end), her choice of a controversial topic made the class interesting. I do wish that we’d been allowed to discuss the topic among ourselves! It would’ve made for an interesting discussion and would’ve taken the pressure off of individual speakers, because it would’ve made class less formal. I definitely got tongue tied every time I had anything to say (although that might’ve been due less to the formality of the class, and more to the intimidating presence of you, Professor Forbes, because all of us want you to think that we’re eloquent, intelligent human beings).
That’s enough about that. My final thoughts on the speech went as follows: You know what, I have been telling Brad (the boyfriend figure) that it doesn’t matter that men can be easily accused of rape; there are so many inequalities between men and women in this society that it doesn’t even begin to tip the scale toward a female empowered world, and this speech freaking proves that! I can’t wait to call him and read him this thing! And: But this is so extreme. I may argue that society is completely unfair for women, but I wouldn’t argue that all men believe that power ought to lie in their hands. My father (who drives a minivan, does all the cleaning, and packed every one of my lunches from preschool until 12th grade) certainly does not believe that he has “the right to rape.” He doesn’t even believe that he has the right to choose where we eat out on Friday nights. And although my boyfriend might argue for men’s rights (his favorite thing to talk about these days is how women can so easily abuse the legislature around rape), he’s definitely at the bottom of the herd in our relationship, and has no traditional notions about sex roles or male power. Maybe this is atypical, but more likely it’s a sign that society is changing, however slowly that might be.
Even beyond those thoughts, I experienced a complicated mixture of feelings while going through the activity. And hearing everyone else’s mixture of feelings was extremely beneficial: it made me realize that every work makes people react differently. No piece is like a train track, following a path the author laid out for us by reacting to certain word and phrasing triggers. This realization is important both to my writing and my teaching: it will remind me just because one person doesn’t like one of my works, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t love it. And I will be able to better help students by recognizing and respecting their reading of a work, rather than trying to change it to fit mine.