Victim Shaming & My Shame

I did the unthinkable today. I picked myself up, but oh my. 

I am studying Go Back To Where You Came From with Year 12, focusing on Discovery. We were talking about something that triggered from the first episode which lead to my recent trip to India and different cultural attitudes, treatment of women, etc. I spoke about the security checkpoints at the airports and different treatment of men and women. 

One of my students shared the anecdote of two of his female friends, one of whom was spat upon as she walked through the airport. 

My response was, “What was she wearing?”

It took me a second, wherein my question was answered, before I exclaimed, “Oh my god! I just victim shamed.” 

I was mortified. I then turned on my student, as you do in moments of your own shame lol, and asked, “Why didn’t you tell me off!?” 

He said that he had thought about it, but … 

I am so meant to be better than that! I guess, if anything positive can come out of it, my kids realise I am human (goddamnit), and that it is important to be cognisant of what we say and own our own ignorance. 

What a lesson! 

What a week!

I used all of the data on my phone by the end of last weekend. Woopsy. And I haven’t had internet at home through laziness. But it was nice to be disconnected for a few days. I think sometimes that our ‘connection’ can actually inhibit real connection to our lives. Maybe I shouldn’t generalise that to everyone and should focus it on myself. I sometimes feel more connected without so much connection.

And then on Tuesday my water pump in the car went and so I am still car-less. Feeling quite liberated in that bizarrely. Fortunately I have a supermarket across the road. But in all, I have felt quite liberated this week. I have been taking time out for myself, especially after a few crazy weeks to start the term. The conflict seems to have dissipated at work and I haven’t had any parent complaints for a week now.

An interesting education week too. Friday week ago my Year 11 (now Year 12) class were asked to write their opinions and thoughts regarding refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. I was so shocked. The Australian media has so much to answer for. I realised how dominant the media is in shaping a very racist ad ignorant Australia. This was further emphasised when we started watching our set text for Discovery, Go Back To Where You Came From – Series 1.

If you haven’t ever watched this program (screened annually on SBS in Australia), it focuses on six diverse Australians and puts them through the process refugees experience in reverse. The experiences of the voluntary participants and the way that they process what they experience makes for confronting television, irrespective of your own beliefs.

I was infinitely more curious as to how my class would respond when 95% of them were expressing media opinion and hype. By the end of the first of three episodes, two people were visibly upset. One of my students stayed during break, too upset to move. Interestingly, and movingly, she was angry at her own ignorance and lack of compassion to others prior to watching the first episode. There were more tears during the second episode and interestingly, one of the participants who shared views similar to those of my students, inspired angry comments from them for her ignorance. It is rare that students openly spit venom or opinion at the screen. In fact, this is the first time it has ever happened to this extent. I was impressed.

I didn’t view the third episode with them but the teacher they had in lieu of me said that there were a lot more tears.

I consider this success.

My students felt something, discovered something, responded.

This is rare.

It will be interesting to hear what they say on Monday. I am excitedly looking forward to it.