College students are constantly being influenced by the people around them. People like coaches, friends and the media send messages that can help shape human behavior. What one takes from those relationships can change who they are as a person.
Thomas Keith, a professor at CSU Long Beach and Cal Poly Pomona, showed his documentary about sexual assault against women on April 21. Fittingly called “The Bro Code,” it discussed the ways in which men are taught from a young age to treat women like sexual objects.
Keith shed light on the fact there were close to no men in the audience.
“A lot of the men that need to hear these messages, like what we’re talking about right now, are not in this room,” Keith said. “They’re somewhere else because they see something like this as, ‘Oh it’s just some feminist thing, I don’t know. What’s on TV tonight? I think the NBA playoffs are on,’ so the question becomes how do we get to those guys to come?”
The 4-year-old documentary examined the different ways in which men view women, which could potentially lead to violent acts against them.
Through contemporary media forms targeted specifically at young boys, Keith shows how women are shown more as entertainment to men than as actual human beings. Things like types of porn, rap music and television shows were all brought up in the hour long documentary.
Women shown as being there for men’s sexual pleasure and nothing else, were depicted through clips of music videos from popular artists, like Justin Timberlake, Ludacris and Snoop Dogg.
In order to combat this, Keith said, “Men need to humanize women. Empathy for victims. As men we are taught to objectify women and not see them as humans like us.”
During the Q-and-A portion of the night, Keith was asked about “Agents of Shield,” the mandatory online class sent out to every student about sexual assault. He liked the idea colleges are bringing up the issue. However, he believes it needs to be more personal in order to reach the intended audience.
Keith said, “…so I think it needs to be a more personal approach then an online course. That’s my take.”
Women in the audience, like freshman student Ambreana Burciaga, agreed with this.
“It’s extremely important that we get more young men involved in this topic on a personal level,” said Burciaga. “They have so much undiscovered influence on this topic. As women, we can be as educated about sexual assault as we want [to] be but it’s going to take the men of the world to afflict real change.”
In the beginning of his documentary, Keith talked about the ways in which he grew up with “the bro code.” He was conditioned from a young age to dehumanize and disrespect women. His knowledge of American philosophy and pragmatism, combined with his personal experiences growing up and being a man, makes him an expert on “the bro code.”
With April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, this topic was extremely relevant. As part of the student body, it’s important to be reminded of the severity of campus sexual assault.
“I think it’s critically important to continue our efforts to raise awareness about sexual assault and to continue to discuss as a community what we can do to prevent sexual assault,” said Laura Williams, a psychologist at Sonoma State University. “And how we can support those who have been assaulted. Sexual assault impacts our entire community. We need to work together to address the problem.”
Like Keith said at the end of his presentation, it’s going to take a revolution to change the face of sexual assault. But, as he also pointed out, it will not be impossible.