I currently work as an educator at La Casa de las Madres, a domestic violence agency based in San Francisco. I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the impact of the degrading language that men often chalk up as “locker room talk” or “bro talk”. Domestic violence agencies across the country are acutely aware of the mental and physical impact of this language. We see how it reinforces learned behaviors of power and control.
Many of us hear the term domestic violence and think of one partner physically beating the other. It is easy to identify such physical violence as wrong, as criminal. We struggle a bit more to identify and hold batterers accountable when they commit acts of financial, emotional, or psychological abuse.
Perhaps what is hardest though, is to identify the link between sexist, hypersexual, objectifying language directed at women, and the many different forms of coercive behavior batterers use to control their partners. Or, the link between sexist, hypersexual, objectifying language directed at women and the rate of rape and sexual assault on campuses. I believe that while it may be hard, it is necessary for each of us to make this connection and to change our behaviors to mitigate the harmful impacts.
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